Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The electronics ban on airlines flying to the US and UK from Middle East

The United States and the United Kingdon are banning passengers travelling to their countries from nine Middle East destination from bringing any device bigger than a smartphone on board.


The devices that cannot be carried onboard flights include:

Portable DVD players
Electronic gaming devices
Travel printers or scanners

These will have to be check in with your luggage. Medical devices needed on board will still allowed in your handcarry.


These are the 10 international airports covered by the United States ban:

Cairo, Egypt
Dubai,  United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Istanbul, Turkey
Doha, Qatar
Amman, Jordan
Kuwait City
Casablanca, Morocco
Jeddah & Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


The nine airlines affected by the ban are:

Emirates Airline
Etihad Airways
Kuwait Airways
Qatar Airways
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Turkish Airlines.

Meanwhile, the restrictions for passengers on 14 airlines flying into the United Kingdom apply to flights from the following destinations:

Saudi Arabia

Healthy food at Swissotel Sydney Vitality Meetings

Healthy food at Swissotel Sydney Vitality Meetings

In celebration of Vitality Day on March 21, 2017, Swissôtel Sydney has re-launched their Vitality Meetings offering, featuring a new menu concept by Executive Chef Joshua Askew.

Exclusive to Swissôtel Sydney, the new Vitality Meetings offering features strategically scheduled meal breaks for delegates to enjoy nutritious dishes packed-full of superfoods. This program has proven to improve delegates' mental capabilities, increase motivation, defuse stress and magnify memory.


Healthy food at Swissotel Sydney Vitality Meetings

“We have created a range of healthy dishes that delegates will not only enjoy eating but also provide them with the sustenance needed to get them through the day. Something as simple as quinoa is rich in oxygen-carrying iron and contains only 222 calories per serve, while proteins such as low-GI beans, fish and chicken, are stocked full of essential amino acids which will keep the stomach satisfied and the brain alert for longer" said Swissotel Sydney Executive Chef Joshua Askew

The Swissotel Sydney Vitality Meetings Menu includes the following:


Healthy food at Swissotel Sydney Vitality Meetings

This new initiative is offered to all delegates on arrival as a booster to kick-start the day.

With options such as low-fat yoghurt smoothies, fruit juice shots infused with Swissôtel Sydney's very own rooftop honey and spirulina, wheatgrass and acai booster shots, delegates will be ready for the day.


Healthy food at Swissotel Sydney Vitality Meetings

Timed just before lunch when delegates begin to get restless, this mid-morning break has been altered to introduce low-fructose fruits such as honeydew, rock melon, kiwifruit and pears as well as high-fibre granola and compote yoghurts.


Choose from a daily alternating menu from either a hot or cold working lunch. Hot items include delicacies such as miso glazed barramundi with stir fried vegetables and grilled lamb chops with roasted carrots and salsa verde, while cold options feature healthy smoked turkey baguettes with cranberry, brie and lettuce and tuna avocado wraps.

Healthy food at Swissotel Sydney Vitality Meetings



It is all about sweet offerings for the last break of the day and this is what will keep the delegates going throughout the afternoon.

Dark chocolate mousse slice, raspberry cup, champagne jelly with fresh berries and matcha friands are just some of the tempting treats on offer.

With the concept of wellbeing integrated throughout the entire hotel, meeting delegates can also benefit from the Swissotel Sydney Vitality Corner – a space designed and equipped outside the meeting room with yoga mats, exercise stretch bands and gym balls accompanied with energy muesli bars, fruit bowls and bottled water for use during their scheduled breaks.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New sandwiches at Main St. Deli of the Langham Hotel in Hong Kong

Main St. Deli of the Langham Hotel in Hong Kong 

Regarded as one of the first authentic New York-style delis in Hong Kong, Main St. Deli at The Langham in Hong Kong reanimates its modern spirit with a playful emoji burger menu for a fun tasting experience.

All made to order burgers with high-quality ingredients and served with home fries or salad, guests can choose from a range of burgers that include the Australian Wagyu M5, Southern Fried Chicken, Battered or Grilled Fish, and the O.M.G. Veggie.


The menu also features new dishes such as the Soft Shell Crab Bao made of crispy soft shell crab, fried quail egg, red cabbage, pickles and coriander stuffed in a soft bun; and the Baja-style Soft Fish Tacos wrapped with sole fish, avocado, cilantro, lime, tomatoes, purple cabbage and Baja dressing.

For serious eaters, The Ugly Duckling presents a generous serving of curly fries and smoked duck breast topped with black truffle, parmesan cheese and house gravy.


There is also The Steak Caprese with succulent grilled Australian strip loin steak, grilled U.S. bacon, mozzarella cheese, romaine lettuce, basil and balsamic reduction sandwiched in a choice of Turkish sesame or grilled marble rye bread.

At the same time, guests at Main St. Deli of The Langham Hotel in Hong Kong will still be able to reminisce over a few classic favourites like the traditional Reuben Sandwich and the Matzah Ball Soup, as well as the signature deli shakes and ice cream floats.

Kung Fu Panda Adventure Ice World at the Venetian Macao

Kung Fu Panda Adventure Ice World with the DreamWorks All-Stars

It was a chilly minus 8 degrees Celsius, but that didn't cool the enthusiasm of scores of visitors at the opening ceremony of Kung Fu Panda Adventure Ice World with the DreamWorks All-Stars, Asia's largest indoor frozen wonderland, at the The Venetian Macao's Cotai Expo from March 16 – July 9, 2017.


Kung Fu Panda Adventure Ice World with the DreamWorks All-Stars

The opening ceremony saw enthusiastic children performing kung fu under the instructions of Kung Fu Panda himself at The Venetian Macao's Cotai Expo Hall F, where Kung Fu Panda Adventure Ice World with the DreamWorks All-Stars will be open to the public 11 AM – 8 PM daily, with last admission at 730 PM.

Now in its fifth triumphant year, Ice World is organised by Sands Resorts Macao with participation from Heilongjiang Provincial Ice Fun World Culture Communication Co. Ltd, and supported by Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO). 


Kung Fu Panda Adventure Ice World with the DreamWorks All-Stars

This unique event sees thousands of blocks of multi-coloured ice skillfully carved into amazingly detailed sculptures by a team of expert ice sculpture craftsmen from Harbin in northern China.

This year's show includes a host of colourful DreamWorks Animation characters from “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar,” “Shrek,” “How To Train Your Dragon,” “The Croods” and “Trolls,” vibrantly brought to life with dazzling lights and stunning sound effects.

In addition to the seven ice sculpture zones at the Kung Fu Panda Adventure Ice World with the DreamWorks All-Stars, additions including themed games and savoury snacks, merchandise, merchandise and character meet-and-greets.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ghosts in hotel rooms

Everyone loves a good ghost story even if they know it’ll give them nightmares later – and I’m no exception. There’s something thrilling about listening to someone else’s tales of eerie moans and white apparitions in the company of friends, knowing these aren’t happening to you.


However, the fear factor takes on an entirely different, more spine-chilling dimension when you’re in a strange and ancient land. And especially when the ghost is literally sharing your hotel room. 


Ghost stories are especially plentiful in Europe. In Europe, every other building is at least 300 years old and countless people have lived, died – and even been murdered - within their walls.

Lots of buildings in France and England even have plaques on their walls saying something like "XXX died here in XXX," when a famous person is known to have died in that house. It's very interesting from a historical viewpoint, but certainly not if you're wary of ghosts.

My cousin, who claims to have a third eye that enables her to see spirits, recently recalled checking into a hotel in Bordeaux, France. She said she saw images of people from the past all along the hotel corridor, as she was walking to her room. “They all looked pale and were lined up against the wall expressionless,” she told me.

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Most Europeans I’ve spoken to don’t seem to care much about having to live with spirits long gone. They even put up patiently with the idiosyncrasies of the ghosts - taking everything in with an amused air. Perhaps banging doors and footsteps on the second floor are as much a part of their lives as cable television and the internet.

Some Asian visitors however, still prefer to stay away from anything other-worldly. I certainly do. Many years ago, I checked into a small hotel in Innsbruck, Austria which had all its walls painted black. The somber atmosphere should have foretold of eerie occurrences but I naively chalked this up to a taste for the avant-garde and a penchant for dark colors.

In the middle of the night, however, the radio in this Innsbruck hotel began blaring at full blast. Startled out of my sleep, I immediately shut it off. Later, amidst the fog of a waking dream, it came on again. The skeptical might attribute this to faulty wiring but who really knows?

And why did the radio only turn on at midnight?


Another summer, I was staying alone at one of Venice’s top hotels and very much enjoying a room filled with antiques and facing the Grand Canal. However, again, in the middle of the night, I awoke with a jolt, feeling incredibly hot and suffocated.

I automatically assumed it was the air conditioning and so I called the front desk to complain about the air-conditioning.

 The night clerk arrived within minutes, white as a sheet. Without explanation, he moved me to another room where I promptly resumed a comfortable rest. I thought it odd that he hadn’t even bothered to check the room’s cooling system, but soon forgot about this.

I stayed on for a few more days, walking around Venice and making the rounds of my favorite shops. Later, I found out from one of the young men at the concierge desk - who I bumped into at a Venice pizzeria one evening - that my first hotel room was known to be haunted, and that guests often complained feeling suffocated while sleeping there.

That's why the night clerk looked like he'd literally seen a ghost...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards for 2017 in Melbourne, Australia

Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia

The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards for 2017 will take place at the world's first public countdown and screening of the prestigious event at Federation Square in Melbourne on Wednesday, April 5.

The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards countdown and live screening is free and open to everyone. Bringing together several of the city's well-known attributes, a picnic-themed Federation Square will play host to an evening of entertainment, featuring comedians from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (29 March - 23 April), live music curated by Music Victoria, and dinner options from some of Melbourne's best food trucks – all serving up Victorian produce. 

The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards for 2017

Melbourne is only the third international city to host The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, following in the footsteps of London and New York. Brought to Australia by Tourism Australia in partnership with Visit Victoria, the week-long events program includes the main gala industry event, ticketed public events, and touring options around regional Victoria for the invited chefs and international food media.

“The world's culinary elite will descend on Melbourne this April, and with them, an invaluable opportunity to share our stories through our talented chefs, our world-class restaurants, and our unique regional settings. With hundreds of foodie events around town and our free The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards live-streaming event at Federation Square - everyone is invited to join in the celebrations, “said Peter Bingeman, Chief Executive Officer, Visit Victoria.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Michelin chef Christophe Lerouy to cook at Sofitel Hanoi Metropole's Le Beaulieu

Christophe Lerouy to cook at Sofitel Hanoi Metropole's Le Beaulieu

This spring, French Michelin-starred chef Christophe Lerouy makes an unprecedented cameo appearance at Vietnam’s The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.

The celebrity guest chef will cook for two unique culinary experiences on April 28 and 29 at the hotel’s French fine-dining restaurant, Le Beaulieu, as part of the Metropole’s annual Les Arômes Festival. 


Christophe Lerouy to cook at Sofitel Hanoi Metropole's Le Beaulieu

Diners will taste Chef Lerouy's eclectic Asian-inspired French cooking. The four-course dinner at The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi on April 28 will include mouthwatering dishes as warm oysters, with torched foie gras, apple wasabi puree, and Iberico ham stock.

On April 29 Chef Lerouy teams up with the Sofitel Legend Metropole’s Chef de Cuisine, Olivier Génique, to cook a five-course feast. Each chef will prepare two courses featuring imported delicacies such as seared Hokkaido scallops and Argentinian striploin, before joining forces for the final act: a surprise chocolate-infused dessert.

“This meeting of the culinary masterminds brings passionate foodies together in both the kitchen and dining room, offering an unforgettable dining experience,” said Franck Lafourcade, the Metropole’s general manager. “We are excited to have Chef Christophe Lerouy with us and we’re looking forward to two special evenings of excellent food and wine.”


With over 20 years of experience in various Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, including Amador in Abu Dhabi and Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, Chef Lerouy was awarded his first Michelin star at Alma by Juan Amador in Singapore where he was Chef de Cuisine.

After leaving Alma last year, 34-year-old Lerouy launched his own restaurant, DSTLLRY par Christophe Lerouy in Singapore, serving French cuisine with subtle infusions of Asian techniques and ingredients. The celebrity chef dinners are part of the Metropole’s Les Arômes Festival.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Light City show in Baltimore

The Light City show in Baltimore

This post is about the Light City show in Baltimore this March.

You may not know is that Baltimore was the first city outside of England to adopt gas street lights -- although London beat Baltimore to the punch by installing gas street lights in 1807.


Today Baltimore is now home to Light City, America's first and largest international light, music and innovation festival. Named one of the top “16 things to see and do in the United States” last year, the Light City festival will transform Baltimore's renowned Inner Harbor into a playground of 23 large-scale light art installations.

Brilliant Baltimore” will illuminate 40 iconic landmarks of Baltimore while “Neighborhoods Lights” will extend the magic of the festival to eight distinct Baltimore neighbourhoods.


The Light City show in Baltimore

Light City will also organise 35 concerts and more than 200 performances from March 31 through April 8, 2017. There will be live performers like rapper Biz Markie (“You Got What I Need”) and the New Orlean's Dirty Dozen Brass Band; and events such as an illuminated bike party featuring Baltimore's new Bike Share.

Last year's debut Light City Festival drew 400,000 visitors and created a hub of unity and international inclusivity by providing local Baltimore artists the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a distinguished roster of national and international artists.

This year's Light City festival will include artists from seven countries including the UK, France, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Lebanon and Israel.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

China Show Monkey King by Beijing Hua Yan at Sands Resort Macao

China Show Monkey King by Beijing Hua Yan at Sands Resort Macao

The spectacular China Show Monkey King by Beijing Hua Yan Group has arrived at the new Sands Cotai Theatre at Sands Cotai Central. The large-scale fantasy stage play is based on the epic Tang Dynasty story of the famous monk Xuan Zang, better known as “A Journey to the West.”

This is regarded as one of the great Chinese legends.

Guests can now take advantage of special show and accommodation packages across six Sands Resorts Macao hotels for a stay period until December 31, 2017.

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China Show Monkey King by Beijing Hua Yan at Sands Resort Macao

Produced by the renowned Beijing Hua Yan Group, China Show Monkey King breaks new ground in interpreting the classic tale of the Tang Dynasty story of the famous monk Xuan Zang to appeal to a modern audience.

Viewers will be enthralled by the sheer scale of the dance, acrobatics, drama, martial arts, magic 
and other thrilling Chinese elements. The show also features the most advanced 3D effects, LED screen projections, video mapping and full surround sound, together with creative lighting effects, choreography, music and spectacular, colourful costumes.

The state-of-the-art Sands Cotai Theatre has been purpose built by Sands China Ltd. for the show and seats 1,700.

Mövenpick opens serviced apartments in Bangkok

Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok

Leading Swiss hospitality management company Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has opened a new serviced apartment in Bangkok: the Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok.

This new property features 158 serviced apartments and offers long-stay guests a choice of fully furnished studios, 1- and 2- bedroom apartments in Bangkok's vibrant Ekkamai neighbourhood, an area known for its hip cafes, fine restaurants and boutique shopping options.

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Built by award-winning Thai developer Nusasiri Plc., Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok is the global hotel group's second offering in Thailand's gateway city, and stands as a flagship for the brand's contemporary serviced apartment concept in Asia.

Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok

“We are delighted to partner with such a well established name in Thai real estate as we extend Mövenpick's reach beyond hotels and resorts into the fast growing serviced apartment sector,” says Andrew Langdon, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts Global Chief Development Officer and Senior Vice President Asia.

He added: “The high quality of finishing and variety of spacious layouts, combined with our Swiss attention to detail is sure to make Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok a high-demand option in an area that's already popular with long-term expatriates.”


Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok

Units at the Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok range in size from 32 sqm to 75 sqm with bright, contemporary décor and a choice of sweeping city views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

All the residences come fully fitted, including kitchen equipment, also feature flat screen TVs offering numerous cable channels in multiple languages and complimentary WiFi.

Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok

Residents also enjoy access to a generous 25-metre outdoor saltwater swimming pool, an indoor rooftop fitness centre and a modest but well equipped meetings and functions space.

 A varied selection of dishes is offered throughout the day at the on-site restaurant, while for those who prefer to venture out there's a regular shuttle service which passes through the area's main shopping and dining zones to drop off guests at the nearest BTS sky train station.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Banyan Tree Jiuzhaigou opens in China

The Banyan Tree Jiuzhaigou

Banyan Tree Jiuzhaigou, a hotel managed by Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, will officially open on 1 March 2017. At 2,500 metres above sea level, the 209-key mountain retreat within the Sichuan Province is a true sanctuary for the senses offering awe-inspiring 360 degree panoramic views of the surrounding mountain and valley landscape.

Jiuzhaigou is a world-renowned destination, surrounded by lush flora and fauna. Experience the captivating landscape that changes with the season: cherry blooms in the spring, sparkling mountainside lakes in the summer, red and yellow foliage in autumn and silvery snow in winter.

The region is best known for its blue, green and turquoise-coloured lakes, plunging waterfalls, colourful forests, snow-capped mountains and centuries-old Tibetan culture. Look forward to different experiences and spectacular views with every season.

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Banyan Tree Jiuzhaigou has curated a list of activities for a memorable and authentic stay experience.

Couples can take a romantic stroll through the orchards in a nearby village, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere while picking fresh fruits. They can also watch the Romantic Show of Jiuzhaigou, a high-tech live action performance that showcases the ethnic culture and history of Tibetan and Qiang people. Or they can enjoy an intimate Destination Dining experience and be fully pampered at the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa.

Adventure enthusiasts can take a tour to Jiuzhaigou National Park and explore its ethereal landscape of clear pools, waterfalls, limestone terraces, and lush forests. Immerse in the stunning scenery at the Fairy Pool in Jiuzhaigou National Park, an unspoiled landscape less travelled or take a road trip to the Zoige Grassland, with its unrivalled panoramic views of the rolling emerald plains and snow covered mountains.

Golf lovers can visit the neighbouring Jiuzhai Yunling Golf Club. With its deep valleys to its south and high mountains to its north, it is a rare plateau in the high mountain region. Designed by Mark Hollinger, Partner at JMP Golf Design Group in the United States, the stunning golf course spans an area of more than 115 acres of forest, with 11.5 acres of highland lake and 1.6 acres of alpine lake. The course utilises natural valleys, forests, waterfalls, and lakes to create one of the most beautiful 18-hole golf course in China.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Coffee experience at The Montague on the Gardens

Coffee experience at The Montague on the Gardens

Budding coffee connoisseurs can enjoy a masterclass in coffee appreciation with The Montague on the Gardens' all-new Coffee Experience. Making the most of the sunny spells and warmer temperatures to come throughout March and April, The Montague on the Gardens has transformed its outdoor wood deck area into a “Coffee Station” for the very first time, where expertly brewed coffee will be served as part of an educational experience.

This will be combined with exciting food pairings to complement the beans and brewing techniques.

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The Montague on the Gardens has teamed up with Illy Coffee to offer an insightful coffee tasting experience even the most seasoned coffee enthusiast will want to try. Guests will be invited to choose two types of coffee bean from a bespoke selection of Illy's finest roasts.

The Montague's team of coffee experts will then elaborate on the three different brewing techniques available, and take guests through the brewing process step by step. Discover how each coffee bean and brewing process produces different tastes and aromas, and enjoy the end result – a super tasty cup of “Joe”!


Coffee experience at The Montague on the Gardens

The Coffee Experience at The Montague will also include a selection of sweet and savoury food platters. Expertly brewed coffee is paired with a trio of mini sweet treats including coffee macaroons, macadamia chocolate brownies and the hotel's signature baked cheesecake.

A trio of savoury snacks including mac and cheese, mini cheeseburgers and the South African speciality of bobotie spring rolls will also be available to guests. These platters have been specifically designed to complement the flavours of the different coffee beans and brewing techniques.

Monday, March 6, 2017

ITB China 2017 in Shanghai

At the ITB China Preview last week, living a #Travelife

Travelife Magazine General Manager Angelica Bayona just returned from Shanghai where she attended “Building the bridge between East and West,” an exclusive ITB China preview event with more than 60 journalists from China and 15 other countries at the Jin Jiang Tower in Shanghai.

Three months before the official opening of ITB China, the new marketplace for the Chinese travel industry, experienced industry professionals shared and discussed their point of view and insights on the Chinese travel industry.

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Among the distinguished speakers were:

Dr. Martin Buck
Senior VP Travel & Logistics 
Messe Berlin 

Mr. David Axioms
General Manager / ITB China 

Mr. Eduardo Santander
Executive Director
European Travel Commission

Mr John Li
Vice President 
Jin Jiang International Hotel Management Co., Ltd

Mr. Mason Ma
General Manager 
All Region-based Tourism Strategic Marketing & Advertising Department 

Mr. Frank Wu
General Manager of Overseas Sourcing Centre 

Mr Tom Jenkins
European Tour Operators Association

Mr Charlie Li
CEO / TravelDaily China 


Dr Martin Buck, Senior VP Travel & Logistics at Messe Berlin said:” We are extremely delighted by the positive feedback on our new show from all over the world. ITB China already is, even before its world premiere, a great success.”

Three months to go before ITB China opens its doors at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre and the area of exhibition space is already completely sold out. From May 10-12, 2017, over 600 companies, destinations, organisations and travel service provider will be represented in China’s new three-day business to business travel trade show.

The ITB China Conference is the platform where the newest trends and innovation of the Chinese travel industry and the global travel industry will be presented.