Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Avani Hotels opens the Avenida Liberdade Lisbon Hotel in Portugal

The Avani Avenida Liberdade hotel in Lisbon

The newly launched Avani Avenida Liberdade Lisbon Hotel offers travellers a stylish and reasonably-priced  hotel along Lisbon’s most fashionable street, the Avenida da Liberdade.

The Avenida da Liberdade is the best address in Lisbon and the newly-launched Avani Avenida Liberdade Lisbon Hotel has a perfect location just off fashion-forward Avenida da Liberdade, which attracts an eclectic crowd to its tree-lined esplanades with big-name designer labels and continental sidewalk cafes.


The Avani Avenida Liberdade hotel in Lisbon

The hotel, formerly the Tivoli Jardim Hotel, has undergone an extensive 1.5 million Euro refurbishment. The upgrade includes the redesign of the façade, the guest rooms, lobby, reception, the installation of an AVANIFIT gym and the relaunch of well-known Olivier Restaurant.

The open plan and retro spirit of the lobby merges chill, social and work areas, offering a stylish communal space in which to relax. The 119 AVANI standard, premier, deluxe and family rooms are comfortable and contemporary and the style is inspired by the Avani brand`s nod to a restful sleep.

Each room is decorated in a fresh and simplistic style. Subtle shades of plum, black and white lend the rooms a serene air and modern amenities include a Nespresso coffee-maker, satellite TV, well-stocked mini-bar and high-speed WiFi. All AVANI Premier, Deluxe and Family Rooms have balconies and AVANI Standard rooms have garden views.


The Avani Avenida Liberdade hotel in Lisbon

The Avani hotel brand appeals to modern independent travellers who seek out new and modern experiences, meet locals and taste authentic flavours. AVANI Avenida Liberdade’s advantageous location provides guests with a comfortable and well-priced base from which to explore Lisbon’s modern design and contemporary eateries.

Nearby is Príncipe Real, a charming leafy neighbourhood, known for its architecture, antique shops and galleries. Discover authentic craftsmanship, art galleries, antique shops and shopping galleries before heading west for the pastelerías and literary cafés of Chiado.

Lisbon is now also a design capital of Europe. The city is experiencing an urban renewal as neighbourhoods are reclaimed and reimagined. The dockside LX Factory in Alcántara, the Village Underground on the river (which is a creative co-op constructed out of shipping containers), Fábrica Braco de Parata, an arts centre in an old munitions factory and the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Belém all herald a new wave of design innovation in Lisbon.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Godspell, the musical, in Manila

Godspell, the musical, in Manila

Last night, I went to watch the musical production of Godspell at the Carlos P. Romulo auditorium of the RCBC Yuchengco Building in Manila

Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, is a proud event partner of this wonderful production which has been adapted from the original to give it a more contemporary vibe.

The acting in this version of Godspell is superb and the singing left the audience speechless.

Furthermore, what might have been a sentimental production with a religious overtone is instead made into a throughly enjoyable musical with a very 21st century feel and a universal theme applicable to any religion.

More people should watch Godspell in Manila

It's a beautiful production. And if you happen to be seated in the front rows, you may even find yourself onstage suddenly as part of the cast, as this musical is very big on improvisation and audience participation.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Business class onboard Turkish Airlines


Good morning from 30,000 feet in the air, onboard Turkish Airlines to Istanbul for a lovely long weekend -- literally 4 days of fun and then it's back to Asia. :) 

Since I practically live in hotels and airplanes, thought I'd share with you my simple litmus test for quality. The best hotels in the world offer real cotton pads in their bathrooms (not the cheap cotton balls) regardless of where they are in the world because they know cotton balls are just so much harder to use with skincare products.


And the best airlines in the world have free WiFi onboard, plants in the bathroom, proper tea cups, and Travelife Magazine in their inflight libraries for business class. Quite surreal but nice to be offered your own magazine onboard -- and to hear other passengers around you asking for it. 

Anyhow, here's the lowdown on my recent experience riding business class on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and back to Asia. I take this route fairly frequently, and this particular time, I observed a significant improvement in the overall Turkish Airlines business class experience

This airline was already good before, but it has become significantly better.


1) The service onboard Turkish Airlines by the stewardesses and stewards was excellent. Everyone was kind and polite, and I was approached multiple times for refills of tea and drinks.

2) The food is very good, especially onboard flights flying out of Istanbul. On the return flight to Asia from Turkey, the lamb dish with eggplant was among the best dishes I've had on an airplane.

3) The flatbeds are among the widest and most comfortable, especially as a proper bedpan and duvet, along with a new pillow, are provided. The legroom is huge even on the 777 aircrafts.

4) The business class lavatories were always clean. Currently, they have real plants as decor and Molton Brown toiletries.

5) Free WiFi onboard for business class is just great. They also provide wonderful Denon headphones for inflight entertainment and, on the last flight, a black Furla inflight kit

Interestingly, they request these expensive headphones back from passengers about 20 minutes before landing. But for those who wish to continue watching a movie or television show right up to landing, they provide a very good alternate set of headphones. None of these cheap stuff onboard Turkish Airlines. 

Cicek Pasaji and the Pera District of Istanbul

Cicek Pasaji in Istanbul

The Cicek Pasaji in Istanbul is very touristy but I love going here anyway whenever possible and then having tea at the Pera Palas. 

Then I go on a long walk through the Pera district towards the Istanbul Modern, down a hill that ends at my favorite Iznik tile store at the bottom of the university designed by the great architect of the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinan


I walked the twisted lanes of old Istanbul, lined with beautiful old buildings, antique shops and art galleries with confidence and experience, happy over how the forces of the Universe truly conspired to make this long weekend in Istanbul -- four wonderful days and back again to Asia -- happen. 

Everything from the weather to the wines has so far been perfect. I haven't even gotten jetlag. #lucky


Yesterday, I gave my friend the best personalized tour of a local's Istanbul. Amazed, my friend asked: "How many times have you been to Istanbul?" 

I turned and said "Probably 25. And each time I go, I revisit my favorites of the old and find more new discoveries." 


And, oh yes, I also buy a luggage fulll of artisan-quality Iznik tiles for my home, so that my beloved Istanbul is always with me. ;) On this trip, I bought four works of art to remind me of those four wonderful days -- and I plan to hang them in my bedroom this weekend,

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Shopping for food in Istanbul. And about the best room service breakfast.

Business Class breakfast on Turkish Airlines

Good afternoon from onboard Turkish Airlines in real-time, flying 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over Pakistan, on my way home from a wonderful #Travelife sort of long weekend in Istanbul.

Driving to Ataturk Airport in Turkey in the Park Hyatt Istanbul limousine

The flight was past midnight so we checked out of the Park Hyatt Istanbul - Maçka Palas, Istanbul's most private luxury hotel, at 1030 PM, conveniently avoiding rush hour traffic in Istanbul so that our hotel car was driving up the Ataturk Airport ramp in just 30 minutes.

The Park Hyatt Istanbul

This was a simple R&R weekend, just for a change of scenery from Asia. I admit it's a pretty long way to go for this, but I am so glad we did it. 

Everyday we simply did what we wished to do, and usually this meant breakfast at noon, a few hours of sightseeing in Istanbul, in just one chosen neighborhood, and then back to the hotel for a good dinner there or in one of the great restaurants around Nisantasi, the most fashionable area for locals.

Baklava for dessert via room service
at the Park Hyatt Istanbul

We did lots of room service at the Park Hyatt Istanbul for lunch and dinner, just because they have a great Angus rib-eye, very fresh seabass straight from the market, and an excellent assortment of baklava


But we also ate at a casual but very well regarded restaurant called Basekosi in Nisantasi twice. 

This has always been a great favorite of mine and it has the best kebabs in Istanbul, being the sister restaurant of the Kosebasi chain, where I once took over 70 Travelife Magazine readers and friends for a kebab dinner I'm sure they still remember. :)


Breakfast via room service at the Park Hyatt Istanbul

Yesterday, our last day in Istanbul, was spent pretty much the same way. Breakfast at noon -- IMHO the Park Hyatt Istanbul has the best room service breakfast in Istanbul so we always ordered the same breakfast everyday and room service already had our orders on file -- and then a short walk around Nisantasi. 

Breakfast consisted of eggs royale, plates of fresh fruit and plates of fresh vegetables, plus a wonderful bakery basket, yoghurt, olives, honey and clotted cream. Plus my daily round of raw juices. Nothing unusual as far as luxury hotels are concerned, but this room service at the Park Hyatt Istanbul was absolutely delicious.

Then we walked across the hotel for the famous minced lamb kebabs of Basekosi, just 1 minute from the Park Hyatt, for dinner.

It was a beautiful day at 21 degrees. 

I took this selfie sitting on the steps of a 12th century mosque in Nisantasi while my companion went inside for a look as it was prayer time. This is a wash & wear hairstyle, by the way, straight from the hammam in my Park Hyatt Istanbul spa suite, simply because I forgot to bring my hairbrush to Istanbul. :)


And then we went to the food hall to stock up on white asparagus, leafy herbs and greens, pistachio and the sweetest blackberries I've ever tasted -- all to bring back home and keep the feeling of this wonderful long weekend in Istanbul a little longer with me, living a #Travelife. :)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mother's Day Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt Melbourne

Mother's Day at the Park Hyatt Melbourne

Sit back, relax and enjoy a selection of delicate sweets and housemade treats as you listen to live music, sip on a glass of champagne and celebrate your mother in style. 

The Mother's Day High Tea of the Park Hyatt Melbourne will take place on Sunday, May 14, 2017 from 230 PM to 5 PM with free flow sparkling wine, tea and coffee and the option for a glass of French champagne.

Hyatt Australia Gift Cards 

If you're still searching for the perfect gift, spoil your mother with an experience she'll never forget with a Hyatt Australia gift card. Treat your mother to an indulgent escape at the Park Club Health & Day Spa, overnight accommodation in a luxurious guestroom or suite, a dining experience at radii restaurant & bar or the luxury of visiting another Hyatt Hotel in Australia.

Hyatt Australia Gift Cards range from AU$25 - $2,000 and are available at Park Hyatt Melbourne.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Visit the Russian Missile Cruiser Varyag in Manila

The Russian guided missile cruiser Varyag

The guided missile cruiser Varyag of the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet, the third ship of the Slava class, will be visiting the Port of Manila from April 20 to April 24, 2017. The following events are planned for the general public on April 22 and April 23, 2017.


The Russian Naval Vessel Varyag will be open for all visitors on April 22, 2017 from 11 AM to 4 PM at the Port of Manila, Pier 15. There will be opportunities for photos onboard the vessel.


A dance and song ensemble will be performed by the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet at Rizal (Luneta) Park on April 23, 2017 from 6 PM to 8 PM.

All those wishing to visit the Russian guided missile cruiser Varyag and watch an amazing performance by Russian artists are kindly invited and most welcome. There will be opportunities for memorable photos on board the Russian Naval Vessel on April 22, and then a chance to enjoy the soulful Russian songs and the sparkling dances of Russian sailors on April 23.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tea pairing lunch at Yan Toh Heen in Hong Kong

Tea pairing lunch at Yan Toh Heen in Hong Kong

On April 23, the Michelin two star / Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Yan Toh Heen will showcase a six-course Chinese tea pairing lunch menu by Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai, featuring three rare aged teas specially sourced by our Tea Sommelier Kelvin Ng from the Best Tea House:

- 1997 Tribute Shou Mei
- 1988 Aged Teguanyin (with Mandarin Zest)
- 1960 Aged Supreme Liu Pao Tea

Tea Sommelier Kelvin Ng and Helen Fung, Operation Manager of the Best Tea House will introduce these three special teas during the luncheon.

Tea sommelier Kevin Ng


The lunch begins with a 1997 Tribute Shou Mei, which is a fragrant and sweet white tea that can stimulate the appetite. Then the 1988 aged Teguanyin will be paired with the first three courses. 

Teguanyin is a variety of Oolong Tea, which enhances the digestive system and helps to raise metabolism and reduce blood fat levels.


Master Chan, owner of the Best Tea House, personally hand-picked this first batch of the exclusive Teguanyin tea leaves which he then mixed, stored and aged with Mandarin Zest for 29 years.

After ageing the tea for 29 years, the tea is smooth and rich in floral and mandarin aromas and also has the aromatic of Chinese herbal medicine.


Aged Liu Pao Tea

The fourth course pairs with 1960 Aged Supreme Liu Pao Tea, which is only available in Hong Kong at Yan Toh Heen. This tea is currently not sold in the retail market. Its supreme quality makes it an “auction-level” tea.

Liu Pao is a famous Black Tea from Guangxi Provence. This rare 1960 vintage comes from the Wuzhou City. It's known for its red colour, strong and smooth texture and special Betel Nut aroma. Pairing this tea with dishes towards the end of the lunch helps with detoxification, removing the oiliness of the food.

When drinking this Liu Pao tea with dessert, it does not overtake the taste or aroma of the dessert. When drinking it after the meal, it has a special long lasting aroma. If you drink this tea on an empty stomach, it will help to cleanse the system and refresh the brain.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Anantara Vacation Club Celebrates Songkran In Phuket

Anantara Vacation Club Phuket
Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket celebrates the Thai Songkran festivities with brunch, buffet dinner, family activities and annual turtle release ceremony.

The Anantara Vacation Club is Asia's leading luxury shared vacation ownership concept for discerning travellers.


Anantara Vacation Club Phuket

At Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket, Songkran and Easter will be marked with special menus, activities and the annual turtle release.

“We are excited to offer our Club Points Owners the opportunity to experience these special holidays at our Anantara Club Resorts,” said Melanie Smith, Anantara Vacation Club’s Vice President of Club Operations. “Anantara Vacation Club is proud to provide our Club Points Owners with access to authentic cultural and recreational activities in order to create indelible travel memories.”


Anantara Vacation Club Phuket

Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket will be celebrating the Thai New Year, known as the Songkran Festival, on April 13. The holiday will be marked with an afternoon of activities on-site, followed by a traditional Thai seafood buffet dinner at Chaam Restaurant.

The festivities kick off with a Songkran parade featuring a long drum player, followed by water boxing, a pool splash party, paddle floating, balloon darts and can shooting. At Chaam Restaurant, guests will be treated to a full Thai seafood buffet with live music and a fire dance.


On April 14, the annual turtle and shark release event will be held on Mai Khao beach. Each year, the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation collects turtle eggs between November and February and stores them at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre hatchery.

Young hatchlings are then protected for one year to improve their chance of survival. Likewise, the Phuket Marine Biological Centre hatchery breeds bamboo sharks, which are struggling to maintain their numbers in Thailand’s waters. Those who adopt a turtle or bamboo shark will be invited to a special ceremony which sees them being released back into sea.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Songkran Festival in Bangkok

Songkran Festival in Bangkok

Here is the schedule for the Songkran Festival in Bangkok next week. 

Amazing Songkran 2017 
Date: April 8-13, 2017 
Venue: Benjasiri Park, Bangkok 

Kicking off in Bangkok on April 8, this event will give visitors the chance to take part in traditional activities, try food associated with Songkran and enjoy cultural performances.

The event starts with an Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession which will head down Sukhumvit Road, starting from the Phrom Phong Junction and it will finish at Pathum Wan Intersection.

Finishing on April 13, Songkran Splendours: Amazing Songkran 2017 will inspire people to travel upcountry and discover their own Songkran stories in different parts of the kingdom.


Songkran in Bangkok Yai 
Date: April 12-16, 2017 
Venue: Wat Arun and New Arun Amarin Road 

Songkran Festival in Bangkok

There can be few more iconic places to celebrate Songkran than the famous Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn on the Chao Phraya River. Here, people can come and experience the most moving and ancient aspects of the festival by helping the bathe some of Bangkok's most sacred Buddha images.

This way of making merit is believed to ensure good luck for the New Year.


Bangkok Songkran Festival 2017 
Date: April 13-15, 2017 
Venue: CentralWorld Shopping Complex, Bangkok 

The Bangkok Songkran Festival is at its biggest and most fun at the large outside area in front of CentralWorld Shopping Complex. Here, as well as water play, there will be the chance to experience some of the more traditional aspects of Songkran in an alcohol-free, family-friendly atmosphere.

There will also be a foam party which will give people a new way to enjoy the watery fun while cooling off at the hottest time of the year.


Songkran – Pha Khao Ma Yok Siam 
Date: April 13-15, 2017 
Venue: Siam Square, Bangkok 

Songkran Festival in Bangkok
Siam Square will free up some of its popular shopping space to provide areas where the city's young people can enjoy all the fun and joy of Songkran.


S2O Songkran Music Festival 2017 
Date: April 13-15, 2017 
Venue: Show DC Oasis Arena
Rama 9, Bangkok 

The S2O Songkran Music Festival 2017, sponsored by PepsiCo, is set to be the wettest and most entertaining New Year event in Bangkok. A range of entertainment on offer, including sets by well-known DJs and to ensure everyone keeps their cool a 360-degree fountain that shoots water into the crowd.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Banyan Tree Phuket Spa Sanctuary Pool Villas and Wellness Packages

The spa pool villas at Banyan Tree Phuket

This post is about the Banyan Tree Phuket Spa Sanctuary Pool Villas and Wellness Packages.

For a holistically satisfying experience, Banyan Tree Phuket Spa Sanctuary is offering a brand new selection of specially tailored wellness packages, exclusively for guests staying in its Spa Sanctuary Pool Villas spanning 550 square meters.


The spa pool villas at Banyan Tree Phuket

Each experience is designed to combine a luxury holiday in Phuket with a healing touch for both body and mind.

 Available for booking and stay until October 31, 2017, the Banyan Tree Phuket Spa Sanctuary Wellness Packages allow guests to let go of all urban stresses while immersing in any of the six unique journeys for attainment of physical, mental and spiritual peace: Nourishment, Healing Heart, Centering, Keeping Fit, Enlightenment and Traditional Healing

True wellness means being at peace with one's surroundings, and each spa sanctuary pool villa at the Banyan Tree Phuket Spa Sanctuary provides a magnificent and expansive setting complete with a private pool, massage Sala, and a delightful view of the resort's private lagoon.



The spa pool villas at Banyan Tree Phuket

The journey of Nourishment includes specially prepared detox juices to cleanse and purify, along with cooking workshops and nutritional education throughout the stay. This package helps guests to maintain a healthy diet, while a soothing Balinese spa treatment refreshes the body to bring guests a sense of deeper peace.



The spa pool villas at Banyan Tree Phuket

The Healing Heart Package sets the mind and heart at ease with sunrise body stretching sessions and a turn-down bath every evening.

Tranquil meditation sessions and a selection of tender massages helps to boost the healing process, allowing guests to better connect with their inner self. The essential concept of Centering uses organic drinks, life coaching, yoga sessions, meditation and massage to help guests forget about the troubles of the world. This package helps ground guest's mind and spirit on what truly matters to their wellbeing.



The Keeping Fit Package helps to tone the muscles and revitalise the mind. A morning energy-booster helps prepare guests for meeting guests' personal trainer, and undertaking guests' morning jog, yoga, and water exercise.

A sports massage is included to help guests cool down gently, and keep guests body in shape for active living.



The spa pool villas at Banyan Tree Phuket
The Enlightenment Package engages your mind to sharpen your acuity and bring you closer to your personal interests.

A variety of activities such as cooking classes, market visits, tree planting experiences and special floral arrangement lessons will cultivate healthy interests, with a turndown tea offering to encourage peaceful reflection. An additional foot and back massage wakes up the senses, and is included to accompany the two massages already included in the package.