Friday, February 23, 2018

The best things to do in New York: where to go, what to eat and what to do

Jessica Festa, travel writer, photographer, blogger, and editor of Epicure & Culture, is the perfect resource person for new ideas on how to spend 36 hours in New York City. Born and raised in the Big City, this certified travel bug describes herself as someone who travels “as much as humanly possible.” A licensed tour guide, Jessica Festa founded NYC Tours & Photo Safaris so that visitors can experience the city’s various facets from a different perspective. Here’s an inside look into what’s currently in Jessica’s little black book.

Quirkier side of New York City
Photo by Jessica Festa

The BEST PLACE FOR A CERTIFIED FOODIE is Smorgasburg on the water in Williamsburg. The best time to go there and explore is Saturday around 11 AM.

For A LATE NIGHT MEAL in the city, head to Artichoke Basille’s Pizza which has numerous locations, each open late. I love their artichoke wedge topped in a spinach artichoke dip.

The MOST LUXURIOUS MEAL in the city can be found at The NoMad.

For A ROMANTIC DINNER, take your date to TØRST.

Cochinita Pibil Tacos, Horchata New York
Photo by Noah Fecks

A MICHELIN-STARRED RESTAURANT I LOVE is Laut and my favorite dish there is the spicy Tom Kha with chicken.

Beauty & Essex is THE IDEAL SPOT TO PEOPLE WATCH New York’s most fashionable. Plus, they have free champagne in the women’s bathroom!

My LATEST FOOD DISCOVERY is Birds & Bubbles for a fried chicken and sparkling wine pairing.

LOCAL FOOD TRENDS TO TRY ARE Unique pairings, like beer and homemade cupcakes at Sweet Revenge or wine-inspired combinations at Jill Lindsey.

The Back Room
Photo by Troy Hahn

The BEST BREAKFAST PLACE is Jimmy’s Diner where I always order the Tater Heaven Breakfast Bowl.

The BEST PLACE FOR AN ICE COLD BEER after a long summer day is at Barcade. It has arcade games and delicious craft beers, mostly from the United States. 

You can find NEW YORK’S BEST AND COOLEST BARTENDER at Mayahuel. You should ask him to make you a spicy “Herb Alpert” with mezcal and a jalapeño-infused blanco tequila cocktail/drink.

TAKE A COFFEE BREAK at Maman NYC and make sure to get the Lavender Hot Chocolate.

I love BARHOPPING around Williamsburg or SPEAKEASY TOURING in the East Village.

Lavender Hot Chocolate, Maman
Photo by Jessica Festa

The CHICEST PLACE TO UNWIND IS AT the 17th-story rooftop of Pod 39, which has delicious Mexican food — they have a taco cart — and aerial views of the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, the Chrysler Building and the East River.

I am CURRENTLY IN LOVE WITH The CityReliquary, an uber-quirky history museum in Williamsburg with everything from an old rotting birthday cake to historic subway rock pieces and lots of interesting rotating cultural exhibits.

A favorite ART MUSEUM I like going to is The Frick Collection.

ONE PLACE THAT AWAKENS MY CREATIVE JUICES is the High Line Park, a repurposed elevated railway track with greenery, public art, food carts, and fun events.

Photo by Jessica Festa

For A CULTURAL IMMERSION, go to The Art StudentsLeague of New York.

I like going to The Journal Gallery to see new WORKS FROM UP-AND-COMING ARTISTS.

The THE BEST WAY TO SEE THE CITY AT ITS MOST BEAUTIFUL IN THE EVENING is by walking over the Williamsburg Bridge.

JIMMY at The James Hotel in Soho is the MOST FASHIONABLE PLACE to be seen.

Central Park
Photo by Claudia Altavas

I LIKE BRINGING FRIENDS TRAVELING TO NYC TO Nitehawk, an indie movie theater with fun events like Nitehawk Naughties and Country Brunchin’.

THE HIPPEST PLACE TO BE AND BE SEEN is The Standard Biergarten.

PARK YOUR PICNIC BASKET for a lazy afternoon at Belvedere Castle at 79th. It has an awesome skyline and castle views.

AN ACTIVITY THAT MOST LOCALS LOVE TO DO and foreign visitors must try is choosing a random subway stop, getting off and wandering without a plan.

Williamsburg Bridge
Photo by Jessica Festa

If I want a NIGHT OUT WITH THE GIRLS, we go to The Back Room for swing dancing or Mayahuel for amazing spicy mezcal cocktails. Tourist should not miss Industry City in Sunset Park, right on the water and full of local purveyors with open factories. Don’t miss the outdoor Mister Sunday party in the summer!

I LOVE SHOOTING IN Brooklyn around the murals of the Bushwick Collective (St. Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn) for a truly photogenic New York shot. So colorful and inspiring! For my NYC Tours & Photo Safaris, I lead a Beer, Bites and Street Art #InstaWalk that takes people through Bushwick. This is a must-visit for street art lovers. The buildings and walls along the streets are covered with all kinds of art that go beyond just murals.

The MOST INSTAGRAM-WORTHY SPOT that most tourists don’t know about is at the Glade Arch at Central Park. It’s a great place to take fun silhouette shots.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bespoke tailor TIÑO in the Philippines celebrates partnership with Holland & Sherry from Savile Row, London

Last February 19, bespoke tailoring company, TIÑO and textile company from Savile Row London, Holland & Sherry co-hosted a night of an exclusive trade event showcasing luxurious fabric selections of Holland & Sherry and bespoke creations of TIÑO.

L-R: Josh Lane, Holland & Sherry’s Regional Sales Manager, Far East; Napoleon “Nap” Arienza, Master Tailor of TIÑO; Vishal Advani from NJ Bhagwan & Co Pte Ltd, exclusive distributor of Holland & Sherry in Southeast Asia; Tristan Ramirez and Eilene Ramirez, co-owners of TIÑO

Holland & Sherry constantly travels around the world in search of crafted tailors and partners to present their quality fabrics. Vishal Advani from NJ Bhagwan & Co Pte Ltd, the exclusive distributor of Holland & Sherry in Southeast Asia, shared with the TRAVELIFE team that, “We hope to increase brand awareness in Southeast Asia. Holland & Sherry is a luxury fabric so you need an accredited tailor or craftsman to do justice to these fabrics.”

Josh Lane, Holland & Sherry’s Regional Sales Manager, Far East, emphasized this and said, “Holland & Sherry is quite conservative, but we’re considered as one of the best in the world. So we want more people to recognize our logo and know what we do as a company.”

Holland & Sherry fabric collections

This time, Holland & Sherry showcased their cloths in Manila, with excellent bespoke tailor, TIÑO spearheaded by Master Tailor Napoleon “Nap” Arienza. TIÑO has been a creator of bespoke suits with Holland & Sherry’s fabrics for almost two years, but this event strengthened ties between collaborative companies of textile and tailoring industry, particularly since TIÑO is the first tailoring shop to have Holland & Sherry fabrics in the Philippines.

“Master Tailor Arienza’s name is quite legendary in the Manila bespoke industry,” said Advani. “And we partner with top-tier tailors, so he’s definitely one of our preferred partners here in Manila. It’s quite synergetic; letting us leverage off with TIÑO’s network in Manila with this event while at the same time TIÑO being a partner of Holland & Sherry and having access to the fabric collections.”

TIÑO Master Tailor Napoleon “Nap” Arienza

TIÑO’s aim is to be known for its quality suits handcrafted with the most premium fabrics, such as those from Holland & Sherry, created for the stylistic gentleman of today. Master Tailor Arienza mentioned that, “I’m hoping for a long-term partnership with Holland & Sherry and that they bring us more high-quality material from Europe that we can introduce here not only in the Philippines, but in Asia. Since we also have a lot of clients from outside the country, such as Europe and Australia.”


Through the course of the Sartorial Symphony event, TRAVELIFE Magazine learns the diversity, versatility, and the practicability of bespoke suits. “There is more interest in bespoke men’s wear. More young people are taking interest in customizing their own clothes, moving away from ready-to-wear and toward made-to-measure or bespoke,” Lane mentioned.

And contrary to popular belief, a suit is no longer just corporate attire for office or work. With Holland & Sherry, you can have a variation of color-and-texture combinations for different occasions.

Water-resistant fabrics from Holland & Sherry

“There’s a misconception that wool is itchy. But what Holland & Sherry is offering is not. There are different kinds of wool that make it more practical and versatile. It’s not necessarily boring and heavy. It can be a combination of wool and different fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, or cashmere. So it gives people freedom to express their identities in the way they dress while still remaining formal,” said Lane.

Another misconception that Holland & Sherry readily shatters is that suits are solely for men. One of the highlights for their Spring-Summer fabric collection this year is Holland & Sherry’s renewed women’s wear collection. “Although it’s the first time we’ve done a ladies wear specific collection, there’s no reason that you can’t use these [existing] fabrics for ladies wear,” said Lane. “People assume, because of our Savile Row and suiting heritage, it’s just for men. But actually we do a lot of businesswomen suits, especially in the United Kingdom. Particularly when you start adding silk and stretch, since it is more suitable for ladies garments, for a slimmer fit and softer handle. This just demonstrates that there’s so much variety and choice.”


The Spring-Summer collection of Holland & Sherry will include fabrics suitable for lighter jacketing and lighter business suits. Many of the fabrics have exquisite blended compositions – such as wool-silk, wool-silk-linen – that make for a very comfortable and unique texture.

TIÑO is also offering their very own Neopolitan Jacket and Safari Jacket. The Neopolitan Jacket originated from Naples and is starting to trend in Manila. It’s a wrinkled type of jacket perfect for traveling because it’s light and breathable. As Master Tailor Arienza put it, “You can even put it in your pocket then take it out and wear it.”

TIÑO Master Tailor Napoleon “Nap” Arienza with homegrown tailors
Photo by Metrophoto

As one of their proud partners, Urban Traveller & Co. offers TIÑO’s Neopolitan Jackets in sizes, but clients can have it altered at the bespoke tailor shop. The Safari Jacket, on the other hand, is unstructured and without lining. Made out of a blend of cotton and linen, this light jacket is another perfect travel wear.

With the arrival of the new season, it's definitely the perfect time to upgrade your wardrobe.

Tiño Bespoke Suits:
G/F Herco Center, Benavidez St. Legaspi Village, Makati City

Tiño Casual Classics: Safari and Neapolitan Jackets
Urban Traveller & Co, 2nd Floor, Greenbelt 5, Makati City

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila named Five-Star Hotel by Forbes Travel Guide in its Official 2018 Star Rating Announcement

Forbes Travel Guide today unveiled its annual Star Rating list, naming Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, for the second time, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel. Marco Polo Ortigas Manila will be showcased with all of the Star Rating recipients on

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

At Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, embrace Asian warmth with a blend of Western comfort will ultimately give meaning to guests’ travel experience. Luxury is all in the details as expressed through the tasteful selection of art pieces, rich layered finish and unique textures, muted neutral tones, chic interiors and fine furniture that are interpreted in a timeless design concept to create a serene and intimate atmosphere. It is a unique concept that perfectly blends modernity and nobility through design. Certainly, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila will appeal to the new-age traveler, on business or leisure, who appreciates elegant design, avant-garde food & beverage offerings, sophisticated style, modern comforts and essentially the impeccable service accorded to them.

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Continental Club Lounge

“It’s our second consecutive time to be on list. We are very grateful to have been recognized once again as one of the finest. This really shows how we provide only the most exceptional service that create meaning with every encounter,” says General Manager Frank Reichenbach.

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Lung Hin Restaurant

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila is the latest addition to the luxury travel ratings that have been the gold standard in the hospitality industry since 1958. “We are pleased to honor the 2018 Star Rating recipients, an exceptional collection of hotels, restaurants and spas that demonstrates a strong culture of service,” said Gerard J. Inzerillo, Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Travel Guide.

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Executive Suite

“In an online environment of confusion and clutter, Forbes Travel Guide is the most trusted source of information to assist guests in making informed decisions,” Inzerillo said. “These properties, the largest and most global group in the company’s history, achieve an impeccable standard of excellence in hospitality, underscoring our overall mission of positively contributing to the international tourism industry as well as individual hotel experience. We are proud to congratulate everyone associated with the prestigious properties recognized today.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sausages created as souvenirs for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle

It's the Big Countdown to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in England. To commemorate the royal wedding of the year, British companies are creating different kinds of souvenirs, and we at Travelife Magazine, the leading travel magazine, have just discovered one of the most interesting royal wedding souvenirs.

Sausages to celebrate the royal wedding of
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The Black Farmer, the creator of award-winning gluten free sausages in England, is​ adding​ a new special edition sausage to their range, in celebration of the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.​ 

The sub-brand of the The Black Farmer is called The Black Farmer's Daughter, the celebration sausage features Scarlett, the daughter of The Black Farmer founder, who is of mixed-race. Scarlett will be offering a "moreish pork sausage with a sweet kiss.

Edible souvenirs to celebrate the royal wedding of
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle


Launching in April to coincide with the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the 'Celebration Sausage' marks the start of a new range of food products to celebrate diversity in Britain. Further sausage flavour combinations will follow in 2018, known as the Taste of History range

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, aka The Black Farmer, said: “The marriage between Harry and Meghan is a momentous occasion for the black communities in the UK. For many black people, the wedding signifies that colour is now part of the mainstream rather than being on the sidelines.”

Hotel 101 Group Welcomes the Year of the Dog

The Hotel 101 Group ushers in the Year of the Dog with the traditional lion dance at Hotel 101 – Manila, Jinjiang InnOrtigas, and Jinjiang Inn – Makati to bring in good luck and happiness this year. 

L-R: Jinjiang Inn - Makati Sales Executive Caryl Campos, Front Office Supervisor JasminMagno, Assistant Hotel Manager Wesley Ann Go Sta Maria, Head of Group Sales and Marketing Gel Gomez, CTRip Regional Director Jerome de la Cruz, Senior Sales Manager BennixRonquillo, and Group PR Manager Brian Ong

Capping off the Chinese New Year celebration is a sumptuous prosperity lunch prepared by Jinjiang Inn Makati’s Choi Garden, with media and clients.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Award-winning architect Galal Mahmoud's breathtaking hotels and resorts elevates luxury travel

Award-winning international architect Galal Mahmoud , who designed the new Sofitel resort in Morocco, shares his insights on travel. 

Galal Mahmoud design


Whenever we sign up for a new job, I will try and catch a plane to a new destination related in one way or the other to the type of job and challenges we will have to tackle. We signed up for the renovation of a landmark 19th century palace in upper Egypt on the Nile. I am therefore planning to visit recently renovated palaces in Europe and Asia. I will probably start with Italy and then Rajasthan in India.


I have been traveling with my parents since the age of four throughout Europe and mainly on the Mediterranean coast line. Traveling definitively has awakened my never-ending curiosity and broadened my exposure to different cultures and environments. This has had and is still having a strong influence in my work and in the way I read and understand new environments I design projects in.


I tend to become more and more demanding in terms of comfort and quality. I guess age has taken its toll on the extensive flight hours.

Galal Mahmoud 


A good book, preferably about the destination to immerse myself fully, an extensive playlist, and contacts of locals that can help me immerse into the destination’s life styles.


I have it all planned according to a very long bucket list, although, of course, there is always the last minute plan that is full of surprises. But as long as a place is culturally diverse, bewildering and beautiful, I will hop on a plane and go visit.

Galal Mahmoud design


Depending on which city, I pinpoint important things to see on a map and link the rest by walking or by just getting lost between each if the city is safe. I also like to stop by cafes to get a flavor of the local habits and colors. My favorite indulgences are early morning coffee in a typical café with the local newspaper and late afternoon drinks in one of the old hotel palaces of the city.


Paris remains magical for me at any time of the day. It is so diversified; and after 30 years of knowing it, I still always discover new things there. But my favorite place in the world is our family retreat on the island of Mykonos. I have been going there for the past 40 years and it is where I feel totally relaxed and in contact with my favorite natural environment, the Mediterranean sea that lies beneath the house.

Galal Mahmoud design


New York


Sitting by the sea in a typical sea shore Greek taverna having a glass of ouzo, white cheese, tomatoes and Greek olives on a secluded island.

Galal Mahmoud design


My first visit to the island of Bali 16 years ago was short, but I was blown away by the simple quality of the traditional Balinese architecture where you live in complete symbiosis with nature around you and where every viewpoint seems to be framed by nature. It is the essence of ecological living since all the materials are sourced locally, and this produces the necessary environment for harmonious living.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Favorite February spa treatment at the Flow Spa of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

Nothing beats celebrating love and its magic with an intimate escape to tranquility as Flow Spa brings a full wellness treatment special this February. A garden of serenity and relaxation, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila’s Flow Spa offers a variety of treatments from foot reflexology, whole-body massages and rejuvenating facials by the brand Algotherm, a marine based line from France which utilizes seaweed extracts and other marine ingredients.

Flow Spa, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila 

It is located at the heart of the hotel’s Flow Wellness and Recreation Center which also includes a fitness center and an infinity pool. The spa features a welcoming reception and a relaxing lounge, two double rooms and one single room. Have a bliss with Flow Spa’s indulgent treatment package this February, which features a 30-minute body scrub and 60-minute Swedish or Combination Massage. Enjoy drinks high above the city with a romantic evening cocktails, with unlimited wine, local beer, juices, and cocktails, and heavy appetizers, to complete the night, at the Continental Club Lounge. This whole package is available until the 28th of February.

Romantic evening cocktails at Continental Club Lounge, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

Flow Spa is located at the 22nd floor of Forbes Five-Star Award Winner, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. Flow Spa is not exclusive to the Hotel’s in-house guests. Flow Spa is open daily from 8 AM to 12 MN, or until 2 AM for in-room treatments.

Spa Reception at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

For more information contact (632) 720 7777 or book online via or email: Visit or follow @MarcoPoloManila on Twitter or Instagram.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Celebrate Chinese New Year in Metro Manila's best hotels

Where to go in Metro Manila for Chinese New Year during this long weekend. TRAVELIFE Magazine shortlists the best hotels around Metro Manila offering Chinese New Year packages, from discounted room rates, authentic Cantonese feasts in delicious hotel restaurants, and even exciting activities for the whole family.



Usher in the Year of the Dog with an auspicious Cantonese feast at New World Makati Hotel. Celebrate the Lunar New Year with set menus crafted for good luck and prosperity at Jasmine.

Chef Wong Kam On
New World Makati Hotel

Dine on dishes expertly prepared and recommended by Chef Wong Kam On such as braised dried oyster sea moss, fried glutinous rice with assorted Chinese marinated pork, and steamed cod fish fillet. Indulge in a multitude of flavors and ingredients with a hefty serving of Poon choi “big bowl feast” to draw in good luck for the whole year round. Finish your meal with a Yu Sheng salad toss for abundant success this year.

Poon Choi
New World Makati Hotel

Spend Chinese New Year at New World Makati Hotel and witness a traditional eye-dotting ceremony followed by a vibrant dragon and lion dance at Jasmine on February 16 2018, 1230 PM.

Yu Sheng Salad at Jasmine Restaurant
New World Makati Hotel



Welcome the Lunar New Year with a festive getaway by the bay at AG New World Manila Bay Hotel. As well-wishes for an auspicious and prosperous year ahead, guests receive a special box of Nian Gao.

Auspicious and Delicious Chinese New Year at Li Li
AG New World Manila Bay Hotel

Book a stay from now until February 18, 2018 and enjoy benefits such as a Chinese New Year welcome gift (Nian Gao), daily buffet breakfast for two at Market Café, early check-in and late check-out until 3 PM, and a 50% discount for dinner or lunch buffet at Market Café

Chinese New Year Celebrations
AG New World Manila Bay Hotel



City of Dreams Manila welcomes the Year of the Earth Dog with fun and festive activities at The Shops at the Boulevard and DreamPlay, the world’s first Dreamworks-inspired interactive place space.

Chinese New Year at DreamPlay
City of Dreams Manila

The Lunar New Year festival at The Shops at the Boulevard showcases palm reading and caricature drawing for guests until February 18 from 3-9 PM, punctuated by three 5-minute Chinese cultural dance performances from 420-6 PM.

Dream Play introduces the new character Tigress from the Dreamworks animation Kung Fu Panda. Tigress together with Master Po and the DreamPlay dancers will have a 5-minute dance showdown to celebrate the “Chinese New Year of Awesomeness” every Saturday and Sunday at 11 AM and 4 PM until February 25.

Tigress from "Kung Fu Panda" debuts at DreamPlay during Chinese New Year festivities.
City of Dreams Manila

On all weekends of February, guests can avail of the Chinese New Year package consisting of: a VIP pass with express lane access to all attractions; photo ops with Tigress and Master Po; Lucky red packet (Ang Pao) with coupons for: free popcorn, ice cream, soda, and retail discount or DreamPlay tickets; paint and design your own Chinese lantern session at the Dragon room; viewing of a special featured movie “Secret of the Masters at the Dream Theater”; and participation in the Dragon Warrior Challenge at the Wall of Destiny and Dragon Warrior Training at Furious 6 Academy.



Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila offers an amazing Chinese New Year season with a lineup of celebrations that will bring family togetherness and a wealth of splendor, featuring the internationally acclaimed geomancer, Joseph Chau Kam Shing.

Feast of Prosperity
Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila

Feng Shui master Joseph Chau Kam Shing is acknowledged as a primary figure in Chinese geomancy and is known for his mastery of the ancient Asian tradition. Mr. Chau has been practicing Feng Shui for over 35 years and constantly traveling to meet clients in Australia, Brunei, China, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Mauritius, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, UAE and USA.

 Feng Shui master Joseph Chau Kam Shing
Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila

On February 18, 2018, discover what the Year of the Dog means for you and find your way to a bountiful year ahead as Feng Shui expert Master Joseph Chau reveals the predictions for 2018. Gather your family for the Chinese New Year Sunday Brunch while being entertained by meaningful cultural performances.

Chinese New Year at Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila

From February 15 to 28, 2018, Café Eight will bring a great selection of Chinese-inspired festive buffet. Take this delicious opportunity to get everyone together and indulge in a spread that has a carving station of suckling pig and roasted duck, dim sum corner with xia-jiao and xiao-long dumplings, and other traditional dishes like beer duck stew, golden garlic-flavored pork ribs, Wok-fried chicken with cashew nuts, char sui pork pastry, and sesame Buchi.

Red Room Package
Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila

Usher in the Year of the Dog in one of Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila’s idyllic rooms and suites. The Red Fortune room package includes an overnight stay, buffet breakfast at Café Eight for two persons, two tickets at the Taste of Luck at the Grand Ballroom, and Chinese New Year surprise. Check-in date is on February 17, 2018.