Thursday, June 29, 2017

About the Ministry of Crab in Colombo, and the Law of Attraction

The Ministry of Crab in Colombo

In Sri Lanka until this morning, living a #Travelife, I had the good fortune to have two delicious crab meals. I'm writing about it because it's a simple test of the Law of Attraction, which works for me every hour of every day in my never-ending Travelife.


The Ministry of Crab in Colombo

The Ministry of Crab in Colombo is famous for its crabs cooked in a variety of ways -- although my favorite way is still crabs with chili, garlic and butter, eaten with white rice.

The Ministry of Crab has been recommended as one of Sri Lanka's best restaurants by many foodie guides and it was picked as one of the top 50 restaurants in Asia for several years running.

Last Sunday, our group had dinner there and I'd been on the cautious side, ordering only a small crab for myself just to make sure my cholesterol levels didn't shoot up, since I'd been in a medical emergency just the day before.

It was even a miracle that I was up and about so soon, having dinner in one of Sri Lanka's best restaurants. But that's another story.

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Anyway, after that memorable dinner, I so regretted ordering just a small crab because it was really so good. I didn't know when I would be in Colombo again, after all.

So I said to myself: "I really wish I could eat at the Ministry of Crab again."

This was really my last wish for this wonderful Travelife to Sri Lanka.

The Ministry of Crab in Colombo


And then I left things to Fate and thought of other things.

The odds were against this, after all, as we were leaving Colombo and our schedule was already packed with lunches and dinners at other good restaurants elsewhere in Sri Lanka.

What do you know? The stars aligned for me in a most surprising way.

Galle, Sri Lanka


There we were in the old fortress town of Galle the other day, walking along a picturesque alley, when a restaurant and its menu caught my eye.

Yes, out of all the dozens and dozens of restaurants in Galle, we had to pass by this one and I happened to check out the menu.

Galle, Sri Lanka

"This looks interesting," I said to my friends, peeking into the stylish restaurant. "Why don't we have lunch here on our last day?"

Lunch on the last day was the only free slot for a meal left and we'd intended to have lunch at the Aman hotel in Galle. But everyone quickly agreed with me so we booked a table at this new restaurant none of us had ever heard of, for our last day.


It turns out that this very new restaurant is an outpost of the Ministry of Crab and it had the exact same crabs on offer as in the famous restaurant in Colombo -- and without the reservation difficulties as well.

Crabs for lunch in Galle

What are the odds of randomly picking a restaurant you've never heard of in a strange new town, and finding the only thing you truly want to eat again in that entire country on the menu?

Manifest it and wish for it. Believe in it. And then let things happen as intended. If a set of circumstances are for you, they will align for you, almost without effort or stress. And this is how I got my wish on my #Travelife to Sri Lanka. And how I get all my other wishes as well.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pullman to open new Pullman Tokyo Tamachi luxury hotel in Mita

The Pullman Tokyo Tamachi hotel

Pullman Tokyo Tamachi is being developed as part of the MSB Tamachi mixed-used complex and will open for the fall of 2018.

Featuring 143 rooms, the contemporary hotel successfully connects the international style of Pullman with a delicate touch of Japanese art and culture. This business and leisure hotel includes meeting facilities and unique dining concepts.

 Pullman Tokyo Tamachi hotel 

The Pullman Tokyo Tamachi hotel will be directly connected to the JR Tamachi Station east exit. It will also be a three-minute walk from the Toei Subway Mita Line.

From the  Pullman Tokyo Tamachi hotel to the Haneda International Airport is about 30 minute by public transport and just one stop from JR Shinagawa station to Osaka and Kyoto via bullet train.

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Japan keeps attracting more and more international travelers, with historically high growth rate recorded in the beginning of 2017,” said Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer for Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia, AccorHotels. “The increasing inbound market, especially from Korea and other Asian countries (China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam) is on a continuous positive trend which will be amplified as the country will benefit from the worldwide attention with the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympic Games.”

Pullman Hotels & Resorts, AccorHotels' new generation of upscale hotels, is a cosmopolitan brand that offers hyper-connected travelers a seamless experience that combines contemporary design and energizing culinary concepts.


"The opening of Pullman Tokyo Tamachi marks an exciting step in developing more upscale and luxury hotels in Japan to meet the growing demand of cosmopolitan travelers who appreciate innovative design and wellness in the travel scene. The global nomad is Pullman's representation of the new generation of travelers and business leaders who fully and naturally blend work and leisure,” said Eric D'Ignazio, Vice President Japan, AccorHotels.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Raffles Hotels to open in London

The Old War Office in London

Raffles Hotels & Resorts, the top luxury brand of AccorHotels Group, today announces the signing of an historic partnership with the Hinduja Group and Obrascon Huarte Lain Desarrollos (OHLD) to transform the iconic Old War Office building in Whitehall in London into the most unique hotel and deluxe residences in London.

The Raffles Hotel in London will be the heart and soul of this exciting landmark destination in such strategic city and location.

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Steeped in history, the first Raffles Hotel was opened in 1887 in Singapore, named after the British statesman and founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.

The Raffles Hotel Singapore was celebrated by Nobel Prize winner, Rudyard Kipling in his 1889 book, From Sea To Sea and in 1915, Singapore's most famous cocktail, the Singapore Sling was created at the hotel.


In London, the Grade II* listed Old War Office, with its 1100 rooms across seven floors, and two miles of corridors, was completed in 1906. It was the office to many of the United Kingdom's most important and influential political and military leaders of the 20th century, notably Sir Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Herbert Asquith and T.E. Lawrence.

It was also the haunt of the British Secret Service who had their own more discreet entrance. Close to London's major attractions and places of interest such as 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the Old War Office was bought by Hinduja Group and OHLD in December 2014 following a public bid.

Planning permission was granted for a multi-purpose development including 125 rooms (of which 40% are suites), 88 private residences, restaurants and other amenities. Completion is expected in just over three years.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Travelife to Israel, November 2017

November 17 - 25, 2017

Food. Art. Culture. Wine. Shopping. Fun.
Small group, nice hotels, great dining, relaxed schedules.

Israel, the Travelife way

- Dinners at some of the best restaurants in Israel
- Wine tasting in one of Israel's iconic wineries
- Visits to top producers of chocolates and olive oil
- Experience local hospitality at one of the most unique ethnic villages from the 17th century
- Lunch and camel riding in the desert
- Tasting the best hummus in Israel
- Visits to the most famous food markets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
- Visits to our favorite museums in Israel, handpicked to uplift you and also to make you teary-eyed

- See the major historic attractions in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tel Aviv
- A dining in the dark experience you will never forget
- A wonderful light and sound show
- Sailing on the sea of Galilee
- Swimming in the Dead Sea
- Optional Mediterranean cooking lesson

Lunch at Roppongi Hills Club in Tokyo

Lunch at Roppongi Hills Club in Tokyo

In Tokyo the other day, living a #Travelife, I had lunch with a former Japanese diplomat, together with the senior executive of one of Japan's most dynamic companies, to talk about the future of tourism in Japan.

Over a very proper Japanese lunch at the exclusive Roppongi Hills Club, we discussed the potential opportunities for inbound tourism to Japan, particularly from the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.




Tourists have already been arriving in Japan in hordes, but more can be expected as the Tokyo Olympics 2020 nears; and both the public and private sectors are gearing up to improve tourism infrastructure asap.

Yes, that's Japan these days for you, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Abe. They've identified key strategic growth areas for Japan -- and inbound tourism is one of them -- and now they're focusing on improving these to maximize opportunities.

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The executives of the company I had lunch with yesterday were equally gung-ho. They're doing 50 things all at the same time, and with so much enthusiasm that I was positively breathless at the end of lunch.

Energy sure is catching, I realized once again, so please do yourselves a favor and only associate with those who favor seeing the bright sides and upsides of life. It will make a world of difference to your days, as it did to mine that day.


I came away from lunch ready to take on the world, just by meeting a man who was already doing so. Then after lunch I met his boss, the owner of the company, and I realized where all the energy was coming from.

The owner of the company is in his 70s but he's so full of ideas and projects that he's probably launching one new business a week.



In fact, when he walked into the room, he announced: "We just concluded a new joint venture with XXX company this morning." XXX is a very famous company in Japan.

That day, it was raining in Tokyo and I was still jet lagged from my holiday in Moscow, so I was a little low on energy as I made my way to lunch today. But, wow. Kaboom, as they say. The conversation at lunch was the equivalent of a megadose of adrenaline, so that I practically danced in the rain on my way home, raring to jumpstart my #Travelife.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Driving from the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne for dinner in Baden Baden

Beau Rivage Palace Lausanne

Same time last year, we were on holiday in Switzerland, living a #Travelife.

We'd checked out of our hotel, the beautiful and world-famous Beau Rivage Palace Lausanne along Lake Geneva, where we'd spent four happy days exploring the Swiss Riviera. Then we drove four hours along Lake Neuchatel, through the art town of Basel and into Germany, to the lovely home of friends just outside Baden Baden.



Beau Rivage Palace Lausanne


Our common friends say the husband has the Midas touch for he is successful in whatever he does. Right now, he owns a very well-regarded vineyard in Germany and his wines are served in some of Germany's best restaurants and hotels.

He also restores the antiques of European royalty and aristocracy as a hobby that I suspect must also pay a handsome income -- for this is work few can do, and he is the go-to person for the kind of furniture owners who have very large estates or castles in Europe.


One of the most notable pieces he's worked on was a chest made in Prussia for Catherine the Great of Russia.

He told me that while working on this chest, he found an inscription of a Prussian soldier on a secret underside of the cabinet made for Catherine the Great that perhaps no one in the world had ever seen before.

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The Prussian soldier had written something like: "I am so honoured to be carrying this chest from Prussia to Russia for the Empress Catherine I." This was an amazing story for me, especially as I am a big fan of Catherine the Great. Imagine that.

So let's just say that he's certainly not your average woodwork enthusiast.


We arrived just in time for dinner; and for cocktails, we sat on furniture the husband had created himself as he served us excellent wine from his own vineyards mixed with an elderflower syrup that his wife had just made from flowers picked in the mountains just behind their home.

The wife also served us berries handpicked from the mountains with a pie she'd made herself.




Then we sat down to dinner at a table he carved and on which he served a meal he literally oversaw from the beginning.

He'd gone out to the forest the other day and shot a wild boar, cut and cleaned this, and then tonight made a delicious ravioli out of the meat of wild boar, flavored with herbs from their garden.

It's not a simple matter at all to go hunting in Germany, by the way. The husband had to do some serious studying at a school in another city on every aspect of hunting, and then sit for an exam before getting certified.

Hunting in Germany is highly regulated for safety, animal welfare and environment protection.

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The next courses were fresh asparagus and tomatoes from the garden, breaded wild boar flavored with garlic, and a Bavarian-style pancake.

All these with more wines from their vineyards.

For dessert, the wife made a chocolate mousse and served tea with honey harvested from beehives right on their terrace. They have three beehives and each year they get between four to six kilos of honey.


"We never eat processed food or packaged food," the wife said. "As much as possible, we grow and source our own food ingredients. We don't even buy meat from the supermarket because we're never sure of where these came from or what they were fed."

How nice it must be to have a hand in creating so many things in one's life instead of buying things already packaged or prepared at the store. And how much healthier as well.

Tonight certainly inspired me to think about other ways of living a #Travelife.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The New York Times Travel Show 2018

The New York Times Travel Show

The 2018 New York Times Travel Show will take place from January 26 to 28, 2018 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.

The 2018 New York Times Travel Show will open with a Trade Day, open exclusively to travel industry professionals and writers, on Friday, January 26, 2018. The following days -- Saturday, January 27, and Sunday, January 28 -- will be open to the general public, as well as to travel professionals and media.

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Overall attendance at the 2017 Travel Show was 30,099—the highest in trade show history. The largest growth was from travel consumers attendees. There were also 9,200 trade attendees and over 4,500 travel agents. The estimated volume of travel business represented by the travel agents in attendance was a record $3 billion, according to Travel Show survey results.

Participating exhibitors also hit a new record with 560 companies representing over 170 countries. In addition to networking and negotiating new deals with travel agents, the 2017 exhibitors estimated that they created additional consumer traveler sales of approximately $6 million, on-site or shortly thereafter, according to Travel Show survey results.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Life Lessons from a Clef D'Or Concierge at the Standart Moscow

Anton, the chief concierge at
The Standart Moscow

Good afternoon from the lounge at Moscow airport, waiting for my flight to Tokyo and living a #Travelife

I've just spent a most wonderful 9 days in Russia's capital, enjoying time with friends, walking around the city, and exploring Moscow's vibrant food culture.

The Standart Moscow

At noon today, Anton, the chief concierge of StandArt Moscow, Russia's first luxury design hotel, walked down Tsverskaya Street, which is Moscow's most famous shopping street. He walked with me to a Russian jewelry store where I'd bought a charm bracelet to remind me of my happy times in Moscow
I'd possibly forgotten three pieces of this bracelet at the store, you see; and instead of just phoning the store and giving me a helpless shrug afterwards, as many concierge are likely to do, he'd offered to go with me and sort everything out.

The pieces of this bracelet are not expensive, but it did put me slightly off balance to lose something in my always lucky #Travelife. 

You see, I've never lost anything in a hotel, missed a flight or had an unhappy experience in my Travelife. Even the slight detours in my life have always turned out for the better.

So losing something is an experience I am not quite used to. 

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At the jewelry store, as we sorted everything out to a happy ending, Anton suddenly said to me: "You know, if something is lost, you should just let it go. Otherwise, you will keep this feeling of loss inside you, and every loss will just add up inside until it all becomes so heavy."

This applied to my bracelet, and it applies to everything in life as well. Interestingly, I'd lost something else today and I'm sure this was the Universe and the Law of Attraction talking to me about letting go.


Just last week, a lady named Joan told me in Manila: "God (or the Universe, for those who are not too religious) will always send you help exactly when you need it."

Well, today, the timing of Anton's advice was simply perfect. And what do you know? When I returned to the hotel, just like magic, there were the pieces of my bracelet on the carpet of my suite, literally waiting for me.

I'd been looking for these bracelet pieces for two days and people had come and gone into my suite in the interim. It was unfathomable exactly how these bracelet pieces suddenly appeared on the carpet just as I was packing up and rushing out to get to my car for Domodedovo Airport.

So this is what happens when you practice the art of letting go and allow things to happen as intended. Sometimes the forces of the Universe reward you and you eventually find what you lost again. Or it finds you. :)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hair and makeup session at the Fen Dry Beauty Bar at The Standart Moscow

At the Fen Dry Bar of The Standart Moscow

Last night in Moscow, living a #Travelife, we went to the Bolshoi Theater to watch the ballet Les Sylphides in the New Theater. The Bolshoi has two theaters: the Historic Theater and the New Theater.

As we had excellent tickets -- the best seats in the house -- I decided to dress up and get my hair and makeup done. Fortunately, The Standart Moscow, Russia's first design hotel, has a beauty salon on the third floor, so this was a very easy decision to make.

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Basically it was an elevator ride down to the Fen Dry Bar. Since this beauty salon opened at The Standart Moscow, many Moscow celebrities have been coming here for a quick shampoo and blow-dry, or to get their make up done for a nice dinner out.

My hair stylist at the Fen Dry Bar of The Standart Moscow

I can understand why. 

The Fen Dry Bar is stylish, relaxing and very private since it's located in Moscow's newest five-star hotel. So it's a good choice for a hair and make-up session in Moscow.

One lady did my shampoo and then set my hair in curls. I was just planning to have a blow-dry but the manager suggested curling my hair in an intensive way; so I thought: "Why not?"


My makeup artist at the Fen Dry Bar of The Standart Moscow
Then another lady did my make-up. 

Again, there were so many choices for make-up styles and some of them were actually very amusing. One style was called something like "I woke up like this," and I guess this meant a very natural style for make-up. 

This is usually my style, by the way, as I hardly ever wear make-up.

 At the Fen Dry Bar of The Standart Moscow

But as we were going to the Bolshoi for a ballet performance, and with very good seats, and then going out to dinner, I decided to opt for the more glamorous make-up look. The makeup artist suggested smokey eyes and red lips. Apparently, all the fashionable Moscow girls are wearing red lipstick these days.

So again, as I am in Moscow, I thought to myself: "Why not?"

It was a very different look from what I usually do, but it made for a rather fun start to a wonderful evening of culture and good food in Moscow, living a #Travelife.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Suite Dreams at The Standart Hotel in Moscow

The Standart Moscow,
a member of Design Hotels

Last week I arrived in Moscow for a food, art and culture trip, living a #Travelife. With this in mind, I decided to book a stay at a very new hotel in Moscow called The Standart, which is also Russia's first design hotel.

The Standart is a five-star luxury hotel with a great restaurant called Sever Yug that serves the most delicious breakfasts and with a fantastic Decleor spa; but it has a casual vibe and the rooms are a mix of retro, Scandinavian cool, minimalism and classic all in one.


The Standart Moscow,
a member of Design Hotels

I booked a Luxury Suite at The Standart Hotel in Moscow for just over a week, and it's been such a comfortable stay. The entire length of my 80 square meter suite faces Pushkin Square so that the rooms is always bright and cheerful, even on a cloudy day.

The Standart Moscow,
a member of Design Hotels

What I liked best about this Luxury Suite is the layout because it's really user friendly. 

There's a big foyer with a guest bathroom, and then the living room is a very nice size so that you can entertain here or hold business meetings -- or just spend the day reading a book.

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Yes, I'm not the type to be out maximizing the day sightseeing, so I tend to take a few hours off everyday just to relax in the room or to book a spa treatment at the Decleor Spa

And this suite is so perfect for relaxation. I love the living room but I tend to spend most of the time on the giant and incredibly comfortable bed, which has a window that offers a nice view of Pushkin Square and the Pravda news agency.


The Standart Moscow,
a member of Design Hotels

Perhaps the best feature of this really lovely suite is its open plan bathroom. Yes, the bedroom of my suite at The Standart Moscow leads straight to the bathroom, and specifically to the bathtub. Once you get used to the idea of this open plan bathroom, it's really quite nice.

And what a massive bathroom it truly is. There are sinks on opposite sides and a large shower room for two.


The Standart Moscow is also so nicely located so that you are steps away from good restaurants like Cafe Pushkin, and also very near to the Bolshoi Theater. The Kremlin is about a 15-minute stroll down the road.

And Moscow's most famous delicatessen, the Yelisevsky, which has been around for over 100 years, is just around the corner -- so you can pop out for a tin of very good caviar and a bottle of vodka whenever you feel like living a #Travelife.