5 amazing yoga retreats to try out in 2018


How amazing would it be to enjoy a relaxing and luxury holiday without having to sacrifice your yoga practice? Well, the great news is that you can! With so many yoga holidays and yoga retreats available, I have scoured through and produced the 5 most amazing yoga retreats to book and get yourself to in 2018.

Vana, India

Vana can be best described as an international ashram, a healing and nourishing wellness retreat that will leave you feeling refreshed, and help you to connect with your inner stillness. Surrounded by the gentle slopes of lychee and mango plantations, the beautifully graceful Sal forest, and gorgeous Mussoorie hills; it’s undoubtedly a spiritual paradise.

The accommodation at Vana’s divine yoga retreat is spectacular, with modernist polished buildings surrounded by a large courtyard shaded by a grove of mango trees, bedrooms with wall-to-ceiling windows overlooking fairy tale like trees and hills. Indulge in gentle yoga along with a vast menu of healing treatments, including Chi Nei Tsang (a deep abdominal massage), Watsu, Ku Nye massage and more. You’ll be hard-pushed to find a yoga holiday more blissful and healing than this.

Absolute Sanctuary, Thailand

Located on the North-Eastern side of Koh Samui, Absolute Sanctuary was founded in 2008 by Claire Bostock and Benjaporn Karoonkornsakul, notably who runs Thailand’s most popular and largest yoga studio group.

Overlooking the astounding landscapes of the Gulf of Thailand, complete with yoga mats and extensive amenities, accommodation at Absolute Sanctuary really is a sanctuary, of the Moroccan kind. With its world class yoga center, this yoga retreat will provide you with classes and training at the forefront of Asia’s island of healing.

Yin & Yang Yoga Immersion in Kamalaya, Thailand

Located in Koh Samui, lies mesmerisingly-beautiful Kamalaya, surrounded by sandy beaches, coral reefs, and coconut trees. If you’re dreaming of escaping the challenges of a modern world, Kamalaya is the place to be.

Immerse yourself in a transformational Yin & Yang yoga retreat that will help you balance your inner dualities of sun and moon, masculine and feminine, physical and mental, and action and stillness. Ranging from a Royal Ayurvedic Massage to Vital Essence Oil Massage and Traditional Thai Massage, the treatments within this retreat will soothe and reinvigorate tired muscles.

Ayurveda Parkschlosschen, Germany

Find inner peace, balance and vitality by uniting the calming qualities of yoga with the healing benefits of Ayurvedic treatments. You will work together with professional yoga teachers in personal training sessions, specifically designed to meet your personal needs.

Let go of all your worries and negative energy with a combination of cleansing and harmonising oil massages, and intensive yoga sessions.

Nihi, Sumba Island, Indonesia

If you’re looking for a yoga holiday with a twist, you’ll certainly find the right balance of relaxation and adventure at Nihi Sumba Island.

With their tailor-made experiences, you can design your own ultimate place of tranquillity. Why not start the day by practising traditional yoga over breath taking views, followed by an endless Indian ocean coastline escape? Whether you want to paddleboard, indulge in the Sumba culture, or simply relax for the day, you’ll find yourself laying down on your canopy bed craving for more on Sumba Island.

Frances Geoghegan is CEO at Healing Holidays. Healing Holidays is an award-winning tour operator, specialising in spa and wellness escapes.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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6 famous historical sites to visit in Thailand


Thailand’s rich history dates back to thousands of years. The impressive landmarks we see today are remnants of the ancient temples and Buddhist architecture built by several emperors that ruled the country at the time. Thailand is a great place to visit especially if you’re a history enthusiast as you’ll get to see breathtakingly beautiful historical sites, some of which are preserved and recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

If you’re interested in exploring Thailand’s famous historical landmarks, let me walk you through some of Thailand’s frequently visited historical sites by tourists and travellers from around the world.

Phra Pathom Chedi

The picturesque ruins of the oldest Buddhist structure Phra Pathom Chedi is located in Nakhon Pathom. This Buddhist structure is said to have been built when Buddhism had just been introduced in Southeast Asia in the 3rd century BC. The Indian ruler at the time Asoka, sent out a community of monks to spread the new religion over large parts of Asia. This historical landmark is also revered by locals and history enthusiasts alike due to the relics of the Buddha that are enshrined at the Phra Pathom Chedi.

Khmer Temples

As the name suggests, the Khmer Temples were built in Thailand under the rule of the Khmer kingdom around ten centuries ago. You’ll be surprised to see how well-preserved the temples are even after 1000 years. Dozens of Khmer temples are scattered across Northern Thailand. While most of the temples are located in far flung areas less frequently visited by tourists, there are three well-preserved temples that are flocked by tourists all year round – Phanom Rung, Muang Tum and Phimai.

Each of these temples were roughly built one thousand years ago and have been put on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Thailand. The beautiful, carved structure of the temples will leave you completely awestruck.

Si Satchanalai Historical Park

The 45 kmSatchanalai Historical Park contains the ruins of Si Satchanalai, a small town that flourished during the 13th and 14th century under the rule of Sukhothai kingdom. The park stands on the banks of Yom river surrounded by a natural forested area. The ancient city of Si Satchanalai was known for its exquisite glazed ceramic ware known as Sangkhalok ware.

To take a look at the remains of the excavated kilns, visit the local museum that opens daily from 9am till 4pm. You can get to the Si Satchanalai Park via air or by car. The quickest way to get to the park is by car; it’ll only take 30 minutes to reach.

Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park

Containing the remnants of the Kamphaeng Phet, the Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. This little town held great significance during the Sukhothai rule and contains ancient ruins of Buddhist monuments build from 13-17th century.

Kamphaeng Phet was a garrison town, an important link to the Sukhothai Kingdom defence system due to its strategic location. The Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park is located approximately 355 km to the north of Bangkok.

The local museum contains excavated relics dating back to prehistoric times like the early 16th century bronze statue of Lord Shiva, ceramic wares and carved images of Buddha. The museum remains open from Wednesday through Sunday from 9am – 4pm.

Historic City of Ayutthaya

Once the capital city of Thailand, the historic city of Ayutthaya today is reduced to remains. The old city will transport you to an ancient era with its haunting but romantic ruins including old palaces and temples that still stand erect today in a fairly well preserved state.

Ayutthaya is close to Bangkok so you can travel by bus or car comfortably to explore the ancient city at leisure. A must visit tourist attraction for history buffs, a visit of Ayutthaya will help you develop a greater understanding of Thailand’s historical and cultural background.

Doi Suthep

Perhaps the most beautiful temple in all Chiang Mai sits atop Doi Suthep. Visiting Doi Suthep is definitely an experience of a lifetime. You’ll get to see intricate religious carvings, Buddhist monks performing religious rituals and local vendors selling delicious street food and local handicrafts.

Doi Suthep is also the perfect place to shop for keepsakes and give-aways including elephant carvings, masks and home furnishings. If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, combine your excursion to Doi Suthep with a small Hmong village in the mountains called Doi Pui.

Believe you me when I say this little town is far more touristy than other villages you may have visited earlier. Not only will you get a taste of the Hmong culture and hill tribe communities existing in the region, but also get a chance to purchase exquisite handwoven textiles.

These are some of the most famous historical sites to visit in Thailand especially if you are interested in learning about the culture and historical background of the country. There’s really no comparison as each historical landmark I’ve mentioned is beautiful in its own rite and has it own significance in history.

Mark Tulloch is Co-Founder at Asia Holiday Retreats. Asia Holiday Retreats a 5-star travel booking agency offering luxury villa rentals across Bali, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Relax at one of Thailand’s best wellness spas


Thailand may be known for its full-moon parties and as a common destination for student gap year travels, but head away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas and you’ll find the real country – a beautifully tranquil land with some of the best landscapes you’ll ever see.

Whether you decide to sail among magical-looking islands on serene aqua waters or explore the tropical mountain scenery before an afternoon of meditation and yoga, Thailand is sure to spiritually heal you and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Here are five of our favourite wellness and detox retreats in Thailand:

1. Kamalaya, Koh Samui

Nestled among lush greenery, this award-winning luxury health resort with spa offers unparalleled views of Koh Samui and is known for its healthy, Asian-fusion fine dining offering.

Kamalaya prides itself on its reputation as one of the best life enriching wellness sanctuaries in Thailand and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re looking to detox and lose weight, or destress and recenter yourself, Kimalaya has a combination of Eastern and Western therapies that can help, including yoga, pilates and meditation.

With many of the counsellors previously being monks and a number of visiting experts, why not book a holiday here to try traditional Chinese medicine, the latest spa treatments and to unwind in the 25-metre pool?

2. Chiva Som, Hua Hin

Known as a ‘haven of life’ on the Gulf of Thailand, Chiva Som is a luxury health resort that offers a wellness retreat in lush seclusion. With seven acres of tropical gardens and beach access, this upscale hotel and retreat has been providing lasting health benefits for weary travellers for over 20 years.

Whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple or in a group, the staff at Chiva Som can provide a programme of tailored activities through its fluid programme, including Thai Chi at sunrise or an afternoon kick-boxing class.

Then lay back and relax in its elegant, recently renovated rooms.

3. Absolute Sanctuary, Koh Samui

It says it all in its name, Absolute Sanctuary provides a simple, peaceful wellness experience where you can cleanse your body and mind among Moroccan décor in one of the most serene parts of Thailand. Absolute Sanctuary offers a number of different yoga classes, including Ashtanga Vinyasa, pranayama, and hot, and are known as gurus who train yoga instructors from around the world. But if yoga isn’t your thing, there is an extensive activity programme featuring pilates, boxercise and morning hikes.

If you so choose, Absolute Sanctuary also offers fasting programmes which will give your digestive system a break and clean out your system which will see you leave the wellness retreat with a true fresh start.

4. AmanPuri, Phuket

AmanPuri means ‘place of peace’ in Sanskrit and you will experience just that as you lounge in one of this wellness retreat’s pavilion homes on its coconut palm lined private Phuket peninsula. This luxury resort overlooks the Andaman Sea and was the very first Aman resort – a name that has now become synonymous with style and luxury around the world.

AmanPuri acts on traditional Thai methods to offer its guests a holistic experience for a completely
regenerative experience in luxury surroundings.

5. Soneva Kiri, Koh Kut

Soneva Kiri combines utmost luxury and environmentally friendly design among breath-taking scenery for unforgettable Thai experience. Located on the unspoilt tropical island of Koh Kood, Soneva Kiri offers ultimate relaxation with a wealth of treatments, including mud massages, Thai herbal baths and Ayruveda oil therapy, as well as activities such as tree-pod dining, outdoor cinema and star gazing the observatory.

If you want a peaceful escape from modern life, there is nowhere better than Soneva Kiri on one of Thailand’s least populated islands.

Frances Geoghegan is CEO at Healing Holidays. Healing Holidays is an award-winning tour operator, specialising in spa and wellness escapes.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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6 luxurious trains that’ll spoil you


Trains are one of the oldest means of long-distance travel. They do a good job of providing an uncluttered, simple and straightforward travel experience where the problems are few and the advantages many. However, for those of us who’d like a touch of sophistication added to this seemingly simple mode of transport, what are the choices? Plenty, but here are the best among them. Many of these are well on par with the most luxurious of hotels, despite being quite old.

The Venice-Simplon Orient Express

The name instantly reminds you of the very famous novel ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ by renowned novelist Agatha Christie. Interestingly, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express by Belmond has quite a few similarities to the fictitious creation by Christie. The most distinctive being the opulence and magnetism as it is described in the book. This is achieved by the old-school charm of the restored early 20th century vintage cabins.

The train begins at London and runs through Paris, Innsbruck and Verona ending in Venice. The Belmond British Pullman is used for the UK leg of the journey and the ‘actual’ Orient Express begins only from Calais since the train is not licensed to travel through the Channel Tunnel. Intricate attention is given to the smallest of details. This is immediately apparent as soon as you step foot on the platform at the Calais Station. You’re greeted by a full regalia of 1930’s uniformed staff, your own carriage attendant and welcome drinks. The train has a mixed variation of single cabins, twin cabins and cabin suites. The train regularly runs full.

The Indian Pacific Trans-Continental

This 774 metre long embodiment of luxury is one of the very rare truly transcontinental trains, transcending across a staggering 4352 kilometres at a leisurely pace of 85 km/hr. The leisurely pace is perhaps the most luxurious thing the train has to offer as it subtly yet extremely effectively allows you to enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the Great Australian Outback cutting through everything from the mountains to the forests to the desert. Nonetheless, you’ll find yourself in ‘the middle of nowhere’ more times than you can count.

The platinum cabin which features a twin bed, long windows and an en-suite bathroom is the most opulent of the offerings. You also get access to an exclusive lounge and there’s also a fully stocked, partially self-service bar to indefinitely indulge in. The service is top-notch with a hint of friendly hospitality to it, consequently exuding a very warm atmosphere.

Royal Scotsman

Yet another exemplary offering by Belmond, this is one train which stands out on any list. More so since the addition of the Bamford Haybarn spa car (a dedicated spa carriage for the train). The setting is finely intimate, with a maximum of just 40 passengers on board which allows it to boast a remarkable passenger to staff ratio of 3:1. The vintage ambience is completely authentic owing to the 1960s equipment carefully preserved and used to this day.

The five sleeping carriages contain a variety of cabin configurations which include twin-bedded, double bedded and single bedded cabins. All the cabins contain compact en-suite bathrooms along with a dressing-table, full-length wardrobe and any other basic bedroom paraphernalia you can think of. Also, you’re guaranteed to sleep like a koala since the train stops on quiet sidings during the night-time.

The train’s trump card though is the observation car. It can accommodate all of the 40 people at once and provides an enthralling lookout to the amazing Scottish landscape scurrying past the Royal Scotsman.

Maharaja Express

This burgundy coloured kilometre long five-star hotel on rails is insanely luxurious; and that’s putting it mildly. It’s the most expensive luxury train in Asia. The services and amenities are said to remind oneself of a by-gone era, making you wonder how well the higher officials were served during colonialism. This train compromises on nothing. It’s almost the perfect train. The train travels from Mumbai in West-Central India to Delhi in the North passing through Rajasthan (Eastern Frontier).

There are various configurations of suites available with twin and double beds, all of which contain a full-size en-suite bathroom and a private butler who apparently doesn’t even need to be summoned. Service is impeccable. The signature offering however is the Presidential suite which essentially comprises of a whole carriage complete with its own sitting room, two bedrooms, two showers and a bath.

Dining on the Maharaja Express is unlike any other, the standard is such that even the best of hotels would be outrun single-handedly by the extremely talented chefs of the two restaurants on-board who have absolutely no qualms in going to any extent to meet the expectations of their esteemed guests.

Eastern & Oriental Express

Belmond knows their stuff pretty well. The Eastern & Oriental Express is the third one in this list which is an advent of Belmond. This train is spectacular in its own right not just for the luxury, but also owing to the fact that the train passes across three glorious nations in just two days; from Singapore to Thailand through Malaysia. You’d be challenged to find a more fabulous way to travel across three phenomenal different countries within two days.

The cosy cabin includes an elegant en-suite bathroom stacked up with every creature comfort you might ever need. Food is exquisite, to say the least and the chefs have no hesitancy in fulfilling any ‘special’ dietary requirements. But the most enticing is how the formal dress code in the dining area give way to create a royal air all over the carriage. The Eastern & Oriental is stark, beautiful and immensely satisfying at the same time for some stately reason which you can’t pinpoint as to why.

Seven Stars of Kyushu

This dark burgundy modern contemporary creation encompassed by handcrafted woodwork and delicate artwork is Japan’s triumphing answer to Belmond’s best. The interiors showcase the very finest of Japanese craftsmanship. Walls of rosewood and maple, walnut floors, shoji paper screens for window coverings and sliding glass doors etched with all sorts of contemporary patterns and artwork. It’s all very, Japanese; enkindling a soothingly exotic vibe.

The train contains just 12 en-suite rooms and 2 luxury suites. The occupancy of the suites is decided by a lottery and things tend to get pretty tense. Talk about exclusivity! The dining experience on this one might just be the best of all the avenues listed here. It deserves a separate article all by itself. The texture and appearance are as important as the taste. The dishes served are consistently photography worthy with immensely rare and extremely high quality ingredients being used. Every meal is a celebration.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these can very much be considered the best of the best even though there are a lot of luxury trains out there offering wildly varying experiences. Every train in this list serves alcohol on-board. All the products mentioned here do of course have their shortcomings but they are highly subjective. Nevertheless, every journey listed here is guaranteed to gift you a once in a lifetime experience and a lot of things to reminisce on. Chug along now!



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Top 7 Winter sun destinations for 2018


Swap the cold, wintry nights for sun-kissed coves and a spot of sightseeing in the sunshine with these seven Winter sun destinations. Explore the underwater worlds below in the Maldives, capture breathtaking viewpoints in Southeast Asia and discover a rich cultural heritage in Malta.

The Maldives

Picture a coastal paradise of turquoise water and deserted pristine beaches against a tropical backdrop and you have the Maldives. November through February is the ideal time to visit with sunshine in abundance and a temperature to match, creating a blissful beachfront retreat.

Luxury Maldives resort

If you can peel your eyes away from the stunning beauty of these islands, dive into the depths below and sneak a peak at the the colourful marine life. Explore the capital city of Male, an incredible sight to behold in its own right, as it rises from the sea below. Or simply swing lazily in your hammock as the sun caresses your face and the waves lap gently at the shore.

Thailand (south islands)

Spend some time Island hopping with ease around Thailand’s south islands during November to March. Begin your discovery in Phuket where the beauty of Karon beach is mixed in with the raucous nightlife of Patong. Hop over to Koh Phi Phi to experience a real life film set, where “The Beach”, starring Leonardo di Caprio was filmed back in 1999 and has since drawn up to 1,000 visitors per day to this small island. Catch the ferry over to Koh Lanta for a more relaxed atmosphere and explore the emerald cave aboard one of the numerous boat trips available. For those with time on their hands, head up to Krabi and kick back on the gorgeous Railay beach.

Gran Canaria

A short flight from Europe brings you to the “Continent in Miniature”, Gran Canaria, aptly named for its rich mix of coastline, towering mountains and abundance of flora and fauna. The best time to visit is really, all year! The island benefits from a springlike annual climate, with daily temperatures averaging around 20 degrees Celsius.

Catch a camel ride around the Maspalomas sand dunes, explore the capital city Las Palmas in the north and relax upon the stunning beaches of the south coast, including Amadores and Anfi del Mar.

Florida

The Sunshine State of Florida boats a warm annual climate, enjoying around 230 days of sunshine each year. For the best chance of sunny, clear skies visit during November to February for temperatures in the high teens to low 20s (degrees Celsius).

Famed for its theme parks and attractions, Florida also benefits from stunning stretches of coastline and the Everglades National Park. Scream through the air aboard an exhilarating roller coaster, meet your favourite heroes in the world famous parks before sampling cuisine from around the globe at the countless restaurants.

Antigua

Time to kick back and relax, Caribbean style, with a trip to the beautiful island of Antigua. Set against a backdrop of colourful coral reefs, this island plays host to simply breathtaking secluded bays and beaches. The tropical climate of Antigua means warm sunshine shimmers over the island throughout the European winter, with December notably enjoying temperatures averaging 25 degrees C.

Sea viewpoint Antigua

Explore this beautiful island from the abundance of fruit growing in the farmland groves to the lush rainforests that inhabit the interior. Step back in time with a stroll around English Harbour, stopping by the Fort Berkeley dating back to the 18th century and Nelson’s Dockyard.

Goa

Goa in the West of India is lapped by the Arabian Sea and is lined by some simply breathtaking coastlines. Blending Indian and Portuguese cultures has created a wonderful location to escape the cold, wintry nights of Europe with temperatures rarely dropping below 20 degrees Celsius.

While away the days upon the Benaulim Beach as the coconut trees sway lazily in the breeze before wandering the lively town of Baga with its energetic nightlife and markets to match. For a spot of culture head to Old Goa to admire the centuries old architecture and religious monuments.

Malta

Occupying an envious location in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta is perfectly positioned for a short winter break from Northern Europe. Temperatures settle around the low teens (degrees C) which is perfect for exploring the fascinating sights that Malta has to offer.

Night sky luxury yachts

Kick start your discovery in Valletta, breathing in the culture of this UNESCO World Hertiage City dating back to the 16th Century or head further back in time at the Hagar Qim temple, thought to have been created in 3,600 B.C. If you prefer a more relaxed break then sample some of Malta’s fine beaches, notably in the north at Mellieha Bay or on the neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino.

Callum Davies is Marketing Manager at eXpectations Holidays. eXpectations Holidays is a Private Members Club specifically designed for families and couples who like to take one or more quality holidays each year.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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5 outstanding Six Senses resorts in southeast Asia


With a mission to “create exceptional guest experiences in stunning settings “Six Senses have long been associated with offering exemplary service in extraordinary locations; the Six Senses style of luxury travel is delivered in a manner that truly compliments the natural beauty of the surroundings by ensuring that the impact on the environment is minimal.

Their ever growing portfolio of luxury resorts has recently reached Europe, and is soon to debut in New York, but the focus of this article is southeast Asia where Six Senses has firmly positioned itself as a market leader for eco conscious luxury travellers.

Our ‘5 outstanding Six Senses resorts in southeast Asia’ features 3 existing resorts in Thailand and Vietnam alongside 2 brand new resorts which will open during 2018 in 2 brand new locations, the first in Bali which has long been regarded as one of the premier tourist hotspots in the region, with the second off the coast of Cambodia which is currently becoming one of the new ‘go to’ countries for those that are seeking a cultural adventure.

Six Senses Uluwatu, Bali

Six Senses’ first Indonesian resort opens in March 2018 and where better for it to be located than the paradise holiday island of Bali, it will be situated in the south of the island and this eagerly awaited resort promises to fast become a favourite for discerning travellers visiting the region.

Six Senses Uluwata is perched atop a rugged cliff in Pecatu boasting far reaching Indian ocean vistas and situated close to Pura Uluwatu, the Balinese sea temple; guests can enjoy multiple swimming pools, 3 restaurants (including a cooking school and chefs table experience) alongside an open air event venue and function space.

Less than an hour from the international airport of Denpasar and a million miles away from the busy resort towns of Bali this new addition to the island and to the Six Senses portfolio will be one of the hottest new openings of 2018.

Six Senses Krabey Island, Cambodia

Cambodia is famed for the incredible temples of Angkor and the vast temple complex attracts tourists from around the world in ever growing numbers, this fast paced growth has seen other areas of the country opening to tourism and who better than Six Senses to open a brand new resort on a small private island just off the south coast.

At Six Senses Krabey Island guests can choose from a selection of pool villas and expect dramatic sea views from the restaurant before heading to the all day ice cream parlour for a refreshing treat; be sure to book a treatment at the Six Senses Spa where signature therapies will be on offer alongside ancient Cambodian healing traditions.

For those that wish to include a visit to Angkor Wat and the other magnificent temples of Angkor rest assured that a flight of less than an hour will see you arrive at Siem Reap which is the gateway town to the temples.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay has a unique island feel despite being situated on the mainland in Central Vietnam; the picturesque bay is reached by private speedboat and you can rest assured that your Six Senses experience begins once you check in at the private harbourside resort lounge (complete with cooling towels and a glass of something chilled).

Guests can select from an impressive array of villas including the Water Pool Villas with a private pool carved from the rock and multi room specialist villas complete with your very own private wine cellar; as with all Six Senses resorts your GEM (Guest Experience Maker) will always be on hand to ensure your stay is memorable.

 

Six Senses Con Dao, Vietnam

Yet another unique and naturally beautiful location is home to our second Vietnamese Six Senses resort, Six Senses Con Dao is situated on a tropical island which is reached via a 45 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City; the island is part of a remote archipelago which is also a long time protected national and marine park.

As you would imagine the resort is breathtaking and we are sure you will find it hard to leave this peaceful and tranquil location, the far reaching ocean views and surrounding jungle combine to make this unique resort truly unforgettable.

All Six Senses resorts offer guests the chance to join their ‘Integrated Wellness’ programmes which have been exclusively created in partnership with a team of doctors and wellness professionals; part of the programme is based around healthy and sustainable eating including plant based and vegan options available on all menus.

Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand

Six Senses Yao Noi overlooks the surreal limestone pinnacles that majestically rise from the waters of Phang Nga Bay between the island of Phuket and Krabi on the Thai mainland; your private boat transfer from Ao Por Grand Marina offers close up and stunning views of these rock formations before you arrive at your island holiday paradise.

Six Senses prides itself on both social and environmental sustainability programmes and whilst at Six Senses Yao Noi guests can rest assured that these policies are taken seriously; amongst other on site initiatives, waste management takes place at ‘Eco Centro’, drinking water is produced through reverse osmosis before being bottled in re-usable glass water bottles and produce is sourced and purchased locally weherever possible.

Multiple villa choices, the Six Senses Spa and a selection of dining locations and options will ensure your stay at Six Senses Yao Noi is relaxing, peaceful and one you will remember for a very long time.

This selection of 5 outstanding Six Senses resorts in southeast Asia offers guest a choice of countries, locations and resorts for their next vacation, each of which deliver that unique Six Senses ethos of sustainable and responsible luxury travel for their eco-conscious guests.

Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest. Vegan Food Quest have become luxury vegan travel specialists as they continue to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Asia’s 10 most beautiful train journeys


An atmospheric train ride is second to none. The perfect way to get to know a country’s landscapes and customs, train trips transform perfunctory journey time into an experience in itself. There are myriad fantastic routes across Asia to choose from, ranging from the more upscale first-class carriages to those which are more basic, but often capture the spirit of a destination. We’ve compiled our top 10 scenic and culturally significant trips that are guaranteed to enrich your holiday.

Train through the hill country, Sri Lanka

Widely hailed as the world’s most beautiful train journey, this fantastic route is definitely one for the bucket list. Wind your way through densely covered tea plantations, remote villages and spectacular waterfalls on this journey from Kandy up into the highest corners of the hills. Seats in the 1st class seat observation cabin are limited, but travelling in 2nd or 3rd class allows you to encounter the vibrant, bustling daily life of Sri Lankan locals.

Toy trains, India

India’s toy trains run on historic mountain railway lines that once provided access to colonial hill settlements. Three of the lines- the Kalka-Shimla Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway– are now UNESCO world heritage sites and their routes showcase stunning mountainside scenery across India.

British North Borneo Steam Railway

The British North Borneo railway is Borneo’s oldest running steam train and a rather romantic memento of the country’s colonial past. Running Wednesdays and Saturdays, the route trundles from Tanjung Aru to the ‘Rice Bowl of Sabah’, Papar and takes approximately 4 hours. Brimming with nostalgia, it is designed in typical early 20th century style.

Monkey Train, Rajasthan

So-called because of the monkeys that gather around the stations to be fed by passengers, the Monkey Train is a lovely, lazy journey that takes you through the hilly Kamlighat region of central Rajasthan. This short trip has been operating since 1930 and is still an essential line for many local villagers.

Eastern and Oriental Express

Ideal for those wanting to travel in the utmost style, the Eastern and Oriental Express is one of the most luxurious trains on the continent. The line offers multiple routes across Asia, the most popular being that between Singapore and Bangkok. This is a three-day long excursion in which you can travel in pre-eminent luxury, with 24-hour steward service in a private cabin. Though relatively expensive, it is worthy of the price tag: its journeys take you through rural landscapes, colonial cities, tea plantations, temples and more.

Bamboo train, Cambodia

Not your typical train, this bamboo vehicle has neither motor nor engine; in fact, if it weren’t for significant improvements in infrastructure in recent years, this railway would have become obsolete had it not been transformed into a fun travel experience! At only 20 minutes long, this is a fun brief trip (ideal for kids) that allows you to see the countryside in an unusual way.

Goteik Viaduct, Myanmar

Drive north from Mandalay to board the Goteik viaduct railway in Nawnghkio, Myanmar. The bridge connects the towns of Pyin Oo Lwin and Lashio and is the highest railway trestle in Myanmar. Though time spent over the actual bridge is of course limited, it’s an impressive construction and the slow trundle over is a lot of fun.

Da Nang to Nha Trang, Vietnam

A charming, laid-back day trip that guides you through lush paddy fields and villages. A perfect one to just sit back and enjoy the countryside.

Train through Java, Indonesia

Roll through verdant paddy fields and impressive volcanic peaks on this spectacular route through the Java countryside. This rail service offers a comfortable first class executive carriage with air conditioning and a surprisingly tasty lunch if travelling at that time.

Yangon to Mandalay sleeper train, Myanmar

Not for the faint-hearted, this 13 hour trip provides little by way of creature comforts- but is a truly unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience.

Sam Clark is CEO at Experience Travel Group.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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Travel guide to Aman Resorts


Phenomenal luxury, exquisite comforts and an astonishing array of different cultures and landscapes, Aman serves up the best of the best every time. Below we have listed their properties in Asia, but specifically highlighting what we love about each one. Carry on reading and let us know in the comments if you have any other highlights you love about Aman and want to share!

For isolated luxury: AMANKORA Bumthang, Bhutan

The Choekhor Valley is Bhutan’s least visited region, which means you can explore the country’s spiritual hub and most auspicious monasteries in complete private solitude.

For birding: AMANKORA Gangtey, Bhutan

The picturesque Phobjikha Valley is a designated conservation area for the majestic and endangered black-necked crane. Every October and until March, around 350 of these beautiful birds migrate from the Tibetan Plateau to Gangtey.

For Alpine adventures: AMANKORA Paro, Bhutan

At Amankora Paro the air is filled with the freshness of blue pines. Thick blankets of pine forest swathe the landscape as far as the eye can see, just waiting to be explored.

Rural paradise: AMANKORA Punakha, Bhutan

This charming hotel is built around a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse. Fantastic views, stunning scenery and the chance to immerse yourself in tranquil isolation.

Best address in town: AMANKORA Thimphu, Bhutan

Overlooking the capital in a quiet setting, Amankora Thimphu is in the perfect location to venture into town to visit the markets or see the many highlights and attractions.

Out of season: AMANSARA Angkor, Cambodia

From October to April is typically defined as the ‘wet season’, however with roughly an hour of rain each day and with the temples of Angkor Wat to yourself, it’s the best time to travel.

City hideaway: AMANFAYUN Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou is one of China’s most populous cities, but hidden between mountains and a monastery with verdant tea-field views, Amanfayun is a world away from urban life.

Traditional architecture: AMANDAYAN Lijiang, China

Delightfully unique and bursting with authentic character, Amandayan encompasses everything which is traditionally Chinese.

Insider access: AMAN SUMMER PALACE Beijing, China

Direct private access to the Summer Palace’s endless hidden wonders where you can experience a taste of indulgent Quing Dynasty living.

Views: AMANKILA Bali, Indonesia

From anywhere in the hotel you can soak up the jaw-dropping 360-degree views, particularly those overlooking the deep blue sea of the Lombok Strait.

Heritage conservation: AMANYANGYUN Shanghai, China

Aman’s latest masterpiece, and most ambitious project, this hotel celebrates ancient architecture. Ancient dwellings dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasty, which were under threat from demolition, have been restored to their former glory to create beautifully refined spaces.

Families: AMANBAGH Rajasthan, India

It may feel as though you are a million miles from anywhere, but there is plenty to keep idle hands active: treasure hunts, camel rides, nature walks, bike rides, horse riding, cooking classes… children of any age can benefit from these cultural experiences.

Traditional culture: AMANDARI Bali, Indonesia

Amandari is completely immersed in local life and plays an important role to the wider community. We highly recommend exploring the sprawling grounds, and meet with local people going about their daily lives.

Outdoor activities: AMANJIWO Java, Indonesia

Activities in and around Amanjiwo are abundant. Step out from the hotel and within minutes you can be exploring the incredible Borobudur, trekking up the steep flanks of Mount Merapi or rambling across rice fields and rural villages. Cultural tours, elephant treks and horse riding are also available, no request is too small!

Wildlife: AMAN-I-KHAS Ranthambhore, India

Aman-I-Khas is perched right on the edge of prime tiger spotting territory, but sightings of leopards, jungle cats, sloth bears, wild boar, sambar and spotted deer, and more than 300 species of birds are also common, and all whilst you relive the lavish history of Maharajas’ hunting parties.

Off the beaten track: AMANWANA Moyo Island, Indonesia

Far from the madding crowd, Amanwana is surrounded by pristine jungle, pure shores and the endless ocean of turquoise Flores Sea. There’s no wonder it means ‘peaceful forest’…

Unusual experiences: AMANEMU Shima-shi, Japan

Dine on a specially curated Amanemu menu with an ama (the female freedivers who collect shellfish, seaweed and sea urchin) in her home, an amagoya, whilst you learn about her way of life, unchanged for centuries.

Colonial: AMANTAKA Luang Prabang, Laos & AMANGALLA Galle, Sri Lanka

Two hotels which are bursting with old-world charm, and combine modern flourishes with nostalgic fittings, hark back to the golden days of colonial travel.

Amantaka

Beach hideaway: AMANWELLA Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Curved around a stretch of palm-fringed private beach, this hidden beach capsule is the ultimate discreet boutique hotel.

Desert island fantasy: AMANPULO Pamalican Island, Philippines

We all have that elusive fantasy of ‘getting away from it all’ but at Amanpulo you can indulge in your Robinson Crusoe whims, but in the height of luxury with snow-white beaches, crystal-clear seas, pristine diving and endless watersports.

Iconic luxury: AMANPURI Phuket, Thailand

This well-established iconic classic is the Aman Group’s first ever hotel. With an unrivalled reputation, it now sets the bar for unprecedented luxury for their many idyllic hotels across the world.

Amanpuri

Design: AMAN TOKYO Tokyo, Japan

The epitome of contemporary city-sleek. Aman Tokyo nods to traditional Japanese heritage in its décor, but wows with its thoroughly modern metropolis views from the vast floor-to-ceiling windows.

Spa: AMANOI Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam

The spa itself is resting on the calm shores of a lotus-filled lake. The open-air yoga pavilion energises, whilst the sumptuous indoor pool relaxes, and therapists are ready and waiting with vials of essential oils.

We hope this insight into our favourite Aman Resorts has inspired you. If you’ve got any questions or want to discuss your travel plans, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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5 cool boutique hotels to visit in 2018


Instagrammable gems of the accommodation world, the best boutique hotels deliver memorable escapes with bucket-loads of originality and panache.  Warm, personal service is a given – as are bespoke, well-considered interiors.  Read on for our top-picks to add to your wander-lust wishlist for 2018 and beyond:

Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman

This clifftop retreat rests 2,000m above sea level in the Hajar Mountains, overlooking Oman’s answer to the Grand Canyon.   Recently listed in the ‘World’s Coolest Hotels for 2017’ by Escapism magazine, the interiors are seriously stylish – and the mesmerising views across the rugged mountain terrain outside are the icing on the cake.

Tempting though it would be to spend your entire holiday being soothed in the sumptuous Spa Alila, the real appeal lies outside.  Take advantage of the hotel’s Leisure Concerige team, who’ll arrange a host of adventure activities with everything from guided hiking trails, to mountain biking, fossil hunting, abseiling and cave exploration.  After dark, head out to the wooden deck for stargazing sessions.

The Library, Koh Samui, Thailand

Easily the best-looking place on the popular Chaweng Beach, this boutique hotel is a great choice if you like a bit of buzz nearby, with the option to escape the hustle and bustle within seconds of returning to the hotel grounds.  The tree-filled grounds are sparsely populated with just 26 luxury studios and suites, allowing ample space to switch-off and rejuvenate.   

Created as a play on the concept of ‘the book,’ each area represents a blank page on which to write your own story.  The idea is you ‘leave your mark’ on the pages (rooms) through the inter-changeable mood lighting and high-tech TV and sound systems.  If all that sounds a bit too ‘arty-farty’ – you can simply enjoy the resort’s sleek minimalist feel, relaxed vibes, and the eye-catching blood-red pool.

Like the rest of the hotel, the cuisine at The Library is very artistic – with a varied menu of sophisticated Thai and Western dishes served in uber-modern surroundings.

Blue Karma Ubud, Bali

With a scattering of private villas dotted around a pretty swimming pool with a backdrop of rice paddies and jungle scenery, Blue Karma Ubud is exactly what you’re looking for from a boutique hotel in Bali’s countryside.  Tropical butterflies float past the rooms, which are designed in the style of traditional Javanese huts with contemporary natural furnishings.

The hotel has its own Yoga pavilion – and there are lots of hiking trails and organic restaurants all within walking distance.  The hotel’s Blue Spa is another highlight – you can’t leave without being soothed by a Balinese massage, an aloe-vera facial or traditional hot stone therapy.

Keemala, Pattaya, Thailand

The highlights here are the tree-house style pool villas, which sit perched amongst the glorious greenery of Thailand’s Kamala rainforest.

The hotel bills itself as a ‘holistic’ retreat – which means yoga, spa treats, healthy eating and trips to the local national park top the to-do list.  If that all sounds like a bit too much ‘wellness’, rest assured the Mala Bar offers a extensive range of signature cocktails, which are best enjoyed whilst watching the sunset from the open deck overlooking the beach and the mountains beyond.

Nearby you’ve got a choice of beaches to suit various personalities – from the lively hotspot of Patong with its bustling bars and restaurants, to the lesser-known Nai Thon, ideal for swimming and romantic strolls along the sands.

Na Narind Boutique Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand

Tucked away down a quiet street overlooking the Ping Riverside near to Chiang Mai Old town, this charming hideaway is perfect for a romantic escape.  You’ll be greeted with a welcome that’s as warm as the tropical Chiang Mai weather by the infinitely-accommodating staff.

Designed in the colonial style of a 19th century Thai house, the hotel has a warm, comfortable ambience.  There are just 45 rooms, each with their own patio or private balcony.  All are decorated with carvings, handmade furniture and woven textiles, showcasing the skills of local craftspeople.

Facilities include a Lanna-style spa, gym, and library.  There’s also a restaurant, which features a rooftop bar offering impressive views over the Ping River and the giant 100-year-old rain tree that stands as the resort’s centrepiece.

Spencer Groves is Commercial Director at letsgo2.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.



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6 of the sexiest tented camps outside southern Africa


The rugged wilderness has always been a natural calling to mankind – after all, mankind was shaped by it before by inventing agriculture, creating colonies and discovering civilisation. But the adventurer has found a way to escape the chaos of cities and going back to mankind’s roots by roughing it out and camping in nature. Luxury travellers have always prized accommodation that are at one with nature, but these have primarily been ensconced within southern Africa by way of safari lodges and tented camps. Tented camps, often referred to as glamping, typically offer all the modern comforts of hotel rooms, suites or villas, but in unique accommodation that offers a glimpse of the power of the wild. Some arose to experience wildlife, but tented camps have a history dating back millenia to the nomads and nomadic tribes. However, a rise in the need for nature has resulted in a selection of tented camp resorts outside Africa, some along traditional nomadic routes, offering a mix of raw nature and cultural experiences with luxury.

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

In the harshness of the desert, it is best to describe Al Maha as an oasis. Only an hour’s drive from Dubai, Al Maha showcases the heritage and architecture of the Bedouins against the backdrop of the dunes, where gazelles and the Arabian onyx roam free, visible from your suites that each come replete with a private plunge pool.

Al Maha, Dubai

Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore, Rajasthan, India

Ten highly-exclusive identical tents sit on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park, famous for housing one of India’s largest populations of tigers and other wildlife. While the main draw, wildlife is not the only attraction in the vicinity, with a range of cultural excursions including a visit to the daunting Ranthambore Fort. The tents are luxurious (108 sqm/1,162sqft), the food is rustic yet refined, and the service is exemplary, with each tent provided a dedicated batman (or butler), who will even accompany you on your journey from Delhi to Sawai Madhopur, replete with refreshments for the arduous road ahead.

Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore, India

Read our review of Aman-i-Khas here.

Kasbah Tamadot, Asni (near Marrakech), Morocco

Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition retreat, set at the foothills of the imposing Atlas Mountains outside of Marrakech, is a traveler’s dream. While the retreats hosts several room types including a more traditional structure, the ten Berber tents are each individually decorated with traditional Moroccan furnishings and select antiques and items from the vast collection of the resort’s previous owner, Luciano Tempo.

Kasbah Tamadot, Marrakech, Morroco

Longitude 131°, Uluru, Australia

Staring stark at one of the wonders of the world, Longitude 131° features 15 tented structures built at the edge of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia, each with a view of the outback icon, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, a large plateaued sandstone formation in an otherwise flat landscape. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of the red rock, perfect for waking up to see the sun soaring, or camp at night gazing at an array of glittering stars in the balcony by a toasty roaring fire.

Longitude131

Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand

At this crossroads of Southeast Asia that connects Burma, Laos and northern Thailand, the historic Golden Triangle region, Four Seasons’ Tented Camp Golden Triangle offers guests the chance to explore the region’s bamboo jungles and to interact with rescued elephants in their natural habitat. The elevated tents are luxuriously appointed, some with hot tubs on the outdoor deck.

Four Seasons Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The Serai, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

One of the very first Relais&Chateaux-accredited properties in India, this tented camp site set on the outskirts of Jaisalmer draws inspiration from the royal caravan sites of the Rajputana. Away from the chaos of Jaisalmer, the retreat is a throwback to a colonial age. Aside from excursions to Jaisalmer and Jaisalmer Fort, one of the key highlights here are the evenings, where the silence of the calm night is punctuated by haunting folk songs by the local Rajasthani Manganiyar singers.

The Serai Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India



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