Category Archives: Asia
Six Senses Thimpu
Six Senses Thimpu is a beautiful hotel. With rooms facing the Great Buddha Dordenma; to wake up in the morning looking at this exquisite sight is truly unbelievable. We arrived in Thimpu about 75- 90 minutes from the Paro Airport. Since our flight had been at an awfully difficult time; we chose to use the day to rest, spa and relax. The Six Senses across the world , are known for their phenomenal spas so it made sense to massage the exhaustion out of us. It also made sense to get used to the altitude. If you do have high blood pressure or do tend to get breathless; this may be something you speak to your doctor about so they can help make the trip a lot easier.
Six Senses curates itineraries for you and I was very happy with the 4 night 5 day itinerary that they had curated for us in Bhutan.
So the next morning we went to see the Great Buddha Dordenma. This is is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, at 169 feet (52 m). It is important to note that in places of worship; it is important to dress conservatively and wear no cap/ hat. Also within the Buddha there can be no photographs taken.Walking around the Buddha you are able to marvel at the sight of the valleys below and the gorgeous peace radiating from this very holy space. Inside the Buddha you’ll see monks praying and some looking thru Facebook! You’ll also see many altars you can pray from. The space us filled with calm and light.
We then went to the Simply Bhutan Museum which shared with us how locals live, their style of dressing and even the foods that they eat. The museum is tiny but they have a pre arranged tour where you are moved from space to space ; hence it does take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Post this we were taken to a beautiful park for a picnic lunch. After a quick stop to see the national animal the takin- which is a mixture between a yak, a horse and a bull; we then headed back to the hotel to rest for the evening.
The evening was wonderful. A dance program had been arranged for the lodge with wine and hors d’oeuvres and a series of dances were performed with the tales surrounding these dances. This was absolutely lovely. On a crisp spring evening ; covered in blankets and shawls dancing with locals and watching locals dance was definitely a highlight of our trip.
The next day post a leisurely breakfast it was off to Paro!
Cost-:$1100 per night+Service fee and Tourism fee which varies basis the country you come from
Best times to Travel-:March/ April and May when the weather is pleasant and it’s spring time.
The Ultimate Maldivian Trip
So this was my fourth trip to the Maldives and we finally got it right!
Kudadoo was a slice of heaven in the middle of what actually is heaven i.e. The Maldives. The flight to the Maldives lands on air strip no larger than a narrow highway. As the plane lands, you are drawn to the various blues of the ocean and since the water is so clear you even try to spot fish- whales/ dolphins in the crystal clear waters.
As you arrive, the Kudadoo staff usher you from the airport in to a smaller airport lounge where you can freshen up for a bit before they take you to the sea plane that you take to Kudadoo. The plane is small and noisy , so be aware and the ride takes approximately 45 minutes. You land on on the water and at Hurawalhi Island Resort and then it’s a 3 minute boat ride to Kudadoo. The trip is glorious. The arrival is out of a postcard.There are only 15 residences on this spectacular island and it is glorious!
The team had sent in a set of questions which we filled out. What would we like in our bar? What do we snack on? What type of pillows do we like?
The questionnaire was fun and we loved filling it out. But what we loved even more was the room.
The rooms are large with fabulous bedrooms, walk-in closets and a huge bathroom. But what is truly special is the outdoor deck and pool with the beautiful swing and lounging space overlooking your very own entrance to the sea.
Kudadoo was our best trip because it combined all that we wanted a vacay to have. It allowed us to do anything, anywhere and at any time. So if you wanted an 8 am massage, you could have that arranged. And so we did. Every activity, every meal, every drink and every spa service is included in your rate. So whether it’s Flyboarding, which we did- and failed miserably or night snorkelling, which was truly an experience or snorkelling with sea turtles or even a private dinner on the beach- anything your heart desired could be arranged and the team went out of their way to make sure that you felt like you were the only ones on this glorious , glorious island.
And so we water skied to an island no larger than a strip of sand where we had breakfast and we lunched at their spectacular underwater restaurant 5.8 (on it’s sister island Hurawalhi); and swam and feasted and rested to our hearts’ content.
This is what the Maldives should be all about. It should be about new experiences and coming back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The fact that they have sister islands close by allow them to have the water activities hosted on the sister island. That allows Kudadoo to quite literally become a private residence for it’s guests.
Capers at Cape Weligama
Cape Weligama was where we chose to spend our anniversary!Now for those who know me, they know these are important celebrations. I love celebrating love and since Aditya loves Sri Lanka, we decided we should try out a hotel we’d always wanted to visit.
It takes about 2 hours to get to the resort from the airport. We arrived way too early in the morning, but were immediately taken to breakfast and allowed to relax at the pool while the room was made ready for us. The swimming pool was gorgeous. An infinity pool that was truly breathtaking , but it was not the only pool at the hotel. Our room had its own pool and our view was the sea. Waking up and just dipping into the pool was by far the best way to wake up!
Our room was a Pool Villa and was more than comfortable. It was large and bordered with a beautiful plunge pool.
We took an all inclusive plan and also made note that our anniversary was during our stay; so planned on a private romantic dinner as well.
Walking the grounds was incredibly relaxing and therapeutic. The staff was incredible and was always predicting our needs even before we had asked for something.
Walking down towards the beach was an adventure. The hotel has a small strip of private beach and when you get there it’s quite literally like you’re all alone on a strip of sand!
What I loved was that a 3-4 minute drive/ 10 minute walk got you to a slightly larger beach where they would do whale tours and where you may get a chance to see gorgeous whales in the ocean. We tried our luck. We didn’t see just one- we saw six huge whales arms length away from our small dinghy all in the span of an hour or so.
Cape Weligama decided to celebrate our anniversary with a special dinner in the middle of one of their many swimming pools. Wading through the pool we enjoyed the playfulness of the table setting and relaxed under the stars with a perfect three course meal!
Cape Weligama is the perfect place to reconnect and to spend time as a couple. It allowed us to explore, to have fun and to engage in all that nature has to offer. The fact that the resort was so expansive and the service so customised and discreet allowed us to feel like we were the only guests the hotel had.
Cost-:$1500- $2500 per night for the pool and duplex pool villa all inclusive.$604 for the Junior suite with breakfast only.
Best times to Travel-: December to March – this is when the nights are cool and the days not too hot!Also it’s whale watching season.
The Golden Triangle!
And so we made the trip to Chiang Rai. It’d been a long few months and I really felt Aditya and I needed the break. We booked the all inclusive Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort. We flew in to Chiang Rai and then a short car ride to a river where we were taken by long tail boat to the resort. These are special services we had booked to truly enjoy the experience. Enroute we were so lucky to see the gorgeous Golden Buddha glistening in the sunlight.- truly an unforgettable sight! Then as we approached the resort we were greeted by two gorgeous elephants who would now take us to our room. All the sleep vanished from our eyes as we sat on the elephants and manoeuvred through bushes and trees to get to our rooms. The elephants were lovely, though naughty. My elephant chose to stop on the way to meet a friend at the camp and we got waylaid a bit. He then proceeded to almost bring down a tree… just because he was hungry. We did make it to the room eventually but honestly the journey was what made it so fun!
The fun part at Anantara was that there were tons of activities for us to do. So after a short nap, we were ready to go bathe the elephants. We were given overalls to wear and we figured that made sense as our clothes may get dirty… Little did we know what was going to happen. We first visited the camp and saw the elephants and a new baby as well. And then we were shown the showers. Throwing water and showering the elephants was a laugh riot. But this became even more fun when we were asked to mount an elephant each while he headed off to bathe… The elephants were so fun and relaxed and took us for a merry jaunt while heading to their bath. They stopped to eat, they turned around and seemed to chat with other friends. Then they headed to what can only be seen as a muddy lake. I saw it from the corner and didn’t think much of it. Suddenly my elephant mad e a quick turn to the ‘lake’ and walked right in! As he enjoyed the coolness of the water, I was most grateful for the overalls which were now covered in mud. Laughing at how fun this was, the elephant used his trunk to bathe himself and me! Now I was covered with mud but super happy! At the end of his bath, he took me back to my room and I had a bath in cold water (not mud!).
Watermelon , the cutest elephant was at breakfast the next day and enjoyed bananas and quick kisses while she blushed and basked in all the attention the guests gave her!
We then decided to explore the bordering countries. The Anantara team was amazing. It was unbelievable how you could go by boat and then a car ride and in a few minutes reach Myanamar. There we were taken to a beautiful temple where we prayed and watched locals pray and observe their traditions and customs. Walking through their local markets we were able to shop for trinkets while the aromas of food wafted through the air. We were then taken to a picnic ground where we were given a basket for lunch and sometime to unwind and relax!
Next it was time to cross the border to Laos and once again see how close this country was and how similar all 3 countries were at least in their border towns! In Laos we also saw an alcohol speciality in vodka with a scorpion inside! While I thought about whether I’d be brave enough to try it; in the end I decided against it! As the sun set in Laos, we headed across the water and back to our beautiful hotel.
Love, laughter and adventure… this has been my favourite Thai Hotel because the location and the hotel gave me as a tourist so much to see and do.
Cost-:Approximately $1200 approximately per night for a package which is all inclusive incl transfers.
Best times to Travel-: October to February when the weather is cool and not too muggy!
The Vivanta by Taj Malabar
Set amidst luscious palms with a magnificent view of Cochin harbour is the glorious Vivanta by Taj Malabar. The heritage wing awaited us and in true Kerala fashion – without any fuss – we were shown to our room. Soon enough all the senior hotel members arrived- all to say hello to my father, a frequent visitor and suddenly after my Dad made the introductions- Aditya and I were also welcomed , in true Taj fashion , as family!
The rooms are modern, spacious and comfortable. The Heritage rooms with their gorgeous view of the bay and the balcony’s are easily the best rooms in the hotel! We quickly freshened up and headed to Pepper, the all day restaurant for lunch! The buffet was wonderful. I am not a fan of buffets, but this buffet had not only a wide selection but the taste of the different cuisines was also authentic- a refreshing change from buffets which often either have a limited selection , or only focus on one type of cuisine.
What I loved about this hotel was also their tea service which happened every evening where tea, cakes and some snacks were offered to all their guests on the lawn while you could watch the sun set in the bay. This is complimentary and from tasty, strong south Indian coffee, to coconut water, green tea and even the cappuccino – they give you your choice of beverage and always have some tasty snacks. after a long day of sightseeing this was always a high point in the evening!
And then ofcourse there is the Jiva Spa. With it’s traditional Ayurvedic massages and services- this Jiva Spa looked after the wellness of the guest completely. A session was not just limited to an hour. The session consisted of a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor, treatments, massages and a follow up. It is not surprising therefore that people from across the world come here for 10 and 15 days for weight loss and wellness Ayurvedic programs at the Jiva Spa.
With an eternity pool that almost dissolves in to the bay and in the midst of the swaying palm trees and silence of nature- it’s easy to get lost in the magnificence of Kerala, the beautiful serenity, the meditative calm and the glorious beauty of God’s own country.
It was good to be home.
Best Time To Travel-: Winter… else Kerala does get very hot during the summer… December , Jan and Feb are ideal unless of course you are like my husband and love watching the glorious Kerala monsoon in June and July where the trees come alive…. (but you can do little else!)
Cost-:$200 onwards. But remember HERITAGE ROOMS- and you MUST TRY THE JIVA SPA!
Prayers in Kerala and imagining my Royal Past :)
The next day it was an early start and off to Guruvayur Temple. The temple was a good 3 hours ( and a little extra ) away from our hotel and it was important that we got an early start.The presiding deity in the Garbhagraha (central shrine) is Mahavishnu and is supposed to be over 5000 years old! The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple has an enormous following and is very holy and was one of the main reasons for my trip. The rules of the temple are strict.
- You must be Hindu
- Men must wear mundus and go bare chested.
- Women must wear skirts or saris or salwar kurtas
- No shoes or footwear is allowed
- No photographs allowed!( so the one below is off a website!)
The queues are enormous and the time you get to see the deity(the darshan) is very short. But with the amount of faith this temple has among devotees – the lines are never too long and the Darshan always special!
And then it was off to Thrissur where my father was born. My father had spent several years in Thrissur and our Tharavad (ancestral) house was in Thrissur. It was wonderful to relive some of his memories.
We got to see Ratnavilas a palace that my great-great grand mother – Parukutty Nethyar Amma built and lived in after her husband died! My mother had also visited and lived here after her marriage and i too had visited as a baby! Now unfortunately it had been sold to a hotel but even then you could see perfectly beautiful wooden staircases and gorgeous windows- remnants of an incredible time gone by! My parents spent time reminiscing about Ratnavilas and there were so many fun anecdotes and incredible memories- I wished that I’d been a little older when I’d visited just to share some of the history!
And then it was off to the Town Hall built by my great grandfather V.K. Aravindaksha Menon who was the second son of the Maharaja and Chief Engineer of Cochin State. The building from the outside seemed almost as good as new and we were very delighted.
The famous Vadakunnathan Temple is in the middle of the huge Thrissur Circle which has a diameter of a mile. The temple is very powerful and dedicated to Lord Shiva.The statue of Shiva is in the form of a huge lingam and is not visible. It is covered under a mound of ghee, formed by the daily prayers with ghee over the years. A devotee looking into the sanctum can now see only a 16-foot-high mound of ghee embellished with thirteen cascading crescents of gold and three serpent hoods at top. Legend says that Tipu Sultan while he was invading Cochin State tied his horse in front of this temple not heeding the curses and warnings of the priests. As he did so, news came to him that his capital of Srirangapatnam (near Mysore) had been invaded by the British. He left immediately heading back to Mysore and was killed in battle.
Driving thru Thrissur you cannot but help notice the statue of my Great great grandfather the Maharaja in the middle of a busy junction and despite the fact that there was no way I could get out from the car(the roads were that busy)- I kept clicking and clicking!
A quick bite and a lot of shopping later , we headed back towards the hotel happily tired and very nostalgic.
I know I wish I’d been born during the Maharaja’s time. I think I’d be a super Royal :)!
The Taj Mahal , New Delhi
The writing has been a bit spotty because of lots of travel…. lots of travel is lots of fun and with so much to see- traveling to Delhi and then all the way down to the backwaters in Kerala but that’s always good! A little bit of travel makes for some very fun posts…!
So it was a work trip to Delhi and a stay at one of my favourite haunts The Taj Mahal Hotel , New Delhi. Standing proudly on 1 Mansingh Road, this hotel has a prestigious location and incredible history and the perfect address!
Walk in to a bustling lobby and don’t be surprised by well known politicians, business men, Indian sport stars… all sitting, working, talking and eating… The lobby cafe, the emperor’s Lounge looking out into the gorgeous , manicured lawns is always bustling, always beautiful and always very, very busy!
The Taj Mansingh as some of us like to call the hotel, had several familiar faces and it was a while after getting in that I was finally able to go up after greeting all those I knew. The rooms are slowly getting renovated and this is my only grouse with the hotel. The hotel, steeped with history and yet beautifully modern has some of the most terribly dated rooms unless ofcourse you get upgraded to a suite or one of the renovated Club rooms! The rest of the rooms need an upgrade- NOW!
Machan’s the coffee shop has great food! Across the board, the food is tasty, filling and well-priced! With a huge buffet for lunch you’ll always notice that Machan is pretty full, with plenty of regulars! Also with all the staff dressed in Safari clothing, and regular food festivals and tasting happening at the restaurant it always makes for an interesting meal!
But my favourite has to be Varq- the Indian fine dining restaurant. Re-inventing some of our favourite dishes, these dishes are lighter than Indian food usually is without compromising on taste! Plated portions for one, interesting twists with the mains and desserts- this has got to be one of my favourite Indian restaurants pan India- a definite MUST EAT AT!
Wasabi once again is fabulous and chic for japanese food lovers… All in all the F& B in this hotel is simply SUPERB!
An Olympic size pool makes for great exercise after some fabulous Delhi food and this being just a short trip- it’s time to go back home and then off to Kerala…
Delhi beckons soon but this time I plan to try out one of the newer hotels which I have had my eye on for a while…! Which one? Well… keep reading! 🙂
Best Time To Travel-: Actually NOW! February and March are relatively cool and you don’t want to be in Delhi for the hot, hot summer or the very chilly winter. July – October also make for a beautiful monsoons moving into perfect , beautiful evenings where all the greenery in Delhi just seems to magically come alive!
Cost-:$400 onwards. But remember UPGRADED ROOMS- else you’ll get an incredible back ache with the hard as nails mattresses!
NEXT WEEK- KERALA AND LOTS AND LOTS OF FABULOUS PHOTOGRAPHS! 🙂
‘Show’ing off at the Taj Club House!
I had stayed in all the Taj properties in Chennai save for the Taj Club House. I’d been there for my cousin’s wedding prior to it’s opening ….but I’d never seen the rooms or the restaurants or the services so when I got the chance to travel to Chennai and stay at the the Taj Club House on Clubhouse road for a show (FourSome!) , minutes away from Chennai’s historic Mount Road…I jumped at the opportunity!
Modern, young and still looking spanking new…the hotel stands like an oasis pristine towering above Chennai’s noisy, busy roads below. You enter the lobby and immediately you seem cocooned and calm. On the left is a small coffee area with cakes and pastries.
The rooms are the most modern I’ve seen among the new Taj properties. Well spaced, comfortable and wonderfully in tune with a guest’s need, it’s easy to see why this hotel has so many long stay guests!
Go up to the swimming pool and enjoy taking laps across the pool after a quick exercise at the huge , very well equipped gym ; it’s wonderful to enjoy a quick cuppa and watch the city as it slowly starts winding down. Lights come on , the sun goes down and in this mad, mad ,frenetic metro you are left feeling a funny,warm sense of peace!
The Indian restaurant-Beyond Indus, in the lobby area is exceptional. Interesting kebabs, pre-plated indian meals made for a truly tasty and quite exotic meal..The food was light (unlike Indian food often is), perfectly spiced and truly delicious!
The Moroccan-Lebnanese restaurant on the rooftop, Kefi, is also interesting but not a patch on my favourite Lebanese restaurant back home in Mumbai at the Taj Mahal Palace… SOUK!
But the ones that must be mentioned is the high energy bar Blend serving fun cocktails and fabulous tapas….A couple of years ago Chennai had no nightlife but I have to say Blend started rocking post 10:30 p.m. and continued rocking till the wee hours of the morning!
The fabulous Sunday brunch at the Club House (the 24 hour restaurant) was also sublime! Packed tables, live singing and more live stations than you could count- The Taj Club House easily has one of the best brunches I have ever seen and going by the turnout – you’d better get there early else you’ll never find space!
A newly opened Jiva Spa gives me one more reason to go back…
See you soon Chennai… see you soon Taj Club House!
It’s annoying I can’t find more photographs… this is definitely a property that deserves many, many photographs! :)…
Best Time To Travel-: November to February…else it does get very hot and muggy!
Cost-:$150- $200 a night…well worth it! Modern, fresh and yummy!