Setting Sail & Sightseeing in Burma

Set Sail to Burma

Set Sail to Burma

There is just under 12 months to go before luxury cruise and safari specialists offer something pretty spectacular. Sanctuary Retreats’ new custom built ship, Sanctuary Ananda, sets sail on its maiden cruise voyage in Myanmar. The coolest part? The all-suite ship is being custom built by two renowned Burmese brothers in a Yangon shipyard using traditional materials combined with modern technology to ensure she can navigate Myanmar’s rivers.

A familiar sight in a Burmese village

A familiar sight in a Burmese village

Sanctuary Ananda will offer eight exciting itineraries on 3, 4 and 7-night ‘Discovery Cruises’ between Bagan and Mandalay and 7, 10 and 11-night  ‘Exploration Cruises.’ The longer journeys will allow guests time to explore the Upper and Lower Ayeyarwady Rivers as well as the Chindwin River, incorporating must-see sights and the opportunity to engage with many local tribes and Burmese people. These ‘Exploration’ itineraries are particularly suited to guests who want a more relaxed cruise with a chance to explore off-the-beaten path.

Your bed in the suite

Your bed in the suite

The four-night “Mandalay to Bagan” itinerary begins in the cultural capital of Myanmar, and makes its way to Bagan, the spiritual heart of the country and home to more than 2,000 gilded pagodas. Guests admire the beauty of life along the river with visits to the Sale monasteries, textile workshops in Amarapura; Sagaing; the living centre of the Buddhist faith in Myanmar, and the local markets and traditional shoe factories of Pakokku.

Monks!

Monks!

Bagan, the 11th-century capital of the country is one of Asia’s most extraordinary destinations; more than 4,000 temples, pagodas and stupas (Buddhist memorials) cover Bagan, a true treasure trove of Buddhist art history. Work on the new ship is taking place in Myanmar, employing skilled local craftsmen. In addition to the furniture built by local carpenters, Burmese teak and traditional handmade fabrics will be used throughout and all Sanctuary Ananda’s guides will be local, Burmese experts. Recruitment and extensive training has now begun to build a team that will deliver the high standards behind Sanctuary Retreat’s ‘Luxury Naturally’ philosophy.

A little Burmese scene on the side of the road

A little Burmese scene on the side of the road

There are 21 spacious suites, ranging from 291 sq ft to 721 sq ft, including the exclusive Aloungpayah Suite. Most offer large private balconies with uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside, towns, villages and riverside life.  Accommodating 42 guests, Sanctuary Ananda will offer a high level of personal service. The Aloungpayah Suite, along with the 4 Luxury Suites, will also have a private butler service.

Prices start at $2.244 per person, based on two people sharing a Deluxe Suite, for a 3 night itinerary including sightseeing, all meals, soft drinks and local beer.

Burmese textiles

Burmese textiles

Sanctuary Retreats’ runs a collection of luxury safari lodges and explorer ships so we trust it’ll be amazing. Bringing the boutique experience to guests with the promise of authenticity, all have the same aim: to allow guests to have a “real” experience and enjoy a more natural kind of luxury in properties that have a strong commitment to conservation and responsible tourism. The Sanctuary portfolio also includes safari camps and lodges in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, as well as expedition cruise ships on the Nile, the Yangzi, in Myanmar and the Galapagos Islands.

www.sanctuaryretreats.com

Just Opened! Como’s Point Yamu in Phuket, Thailand

Point Yamu by COMO

Point Yamu by COMO

One of our luxe favorites, COMO Hotels and Resorts’, has just opened another sweet property. Personalized luxury travel is what COMO is all about: Urban Hotels, Island Resorts, Adventure Retreats and Wellness Resorts all highlight wellness, cuisine, adventure and culture, service and design – while always upholding a sustainable approach towards the people and places where they operate. Founded by Christina Ong, COMO Hotels and Resorts develops and manages handpicked, individually curated properties like The Halkin by COMO in London, two Metropolitan by COMO hotels in London and Bangkok, Parrot Cay by COMO in the Turks and Caicos, Cocoa Island by COMO in the Maldives, and three Uma by COMO experience resorts in Bali and Bhutan.

A rendering of Point Yamu's Italian Restaurant, La Serena

A rendering of Point Yamu’s Italian Restaurant, La Sirena

Enter their 106-room resort, Point Yamu by COMO. The property, on the coast of the island of Phuket, Thailand, has COMO’s classic stunning interiors, this time by famed Italian designer and architect, Paola Navone. New to the hotel world, Ms. Navone designed Point Yamu with deep, bold colors, clean lines, and a myriad of textural elements to combine COMO’s signature style with indigenous designs. Point Yamu is also home to a COMO Shambhala Retreat, a 100-meter infinity swimming pool and infinite views of the turquoise waters of Phang Nga Bay. In addition, private residences with access to all Point Yamu’s facilities are also available to purchase for those who want to keep coming back to your own sexy digs.

The bathroom in a suite

The bathroom in a suite

LOCATION

Point Yamu by COMO is located on Cape Yamu, a peaceful peninsula on the east side of Phuket, Thailand. The resort overlooks the limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the Andaman Sea.

CUSINE

Cuisine prepared in a wood-fired oven also plays a star role at Point Yamu. The resort offers everything from relaxed Italian cooking and locally caught seafood at La Sirena to spicy southern Thai cooking at Nahmyaa. Healthy COMO Shambhala Cuisine, designed to maximize energy and wellbeing, can be nibbled at The Central Bar while private dining such as beach picnics and romantic sunset meals can be arranged in-room and at a number of special locations in and near to the resort.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 330-foot swimming pool
  • COMO Shambhala Retreat with eight treatment rooms including one beauty treatment room and yoga studio
  • Pilates and Asian-inspired therapies
  • Italian and Thai restaurants
  • Child-friendly interactive learning area

GETTING THERE

The resort is a quick 25-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. So get thee to serenity.

Rates for a Bay Room begin @ $500/night

 www.comohotels.com/pointyamu

St. Lucia’s Naked Fisherman

The view from St. Lucia's Naked Fisherman

The view from St. Lucia’s Naked Fisherman

I bet you thought you’d see some twigs and berries, didn’t you? Well, this post will be PG (for now), but we’re talking about the restaurant at Cap Maison, the acclaimed five-star beachfront resort on the northwest shore of Saint Lucia, where it’s actually not unusual for local fishermen to dive from their boats in the traditional manner — stark naked. That was, of course, the inspiration for the resort’s new casual eatery, The Naked Fisherman Beach Bar & Grill. Set on sandy Smuggler’s Cove (also aptly named), the resort’s secluded beach, The Naked Fisherman is one of the few true beach eateries on this mountainous island with a rocky coastline. The Naked Fisherman was created by Cap Maison’s Executive Chef Craig Jones, the Welsh-born Rastafarian chef who’s a veteran of Europe’s Michelin-starred kitchens. Chef Jones has been at the helm of the resort’s Cliff at Cap restaurant since it opened in 2008, moonlights with the island’s first Pop Up dinners (an 18th century fort on Pigeon Island) and just did a two-night stint at Manhattan’s trendy City Grit culinary salon.

The Beach and View at Cap Maison

The Beach Shack View at Cap Maison

The Naked Fisherman is Chef Jones’ modern take on the classic Caribbean beach shack, with a soundtrack of crashing surf and vibrant Caribbean music, as well as a gentler price point than the white tablecloth Cliff at Cap. The look of the 36-seat Naked Fisherman is thatched-roof-Caribbean, the better to harmonize with its lush beach setting.  Chef Jones designed a grill-centric menu for both lunch and dinner, with an emphasis on barbecue and fresh seafood. Grilled island catch with pumpkin and coconut curry or grilled spiny lobster tail with italian rice are on offer, while carnivores can order sticky pulled baby back ribs or a grilled Wagyu burger. Drinks are very much on tap at The Naked Fisherman, including the signature – and potent — rum punch.

Hallelujah!

The Naked Fisherman Beach Bar & Grill is open from 12:30pm to 3pm for lunch and from 6:30pm to 10pm for dinner.

So, when heading to the islands, mon, make sure you check out the Naked Fisherman. You may even get an eyeful!

Tokyo’s Best Luxury Hotel for Business

Hotel Chinzanso's Spa

Hotel Chinzanso’s Spa

Looking for a sexy hotel while doin’ business in Nippon? Look no further than the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, the iconic five-star flagship property of leading Japanese hospitality company Fujita Kanko. They’ve just announced that the hotel has been designated “Best Luxury Hotel, Japan, 2013” by Business Destinations magazine. The Business Destinations Travel Awards showcase companies whose products and services represent the pinnacle of the business travel industry.

Can you tell we're imagining going to Japan on business and then holing up in the spa?

Can you tell we’re imagining going to Japan on business and then holing up in the spa?

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo was re-flagged in January after 20 years as the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so (so you know that means ‘swanky digs’). Within six months of rebranding, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo was then awarded five Red Pavilions by The Michelin Guide. The hotel is best known for its historic heritage and its lush Japanese garden, home to various botanical species, birds and insects – extremely rare in the middle of Tokyo and reason enough to stay a few nights.

Mokushundo, one of their restaurants, where they specialize in stone grilled delicacies

Mokushundo, one of their restaurants, where they specialize in stone grilled delicacies

The hotel offers 260 rooms and suites; 12 restaurants (wait… 12? Yes, you read that correctly, 12); Tokyo’s largest meeting/banquet facilities (36 banquet rooms, to be precise), including one of the city’s biggest banquet rooms with a tiered-seating amphitheater equipped for simultaneous interpretation (impromptu Japanese theater, anyone?); oh, and did we mention it also possesses Tokyo’s largest hotel spa. Since we need plenty of space for our big personality to unwind.

And food... let's not forget food. This is at one of their many restaurants, Ryotei Kinsui

Beautiful, glorious food. This photo features delectables from one of their many restaurants, Ryotei Kinsui

As part of the renovations and upgrading started at the time of the rebranding, a new one-of-a-kind facility, Serenity Garden, was also opened on the hotel’s rooftop, occupying 16,145 square feet (1,500 square meters). With the scenic garden as a backdrop, the property is certainly one of Japan’s most prestigious venues, hosting international functions for royalty, state leaders, and you… yes, you.

http://www.hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.com/

From $280/night and up

Terre Blanche Named France’s Leading Resort

The Spa at Terre Blanche

The Spa at Terre Blanche

Located in the heart of Provence, just a 30-minute drive from Cannes, Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, a five-star Provençal resort in the heart of the Côte d’Azur, was recently named France’s leading resort of 2013 at the “Oscars” of the travel industry, the World Travel Awards. With 115 suites and villas that feature private terraces, better check this beauty out. Terre Blanche welcomes guests as if they were at home and boasts championship golf courses, a luxurious spa, first-class amenities and top-notch service, in a tranquil countryside oasis.

Faventia, The Restaurant at Terre Blanche

Faventia, The Restaurant at Terre Blanche

Hungry for luxury yet?Rates from 295€ in the low season for two people in a Superior Suite with breakfast included to 14,000€ in the high season for the luxurious Villa Terre Blanche (GASP).

http://en.terre-blanche.com

Retreating to Bali: The Floating Leaf Hotel

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

This just in from Asia. The proprietors of a new Balinese property recently reached out to us about an interesting little hotel in Bali called The Bali Floating Leaf Hotel. Described as a “peaceful retreat in a lush oasis in which to nourish, recharge and heal your mind, body and spirit, holistically,” they’ve combined ancient Balinese wisdom with modern convenience and luxury to offer a safe place for relaxation, personal enrichment and wellness.  If you’re looking for a true retreat, they’ve got just the sort of amenities you need; an open air yoga center with views of the Indian Ocean and Mount Agung Volcano, Bali arts and culture, photography, surfing, and an onsite Balinese spa.

A Room at the Floating Leaf

A Room at the Floating Leaf

Guests can look forward to an ultimate relaxation pool complete with waterfalls, hidden meditation areas and more. The grounds also feature an organic permaculture garden (hurrah!), as well as a large kitchen where their private chef will prepare delectable healthy meals, juices, and snacks with locally grown organic nutrient-rich food. And to top it off, world-class surf is steps away!

The Yoga Studio!

The Yoga Studio!

Floating Leaf Eco-Resort is rooted in a deep commitment to Bali’s environment; it’s people, and sustainable tourism so their eco-tourism efforts are aimed at conserving precious natural resources and diverting waste from landfills. They also strive to involve the community in deciding exactly which philanthropic efforts will be of most help and interest to them. Other projects include building water purification facilities, playgrounds, greenhouses and subsidizing local farmers so they can grow nutrient rich foods using traditional and organic methods. As they say in Bali, “Bagus!”

Currently offering soft launch opening prices for individuals and retreats, prices are are as low as $150 a night and some retreats for approximately $1000 for a week-long package.

http://balifloatingleaf.com

Dominican Dreaming: Step Back in Time in the DR

Casa del XVI

Casa del XVI Patio

Who wouldn’t want to step back in time for a moment to experience 16th century splendor? Even better on an island with crystalline waters and fresh fruit. Now, this can be had at the brand new Casas del XVI, a boutique eight-room luxury hotel opening in Santo Domingo’s emerging Ciudad Colonial in March 2014, with a soft opening slated for December 15, 2013. Nestled in the heart of the New World’s oldest city, Casas del XVI is the first hotel in the Dominican Republic comprised of an exclusive collection of newly renovated colonial houses, maintaining the integrity of the stunning, romantic architecture dating back to the 16th century.

Breakfast on the patio

Breakfast on the patio

With a focus on preserving the original architecture, celebrating the vibrant Dominican culture and drawing upon the area’s international influences, the interior of each house is decorated according to a theme relating to Dominican culture and sixteenth century history. A butler in each home makes guests feel like royalty, tending to their every need from daily a la carte breakfasts prepared in each home’s kitchen to endless excursions in Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A room at

A room at Casas del XVI

Possibilities are suited to a wide array of interests and include Old City guided strolls, tours of the colonial churches, a flavors of the city tour and tasting series at the area’s finest restaurants, a rum experience at the historic Ron Barcelo distillery, a golf challenge at the Las Lagunas Country Club, and a chocolate, clay and sugar tour. One word: YUM.

Pre-opening rates start at $225/night

www.casasdelxvi.com