CASTAWAY Where to hang your hammock this spring
Staycation Southern Chinaâ€™s hottest openings
TEMPLE TIME The best of kid-friendly Siem Reap
a luxury break in Koh Samui Hong Kong Family Traveller 1
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from the editor’s desk
was invited to attend a panel-event last month discussing luxury travel. The first question from the floor was possibly the most pertinent of the evening - what does luxury travel mean? pondered one of the guests. Is it something we can all enjoy, or is it something for the financially-blessed few? Of course ‘luxury’ is a subjective term and means different things to different people. Some define it as always flying business or first class, some as staying in nothing less than five-star resorts and hotels. For others it’s a holiday full of adventure and new experiences. But for me, I think I reached peak luxury last autumn. The resort was lovely, but we flew economy and we really didn’t have anything much planned - certainly no derring do expeditions through the jungle, or diving to the bottom of the ocean, or climbing the local peaks. But sitting by the pool one afternoon I watched as my son, my husband and my father-in-law shared a simple pizza and a couple of beers (well, a Sprite for my eight-year-old son). I have lived overseas for nearly 20 years and getting together as an extended family is something that doesn’t occur as often as it should. So watching grandad, my husband and my son having a lazy chat in the sunshine over a cheesy Margherita ticked the luxury box for
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MARIANNE ROGERSON Travel writer Marianne answers your travel questions on page 18. Best family holiday you’ve ever been on? It was by far our ten-day trip to Myanmar. After ten years of Asia travels I was worried I would be underwhelmed, but it blew me away. @hungrymaz
me. And it made the trip worth every penny. We live a charmed life here in Hong Kong. We have countless amazing destinations on our doorstep and more holiday time than most other countries during which to enjoy them (17 general holidays at the last count). But it doesn’t matter if you travel overseas the Hong Kong average of 11 times a year (I’m not joking, there’s data to back this up), or just once a year - the important thing is to travel well and to make every holiday count. So to help you on your way, I am extremely proud to introduce the first issue of Hong Kong Family Traveller. I hope that within these pages you’ll find plenty of helpful advice - and maybe a little bit of inspiration, too.
SARAH CLARKE Sarah travelled to Sri Lanka to bring us the special report on page 44. Best family holiday you’ve ever been on? Botswana - we did three amazing safaris. What made the trip extra special was travelling with my 80-year-old father - the kids and he had lots of quality time sitting around campfires in the evening. @sassytraveltips
Hong Kong Family Traveller is published bi-monthly by Penn & Ink Communications Limited. The content provided here is the property of Penn & Ink Communications Limited and no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Publisher. While the editors do their best to verify information published, Penn & Ink Communications Limited, its editors and its writers do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy. The information provided by Penn & Ink Communications Limited’s contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Publisher or the company. The information here is provided in good faith but Penn & Ink Communications Limited bears no responsibility or liability for any recommendations or advice offered.
ADELE BRUNNER Adele lent us her considerable journalistic expertise as consultant editor on our launch issue. Best family holiday you’ve ever been on? Skiing in Hakuba, Japan. @adelebrunner Hong Kong Family Traveller 1
On the cover
In this, our launch issue, we dive into the world of the private island. Southeast Asia abounds with desert isles. A few of them have now been ecologically developed into dreamy tropical escapes - with the environment at the top of the agenda. Turn to page 38.
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Keep up-to-date with what’s new on the travel scene
Where to head and where to avoid in Asia this spring
On Our Radar
What we’re excited about this season
Need advice? Ask our travel expert
Great books for lounger lizards
Wish You Were Here
Top tips for the best of Bali
Honing in on Hong Kong’s top tables
Asia’s best spring retreats
Hong Kong Travelling Mum
Keeping up with the kids
IN THIS ISSUE Spring | 2019
Hot & Happening
Focus - Siem Reap
Asia’s Private Islands
Vietnam’s latest openings
Takeaways this issue
Navigating Cambodia’s temple city
Hotel holidays without stepping on a ‘plane
There’s an Easter ski season in Asia. Discover the best deals on page 7.
Siem Reap has a vibrant eco-hotel scene. Find out more on page 31.
You can now enjoy Hong Kong’s iconic White Rabbit sweets in gelato form. See page 17 for the full scoop.
Raffles is opening just over the border in Shenzhen. For the full reveal, see page 34.
There’s such a thing as a flambéed scone. Find out where they’re being served on page 50.
Living out your desert islands dreams
Family fun and frolics on ‘teardrop’ island
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three nights accommodation at the brand new luxury Avani+Samui resort, Koh Samui!
Avani+Samui and Hong Kong Family Traveller have partnered to offer this fabulous prize, including: Three-nights accommodation, Complimentary breakfast Valid until March 2020 - no blackouts Avani+Samui opened earlier this year on Phang Ka Bay in the southwest of the Thai island of Koh Samui. Avani+Samui is a seaside hideaway perfect for both couples and families. Just steps away from a secluded bay, the luxury property offers top notch accommodation and a range of activities, including yoga, stand-up paddle boarding, mountain biking - or just relaxing by the pool. The AvaniSPA offers guests a menu of relaxing or invigorating treatments either in the spa, or in the privacy of their own guestroom. A Kombi Van serving up cocktails, grab-and-go snacks at PANTRY and Thai and international favourites at beachfront restaurant Essence completes the idyllic holiday picture. To enter, sign up at hongkongfamilytraveller.com/win-three-nights-at-avanisamui *Entrants must be Hong Kong residents. *Competition closes on May 6. Winner will be announced in the Summer issue of Hong Kong Family Traveller, out on June 1. *Please read the full Terms & Conditionsâ€™ when you sign up.
To enter, sign up at hongkongfamilytraveller.com
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TRAVEL NEWS 07
If youâ€™re still on the hunt for snow, Kiroro in Japan boasts one of the longest ski seasons in the world and is offering 50% discounts this spring.
Australiaâ€™s east coast hits the news in May with the reopening of a popular family hotel on the Great Barrier Reef.
A new direct flight from Hong Kong to Phu Quoc opens up yet another Vietnamese beach destination.
Pictured is one of the guest rooms at Anantara Mauritius, opening this year
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I N T H E K NOW
Anantara Mauritius Resort opens in the autumn
ANANTARA MOVES INTO MAURITIUS Luxe resort group Anantara is set to open a brand new property on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. The coastal development will be known as Anantara Mauritius Resort and is scheduled to launch in the autumn. The property is located 15 minutes from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (SSR) international airport and close to the protected Blue Bay Marine Park. Blue Bay’s coral reefs make it one of the island’s best snorkelling and
diving locations. The resort will offer 164 guest rooms and suites, with the addition of eight two- and fourbed pool villas in early 2020. Further facilities include speciality grill and seafood restaurant Sea.Fire.Salt, with courtyard and beach dining; an all-day dining restaurant; private dining with wine cellar; a wellness-focused cafe; a poolside bar and a second, beach-fronting bar. Fine dining dishes will draw on traditional creole cooking
fusing with European, Asian and African influences and using predominantly locally-harvested ingredients. A 30-metre pool, gym, signature Anantara Spa and a kids’ club complete the idyllic set-up. Australian-based Ground Kent Architects has collaborated with the Office of Global Architecture of Mauritius and Thailand’s Abacus Design, using Mauritian architectural heritage and locally-sourced materials to
CALL OF THE WILD With the launch of The Lion King movie in July, this could be the year to take the family on safari. Andbeyond is offering a Meet The Powerful Kings of the Jungle, ten-day, nine-night experience in Kenya and Tanzania. The privately-guided adventure takes in the rugged beauty of Africa’s Masai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. The tour is tailored to engage young minds experience the movie world collide with the real world as you watch bathing hippos, clans of hyena, wildebeest migration herds, lion prides, warthogs, baboons, zebra, 6 Hong Kong Family Traveller
giraffe, elephants and red-billed hornbills. Included in the package are family rooms at each lodge on the itinerary. Accommodation spots include Giraffe Manor in Nairobi where a resident herd of Rothschild giraffe casually wander around the grounds; Bateleur Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve; Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp in Tanzania; andbeyond Serengeti Under Canvas in Tanzania; and andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania. andbeyond.com
Dropping in at Giraffe Manor, Nairobi
create a relaxed, tropical beach home vibe. As part of the Anantara group’s commitment to sustainability, the resort will use solar power for water heating in all guest rooms. Waste water will be reused for irrigation and recycled materials have been incorporated into the decor. The hotel will be a plastic straw-free zone. Air Mauritius currently flies direct from Hong Kong to Mauritius SSR twice a week. anantara.com
GENTLY DOES IT The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga has opened in the Business Lounge at The Pier, Hong Kong International Airport. Separated into two main zones, the 700 square foot space is designed to put passengers in a healthy frame of mind ready for their flight. Reacting to recent trends in health and wellness and requests from customers, Cathay teamed up with the Pure Group to design the space. Passengers can follow a looped video demonstrating basic yoga stretches and
there’s a separate area for more experience yogi. The Mind Sanctuary also offers meditation opportunities, either by audio or self-guided. On board, there is a series of in-flight videos for passengers to ease into their journey. Gold and Diamond Marco Polo Club members arriving in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights will also be offered complimentary one-day access to any Pure Fitness centre or a choice of any Pure Yoga class up to 12 times a year.
EASTER SKI DEALS
MARRIOTT REVAMPS POINTS PLATFORM Marriott has introduced Marriott Bonvoy, a brand new rewards programme. It replaces Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). The new programme covers a portfolio of more than 700 hotels and resorts in the region and members will be able to earn points even without a stay. Restaurant and bar benefits are available at 2,800 participating venues throughout the Asia Pacific region. Non-stay members will also be able to enjoy spa privileges including
earning up to ten points for for every US$1 spent. Gold Elite members will be offered complimentary spa enhancements. Opportunities for VIP access to Hong Kong Sevens will be available in April. Families will be able to enjoy benefits curated for kids at participating hotels and resorts, including complimentary breakfasts and ice creams. Marriott Bonvoy has five ‘Elite’ tiers and members can accelerate points earning with co-branded credit cards from Chase and American Express. marriott.com
Easter snow bunnies hit the slopes in Japan
Kiroro resort in Hokkaido, Japan, is offering special deals to the spring snow with its ‘Kiroro Big’ package. The all-inclusive ski-and-stay offer includes three-nights accommodation for the price of two, complimentary breakfast, 50% discount on wear and gear rentals including skis and snowboards, and complimentary access to the resort’s pool and fitness centre. Kiroro boasts some of the driest powder in the world and a ski season that runs throughout spring. The ski resort features two peaks with 22 groomed runs and acres of ungroomed, off-piste
powder and tree skiing, accessible by nine lifts and a gondola. The resort’s Mountain Centre coordinates activities on and off the mountain, with a snow park, guided snow cat and snowshoeing tours and more. Family-friendly accommodation is available at the resort’s Tribute Portfolio Hotel. Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines both fly into New Chitose international airport in Sapporo. Kiroro resort can arrange airport transfers for the 90-minute drive to the property. The Kiroro Big package is available until April 26. kiroro.co.jp
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I N T H E K NOW
Chilling out before boarding in the Cathay Business Lounge, Hong Kong
I N T H E K NOW
137 Pillars in Chiang Mai now offers family suites
CHIANG MAI FAMILY FUN Three new family suites are now open at boutique hotel 137 Pillars House in northern Thailand. The 30-suite colonial property is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group and is located just a few minutes walk from the Watt Gate Temple and Ping River. The new suite category was
created during the hotel’s refurbishment last year and can host a family of four. The suites have been named after David Fleming Macfie, the former forest manager of the Borneo Company that had its headquarters in the homestead in the early 20th century. The 80 square metre suites include a customized divan
HARRY POTTER EXPANSION If you’re heading to London this Easter break, don’t miss The Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio. The London-based attraction is about to add a massive 16,500 square-foot Gringotts Wizarding Bank set to its tour. The new permanent addition will feature the Gringotts banking hall and the Lestrange Vault, as featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The hall will contain piles of the wizarding currencies Galleons, Sickles and Knuts, goblin tellers 8 Hong Kong Family Traveller
desks, inkwells and three crystal chandeliers. Further treasures to be found in the Lestrange Vault include the Sword of Gryffindor, a Voldemort Horcrux and Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup. Costumes and prosthetics used during filming for the characters of Bogrod, Griphook and the goblin bankers will also be on display. Entrance to the exhibit will be included in the general admission price and will open on April 6. wbstudiotour.co.uk
that converts to a bed at night and an adjoining conservatory that can be enclosed and air conditioned or left open-air. The conservatories are furnished with a daybed that can be made up at night. The suites also have ensuite bathrooms with separate indoor and outdoor showers. A Family Package is now available until October 31 for up
to four people. It includes roundtrip airport transfers by limousine, two-nights accommodation in a David Fleming Macfie suite, welcome fruit basket, half-day excursion with private car of Chiang Mai town and Doi Suthep Mountain, Thai set-menu dinner for four and complimentary Wi-fi. 137pillarschiangmai.com
PULLMAN WOOS FAMILIES Pullman Danang Beach has added two-bedroom family suites to its property following a three-month renovation project. The 122 square metre suites have two bedrooms, a family lounge area with sofa-bed and views over My Khe Beach. The master bedroom features an ensuite bathroom with jacuzzi bath. The suites are equipped
with three 55-inch televisions and a coffee machine and can welcome up to six guests. The renovation also saw the construction of an oceanfacing infinity pool which is also the first pool in Vietnam to feature Krislite’s fibre optic decorative lighting; guests dive into a galaxy of stars at nighttime. pullman-danang.com
Australia’s Daydream Island re-opens for guests this spring, boasting a new look and new dining venues, bars and waterfront suites. The island resort is located in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands on Australia’s east coast. Facilities include 277 guest rooms and suites with garden, pool or ocean views, three signature restaurants, an oceanview pool, an outdoor cinema, and the ‘Living Reef’ - a free-form coral lagoon wrapped around the central building. The reef also has an underwater observatory four metres below the water surface
and guests will be able to help a team of resident marine biologists feed the baby stingrays. Meanwhile, children will be invited to become ‘eco-warriors’ at the resort’s Kids Club as they learn about the reef. The resort will also host a range of activities for guests, including snorkelling adventures, helicopter tours over the surrounding Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, as well as sail-boat and jetski hire. There is unlimited access to nonmotorised water activities. And if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, there will be an adult’s only corner in the resort. Direct flights operate between
I N T H E K NOW
DAY DREAMING ‘DOWN UNDER’
Australia’s Daydream Island has had a refurb
Hong Kong and Brisbane international airport. From there, domestic flights link with Hamilton Island and boat
transfers to Daydream Island. Reservations open on April 15. daydreamisland.com
FAMILY VILLA LAUNCH Luxe resort Amanoi in Vietnam has now added family-friendly Ocean Pool residences to its accommodation menu. The property is located on Vinh Hy Bay in Nui Chua National Park on the country’s south coast. Each of the new residences has been constructed as freestanding pavilions, with two master bedrooms in two separate pavilions, two junior bedrooms, a 25m private infinity pool, sun
deck, personal butler - and those all-important ocean views. The main resort offers spa and fitness facilities, two restaurants, a private beach, cultural excursions and children’s activities. HK Express flies from Hong Kong to Cam Ranh international airport four times a week. The resort can organise chauffeurdriven transfers for the 60-minute drive to the resort. aman.com
Fitness first at Sheraton, Da Nang
Family accommodation moves into Amanoi, Vietnam
DYNAMIC IN DA NANG Sheraton Grand Danang Resort has launched a fitness challenge with the aim of helping guests build on health-based resolutions set earlier on in the year. To compete, guests need to complete four laps of the hotel’s infinity pool, undertake a ten kilometre walk either in the hotel’s fitness centre or on a sightseeing run or walk nearby,
and finish a two kilometre ocean kayak. Prizes include spa treatments and complimentary meals and cocktails. But be warned, the Non Nuoc beach-located property boasts Da Nang’s longest outdoor swimming pool - at 250 metres. marriott.com
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I N T H E K NOW
FABBY KRABI Krabi, on southern Thailand’s west coast, is one of the country’s most stunning destinations. With its unmistakable limestone cliffs, dense mango forest and more than 100 offshore islands, it’s a holiday paradise. AirAsia has now launched a direct route three times a week between Krabi and Chek Lap Kok. Flights to Macau have also been opened. But beware the perils of over-tourism, one of the region’s most famous beaches, Maya Bay in Phi Phi Leh, has been closed indefinitely by the Thai government due to the sheer numbers of visitors wreaking havoc on its fragile ecosystem. airasia.com
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K RAB I Hong Kong Family Traveller 11
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Vietnamese carrier VietJet Air is now taking bookings on its new international route between Phu Quoc and and Hong Kong. From April 19, Airbus A320 series aircraft will operate the two hour and 45-minute-long route four times a week. Phu Quoc, known as the country’s ‘pearl island’, is also Vietnam’s largest and is located in the far south of the country. It’s well-known for its white-sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and for its tourist resorts, most of which are located along the southwest coast. More than half of the island is UNESCO-listed national park. vietjetair.com
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PH U QUO C
ONE STOP TO PHU QUOC
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G R E E CE
GREEK ESCAPE After the action of the school summer holidays, autumn might feel like the perfect time to escape for some rest and relaxation - and why not unleash your inner creative at the same time? Retreat and workshop specialist Mediterranean Wanderer is leading a women-only, six-day Emerge: Food, Writing & Creative Escape to the Greek Islands in September. The stunning island of Serifos is the base for the weekâ€™s activities, an instagrammerâ€™s dream of whitewashed houses, cobblestone streets, beaches and artisanal food producers. Guests are accommodated in Cycladic-style seaside villas and days are filled with private boat trips, swimming in bays, wine tastings, visits to local creatives and boutiques, home-cooked Mediterranean meals, sunset drinks, Zorba dancing and a five-day writing and creative workshop. The retreat runs September 20-25. mediterraneanwanderer.com
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Asia weather watch
Brolly or bikini? What to pack this spring Cambodia
Temperatures begin to peak in April and rainfall remains low. The wet season begins in May and by the end of the month rain is pretty much guaranteed.
April is comfortably warm with humidity levels rising and occasional rain and fog. May is hotter and more humid as the rainy season sets in. Summer arrives in late May.
The chance of rainfall reduces as April progresses. Days are usually sunny and hot, a trend that continues throughout May.
April is the hottest month of the year, with temperatures around 30 in the north and 35 in the south. The rainy season begins in May.
Temperatures and humidity levels reach their peak in April. May is the beginning of the rainy season with hot and sticky conditions and torrential downpours.
April sits between the two monsoon seasons; winds arenâ€™t as strong and expect slightly lower humidity. As ever, temperatures float between 25 and 33. Daily showers are normal.
April is one of the best months to travel to Sri Lanka, but rainfall increases as the month eases towards May.
High temperatures and low rainfall in April; this is the hottest time of year. The hot temperatures continue into May and by the end of the month, rainfall is also on the rise.
Vietnam April sees beach-friendly weather both sides of the peninsula and infrequent rain showers. Rain is heavier in the centre and highlands. By May, the south-west monsoon has moved in over the west coast while the east coast still enjoys sunny, dry days.
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The north is heading towards its hot and wet summer in April. Expect dry days in the centre of the country but increasing chances of rain in the south. May is a mixed bag - the south slips into wet season and the north sees more rainfall and higher temperatures.
H OT L I ST
On our radar this spring... 5
Children’s author Isabelle Demenge has released a second edition of her popular Leap & Hop guide to Cambodia. The new, hard-cover edition contains updated information as well as discovery information for a new temple. Leap & Hop Cambodia Travel Book for Kids is available from good bookshops and from leapandhop.com
PuroQuiet light-weight headphones are ideal for little ears on long-haul flights. The noise-cancelling component helps protect hearing as wearers are less likely to crank up the volume. Made from super-soft protein leather, they’re also extremely comfortable. They come in blue and pink and are available in Hong Kong priced $1,580 from wandercubs.com
Singapore’s Changi Airport is due to open Jewel, its mega retail and lifestyle development, on April 17. The S$1.7billion project is a ten-storey complex with more than 280 shops and food and beverage outlets and an 11-screen cineplex. But the most striking part of the project is a four-storey ‘Forest Valley’ complete with walking trails and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Need to unwind? The Mandarin Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong has launched a Breathe and Detox suite treatment, using dry salt inhalation ‘halotherapy’ and an infrared sauna. The treatment aims to strengthen respiratory health and encourage detoxification. It caters for two people, beginning with 30 minutes of relaxation in the spa suite, followed by a 90-minute Lymphatic or Breathe massage. The treatment is available until June 30, $4,350 for two on weekdays, $4,970 for two on weekends, mandarinoriental.com
Luxe luggage retailer TUMI is set to launch an eco-friendly range of travel accessories exclusively for the Asia Pacific market. This is the second edition of its Recycled Capsule Collection, created using recycled nylon and plastic bottles. The sophisticated range comes in navy with a tan trim and will be available in selected Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau stores and online from April, tumi-hk.com
Hong Kong artisan gelato brand Igloo has launched a nostalgic range of new flavours for summer, including White Rabbit Candy gelato. Channelling Hong Kong childhood vibes, Igloo has based the treat on the iconic White Rabbit sweets that were popular with kids here throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. There are also plenty of vegan and dairy-free options. Head to Igloo Dessert Bar, Shop C, Lower Deck, Pier 7, Star Ferry, Central, Hong Kong.
Local artist Karen Aruba opens her first soloexhibition, Wanderlust in Chinese Communities, this spring. The event runs until May 1 and showcases illustrations depicting Aruba’s childhood memories of Hong Kong. She is the daughter of a traditional Mahjong tile carver and will also be displaying various tools of his trade. 11am to 7.30pm, S314, Block A PMQ, Central.
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The travel sage Travel writer Marianne Rogerson answers your destination dilemmas
Beijing on a weekend with the kids - how should I tackle it?
With a short time frame I would recommend basing yourselves centrally. The Wangfujing area is a good option as it’s within walking distance of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. There is a good range of hotels to choose from in this area, including the Grand Hyatt, Renaissance, Hilton, Crowne Plaza and Park Plaza. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to ‘do it all’ in a long weekend, but you can certainly fit in enough to get a good feel for the city and have a great time. You will obviously want to spend a day heading out to the Great Wall of China. With kids, a great section of the Wall to visit is Mutianyu. It’s a bit more of a drive than the more popular Badaling section, but it’s worth it to avoid the crowds. You get fabulous views along the Wall here and what makes it especially good for kids is the chair lift catch it heading up and you can
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toboggan back down. For your other days, I would recommend setting aside a morning to explore the Forbidden City. Going with a guide is a good way to make sure you see the highlights in a short amount of time before the kids get too bored. Take the time to check out the beautiful Jingshan Park next to the Forbidden City, where you can hire paddle boats on the lake and there is a kids’ area. Nearby is also the famous Wangfujing Snack Street. The Chaoyang Theatre acrobatic show is another highlight, and great entertainment for the whole family. If budget allows it, I would recommend hiring a driver and guide. This will make getting around a lot easier, particularly if you don’t speak much Mandarin. If you don’t want a driver for the whole weekend, at least consider it for going out to the Great Wall.
DEAR MARIANNE My in-laws are incoming. Is Hoi An or Danang the better hang-out with both littlies and oldies to please?
I actually don’t think it makes a huge amount of difference which town you choose, as they are only around a 30-minute drive from each other. Having said that, you will probably want to spend more time in Hoi An than Da Nang as it is the more picturesque and family friendly of the two. The downside to Hoi An as a location is that the beaches aren’t as good. For this reason, I usually recommend that families choose one of the hotels based on the stretch of
beach that runs between the two towns. This way you can take advantage of the gorgeous beachfront location, but it’s still easily travel into Hoi An for shopping and dining. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to family friendly resorts here. The top pick for me is the Four Seasons Nam Hai resort, but it is pricey. For a more wallet-friendly option, take a look at the Hyatt Regency. Their two and threebedroom residences are ideal for families as they have full
kitchen facilities and plenty of living space. They also have the three-bedroom Ocean Villas that could be a good option if you also have the grandparents with you. Premier Village Resort also offers four-bedroom villas and has a fun kids club. For excursions, I highly recommend doing a food tour in Hoi An. The local cuisine is delicious and this is a great way to get acquainted with it. Hoi An Food Tour (hoianfoodtour.com) does a very reasonably priced family friendly tour. Another great activity for the whole family is a Farming & Fishing Tour with Jack Tran Ecotours (jacktrantours.com). You get to explore the local countryside by bike, as well as riding a water buffalo and learning how to steer a basket boat.
The pretty laneways and bustling markets of Hoi An
DEAR MARIANNE Koh Samui is on our hit-list - what’s the family-friendly lowdown?
I really like Bophut Beach as a family destination. It’s a quieter beach, away from most of the livelier nightlife, but still has enough going on so you won’t get bored. The Fisherman’s Village has a nice selection of bars, restaurants and shops and a fun night market on a Friday evening. Don’t miss sunset cocktails at beach bar Coco Tams. The kids will love the novelty of sitting on a swing at the bar! There are several good family hotels in Bophut. I love the Anantara, which has a gorgeous pool and a small kids club and is an easy five-minute walk to the Fisherman’s Village. The
Peace Resort is a more budgetfriendly option on Bophut Beach. Mae Nam Beach is another nice, quieter area for a relaxing holiday. Although traditionally associated with backpackers, a few higher-end family resorts have sprung up here. The Santiburi is a large resort with loads of family facilities, including a kids club, and they have two-bedroom duplexes that are ideal for families. If you prefer your holiday with a bit more action and nightlife, you could check out hotels in Lamai Beach. I would probably avoid Chaweng Beach with young kids.
In terms of excursions, you should definitely set aside a day to visit Ang Thong National Park. This beautiful archipelago of 42 islands is perfect for island hopping, snorkeling and/ or kayaking, depending on the tour you book. Kids will also love Aquapark Samui, a floating inflatable obstacle course on Chaweng Beach, and there are also a couple of water parks on the island. Another fun option is Canopy Adventures zip line tour (canopyadventuresthailand.com) for kids over the age of seven years.
MARIANNE ROGERSON Mum-of-two Marianne Rogerson is a travel blogger and author and has lived all over the world. If you have a question, email her at email@example.com. Follow her adventures at mumonthemove.com
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a decadent dim sum lunch for two at MADAME FU, hosted by Stay One Degree
Hong Kong Family Traveller is partnering with luxury holiday home club Stay One Degree for this special offer. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch for two at Hong Kong’s ‘most Instagrammable’ restaurant and find out how to make your next holiday equally photogenic. Stay One Degree is a trusted member’s club that connects luxury travellers with the world’s finest homes and their discerning owners. Only homes that pass a rigorous vetting process are eligible to join. As a member of the club, you have access to thousands of incredible properties to holiday in, from Thailand to Bali and hidden European gems. With preferential rates and special offers only available to Stay One Degree members, you can travel the world in style, renting homes from fellow members. There are ten ‘lunch-for-two’ vouchers up for grabs. To win a seat at the table, all you have to do is fill out your details online at hongkongfamilytraveller.com/ win-a-decadent-dim-sum-lunch-atmadame-fu The event will take place on Friday May 10. Competition closes on Wednesday May 1. Bonne chance, bon appetit and bon voyage!
stayonedegree.com *TERMS AND CONDITIONS Offer is subject to availability. The prize includes a set dim sum lunch capped at $300 for 2 adults at Madame Fu restaurant Hong Kong, served on Friday 10th May 12.30pm. Stay One Degree reserves the right to refuse or withdraw any offer at any time without prior written notice. Stay One Degree reserves the right to alter or amend these terms and conditions and any other conditions applicable to an offer or promotion at any time. Stay One Degree’s decision is final and binding in all matters relating to any offer or promotion and no correspondence will be entered into in this regard. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. This offer cannot be exchanged for cash or any other alternatives and have no monetary value. By redeeming the offer the customers agree to release Stay One Degree from any liability whatsoever for any claims, costs, injuries, losses, or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the offer or with the acceptance or possession of any offer (except death or personal injury caused by the Promoter’s negligence, for fraud, or otherwise as prohibited by law).
To enter, sign up at hongkongfamilytraveller.com
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A holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a good book. Here are this season’s best new reads
A story of dark obsession from the creator of Hannibal Lecter and The Silence of the Lambs. Twenty-five million dollars in cartel gold is hidden beneath a Miami Beach mansion. Leading the pack of those hunting the treasure is Hans-Peter Schneider, a dark figure who makes a living fleshing out the violent fantasies of rich men. Cari Mora is an immigrant and caretaker of the house. She exists in the US on a Temporary Protected Status visa having escaped violence in her home country but is subject to the whim of the US immigration authorities. As Schneider closes in, she catches his eye. Read it if you dare.
Nineteen years ago at the turn of the century, Kate and Ben meet at a party and fall in love. In this first year of the new millennium in a fictional, liberal-utopia, there is no war anywhere in the world. The United Nations has planted a flag on Mars and a Green Party senator is about to become the first female president of the US. Rewind to 1593 and Kate finds herself transported back in history as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman. Each decision she makes as Emilia will change her life with Ben forever. A novel of what we have lost, and what we might be able to save.
This is the story of yet another heroine with a seemingly perfect life. Adele is a successful Parisian journalist living in a smart apartment and with a surgeon husband and a young son. But underneath it all she’s bored and develops an insatiable desire for sex. And so begins a secret life of one night stands and affairs. Inevitable this leads to lies, lies and more lies, and her career begins to suffer. It’s an unusual and risque storyline but perhaps highlights a broader need experienced my many women to feel alive, beyond the groundhog day ‘metro-boulotdodo’ (commute-job-sleep) routine.
Lonely Planet Ultimate Travel Quiz Book Challenge the family with this travel trivia book. Head-scratching questions on everything from geography and culture to history, wildlife and transport - perfect entertainment for long flights or relaxing in far-flung destinations.
Long Night In Paris Dov Alfon If you’re a Le Carre fan, this is for you. An Israeli tech entrepreneur disappears from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport with a mystery woman - not something particularly of note, but the new head of the Israeli Intelligence Corps’ Unit 8200’s autonomous Special Section just happened to arrive on the same flight. And for Commissaire Leger of the Paris Police, it’s too much of a coincidence. When a second Israeli is kidnapped from the same flight, a diplomatic incident looms.
All books are available in Hong Kong from Bookazine, bookazine.com.hk Hong Kong Family Traveller 21
Wish you were here Lucy Jackson moved from Hong Kong to Indonesia with her photographer husband and sons, two-year-old William and six-month-old Jack. She reveals her insider’s guide to the best of Bali speed dial - but that’s an exclusive for our Lightfoot guests! Best sunset views La Brisa is a Robinson Crusoestyled sundowner spot. Very instagrammable! You’ll see plenty of the Canggu hipster types here in their dungas.
Beautiful Bali is full of surprises
Best coffee shop Family cafe, Milk & Madu. We live in the neighbourhood of Berawa, in the heart of Canggu and this coffee (and amazing) brunch spot is our local haunt. It welcomes families with its arts and crafts corner, run by the ‘mega’ Mega (yes, that is actually her name), as well as a grassy play area. During the week days I’ll pick up my fuel for the day here and at the weekends William is treated like a celeb, highfiving the baristas and staff. The Indonesians are incredibly friendly and warm and particularly love children. Best beach Bali is not a traditional beach destination but there are some magical spots for day trips. Try Bingin for its backpacker and old-school vibe, with the houses perched on a cliff face, or hanging at Sunday’s in Uluwatu. The beaches on the West coast are not my personal favourite – but I admit, I’m not a surfer. I prefer 22 Hong Kong Family Traveller
looking at, rather than being on the beaches in Bali and for that there are plenty of swanky beach clubs - try sundowners at Tucan for relaxed vibes. Best family restaurant I’m not sure if it counts as ‘the’ best family restaurant, but we’re often at Coffee & Coconuts. It’s a breezy, spacious venue rocking the latest in Balinese design and serving up a fine line in delicious brekkies, lunches and dinners. The food is super-fresh, funky and on the mark. There’s also a box of toys which is fun for the kids. Otherwise, Ku de Ta keeps everyone happy for a family rendez-vous on a Sunday morning. Best shopping area Everything is so disparate here in Bali, so you really need a driver to take you to the boutiques and keep life super-easy (and air-conned) as you hop from one shop to another. The strip in Seminyak is still the classic with Kidsagogo,
Mist and Magali Pascal. I also like the furniture road in Kerobokan for picking up bargain homewares. Or keeping life easy in the Petitenget area where you’ll find Cargo and other boutiques - and you can fall into Spring Spa (you’ll have deserved it) or Biku, a cafe housed in a 150-year old teak joglo (traditional Javanese house), for a cuppa ‘cha and a naughty treat when you’re all shopped out. Best family day out Sundara Beach Club is part of the Four Seasons and has a lovely kids club just next to the pool. It’s a little on the expensive side but it’s worth grabbing a day-bed and whiling your day away in the shade, taking advantage of the six-hour brunch. Best spa Spring in Canggu. It has a lovely dedicated space for mani-pedis and wonderful massages. If you want to bring the massages to you, then I have the best one on
Best for date nights Our go-to is Ulekan, an Indonesian restaurant that brings together the best of the archipelago under one roof. It’s another fab restaurant by the ‘Good Food Brotherhood’ group promoting local fare. And Kaum is another great Indonesian hotspot, with stunning views over the ocean. For visitors, I also recommend La Lucciola, as it has a seaview under a beautiful bamboo structure and twinkling lights for the ultimate in low-lighting. Best cocktails The Lawn in Canggu is a beachclub heaving with trendies, and the cocktails are delicious, too. But for a well-mixed drink and some of the best tapas-style bites around, head up the road to Mason.
LUCY JACKSON Lucy Jackson is co-founder and director of luxury travel operator, Lightfoot Travel, based in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, London and Bali. For more information, see lightfoottravel.com
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HOT & HAPPENING
Viva Vietnam The weather’s hotting up so why not treat the family to a beach weekend? If you’re stuck for destinations, Vietnam is welcoming a host of new resorts this spring
ANANTARA QUY NHON VILLAS, VIETNAM
MELIA HO TRAM BEACH RESORT, HO TRAM, VIETNAM
This recently opened property is located in a secluded bay in south central Vietnam. The 26 luxury one- and two-bedroom oceanfacing villas are set amid seven hectares of landscaped tropical gardens and welcome both couples and families. Dining outlets include signature restaurant Sea.Fire.Salt, as well as private and in-villa dining. From April the resort is
Two-hours from Ho Chi Minh is Melia Ho Tram Beach Resort. The 17-acre property opens in April with 152 beachfront vista guest rooms and 61 villas with private pools. The resort explores a diverse culinary landscape, with four dining outlets including a beach club and all-day coffee bar. Should I bring the kids? Further facilities include a ten-treatment room spa, Definitely. This is a three swimming pools, a fulfamily-friendly resort. ly-equipped gym and a kid’s club. melia.com
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launching a private Anantara train carriage for guests wanting to travel overland from Da Nang. anantara.com
Should I bring the kids? There’s no kids club but families are welcome.
H OT & H APPE NI NG
Should I bring the kids? There’s a kids club plus child-friendly dining.
FUSION RESORT PHU QUOC, PHU QUOC, VIETNAM Vietnam’s ‘pearl island’ welcomes Fusion Resort Phu Quoc later this spring. Nestled in a private bay, the property boasts 130 garden, ocean or river villas with luxe sunken bathtubs, monsoon showers and private pools. There’s an ‘all-spa inclusive’ treatment service, including daily wellness activities. As with other Fusion properties, the resort
operates a ‘breakfast anywhere, anytime’ service. Further features include a family-friendly kids club, a cocktail-friendly beach bar, an oceanfront seaside restaurant, adults’ only pool, fitness centre and a daily shuttle bus to the island’s main town. fusionresorts.com
FUSION RESORT CAM RANH & THE HIDEAWAY, CAM RANH, VIETNAM Fusion Cam Ranh occupies a pristine strip of Long Beach between Cam Ranh and Nha Trang on Vietnam’s southwestern coast. This year the resort is launching The Hideaway, an exclusive extension of the resort offering 50 one-bedroom Garden Pool Villas and Deluxe Garden Pool Villas. Guests of The Hideaway can enjoy an ‘anytime, anywhere’ breakfast service, as well as complimentary daily spa treatments and wellness activities. The Hideaway boasts the
largest pool on the property, plus poolside restaurant, poolside gym and yoga studio, outdoor tennis court and yoga pavilion. fusionresorts.com
Should I bring the kids? There’s plenty of pint-sized fun in the main resort. Hong Kong Family Traveller 25
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Tackling the temples of Siem Reap in the heat with a family in tow is no mean feat. We show you how to do it.
From Shenzhen to Zhuhai and of course Hong Kong, the hotel industry in Chinaâ€™s Greater Bay Area has a lot to show-off about this year.
Unleash your inner Robinson Crusoe and discover the best in private island holidays. Thereâ€™s a beach somewhere out there with your name on it...
Song Saa Ocean Villa day bed
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F CUS Siem Reap The first in our series of destination close-ups designed to keep your holiday hassle-free
WHAT TO DO Tackling Angkor Archaeological Park The temples of Angkor is a complex covering 160 hectares, but in its heyday it was more than just a clutch of temples. Airborne laser technology has uncovered that the temples were integrated into a huge network of roads, houses, canals and ponds 28 Hong Kong Family Traveller
- in other words an enormous, complex city. Angkor Wat is the largest and most visited of all the temples and is a source of fierce national pride. The twentieth century saw much restoration of Angkor Wat. Jungle was pushed back exposing the stonework
of the temples, although in the 1970s work was interrupted by the Cambodian Civil War. Relatively little damage was done during this time - more was inflicted after the war by art thieves. Since the 1990s, Angkor Wat has become a major tourist
destination. In 1993 there were just 7,650 visitors to the site; by 2013 that figure had reached over two million. After Angkor Wat, the most popular temples are Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm (star of the Tomb Raider movie) and the Bayon.
The centre offers both pottery and art classes, so dig deep for your inner Henry Moore. Absolutely no skill is required and children are welcome from three years and up. There is a free pickup and drop-off service from your hotel and classes run at 8am, 10am, 2pm and 4pm daily. The US$25 cost includes instruction on creating an Angkorian bowl on the potter’s wheel with Khmer carving techniques and one fired piece. khmerceramics.com
ANGKOR WAT WITH CHILDREN Buy a three-day pass. These must be used within a week so you can take your time and mix temple days with days ‘off’ in between.
A parasol or umbrella can also be useful.
Hire a driver or tuk tuk, the distances between the temples in the heat are tough on foot.
If you can stand the heat, noon is often one of the quietest times of the day when many visitors head back to town for lunch.
Bring plenty of water, cover shoulders and shorts/skirts must fall below the knees.
Limit yourself to a couple of temples a day - be realistic about the heat and little legs.
There is a zipline in the middle of the Angkor Wat complex - Flight of the Gibbon
is the perfect antidote for kids who have had too much temple-time. Don’t ride the elephants. If you want to spend time with these native animals, seek out an elephant sanctuary. Invest in a copy of Leap & Hop Cambodia by Isabelle Demenge. The book is packed with fun activities and kid-friendly information about the Angkor Wat complex.
Cruising Tonle Sap floating villages Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and one of Cambodia’s most important landmarks. It is home to around 1.2 million people who make their living from fishing. During the dry season the lake is around 160km long, but in peak wet season in August it swells to 250km in length. The four main floating villages open to tourism from Siem Reap include Chong Kneas, Kampong Phluk, Mechrey and Kampong Khleang. Chong Kneas is the closest to the city and therefore the most popular. There are various tours on offer, or you can pay for a private boat at the dock. Scams abound but Tara River Boat is one of the more reputable tour operators. taraboat.com
Above from left Phare Cambodian Circus in action; taking time out at the Happy Ranch Horse Farm
Uncovering history at War Museum Cambodia
All the fun of Phare The Cambodian Circus Highly recommended comes Phare The Cambodian Circus. Phare performers use theatre, music, dance and modern circus to tell Cambodian folk stories. The performers are students and graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak’s vocational training centre in Battambang in southern Cambodia. The association was formed by nine former refugees
of the Khmer Rouge regime. Phare The Cambodian Circus offers students somewhere to hone their skills and receive an income. Tickets cost from US$10 for children aged five years and above and from US$18 for adults (12+). pharecircus.org
ANGKOR WAT IS THE MOST VISITED OF ALL THE TEMPLES AND A SOURCE OF FIERCE NATIONAL PRIDE
The War Museum in Siem Reap is the biggest in Cambodia. It looks back at Cambodia’s ‘war years’ during the last three decades of the 20th century. The museum collection includes a T-54 tank, MiG-19 jet fighter aircraft, a Mil Mi-8 helicopter and various artillery. There is also rare wartime photography on display. Free guides are on hand to show you round - they include war veterans and eye witnesses of the war. The purpose of the museum is to keep the memory of this chapter
of Cambodian history alive. warmuseumcambodia.com
Trail riding with The Happy Ranch Horse Farm Canter your way across the Siem Reap countryside. Farm founder Sary Pann grew up in Siem Reap and when civil war broke out in 1975 was offered a job with the US embassy in California. He retired back to Cambodia, bought a horse, bought another, fell in love with them and the rest, as they say, is history. The Happy Ranch Horse Farm today stables more than 50 horses and ponies. The ranch offers countryside trails from one to four hours and from sunrise to sunset. Amble your way through tourist-free rice paddies, temple ruins and villages. Prices start at US$38 for a one-hour countryside trail ride. The farm can arrange lead rides on gentle ponies for young children. thehappyranch.com Hong Kong Family Traveller 29
F O CU S
Pottery making at Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre
Angkor Wat is stunning at sunrise and sunset
WHERE TO EAT Foreign Correspondents Club Angkor This upscale boutique hotel is an FCC in name only and is managed by Avani Hotels & Resorts. It began life as a 1960s French Khmer villa on the Siem Reap River. The old villa serves as the club’s restaurant and was originally the French governor’s residence. There is a restaurant on the first floor but the al fresco terrace on the ground floor is a great spot for evening drinks. fcccambodia.com
The Khmer Grill Serving a varied menu, from traditional Cambodian food to Western-style dishes, The Khmer Grill is a relaxed venue. Friendly staff and a good value menu (don’t miss the grilled frog) make this a popular choice, so advanced booking is recommended. The Khmer Grill is vegetarian-friendly with gluten-free and vegan options. khmergrill.com 30 Hong Kong Family Traveller
This high-end eatery has put Cambodian cuisine at the top of its menu. Under the Khmer Rouge, many of Cambodia’s centuries-old recipes were lost, but Malis is determined to turn that around. The restaurant is located next to the Siem Reap river, but if you want to eat outside, book in advance. Upstairs are private dining rooms and a cooking school. malis-restaurant.com
Located on the rather promisingly-named Chocolate Road, Haven is a social enterprise and training restaurant for young adults who have grown up in local orphanages. Managed by two Swiss nationals and a Cambodian head chef, the eatery takes in 15 trainees a year. Expect fresh local dishes, including fusion specials, Swiss favourites and lots of vegetarian influences. havencambodia.com
Lily’s Secret Garden Restaurant
A simple, casual, family-run restaurant offering friendly service and tasty local dishes. The restaurant is a little off the beaten track three kilometres outside the centre of Siem Reap. It also offers Siem Reap Jeep Traks tours by jeep or motorbike as part of its ‘Eat and Drive’ project. touich-restaurant. blogspot.com
A member of TREE global alliance of training restaurants, all profits are invested in the students who train in the restaurants. Marum offers ‘creative local cuisine’, cocktails, shakes and sharing plates. The restaurant is run by Kaliyan Mith, a non-government organisation that supports street children and other marginalized young people. marum-restaurant.org
Definite date-night territory, Damnak prides itself on high-end Khmer cuisine blended with the finesse of French techniques. Staff are keen to share their knowledge of the Cambodian dishes and there’s an a la carte, set and degustation with wine pairing menu. All dishes are made to order with ingredients often plucked from the ground just moments before cooking. damnak.com
Serving Khmer and Asian fusion dishes, Lily’s is a convenient ten-minutes walk from Pub Street and the Old Market. This is simple, fresh cuisine at its best, all cooked by Lily. She also offers morning and afternoon cooking classes, beginning in the local markets sourcing local produce and finishing up in her home and garden putting it all together. lilysecretgarden.com
F O CU S
WHERE TO STAY Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor The property is set amongst lush gardens and is an ocean of calm after a busy day sightseeing. Pint-sized facilities include a children’s pool and kids’ menus in all hotel restaurants. Cots and nannies are also available. raffles.com
Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort A beautifully laid out hotel with a large pool that’s perfect for kids looking to cool off. There are connecting rooms available as well as babysitting and in-room video games to keep kids entertained if they’re all templed-out. sofitel.com
Jaya House River Park eco-hotel
La Residence d’Angkor by Belmond Interconnecting rooms, babysitting and tailored menus make this a family favourite. The Belmond opened in 2017 following a full refurbishment and is nestled within lush landscaped
gardens surrounding a saltwater swimming pool. residencedangkor.com
Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa A family-friendly property with a stunning pool and old world, colonial-style rooms.
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY HOTELS Jaya House River Park This 36-room hotel located along the Siem Reap River has two swimming pools, a spa and an all-day dining restaurant. Each room has a balcony or direct garden and pool access. Guests are provided with a complimentary aluminium canister that can be refilled at water stations across town. Plastic straws and rubbish bags have been banned on the property and general manager Christian de Boer is one of the founders of Siem Reap’s Refill, Not Landfill scheme to reduce single-use plastic in Siem Reap. Suitable for older families. jayahouseriverparksiemreap.com
There’s a kids’ club, a spa offering child-friendly treatments, kids’ menus in the restaurants, plus babysitting services, board games and a library. Some interconnecting rooms are available as well as cots and extra beds. victoriahotels.com
Tucking into a cool treat at Babel Guesthouse
Babel Guesthouse A 22-room, eco-friendly guesthouse in the heart of Siem Reap and a 20-minute ride from the Angkor Wat temples. The property actively promotes the benefits of tourism to the local community and works with local organisations to reduce the impact of mass tourism in Siem Reap. The guesthouse also offers an Eco Shop and refill station keep yourself topped up with packaging-free shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower gel, laundry detergent and mosquito repellent. The shop collaborates with a range of local businesses to keep its shelves laden
with environmentally friendly products. babelsiemreap.com
Treeline Urban Resort This 48-room hotel is located on Siem Reap’s Riverside. An art collection curated by leading Cambodian artists along with an interior design that uses sustainably sourced local
timber and locally handmade soft furnishings puts the property firmly on the eco map. The four restaurants use seasonal, local ingredients in their regional dishes. A spa and infinity pool with river views completes the picture. treelinehotels.com
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STAYCATI O N Rosewood Hong Kong The eagerly anticipated Rosewood Hong Kong opened this month. It’s the hotel and resort group’s 26th international property. Situated in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui’s new Victoria Dockside arts and design district, the hotel boasts 322 guest rooms and 91 suites (more than any other luxury hotel in Hong Kong) and occupies the top 43 floors of the 65-storey, Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed building on Salisbury Road. Eighty percent of guestrooms have harbour views, while the remainder look out over Kowloon Peak and Lion Rock. The property has been built on the former Holt’s Wharf, which was established in 1910. The area was subsequently redeveloped into the New World Centre in the 1980s by Dr Cheng Yu-tung and Dr Henry Cheng, the grandfather and father of Rosewood Hotel Group’s chief executive officer, Sonia Cheng. “I wanted to create a property that not only showcases the city’s rich history, but also reflects its bright future,” Cheng told Hong Kong Family Traveller. “New World Centre was conceived as my grandfather’s gift to Hong Kong, a celebration of its progress, vibrancy and spirit. I hope that 32 Hong Kong Family Traveller
Rosewood Hong Kong enhances this legacy and helps fulfill his and my father’s vision for the city that they loved.” As a nod to Rosewood’s origins in the 1970s as an aristocratic estate that opened its doors to guests, Tony Chi of New York design studio tonychi has created a ‘vertical estate’, incorporating green spaces and outdoor areas throughout the property. And there has been no stinting on the artwork and furnishings, either. Guests are greeted by a Henry Moore semi-abstract bronze sculpture as they enter the courtyard, and works by American artist Joe Bradley hang in the reception area. Oak marquetry ceiling panels and coconut wood columns have been used to evoke an English stately home in the hotel’s auxiliary lobby, with a dramatic, life-size sculpture of an elephant by Indian artist Bharti Kerr. Further artwork throughout the property includes pieces by British artist Damien Hirst, China’s Wang Keping and Hong Kong artist Wilson Shieh. Guests booked into one of the exclusive suites will enjoy access to Rosewood’s Manor Club executive lounge and personal butler service.
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STAYCATION SALVATION Need a break from the Easter break? If you haven’t got a flight booked, don’t despair. Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area is welcoming a slew of new hotels this spring
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STAYCAT ION Grand Harbour Corner Suites boast harbour views from every vantage point. There are an additional 18 signature suites including the 1,000 square metre Harbour House floor boasting private sky terraces, harbour view sun decks and private lap pools. The Harbour House can be combined with the Garden House to create a fivebedroom retreat with private gym. The hotel’s executive lounge, The Manor Club, is located on the 40th floor and offers 24hour service including food and beverage, a bar and a games room with a pool table. The hotel has eight restaurants, all with an emphasis on local produce, including Holt’s Cafe, Chinese dining The Legacy House, DarkSide bar and all-day lounge The Butterfly Room (a ‘showstopping’ European-influenced afternoon tea is promised). Completing the picture is an outdoor infinity pool and fitness centre overlooking the harbour. And this autumn the first urban 34 Hong Kong Family Traveller
outpost of Rosewood’s wellness offering, Asaya, will open over two floors. Asaya will offer alternative therapies, fitness and lifestyle activities, healthy eating plans and social spaces for relaxation. Membership will be open to the local community as well as Rosewood guests. rosewoodhotels.com
Raffles Shenzhen With a recent soft-opening and on schedule for a ‘full’ opening this June, the new flagship hotel for the Raffles group in China is set to wow. The hotel occupies the top floors of the new 72-storey One Shenzhen Bay Building with views over Shenzhen Bay (still known to many as the Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen Bay is now part of the Chinese government’s re-branded ‘Greater Bay’ area bordering Hong Kong, Macau and southern China). The hotel has 168 guest rooms with Raffles’ trademark butler service plus six restaurants and a
Raffles spa. Situated opposite the Shenzhen Bay border crossing, Central is around a 30-minute drive away. At time of going to press, the Grand Ballroom was open for events bookings. The soft launch was scheduled for March 31 with a full, official launch slated for June. We will of course keep you updated - watch this space. raffles.com
Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott The Southside-located hotel saw its full launch in February. This is very much a family-oriented hotel and is located adjacent to Hong Kong’s Ocean Park. Although a little out of the way of Hong Kong’s CBD area in the relatively leafy surrounds of Hong Kong Island’s Southside district, it is wellconnected via the Ocean Park MTR stop, which is directly connected to the hotel via a footbridge. The three hotel towers offer 471 guest rooms and 130 club rooms. The hotel has been built
Above - the inviting Raffles Shenzhen pool is ready for its official June launch; below the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott
ANDRÉ FU PAYS HOMAGE TO HONG KONG’S RICH HERITAGE AND CULTURE, DRAWING ON HIS OWN CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
around a central, resort pool area, complete with an aquapark for younger guests. The four restaurants all have al fresco dining areas overlooking the pool deck and include the Americanstyle grill house and cocktail bar Prohibition, Canton Bistro, the Pier Lounge and bar, and the all-day, buffet-style dining Marina Kitchen, with an adjacent fully-
St Regis Hong Kong
Easter fun It may be an oldie, but it is most certainly a goodie. Mandarin Oriental is putting a spring into the season with a special Easter Escape family package exclusively for Hong Kong residents. The package includes one night’s accommodation, breakfast for two adults and children under the age of 12 in the Clipper Lounge or Café Causette, one complimentary rollaway bed, late check-out until 3pm, Easter welcome gifts for kids on arrival and an Easter egg hunt (if you’re staying on April 21). Rates start at $3,200 for a city-view room. The offer is
available April 13-22. The hotel will also be offering an Easter brunch on Easter Sunday in the Connaught Room, with face painting, chocolate egg painting, hairstyle fun for boys with a hotel barber and
nail art lessons for girls from a hotel beautician. The brunch is available 11am to 3.30pm, $788 per adult, $478 per child aged three to 12 years. mandarinoriental.com
The St Regis Hong Kong hotel is scheduled to open on April 11. This will be the full official opening - there will be no soft launch ‘dress rehearsal’. The property is located in Hong Kong Island’s vibrant Wan Chai district on Harbour Road. During my tour last month, the property was still shaking off its dust covers, but it nevertheless screamed glamour. André Fu was chosen to design the property and he pays homage to Hong Kong’s rich heritage and culture, drawing on his own memories of growing up in Hong Kong, as well as incorporating style inspiration from the St Regis New York. The vibe is sophisticated but homely,
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ST REGIS DESIGNER
The glamorous St Regis Hong Kong opens on April 11 on Harbour Road, Wan Chai
staffed tots play area. As you would expect, the hotel is very much family-oriented – panda-themed twin-bed rooms include Ocean Park children’s gifts, junior robes and slippers and views over the park. The hotel will also be running various resort activities such as seashell art, scavenger hunts and special dining. Eco-credentials include the use of sustainable timber, non-ozone depleting insulation materials, rainwater collection and water recycling. The hotel has a recycling and waste reduction programme, an organic rooftop farm and has implemented energy saving initiatives. Vertical planting systems have been installed and the restaurant outlets all serve Wild Wildlife Fund-certified sustainable seafood from approved suppliers. Ocean Park has big plans for the next couple of years. A $2.9 billion water park, Tai Shue Wan Water World, is scheduled to open next year and a Fullerton hotel is on track for a 2021 opening. marriott.com
with huge, sweeping ceilings, much marble, cosy open fires and oodles of character. Located as it is on Harbour Road, the views are urban, although rooms do cleverly harness harbour glimpses where possible. The 112 guest rooms are well-sized and beautifully turned out. Stunning copper fittings in the bathrooms, beautifully soft beds draped with lilac bed throws and all mod cons suddenly make a weekend in Wan Chai extremely attractive. If you’re looking to spread out, there are also 17 suites. Dining experiences include French fine-dining restaurant L’Envol and Chinese fine-dining Rùn. There is also a bar with an outdoor terrace and an extremely elegant afternoon tea area. An outdoor pool deck with bar and a spa and gym area complete the fitness offerings. The marketing team were keen to emphasise that families are very welcome - although perhaps a kid-free weekend à deux would maybe do this plushest of properties better justice. St Regis Hong Kong will also be rolling out its signature 24-hour
The Presidential Suite, St Regis Hong Kong
butler and e-butler services which begin the moment your car pulls in at the kerb. marriott.com
ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR Angsana Zhuhai Phoenix Bay is due to open later this summer. Located on the banks of the Zhujiang River estuary and north of the city of Zhuhai, this family-friendly property boasts a beach, outdoor pool, Angsana spa, water sports centre and outdoor terrace dining. Watch this space for more details… angsana.com
The Murray Get-away from it all at The Murray with its Easter Your Way package. The familyfriendly offer runs from April 13 to 22 and includes one night’s accommodation, complimentary breakfast for two adults and one child under the age of 12, early check-in at 12pm and extended checkout until 4pm the following day, complimentary rollaway bed, Easter welcome package and 15% discount on spa treatments at Wellness at The Murray. And if you’re staying on April 21, you can upgrade
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your breakfast to an Easter brunch. Packages start at $3,650. On Easter Sunday the hotel will be laying on a TopFlight Brunch in Popinjays, the property’s rooftop restaurant. Children will be kept entertained with a kid’s menu, balloon twisting, face painting and an egg hunt. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the sweeping views over Hong Kong Park and The Peak as you tuck into a five-course Easter menu. The brunch costs $988 per adult and $450 per
child (ages five to 12 years). Downstairs, The Tai Pan will be celebrating with an Eggstravagant Brunch. Highlights for the kids include a children’s menu, magic shows and an egg hunt. For grownups, expect a buffet table laden with jet-fresh seafood, a carvery and a BBQ station, as well as a selection of main courses served at the table. The semi-buffet is $498 per adult and $198 per child, with a free-flow wine and bubbles option at $298 per person. niccolohotels.com
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D E SE RT ISL A N DS
DESERT ISLAND DRIFT Southeast Asia may be one of the most populated places on the planet, but thereâ€™s still plenty of opportunity to escape the hustle. Carolynne Dear reveals the best private islands on which to hang your hammock
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D E SE RT ISL A N DS
Bawah Reserve, Indonesia Opened in 2017, Bawah Reserve is one of six Anambas islands in the Riau archipelago north-east of Singapore. The islands are today a designated marine conservation area, but this hasn’t always been the case. The resort opened just over a year ago after much cleanup work. When the uninhabited island of Pulau Bawah was first discovered by resort owner Tim Hartnoll, it was an environmental disaster zone. Years of illegal dynamite fishing had decimated the reefs and fish populations and the island itself was covered in rubbish. Last year, Hartnoll established the Bawah Anambas Foundation to address marine and forest conservation and community development. Its overriding goal is to improve the ecosystem of the Anambas. The local district consists of more than 200 islands and 45,000 people, the majority of whom rely on the ocean for their livelihood. The six islands of the Anambas are now a designated
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marine conservation area, meaning it’s illegal to fish in its waters, anchor offshore or collect marine life. The resort itself has just 35 suites so as not to overwhelm the local environment. They include Overwater Bungalows, Beach Suites, Deluxe Beach Suites and Garden Suites. All rooms have air conditioning, in-room WiFi and iPads, a private covered verandah, snorkelling and diving equipment, free laundry service, indoor and outdoor showers and a choice of towels. Culinary offerings include breakfast, lunch and dinner at Treetops, snacks and drinks at the poolside Grouper Bar and sunset cocktails atop the Jules Verne treetop hideaway. Or pull up a swing chair at The Boat House as the sun sets. Activities run from heaps of snorkelling opportunities (the resort provides handy snorkel maps) to hiking trails across the island. Bawah Reserve is reached via Singapore and can recommend hotels if you need to overnight in the city. Staff can collect guests from the airport as long as
IF YOU’RE THINKING WHITE SANDY BEACHES AND SWAYING PALMS THEN YOU’RE PRETTY CLOSE TO THE MARK
Previous page Bawah Reserve, Indonesia Clockwise from below - taking a dip at Bawah Reserve; coming into land on Bawah island; fun in the pool at Nikoi Island; guest accommodation at Nikoi
they are there for 7am. Guests are taken to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and escorted to Batam via ferry. There is then a car transfer to Hang Nadim airport and guests transfer onto the resort’s seaplane. bawahreserve.com
AMENITIES Please note the resort only accepts children over the age of five. Kids club - children are welcome to take part in all resort activities under the supervision of parents. Kids menu - the resort’s chef is happy to tailor menus to suit tastes and preferences.
Nikoi Island, Indonesia Kick your shoes off as the speed boat docks because you won’t be needing them again until you leave - this is barefoot (family) living at its best. Nikoi Island is in Indonesian territory approximately 80 kilometres south of Singapore. It nestles just off of Bintan Island
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where the Java and South China Seas meet. If you’re thinking white sandy beaches, swaying palms and grass-thatched beach huts, then you’re pretty close to the mark. The island was developed into a luxe, eco-resort by long-term Australian expat Andrew Dixon, along with American Peter Timmer, who had been living on nearby Bintan Island. Together, they decided to explore the relatively undiscovered east coast of Bintan. What they found was a little piece of paradise. Stretches of white sand, pristine reefs and verdant rainforest made Nikoi and exciting proposition. “It was hard to believe a piece of paradise like this could remain uninhabited and untouched - a mere 50 miles from Singapore,” says Dixon. The pair wanted to create something that was genuinely in tune with the natural environment, but at the same time of a high quality. “As much as possible, we have left Nikoi as we found it - a desert island,” continues Dixon. “Our plan was to develop a private island, not a resort; we wanted guests to enjoy the best of local dishes and appreciate service that is relaxed and genuine,” he says.
Fifteen two-and threebedroom grass huts form the accommodation. The spacious properties have no windows, no doors, no locks or rooms keys and no air conditioning - just gentle sea breezes and ceiling fans ventilating the rooms and snowy white mosquito nets adorning the beds. The covered dining area is situated on the sand and boasts long, communal driftwood tables. The chef chalks up the menu du jour each morning, featuring locally sourced produce and many fish or seafood-based dishes, as well as a simpler, children’s alternatives - but don’t worry, there’s not a single chicken nugget to be seen. Lazy days can be punctuated with the odd burst of activity, if the mood takes you. There are plenty of watersports on the beach, including a catamaran, snorkels and kayaks. A peaceful paddle around the island each morning is easily achievable before lunch. To the other side of the island is a pool and cocktail bar, and along a sandy track in the middle of the island is a kids’ club - children have a ball, with treasure hunts across the island, rock climbing and plenty of active, Enid Blyton-esque activities.
This is no cookie cutter hotel kids club offering. Each evening, a bonfire is lit on the beach for the children, who are then led up to kids club HQ for an outdoor movie night, neatly ensuring adults can linger over their supper and drinks. A spa and grass tennis courts complete the idyllic picture. Nikoi Island can be reached via Singapore. Catch one of the regular high-speed ferries from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry terminal to Bandar Bentan Telani on Bintan Island. From there, Nikoi resort can arrange a private car to transport you to its speedboat on the other side of Bintan (a 45-minute drive). nikoi.com
AMENITIES Kids club - yes Babysitting - yes Cots - yes Highchairs - yes Children’s menu - yes
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D E SE RT ISL A N DS
Left and below - all 24 villas at Song Saa Private Island have private pools Right top - guest accommodation at Nay Palad Hideaway Right bottom heading out for a surf at Nay Palad Hideaway
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia Hong Kongers Melita and Rory Hunter have carved out an awardwinning eco-resort from a pair of neighbouring islands in the Gulf of Thailand. The couple chanced upon Song Saa on a weekend trip while they were living in Cambodia in the early 2000s. At the time, the islands were strewn with rubbish, the forests decimated and the marine life had all-but disappeared thanks to rampant dynamite fishing. But after a decade of hard toil and engagement with local communities, the islands are now stunning examples of what can be achieved with passion, energy and a plan. Years of environmental bad practice have been reversed and the islands are now a haven of ecological goodness - think lazy, white-sand beaches and an aquamarine ocean vibrant with corals and fish. “We knew we had to change things,” said Melita. “But we also wanted to be good neighbours. When we first took over the islands, we weren’t planning on building a resort, we just wanted a nicer environment.” Overfishing 42 Hong Kong Family Traveller
meant it was becoming harder for locals to feed their families, which meant large tracts of rainforest were being cleared to create agricultural land. The couple reached out to neighbouring islands and soon the wider community was involved with the clean-up. A marine protection zone was established and amazingly, within just 18 months, fish stocks had begun to recover. A research diver was brought in to conduct an underwater survey and set up a database, which turned out to be the beginnings of what was to become one of the largest marine parks in southeast Asia. In 2005 the Hunters created the Song Saa Collective and were granted a 99-year lease with the aim of introducing tourism to the area. Ever the ecologists, the couple invited experts from James Cook University in Australia to advise on construction without harming the wildlife. The result is a high-spec, eco-conscious resort. “Along with the resort construction, we also accelerated the conservation side,” says Melita. “We brought in marine biologists, set up an education
programme teaching local children how to snorkel and introduced an annual medical mission with doctors from the US flown in to treat villagers.” The resort’s Boat of Hope runs a clinic on the local islands every month. As for the resort, all 24 oneand two- bedroom villas have private pools and are stunningly perched over-water, next to the ocean or forest-fronting. The resort also boasts an infinity pool and spa and wellness menus. The kitchens are supplied by the organic garden and the resort recently appointed executive chef Jeremy Simeon, who has brought with him a wealth of expertise in macrobiotic cooking. His Asian-inspired dishes incorporate the island’s local produce, channelling Kampot pepper flavours, with vegan and vegetarian dishes if requested. And if you can rouse yourself from your pool, there are hiking and nature trails, kayak expeditions, snorkelling tours,
inter-island excursions and ocean nature safaris. Children are warmly welcomed. Song Saa Private Island is located in the Koh Rong archipelago, Cambodia. Fly from Hong Kong direct to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh international airports from where there are direct flights to Sihanoukville Airport. Song Saa can provide transport to Sihanoukville Port, a 30-minute drive from the airport. From there it’s a 45-minute speedboat ride to Song Saa. A resort-owned helicopter is also available from the port to nearby Koh Rong island. songsaa.com
AMENITIES Kids club - no kids club, but the resort warmly welcomes families and scavenger hunts and other activities are regularly organised to keep kids busy.
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Nay Palad Hideaway, The Philippines Live out your tropical island dreams at Nay Palad, a private, barefoot resort located on the southeastern tip of Siargao Island in The Philippines. The ten luxe villas are set around a private bay. Facilities include private beach, outdoor cinema, watersports, infinity pool, spa and fitness centre and plenty of beach activities. The villas are airy affairs with indoor-outdoor showers and mod cons. Opt for Deluxe with a beach view, Superior with garden views or Superior Family with a private garden and garden views. Villa
amenities are daily homemade dried fruits, organic bathroom products, iPod Touch with docking station and an outdoor terrace. All villas have air conditioning and fans, mosquito nets over the beds and natural mosquito repellants on-hand. Also included in your stay are all meals and drinks, all activities and excursions, massages and spa treatments, transfers and laundry services. No resort worth its salts skimps on its wellness offerings, and the serene Nay Palad spa huts are neatly hidden away in the forest. They come with a full treatment menu - try the traditional Hilot massage - and
there is also a fitness centre. Check out the treehouse for instaworthy views over the sea and jungle - it can also be nabbed for relaxation, yoga and meditation, as well as private dinners. Talking of dining, a daily changing menu brings out the best in the local, seasonal produce. Meals can be served at the beach, in the treehouse, or back at your villa, as well as at the outdoor cinema and in the lanternlit gardens. Barbecues and picnics and marshmallow roasts around the campfire are also offered. The casual pool bar serves drinks, cocktails and snacks all day. Kids (and big kids) will be kept entertained with all manner of sporty equipment, from beach volleyball to table tennis, billiards, cricket, badminton and petanque. Cycling, hiking, caving and birdwatching are also available nearby, along with island-hopping via one of the resort’s three boats, picnicking on neighbouring islands, land tours and day-trips to a local rockpool. On the water, try your hand at sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, donut boating, kayaking, skimboarding and snorkelling.
Nay Palad Hideaway is a 40-minute drive from Siargao Island’s Sayak airport. Catch a direct flight from Hong Kong to Cebu or Manila from where you can pick up a connecting flight to Sayak. The resort offers free airport transfers in a private jeepney. naypaladhideaway.com
AMENITIES Kids club - no kids club as such, but the resort offers a playground with trampoline, swing and tree platform. There are organised kids activities including cooking lessons, marshmallow roasting and movie nights. Babysitting - included in the package on request Cots - yes Highchairs - yes Children’s menu - chefs can prepare meals tailored to requests.
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VILLA THRILLER Sarah Clarke flew her family to Sri Lanka this year for some fun in the sun. From turtles to temples and some seriously lust-worthy accommodation, she reveals how they enjoyed the best of Indiaâ€™s teardrop
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Previous page - Talaramba Reef Villa, Mirissa Opposite page, clockwise from top left - the library at the Wallawaa Hotel, Colombo; old train from Kandy station; boarding the seaplane at Tea Trails property en route to Galle; palms at sunset, Talpe; poolside at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo; a step back in time with this train timetable in Kandy; views from the front yard at Bellini Blue, formerly known as ‘The Beach Hut’; Pinnwala Elephant orphanage; Middle - Jack taking a surf lesson at Mirissa beach
Isabel and Jack in Galle
trolling along the sand at sunset, we were entranced to spot turtles surfing the waves into the beach. Their little heads bobbing up and down, they could easily be spotted in the soft evening light. You had to be patient to pick them out, but turtle-watching quickly became a regular part of our evening routine during a recent trip to Sri Lanka. Afterwards, they would build huge nesting holes in front of our beachfront villa. Sri Lanka has been on our destination wishlist for a while now, and this year we finally made it. I have to say, looking back on the trip, it ticked every box. From pristine beaches and amazing scenery, to great food, a rich culture and an amazing history, it makes for a fascinating family trip. It’s described
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Beach views from Sri Lanka’s south coast
variously as India’s ‘teardrop’, a reference to its tear-like shape, and as the ‘pearl’ of the Indian Ocean, such is its natural beauty. As a family, we’ve always been travel-obsessed but moving to Hong Kong has taken this fascination to a whole new level. Back in Mid-levels, I have a busy schedule freelancing for an international TV network, as well as managing my husband and two children, ten-year-old Jack and seven-year-old Isabel. Much of my spare time is taken up planning our next adventure. When I research a trip, I like to do it myself, which does take a lot of time, but I see it as part of the adventure. I look at travel websites to work out an itinerary and ‘must see’ spots, as well as flicking through destination magazines with tips on trending locations in Asia. I’m also plugged into
Facebook travel groups Hong Kong Travelling Mums and Our Tribe Travels, simply because the members of both are likeminded travellers and always
happy to answer my questions. This trip was intended to be a beach escape, so we opted to spend much of our time on the popular south coast.
GALLE Famous for its UNESCO World Heritage listed fort, Galle is a fascinating city on Sri Lanka’s southwestern tip. The fort was built in the 1500s by the Portuguese, fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century and preserved by the British from the 1790s when it became the administrative centre of the district. It is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers and today still contains a multi-ethnic population. Shopping in Galle is a highlight, with narrow lanes jam-packed with jewellery stores, local textiles, antique shops and modern galleries. Recommended pit-stops include Laksana for gems, Barefoot for textiles and Tallentire for cushions, hand-painted fabrics and gifts. Udara Antiques, just outside of Galle, is also worth a browse; it’s packed with old books, trinkets, clocks, furniture and vintage jewellery.
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Bellini Blue, formerly The Beach Hut, at Talpe, south of Galle
Our first stop was Wallawwa, which is just 15 minutes from Colombo airport. It’s a stunning property and with our flight landing at midnight, its proximity to the airport made it the perfect overnighter. The following morning, hotel staff had organised a driver to pick us up and whisk us down the recently built expressway to Galle, a journey of around two hours. Here, we stayed at Bellini Blue in Talpe, around 15 minutes by tuk-tuk from Galle. It was divine - absolute beachfront and with a pool and amazing staff. The stretch of beach is quiet - hence its popularity with the turtles - and is also one of the most picturesque in the area. We were able to spend our time popping into Galle to check out the galleries, shops and Galle Fort when we weren’t relaxing on the sand or in the pool with the kids. Another villa I would recommend in this area is 48 Hong Kong Family Traveller
Merchant House, just down the road at Ahangama. This stunning property was once the village sheriff’s house, but it’s since had a makeover and has been beautifully styled, retaining its
PINNAWALA ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE The orphanage is currently home to more than 90 elephants but began life with five abandoned baby elephants found near the premises. Vijaya, Neela, Kadira, Mathlee and Kumari couldn’t survive without their missing mother and so were hand-raised. The centre today cares not just for abandoned babies, but also for injured elephants. nationalzoo.gov.lk
Dutch colonial character but with all mod cons. It’s 300 metres from the beach on a large block of land with a huge pool and lush gardens. Definitely one for next time. From Galle we moved on to Mirissa Beach. The villa we’d opted for here was one of two on a two-acre block and part of the Talaramba Reef resort. Both were palatial and could sleep up to ten guests each. Although the villas are beachfront, you can’t swim on this stretch of coastline as it’s too rocky. However, they are just a short walk to Mirissa beach, which is gorgeous. And hey, we also had a pool. But the highlight of Talaramba Reef was the food. Deepani runs the kitchen and her cooking is first class. A menu request can be made in the morning and it will be served to you that evening. We love seafood, so we overindulged on everything lobster and prawn-related.
If you want to head up to Sri Lanka’s hill country, Kandy is your jumping-off point. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and also a sacred buddha site. If you’re coming from Colombo, hire a driver and drop in at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage on the way. There are also heaps of temples to tour in Kandy. The Sacred Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) in the heart of the city is the holiest temple of Theravada Buddhism. Kandy House is another colonial standout with a rich history. However, it’s worth noting the hotel only accepts guests over the age of 12 years. After a look at Kandy, we caught the rickety old tea train to Hatton. It was like taking a step back in time and travelling through the hillside tea plantations is unforgettable. In Hatton we checked into the Ceylon Tea Trails resort, a onceneglected estate that has been transformed into a working tea
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Clockwise from above - the beautifully styled interiors of Merchant House, Ahangama; the infinity pool and views from Summerville Bungalow, Ceylon Tea Trails, Bogawantalawa region near Hatton; aerial view of Sri Lanka’s southernmost point and Dondra lighthouse
plantation and is now a standout private luxury hotel. It was founded by the family-owned Dilmah Tea Company and is now managed by the Relais & Chateaux group. It has five amazing colonial era tea planter bungalows set around a scenic lake, each with its own distinctive character. Staying here is not cheap, but each bungalow comes with a butler, chef and manager and everything is included, from gourmet dining to afternoon tea and a top-shelf selection of wines and spirits. The roads in Sri Lanka can be rough and slow-going, so we cheated by hiring a seaplane back to Galle. Cinnamon Air flights land on the lake in front of the bungalows in Hatton and whisk you down to the south coast in just 25 minutes. The road journey is a
more arduous, four-hour affair. We found Sri Lanka to be a wonderful, colourful country whose people went out of their way to welcome us. But encroaching development is beginning to change the landscape. My advice? Go sooner rather than later if you get the chance.
How to get there Cathay Pacific flies direct to Colombo from Chek Lap Kok. The less-than-ideal flight times from Hong Kong see inbound planes landing around midnight and the departing flight leaves at 1am.
TEA COUNTRY In the late 1800s, Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was then known, was the world’s biggest coffee producer. However, an outbreak of a fungal disease put paid to booming production and British planters switched to tea bushes. After tourism, tea is today Sri Lanka’s most valuable export. Tea trains run from Colombo to the colonial hill station of Nuwara Eliya via Kandy, steaming through acre upon acre of tea estates. Reserving seats in the first class observation car is recommended. 12go.asia
The hit list • Wallawwa, Colombo, teardrop-hotels.com • Bellini Blue, formerly The Beach Hut, Talpe, Galle, goodspirit.co • Merchant House, Ahangama, merchanthouse.lk • Talaramba Reef resort, Mirissa Beach, talarambareef.com • Kandy House, Kandy, thekandyhouse.com • Ceylon Tea Trails resort, Hatton, resplendentceylon.com
Follow Sarah Clarke’s travel adventures @sassytraveltips
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TEA-FOR-TWO AT POPINJAYS Following its glamourous opening last year, The Murray Hotel on Hong Kong’s Cotton Tree Drive is now offering afternoon teas in its rooftop restaurant. Popinjays commands some of the best views in Hong Kong, with stunning panoramas over Hong Kong Park, Midlevels and Central’s heritage district. The interactive and colourful tea is described as a “flamboyant interpretation” of the classic mid-afternoon break. Treats include blue lobster blinis topped with Kristal caviar, a selection of savoury muffins, and decadent desserts running from salted pistachio cassis tartelettes and strawberry lamingtons, to Thai basil cream and raspberry macaroons with violet mascarpone, dark chocolate tarts and coconut and pineapple eclairs. And of course the habitual selection of warm scones served slightly more unusually with whipped cream and papaya & mango jam. But the pièce de resistance are the Popinjays cherry and blood orange Signature Scones which are flambéed tableside. Whet your whistle with a glass of Deutz Blanc de Blanc champagne or Charles-Heidsieck Rose – or a more traditional cuppa. If there’s a special occasion looming, pre-book The Aviary, Popinjays 20-seat private rooftop restaurant, and host your very own tea-party. The Murray Hotel is located opposite St John’s Cathedral and adjacent to the Peak Tram station and is ideally situated as a pittstop for sight-seers. The tea is priced at $688 for two, inclusive of tea and coffee. The flambeed scone experience is an additional $90 for a pair. niccolohotels.com
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SWEET MEMORIES New eatery Eat Darling Eat has opened in Causeway Bay’s Fashion Walk. The cafe has reworked a host of Hong Kong classic snacks and desserts, including custard-filled pineapple buns; stuffed tofu puffs; oyster spring rolls and truffle and mushroom, vegetable rice. More substantial main options run to pappardelle with squid and salted fish, lemon and garlic; roast duck breast with beetroot puree and spinach; duck ravioli and smoked potato cream and poached chicken and Japanese yam congee. Chef Jason Luk promises ‘phenomenal coffee’, including single-origin specialities such as ice-drip ristretto, Vienna espresso with whipped cream, Hong Kong milk coffee and chestnut cappuccino. Eat Darling Eat is dining group Ming Fat House’s latest venture. Other restaurants in the group include Mrs Pound, Foxglove, Frank’s Library and Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour. mingfathouse.com
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FAMILY FEAST Hong Kong food and beverage group Red Sauce Hospitality is hosting a traditional harvest feast in April. The all-day, familyfriendly event will be taking place at Zen Farm in Fanling, New Territories, with heaps of home-cooked, wholesome and organic dishes. The aim, say organisers, is to bring together friends and family to celebrate locally-grown ingredients and home-cooking. Tasty treats include a fresh raw bar with oysters, Littleneck clams and snow crabs. Chef Vinny Lauria will be showcasing his homemade mozzarella, smoked scamorza and burratini, served with fresh tomatoes and fire-baked breads. Lauria will also be serving up his homemade salumi, along with Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma and salami. And don’t miss the hearty selection of farm-fresh, organic vegetables. There will also be wood oven-fired pizzas topped with freshly picked Zen Farm ingredients and pasta dishes, followed by the main event - a Porchetta, or whole-roasted hog, slow-cooked for 15 hours on the farm. The pork will be accompanied by a plethora of savoury jams and pickles. Free-flow wine and beer will accompany the meal and the event includes plenty of fun for the kids, with fun activities and live music. Tickets cost $1,280 - children under 12 years are free - and include a complimentary return shuttle to the farm from Central. The feast begins at 12pm, April 27, Zen Organic Farm, Ping Che, Tai Kwu Ling, New Territories. ticketflap.com/harvestfeast2019
PIZZA FUN DiVino Patio is hosting egg painting and an Easter egg hunt in its Wan Chai-based restaurant this month. Not only that, children will be invited to make their own pizza under the instruction of the restaurant’s very own pizza chef. Dressed in aprons and hats, junior chefs will be shown how to expertly roll and toss their dough. They can then choose a tomato or pesto base for their 8-inch pizza, then get creative with a host of toppings. The offer is for children aged between eight and ten years, $198 per child. divinogroup.com
PLANT-BASED PATTY BEEFED UP If you prefer your burger plant-based, you’ll be happy to hear that Impossible Foods is launching a new recipe patty in Hong Kong and Macau this spring. Alleged to be juicier, meatier and more ‘beefy’-tasting than ever, the Impossible 2.0 burger is kosher, halal-certified, gluten-free and contains no animal hormones or antibiotics. Since Impossible Foods launched in Hong Kong and Macau last year, its plant-based ‘meat’ is now available in over 150 venues, including restaurants, hotels, fast-food chains and even dai pai dongs. The new recipe contains as much bioavailable iron and protein as comparable servings of ground beef from cows. Triple O, Classified, Castelo Concepts and Aussie Grill by Outback will be the first venues to launch the 2.0 burger.
EASTER FEASTERS Spasso in Tsim Sha Tsui will be cooking up a special Easter Brunch on April 21. The kids will be kept busy with an egg hunt, clown, painting station, sweets station and an egg decorating competition - the most egg-cellent design will win a $1,000 dining voucher. The brunch will feature a selection of regional, seasonal dishes from all over Italy, including torta pasqualina - a Swiss chard Easter tart from Liguria - Fava bean focaccia from Sardinia, and artichoke and ricotta pie from Lazio. Meatier options include a Calabrian lamb ‘polpettine’ stewed in a rich tomato and thyme sauce and Sardinian roasted lamb flavoured with mirto leaves and black olives. The feast can be polished off with a range of Italian sweet treats such as Neapolitan ‘Pastiera Napoletana’ with orange sauce, hot cross buns, chocolate Easter bunnies, a chocolate fountain and a traditional ‘colomba’ cake. Brunch prices start at $448 per adult. divinogroup.com Hong Kong Family Traveller 51
Relax and rewind
With summer fast approaching, is it time for a health and wellness reboot? Three busy Hong Kongers took time out for a retreat in southeast Asia. Hereâ€™s what they thought
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Louise Corbett joined a wellness retreat at Samahita in Koh Samui THE BLURB: Breathe into a new life at Thailand’s leading health, fitness and yoga retreat. Your booking includes all activities and classes, delicious food, full facilities, all on the beach for you to enjoy. Samahita means centred, being in balance, an integration of vitality and peace in your life.
Why did you go? I absolutely love going on retreats and getting away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. I’d heard a lot of great things about Samahita and really wanted to try it.
What was it like? The accommodation is really comfortable with everything that you need. The only downside for me was that the rooms don’t overlook the ocean. Other than that, the facilities were fabulous. Paul Dallaghan, the owner, is both extremely knowledgeable and funny - yoga doesn’t need to be serious! The sessions were long, BUT they were worth it. You could feel the change in your body and mind.
What did you eat? There was no alcohol (which I loved) and the food was excellent. It was all wellprepared, fresh and with fabulous ingredients. The was a lot of variety. Oh, and god bless
Samantha Saxena joined The Mindful Detox Retreat at The Farm at San Benito in The Philippines THE BLURB: Join Wellness for Life at one of Asia’s most renowned wellness destinations. Declutter the mind and untangle emotions with balancing yin/yang yoga, mindfulness, sport and fitness, spa and clinical treatments and award-winning cuisine. Or if you prefer, just chill by the pool.
you Samahita, you do great coffee!
Did it work? Don’t get me wrong, it was tough. The morning yoga and meditation went for three to four hours, but I would totally recommend it. Sometimes the most powerful change comes from a little discomfort. I left feeling stronger, especially my core strength. I felt I’d eaten very well and was more relaxed and with a renewed perspective. I particularly enjoyed my daily sunset beach walks.
Any insider tips? Don’t bring snacks - there’s plenty of food. And don’t forget a yoga mat. There’s not much to do in the local area so this really is an opportunity to meet people, journal, visualize, meditate, relax, plan and manifest.
Sign up Your Journey Into Wellness runs June 8-15. samahitaretreat.com
Why did you do it? I’m a stay-at-home mum with two young children. I wanted to get away with friends and do something for myself and for my physical and mental well-being.
What was it like? The Farm is the perfect setting for a retreat. It’s nestled in a coconut plantation with beautiful swimming pools. There was a range of accommodation to choose from to suit everyone’s budget, from private pool villas to twin-share huts on stilts. The programme was run by Hong Kong company Wellness for Life and the yoga classes were spoton, taking into consideration everyone’s needs and abilities.
What did you eat? The food was fantastic. It’s raw and vegan which I was very skeptical about, but I was amazed as meals ran course
after delicious course. We did have a sneaky glass of champagne that we’d picked up in the airport - we were intoxicating before the detox began! But if you really want to drink, the restaurant serves alcohol.
Did it work? It was everything I needed and more. I came away feeling relaxed, energised and with face muscles aching from all the laughter. It kick-started me into being healthier and exercising more.
And insider tips? Round up some girlfriends and treat yourselves. Just do it, you won’t regret it.
Sign up The Mindful Detox Retreat runs May 23-27. More details from firstname.lastname@example.org
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GROWN-UP GETAWAYS Louise Duncan joined Five Star Fitness Retreat in Koh Samui THE BLURB: International and local fitness professionals, yoga instructors, nutritionists and mindfulness practitioners work with guests to achieve their goals. Retreats are four days and three nights with optional extensions and include a mix of private and group sessions. Accommodation is in the beachfront villas at Chai Talay Estate.
Why did you go? I was invited to go along a few years ago with a friend. I’d just stopped working and was beginning my fitness journey. This year, I wanted to go back and do it all again.
What was it like? The accommodation is excellent, it’s like being in a five-star hotel. The programme is varied and you can choose to do as little or as much as you want, without any guilt-trips. There’s everything from 54 Hong Kong Family Traveller
boot camp and TRX to yoga and meditation.
What did you eat? The food was amazing - fresh, Thai cuisine at its very best. The staff really looks after you and can respond to any special request. There was a great selection every day and I had to stop myself from going back for seconds. Dishes included fish, meat, seafood and mounds of colourful, tasty salads, as well as hearty and healthy
breakfasts. On the last night we had a barbecue on the lawns by the beach.
Did it work? I came away feeling refreshed and rebooted and with a firm goal to carry on with my new regime. This time I chose to do more yoga and meditation than circuit training and boot camp classes.
Any insider tips? Go with an open mind, ready to try new things and to meet new people. Don’t feel you need to sign up for every class - there are heaps! Pick and choose what you think you will enjoy. And take a book and some sun-cream for relaxation by the beautiful pools.
Sign up The ‘Mind Over Matter’ retreat runs June 7-10. chaitalay.com
Previous page - yoga moves at Samahita Wellness retreat; a refreshing dip between classes at Chai Talay Estate Above - another class ticked off at Five Star Fitness retreat
CL ASSIF IE D
Hot property WHERE TO STAY ON YOUR NEXT BIG TRIP Madrid Explore Madrid from this centrally located, two-bedroom apartment in MalasaĂąa. The accommodation sleeps six, including one bedroom, one double bedroom, a double sofa-bed, two bathrooms, lounge/diner and kitchen. Walking distance from the cityâ€™s major attractions.
England Enjoy the English countryside at Cuckoo Lodge in Somerset. The eco-cottage sleeps ten, including two twin bedrooms, two double bedrooms, fold-out double sofa-bed, three bathrooms, a fullyequipped kitchen and lounge, garden and hot-tub.
Seeking a buyer for a third share in this Hong Kong-built, 46 foot, Teak Island Gypsy. Fully equipped with air conditioning, kitchen/living area and separate bedrooms and bathrooms. She runs on twin diesel engines and is berthed at Clearwater Bay Marina. Offers from $250k.
Luxe, four-bedroom Balinese villa at The Layar in the heart of Seminyak. The property occupies an oversize double-plot and is the only four bedroom villa within the complex. Facilities include a private 18-metre pool, TV room, massage room, indoor/outdoor living and jacuzzi.
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H K T RAVE L L I NG M UM
Moving on Our wanderlust mum discovers that holidaying sans enfants might not be as attractive as first imagined
ith spring comes this year’s first influx of visiting relatives. Hot off the ‘plane in April we have my in-laws. They wanted a holiday in the sun and I have selfishly decided the holiday options are either northern Phuket or southern Phuket, or at a push possibly eastern or western Phuket. This is because a good friend who I haven’t seen in a very long time has just moved to the island. Rather handily, she also has a golfplaying husband, similarly aged children to my own and enjoys a lychee cocktail or two, so tick, tick, tick. The only fly in the sunscreen is the Teen Child’s upcoming IGCSE exam schedule and she is still debating whether she should come or not. I don’t really know what to advise, as I have no experience to draw on in this particular area. At no point during my own GCSE revision back in 1980s suburban England was I offered a week in Thailand, so I can’t say for sure whether I would have taken up the offer or stayed at home alone. “Maybe bring all your stuff with you? The break might do you good?” I suggest vaguely. “I’m studying nine subjects, mum. What if I forget a file? And what about my tutoring appointments?” Actually, these are all very good points, so we agree she can stay at home if she promises to come away with the family in the summer. That’s the funny thing about children, when they were tiny with leaky swim nappies, an inability 56 Hong Kong Family Traveller
to remain in bed beyond 5am and the need for constant supervision and entertainment, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about how lovely it would be if they had stayed at home. And now they’re older I can’t bear the thought that one day they might not want to come with us.
(three trips to the Ladies Market and a long, hot traipse around Stanley later and even a drive over the bridge to Zhuhai was beginning to look attractive). At the end of the day, all everyone really wants is a large pool, a comfortable lounger, a
HK Travelling Mum lives in Hong Kong with her four travelloving children and a weary husband
The Blonde Child and The Boy Child however are brimming with enthusiasm. Top of their wish-list is taking Granny on a jet-ski. I’m not convinced this is top of Granny’s wish-list, but you never know. We have experimented many times with ‘multigenerational’ travel - otherwise known as ‘going on holiday with Granny’ - and have come to the conclusion that when you’re balancing the needs of several different age groups, it’s easier just to throw some money at a reasonably luxe hotel. Over the years we’ve investigated barefoot desert islands (Grandad’s titanium hips wouldn’t cope with all that sand); cultural city breaks (kids and museums - I just no longer have the energy for this sort of loss-leader); and even staying at home and eeking all we can out of Hong Kong
decent kids club and a good quality happy hour. So the Marriott it is. Or is it? In a bizarre twist of fate - which I never would have discovered without good old Facebook - my Phuket-based partner-in-lychee-cocktail-crimes has befriended a guy I once knew from a random student job working on a campsite in the south of France 24 years ago. He and her husband now have a weekly golf date. It was one of those headspinning, ‘how on earth are you Facebook friends with…?’ kind of moments. Anyway, two decades later and it turns out the chap in question is no longer running the pedalo shed on Lac de Biscarrosse, but is now general manager of a rather select luxury Thai resort. I’d like to say my star
rose equally as high, but I’m not sure graduating from managing a French campsite accommodation roster to managing a Hong Kong netball/rugby/school-run roster is necessarily going up in the world. But there you go. Anyway, the point is, it seems my past has just collided with my present. Which is slightly worrying given I’ll have my husband, three of my children and my in-laws in tow just at the moment my chickens come home to roost, so to speak. My friend has apparently already been regaled with tall tales and dog-eared photographs from that long-forgotten summer. But what this whole episode has done is to remind me of those golden summers of youth when you had your entire life in front of you and nothing much to worry about. (Certainly not lying in bed at night trying to figure out how the Boy Child’s Kumon lessons will fit around the Blonde Child’s Mandarin immersion programme and the Other Teen Child’s volleyball tryouts). So while I lament the Teen Child not being with us, maybe I have done the right thing in letting her stay at home. Perhaps she needs the space to nail those exams in order to go on and create her own memories to laugh and reminisce about in years to come. So to all those exhausted Hong Kong students out there about to sit exams, good luck. It will all be worth it in the end. One day you too might be sitting in a luxe Thai resort drinking lychee cocktails with your mother-in-law.
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