The World’s Best Luxury Mountain Wellness Retreats

DTC Red Mountain Spa various photos

Red Mountain Resort and Fitness Center – Utah

By Paul Joseph, Health and Fitness Travel

For those seeking to relax in the most luxurious pockets of the Earth, Health and Fitness Travel, the leading specialists in wellness holidays worldwide, has compiled their top five mountain wellness retreats to go and escape from it all.  Spread across the world from Utah to Crete and Oman to India, these mountain wellness retreats are great to visit all year around.  Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie craving that next rush or want to relax away from prying eyes, these wellness retreats need to be at the top of your list.

Utah: Red Mountain Resort

The St George mountain range set in the rugged American landscape provides the perfect backdrop to a weight loss holiday that you will never want to leave.  Great to visit in the spring time, the Zion and Bryce canyons provide spectacular locations for horseback riding and mountain biking.  If you’re craving an adrenaline rush, then you can’t leave without trying an exhilarating rock climb, and joining other guests in seeing the incredible mountain-top views. After a long day of challenging your limits, relax in the luxury spa with body contouring wraps and Tai Chi classes.

wildfitness-crete-milia

Milia, Crete

Crete:  Wildfitness

The majestic mountain hamlet of Milia is a great option for those who want to tone their bodies for next summer. Created with nature in mind, Wildfitness encourages you to use the trees and rocks around you to tone and sculpt your body. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Cretan mountains, you’ll be able to shape up in the utmost tranquillity and luxury.  This retreat puts your fitness goals and desires first with personalised assessments and consultations.  Return to basics in the crisp mountain air with challenging fitness regimes and training sessions.

zighy-pool-villa-suite-beach-front

Zighy Bay, Oman

Oman: Zighy Bay

For the adrenaline junkies, out there, paragliding from the Musandam Penisula must be on your list. The dramatic mountainous landscape, surrounding Zighy Bay, provides you with the opportunity to push your very limits to achieve your fitness goals.  This luxury mountain retreat boasts the Six Senses Spa designed to encourage you to utterly indulge yourself.  Rejuvenate with Arabian Hammans and bath rituals in the six spa rooms available.  Travel during the spring time to enjoy the variety of activities, including tennis and bootcamp fitness, to ensure that you return home with an all-round sense of well-being.

ananda-exterior-view

Ananda – Himalayas

India: Ananda in the Himalayas

Set at the foot of the Himalayas, this secluded wellness retreat is a great option for those looking to relax in style and luxury.  The Himalayan mountain range is breath-taking, especially after the rainy season of July and August, and can be seen in all its glory on guided nature walks.  Ananda offers a wellness approach designed to unite the mind, body and soul, with holistic spa treatments and an array of well-being activities, including meditation and yoga.  If you are looking to transform your life, whilst learning a new skill, then definitely take advantage of the Pranayama sessions.

shanti-som-outdoor-pool-2

Shanti Som, Spain

Spain: Shanti Som

In the striking Andalucían region, lies Spain’s stunning Sierra de Las Nieves Nature Park and at the heart of this is the luxurious Shanti Som.  This mountainous area is the definition of tranquillity with its peaceful gardens and fragrant orange groves.  Your well-being will be revived in this remote sanctuary with a choice of tailor-made wellness programmes, including yoga and holistic healing.  Best to visit during June and September, you’ll be able to rejuvenate in the lavish spa with Ayurveda and aromatherapy.  You’ll never be able to forget the superlative mountainous landscape, even after you’ve returned home.

For more advice, guidance, and booking, visit:

www.healthandfitnesstravel.com 

Paul Joseph, Health and Fitness Travel Founder

Paul Joseph, Health and Fitness Travel Founder

About Paul Joseph:

Wellness Travel Specialist and Entrepreneur, Paul Joseph, is the co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, a global leader in wellness holidays worldwide. Always ahead of the curve in pioneering new health programmes that revive the soul, boost fitness or address serious health issues, the worldwide wellness tourism industry has now become a multi-billion sector, growing faster than travel in general. Paul has a wealth of PR, Marketing, Sales and Management experience in the health and tourism industry, consulting leading hotels on their wellness strategy and contributing regularly to broadcast and media interviews.

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@hf_travel), Instagram

 

Houston: Fun Things to Do with Kids

Four Seasons Houston Food

Four Seasons Knows How to Deliver a Good Spread!

Houston, we do not have a problem.

Everyone knows Texas is big, but when it comes to taking kids to America’s fourth largest city, it turns out it’s just a small world after all.

By Sarah Ivens

My two-year-old daughter wants to be a Lady Astronaut. I think she likes the idea of floating amongst glittering stars, or maybe it’s just that she fancies zooming far away from her older brother and his constant teasing. Either way, when we moved to Austin, Texas recently, we knew a trip to the Space Center at Houston would be our first family excursion.

Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston

Well when I say ‘we’, I mean my husband obviously. Visiting a city I knew little about apart from that it is very, very hot and sky-scrapery to spend eight hours looking at geeky space stuff surrounded by NASA nerds would not be my first choice of weekend getaway. But I’m so glad my moaning was ignored. Houston surprised – in a hip, healthy way.

For a start, traveling with offspring can be exhausting – and not much of a vacation, as you worry about the impact their having on other guests, who you fear are judging your parenting skills with a smug wrath, but my kids were too bedazzled to be bored and therefore behaved well. Secondly, I imagined our accommodation choices would be limited to dull, grey motels out near mission control, or dull, grey box hotels made for international oilmen to rest their Stetson-wearing, weary heads. The Four Seasons Houston, in the heart of the shockingly pretty downtown district, was neither – and may be one of the most kid-friendly city hotels I’ve ever stayed in.

Kid friendly hotels

Four Seasons Knows How to Deliver a Good Spread!

Miniature guests are greeted to their choice of soft toy at check-in, before making their way to the room and receiving surely the cutest tray ever delivered by room service: a carton of milk, a chocolate cowboy hat and a personalized rainbow-sprinkle cookie in the shape of Texas. My two sugar fiends enjoyed these delights on the beanbags set up for them at a small table, decorated with welcome signs with their names on.

Back down at reception, we are told of all the child-happy activities offered every weekend: A kid’s cooking class in the hotel’s kitchen, or the chance to don a chef’s hat at the dinner table in Quattro, the hotel’s mighty fine Italian restaurant, and make a Tiramisu from scratch for the family to enjoy. Every Saturday night, family friendly movies are shown on the pool deck, complete with fresh-popped popcorn and a Willy Wonka-style buffet, and this sugar can be burnt off with hula hoop classes, taught by one of the gym’s fitness experts. We opted to head for a swim, where non-judgmental waiters brought all the kids complimentary Shirley Temples as they played Corn Hole in the sun. I swear, even J.R. Ewing would have looked like a good parent if he’d stayed here.

Four Seasons Houston Pool

Enter a caption

Parents at the pool suggested the best places for newbies to explore. The Houston Museum of Natural Science is the place for fledgling dinosaur hunters and archeologists; while the Downtown Aquarium is an unforgettable place to take the kids for lunch, seated as you are in the middle of a 150,000 gallon aquarium filled with everything your Finding Dory fiend will love. The Children’s Museum of Houston is rated the best in the U.S. by Parents magazine and has something mind-blowing for all ages.

But with limited time to explore, we knew we had to soar to the Space Center – so we lifted off our behinds from the pool loungers and got going. Filled with artifacts, exhibits and information, this really is an out of this world museum. Not only do you get to see where real space scientists work every day, you get to touch genuine moon rock, board a space shuttle and visit the famous mission control room from the Apollo missions. It was surprisingly moving and jaw-dropping, learning about the planets around us and the drive that pushes humankind onward into discovery. It is truly worth of at least four hours of anyone’s time. My two enjoyed their day there as much as they enjoyed their day at Disneyland. Yes, it is that engaging for children.

space ship

Houston Space Center

 

My little lady still wants to be a space cadet, even after seeing what astronauts have to eat, and my son keeps saying he wants to move to Houston (although I think he actually just wants to move into a Four Seasons suite), and I can’t wait to go back. The city was the loveliest shock, much more than oil and cowboys and traffic on sweltering days. Houston, we really do not have a problem with you.

 

 

True Wine Lovers Sleep Right In The Vineyard

Mendoza wine country

The Pool at Entre Cielos – Mendoza, Argentina

You think you are a serious wine drinker? Maybe you have a few glasses each week, swirl it around your glass rejoicing in the “body” and “tannins” and even can taste the differences between a California and a French Pinot, but have you ever slept in a vineyard? Well, we have… and let’s just say that there’s no substitute from drinking from the vine, resting your deliciously weary head, and then rising in the morning to drink/eat/repeat.

One of our top picks is Entre Cielos Luxury Wine Hotel + Spa in Mendoza, Argentina. This luxury boutique hotel and member of Small Luxury Hotels lets you sleep amongst their eight acres of Malbec grapes in a Limited Edition Vineyard Loft. The pod-like designed loft rises 30 feet above the vines making oenophiles feel like they are growing in the vineyard themselves.

Argentine vineyards

The Pool at Entre Cielos – Mendoza, Argentina

The one of a kind “suite” has an outdoor terrace complete with jacuzzi and unobstructed views of the vineyard and snow-capped mountains off in the distance. Although the views during the day are incredible, the ones at night are just as awesome. The loft has numerous skylights allowing you to stargaze right from the comfort of your bed.

argentina wine country

The Pool at Entre Cielos – Mendoza, Argentina

Located in one of the largest wine regions in Latin America, often recognized as the second home of the Malbec grape, the 16-room Entre Cielos sits on 20 acres in the Mendoza countryside and is a modern day retreat with ultra-modern architecture, sculpture and zen garden, two restaurants and the only six-stage circuit Hamam in Latin America.

Don’t worry, wine reigns supreme in the spa to with Vinotherapy treatments. Where else can you  – detox and retox – at the same time? We highly recommend the Hamam circuit combined with a Grape Seed Exfoliation and Wine Bath. Imagine soaking in a bubble bath infused with red grapes while drinking the hotel’s very own “Young” 100% Malbec Rose? Magical.

best mendoza spa

The Pool at Entre Cielos – Mendoza, Argentina

As the property does have their own vineyard, they produce their own three labels of Malbec- Marantal Young, Marantal Classic and Gran Marantal (voted one of the 20 best Malbecs in 2013 by Descorchados). They also, of course, coordinate onsite tastings of their wines, as well as others. If you want to venture out on a tasting mission, the hotel can also arrange tastings at an array of nearby wineries. Bring your wooden leg… you’ll need it.

If drinking all day seems like overkill, there is definitely plenty of other activities nearby. You can horseback ride through vineyards, hot sir balloon over vineyards… ok, fine, it all still revolves around winemaking but hey, when in Mendoza!

The Limited Edition Vineyard Loft starts at $700 per night but there are other rooms in the main building that start at $315 per night.

www.entrecielos.com

What’s New in Napa

News from the Vines: What’s Cropping up in the Napa Valley this Season 

Meadowood Napa

An Arial View of Meadowood Napa

SLEEP

1.       Just Completed: Five new Harvest Suites in the Harvest Cottage were just completed in September at The Carneros Inn. The new suites make for a total of 800 square feet of indoor living space, as well as 400 additional square feet of private outdoor patio space, which includes an outdoor soaking tub and fire pit. www.thecarnerosinn.com

2.       Just Opened: Meadowood Napa Valley just debuted their new 14,000 square-foot, all-suite spa on November 2, 2015, with eight treatment suites, each offering forest views and a private environment for relaxation. Each spa suite features a private bathroom, steam shower and daybed. www.meadowood.com

3.       Just Completed: Calistoga Hot Springs finished its extensive renovation project in June 2015, including a redesign of the guest rooms with spa-inspired bedding, pebble and Italian porcelain tile showers, kitchenette upgrades and High Definition LED televisions. The focal point, though, are the four geothermal heated mineral pools, with travertine tiles, new pool furniture and vine covered arbor niches. www.calistogaspa.com

EAT

1.       Just Opened: The team from Ca’ Momi debuted their new Osteria on October 13, 2015, with a full bar of Ca’ Momi wines, house-made spirits and beer and a menu of authentic Italian specialties like their certified Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) and Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani pizza. Ca’ Momi Osteria; 1141 First St., downtown Napa; www.camomiosteria.com.

2.       Just Opened: Launched by AvroKO and chef Matthew Lightner (who received two Michelin stars when he oversaw the kitchen at Atera in NYC), NINEBARK opened in October 2015 in downtown Napa with California-focused, market-forward cuisine using innovative techniques like smoking with local hardwood and shrubs and marinating in herbal, fruit and floral broths. 813 Main St.; www.ninebark-napa.com.

3.       Upcoming: Opening late 2015, Tannery Bend Beerworks will brew and serve their own beers, born from a unique collaboration between a brewer (Matthew Cromwell) and a chef (Tyler Rodde) within blocks of downtown Napa. An upcoming crowdfunding campaign be established to engage members of the community. www.tannerybendbeerworks.com

4.       Upcoming: Miminashi, Napa Valley’s first and only “Izakaya-style” (Japanese pub) in downtown Napa, is set to open this month by chef and owner Curtis Di Fede. The menu will feature classics like Kara-age (Japanese-style fried chicken), binchotan grilled porterhouse with uni shiso butter and the space will focus around an open binchotan grill.

DRINK

1.       Just Opened: In the center of Yountville, K. LAZ WINE COLLECTION opened on October 7, 2015 by former Dean & Deluca Wine Director, Kerrin Laz. The 12-seat tasting room and retail shop features a curated wine collection, local Napa Valley landscape photography shot by Kerrin and fresh flowers and terrariums from nearby Evermore Flowers. www.klazwine.com.

2.       Upcoming: JaM Cellars is coming to downtown Napa this winter, with wine flights, by the glass and by the bottle programs available for Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cab and Toast Sparkling, plus several guest wines and special releases only available at the downtown tasting room. Designer Richard Vonsaal is creating a unique space with reclaimed materials and contemporary twists. www.jamcellars.com

CELEBRATE

1.       Flavor! Napa Valley – March 16 – 20, 2016: A five-day celebration featuring farm-to-table cuisine, world-class wines and culinary star talent, with local and celebrity chef demonstrations, intimate winemaker workshops, Grand Tastings and exclusive experiences that bring out the best flavors of Napa Valley. www.flavornapavalley.com

2.       Superbowl 50 – February 7, 2016: In celebration of the Bay Area’s hosting of Superbowl 50, Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, is offering a “GAMETIME” package for Superbowl weekend. The package includes a one-night stay in a Maison king room, GAMETIME welcome party snacks paired with a bottle of former pro Dick Vermeil’s Proprietary Red, wine tasting for two at Vermeil Wines in Calistoga or Napa, a GAMETIME sampler in the Bistro & Bar, a $100 resort credit and a 10 percent discount on any 60 minute service at Auberge Spa (including the GAMETIME sports massage and “heat-to-toe” treatment). The package starts at $898 and is valid through Feb. 12, 2016.

The Top Sailing Destinations Around the World

This week, Guest Contributor, Nicole Noel, shares her Top 7 Most Fabulous Sailing Destinations around the World with our Jaunt Magazine readers.

The fact that you love to sail speaks volumes about you. That is what you will find if you listen to the experienced sailor, Super Calin. He states that, according to his experience, people who enjoy sailing are smart and confident. They are adventurous and they know how to enjoy life (Super Calin, January 2015). All these traits are enhanced if you try to enjoy sailing at some of these seven amazing places.

Capri

Capri, Italy

1. Capri, Italy

One of the most amazing things happens in Capri. It is the annual Rolex Sailing Week. It takes place in May because of the amazing sailing weather. Enjoy the view of inshore racing around the volcanic sceneries and Aeolian Islands. If you have what it takes, join the races and make the most o this event.

French Riviera

Who doesn’t love the French Riviera?

2. French Riviera

The charm and the luxury of the French Riviera are reserved for those that enjoy the luxury. The Gulf of St. Tropez needs to be a part of your itinerary. Explore the lagoons and visit the Medieval Cogolin. You can also just stay at the port and admire the stunning, luxurious yachts docked there.

Croatia

Croatia

3. Croatia

You will pass thousands of islands once you enter the waters of Croatia. You can take your pick and visit the great, history packed city of Dubrovnik, or you can opt for some small, village taverns. Let the locals show you their fish specialties and do not forget to ask for a glass of a homemade Dalmatian wine.

Turkey

The Turkish Coast

4. Turkey

Definitely start at Olympos and head to Gokkaya Bay. The waters are amazing and everywhere you chose to make a stop, the Turkish cuisine will spoil you for any other. Two stops are necessary, though: the sunken city will be underneath you as you sail over the ruins of the city that was destroyed 2000 years ago. It is the part of the World Heritage. Also, dock and go to explore Simena Castle, once you reach it.

Whitsunday

Whitsunday Island, Australia

5. Whitsunday Island, Australia

This place is famous for its amazing white beaches and jaw-dropping color of water around it. It is a secluded place where people come to relax and spend a day in perfect nature. You can make this a perfect chance to let somebody do your boat detailing while you spend a day on this beach. That is why you need to make this a part of your trip. Forget about activities and adrenaline rushes and let the nature itself amaze you. It is a tropical paradise of peace.

TahitiS

French Polynesia

6. French Polynesia

Tahiti and Bora Bora are the destinations where the rich and famous go for their honeymoons and hedonistic trips to unwind and relax. The nature and the waters are awesome and full of wildlife. If you want to get in close touch with the nature, seek for a guide that will give you the shark feeding experience. That definitely adds to the thrill of sailing at this natural paradise.

Nile

Sailing the Magnificent Nile

7. Nile, Egypt

The Ancient river of Nile is the cradle of all life. Just by going down this river, you can meditate on that fact alone. However, to experience the ancient culture, make a stop in Sudan. Visit the wonderful ancient Meroe Royal City. You will see the tops of over two hundred pyramids. This was the ruling place of the Black Pharaohs.

The waters will take you to the most amazing places if you let them. Exploring the world from the sea is a perfect way to learn more about nature, history and world in general. Therefore, take that chance and make this list your checklist for the future.

Nicole

Nicole Noel

 

Nicole Noel is an avid traveller. She enjoys discovering different cultures, exploring new things, and sharing her ideas with others. You can find her on twitter and FB

Your Istanbul Travel Cheat Sheet

Istanbul at Dusk (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

Istanbul at Dusk (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

Turkey, the site of two wonders of the ancient world, is a present-day marvel – the cradle of many civilizations, the very center of world history and a modern republic which, at times, struggles between embracing the relics of her past and a forward-seeking future. A country of fascinating contrasts, antiquity is juxtaposed with the contemporary, the familiar with the exotic, and sun-swept beaches beckon less than an hour away from snow-capped mountains. Everywhere, however, visitors say they are often treated to the extraordinary warmth of the Turkish people. Istanbul is the most popular 1st stop for those visiting Turkey and it’s a clear winner among people of all nationalities and religions. If  you only have a few days or a long weekend, here’s a quick cheat sheet of the Top Things to Do and See in Istanbul, to soon be followed by the Wonders of The Turkish Coast.

The Bosphorus

The Bosphorus

What to See

In addition to the well known sites of the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, two years ago, Istanbul was rated Travel + Leisure‘s #1 European city to visit, so, to celebrate Staff of the Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF) compiled a list of the 10 places every visitor to Istanbul must experience which we wanted to share.

  1. Sip the best Turkish coffee at Mandabatmaz
  2. Browse the sustainable, locally-made, high-end contemporary Turkish goods at Armaggan Emporium
  3. Indulge in centuries of Anatolian culinary tradition at NAR Gourmet and NAR Restaurant
  4. Absorb the work of Turkey’s greatest contemporary artists at Istanbul Modern
  5. Hop on a Bosphorus ferry to Kadikoy for people watching and Alinin Dondurmasi’s famous ice cream
  6. Experience the centuries-old tradition of raki and fresh fish at İsmet Baba in Kuzguncuk
  7. Relax in the pleasure of a traditional Turkish hamam bath at Cağaloğlu Hamamı
  8. Shop the collection of critically acclaimed Turkish designer Simay Bülbül
  9. Soak up the sounds of Turkey’s thriving jazz scene at Nardis Jazz Bar
  10. Enjoy cocktails and conversation in Münferit’s quiet garden before returning inside to dance until dawn with locals
Istanbul (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

Istanbul (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul

A few years ago, we stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul because we always know we’ll get top-notch service and food, but Istanbul has several fantastic properties that are unique and special (Note: Ciragan Palace). The Ritz is located at one of the most exciting cultural crossroads in the world in a city that bridges the continents of Asia and Europe along the banks of the Bosphorus Strait. From the outside, it may look like another skyscraper, but once inside, international recognition for its commitment to exceptional levels of service becomes clear. You’re not simply told where the Ladies room is located, you’re escorted there, after being offered some warm Turkish sahlep, a delectable sweet warm drink reminiscent of yogurt and cinnamon. The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul was voted “Best Overseas Business Hotel 2009” by readers of Condé Nast Traveller UK and it’s no surprise. It’s about as stress free as you can get. In addition to 244 rooms and 23 suites, there are 57 Ritz-Carlton Club Level rooms (since I’m obsessed with the Club Level) and The Ritz also offers the award-wining Laveda Spa that includes ten treatment rooms including a not-to-be-missed Turkish Hammam where you will feel transported back in time, dreaming of the days of Suleyman the Magnificient.

Ritz Carlton Couples Hammam

Ritz Carlton Couples Hammam

At the Laveda Spa, the experienced therapists apply the miraculous methods of massage and skin care with Aromatherapy Associates offering all natural plant oils and the high-end line of Carita products. Apart from that a variety of holistic massages like the relaxing “Sultans Royal Six Hands Massage” applied in synchronization by three trained artisans, there are also exclusive body treatments like the “Hot Chocolate Seduction”, “Caviar Therapy”, “Milk & Honey Bath,” or an intoxicating wine therapy called “The Gift of Bacchus,” all infused with natural ingredients.

The Indoor Pool at the Ritz Carlton Istanbul

The Indoor Pool at the Ritz Carlton Istanbul

The indoor pool, the biggest of all indoor hotel pools in the city, is another alternative for more sporty activities or a few lazy laps. You’ll have the feeling of soaking under the Turkish sky when swimming in the mosaic pool as twinkling “stars” on the ceiling illuminate the pool area and highlight the impressive architecture of the Byzantine period of Istanbul.

But perhaps the most stunning section of the Spa is the authentic Turkish Hamam modeled on the 16th century Baths of Roxelana. The Hamam ritual entails a process of complete surrender to scrubbing, washing, and relaxation where you enter a private hamam room and lay a warm slab of marble. Once there, you’re exfoliated and cleansed like a goddess with copious amounts of warm and cool water, followed by a thorough body wash, and a bubble massage where the therapist creates clouds of bubbles with the use of a special towel that surrounds you like a daphine-scented cloud (an exotic flower from Western Asia).

This was, in many ways, the highlight of my luxurious vacation.

Ritz Carlton Cooking

Ritz Carlton Cooking

After our Turkish Hamam, we headed to the Ritz Calrton Istanbul’s Çintemani restaurant for dinner, an exciting autumn menu designed to celebrate local seasonal produce and showcase a unique approach to the culinary traditions of Turkey. Highlights on the autumn five-course degustation menu from then Chef de Cuisine, Ali Ronay (now at Raffles). His menu included Turkish puff pastry with pumpkin and pomegranate, lamb from the Thracian region and Turkish pancakes, while the à la carte menu was a whirlwind journey around the country’s regional flavors from Thracian beef fillet, prawns from Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, tuna and octopus from Dardanelles, veal from Balikesir, and chicken from Bandirma on the Sea of Marmara. The fusion of local flavors and innovative cooking techniques made the dishes so unique and mouth-watering that I can honestly say I’ve never quite tasted food like this before. Prawns were infused with Turkish Raki brandy, Bosporus bonito fish was prepared in traditional tomato and onion ragout, while mullet from Dardanelles was dressed with virgin olive oil from Bodrum. Innovative techniques included lamb prepared à la sous vide (a method of cooking vacuum-packed food in a plastic pouch at a set temperature often in a water bath) and cheesecake created from Aegean curd and seasonal pumpkin.

Now are you hungry to check it out?

Rates from $269/night

www.ritzcarlton.com/istanbul

Other amazing places to stay in Istanbul:

  • Kempinski Ciragan (truly historic and palatial)
  • The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul (can’t go wrong with the always solid Four Seasons)
  • Pera Palace (a Jumeirah property so expect proper opulence)
  • Georges Hotel Galata (a unique boutique property with an intimate vibe)
  • Hotel Ibrahim Pasha (another boutique property in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on a quaint quiet street)
  • The House Hotel Nisantasi (a smaller elegant modern hotel)

Bars and Restaurants to check out:

  • 11:11 (open Wed. – Sat. this hotspot is owned by the son of one of Turkey’s famous singers)
  • Public (where you want to people watch and party)
  • Poseiden (one of the top fish restaurants in Istanbul with classic mezzes & raki in an upmarket terrace atmosphere)
  • Casita (late night peruhi aka. vegetarian Turkish pasta with yoghurt & mint… yum!)

Beautiful Bali: Monkey Mayhem and Filthy Gorgeousness

Last week, I ventured off to Bali for a little R&R and, accordingly, I must share a few photos with the highlights. It was a whirlwind trip (just a weekend in Bali, folks), but I managed to pack in both Jimbaran Bay and Ubud and monkeys, of course, lots of devilishly cute, but don’t mess with ’em monkeys. I look forward to spending more time in this fascinating Goddess filled land of rice and Ganesha!

Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali

Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali 

We arrived late in the evening to gracious staff who had us beat a gong three times to announce our entrance. Although it was pitch black, the grounds were more impressive than we could imagine. After making reservations the very day we were to arrive through one of my new favorite websites for Asia, Agoda, we booked garden rooms at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali for approximately $350 USD and, to our amazing surprise, they had overbooked those rooms so we were upgraded to villa rooms. And, when I say villa rooms, I mean, one bedroom villas, each with it’s own private pool and a separate sitting area with enough space for three people as the sofa was large enough to nap comfortably.

A quick photo of my private villa pool

A quick photo of my private villa pool

Needless to say, when we each awoke to see the villas in daylight, we were blown away. We were very close to staying at the Four Seasons or InterContinental, but Agoda showed that the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali had last minute availability (and a better price), so we were thrilled. We were also keen to stay somewhere that felt authentically Balinese and this did the trick. With offerings and statues scattered around the lush grounds, along with a massive common pool and beachfront dining, it was really a no brainer.

Complete with entertainment in the evenings…

Firedancers at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali

Fire Dancers at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali

Next up, we took a quick (way too quick, but we were short on time) jaunt to Ubud, where we dined amid rice fields and visited the Ubud Market. I am still kicking myself for not having enough time to visit all the cool shops in Ubud, but my wallet is probably thanking me.

Dining in the rice field on satay and smoked fish

Dining in the rice field on satay and smoked fish

When we ordered Smoked Fish, I’ll admit, I thought it would be smoked like Whitefish or Salmon, but it was more like Steamed Fish. A tasty melange of garlic and subtle curry flavors rounded out this impressive looking snapper.

Balinese Smoked Fish

Balinese Smoked Fish with a salad of cooked bean sprouts and green beans, and a sugar cane covered fish cake on the side

But wait… I forgot to mention Monkey Forest in Ubud! How could I forget? This hanging forest meets monkey haven is an experience worth flying 20 hours to see. Monkeys and little monkey babies run wild and have no shame! You buy bananas at the entrance without realizing that once the monkeys see you they will jump on top of you and go, quite literally, bananas.

This little mom and her baby stole my heart (I was out of bananas).

Monkey Forest - Ubud, Bali

Monkey Forest – Ubud, Bali

We finished our day trip with a stop at Tanah Lot, a Hindu temple sitting on a rock formation on the coast, along the beach. It was quite interesting in that it felt as if we had stepped back in time (complete with a Holy Snake you could pay a small donation to touch). That said, it was quite crowded which hampered the allure a bit.

Tanah Lot Hindu Guardian

Tanah Lot Hindu Guardian

However, I did manage to capture one nice sunset, even if the actual temple view was obscured by too many tourists.

The sunset from Tanah Lot Temple

The sunset from Tanah Lot Temple

I finished the outing off with a massage at the hotel and a promise to always make the most of life’s brief moments. Even if it means a very rushed weekend trip to Bali after a crazy turbulent flight. In this case, my 60 minute moments equalled a very powerful Balinese massage where I was covered in the most delicious smelling orange bergamot oil.

The Belmond's beachfront outdoor spa

The Belmond’s beachfront outdoor spa

Because like life, and this storefront in Ubud, it’s filthy and it’s gorgeous and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

ubud stores

Layla Revis, Editor-in-Chief

Layla Revis, Editor-in-Chief

Passionate traveller, blogger, journalist, mother, and friend. Revis loves almost every type of food, but she won’t eat organs… or water chestnuts.

When she’s not flying to Asia for work as Senior Vice President – Global Digital Strategy Director at Leo Burnett, she can be found shamelessly watching trash television or reading Foucault. High/Low with rarely an ‘in between,’ her recent motto is:

“Live large… and love always.”