A MassiveGood Travel Experience

This struck our fancy as we’re always looking for ways to travel the world and contribute to a more equitable, culturally rich society.  An initiative launching to the public on March 4, 2010, has the travel industry joining political figures and celebrities, including President Bill Clinton, to create MASSIVEGOOD, an innovative fundraising movement that will enable travelers to make a “micro-contribution” towards major global health causes every time they buy a plane ticket, reserve a hotel room or rent a car (I was wondering when they were going to start doing this!)

Created by the Millennium Foundation, MASSIVEGOOD will be available in travel agencies and on websites like Travelocity and Accor Hotels starting March 4th. This will allow travelers to contribute $2 to fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and to improving the state of maternal and child health in developing countries.

Funds will be distributed to UNITAID, an organization that has saved thousands of lives by lowering the price and increasing the availability of medicines in low-income countries. MASSIVEGOOD is also a smart demonstration of the travel industry’s determination to address global health problems in addition to the environmental programs many already have in place.

About The Millennium Foundation for Innovative Finance for Health (“Millennium Foundation”): They’re a Swiss non-profit created in 2008 whose mission is to create a sustainable source of needed additional funding to achieve the three health-related Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the United Nations in 2000: to treat and fight life-threatening diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; to reduce childhood mortality; and to improve maternal health. To achieve its mission, the Millennium Foundation aims to empower citizens to join a global movement of solidarity dedicated to reducing the glaring inequalities in access to health care between rich and poor. The initial focus is the creation of MASSIVEGOOD, makes it easy for all those who travel to make micro-contributions aimed at saving lives by fighting life-threatening diseases among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Sounds good to me.

www.millennium-foundation.org

UNITAID was launched 3 years ago as an innovative mechanism for scaling up access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Founded by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the UK, today UNITAID has the support of 29 countries as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  In less than three years UNITAID has committed more than 900 million dollars to the diagnosis and treatment of these three diseases, representing a total of over 11 million treatments provided to patients. UNITAID’s funding model is based on an air ticket solidarity levy.  While some of its donors contribute through multi-year budgetary commitments, the air tax provides more than 70% of UNITAID’s funding.

www.unitaid.eu

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Phulay Bay, Thailand

Sarah Ivens, Founding Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine in the US, continues to share her tips from Krabi, Thailand and beyond!

The Perfect Cocktail

The natural beauty of Southern Thailand and the luxurious setting of the world’s first Ritz Carlton Reserve at Phulay Bay is an intoxicating blend that will leave you heady with relaxation. The 200 islands of the Andaman Sea float like giant ice cubes in the blue curacao waters, garnished with palm trees and coconut shells. With only 54 villas, the resort is small enough to make you feel pampered while vibey enough to let you know you’ve come to the best place in the country. It’s exclusive but homely, an addictive gulp of the good life.

After  we get comfortable in our breath-taking bedroom (with the largest beds in Asia – two kingside beds put together then made dreamy with  gigantic, custom-made linens), I meet the general manager, who worringly, considering she’s in charge of the just- opened flagship hotel, has tears in her eyes and looks rather shaken. ‘A guest just came up to me and grabbed me,’ she recounts in her charming Argenitinian accent, ‘and he looked me in the eyes and said “Stop the time! Stop the time! This is what life is about, this is the perfect place.” ‘ Her eyes well up again, happy with the fact she and her 97% Thai staff are doing their jobs so well. What’s strange is that my eyes well up too. I’d only been there for a few hours yet already know how that emotive, German tourist feels. I want the clock to stop as well.

Each villa comes with its own outside water feature – be it a rain shower or an infinity pool overlooking the sea. We had a totally private swimming pool, perfect for skinny dipping our burnt bits, and an outdoor, oversized bath, just made for relaxing under the stars. Indeed, they supply lanterns, candles, incense and locally-grown floral oils to enhance the experience. The villas also come with their own butlers. This sounded a bit pompous to start with but we soon fell into the trap of needing Tanya, our personal helper. She not only organized the basics performed by any good concierge desk at a top hotel like booking restaurants and filling our room with flowers and sweets each night, but she organized a beachside yoga lesson (for me), a trip to an elephant sanctuary (for him indoors) and would inform us of the best times to go to the bar for sunset each evening. Before long, we were scared to rejoin the real world without the help of Tanya.

Thai food is considered one of the greatest cuisines in the world and the chefs at Phulay Bay are doing everything they can to further this reputation. If you like the classics – pad Thai, green curry, tom yam guang – you’ll eat yourself silly each day. Wash it down with a glad of locally made house wine, surprisingly good considering we didn’t even know Thailand produced wine until we got there. Breakfast is set in the shade of the jumgle-like main lawn. Jams made from the fruits of the gardens and honey, served still dripping from the comb, moisten the freshly made breads and pastries. If you need something sturdier before a caving or diving trip, the seafood stir fry and eggs benedict fill you up for hours.  We stayed for two nights and it wasn’t enough.  You can get used to every need and desire being anticipated and uncomplicated – a refreshing, mouthwatering swig of how good life can be… Thailand never tasted so good.

TOP TIP! If you need to water down the price of this expensive elixir, for the room rate alone will drink your dollars, do what my husband and I did: rough it for a few nights in Phuket or Phi Phi, or in the nearby town of Krabi, in a hostel first.

These can be easily booked on arrival and you can get a decent room with a private bathroom and A/C for around $20 per night. These cheaper nights will allow you to get over your jet lag and into the swing of Thai life on a budget, before you make it to Phulay Bay for the spoiling you have always deserved. Don’t do this trip in reverse though. It will make you seriously depressed.

For more info or reservations, call toll free in the US, 1-800-241-333 or visit the company website at www.ritzcarlton.com

We Ski for Equality

This just blew in from across the pond, so we had to share.  For all of you sexy ski bunnies, Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado is holding its annual Women’s Ski Week March 6-11, 2010, partnering with Capella Telluride to create a great meeting of minds for women around the US.

Accommodations at Capella Telluride can be a little steep (think Blue Diamond) at $495/night, but Capella, founded by the ex-CEO of the Ritz, promises never to let you down.  There are three package levels through Telluride Ski Resort for the various events planned ($480, $780 or $945).  Elements include ski passes, lessons, rentals, spa credits, meals at Capella, and a lecture by author Rebecca Shambaugh (“It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor”), who will be kicking off her book tour for her latest piece “Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton.”

We support anything that helps enlighten men and women to reality that all people, regardless of gender, class, race, or expertise on the slopes, ought to be treated equally. No glass ceilings, no sticky floors, no icy conditions.

Hear us roar – just like that toasty fireplace.

Information on Capella Telluride is available at www.CapellaTelluride.com and details on Telluride’s Women’s Ski Week and the three package options can be found at http://www.capellatelluride.com/telluride-womens-week.php.

Bora Bora in High Style

When I dream, I like to dream big. The St. Regis Bora Bora comes to mind.

Bora Bora is, hand’s down, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Bar none. The water, valleys, and peaks mimic Avatar-esque proportions. Imagine a fantasy realm with vibrant sea creatures lit up by the night sky as they playfully zip between your toes.  Yes, this is Bora Bora and that’s not even the half of it. As there are several hot properties in the vicinity, this week, we’ve chosen to highlight The St. Regis Bora Bora because it boasts the largest, chicest, most luxurious Royal Estate on this glorious motu (and, occasionally, we like to get uber-ritzy).

First and foremost, the technology is state of the art.  The look… beyond one’s wildest expectations.  It’s something of a reality meeting a dream, offering even a bit more than you may have even dreamt.  Quite frankly, true paradise.  From the welcoming arms of the actual water village location to the interiors of the villas, gardens, restaurants, bars and spas, everything is transcendent.  There are over water villas, 1500+ sq. ft., with views to die for and Premier Over-water Villas, with nearly 2,000 sq. ft.  That’s bigger than our Editor’s flat in London, fellas.  Premier Over-water Villas also have private terraces with covered gazebos and outdoor showers (since who wouldn’t want get nakey with views of the motus in the distance?).  Yes, you can even whirlpool suspended over  the lagoon with a view of the main island of Bora Bora.

Not enough for you?  Then I’ll skip a few more levels and get straight to The Royal Estate.  It’s 13,000 sq. ft of unimaginable luxury and debuts as the largest suite in French Polynesia surrounded by lush gardens and its own private white sand beach.  You just must see it to believe it.

St Regis Bora Bora Hotels: The StRegis Bora Bora Resort – Hotel