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features

36

Volume 2, Winter 2013 October - December

70 62

76

36 Globetrotters
 THE LUXURY OF A SLOW LIFE

62 FASHION Tropical Enchantment Stunning ensembles for holidays in the tropics

Soneva’s Sonu Shivdasani on intelligent travel and real luxury

& Design
 42 Arts Art in the

Instagram World

guide
 70 travel Adventures in the Island Country

Discussing the social media platform’s impact on the industry

50 BUSINESS TAKING a right risk Sensible planning and management of investments

New Zealand’s wonders from north to south

76

travel Treasures of the Rich Coast Costa Rica’s lush and luxurious wilderness


84

102 106

96 112 84 travel fire and ice

102 travel
 The Best in Tokyo Dining

Exploring Iceland’s dramatic landscapes

90 travel
 URBAN RENEWAL

A feast of authentic Japanese cuisine

Special 106 Quarterly Scentsational Trips

An interlude in the new Medellin

96 travel


MARVELS OF MONGOLIA Adventures to the best of the steppes

Engaging tours to three captivating perfumeries

112

Bi-annual Special Crossing Borders Luxe furniture to beautify outdoor spaces


Managing Editor Kat Modelo km@travelitemagazine.com

contributors

Creative Director

ADAM TEJPAUL is the Managing Director

Mike Jaafar mike@travelitemagazine.com

and Head of Investments of J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Asia. He leads a team

Associate Editor

in delivering portfolio management and

SJ Roxas sj@travelitemagazine.com

advisory services for clients with assets across equities, fixed income and alternative

marketing director

assets. He joined J.P. Morgan in 1998 after

Mary Jessie Efenio jess@travelitemagazine.com

attending Georgetown University, where he majored in Finance and Art History.

Sales Associates Jeff Litan jeff@travelitemagazine.com

Ailene Manzano-Litonjua

is

an accomplished banking executive whose drive and management skills have been valuable

to

two

leading

multinational

financial institutions. On her free time, her

Jack Fong jack@travelitemagazine.com

Contributors Jessica Hodin, Brent Lee, Carla Leonor, Ailene Manzano-Litonjua, Adam Tejpaul, Isobel Tsin

passion for the finer things in life – food, fashion, golf and travel, brings her to African safaris and other captivating destinations.

Subscriptions and Advertising www.travelitemagazine.com sales@travelitemagazine.com info@travelitemagazine.com

Printed by : Paramount Printing Company Limited

jessica

hodin

specialises

in

contemporary art as the Head Curator of the Bleecker Street Arts Club New York and in advising clients as a Consultant for the Winston Art Group. She has a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in Art Business from the Sotheby’s Institute in New York.

to god be the glory!

1/F 8 Chun Ying Street, Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate Tseung Kwan O, New Territories, Hong Kong Published by Travelite Magazine Company Limited. All rights, including the name of this publication are owned by Travelite Magazine Company Limited. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. Travelite Magazine believes that the information herein was obtained from reliable sources, but it does not guarantee its accuracy. Opinions expressed are those of the writers and contributors and not necessarily endorsed by the publisher. Information supplied for advertising purposes is the responsibility of the advertisers, and no advertisement is to be deemed an endorsement of the publisher. The publisher does not accept responsibility for entries supplied by individuals or companies including but not limited to typographical errors and copyright of all supplied materials. Travelite Magazine takes no responsibility for the price differences stated within. All prices are in US dollars, based on the currency rates at the time of print. Travelite Magazine Company Limited Room 103, Tak Lok House, Tak Tin Estate Lam Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong


editor’s note trav–el–ite noun /ˈtrav(ə)lēt/

travel for the elite With this issue, we bid a fond adieu to yet another year. But, before that, you deserve nothing less than the best journeys to remember the past months by. We wish you holidays as vibrant as the greenery in our chosen tropical and sub-tropical destinations. From an exhilarating week in New Zealand, we take you to explore the thick jungles of Costa Rica. For a change of scenery, where else can you chill out better than in, pun intended, Iceland? Moving south, Colombia’s Medellin is a city worth a second look. Next, we take you to Asia to immerse in the culture and scenic views of Mongolia before indulging in the flavours of Tokyo. Finally, as a special treat, we introduce you to the beauty of the Philippines. Attached in this issue is a passport to discover its natural wonders, and is yours to keep. Fill your holidays with all things bright and beautiful, taking inspiration from our personal must-haves and lust-haves. You’ll find everything from the latest gadgetry, to travel accessories and even smartphone apps to take to your holiday trips; as well as luxury items and designer furniture to beautify your homes with for the season. To say that we are proud of our cover and fashion editorial is an understatement. Then again, I always say that with every issue. Let’s just say that I really mean it this time. You can turn to our centre spread to see what I mean. With this, we officially close 2013 and cheerfully look forward to more thrilling and life-changing journeys for the coming year. Wishing you the happiest holidays!

Managing Editor

Photography Paelo Pedrajas Styling James Scott Model Zaneta Sitko | Elite Manila Hair & Make-up Seka Mojal Assistants Upper Viceo & Mynedra Mojal Shot on location in The Farm at San Benito Cover Outfit: Animal print dress, Giambattista Valli. Turquoise beads with Kamagong dipped in gold necklace & Mother-of-pearl 24k gold-plated cuff, Arnel Papa.


Travelite at Your Fingertips Wherever your lavish journeys take you, the ultimate guide to luxurious travel is always within your reach at www.travelitemagazine.com A mere click is all it takes to get the best of lifestyle updates as featured in every corner of Travelite Magazine’s online abode. Flip through the web version of the magazine and dream up the trip of a lifetime while exploring the most sought-after hotels, restaurants, art galleries and other international hot spots with a turn of every page. Before jetting off to your next getaway, check Destination Hotlist for valuable insider tips that will make all the difference to your journey. Meanwhile, Travelogue is an engaging diary filled with inspiring travel experiences yours to relive. The hottest fashions, gadgets and other essentials of fine living are also given due focus to further enrich your wanderlust lifestyle. These musthaves will surely come in handy for the winners of Travelite’s online contests. Find out how you can win luxurious hotel stays by clicking on the Get Lucky tab. With Travelite Magazine’s online travel portal, the most decadent journeys are never too far away. Log on and let your next escapade begin.


social timeline

Hong Kong

FINE ART ASIA 4-7 October The most precious collectibles from both East and West will be yours to acquire or admire during this big, four-day art event. With the participation of 100 reputable galleries from over the world, an 8,000-sqm exhibition space will be filled with more than 6,500 museum-quality articles including key pieces such as La Seine à Bougival by Claude Monet and Guitar Accroché au Mur by Pablo Picasso.

LONDON

The Luxury Property Show 29-30 October If you’re looking to invest in properties, this spectacular event is exactly where you need to be this season. Different types of real estate gems located in some of the world’s most magnificent landscapes will be up for purchase. From Spanish golf villas to beachfront homes in Dubai, this parade of properties might just hold the key to your dream home.

Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia International Jewellery Festival 1-4 November You’ll have a hard time resisting the call of the fabulously tempting wares of no less than 100 jewellers when this grand spectacle takes place in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Held twice a year, this is Malaysia’s glamorous, record-holding jewellery event, and this coming autumn edition promises an overwhelming selection from exclusive, world-class exhibitors.

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social timeline

New York

The Guggenheim International Gala 6-7 November New York’s Guggenheim Museum, in partnership with celebrated fashion house Dior is honouring artists Christopher Wool and James Turrell in this year’s glitzy fundraising gala. Be one of the distinguished guests and enjoy a memorable dinner and a preparty event featuring world-renowned DJ Richie Hawtin while supporting the museum’s programs.

INDIA

British Polo Day 14-16 December To celebrate British luxury and heritage, this travelling spectacle circles the world, organising thrilling polo games and exclusive parties. The last stop for this year is India where two different cultures will blend to make memories that guests are sure to cherish. Supported by British luxury brands, this lavish cultural exchange is not your usual social gathering.

PHUKET

Asia Superyacht Rendezvous 16-18 December The Andaman Sea transforms into a joyous playground during this gathering of luxury vessels. Kata Rocks, one of Phuket’s most exquisite resorts is hosting the grand festivity, assuring infinite merriment in and out of water. Get your fill of coastal revelry through fancy cocktail parties, exciting sailing events and an exclusive gala dinner set to be a highlight of your social calendar this season.

TRAVELITE | 13


destination hotlist | TROPICAL RESORTS

14 | TRAVELITE


destination hotlist | TROPICAL RESORTS

Mashpi Lodge ECUADOR

You've all heard of butlers and sommeliers in many

The two-storey Dining Room offers much more

resorts around the world, but how often do you come

than the minute-changing panorama. It’s the place

across an on-site biologist? The forest surrounding

to indulge in unique tastes of Ecuadorian cuisine

Mashpi Lodge deserves just that – what with the

made with the freshest herbs, spices and vegetables

wealth of flora and fauna that calls it home.

borrowed from the rainforest. Outdoors, you’ll be treated to private guided nature treks, bird watching,

The glass-walled hotel is a proof of its conservationist

waterfall dives and treetop canopy gondola tours,

owner’s passion, showcasing the lush forest as its

among others. Mashpi Lodge gives a whole new

main feature. Everything else was built around

meaning to the phrase “it’s a jungle out there”.

the stunning environment – from contemporary structures and cosy accommodations to fresh cuisine

Yaku Suite accommodations are yours for two nights

and one-of-a-kind experiences.

at USD1,552 per person.

Inviting you to live amongst the greens are 22

www.mashpilodge.com

bedrooms sporting minimal décor to highlight the spectacle outside. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows allow natural light to seep in, adding to the overall sustainability of the hotel. Book one of the three Yaku Suites for your own Philippe Starck-designed bathtub for longer soaks in both warm water and relaxing views.

TRAVELITE | 15


destination hotlist | TROPICAL RESORTS

The Farm at San Benito The philippines

It’s not everyday that you get to discover a sanctuary in

Raw food comes alive at Alive! restaurant, serving excellent

the middle of a small town’s coconut plantation. With one

healthy vegan cuisine made from organic ingredients that are,

good review after another, The Farm at San Benito has put

as you guessed, freshly picked from the gardens on-site.

the Philippines on the map of wellness travel. The peaceful ambience of lush tropical gardens complements heavenly

The vast estate is also dotted with many quiet hideaways yours

treatments from simple relaxations to strict detox cleanses,

to discover, on top of meeting the resident albino peacock in

award-winning spa food in between.

one of your leisurely strolls.

It’s the kind of place you plan on visitng for two nights and end

Indulge in the healing of your mind, body and soul with Master

up staying longer anyway. Charming suites and villas, 32 in all,

Villa accommodations at USD1,200 per night.

can easily make up your mind. Some of the features include outdoor lounge areas, pocket gardens, open-air bathrooms and private heated pools. Reserve the estate’s only Master Villa for a 341sqm space built for your privacy and relaxation. Nightly rates apply, but should you be tempted, they offer wellness programs and healing retreats from three to 21 days.

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www.thefarmatsanbenito.com


7 LUXURY VILLAS + GUEST SUITES

Perched high on limestone cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean at Bali’s most southern tip, Semara Luxury Villa Resort Uluwatu is a little piece of heaven on earth. Dramatic in all dimensions, Semara Luxury Villa Resort offers complete facilities for an A-lister’s retreat; Pampering Spa, 2 Tennis Court, Gym, Putting Green and Finn’s Beach Club on its own white sandy beach.

Book at www.semarauluwatu.com Jalan Pantai Selatan Gau, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma Ungasan 80362 Bali, Indonesia T: + 62 (361) 848 2111, +62 853 3941 1907 E: info.uluwatu@semararesorts.com W: www.semararesorts.com semaraluxuryvillaresort

@semaraluxvilla


destination hotlist | TROPICAL RESORTS

Silky Oaks Lodge AUSTRALIA

If Tarzan and Jane could go on a lavish holiday, the Silky Oaks Lodge in North Queensland would be one of their destinations. Hovering above the Mossman River, the lodge enjoys infinite views of the drifting waters and thick rainforest below. All 39 river and treehouse accomodations feature adjoining spacious terraces, designed to bring the outside in. Full glass windows assure that your dwelling will be filled with verdant views of one of Australia’s oldest rainforests at any time of day. The timber treehouses are delightful, but book one of the two Billabong Suites to stay in a cosy riverhouse with double balconies and your own private lounge. Dining at the Treehouse Restaurant is both exciting and relaxing, as meals are served not just with fine Australian wines, but with views of streaming waters a few metres away. Another exciting dining venue is the Jungle Perch, which is yes, literally perched above the jungle. Stay a night in a Billabong Suite for USD936 inclusive of breakfast, mini bar and a handful of activities. www.silkyoakslodge.com.au

Ubud Hanging Gardens INDONESIA

What else is there to see in the peaceful town of Ubud that we haven’t already seen in the movie Eat, Pray, Love? The enchanting eco-resort called Ubud Hanging Gardens is one. Contrary to its name, there’d be no dangling on tree branches here. Although scenic views of the Ayung River and surrounding Balinese jungle will leave you hanging, but only for words. Each of the 38 villas has its own private heated pool, on top of the two-tier main infinity pool that mimics the multilayered rice paddies of Ubud. Arrange for a stay in one of only two Panoramic Pool Villa Suites for, as the name suggests, sweeping views of the tropical forest that surrounds. Choose from two dining destinations that line the hillside and sample fresh catch from Jimbaran Bay, flavoured with the village’s indigenous herbs and spices. Nightly stays in a Panoramic Pool Villa Suite start at USD690. www.ubudhanginggardens.com

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destination hotlist | Luxury Spa Treatments

Six Senses Spa Zighy Bay OMAN

The stunning Six Senses Zighy Bay is home to a spa of top-notch treatments that are well-executed in a pristine environment. Six Senses Spa’s pride is resident beauty therapist Pat Harvey, whose healing hands have already gained a celebrity following. Beyond relaxation, skin health is a vital goal at the spa and it is readily achieved through a fine range of facial products and treatments by Margy’s of Monte Carlo. Experience the benefits of rose quartz crystals with the signature 60-minute Rose Quartz Facial. This sumptuous treatment starts with a mild cleanse and exfoliation before your skin is soothed with a gentle massage using rose quartz crystal wands. The healing gem restores balance, smoothes wrinkles and nourishes every inch of your skin. Simply put, the lavish facial ‘freezes’ time to unveil a youthful complexion. www.sixsenses.com

The Spa at Regent Palms Turks & Caicos

Combining timeless Asian healing therapies with native ingredients from the Caribbean, The Spa at Regent Palms is a haven for your senses. One of its decadent Signature Journeys, the ‘Mother-of-Pearl’ is not only luxurious but also utterly relaxing. Locally sourced queen conch shells are hand-crushed and blended with your choice of aromatherapy oil. This precious concoction is then massaged onto your body for total skin exfoliation. You’ll be pampered further under the soothing Vichy rainshowers to rinse off the scrub before a rich blend of moisturiser is applied. Extend the session with an hourlong full-body massage to heighten your experience at the palm-fringed spa. Just like mother-of-pearls, your skin will achieve that iridescent glow right after the treatment. www.regenthotels.com

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Spa Saffire at Saffire Freycinet australia

Natural elements from tranquil surroundings are translated into opulent treatments at Spa Saffire. Some of these elements also happen to be precious jewels, like the one used in the signature Sapphire Ritual Facial. A sapphire blue topaz is rested on your forehead to harmonise your energy field throughout the DL Lifting Effect facial. This will noticeably bring back your skin’s natural luminosity. A back and shoulder massage follows just before the chromatic light therapy that stimulates collagen for younger-looking skin. The treatment is capped off with an under eye lifting contour therapy and a relaxing foot massage to ensure that you are pampered from top to toe. www.saffire-freycinet.com.au


destination hotlist | Bali’s Best Beach Clubs

Vue www.lv8bali.com

Surrounding the oversized pool, the whitewashed cabanas and sun beds call for endless tanning during the day and undisrupted stargazing at night. This dazzling environment is

Showcasing sweeping vistas of Canggu Beach, Vue is an

also the setting of memorable parties during late hours. When

expansive playground for beach-loving holidaymakers. The

attending one of Vue’s lively spectacles, circulate the open-

fashionable beach club is a defining feature of LV8, a decadent,

air venue before settling on the perfect spot to frolic in for

shore side hotel facing the magnificent Indian Ocean.

the rest of the night. With your choice of libation in hand, let loose as the DJ spins tracks that will later serve as the anthem

Thoughtfully designed, half of Vue’s grandeur is credited to its

of your party experience in paradise.

spectacular location. With nothing more than tall palm trees and a giant, decorative, twisted tower standing at one end of

Vue is also available to host any of your private parties. Have

the pool to cut through the panoramic ocean views, the bar

the entire venue for yourself and your esteemed guests to

definitely maximises the innate beauty of its environment.

take your important celebrations to legendary heights.

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destination hotlist | Bali’s Best Beach Clubs

Cocoon www.cocoon-beach.com From every angle, Cocoon is a picture-perfect hangout furnished with white and blue fixtures replicating the hues of the sea and the sky that it overlooks. Fresh foliage and wood are incorporated throughout the space, providing a pleasant ambience that effortlessly evokes comfort and elegance. Lazy afternoons are best spent poolside indulging on the Asian and modern European flavours from the menu. Resting on one of the chaise lounges or daybeds, spend the rest of your day delightfully doing nothing, but stare into the horizon until you’re lulled to sleep only to wake up to a view of a glorious sunset – a moment that must be completed with a drink or two. From a casual beach club, Cocoon transitions into a luxe bar and lounge as night falls. Dinners here are certainly delectable what with award-winning dishes on offer, but after-dinner treats are even better. Order a bottle from the

Potato Head Beach Club www.ptthead.com

bar’s extensive wine list or have a few rounds of freshly mixed exotic cocktails while engaging in spirited chatter. The party

Combine a divine beach location and an innovative spirit

atmosphere reaches its peak during the wee hours of the

with a passion for revelry and you’re left with a progressive

night, when Bali’s fashionable crowd, composed of trendy

establishment boasting a striking façade fashioned with

locals and jetsetting vacationers, congregate in this equally

18th century teak shutters. Although it’s in a prime location

stylish retreat. Considering the exquisite setting and the top-

in Seminyak where dining and retail outlets stand left and

notch menu items, Cocoon is one of those bars where you

right, Potato Head Beach Club manages to stand out with its

have your last drink multiple times.

tastefully designed domain and unmistakably positive vibe. Within the state-of-the-art amphitheatre, a large infinity pool faces the gorgeous Seminyak seascape. Join other sun worshippers on this area or on the adjacent 500sqm lawn and catch some rays while cooling down with one of the bar’s artisanal cocktails. Further inward, a covered space is where you have more exotic drinks and chow down house specialties in the glow of the warm light flooding the room. Having been designed by master architect Andra Matin, Ptthead obviously puts design in its list of priorities, making use of vintage furniture and decorative artwork to create an oasis where you lounge with friends until the wee hours of the night. Potato Head Beach Club has established solid following among local and international visitors who flock the place, especially when world-famous music acts come to perform. Don’t miss out on the fun and head to this stylish haven for your own share of unbridled debauchery.

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destination hotlist | RAINFOREST CRUISE

DELFIN I

The Amazon river

The newly refurbished Delfin I, which traverses across the wilderness of the Amazon in all its classic glory, is a luxurious vessel that offers an authentic immersion into the Peruvian domain of the famous river. Spend unforgettable days exploring the untamed allure of the rainforest cradled in comfort and sophistication with the Delfin I’s four-night and five-day cruise offered this winter season. Your journey starts in Iquitos where a scrumptious

Highlighting exclusivity, the Delfin I features four spacious

welcome dinner is served shortly after boarding the ship,

deluxe suites good for only eight discerning guests.

followed by a brief and informative orientation outlining

Panoramic views hike up the ambience of all living spaces

the details of the upcoming exciting experiences.

as each comes with a private terrace and two are furnished with private whirlpool baths. Featuring artwork by the

Throughout the voyage, you’ll get to uncover some secrets

women of Puerto Miguel, the Delfin I is beautiful in more

of the Amazon while aboard a skiff or on foot (depending

ways than one, as such art pieces are available for purchase

on natural conditions) for closer interactions with its

to provide aid to the children of the local community.

wild inhabitants. From frolicking with pink and grey river dolphins at the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve to spotting giant

As another ode to the exotic locales that it passes through,

otters underneath a canopy of trees at Atun Poza Lake and

the Delfin I offers sumptuous Peruvian cuisine at the dining

fishing for piranhas at Caro Curahuayte, every day of the

room on the second deck. Local, fresh natural ingredients

program promises thrilling experiences that will later be

are used to create delectable dishes throughout the trip,

joyfully recalled again and again.

which are all served amid an environment of restrained luxury coupled with wild, natural beauty.

In between jungle excursions, kick back and take time to take in the unspoilt scenery of the wilderness. With only

This season, the Delfin I embarks on four-night, five-day

the calls of exotic birds filling the air, take your spot on one

cruises through the Peruvian Amazon River on 3, 24, 31

of the large sofas on the open observation deck located

October, 7, 14, 21 November and 5, 19 December. Stay in

on top of the vessel. The Delfin I is also equipped with an

a Master Suite at USD4,200 on double occupancy for a

entertainment centre with DVDs and reading materials for

splendid journey all the way.

your entertainment pleasure and an open bar stocked with international and local drinks to fuel spirited conversations.

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www.delfinamazoncruises.com


destination hotlist | Green Meetings

Marina Bay Sands singapore

At the Sands Expo and Convention Centre alone, there are 2,000 It’s a pleasure doing business at the Lion City’s iconic Marina

exhibition booths, 250 meeting rooms and a large ballroom

Bay Sands. You won’t simply be doing business, you’ll also

accommodating up to 6,000 guests banquet-style. Other venue

be taking part in protecting the environment. The leisure and

options include the ArtScience Museum, Garden Walk and the

entertainment venue is an environmentally responsible, energy-

famous Sands SkyPark.

efficient property from its three-towered hotel to its expo and convention centre, on-site museum and shopping complex.

You and your colleagues and business partners will share in environmental practices while indulging in sustainable food and

Sustainable options come with every meeting and big or small

beverage from the Green Harvest Menu. After the function,

event. Plan your business’ requirements with the Green Meeting

the Sands ECO360° Event Impact Statement will present a

Concierge, who will guide you through the Sands ECO360°

sustainability report that sums up your event’s environmental

Meetings Planning Tool. This allows you to customise your

effects. Hosting a meeting has never been this rewarding to both

function, from choosing from world-class venues and amenities

the environment and your business.

to participating in community volunteering and post-event donation programs.

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www.marinabaysands.com


Epicurious | FARM-TO-TABLE dining

www.bluebutcher.com

Blue Butcher hong kong

Carnivores at heart will have a grand time feasting on the succulent offerings at Blue Butcher. As the only restaurant in Hong Kong with a walk-in pink salt dry-aging room, this restaurant certainly knows its meats. Before indulging in hefty servings of steak laid across wooden boards, treat your eyes to a convivial scene of dark wood and leather with touches of marble and enhanced by warm lighting. Evoking a loose, cosmopolitan vibe common in the hip restaurants of Manhattan, the atmosphere in Blue Butcher is laid back yet sophisticated, making it perfect for long, casual dinners followed by a few rounds of drinks. The restaurant boasts different menus for dinner, brunch, daytime snacks and cocktails. From 6pm onwards, a selection of dishes featuring a combination of meats, cheeses and breads will have you spoiled for choice, but it’s the items under ‘Butcher’s Cuts’ that represent what this place is all

So serious is Blue Butcher about meat that it even founded

about. Featuring wagyu sirloin and other beef specialties that

the Honourable Society of Prime Meat, a social group

are hand-sourced right down to the specific breed and farm

for like-minded carnivores. Not only do the club’s meat-

and later dry aged in-house, you’re assured only top-quality

loving members get exclusive choice cuts, they also enjoy

cuts are served. The restaurant is dedicated to producing the

opportunities to learn about butchering techniques and

finest meats and every bite is a testament to this.

cooking styles.

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Epicurious | FARM-TO-TABLE dining

www.thehalia.com

Halia singapore

Matching the grandeur of its address that is the historic Raffles Hotel, Halia is a lovely dining haven for discerning foodies. The restaurant is a dainty environment of wooden chairs and tables with french windows that allow a generous amount of sunlight to brighten up the space. Accentuated by foliage, there is a pleasant, garden-like vibe throughout that begs for friendly lunches and romantic dinners. Like its setting, the menu also puts particular focus on natural elements, making use of fresh ingredients and highlighting inherent flavours. Offering contemporary European cuisine with Asian influences, Halia tempts with such gastronomic wonders such as the Singapore-style Chili Crab Spaghettini and Sous Vide Baharat Chicken. Match your dish of choice with the recommended wine pairing or pick from the restaurant’s impressive wine list. Reserve the centre table made from a 150 year-old tree for a 360-degree perspective of the restaurant. If you prefer a tad more privacy however, the corner table against the red, tufted banquette couch is your ideal spot. Halia also reserves a space, refined with solid mahogany tables that can host private affairs. Meanwhile, the al fresco bar, where handcrafted works of artisans from the world over are showcased, is a worthy stop for a post-dinner tipple. With its chic, relaxed atmosphere and delectable cuisine, Halia is your peaceful and tasteful refuge whenever you feel like escaping the frenzy of the city.

TRAVELITE | 31


special feature | Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial Boat

Fizzy Escapes Embark on a bubbly getaway with Moët & Chandon’s Ice Impérial Boat. The chicest way yet to cruise Hong Kong is aboard the Jungle Jane, a vessel remodelled, rather, refashioned by the purveyors of luxury at Moët & Chandon. Abandon Hong Kong’s bustling streets for a day as the boat’s elegant white and gold deck allows you to take the party to the seas. Invite no more than 40 of your partyphile friends and get pampered by your own crew, lifeguard included. Cosy sun beds, an inflatable slide, a floating lounge and of course, a fullystocked bar with up to 36 bottles of Moët Ice Impérial champagne will fuel a full day’s worth of merrymaking. Moët Ice Impérial is the first-ever champagne concocted to go well with ice. Best served outdoors, it gives your al fresco parties just the right amount of cool. The Ice Impérial Boat sails until the end of November, for a fun and innovative way to enjoy champagne – on the rocks and by the sea. www.moet.com

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TRAVELITE | 35


globetrotters

THE LUXURY OF a slow life Luxury has different meanings to different people. In travel, it often goes hand in hand with five-star hotels and free-flowing champagnes. After a chat with Sonu Shivdasani, Soneva Group’s founder and CEO, you’ll be surprised to learn that ‘intelligent’ is one of those meanings – and it actually makes sense.

Sonu Shivdasani

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globetrotters

How did your interest in travel start? My father loved to travel. His business required it. But

In the Soneva point of view, what defines a luxury holiday?

on holidays we would often drive around the continent

Our

experiencing some of the great establishments of Europe.

understanding what true luxury is for our guests today.

philosophy

of

“Intelligent

Luxury”

is

about

The wealthy of today come from a different context to

What type of traveller stays at Soneva properties?

the wealthy of the past when some of the more traditional

A sophisticated, intelligent, escapist searching a greater

freshly picked salad, grown in our organic garden while

truth and a natural ‘Slowlife’.

What influenced the SLOW LIFE concept?

luxuries were established. For guests who live in a cramped and polluted concrete jungle, it is a true luxury to eat a breathing fresh air and enjoying a beautiful view. Such an experience is rare in the modern world and combined with the space, privacy and comfort of our villas and rooms,

I strongly believe that a successful business is the one that

and the intuitive service provided by our hosts, we create

combines apparent contrasts and makes these ‘opposites’

Intelligent Luxury. It is about understanding the daily lives

compatible. When this is achieved and it works, it creates

of our guests and offering them experiences that are both

such an experience that is both unique and admired, that

‘new’ – in that they are rare, unusual and exceptional to

one immediately develops a very strong level of loyalty

our guests, but at the same time ‘true’ in that they are

from the guest.

highly desired and cherished by our guests.

SLOW LIFE is a guiding principle for all our team members. (Sustainable – Local – Organic – Wellness – Learning – Inspiring – Fun – Experiences). It is our moral compass as well as our operating compass. Sustainability runs through our core and we are always striving to limit the negative environmental impact of our activities – something which is both difficult as well as critical for a company which operates resorts in remote places of pristine natural beauty. We may sometimes fall short of our own high standards, but we are very clear about our responsibilities as custodians of these beautiful places in which we operate. Our SLOW LIFE focus has lead to levels of guest loyalty and repeat business that far surpass industry norms, and this tells me unequivocally that the values of a company matter to those who consume its products.

With the above in mind, sometimes the more sustainable option is actually the more luxurious one. I mentioned above, how for someone living in an urban context, the fresh salad that was dug that morning, becomes more luxurious than the foie gras, the wagyu beef or the caviar that might be on the menu, as these ingredients are not “luxurious” but just “expensive” in that they are certainly not “rare” to the urban elite living in capital cities like London, Paris, Hong Kong, New York and etc. Where as, that rocket salad that was plucked that morning is certainly a rarity that is seldom achieved for a client living in an urban environment. So ironically, the more sustainable of these ingredients (not necessarily the most expensive) is certainly the more luxurious based upon the definition that luxury is something that is “rare”. There are other such examples; such as the open-air

“SLOW LIFE is a guiding principle for

bathroom or the open-air restaurant. These are very

all our team members. (Sustainable –

however wealthy you are, you certainly cannot shower

Local – Organic – Wellness – Learning – Inspiring – Fun – Experiences).”

luxurious for the urban elite that frequents us, because everyday in a city in a 100-sqm bathroom among waterfalls, tropical plants and watching the full moon at the same time; or eat barefoot with sand under your feet. These are “rare” experiences. So, often our competitors get confused between what is really luxurious i.e. “rare, new and unique” but “true” is something that strikes a cord in your heart, with things that are just expensive.

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globetrotters

Clockwise: Bamboo dining pod, Soneva Kiri, Thailand; Snorkeling at sand bank, Soneva Fushi, Maldives; Sonu Shivdasani Opposite page: Top to bottom: Hill Villa, Soneva Kiri, Thailand; Sonu and wife Eva, Photo courtesy of Calle Stoltz

What’s your dream destination? We love the Maldives where we live for about five months of the year. We love being by the sea. The climate is very temperate. The days are seldom above 30°C, the evenings are usually 24-25°C. The marine life is fantastic. As there is little land and no hills, it avoids the summer monsoon period of Asia.

What can you never travel without? A baseball cap and a powerful magnet with two parts

What’s your favourite among all the places you’ve been to and why? My wife Eva and I often visit the European capitals and one

that can be placed on either side of the cap. It should be worn 10 minutes before landing and 10 minutes after landing to help avoid jetlag. I also carry aconite – this is a homeopathic remedy to help sleep.

of our favourites is Florence. It is a beautiful city – I highly recommend the Lungarno Hotel, part of the Ferragamo Ponte Vecchio and there is no road between the hotel and

Where do you draw inspiration from when coming up with properties?

the river Arno. There is a lovely room on the fifth floor

A resort experience is like a pointillist painting. It is the

with a great balcony. Villa San Michele in Fiesole is also

many experiences that the guest has through his or her

beautiful. From the dining terrace, one has a stunning view

senses that create the overall impact. My travels, the arts

over Florence.

and architectures we are exposed to are my inspirations.

group. It is unique in that it is immediately next to the

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globetrotters

“A resort experience is like a pointillist painting. It is the many experience that the guest has through his or her senses that create the overall impact.�

What are the future Soneva projects that we should look out for? In summer 2014, we will be launching Soneva in Aqua, which will further elevate guest experience by offering the option of a boat villa, which will combine all the benefits of the resort’s services and amenities with the freedom and exclusivity associated with a private boat charter. Our core purpose is Slowlife and we will remain true to this as well as our Intelligent Luxury philosophy. Following the sale of Six Senses, our strategy now is to only operate hotels, which we also own or have at least 50 per cent of. We will also be selling residences attached to these hotels as we have a very high level of repeat business. Soneva

How did travel evolve from the time you started Soneva Group up to the present?

Fushi, whose main market is 10 or 11 hours by plane away, has a 50 per cent repeat level.

Demographics have certainly changed over the last 20 years. Since the Internet evolution and the emerging of

This is arguably a world record for a long haul destination.

BRICs and other markets, the rich have become younger

These enthusiasts have loved our residential offering. The

and have children at an older age. In the last 20 years, the

sale of residences gives us capital for future expansion. We

rich are also urban entrepreneurs rather than the landed

will be starting on the new Soneva Gili and after that, we

gentry living in the countryside. So, what they demand has

are looking at sites in Bali and Ibiza.

changed completely. It is our hope to extend our core purpose, which started We have more families and we have more people living

with operating hotels and then selling residences to

in boxes in cities who are seeking a Slowlife and all the

other areas such as extending our current retail business,

special initiatives that we come up with as part of our

considering a spa skin care range and other extensions

Intelligent Luxury philosophy.

where our passions and skills can deliver a unique offering.

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special feature | 24/7 BILLIARD table

GAME changer You’ll never play the same way again with this ultra sleek billiard table designed by purveyor of modern lifestyle innovations Porsche Design Studio. Exuding the same panache required in the cue sport, the 24/7, as what it’s called, is finely crafted with aluminium and tulipwood, exhibiting continuous lines with rounded edges. The table is equally stylish and functional, offering optimum performance for a seamless playing experience with the use of superior materials and modern technology including the 3-D water jet cutting procedure. Each comes fullyequipped with leather pockets, a professional three-part slate, superior Simonis cloth and high-quality rubber cushions. Handmade in Austria, a table can be yours six to eight weeks after placing an order. Make yours as unique as you please as each piece is customisable. Completing the game set are Aramith balls, a triangle, bridge stick, two cues and a cue rack specially fashioned to complement the design of the visionary billiard table. www.247billiards.com

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TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Holiday Desires The season of giving is here again! On this festive occasion, fill your wish list with luxurious items that will keep you in style during and beyond your celebrations. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Limited Edition Chronograph LeBron James As the accomplished NBA star’s model of choice, this handsome timepiece is a symbol of great distinction. www.audemarspiguet.com

Loro Piana Cashmere Cardigan This lush cardigan is fashioned with cashmere fibres from China and Mongolia, made in Italy and yours to take everywhere. www.mrporter.com

John Lobb William Leather Monk-Strap Elegance never goes out of style and this handmade pair is a sartorial classic that will go a long way. www.mrporter.com

Braun Cooltec The future of grooming is yours with this revolutionary shaver with an active cooling technology that soothes the skin and minimises irritation. www.BRAUN.com

BMW iCollection Coinciding with the launch of the new i3, the iconic automobile brand brings you top-quality lifestyle merchandise that, like the new car model are environmentally friendly. 52 | TRAVELITE 54

www.BMW.com


TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Jour/Nuit Cerfs-Volants Poetic Complication Precious and cherished, time is indeed (white) gold and it comes in a 38-mm case featuring a bezel laced with diamonds and a mother-of-pearl dial. www.vancleefarpels.com

Bottega Veneta KPM Clutch

Victoria Beckham silk and Wool-blend Cape jacket Infuse some chic, androgynous flair to your holiday wardrobe with this unique cover-up and ensure solid best-dressed status. www.net-a-porter.com

In honour of KPM’s (Koenigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin) 250th anniversary, a rendition of the designer brand’s Knot clutch has been created for you to tote around at the season’s hottest parties. www.bottegaveneta.com

Dior Bar A/W 2013 Inspired by Monsieur Dior’s Tailleur Bar look, this minimalist tote is a timeless, functional fashion accessory. www.dior.com

House of Sillage Limited Edition Travel Spray Encased in an 18K gold cylinder adorned with emeralds and diamonds, this portable fragrance offers bejewelled grandeur with each spritz. www.houseofsillage.com

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special feature | TRAVEL APplications

Techie Travel Companions PRIVATEFLY You can do so much more (and spend even more) with your smartphone these days. Everything is literally at the tip of your fingers, even booking a flight. Though in PrivateFly’s case, it’s not just any regular flight but one involving private jets. The global private jet hire service allows you to secure chartered flights in minutes wherever you are, wherever you want to go. The app lets you pick your aircraft of choice to go with your specific itineraries anywhere in the world. Now, this is just what every serious jetsetter needs. The app is free for iPhones and iPads with flights starting from USD4,300. www.privatefly.com

First ever iPhone application by http://press.louisvuitton.com/amble/ log-in: Amble_app password: Louis_Vuitton_2011

AMBLE

Trust Louis Vuitton to make your journeys more unforgettable and yes, even more stylish. Amble is the fashion house’s first ever iPhone application, designed to take the art of travel to another level.

iVIP Black

It lets you capture and preserve your travel

If you’re used to getting VIP treatment everywhere you go, then you’ll love iVIP’s

memories in chic, Louis Vuitton style. Take a

Black app, also known as the ‘Millionaire’s App’. Now, feeling like a million bucks

snapshot, record a video and make notes of

is always within your reach.

your favourite places and experiences, which you can later on share with your fashionable

Receive exceptional service and added perks in any of iVIP’s partner venues

friends. The app is free to download, but you

worldwide, from health clubs to hotels. The iVIP Concierge will wait on you hand

can also purchase Louis Vuitton City Guides

and foot may it be event reservations to personal training and in addition, personal

from USD9.99 to navigate the streets of

styling. Of course, the iVIP Black app is exclusive to VIPs with assets and income of

choice destinations with flair.

over USD1.6 million. It is available for iPhones and iPads at USD999.99.

www.louisvuittonamble.com

www.ivipworld.com

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high tech

The Cool and Cutting-edge TAG Heuer Special Edition Meridiist Sapphire 1860 Mobile Phone price upon request The Swiss luxury brand’s crossover from watches to mobile phones has resulted to splendid communication devices. The latest addition to the Meridiist line is no exception, boasting a full sapphire crystal keypad and a dual screen display. Only 1,860 pieces will be produced as a nod to the year the brand was established. www.tagheuer.com

Bissol 788 Calibre for iPhone 5S USD760 Combining classic sophistication with new-age innovation, this marvellous creation transforms your already valuable mobile phone into a much more decadent possession. Coming in colours to match the iPhone 5S, the case is made with anodised aluminium with painted crystal sapphire. www.bissol.com

Happy Plugs Earphones 18ct Gold USD14,500 Hand-made by a Swedish goldsmith in Old Town, Stockholm, these exclusive gold earphones take the listening experience to a new scale. Each ear bud is made using 25g of 18ct gold, which should be enough reason to treasure a pair as functional, oneof-a-kind jewellery. www.happyplugs.com 58 | TRAVELITE


high tech

Sony Cybershot QX100 USD2,554 Equipped with a Carl Zeiss lens and its own microSD card slot, this nifty accessory is the ideal photography partner for your iOS or Android smartphone. It can be physically connected to your device through an adjustable adapter or held wirelessly to allow more freedom to shoot from more angles. www.sony.com

Fauré Le Page iPad Case USD422 From creating weapons of war during the time of Louis XV to crafting modern-day weapons of cosmopolitan living, this heritage label is catching up with the times. One of its contemporary offerings is this iPad case. Rendered with the brand’s signature pattern, it’s a thing of superb craftsmanship and understated elegance. www.faurelepage.com

Ricoh Theta 360 USD399 Blurring the conventional limitations of image capturing, this device doesn’t take regular photos. Instead, it records a scene through spherical images that can be panned left, right, up and down. Pair it with your iPhone and with a single tap, share wonderful moments through 360-degree views. www.theta360.com

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special feature | the pink star

FLAWLESSLY PINK All eyes turn to the sparkle of an exceptional diamond called The Pink Star. At 59.60ct, the oval-cut precious stone is the world’s largest internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond. That is the highest possible colour grade for its kind, evaluated no less than the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The Pink Star is to grace Sotheby’s Geneva auctions this 13 November. According to David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division in Europe and the Middle East and Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland, “I have had the privilege of examining some of the greatest gemstones in the world over the past 35 years, and I can say, without hesitation, that The Pink Star diamond is of immense importance…” No doubt, this precious stone will be the star of the Magnificent Jewels sale with a steep estimate of USD60 million. After all, it is only the most valuable diamond of its kind to be put under the gavel. www.sothebys.com

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TROPICAL

Enchantment The calm of nature is always a welcoming respite. Lush greens and the sound of stillness make for a spellbinding journey that calls for equally captivating style.


fashion

Animal print jacket, Giambattista Valli. Purple silk charmeuse blouse, Josie Natori. Sterling silver Carabao horn with cubic zirconia earrings, Arnel Papa.


fashion

This page Black Keiko top, Roland MouRet. Fuchsia Inca skirt, Roland Mouret. Gold earrings with cubic zirconia, Arnel Papa. Opposite page Up collar black lace dress, Joel Escober. Sterling silver Carabao horn with cubic zirconia earrings & Ring with granite stone and cubic zirconia, Arnel Papa.

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Travel | coverfashion STORY

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fashion

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fashion

Opposite page Blue green round neck long-sleeved lace gown, Joel Escober. Brass earrings with mother of pearl, Arnel Papa. This page Short full-sequined dress with stones, Jerome Salaya Ang. Diagonal sterling silver earrings dipped in gold with freshwater pearls and cubic zirconia, Arnel Papa.

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fashion

Round neck sleeveless gown with mocha lace, Joel Escober. 24k Gold-plated brass cuff, Arnel Papa.

Photography Paelo Pedrajas Styling James Scott Model Zaneta Sitko | Elite Manila Hair & Make-up Seka Mojal Assistants Upper Viceo & Mynedra Mojal Shot on location in The Farm at San Benito Special Thanks: UNIVERS d’homme et femme MYTH Manila Arnel Papa Rustan’s Department Store

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Treasures of the Rich Coast What Costa Rica lacks in size, it makes up for in natural diversity. Thrill and relaxation seekers alike will find a wealth of ways to traverse the ‘rich coast’. WORDS BY Isobel tsin

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TRAVEL

Nature Encounters

Spending a few days in the capital of San Jose gives you a taste of Costa Rican culture in as much as it prepares you for the adventure ahead. Prepare for what exactly? First is adjusting your eyes to the almost blinding greenness surrounding unspoilt destinations frequented only by birds, monkeys and other friendly living creatures. Next, days of ogling plant and wildlife accompanied only by the calming sounds of nature will take some getting used to. Driving along banana plantations and drifting down calm rivers are the usual routes to Tortuguero – the Land of Turtles. The village is a prime nesting site for four kinds of sea turtles, two of which are considered endangered species. Rare sightings of turtles laying eggs on the beach are a way of life here, with two breeding seasons in a year. Witness leatherback turtles nest on the shores from February to April, while green turtles take the spotlight from July to October. Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles also lay eggs in the grounds regularly. You’ll be turtle spotting at daytime, night walking by sundown and river cruising alongside sloths and jaguars in between.

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anal tours around Tortuguero National Park, dubbed “Costa Rica’s Amazon” allows you to explore the thick rainforest, pass stunning waterfalls and get as close to nature as possible in your own canoe. You’ll paddle through 11 various habitats completing the reserve, including mangrove forests, lakes, lagoons, swamps and some of Tortuguero’s undisturbed beaches, while catching sight of the park’s resident and migratory birds and various animals on land and water. You might even be one of the lucky paddlers to get a glimpse of the endangered West Indian Manatee. More wildlife and rare bird species abound at Corcovado National Park in the Osa Peninsula and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in the mountain ranges of Tilarán. Corcovado is among the most diverse of national parks and is home to many endangered species including the Baird's Tapir, Central American Squirrel Monkey, Geoffroy's Spider Monkey and the very rare Harpy Eagle. Your stamina will be tested by the guided tours and private hikes at Corcovado, but all efforts are equally rewarded with rare wildlife spotting, bird watching and waterfall dips. There’s also so much to explore in Monteverde’s 26,000ac of tropical rainforest, from canopy to horseback tours and even a visit to its coffee plantation for a good dose of caffeine to keep you going.

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Riveting Adventures

With adventures in many forest, mountainside and mangrovefilled swamp, Costa Rica is every intrepid traveller’s dream destination. Upon covering the surface, going deeper into the thick of the jungle to explore the rest of the wilderness is in order. One way to get to the bottom of it is by whitewater rafting down the rapids of Pacuare River. Heralded one of the world’s greatest rivers by National Geographic, its waters is also surrounded with stunning scenery that makes every paddling effort well worth it. The river originates from the Talamanca Mountains and flows into the Caribbean Sea. Part of the mountain range is covered by the La Amistad National Park, which is equally shared by Costa Rica and Panama. Within the range are verdant canopies and gushing waterfalls that can be easily explored on foot, that is, if the currents fail to exhaust your energies.

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The most exhilarating thing to do on dry land is seeing Costa Rica’s active volcano, Arenal, up close. The 5,437ft coneshaped volcano’s imposing structure is one of the country’s iconic landmarks. Although its activity has lessened in the last three years, ash and white plumes are still seen escaping from its peak. The dense rainforest it sits on is also a playground of sorts that will have you hanging on bridges atop a jungle canopy one minute and zip-lining above treetops the next. Sky Trek, the action-packed zip-line experience offers the best views of its peak, Lake Arenal and the surrounding lush greenery. Sky Walk gives you a birds’ eye view of the forest below, complete with knee-shaking strolls along hanging bridges. To get to the highest point of the Arenal Reserve, ride the Sky Tram, which takes you to an observation area with the most scenic views of the environment. When sounds of trickling waters get louder, you’re probably nearing another waterfall. Rather than admiring the falls from a distance, why not swim its depths? Or you can also rappel down its cool, cascading waters. Adding to the marvelous views of the volcanic landscape, caves are also lying around the area, waiting to be explored. The Venado Caves’ 2,700-m limestone caverns are home to numerous bats, monochrome frogs, fishes and marine fossils. Private tours will take you to wander through ancient rock formations and underground rivers formed some 15 to 20 million years ago. This rounds up your complete adventure in Costa Rica, covering exhilarating activities atop, over and under the earth’s surface.


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Relaxation in the Wild

There’s something utterly enchanting about relaxing in the midst of nature. As if the scenic views and the sounds of nature are not enough to soothe your senses, the vast rainforests are dotted with natural hot springs and decadent spas to reward you after an active day in the outdoors. Located in the foothills of the Arenal Volcano, Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is an award-wining destination for its natural hot springs. Volcanic activity heats the water in the river, which flows into the resort’s garden-clad pools and waterfalls. Soaking sessions here are both relaxing and therapeutic, with minerals to nourish dull skin and warm waters to soothe post-hike muscles. One of many sensational spas in Costa Rica is found at the Four Seasons Resort. Perched on a hillside in the Peninsula Papagayo, the resort commands picturesque views of the beach below. Complementing the scenery are signature treatments designed to play with your senses, from the smell of freshly ground organic Costa Rican coffee scrubs, to the warmth of volcanic mud wraps and the healing strokes of the Rainforest Aromatherapy Massage. The thought of this pampering experience alone will fuel any grueling hike or trek in the forest.

Previous page: Aerial view of the Tortuguero National Park Opposite page: Top to bottom: Arenal Volcano; Sky Trek, Arenal Reserve This page: Top to bottom: Thermal Springs at Tabacon Cascades; A view of Arenal from Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

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Side Trips

Beautiful beaches line the Nicoya Peninsula, where you can also spot migrating whales, howler monkeys and iguanas, as well as conquer the Pacific’s massive waves with a surfboard. Head to Punta Islita for a relaxed ambience against a backdrop of sun-kissed beaches before combing the golden sands of nearby Playa Carrillo. Seven kilometres of white sand and excellent surf breaks lure beachgoers to Guiones Beach, with secluded spots for sunbathing, snorkelling and offshore fishing. Get friendly with the locals and they might just be able to point you to the famed pink sand beach.

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Indulgent Stays

Adding to the wealth of Costa Rica is its collection of exquisite resorts that also happen to be eco-friendly. The Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens is a treat to come home to at the end of an action-packed day in the Arenal district. It scores high marks for making the most out of the breathtaking views – no less than the majestic Arenal Volcano itself. Its location in the middle of the jungle could have been a forgivable excuse to downplay the amenities, but this boutique hotel hikes the experience up a notch. All 50 casitas are edged by its own pocket garden and has outdoor showers and spacious verandas with hammocks and Jacuzzis for two, perfect for soaking up the views. There is no shortage of food choices either, with three dining destinations onsite, two of which featuring specially designed dispensing machines for vintage wines and top-shelf vodkas. The Altamira Restaurant serves exquisite local and international cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed, al fresco setting.

Opposite page: Aerial view of the Gulf of Nicoya This page: Top to bottom: Panorama of Nayara and Arenal Volcano; Suite balcony, Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens

When you’re not lounging in the privacy of your Springs Villa, you might as well be enjoying a dip and a drink in the main pool’s wet bar, against a background of the volcano’s peak.

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It scores high marks for making the most out of the breathtaking views – no less than the majestic Arenal Volcano itself.

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nother sustainable gem is nestled in the heart of Osa Peninsula. Kura Design Villas sports a contemporary minimalist design that echoes the beauty of its surrounds. With no more than six luxury accommodations on offer, each open-floor concept villa affords you ultimate privacy amid picture-perfect views.

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The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season from December to April, where you can explore the outdoors with plenty of sunshine. Black Tomato, creators of tailor-made holidays, designs

How the boutique property managed to marry stunning design and sustainability is a mystery, and it’s also surprising to find that they did not at all scrimp on modern luxuries. In the villas, you’ll find iPads, iPod docks, espresso machines, private mini bars and even wine cellars. The saltwater infinity pool fringed with sun loungers is made sexier by an underwater sound system. Organic ingredients dominate the kitchen, which the chef masterfully turns into Costa Rican fusion specialties served with a side of pool and ocean views. Wines and cocktails come with a choice of two breathtaking venues – the Diablitos Bar overlooking a sandbar or the Sky Lounge offering 360-degree views of the jungle and seas.

10 to 12-night luxury adventures from San Jose to the Nicoya Peninsula. www.blacktomato.com

Surrounding this elegance are hectares of verdant forests and many secluded beaches. If only all encounters with nature are this sexy.

Opposite page: Relaxing view of Arenal Volcano This page: Top to bottom: Suite Villa, Kura Design Villas; Diablitos Bar and infinity pool, Kura Design Villas

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Picture this

Festive Beginnings There are more ways than one to welcome a new year, with more than one reason to celebrate. Festivities from all over the world paint the streets with vibrant cultures and brilliant smiles to match. Lose yourself in a parade of colour, only to find a new outlook, a renewed perspective to enjoy life’s colourful moments. This, more than ever, allows you to see, taste and experience the world.

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Travelite Magazine Winter Issue 2013