Maldives - This Is The Life

There are 87 resorts in Maldives catering to different budgets and tastes. The Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru in the North Male Atoll, a short boat ride from Male, is a scene of serenity and charm. Conical thatched roof huts are set along a secluded beach and surrounding azure sea. When the shutter doors are flung open, the spacious villas allow the balmy sea breezes to fill the room, while you get a spectacular view from the old world four poster beds. Delight in the mesmerising feeling that you are sleeping literally on the beach or floating at sea.

Also at North Male Atoll is the recently refurbished, Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa. The resort's design concept integrates nature, ethnicity and luxury. Exotic native fabrics and artwork line the property next to marine motifs like seashell carvings and fish etchings. The beach and water bungalows have a spacious outdoor feel with outside courtyard sowers and gardens filled with tropical foliage.

At the edge of Ari Atoll, West of the Male Atoll, is Rengali and Rengali Finolhu islands, home to the Maldives Hilton where there is a bridge linking the two islands. All its 100 beach villas face the sea and there are 28 water villas standing on stilts in the lagoon. Richly decorated in timber, oak, teak and cedar, the resort has a luxurious feel throughout. Open air bathrooms lie steps away from the sand and sea. Guests can indulge in their specially created meals that can be served as a barbecue on the terrace or as a picnic on a deserted island while staff will discreetly leave you alone.

Lying slightly off the beaten track is the Kanuhura Beach and Spa Resort. Located in the Lhaviyani Atoll, it is only accessible by sea plane. For those seeking the definitive spa treatment, the resort boasts thelargest state of-the-art health and beauty spa facilities. Accommodation comes in the form of 97 deluxe villas decorated in local flavours. Its Havana Club is the perfect setting to partake in quality wines, aged liqueurs and fine cigars accompanied by mellow piano music under a canopy of stars. The resort prides itself in practising responsible eco-tourism by using natural materials and solar energy. Environmental awareness is evident in the design setting, operations and management of the resort. A research laboratory is being planned to focus on conservation and regeneration of the island's flora, fauna and marine life.

Sit Back and Relax
To enjoy the harmonious and luxurious life bathed by sun and the sea; for fine dining, style, privacy and rustic wilderness, the banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru is hard to beat. Meals are intimate affairs held under the swaying palms and the twinkling gaze of the stars. There are luxurious spa treatments to be indulged in to ease away aches and pains. The six-pavilion spa is a haven of relaxation and beauty and even has a school of "resident" stingrays that come into the shallow waters at sunset.

Maldives is a celebration of the wonders of our natural world and the perfect antidote to stressful realities of this world where the essence of pleasure is an art. This is certainly the place to pamper yourself and recharge drained batteries. It is not surprising therefore, that its allure is timeless.

Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru
Vabbinfaru, North Male Atoll

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
Kuda Huraa, North Male Atoll

Kanuhura Beach and Spa Resort
Lhaviyani Atoll

Maldives Hilton
Rengali Island South Ari Atoll

Bali Beach Golf Course

Sanur's Secret City Escape

Bali has long been known as one of Asia's top golfing destinations. With professional courses, designed by some of the world's top golfing names, set in areas of outstanding natural beauty, the island has been attracting enthusiasts from around the world for many years. However, apart from the three well-known major 18-hole courses of Nirwana Bali Golf Club, Bali Handara Kosaido Country Club and Bali Golf and Country Club, one course has remained very much a local secret until recently. However, following a multi-million dollar renovation, the nine-hole Bali Beach Golf COurse in Sanur has now joined the island's top courses in terms of facilities offering and golfing enjoyment.

Located adjacent to the historical Bali Beach Hotel, this delightful 'inner city' course offers surprising amounts of green space, with rich vegetation, glorious old trees and well-maintained fairways providing not only good golf but exceedingly pleasant surrounds. The convenience of being so close to Sanur and the Kuta/Seminyak area means that it's very possible to play a quick round without spending time stuck in traffic traveling to and from the course, thus freeing up the rest of the day for other holiday pursuits.

The 3560 yard, par 36 course is varied enough to appeal to golfers of all levels. Water features, hidden bunkers, sloping greens and often narrow fairways can prove tricky enough to keep even the expert golfer interested - there are seven par four holes, one par five at 546 yards and one par three at 164 yards. Here, a constant head wind makes things a little more difficult with a water hazard thrown in for good measure. The par four hole six is also a demanding challenge, with a lake causing all kinds of trouble for wayward shots and a difficult green well surrounded by bunkers.

Short enough to walk around, the course is blessed with beautiful flora and golfers are rewarded with dramatically flowering flamboyant trees and old twisted banyins on the inspired landscape.

Apart from a well-stocked pro shop and a tastefully renovated clubhouse, there is also the brand new Sector Bar and Restaurant, offering deserved refreshment and a good choice of local and international dishes. In the evening, the venue fills up when live music and visiting Djs transform the bar into one of the islan's more popular nightsports.

Bali Beach Golf Course
Jalan Hangtuah No 58, Sanur, Bali
Tel: +62 361 287 733

Swiss-Belhotel Papua - Indonesia

The First International Hotel in Jayapura

Swiss-Belhotel International has launched its 10th hotel in Indonesia with the opening of the first international-chain hotel in Jayapura, Papua on December 27, 2006.

Deluxe Room

Presidential Suite

The 96-room hotel is strategically located on Jalan Pasifik Permai in the centre of the city's business and commercial districts, with views of the cityscape and Jotefa bay. With a growing number of both business and leisure travelers to the region, Swiss-Belhotel have provided a welcome addition to the city's accommodation choices.

Cartenz Swiss Café

The Matoa Lounge Bar

Swimming Pool

The choice of guestrooms includes Superior, Deluxe, Executive Suite and the Presidential Suite. Hotel facilities include the Cendrawasih Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 500 people and two meeting rooms. Food and beverage outlets include The Matoa Lounge Bar and Cartenz Swiss Cafe, with guestrooms featuring a 24-hour in-room dining service. The hotel features round the clock security, a fully-equipped business centre with internet facilities, airport transfer service, a swimming pool and a fitness centre. Room facilities include individual-controlled air-conditioning system, IDD telephone line, cable television, hair dryer and mini bar with personal safety deposit box, coffee and tea making facilities in selected rooms.

The journey time from Swiss-Belhotel Papua to the Sentani Airport is approximately 45 minutes.

Swiss-Belhotel Papua
Pusat Business Jayapura, Jalan Pasifik Permai
Tel: +62 967 551 888,
Swiss-Belhotel International, Indonesia
Tel: +62 21 566 9710,

Time Travel at Villa Des Indes

This relaxation is amplified by the splendour and beauty of the villa itself

Nestled down a discreet quiet leafy alley, within walking distance from the highly acclaimed beachside restaurants of Ku de ta and La Lucciola, a recently completed villa complex offers the discerning traveler new levels of privacy, comfort and service. The ten Laksmana Villas are all highly individual, each separately owned and designed in their own unique style, ranging from traditional classic to contemporary price range, depending on size of villa and number of guests, there's something here to suit budgets from US$175 up to US$1,150 per night, depending on season and length of intended stay.

Those looking to envelop themselves in the refined luxury of yesteryear travel should book the fabulous Villa Des Indes, a textbook example of how a combination of good taste, exemplary service and beautiful surrounds can transform a villa stay into something quite extraordinary. Hidden from the rest of the world behind a gorgeous traditional gate and dense tropical foliage, Villa Des Indes is a romantic escape back to the era when the first world travelers discovered the many mysteries and magic of Asia. Once the gates have creaked to a close behind, guest enter the property through the door of an ancient joglo, an antique wooden house from Central Java that sits above a shimmering lotus pond brimming with colorful koi. Stepping through the doors marks the point when you officially leave the modern world behind you and your fantasy holiday begins.

On hand to make sure this happens is a team of waiters/butlers who offer the kind of discreet but first-rate service that makes villa staying such an enjoyable and exclusive experience. Here they've perfected it to a fine art. From the cold towel welcome that punctuates any arrival to the seamless organization of any guest's whimsy, whether a Balinese massage in the bale or cocktails for a party of ten, the staff exude a quiet confidence and genuine warmth that causes instant relaxation.

This relaxation is amplified by the splendour and beauty of the villa itself. The owners are avid antique collectors and the three palatial guest rooms and extensive living areas are adorned with exquisite pieces from their collection. Statues and art pieces from across the archipelago blend with old Dutch wooden fridges, antique telephone sets, old maps and period posters. Magnificent teak plantation chairs dotted around the grounds provide the perfect seat to lay back and enjoy the sea breeze, with the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean nearby and flow of water trickling through stone fountains setting a soothing hypnotic tone.

The traditional Javanese joglo, rescued from demolition and transported to Bali and reassembled, forms the centerpiece of the property. Beyond, a free-form swimming pool and lush garden border the separate guestrooms, where large terraces and a bale provide ample space to lounge and enjoy the tropical environs, hides 21st century technology. Enormous flat screen TVs, cable channels, free wi-fi internet access and ipod ready sound system allow guests to plug into the modern world at will. Should you eschew lazy entertainment in favour of a good book, there's a wide choice of Indonesian-orientated tomes available as well as a healthy supply of magazines. Next to the pool, a book on Bali's birdlife provides a quick reference to the family of swooping color that also call the villa home. At hand, beautiful handmade fans in black linen puches offer a cooling touch. It's this attention to detail and excellent taste throughout the property that defines Villa Des Indes as one of Bali's very best villa experiences.

Laksmana Villas
Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak, Bali Tel: +62 361 733 320

Saraswati Borobudur

A Natural Retreat - More than just a place to stay

The Saraswati Borobudur is an unpretentious hotel, but also clearly much more than just a place to sleep and get a free breakfast. This boutique hotel is more like a "home away from home" for visitors seeking a warm and friendly atmosphere, as opposed to mere accommodation.

Just a relaxed five-minute stroll from the glories of the Borobudur Temple, this inn is perfect for those who wish to be far from the madding crowd, to be quiet and alone - perhaps to write a film script, work on a novel, or merely reflect on life.

The strategic location allows guests to gaze up at Mount Merapi from the top of the hotel, looking down, they realize they are totally surrounded by lush, green rice fields.

With classic, traditional interiors in the rooms some with small balconies (on the first floor) and the others encircled by greenery and bougainvillea flowers, the hotel is situated on a quiet street in Borobudur town.

There are many things at Saraswati that make guests want to stay and stay - one is the great food available. All the food is prepared by local personnel with extensive experience in international-class hotels.

If you don't get the chance to eat lunch at the hotel it would be a serious mistake to miss the opportunity to enjoy dinner. A vocal duo, who claim to know 200 songs in seven languages, provide the entertainment.

Saraswati is geared towards the top-end market and room rates reflect this with prices ranging between US$286 and US$675 per night (publish rate).

For more information: Saraswati Borobudur
Jl. Balaputradewa 10, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java
Tel: +62 (0)293 788 843, Fax: +62 (0)293 788 842

Spa - The Peninsula Bangkok

The Peninsula Spa Bangkok

Working in partnership with the exclusive UK-based ESPA consultants, the hotel now offers an extensive range of treatments and beauty therapies, set in a Thai/colonial period style building. The opening of the spa coincides with the launch of a new Peninsula 'Wellness' programme, which includes healthy organic meal options under the "Naturally Peninsula" food range at Peninsula dining outlets," Naturally Peninsula cooking classes, a 'Simply Peninsula' toiletry range and a range of calming spa music.

Electrically-operated heated treatment beds

At the spa, ESPA has created a selection of 'Peninsula Ceremonies'. a selection of body treatments that reflect a fusion of Thai, Ayurvedic and European therapies. The impressive 19,000 sq feet spa area features 14 treatment rooms and four suites (two Private Spa Suites and two Private River Spa Suites), a tea lounge and relaxation rooms.

Couples love the spa suites with treatments for two and quiet time together

Therapists are subject to intense training to quality for ESPA and few other spas have a team who undergo such intensive, comprehensive and lengthy training programmes. The spa has been purpose built to offer guests the highest quality experience possible rooms have ever been made smell proof so you're not disturbed by contrasting scents. Treatments are performed on Clodagh Gemini massage tables and the relaxation rooms feature custom-made oak and steel electric beds with personal music systems and flexible gooseneck reading lamps - there's no pressure to leave in a hurry. This leaves guests with the advantage of being able to prolong the spa experience rather than rush back into the stress of the modern world.

End your spa journey with finishing touches on the eyebrows and lashes

The Peninsula Bangkok
333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsam, Bangkok, Thailand.
Tel: +66 2 861 2888

Bali Sound Bites


Since opening in 2001, Mozaic restaurant in Ubud has been at the forefront of the Bali dining scene, winning international accolades for the quality of food, location and service provided. Indeed, it's the only restaurant in Indonesia to be included in the Traditions et Qualities international food guide, a place it has occupied for the last four years. Much of this is due to the energy and creativity of the Chef Chris Salans.

After ten years in the country, he hasn't lost his passion for creating new and exciting dishes, using both Western and local ingredients to produce his signature degustation cuisine. After teaming up with pastry chef Francois Seurin in 2005, whose experience includes working in the kitchen of Alain Ducasse, Salans has seccessfully taken Mozaic to new heights. "Our tasting menu changes every night so it was important to find someone who shared my passion for experimentation and creating playful dishes."

It's a partnership that's obviously working out and the duo now have big plans for the future, including opening a new cooking school. This will not only give tourists and residents the chance to learn some culinary secrets and expand their repertoire but will also be geared towards training local cooks and working with visiting professional chefs.

"We aim to both share cooking tips and methods with visiting food enthusiasts and to develop a synergy between suppliers, kitchens and chefs across the island so we can learn from each other and further develop Bali's culinary scene."

Those eager to learn some culinary tips should first try either the 'classic' or 'experimental' seven course tasting menu available every day except Mondays at Mozaic. It might change the way you think about food forever.

Mozaic, Jalan Raya Sangginan, Ubud. Tel: +62 361 976 755.

Ku de Ta

The beauty of Bali's Ku de Ta restaurant is its ability to cater to all tastes and ages, no matter what time of day it is. The inspired decor, proximity to the beach, fantastic choice of seating both inside and out and a choice of menus to suit all appetites are just a few factors that have led to the venue's spectacular success. There are few places better in Asia to watch the sun go down while ejoying a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

This ability to reinvent itself for different markets as the day progresses is one of Ku de Ta's secret. This starts at 8 am every morning, when breakfast is served for early rises, eager to sprawl on the restaurant's sun loungers before the midday heat kicks in, and ends in the early hours when the bar finally closes.

From 8 am till 1 pm, new Executive Chef serves a fabulous breakfast menu that's quickly building a following on the island. With stand-outdishes including the delicious Eggs Benedict and the sinfully delectable Strawberry Hotcakes, it's a fantastic way to start the Ku de Ta day.

Ku de Ta, Jalan Laksmana 9, Seminyak, Bali Tel: +62 361 736 969

Bulgari Resort Hotel Bali - Jewel of the East

The island's newest top-end hotel lies perched on the southern cliffs of the Bukit peninsular with extraordinary panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. About ten years ago, the rocky hills of the Bukit attracted only the hardened surf crowd - the area's home to some of Bali's best legendary waves - and tourists on day-trips to Uluwatu temple. Now the arid Mediterannean like landscape is home to some of the island's top hotels and villa complexes.

Offering 59 sea-facing villas edged out of the rocky cliff face, the Bulgari is an uber-stylish marriage of Italian design, local traditional craftsmanship and contemporary Asian art. In their first foray into Asia, Bulgari have been careful to incorporate local know-how into their proven formula for an exclusive resort experience. In fact the entirely of the hotel's art pieces, fabrics, furnishings and design features, both antique and specially produced for the resort features, were sourced locally, using some of the region's most skilled artisans. The results are stunning. Architects Antonio Citterio and partners, together with the interior design team, have created an ambience that's simple, refined and effective. From the massive over-sized volcanic rock pots, stone obelisks and other assorted sculptures dotted around the hotel's grounds to the tiny musical instruments decorating the guestrooms, the attention to detail and quality of workmanship is second to none.

The resort is separated into two main areas, affording the thatched enclosed villas a degree of privacy away from the public areas, where the hotel's two restaurants, II Ristorante and Sangkar, the bar and the main pool are situated. If it's all about location, then the bar is hard to beat. With views as far as Java on a clear day, this is the perfect place for a sun-down cocktail before moving to Sangkar next door or II Ristorante behind to eat. If you're looking to spoil a loved one on special occasion day, the seven-course menu includes such delicacies as Artichoke Veloute with Fole Gras and crispy San Daniele emulsion, Saint Pierre Fillet with Truffles, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Chestnut and Chocolate sauce, and Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Celeriac puree.

Beneath the resort lies a secluded beach, only accessible by a mildly terrifying trip in a tram-like lift, guaranteeing guests a total absence of interruptive beach trade while relaxing on the garden sand. No resort is worth its salt these days without a spa and at the Bulgari, a full range of treatments is available, enhanced by beauty products from the ESPA range. The spa reception area is a beautiful antique teak house from Java, transported from the town of Kudus. Beyond, six treatment rooms, a gymnasium, beauty salon and yoga pavilion provide ample space for spiritual and bodily replenishment.

With the addition of the Bulgari, Bali now offers an almost unbeatable selection of exclusive resorts and villas tailored towards the high-end market. It's a positive sign that despite the past uncertainties, Bali is still very much at the top of the world's luxury travel market.

The Bulgari, Jalan Goa Lempeh, Banjar Dinas Kangin, Uluwatu, Bali
Tel: +62 361 847 1000