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Middle East

Middle East

Middle East

Junsui, Burj Al Arab

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At the back end of last year the Burj Al Arab launched Junsui- a modern buffet restaurant offering authentic Asian dishes prepared live in opulent surroundings specifically designed by Khuan Chew. Junsui, meaning ‘Pure’ in Japanese,  is open to external guests for lunch and dinner, as well as serving breakfast to in-house guests. The restaurant  consists of twelve live cooking stations, incorporating authentic cuisine (hot, cold and pastry) from China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Korea. The family-friendly restaurant  is be located on the ground mezzanine floor, with stunning views over the Arabian Gulf, The Palm and The World islands, and includes an adjacent cocktail lounge for pre- and post-dinner drinks.

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Middle East

The world's leading hotel suite?

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As a city home to some of the world’s most famous hospitality and landmark hotels, Dubai is known as one of the world’s premier travel destinations; a reputation which has recently been validated after the city was named the World’s Leading Travel Destination and The Monarch Dubai‘s Monarch Suite, named the World’s Leading Suite at the World Travel Awards. It is the hotel’s crowning glory and an enigmatic symbol of exclusive Arabian service and luxury. Based on the 32nd and 33rd floor, it offers over 1,130 square metres of state of-the-art technology with an artistic blend of contemporary design and flashes of Arabian décor.  

This regal setting comprises of two Majlis, a dining room, private movie theatre and library, fitness centre, three en suite bedrooms, a fully-equipped kitchenette and a lavish outdoor area with a private terrace, pool, steam room and sauna. Set within elaborate archways is the dining area featuring a stunning satin-draped table and hand-made crystal glassware. A personal butler attends up to 12 guests with a selection of gourmet menus, transforming every meal into a royal banquet.

Grand Arabian doors sweep open to receive guests into the first of two Majlis, which incorporate deep rich colours, and are both furnished with traditionally textured upholstery and offer magnificent views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Overlooking Dubai’s iconic landmarks, the terrace and pool offer guests an all-encompassing outdoor relaxation area, and takes on a sparkling city ambience in the evening that sets the scene for an entertaining night under the Arabian stars. Wow!

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Middle East

Jaz Hotels & Resorts to expand in 2009

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Jaz Hotels & Resorts, a unique collection of highly regarded brands encompassing Jaz Resorts, Iberotel Hotels & Resorts, Sol Y Mar Resorts and the Travcotel Nile cruise fleet, is set for a major expansion in 2009 which will see more than 3000 rooms added to its portfolio of properties in and around the Red Sea. A total of 11 new properties, opening between January and December 2009, will include Jaz branded five star hotels in Sharm El Sheikh, Marsa Matrouh, Ain El Sokhna, Taba and Hurghada as well as Sol Y Mar branded four-star hotels in Marsa Alam and Sharm El Sheikh and the newly opened five-star Iberotel Cairo Hotel and Casino.

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Middle East

Lavish party for the opening of the Atlantis Hotel at Palm Jumeirah

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In what is probably the most expensive party to ever be staged, with an estimated cost of $35 million, Kylie Minogue will next week  be performing a one hour routine  to 2,000 guests for the not-so-modest fee of $4.4 million (that’s around $73,000 a minute for those of you that like it broken down). The four-day  party will celebrate the opening of the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, a manmade island in Dubai and the largest of its kind in the world.  There will also be  a $6.6 million firework display carried out by Grucci’s, the same pyrotechnic experts that were responsible for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, the difference being that this one will be around ten times the size and reputedly visible from space. The first guests will be welcomed to the 1539-room luxury hotel on 24th September 2008.

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Middle East

Unprecedented 2010 world cruise itinerary from Crystal Cruises

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Voted World’s Best more than any other cruise line by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler, luxury cruise specialist Crystal Cruises has set an exotic new course with a unique Middle Eastern twist for its 15th annual World Cruise set for 2010. The detailed 108-day itinerary, featuring maiden visits to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a host of other fascinating destinations, is now available at crystalcruises.com. Although the departure is more than a year and half away, the luxury World Cruise specialist has more than 100 guests on waitlist, and reservations open next month. Click here for full details.

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Middle East

January Sale from ITC Classics

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Still not yet decided where to go this year?   Maybe luxury travel specialists  ITC Classics will give you some inspiration.   Here’s a selection of ideas from their January Sale:

Indian Ocean

Diva, Maldives

Stay 7 nights and only pay for 5, plus book more than 45 days in advance and receive an extra 10% discount. Valid until 31 July 2009 (excluding 10th-15th April). You will stay in a  Junior Suite on a Half Board basis from £2,590 per person. Price includes economy flights and seaplane transfers.
Saving £1,960 per couple.

Caribbean

Royal by Rex Resorts, St Lucia

Stay 10 nights and only pay for 7. In addition receive a complimentary spa treatment during your holiday.
Valid until 30th April 2009.   You’ll stay  in a Deluxe Suite on a room only basis from £1,730 per person. Price includes economy flights and private transfers. Saving £640 per couple.

Blue Waters, Antigua

Receive 30% off accommodation in the Cove Suites.   Valid until 18th December 2009.  Enjoy 7 nights at Blue Waters in a Cove Suite on a bed & breakfast basis from £1,570 per person. Price includes economy flights and private transfers. Saving £1,100 per couple.

Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos

Stay 7 nights and only pay for 5. In addition, book by 31st January 2009 and receive complimentary half board. Valid until 12th March 2009.  Enjoy  a Garden View Room on a bed & breakfast basis from £2,450 per person. Price includes economy flights and private transfers. Saving £1,860 per couple.

Middle East

One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai

Stay 5 nights and only pay for 4 plus receive complimentary dine around.   Valid until 13th February 2009.
Relax  in a Palace Deluxe Room on a bed & breakfast basis from £1,345 per person. Price includes economy flights and private transfers. Saving £1,135 per couple.

Far East

Banyan Tree Phuket, Thailand

Stay 7 nights and only pay for 5. Valid until 31st March 2009.   You’ll be treated to a Pool Villa on a room only basis from £2,369 per person. Price includes economy flights and private transfers.   Saving £1,620 per couple.

Karma Kandara, Bali

Stay 7 nights and only pay for 5. Valid until 31st March 2009. Indulge in  a 2 Bedroom Pool Residence on a room only basis from £2,420 per person. Price includes economy flights and private transfers.   Saving £1,360 per couple.

Terms and conditions apply. All offers are subject to availability.

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Middle East

Dubai or Abu Dhabi… which gets your vote?

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Destinations in the Middle East and more specifically, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have become the playground for the rich, famous and luxury seekers. Whether it be the High Street fashion and indoor skiing at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai or sunbathing at prestige beaches in Abu Dhabi, each city has its own appeal.   Given the choice, which would you prefer to visit and why?

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Middle East

Anantara Desert Islands Resort and Spa linked by flights directly from Abu Dhabi

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A  new air service took off in the UAE this month with twice-weekly flights linking Abu Dhabi with Sir Bani Yas Island; phase one of the Desert Islands project in the emirate’s Al Gharbia western region. The service, provided by private operator Empire Aviation, can also be chartered on demand as part of the accommodation package offered by Anantara Desert Islands Resort and Spa.   Operating two eight-seater Cessna Caravans, the flight to Sir Bani Yas Island – home to the Arabian Wildlife Park – will take approximately 50 minutes as opposed to a two and a half hour car journey from the UAE capital.

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Middle East

Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts open two new Amrita Spa & Wellness Centers

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Anyone fond of the spa experience at Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts will be pleased to know the group has opened two new splendid Amrita Spa & Wellness Centers; one is at the Swissôtel The Bosphorus, Istanbul, and the other is in Swissôtel Grand Efes, Izmir.

The ‘Amrita Spa & Wellness’ concept, if you are familiar with it, combines Asian spa culture with Western influences, harmonising modern elements with traditional Turkish bathing culture. These two new Centers are both honoured with membership in ‘Leading Spas of the World‘, so are probably very worth checking out for the spa connoisseur.

Visitors to the Amrita Spa & Wellness Center at The Bosphorus Swissôtel in Istanbul can choose from a wide array of therapies and massages to help recharge their batteries or start a rejuvenated day, and a team of specialists trained in Eastern and Western techniques will pamper guests in 14 treatment rooms.

The spa at Swissôtel Grand Efes, Izmir is open to the locals as well as discerning guests, and as well as exceptional spa and treatment facilities, there is a Presidential Wellness Suite for couples’ therapies, and Ayurveda forms an integral part of the wellness regime for the guests.

Andrea Wren is a freelance journalist and owner of Wren Elite Travel.

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Middle East

Interview with Catherine Leech of 101 Holidays

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Catherine Leech has worked in luxury travel for more than 25 years. She started in PR before becoming European Director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, then Managing Director of luxury tour operator, Caribtours. After the tsunami of 2004 she moved to Sri Lanka where she worked for two years, mostly as a volunteer, to develop sustainable tourism projects in affected communities. Catherine is now director of a new travel website, 101 Holidays.

What is it that  you do exactly?

No two days are ever the same. In the last few months, I have been focused on bringing 101 Holidays to life. We launched it in January after an intense period of planning, designing, testing and liaising with the two editors (travel writers David Wickers and Mark Hodson).

I am based in a chocolate-box village in south-west Dorset where I take daily walks on the hills with the next door pub’s springer. I make occasional trips into London for meetings, client briefings, etc. In the past month, I’ve written an outline proposal for an emerging new destination, completed a client benchmark survey for a PR agency, moderated a weekend conference of independent travel agents in Warwick and organised a client event for an alliance of luxury tour operators called Seven Wonders.

London is 2hrs 40mins away by train. There was a time when I would have viewed that as too far but after the six-hour car journeys to get to each of my project sites in Sri Lanka, the train ride goes by in a flash and I keep in constant touch with my iPhone.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I relish being involved in the industry I know and love but, especially, I value the variety and being relatively removed from the day to day office run, staffing issues, office politics, etc. In fact, I think it is my distance from the daily drag which allows me to cut through some of the BS and see solutions, come up with ideas and work with people to find new ways of moving forward. I also love not having to doll up in heels and make-up every day.

What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?

My “life-changing place” was Huzur Vadisi in Turkey, on a week’s yoga retreat where I bared my soul amongst 22 strangers and changed my life (resigned from my job and moved to Sri Lanka).

For romantic bliss, it is definitely the Koyao Island Resort close to Phuket where I had a week with the dishiest of boyfriends – yoga on the beach at sunrise, breakfast, dive, Jenga, lunch, swim, massage, backgammon, dinner, backgammon etc.

For ultimate luxury, it was joining my gay best friends’ honeymoon at the Plaza Athenee, just weeks after returning from Sri Lanka. The sheer hedonism was dizzying but such a treat and a delicious reminder that you can take the girl out of the luxury tour operator but…

What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?

It was my 46th birthday in Sri Lanka. I asked my new-found friends to join me at my favourite spot, Beach Wadiya, just outside the centre of Colombo. It will never win awards for interior design (it’s a shack on a beach across a railway track) but I loved the warm sea breeze, toes in the sand, haphazard but charming service, devilled prawns dripping from sticky fingers, baked crab backs, grilled fish and an ice-cold beer or two – all for about £6. Of the 14 people around the table, I counted 10 nationalities, seven religions and not one over-inflated ego.

Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?

I don’t suppose I can count the evening I leg-wrestled with Oliver Reed in the Malta Hilton? I’m not a great celebrity spotter but I did share a lift at the Waldorf Astoria with Tom Berenger and dived with Jean-Michel Cousteau for a week in the Cayman Islands.

What currently ranks highest on your travel wishlist?

The Isles of Scilly, snorkelling with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef and a return to Sri Lanka to see how the various communities I worked amongst are getting along.

Thank you, Catherine. I’ll be watching 101 Holidays with interest to see how it progresses.

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