Thursday, November 30, 2017

How to get upgraded to First Class on a flight

Sometimes, getting upgraded to First Class on the flight of an international airline is easier than you think. Leaving Bangkok airport for the coast of Thailand, after a pretty bumpy flight from Manila, I overheard the most interesting conversation in the airport lounge. Scroll down to read more.

In a previous blog, I'd already recounted a pretty funny conversation I'd overheard between a girl and her significant other, in the airline lounge in Manila that day, while waiting for my flight.




This time, I was waiting for my luggage to go down the carousel at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, you see, and I was the first to get there since I was in Row #1 of the plane -- so I was the first one out and at the immigration line.  Upon reaching the carousel, I'd positioned myself right by carousel chute as I was really eager to get to my hotel in time to meet up with someone for dinner.

A few minutes later, this very casually dressed guy stands next to me, also waiting for his luggage. I was on my iPad posting photos on Instagram and answering emails, while he whipped out his mobile with a bit of an exaggerated flourish and called some girl.




"It was a pretty rough flight," he'd said to this girl on his phone, after exchanging some pleasantries with her -- all within my hearing range, as he was standing next to me as he talked.

And indeed, it was a rough flight, even for me in my never-ending Travelife. The plane was gyrating madly and someone in the same row was literally cursing the weather and gritting his teeth.

This guy seated across me in the plane even almost shouted: "Are we really all right?"

Fortunately, I was in the middle of thinking about something pretty serious, so the bumpy way down to earth didn't bother me much.

Scroll down to


Then the guy standing next to me at Bangkok airport continued, to the girl on his phone: "Fortunately, they bumped me up to First Class since I fly them so much..."

This remark made me stand up straighter than usual.

First Class? We were on the same flight and row # 1 was definitely business class only, so he was obviously trying to impress some girl who didn't know her airplanes.

There's no first class on any airline between Bangkok and Manila, as far as I know.




In fact, I noticed him in Row #3 from the outset because he had actually taken my seat in Row #3.

When I saw him, seated in my assigned seat and with all his things spread out on the seat next to him as if he'd bought both seats for himself, sitting there with a self-satisfied smirk on his face, I'd simply sat in an empty seat next to someone else in row #1.

I'd checked in late for my flight as usual, you see, and this time I'd just purchased a business class ticket without making a seat reservation because I'd been too busy to think about this detail.

And my staff had their hands full with other things as well.

Usually, they know which seats to reserve for me way in advance, but this time, we all forgot and I was at the airport with a business class ticket but without an assigned seat.

This Thai spa trip is the last in a never-ending series of back-to-back trips, you see, so someone had overlooked this detail.


At the airport, I'd requested row #3 because the check-in staff had told me that I would have an empty seat next to me.

The check-in staff had told me: "The seat next to you is empty unless someone comes in at the last minute and buys an upgrade to business from economy for US$150 one-way".

And when I entered the plane, there was this very guy seated in my assigned seat, and his bag was sprawled all over the other seat.


And now here we were at Bangkok airport, and he was telling some girl on his mobile that he'd been upgraded to First Class as an airline VIP.

The girl on the other end of the line must've been pretty impressed.

As for me, my luggage was the first one out and I left as quickly as possible, to catch my car and driver, and head out for another adventure in my never-ending Travelife. 

I've certainly had enough of overheard conversations that day....



Echolac: Luggage as great Christmas presents

This Christmas, bring a smile to faces with travel gifts that will tickle their wanderlust. Equip them on their next adventures with high quality luggage that are inspired and designed by those who understand the true demands of travel Echolac.

The PC005D carry-on

Founded in 1964, the luggage brand Echolac brings together Japanese, Italian, and Chinese influences to design superior travel products. Today, decades later, it continues to create carefully crafted luggage that stand the test of time and which live up to the ever-changing needs of the discerning market.

Take your pick and gift these exceptional pieces of design to your loved ones this holiday season, because it’s true - beautiful things are meant to be shared.




The bold and beautiful Echolac PC005D carry-on is lightweight and fashionable bag at 5 kilos with a capacity of 82.9 liters. Waterproof, weather-resistant, and made of scratch-resistant ABS thermoplastic material, with this Echolac luggage, there’s no fear of ruining your precious valuables inside.


The PW003 spinner case luggage

The Echolac PW003 spinner case luggage shows off a playful and fun side, for a luggage. Polypropylene completes the sturdy smooth exterior. Fret not about its purpose as it features full-lined interiors, expandable storage, high mobility and padded handles. Bring back the joy in packing for your travels as you transport the cheerful vibes of Echolac.


The PC098E boarding box suitcase

The Echolac PC098E boarding box suitcase has a tough aluminium-magnesium alloy luggage box caster to ensure against normal wear and tear. With a TSA password lock, your valuables are kept safe inside the internal compartment with polyester lining and zipper pockets. Universal wheels, top handle, and pull-up drawbar work to grant convenience as you carry your way through life.


The PC080EX carry-on
The burgundy Echolac PC080EX carry-on is light and breezy at 4100 grams. With durable ABS outer material, it has two internal compartments with a capacity of 62.6 liters and a TSA lock to secure your belongings. Discover ease of movement and weave your way through the airport and runway with this smooth-turning, stylish piece. 


The PC108 carry-on

For classy chic vibes, there’s the PC108 carry-on. Simple and straightforward in its design, it is no less hardy and water-resistant than other Echolac luggage. Two internal compartments maximize storage space inside and protects your valuable with a TSA lock. Life can get messy and chaotic during long-haul trips, but be rest assured of a breezy experience with this luggage that’s subtly sophisticated. 

Echolac is available at SM Department Stores, Robinsons Department Stores, Metro Gaisano Department Stores, Landmark Makati and Landmark TriNoma Department Stores. For more information, click here.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas lunches and dinners plus holiday events at The Star in Sydney

Make it a Christmas to remember at The Star Sydney with a month of exclusive dining and festive entertainment experiences. 

Christmas events at The Star in Sydney

Ring in the holiday season 2017 in style with the one-off Very Merry Christmas Lunch on December 14 or host Christmas drinks on Sydney's hottest rooftop bar, Sky Terrace. On Christmas Day itself, relax with family and friends at one of The Star's signature restaurants: Sokyo, BLACK Bar & Grill, and Balla. Or for something more casual, gather for a delicious meal at Harvest Buffet




The Very Merry Christmas Lunch with Dave Hughes 
Thursday, December 14, 2017 
Join a spectacularly themed Christmas Wonderland for an unforgettable Christmas party at The Star Sydney's Event Centre with a special performance by one of Australia's favourite comedians, Dave Hughes


Sky Terrace 
Open throughout December 
Celebrate the silly season at Sydney's biggest rooftop bar, Sky Terrace, and enjoy the menu of signature cocktails, mouth-watering food and sweeping views over Sydney Harbour and the Sydney skyline. Open every weekend over summer, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day, guests can soak up balmy afternoons and nights with live entertainment from some of Australia's best DJs


The Star Christmas Shopping Night 
Friday, December 8, 2017 
Make Christmas shopping relaxing with The Star Christmas Shopping Night. Browse gifts galore in The Star's fashion precinct and take advantage of discounts and special offers, available for one night only. Guests will enjoy live entertainment, complimentary sparkling wine and cheese samples from Balla, and sweet treats from Adriano Zumbo and Gelato Messina

Be in the running to win one of four luxury prizes from Chanel, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Tudor Grantour. Simply spend $50 or more in a single transaction between 6 PM and 7:55 PM on the night at The Star's retail stores or Café Court to earn an entry into the $8,000 prize pool. 



Christmas events at The Star in Sydney

BLACK Bar & Grill 
Christmas Day – Lunch from 11am 
Celebrate Christmas at BLACK Bar & Grill while being treated to a decadent five-course menu, courtesy of Executive Chef Dany Karam and his expert team. The festive fine-dining offering will begin with a starter of king salmon tartare in a spicy tomato broth and a choice of entrées, including fresh oysters or heirloom tomato salad with jamón ibérico, buffalo mozzarella and white balsamic dressing

For traditionalists, there will be a turkey main, complete with macadamia nut stuffing, heirloom carrots and rhubarb chutney, or opt for one of BLACK's signature steaks with a Christmas Day twist: striploin grain fed angus MBS 3+, served with smoked potato, asparagus, Yorkshire pudding and foie gras. Finish with a light pre-dessert of summer berries and elderflower jelly, followed by a memorable chocolate delice with cherry, amaretto custard and gingerbread crumble


Christmas events at The Star in Sydney

Christmas Day – Lunch from 11am 
In true Italian style, gather family and friends for a festive feast at Balla, prepared by Executive Chef Gabriele Taddeucci. Designed to share, your table will be laden with antipasti, including highlights of house-cured meats served with Balla grissini, zucchini flowers stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and truffle pecorino and bass grouper ragu with organic gigli pasta, taggiasca olive and Sicilia capers

Secondi, served with rosemary roast potatoes and mixed leaves will include wood-grilled octopus with pesto trapanese, shaved celery and basil and Tuscan style porchetta, roasted suckling pig. To finish, there will be a sumptuous dolce of dark chocolate fondue, profiteroles and panettone ice cream, and wild berries.  


For a non-traditional Christmas dinner, let Sokyo Executive Chef Chase Kojima treat you and your loved ones to a taste of Tokyo in the heart of Sydney. Sophisticated dining at its best, choose from the full à la carte menu, which draws on the finest Australian ingredients to bring extraordinary Japanese flavours to life. Complete the celebration with festive tipple, including the finest Japanese saké and whisky

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The terrace suite of the Park Bosphorus Hotel has the most beautiful view of Istanbul

“You’re staying in my favorite hotel room,” said Efecan Alici, the assistant front office manager of the Park Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul, as he escorted me to my Terrace Suite upon checking in one early morning. Kaan, my private butler at the Park Bosphorus Hotel, who was waiting for me as we got off on my floor, said with a big smile as he opened the door: “This is my favorite suite.”

Terrace View at Park Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul,
a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX

I hadn’t exactly booked the presidential suite of the Park Bosphorus Hotel, which just so happens to be the largest hotel suite in Istanbul right now; in fact, my Terrace Suite is several notches down from this in the pecking order of rooms at this hotel. So, frankly, I assumed these remarks were simply welcome courtesies accorded to all hotel guests until I actually walked into my suite and out onto the private terrace and literally beheld the entire Istanbul before me in full splendor on a beautiful sunny autumn day.

Many hotels in Taksim, up on the hill on the European side of Istanbul facing the sea, offer similar views but so few can boast of an open-air one as hotel rooms in Istamni; with panoramic terraces are scarce in this city.

But what a difference this terrace with an unencumbered 180-degree view of Istanbul made in Park Bosphorus Hotel. The scene is what postcards and Instagram moments are made of, of course; but, more than this, it was really about adding more dimensions – being able to actually experience the sounds and smells of Istanbul and of the Bosphorus that made my stay here unforgettable.

Terrace Suite at Park Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul,
a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX

“I don’t think I’ll want to leave this room,” I said to them, only half in jest. Indeed, I was already canceling in my mind the tentative plans I had made to stroll around nearby Istiklal Caddesi, and eyeing the very comfortable looking sofa on the terrace as the perfect place to catch up on emails after my long flight. I’d also planned to meet up with some friends for a drink later in the day, and now I was thinking of inviting them over to my terrace instead.

Terrace with a view aside, this suite is modest in size, as far as suites go, but its horizontal configuration maximized its access to the scenery, making it feel more spacious than it actually was, especially from up high with a panoramic view of Istanbul.

From a design perspective, too, it was easy on the eyes in a graceful way – a contemporary version of classic Ottoman interiors sans the heavy colors, in whites and the faintest shades of pastel. And with a private marble hammam and a jacuzzi that could easily have fit four persons, it had everything I could possible wish for in a hotel room.

Park Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul,
a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX

“This is one of the most requested suites in Park Bosphorus Hotel,” Efecan continued. “It’s always fully booked, especially in the summer.” I could certainly imagine how the Terrace Suite of the Park Bosphorus Hotel is a wonderful premium seat to the spectacular show that is Istanbul in the summer, with everyone’s windows and doors flung open, the yachts in the water, and people out in the rooftop bars and open-air cafes celebrating life.

Meanwhile, the Park Bosphorus Hotel, a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX Collection, is ideally located at a high vantage point for views and in a quiet end of Taksim, Istanbul’s main commercial area, so that all the action is only a five-minute stroll but yet seemingly a world away.

Park Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul,
a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX

It’s a new hotel reworked out of a heritage building that has enjoyed many lives, including one as the residence of the Ambassador of Italy from 1890 and then as the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Ottoman empire

It then became the Park Hotel, one of Turkey’s first hotels and an institution in Istanbul life that served as a popular venue for society weddings and celebrations. It was also the hotel of choice for visiting dignitaries, including the former King Edward VIII of England and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic.

Today, the Park Bosphorus Hotel sparkles with new interiors, most of it created painstakingly by local artisans who hand-carved and hand-painted a modern version of a classical Turkish palace, and the effect of all this artistry is not dissimilar to a fancy wedding cake, albeit one in marble. 

Turkish costumes and arts and crafts – all part of the collection of the owner’s family – are also displayed throughout, reminding guests of the illustrious history of the Park Bosphorus Hotel.

Park Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul,
a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX

Yet it was the Terrace Suite that captured my heart from the start. In spite of my good intentions to stay put, I ended up leaving for a few hours for a quick visit to see the paintings of Osman Hamdi Bey at the Pera Museum and for a stroll through a weekend antiques market, but soon the thought of it pulled me back.

Then, for the rest of the day, I sat on my terrace as it was unusually warm for that time of year and ordered a platter of mezze and a glass of wine for my first proper Turkish meal. For once in a very long time, I didn’t even open my computer as I was completely mesmerized by the changing of colors and light as the sun faded on Istanbul, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Sometimes, a Travelife is really meant to be experienced just like this.

Holiday packages in Macao, at the St. Regis Macao

Macao is one of the most vibrant cities in Asia, and The St. Regis Macao is situated in the heart of Macao's Cotai Strip. See some of their wonderful Macao holiday packages on offer.

The St. Regis Macao

Visitors can turn back time and experience the legacy of the St. Regis brand through a series of timeless rituals. The  “Stay Exquisite” package of the St. Regis Macao gives guests the opportunity to reserve hotel rooms or suites with stunning views overlooking Cotai


Stay Exquisite at The St. Regis Macao  

This holiday offer at the St. Regis Macao includes: 

- One evening in a spacious deluxe room for two 
- Daily breakfast for two at the hotel's signature restaurant, The Manor 
- Bloody Mary for two at The St. Regis Bar 
- Signature afternoon tea set for two at The St. Regis Bar 

Plus the choice of a one-way Cotai Water Jet first class ferry tickets from Macao to Hong Kong for two or HKD300 hotel credit towards dining or spa (one per stay) 

The St. Regis Macao


Stay Exquisite Suite Package at The St. Regis Macao  

This holiday offer at the St. Regis Macao includes: 

- One evening in a luxurious St. Regis Suite for two 
- Exclusive chauffeured limousine service either to or from The St. Regis Macao 
- Daily breakfast for two at the hotel's signature restaurant, The Manor 
- Bloody Mary for two at The St. Regis Bar 
- Signature afternoon tea set for two at The St. Regis Bar 

Plus the choice of a one-way Cotai Water Jet first class ferry tickets from Macao to Hong Kong for two or HKD300 hotel credit towards dining or spa (one per stay). Guests who book a St. Regis Suite may also choose to enjoy chauffeured limousine service to The St. Regis Macao. Upon arrival, their personal butler will lead them to The St. Regis Bar to enjoy a locally-inspired Bloody Mary welcome drink known as "Maria do Leste" (Mary of the East). 



The Maria do Leste is a rich yet piquant mix of lime juice, black vinegar, paprika, and piri piri, and this unique concoction reflects Macao's melting pot of cultures

Meanwhile, guests reserving the “Stay Exquisite” package can also relish a Macao-themed afternoon tea of classic Portuguese favorites, such as egg tarts, Serradura, orange Catalana, and savor a variety of teas. Afternoon tea articulates a timeless tradition enjoyed by guests since the first St. Regis opening in 1904, and remains a quintessential offering available at all St. Regis hotels.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bargain flights on Scoot from Australia to Krabi, Phuket and Boracay

Give the gift of an exotic beach trip this Christmas.  Why buy silly stocking stuffers when you can get a seat on a Scoot flight to Krabi or Phuket for a bargain? 

Scoot Airlines is now offering promo fares for Christmas

Scoot is offering bargain flight tickets from various destinations in Australia including Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to holiday destinations like Boracay and Cebu in the Philippines and Krabi and Phuket in Thailand. Santa's also added an extra AUS $10 off on selected Scoot FLYBAG and FLYBAGEAT fares – just add in the Scoot promo code ESCAPE10 at time of booking. 



These Scoot FLY economy one-way fares include all taxes, but food and bags are extra. 


Scoot Airlines is now offering promo fares for Christmas
To book these tickets before the Scoot Christmas promotional campaign period ends, click here or download and book on the Scoot app

Please note: The Scoot promotional code is case-sensitive and this Scoot special discount applies to base fare only. Fares comprise the price of the air ticket and associated taxes. Fares indicated are one-way unless otherwise stated, for travel originating out of Perth, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne on selected Scoot flights

Taxes are subject to change due to currency fluctuations. Blackout periods may apply during school holidays and event periods. Unless stated otherwise, Economy Fly fares exclude checked baggage, meals and inflight entertainment

Thursday, November 23, 2017

New Vietnamese women who bridge Vietnam and the West cultures and economies

These women continue to leave marks on the development of Vietnam, changing people's thinking and country development for decades to come. They are reformers who bridge East and West cultures as well as businesses with their entrepreneurship skills, innovative and creative ideas, and companies with social impact. They represent intriguing models for new women’s leadership in Asia.

Each woman offers a powerful view from the perspective of modern Vietnam. Ms. Amy Do, born in Vietnam and raised in the USA with an Ivy League education, is a successful entrepreneur after a decade of working and living across the continents. Amy Do found a series of businesses in the USA and Vietnam. She is a consultant for high-end property projects in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation regions. Ms. Thu Huong, a successful serial entrepreneur is passionate about committing to create new value for community, and joining hand to solve social problems, Ms. Nguyen Thu Huong has been devoted to connecting business community domestically and internationally.

These inspiring women share their latest ventures.

Amy’s recent project includes consulting for a developer of a 4-billion USD world-class casino integrated resort and leisure in Central Vietnam. This will set a new benchmark for high-end tourism in Vietnam.

Amy Do
Co founder - Nature gift LLC
Consultant for HOIANA

Why did you pick an industry that is dominated by men? And in a country like Vietnam?
Controlled by man? Maybe in the past, maybe in the “old world”. Asia has quite a few successful women property developers – but yes, we are still in a male-dominated industry. My experience as a founder of a pharmaceutical company and in property development show that Vietnam is a place women can succeed very well. But I am still making things beautiful, like showcasing Vietnam as a more beautiful place and change the way the world looks at Vietnam.

What makes the latest project in Da Nang so special?
Firstly, it is not just a hotel development it is an integrated development with a golf course, villas, and a school. The project I currently do consulting for will create an estimated 2,000 jobs for local residents.

We commit to establishing a hospitality school that will train employees not only for the project but for other tourism businesses in this growing region, bringing economic prosperity and opportunity to the Quang Nam province and encouraging economic growth in Vietnam. That is the main reason I am in the project.

In the global economy, no country in today’s world can seal itself off from foreign goods, services, and capital. To foster stronger and more inclusive growth for Vietnam, we need a closer international cooperation and economic integration. That is the only way forward.

Besides generating jobs, I want to introduce Vietnam as a very beautiful destination to the world.

What made you start your own business?
In my 20s, I  had the wonderful privilege of working with progressive leaders whose desire was to improve life through their works in companies like P&G and VinaCapital. However, creativity simply may be cut out with the limitations of corporate life. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. It is always part of me. So in my 30s, I found a few companies in California and Vietnam. Entrepreneurship opened up my world to amazing horizons and opportunities I would never have had if I didn’t take the risk to open the door one day and jump into my dream. I am grateful to have chosen the way I lived as a woman entrepreneur and for the positive impact I have had on thousands of lives with my products.

Amy has an MBA degree from Columbia Business School, is co- founder of Nature Gift LLC in Los Angeles. She was on the Top 50 list of the Women Leader International Network in 2014 and is recognized by the Vietnam president for her fast growing company Vita Bella in Vietnam.

2nd Runner up: Mrs. Nguyen Thu Huong – Founder and President of the Women Leaders International Network and Director of Nam Huong Corp.

“Fortune will not last long if it is kept in your own.”
“Footsteps build road”
“Being good is not enough”

Being a pioneer to build new roads, create new community values, and join hand to solve social problems, Mrs. Nguyen Thu Huong has been devoted to connecting the business community domestically and internationally. She also succeeds in creating a professional image that is stylish, brave, and dynamic in these modern times. She always pushes her own limits by trying new positions because she thinks every woman has a right to be beautiful, successful, and happy.

Huong Nguyen
CEO - Nam Huong Corporation

The connector and leader of community
For five years now, besides running her own business, Ms. Huong has been traveling across Vietnam to build Women Leader International Network (WLIN), which has more than 500 members now. This begs the question why she has never stopped working so hard, despite her success. Fame? Wealth? Not so, as she attained all that.

Huong keeps asking herself, “Why do I have to face so much hardship? But after all, any fortune cannot last long if I discontinue joining hands to build a better world. I am so lucky to have many things; I would like to share with the community and society and helping women leaders enjoy more interesting lives. With that, Huong decided to establish WLIN to help women leaders balance their business, families, and personal lives in order to be happier, more beautiful, and more successful. According to her, when women have three “weapons,” they can make profound changes to society.

“I care about creating activities for women leaders because they are persistent and influential; they provide jobs to the workforce; and they are really progressive. Therefore, they can self-develop; and if they have environment to innovate more, they can exert effect on other women, their families and even their staff’s families,” Ms. Huong shares.

According to Ms. Thu Huong, “Our subsequent generation could play together with friends in a world sharing the same ‘language.’” 

The pioneer of new things
If you want to write a new story for your entrepreneur, call Ms. Thu Huong because she always has new ideas in her mind. She has a great source of energy that entices anyone she meets for the first time. This is also her “weapon” to conquer new things.

Except for natural ability, the very first factor to maintain the eternal flame of passion for work, especially as a leader, is observation. “When anything happens, I always go backward to observe. Perhaps this habit had emerged when I was a young journalist. While other people let themselves be the lead actor or actress in the ‘stage’ of life, I try to go backward as a director to look at my life’s adventure, and then recognize the basis and reason of anything happening.”

The leader in the communications field
Ms. Thu Huong is always a pioneer and making people follow. She has established Top 100 Business Style to honor businessmen and businesswomen having great achievements and contributing to society in addition to managing Nam Huong Corp.She is also a strategic adviser on communication for famous enterprises. Some impressive projects include CapitaLand Vietnam, AIS, SNA, Doji, FLC (Miss Vietnam Heritage Global), ACG, Ba Na Hills (Miss Sport), Top 100 Business Style, Beauty Power, etc.