Saturday, December 23, 2017

Alila Ubud Ultimate Friends’ Day Out

For those seeking a surprisingly different way to spend quality time and unwind with BFFs, look no further than Alila Ubud’s newly launched package – Ultimate Friends’ Day Out.


Nothing has been spared to create a truly heavenly experience for fun-filled indulgence. Ideal for a group of up to six persons, the experience includes a night’s stay in the resort’s one and only 252 sqm Two Bedroom Terrace Tree Pool Villa, perched high amid the canopy of the Ubud rainforest. The villa is Alila Ubud’s most spacious and luxurious accommodation with a 40 sqm private pool and a large outdoor terrace, where you can chill out altogether while soaking up the spectacular views.   

This Friends' retreat also comes with a decadent package of wellness and F&B, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, free flow of wine and bubbles, and unlimited spa treatments that will leave you feeling utterly pampered and preened.  


Slip off whenever the mood takes you to Spa Alila, whose all-natural therapeutic and beauty treatments offer something to please everyone, from manicures, pedicures and radiant facials to signature massages designed to deeply relax and rejuvenate.
   
That’s not all. You also get to enjoy varied options to the Alila Experience, taking your pick from an extensive menu of crafted activities that offer memorable destination exploits. Highlights include the ‘Balinese Organic Culinary Masterclass’, where foodies can cook up local dishes with the resident chef in the resort’s organic garden. ‘Organic Mixology’ offers time behind the Cabana bar learning to concoct signature organic cocktails with Alila Ubud’s experienced mixologists. Active spirits will love the ‘Payangan Countryside Trek’, exploring the verdant surroundings and learning about the local way of life.   


Offering something for everyone, the Ultimate Friends’ Day Out in Ubud is an unforgettable way to celebrate friendship, special occasions, or simply spoil yourselves.  

Best of all, making your escape to Alila Ubud is hassle-free as return transfers between the resort and any location in Bali are provided. The rate is USD 4,500 nett for up to six persons.  

For more info, visit: HERE

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

25 Years of Amanpulo


Mangrove Hut Manamoc

Aman’s private island resort marks its silver anniversary by celebrating Filipino gastronomy, culture, and community

In 1993, a private island of unspoilt tropical wilderness in the Sulu Sea, 360km southwest of Manila, was transformed from a small coconut plantation into one of the most idyllic retreats in the world. Designed by the acclaimed Filipino architect Francisco Manosa, and accessible only by private propeller plane, Amanpulo, the ‘peaceful island’, offers its guests the tranquility and sensory spectacle of powder-soft sands, and warm azure waters, ringed by a pristine coral reef.

Amanpulo has established itself as the undisputed jewel of the Philippines and one of the most beloved destinations for Amanjunkies in search of a naturally romantic setting for weddings and honeymoons, and for thrill seekers searching for the adrenaline buzz of physically challenging watersports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing. With its powdery white-sand beach which stretches the full 6.5 kilometre perimeter of Palawan Island, it has also become a haven for those looking to fulfill their desert island fantasies and for anyone looking for an opportunity to escape, switch off, and reground themselves in a tropical paradise, far from the cares and worries of their everyday lives.

Floating Bar

Following 2017’s anniversary celebrations in Indonesia at Amanjiwo (20 years) and Amankila (25 years), 2018 will mark 25 years since Amanpulo welcomed its first guests. This landmark occasion will be commemorated with a year-long programme of exclusive events and cultural initiatives designed to embody the spirit of the resort, pay tribute to its history, and celebrate its deep-rooted connection to the island and community of Manamoc.

BBQ’s on the 25th
Throughout 2018, guests in residence will be invited to an al fresco anniversary barbecue on the 25th of each month at Amanpulo’s scenic Picnic Grove. The resort’s chefs will come together to helm live cooking stations serving a tantalising variety of traditional Filipino flavours. The menu will include wood-fired suckling pig, stuffed local squid, and traditional palayok (clay pot) dishes such as Laing (taro leaves braised in spiced coconut milk) and Pancit Palabok (rice noodles topped with seafood and chicharron), as well as an array of Filipino salads and desserts – including the much-loved shaved-ice specialty halo-halo.

Sailing

More than a dozen different dishes will be available, and will be best enjoyed accompanied by an exclusive Amanpulo beer, brewed especially to commemorate the resort’s anniversary by the Pedro Brewery in San Pedro City.

25-minute Cultural and Sporting Activities
A series of 25-minute activities and workshops have been developed specifically for the anniversary. These include palm-leaf weaving, a traditional Filipino craft used to make toys, ornaments, bags and accessories. Led by Amanpulo’s guides who have delighted guests over the years with gifts of their expertly woven creations, the workshops will enable participants to weave their own simple toys or, for the more ambitious, a classic Filipino palm-leaf hat.

Water Spot

For fitness enthusiasts, Amanpulo’s Fitness Manager Elmer Munar has created a 25-minute jungle sprint cardiovascular workout trail. Woven amongst the trees beside the Aman Spa, the trail comprises 13 obstacles ranging from monkey bars and a tyre run, to a rope and wall climb, and is designed to challenge strength and coordination in both upper and lower body. The trail can be adapted to meet the specific fitness needs of the individual, allowing guests of all ages and athletic abilities to take part.

West Villa Club House

Finally, in recognition of the perfect kitesurfing conditions on the Pamalican Island lagoon, Amanpulo will play host to a kitesurf retreat in March, inviting many of the world’s pro kiters and amateur enthusiasts for an unforgettable high-adrenaline regatta.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Dreamy Dunes and Deserts

Luxury tour operator, Scott Dunn, reveals why Jordan and Oman will be two of 2018’s most talked-about destinations

 Jabal Akhdar

Hot off the announcement of their top destinations for 2018, luxury tour operator Scott Dunn delves deeper into why desert destinations like Jordan and Oman will top travel lists next year.  Despite escaping the notice of all but the most adventurous of travellers for years, the centrally located countries offer easy access to travellers from Asia, and with an increasing range of luxury hotels and unique experiences, both destinations will be ones to watch next year.

Oman, located on the Arabian Peninsula, offers a truly diverse experience from its vibrant culture to the rugged mountain ranges, rolling sand dunes, bustling souks and golden beaches. Scott Dunn’s Signature Oman itinerary offers a seamless immersion into the northern part of the country, exploring the main sights with the comfort of a private driver and guide. The specially curated 10-day itinerary allows travellers to experience the highlights of this dynamic country, from visiting traditional markets in Muscat to remote wadis, the vast dunes of Wahiba Sands, and timeless forts and local villages in the Jabal Akhdar mountains. With such a vast array of experiences in Oman, travel consultants have hand-picked their selection of the best with this trip, offering the perfect blend of culture, scenery, adventure and relaxation. As with all Scott Dunn itineraries, the trip can be tailored to suit each individual’s interests, with bespoke experiences added in to make it more (or less) adventurous, more focused on culture or history, more suited to families or any other preferences.


 Jordan

Oman is perfect for families or couples, with a varied range of accommodation options and experiences. The lesser known region of Salalah in the south is home to the Anantara Al Baleed Resort, which sits on a pristine white coastline, and is suitable for families of all ages. There’s a fully-equipped kids club offering cooking classes and club adventures as well as a dedicated teens club offering engaging activities and guided trips. Alternatively, for couples, Scott Dunn continues to develop itineraries that offer authentic experiences, allowing guests the opportunity to immerse in local culture. Canvas Club offers just that, for those looking for a more glamorous camping experience under the stars, whilst Hud Hud’s authentic Bedouin style tents offer the opportunity to experience the peace and tranquility of the desert while getting a sense of local life in Oman.


 Oman

Jordan is as much of an emerging destination for 2018. The small historic country is a photographers dream, with some of the most incredible ancient ruins such as the world-famous Nabatean city of Petra and the Roman ruins of Jerash in the north. The natural landscape is equally impressive with contrasts between the red desert of Wadi Rum and the blue waters of the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth. People are beginning to explore this relatively undiscovered corner of the world and Scott Dunn’s Ultimate Jordan itinerary offers the chance to experience the best of what the country has to offer. The 13-day trip combines culture, trekking, relaxation, adventure and delicious food. While visiting Amman to see the spectacular ruins of Jerash, guests will have the opportunity to taste some of the best falafel in the country, as well as the famous kunafa, a Jordanian sweet. Highlights of the itinerary include a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Wadi Rum desert and the option to dive in the Red Sea, one of the world’s most renowned diving destinations with abundant marine life.

Wadi Rum

ABOUT SCOTT DUNN
Scott Dunn is an award-winning travel operator that has been  exceptional private journeys to destinations around the world for over 30 years. The company’s eye for the little things makes all the difference and has helped the brand build a reputation for not simply adhering to the highest standards in travel and hospitality, but setting them.

Scott Dunn’s immeasurable love for travel comes with a profound sense of effort to show respect and conserve economic, environmental and social-cultural balances in the destinations they offer. The Scott Dunn Charitable Fund supports a variety of local aid organisations that promotes education, community development and conservation that bring real long-term improvements to the lives of many in poverty-stricken and remote areas.


Over the years, Scott Dunn has won numerous awards validating their position as the leading luxury travel company. The most recent awards include; Favourite Specialist Tour Operator by Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards 2017, Best Ski Company and Telegraph Travel Awards 2015/16, Best Tour Operator by BRIDES Honeymoon Awards 2015 and Best Family Tour Operator by Junior Design Awards 2016.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

China’sLiving History



Opening 8th January 2018

A short drive just beyond the city limits of Shanghai stands an ancient camphor forest. At its heart is the Emperor Tree; standing at 17 metres, it is the tallest of its kind in all of China. It has stood for more than 1,000 years – but not here, not in this spot. For in this woodland sanctuary, all is not what it seems.

Amanyangyun is the fourth Aman destination in China, the first in Shanghai, and the only one with its dwellings to have travelled more than 700km. Opening on 8 January, 2018, it is the result of a staggeringly ambitious 15-year conservation initiative, which saw nothing less than the relocation of a forest and the reconstruction of a historic village.


The story begins in the city of Fuzhou in the province of Jiangxi, 700km from Shanghai, where construction of a new reservoir threatened the existence of thousands of camphor trees and dozens of homes dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Over the course of a decade, Fuzhou-born entrepreneur Ma Dadong and Aman worked together to ensure these relics of China’s ancient past would not be lost to history, overseeing the transportation and replanting of 10,000 trees – including the 80-tonne Emperor Tree – and the stone-by-stone disassembly and rebuilding of 50 antique houses.

Reborn 27km southwest of Shanghai, these houses and trees now shape the soul of Amanyangyun, a 10 hectare retreat that presents a tranquil, nature-rich counterpart to the dynamic cosmopolitanism of its neighbouring city, while keeping the attractions and energy of the metropolis within easy reach.


Kerry Hill Architects – also behind Aman Tokyo – have meticulously restored the 50 disassembled antique houses to create 26 ancient dwellings for Amanyangyun, seamlessly integrating contemporary comfort into the 400-year-old fabric of the buildings. Many of the Antique Villas still bear the legacy of their bygone owners, in the form of ornate stone carvings and inscriptions that depict family hopes and histories. Thirteen of the antique dwellings, now four-bedroom Antique Villas, measure between 800 and 1,000sq m, and include a private pool and Jacuzzi, as well as a courtyard – a signature feature of Chinese buildings of this age. Twelve of the historic homes rescued and restored from Jiangxi have been converted into refined Aman Residences to own. The result is a harmonious blend of modernity and tradition, and a living monument to the natural and human history of Jiangxi.

As well as the Antique Villas, Amanyangyun provides 24 newly created Ming Courtyard Suites that harmoniously complement their historic counterparts, offering guests expansive, light-flooded bedrooms and living areas characterised by refined wooden interiors and Aman’s signature Asian-inflected minimalist design aesthetic. Crafted to balance old and new, these 65sq m spaces each pay tribute to the structure of the classic Chinese courtyard home, with two spacious private courtyards attached to each.

The spiritual heart of Amanyangyun is Nan Shu Fang. Named after the royal reading pavilion in the Forbidden City, this cultural complex has been created from the final and most architecturally impressive antique building to have made the journey from Fuzhou. Enhanced with furniture crafted from the nanmu wood characteristic of Ming interiors, the pavilion is a modern-day recreation of the ‘scholars’ studios’ of 17th-century China’s literati – a space to learn, contemplate and practise traditional crafts such as calligraphy, music and painting, or to watch one of Amanyangyun’s frequent Kunqu Opera performances.


Across the courtyard, six dedicated rooms have been created to host traditional tea and incense ceremonies, while, directly facing the entrance, the Emperor Tree stands as a compelling visual reminder of the value of maintaining a connection with history. This is why Amanyangyun’s guests are each invited to nourish the tree with water when they arrive – reflecting the importance of nurturing the past to enrich the future.

More than just a guardian of the past, Amanyangyun offers its guests the opportunity to experience advanced holistic wellness facilities; to explore China’s heritage of arts, culture and philosophy; and to enjoy the finest local and international cuisine at its three headline restaurants.

Set around an impressive central courtyard, the 2,840sq m Aman Spa is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the Aman collection. Its ethos and atmosphere draw inspiration from the resort’s name, ‘Yang Yun’, which is taken from an inscription made on a pavilion in Beijing’s Forbidden City three centuries ago, and means ‘nourishing cloud’. The complex houses eight treatment rooms, two double spa suites, extensive relaxation areas, a sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and two swimming pools; indoor and out. Two private Spa Houses each offer a suite of thermal facilities, including a Russian banya and Turkish hammam. All unique to Aman, the treatment programmes and 15 specially developed spa journeys combine the ancient healing practices of traditional Chinese medicine with the pioneering advancements of 21st-century wellbeing technology.

The main spa building is also home to the fitness and movement centre, installed with professional cardio and strength equipment, and houses a Pilates and yoga studio where three walls of floor-to-ceiling glass provide inspiring, serene views over Amanyangyun’s lake and resplendent forest gardens. Through its membership programme, a limited number of Shanghai residents will be granted an exclusive opportunity to escape the city and experience specialist therapies in this peaceful and timeless setting.

Amanyangyun’s Cultural Discovery Centre, a convivial meeting ground for children, will offer a host of experiences, each designed to help the resort’s younger guests unearth the rich culture of China. The club, open from 9am to 5pm, will welcome children aged from five to 12, and will also have a dedicated programme for teenagers. Nature programmes will take young guests on adventures to the resort’s wetland to learn about the unique ecosystem that surrounds them, whilst keen foodies in the making can spend time on Amanyangyun’s own organic herb and vegetable garden to learn about traditional Chinese farming techniques. Chinese lantern making, paper cutting, pottery moulding and tea ceremonies will also be organised, as well as Chinese shadow puppet shows. Children’s yoga and spa treatments can also be arranged, on request, for those who feel that a bit of pampering is in order after a day spent exploring. A light food and beverage menu will be available throughout the day, along with a snack bar.

Positioned throughout the forest to allow guests to experience the rich variety of the landscape, each of Amanyangyun’s five restaurants and bars is designed with a combination of refined modernity, material simplicity and sensitivity to both the local environment and the culinary philosophy of each concept.

The kitchens of Chinese restaurant Lazhu pay homage to Jiangxi province, the original home of Amanyangyun’s camphor trees and Antique Villas, and headed up by the Executive Chef of the resort, Steve Miao, who was born and raised in Shanghai. Combining dishes first conceived during the Ming and Qing Dynasties with Cantonese classics, the menu makes use of the region’s abundant soya plantations to offer an inventive array of tofu-based plates, as well as taking advantage of seasonal produce from Amanyangyun’s 200sq m organic herb and vegetable garden.

At Nama, close to the lake, Executive Chef Keiji Matoba brings the flavour-led simplicity of Japan’s washoku tradition to Amanyangyun. A menu of authentic, uncomplicated and elegant dishes combines the classic techniques of the Japanese kitchen with the finest and freshest ingredients available locally.

At lakeside Arva, Master Chef Andrea Torre – fresh from helming the kitchens of Aman Venice – presides over a menu that draws inspiration from Italy’s farm-to-table gastronomic tradition, showcasing signature dishes and sharing plates in a warm and convivial atmosphere. Here, a bimonthly programme of Italian cookery classes offers guests hands-on instruction in pasta-, pastry- and mozzarella-making, among other culinary arts.

Amanyangyun guests can head to The Bar for expertly crafted cocktails, afternoon tea and a live jazz soundtrack in front of an antique fireplace, or stroll up the picturesque path to the Cigar Lounge. In this copper- and oak-accented space, a selection of fine cigars from Cuba and the Dominican Republic awaits, along with a humidor and temperature-controlled wine cellar where guests may store their personal collection for future visits.

Set in a scenic bamboo grove, the Banqueting Room allows for 200-seat receptions, conferences, weddings and special-occasion feasts with breath-taking views through its floor-to-ceiling windows, while a 25-seat cinema offers classic film screenings.

When it opens its doors on 8th January 2018, Amanyangyun will stand tribute to one of the boldest conservation projects in China’s history, while offering Aman guests the same standards of design, service, natural beauty and cultural immersion to which they are accustomed. Breathing new life into ancient history, Amanyangyun brings the promise of a soul-easing sanctuary to Shanghai; a place where mindful living, natural splendour and historic wonders interweave and thrive.

Anthony Joshua Trains in the World’s Highest Boxing Ring

The heavyweight boxing champion takes part in the annual Dubai Fitness Challenge on the Top of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Helipad
 

Anthony Joshua put his weight behind Dubai’s drive to become the most active city in the world today, as he took part in a vigorous training session on the iconic helipad of the Burj Al Arab.  

The stunt saw Joshua follow in the footsteps of other sporting greats, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi as he entered the world’s highest boxing ring. 

Dubai is putting physical activity firmly on its national agenda following the launch of the Dubai Fitness Challenge earlier this month.  The Challenge saw almost 800,000 participants commit to 30 minutes of activity for 30 days and take part in a packed calendar of sporting events with over 1,500 free workout classes and 75 pop up fitness locations across the city.  Launched by the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the initiative was designed to encourage Dubai’s citizens and residents to embrace a more active lifestyle and take advantage of the huge range of sporting facilities across the city.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A City in Action: Crown Prince of Dubai Launches Dubai Fitness Challenge

  • Unprecedented new initiative sees Dubai aiming to be most active city in the world
  • Residents encouraged to champion the movement and commit to 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days
  • Free workout classes, pop up fitness locations and weekend family fun carnivals taking place across the city 


His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai Government and Dubai Sports Council today launched the inaugural Dubai Fitness Challenge with the aim of motivating residents to take up physical activity and making Dubai the most active city in the world. This enterprising new Challenge seeks to inspire Dubai’s citizens, residents and visitors to boost their physical activity by committing to a minimum of 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days through a wide range of fitness activities, sports or exercise.  

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said: “Dubai aims to set an example for cities around the world in encouraging citizens to give high importance to physical activity and sports. We are very keen to spread a culture of fitness since we strongly believe that making physical activity and sports a part of their daily routines will help people significantly improve the quality of their lives.  The Dubai Fitness Challenge has been designed to motivate people to pursue an active and energetic lifestyle. This complements other initiatives we are pursuing to transform Dubai itself into the world’s happiest city by providing a positive social environment and the conditions for an enriching lifestyle.”   



Running from 20 October to 18 November 2017, the flagship Dubai Fitness Challenge is the Emirate’s only multi-activity, city-wide fitness movement to date. Encompassing all forms of activity – from walking, team sports, intense fitness regimes, paddle-boarding and aerobics to football, yoga, cycling and everything in between – this will be an exciting, action-packed and most importantly personally rewarding month of self-discovery, social interaction and enjoyment for everyone of all ages, abilities and fitness levels. It will also give participants the opportunity to experiment with new and exciting ways to improve their fitness levels, and experience the wide range of sports and exercise programmes that will be showcased across the city that they may not have tried before.   

Highlights of the initiative include five weekend fitness carnivals starting at Safa Park on 20 and 21 October; celebrity guests, motivational experts and fitness professionals will make motivational appearances at various locations, dedicated events and live entertainment.   

In addition to a packed schedule of daily fitness events, free exercise classes and dedicated community activities in each of Dubai’s neighbourhoods, Dubai Fitness Challenge will also feature a number of existing and highly successful partner events including Dubai Color Run, Dubai Mass Swim and Dubai Schools Fitness Games among others. 

His Highness today challenged all government organisations, public sector and educational institutions to be the drivers of change. He called on them to take the lead in spearheading the fitness movement and urged the private sector to be equal contributors in this Year of Giving by supporting their employees to participate through simple actions like time allocated for exercise.  

HE Helal Saeed Almarri – Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing commented: “With the launch of the Dubai Fitness Challenge, we aim to become the most active city in the world, motivating everyone across all ages, and fitness levels, to start with small steps that will benefit them and their families. With just 30 minutes of physical activity each day for 30 days, we are confident that the city will begin to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle as a choice for life.”


“We want everyone to join this inclusive initiative, from those who have never exercised to those that are fitness enthusiasts, from the young to the old and the people of determination, and the entire community including schools, businesses and government organisations across Dubai. It’s the perfect trigger to make a positive change to one’s life, for the less active to challenge themselves to set higher goals, for those already committed to an active lifestyle to push their limits and be the motivators for the wider community. With a packed calendar of fitness events and healthy activities across the month, residents should view this as a fun and interactive way to spend quality time with friends and family for the collective benefit of all.  In this Year of Giving, Dubai Fitness Challenge is an opportunity to give not just to ourselves but also to others, and we are confident that the people of Dubai will get behind this movement wholeheartedly.” 


Encompassing a huge range of sporting events and supported by partners from across the public and private sectors, Dubai Fitness Challenge boasts a packed diary of exciting and inspiring fitness activities throughout the month in locations across the city. With hundreds of events, classes and activities completely free of charge, there’s no excuse not to join in. To register and pledge your commitment to 30 minutes of activity for 30 days, simply visit dubaifitnesschallenge.com. Once the challenge starts, be sure to download the Dubai Fitness Challenge App to track your performance, discover events and unlock exciting rewards.