Well, what a year that was!  My first year as a blogger is nearly at an end.  I have enjoyed every second, well nearly, and want to share some of the highlights with you.  I present to you my favourite hotel of 2016, favourite airline and favourite destination.  Enjoy reading and let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

FAVOURITE HOTEL:

Spacious Pool of Emirates Palace

Well, this hotel was so good it will be my favourite for a long time to come!  In December 2016 I stayed at Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Regular Diva followers will know that I adore Abu Dhabi and visit a couple of times a year.  The hotels are good but not exceptional, the usual Hotel groups one finds all over the world.

Well, that was until I discovered Emirates Palace.  This is exceptional and really is the jewel in the Crown of Abu Dhabi!  I will be back and would not consider staying anywhere else in Abu Dhabi.  Everything, from the stunning architecture, enormous palatial size, exceptional and exquisite furnishings and decoration are unsurpassed.  Well, I can be a rather demanding Diva but even I could not find fault.

Enormous Lobby and halls of Emirates Palace

The food at Emirates Palace is the best in Abu Dhabi, a wonderful selection of restaurants awaits.  I will write another blog about the restaurants!  The staff are exceptional, every single one of them are a delight, professional, kind and helpful.  The Hotel rooms are spacious, beds super comfy.

My super comfy hotel room

The hotel gardens, all 100 hectares are exquisite and a credit to the gardeners tending them.  The sun loungers are spread all around the gardens as well as by the pool.  You will find a tranquil spot even when the hotel is full.

Hotel Grounds of 100 hectares

I am saving a trip to the Spa until my next visit but it has been voted Best Spa Worldwide, so must definitely try it out next time!  The Hotel beach is perfect and enormous, there is even a Marina if you wish to take your Yacht along for the trip.

My full hotel review will be up in a few days time.  http://kempinski.com

Disclaimer: I paid in full for my stay, this was not a subsidised trip

FAVOURITE AIRLINE:

OmanAir seats in Business Class

Again, Top spot goes to the Middle East!  I have three joint favourites Qatar Airways, Etihad and OmanAir.  All the Middle Eastern airlines are exceptional and the best in the world by some considerable distance.  I recently experienced a truly horrible British Airways flight and will never fly BA Longhaul again.

OmanAir delicious food

Middle Eastern Airlines have the best planes, the best staff, the best food and the best on board experience in the world.  I will always fly with one of them if possible.  This year was my first trip aboard OmanAir, a small and fledgling airline which has made a terrific start and I recommend to you.

http://www.qatarairways.com   http://www.omanair.com  http://www.etihad.com

Disclaimer: I pay in full for my flights

2016 Favourite Destination Palawan Islands, The Philippines

El Nido Islands beach

We all love finding somewhere new and exciting to visit, don’t you think? Well, this year it was the islands of The Philippines.  I flew to El Nido airport on Palawan and sailed to El Nido Resorts Lagen Island. Palawan is an archipelago made up of 1780 islands.  The waters are crystal clear and it is an unspoiled paradise.  I have never seen such pristine, crystal clear water, perfect sandy beaches.  The island landscapes are amazing with diverse Flora and Fauna.

El Nido Resorts Lagen Island Water Villas

The El Nido islands are characterised by Limestone cliffs and jungle hillsides on the islands.  It is an enchanting place to stay and you will see many different types of bird, fish and other animals. There are 5 varieties of Turtle.

This is a magical destination and one I whole heartedly recommend.   Stay at El Nido resorts Pangulasian island.

http://www.elnidoresorts.com  Destination information http://www.palawanisland.org

 

Where are you planning to visit next year?  Are you joining us on the beautiful Cote d’Azur?  Here you will find the most glamorous and beautiful places to stay in the world.  From the tiny, jetset Principality of Monaco to the super chic St Tropez there is something to suit everyone.  The best restaurants, most beautiful beaches and action packed with adventures, or just laze on a sun lounger gazing at the beautiful sea views.

I have found some of the best villas for you to rent in the most perfect locations.  Just take a look at these fabulous villas and tell me you would not love to stay here!

picture-595432-23Villa Cap d’Antibes

This amazing state of the art villa dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and was entirely renovated by award winning designers.

This 420sq m property is ideally located on the West side of Cap d’Antibes within walking distance to the beach and Port Gallice.
It is comprised of 4 bedrooms with ensuite bathroom including a large 100sq m Master bedroom with ensuite bathroom, lounge area and dressing room and offers a separate staff quarters.
It also consists of a TV lounge, a fully equipped modern designer kitchen, an office, a lounge as well as a dining area.

The property is set in a beautiful garden with a 15m heated infinity swimming pool with a fountain and air-jet spa. This villa combines charm, sophistication, modernity and style; it is one of a kind!

Cost: 28,000 euros a week

picture-960531-3Villa in Cannes

GUESTS SLEEPING: 12 pax
LIVING AREA: 500 sq m  Price on Application

picture-1066426-1Luxurious Contemporary Villa, Vaullauris 

6 Bedrooms
Swimming Pool
GUESTS SLEEPING: 16 pax
VIEW: Panoramic Sea
This spectacular 660m2 property is one of the most stunning contemporary villas in Cannes. The magnificently designed, open-plan, living space captures the beauty of the landscaped gardens and panoramic sea views and really ‘draws the outdoors in’. Boasting an impressive master suite with two bathrooms and two dressing rooms, a jacuzzi, gym, hammam and infinity pool, this villa ensures a wonderful holiday experience.

Layout –
Floor 1:
Entrance with cloak room, guest toilet, living room with TV, sitting room, dining room x6, kitchen with separate staff access
Bedroom 1: King bed (200), TV, dressing room x2, bathroom x2, lounge room, fireplace, safe, terrace access, panoramic sea views
Bedroom 2: Queen bed (160), TV, closet, ensuite, outdoor access, garden view
Terrace: dining x14, outdoor living room, panoramic sea views

Ground floor:
Kitchenette, living room, outdoor terrace with dining x 12, pool access, laundry, enclosed garage x2, large storage area
Bedroom 3: Queen bed (180), TV, dressing room, ensuite, seating, outdoor access, panoramic sea views
Bedroom 4: King bed (200), TV, dressing room, bathroom, seating, desk, outdoor access, panoramic sea views
Staff apartment: Separate access, 2 bedrooms (sleeps 4), kitchenette, living room, dining x4, TV

Floor 2:
Bedroom 5: Double bed (140), ensuite, large terrace, dressing room, outdoor seating, garden views-terrace has panoramic sea views
Bedroom 6: Queen bed (160), bathroom, seating, terrace, panoramic sea views

Extras:
Gym room: outdoor access, shower room, hammam
Bose music system, TV in dining and kitchen, large outdoor parking space, landscaped gardens, grass area
Infinity pool, jacuzzi, BBQ, outdoor lighting

Price on Application

 

picture-1077663-1-1Villa in Mougins

GUESTS SLEEPING: 10 pax
LIVING AREA: 450 sq m
VIEW: Panoramic Sea, Hills
ORIENTATION: South
Main level:
Entrance – Guests toilets & dressing – Office –
Living room, TV with flat screen, international channels, wifi
Dining room
Kitchen fully equipped + cellar (with staff private entrance) – laundry
Outdoor dining room on covered terrasse with fireplace & bbq
Master bedroom: double dressing for Mr & Mrs, bathroom with separate toilets, double sink, office room
King size bed, A/C, private outdoor area

First floor:
Bedroom 1: attic bedroom, queen size bed with shower room, A/C
Bedroom 2: king size bedroom with terrace access, shower room, A/C, safe box, panoramic sea view
Bedroom 3:king size bedroom with terrace access, shower room, A/C, safe box, panoramic sea view
Bedroom 4: double bed (convertible with 2 twin beds), shower room, A/C

Pool level:
Panic room
Cinema room – huge range of DVD’s A/C
Gym room – modern fitness equipment, sauna cedar wood, steam room, shower room, toilets

Outdoor:
Small equipped outdoor kitchen, dining room table
Overflowing swimming pool with teck terrace
Petanque court, outdoor music system & ligthening
Entirely secured property with 2 gates. Parking up to 9 cars, private gardener access.

Price on application

picture-1241205-1Villa Cannes Californie

500 sqm  6 Bedroom Villa

Garden level:

Modern apartment with high quality finishings comprised of a dining room, a living room with flat screen TV, fully equipped kitchen, large terrace with diner area and lounge area.

Bedroom 1: double bed, flat screen TV, bathroom, separated Japanese toilets, terrace view
Bedroom 2: double bed (convertible twin), flat screen TV, double sink, bathroom, separated toilets
Bedroom 3: double bed with ensuite living room, flat screen TV, terrace / garden view, bathroom, separated toilets
Bedroom 4: double bed, flat screen TV, bathroom, separated japanese toilets
Bedroom 5: double bed (convertible twin), flat screen TV, bathroom, double sink, separated toilets (perfect for children or staff)

First floor:
Floor dedicated to the Master bedroom with dressing room for her/him, screen flat TV, bathroom with double sink, double rain shower, bath tub, enjoying sea views.
Private terrace with fitness equipment
Living room with screen flat TV, dining room (8 guests), fully equipped kitchen, utility room with staff entrance (with direct access to the parking area)

Numerous outdoor spaces, large dining table (12 guests), Weber BBQ, sea view, access to swimming pool n°1

Second floor:
Roof top, large space ideal for events, summer bar boasting panoramic sea views

Swimming Pool number 2  Price on application

All of the villas are available through:

Beauchamp Estates, 19 Rue des Etats Unis, Cannes   Contact  Tel. +330493944545

 

Gillon Hunter of Beauchamp Estates shares some of his tips for living life to the full on the Cote d’Azur:

Q. What are your favourite things about the Cote d’Azur

What’s not to like? The climate has to be one of the best in the world. I love that you go from beaches to big mountains in only a few kilometres. The landscape has everything.

Food wise, oh la la! There are more Michelin stars along this coastline than stars in the sky I think.

Being so central in Europe means it’s super easy to get to the Cote d’Azur and be in your villa within 4 hours of leaving London or wherever else in Europe.

If you’re coming from the US, there are plenty of direct flights into Nice too.

So in a nutshell, I love it all.

Q. What do you enjoy doing here?

It’s all about the Beach clubs in summer and eating out in all the amazing restos.

Sports wise, the French Riviera is ideal for road and mountain biking. There’s a lot of good golf courses too if you like a good walk spoiled!

I like heading to rocky coves to go snorkelling or paddle boarding out to the Cannes islands. Bliss.

Q. Which is your favourite area?

Tricky question. There are so many! I’d have to say the areas around St-Tropez and Pampelonne beach are up there.

Cannes is special there’s no doubt about that. I also like to get away from it all and head into the hills in the French Riviera hinterland. Places like St Paul de Vence have to be on your tick list when you visit.

Q. Packing recommendations for a visit.

Bring a camera! This area is more photographic than George Clooney and Julia Roberts on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet.

If you’re staying in one of these villas, you won’t need much other than your clothes and essentials. The villas are so well equipped with everything you could possibly need.

From April to October is warm. July and August being incredibly hot. So you won’t need to pack your woollies.

Unless of course, you decide to come in the winter. We have several good ski resorts within 2 hours drive of Cannes.

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Travel to Santorini

Travel to Santorini, where to go and what to do – Reminiscing about my short trip to Santorini.  A few days sunshine, blue skies and crystal clear water would be great, right now!

To be honest four days was enough time to spend on such a small island.  Ideal for a short break or island hopping, it is easy to understand why my yacht owning friends enjoy a summer trip island hopping.  My advice is to stay on a few different islands rather than just one.

I stayed in the quiet, Northern part of the island, Akrotiri was the nearest town, on the coast facing Thera and Oia, which are the white blobs on my photo below.

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The North is by far the nicest part of the island, away from the tourist hub of Thera.  The sunsets in this part of the island are spectacular and every evening there would be quad bikes making there way to watch the sunset.  I stayed in a boutique hotel, in a villa with private pool.  I’m not going to recommend this Hotel because it was very, very expensive and not really worth the money.  Admittedly, this was in June and tourist season, but even so ….  Santorini in general is very overpriced.

One of the highlights was visiting Akrotiri and the archaelogical site, the most important Minoan site outside Crete.  Santorini is one of the Cycades Islands hit by volcanic eruption with dreadful consequences for the people of the island.

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Akrotiri has charming little coves, beaches and restaurants.  If I visit another time I wouldn’t bother going to Thera – except for the iconic photographic opportunities!  I hated the crowds of cruise trip visitors filling up the streets, go early or late in the season and it is probably very different.  However, if you enjoy a buzzing nightlife, this is the place for you!

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Oia –  would be lovely without the cruise trippers.  I read recently that plans are in place to limit the numbers, which is an excellent idea. It is a picture perfect, idyllic white village clinging to the hillside.  Definitely visit but only stay if you enjoy crowds and hustle and bustle.

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Southern Santorini – I shot this in the far South, just stunning isn’t it?  The blue skies and sea are unbeatable.

Wine tasting – You must visit some of the vineyards and sample some of the local and surprisingly good wines.  Wine growing started in Roman times in Santorini and the vines are still grown in the same style, allowed to trail on the ground with the leaves covering the precious grapes.

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I discovered santo winery, Pirgos whilst driving back to Akrotiri.  What a delightful place, probably the best view of any winery I have every visited – and I have visited many wineries! http://www.santowines.gr A little wine tasting with cheese, looking at the stunning view above – not a bad way to pass the afternoon!  This reminds me, I bought a pack of local FAVA beans here – still wondering what I am supposed to do with them!

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Yes, that is 6 glasses of wine you can see on the tasting tray!

The Santorini sunsets are magical and you will see scores of quad bikes heading up to Akrotiri to catch the best sunset.  Everyone gets about on Quadbikes here and they are great fun!

Definitely take a boat trip to other islands or just simply cruise around the island visiting little coves.

My Top Tip

Santorini Airport is horrendous in high season, I mean really disorganised and crowded.  Readers have told me of their horror at the airport conditions.  I must say, it is not good for a European airport! I recommend heading up to the roof after check in, this is the best spot to avoid the Sardine in a tin conditions!  You can admire the view and might actually grab a seat.  Be aware, there isn’t a Club Class lounge – British Airways really need to do something about this, and soon! However, it is very convenient having a British Airways flight out of London City Airport.

http://www.britishairways.com

Useful Addresses:

Santorini boat tours and boat rental  http://www.santorinitours.com

Quad bikes: http://www.motorinn.gr

Tourist info: http://www.visit-santorini.com

Abu Dhabi.  Where to go and what to do during your visit.
I want to keep Abu Dhabi as a hidden gem and not tell you about it, but I can’t resist!  It is next door to Dubai, but feels a million miles away from brash ‘bling, bling’ Dubai.  Sophisticated and stylish  – I am drawn here time and again.  Sometimes I stopover on my way east to take a break and revive after a long flight.  Often, I fly over from London for a few days in the sun and a change from long winter days.  The flying time is only six and a half hours, not too far.
My favourite place to go is Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Hotel.  Set a couple of hours drive into the largest uninterrupted desert in the world.
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Pretty amazing?  It looks better in real life and the aura of calm and tranquility in the desert is like nothing you will ever experience.  It makes you want to embrace the spirit of Gertrude Bell, leap on a camel and explore the desert on a real trek.  Maybe one day – not sure I could cope with camping!
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab
I rather like taking a camel ride, Anantara arrange lovely camel rides with well looked after ex-racing camels that are beautifully behaved and immaculately turned out.  I loathe the use of animals for tourist rides normally, but not in this case, and would happily recommend.
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Return to a gorgeous, luxurious oasis to relax and unwind.  Stay in a villa if you want to splurge.
This is one of the best Anantara hotels, others have a lot to live up to, and I have been disappointed by some but not this one.
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 Try and avoid the week-end and holidays when it can be busy, choose a quiet time to visit and really experience the desert at its best.  After a few days head back to the city, well refreshed after resting by the pool and eating the most delicious food I have found in Abu Dhabi.  Camel riding, San dune racing in 4 x4’s and hiking in the desert will keep you busy in the desert.
The St Regis Abu Dhabi
Last time I stayed in the city, my hotel choice was The St Regis Abu Dhabi http://stregisabudhabi.com This has a great location and is a very comfortable Hotel, boasting a good butler service.  I can’t comment on the butler service, we never saw him – the worst butler service I have ever experienced.  I guess he was looking after more important guests!
Impressive lobby
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 A nice pool and spa by the sea – quite a trek through a tunnel to get there!
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I hired a car and drove all around Abu Dhabi, totally safe and very sensible drivers – totally stress free.  You will need to try out some of the nearby restaurants if you stay at The St Regis because the food was truly awful!
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I will stay at The Emirates Palace for my next trip, a goldie oldie but still fabulous.  I WON’T be staying at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, I didn’t like it – in fact only stayed because of amazing TripAdvisor ratings!  It is a long way from downtown Abu Dhabi, a good 30 minutes drive and is an unattractive location, service isn’t great either.
MY TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN ABU DHABI
1.  Stay in the desert.
2. Go Camel racing.  Random, I know, but give it a go.  I became hooked watching it on TV in Abu Dhabi.  Sadly, it is still on my to-do list – I have not been lucky enough to be in Abu Dhabi during a race day.  I did get to drive out to the new racecourse for a practice day (the concierge at The St Regis kindly gave me the details) and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
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3. Visit a Souk.  Whether it is The Souk at Central Market, the Iranian Souk or the Fruit and Vegetable souk you will find them fascinating.  I always come home with some treasures!
4. Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque.  The architecture is truly amazing and a must see.
5. Ferrari world http://www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com  Ferrari World! I know, but for anyone who is a five year old at heart, loves F1 and would love to have a go in an F1 racing car simulator this is the best fun.  Children will love it too.  It is on Yas Island which is, in itself worth a visit.
I know, slightly quirky taste but trust me – you will have the best time!
WHAT TO WEAR?
Travelling in more conservative countries, Westerners sometimes struggle with ‘what to wear’.  I know I do!  Personally, and this is just me, I prefer to cover up arms and legs when out and about.  This is just a choice and you are not restricted by a formal dress code.  However, I feel more comfortable when out and about wearing loose, long sleeve tops and longer skirts or trousers.

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A Magical Island

Sri Lanka is a magical island and I look forward to sharing it with you via this blog.  An unspoiled tropical paradise with endless sandy beaches, crystal clear seas with Dolphins, Whales and Turtles in abundance. Sri Lanka is now a peaceful country, the troubles of the past behind it. Do not hesitate, visit now before the big hotel groups arrive and ruin the pristine coastline.

If you are imagining Sri Lanka to be full of backpacking surfers and tour groups there are plenty of  these are around because Sri Lanka is renowned as a surfing hotspot, but restricted to a few Surfing beaches and touristy areas. Everywhere else is waiting to be discovered. The people of Sri Lanka are just a pleasure to meet, so friendly and helpful. The luxury travel market is really developing at a fast pace. Chic hotels are popping up through out the island, including my personal favourite Cape Weligama. An excellent choice for a luxury trip, it has to be one of the best new hotels in Asia, along with many other excellent places to stay including a good choice of luxury villas.

Tea Trails at Norwood
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Which is the best choice – 5* Hotel or luxury villa?

I am going to compare a stay at a top class hotel with renting a villa.
On my first trip, we stayed at the Resplendent Ceylon Norwood bungalow, Hatton on the ‘Tea Trails’ along with the new sister hotel Cape Weligama both owned by Dilmah tea. We were collected from the airport by a driver from the Ceylon tea trails and driven to Norwood Bungalow where our butler and his super efficient team awaited our arrival. Totally pampered we ate delicious food prepared by a good chef. This is a Relais Chateau hotel so you know what to expect with the high standard of cuisine.
A trip to Sri Lanka would not be complete without visiting this magical Highland area, with hillsides full of Tea plantations and workers picking the Tea leaves. A visit to the Dilmah tea factory, arranged by the hotel is fascinating.

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Tea pickers at Norwood

Followed up with a few days R and R at Cape Weligama, this is an experience that is hard to beat! The  Resplendent Ceylon group arrange everything and arrange a car and driver or seaplane to take you down to the coast.
IMG_1569 Wonderful Pool Marco Polo Residence At Cape Weligama.

This time I’m trying out villa life in the countryside on the Southern coast, inland from Koggola Lake. There are some very stylish villas to rent all fully staffed so you don’t have to worry about a thing and everything is taken are of from cooking to organising trips, restaurant bookings, bicycles …. just about anything! If you decide to take a trip here, you will find the service and staff are amazingly good. We are being pampered by wonderful staff here and really enjoying the Sri Lankan curries, Dhal and all the fresh fruit. King Coconut is only grown here and makes a delicious, healthy drink. The villa has its own Tuk Tuk so we are off to market to buy some supplies. Th villa has a Tuk Tuk to drive guest around, which is fun for short trips.

A villa stay means more local interaction and a real life experience. Enjoying the simpler things in life such as shopping for food with the housekeeper and sampling a vaste array of local foods. My favourite Spice shop, the Spice Shack in Galle makes all the Spice mixtures you could possible wish for all locally grown. The owner kindly gave me the most delicious Fish Curry recipe.

The recipe is so good, I’m going to share it with you!
Heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a pan, add 1 chopped onion and 4 cloves of Garlic, cook on a low heat, add 1 tablespoon of Masala, 1 1/2 tablespoons of Curry powder, 1 tablespoon Chilli flakes and stir on a low heat. Add 2 cans of chopped tomato or fresh tomato half a cup of fish stock then add the fish to the pot cook until the fish is cooked (5 minutes) then add the prawns.
1 Onion, 4 Garlic cloves
1 dessert spoonful of Garam Masala, Chilli Flakes
1 1/2 dessert spoons of curry
2 cans Chopped tomato
Chopped white fish of your choice (I use Cod and Haddock when in the UK but use whatever you have available) and lots of juicy, fresh prawns.
Fry the onion and garlic, add the spices swoosh around the pan to release flavours, add tomato 1 cup vegetable stock heat then add fish until cooked (few minutes, don’t overcook) then finally add the prawns. Enjoy!
Serve with rice. curried green beans, red peppers.

Galle food market is a joy to visit, bursting full of every imaginable fruit and vegetable, all locally grown. Lots of new and unusual things to try out for the first time.
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Galle Food Market

Galle is a fascinating melting pot of different cultures all living together in harmony. The more time I spend here, the more I am fascinated by the cultural history and the way in which this still impacts on modern life and politics.

Impressive Buddhist Temples abound and the new President Sirisena, elected in January 2015 is Buddhist and keen to bring back pre-Colonial cultural values. A hotchpotch of Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist peoples all add diversity to the life here. Add the Colonial influences of the Portuguese, Dutch and English and the result is a fascinating mix.

Post conflict, this is a good time to invest in the island, the luxury hotel market is arriving with full steam ahead! I visited the nearly finished Anantara at Tangle and a Shangri La is being built in the same area. Luxury villas are popping up too.

Near Galle is Koggola Lake, a good spot to spend a morning tootling around in a boat watching the birds fishing and visiting the Spice Island and Cinnamon island. Slightly touristy but still interesting and a good place to stock up on Cinnamon powder, Cinnamon and a plethora of pure Spice oils, Spice soaps and all sorts of healthy potions.
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Photo: Koggola Lake

We are so lucky staying at an inland villa (inland from Unawatuna, Unawatuna is a horrible tourist trap but as soon as you cross the main road, open countryside awaits) this trip, we are part of a village community and definitely seeing another side of SriLankan life a world away from 5* hotels!
IMG_0830Villa life in Southern Sri Lanka
If you want the details of the villa, just email me and I will send them to you. Today we took a two hour hike through the paddy fields and were met with welcome and smiling people all the way.
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We hired bikes – no not the one in the picture! – and cycled around the local villages enjoying the peaceful countryside along the way.

IMG_1780Paddy fields inland

Car Hire:

I tried to hire a self drive car today, I just love having the freedom to explore without having a driver. This proved to be impossible without great forward planning! (Sri Lanka – get your act together, travellers WANT hire cars!). I needed a special Sri Lankan driving licence and the I wasn’t insured to drive the car. Next visit, I will get organised before arrival and hopefully book a car from the airport with a large rental company. They will arrange the special driving licence at the airport, I believe. So, be warned if you wish to hire a car without a driver – be prepared and organised before you arrive!

So, equipped with a car and DRIVER, we headed off South along the coast from Weligama to Tangalle. This took a couple of hours meandering along the coast road (quicker if you take the super new highway as far as Matara). This really is an unspoiled coastline, endless beaches with no-one in sight.
Tangalle Beaches

New luxury hotels are popping up near Tangalle and I was keen to take a look at the new Anantara Tangalle Peace Haven Hotel. Enjoyed a terrific Italian lunch (the Sri Lankan restaurant was not yet built).
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The hotel reminded me of the Anantara Qasr Al Sarab in Abu Dhabi, a place that I absolutely love. I would like to go back when the hotel is finished and stay for a few days. The Ocean bungalows look terrific. There are a lot of rooms in a fairly small space so I would imagine it will get crowded at peak holiday times. However, they do have the most amazing beach!
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To recap, I would avoid a tour (but then I am definitely NOT a tour kind of person!) Hire a good car and driver checking on the quality of the car before you book because you need a comfortable car as the roads are notoriously bad.  I will stay in a mixture of luxury villa and luxury hotel next time and have the best of both worlds!  If you want any more details, feel free to email.

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img_3639The Pool Hilton Conrad Hotel Manila

This is my review of the Conrad Hotel in Manila, The Philippines.  Just in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, I’ll get to the important bit straight away.  This hotel has the Diva seal of approval, go right ahead and book a stay!

img_4162Poolside Bar, try the Strawberry Smoothie

To be perfectly honest, I would never ordinarily book a stay in a Hilton Hotel, and would not have booked to stay here but circumstances conspired to bring me here and I’m very happy indeed.  If Hilton Hotels are like this one nowadays, I will be back for more!

I love the chic, cool and modern design of the hotel.  There is such a chilled out atmosphere here in the middle of a somewhat hectic city that it is a haven of peace and tranquility.

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Step into a haven of tranquility with everything you need for work too!

img_4141Lobby, super chic and super cool

Arrive and be escorted to the reception 2 floors up by one of the many delightful staff here at the Conrad.  Actually, the staff are definitely one of the highlights of a stay here.  Everyone from the doorman to the restaurant staff are so courteous, polite and helpful they are all a joy to meet everyday.

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A seamless check-in and arrive in your room which is so fabulous I don’t want to leave!  I love my view of the sea, it is almost like being on a ship lying in bed and watching the fishing boats go by.

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Hotel bedroom with sea view 6th Floor

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Gorgeous bathroom!

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The only thing missing for me is a bathtub, but apart from that everything is perfect and the shower is fabulous as are the delicious Aromatherapy Associates products. A comfortable bed is the most important thing and this one did not disappoint!

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The view from my room on a somewhat overcast day.

img_4145The Perfect Gym

I loved the gym and was lucky enough to enjoy a training session with one of the terrific gym instructors, definitely recommended and a great way to reboot your body after a long flight.  The gym is perfect in everyday as is the sauna in the changing room area.

img_3645Poolside drinks

I love the design of the pool, like everything a triumph of minimalist design.  This is such a relaxing place it is hard to imagine that the bustling city is a few steps away.  The setting close to the sea and in a good, safe area is particularly important to me.

img_3649The Pool

The breakfast at The Brasserie was a triumph and I loved it!  For me, the highlight is the super healthy section with a range of vegetable juices, nuts, fruits and yoghurts.  There is also a huge arrange of Asian style breakfast foods and everything else you could possible wish for including the most attentive and friendly staff.

img_4176The Brasserie for breakfast

I haven’t tried any of the restaurants yet but doesn’t this look great!  I’ll keep you posted with my separate restaurant review

img_4172Blue China Restaurant

I particularly love all the little touches that make your stay so comfortable, from the Nespresso machine to the housekeeping gift!

img_3662Thank you Conrad Manila, I would definitely stay again if I ever return to Manila and recommend you to my readers!

Information

http://www.conradhotels3.hilton.com/Conrad/Manila

 

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Embrace your ‘inner James Bond’ and take a speedboat from the airport.

 

What do you think of Venice? Very few people dislike it – despite the enormous cruise boats and hoards of day trippers clogging up the streets and canals. It is still a wondrous place that fills you with excitement from the moment you step into a water Taxi at the airport until the minute you leave.

I’m sure you have all visited loads of times, but anyway, here is my take on how to live like a Venetian.

Tip: Unless the hotel is offering a free speedboat, just hop aboard one dockside and it will only be 100 euros. Turn left out of the airport, make sure you have a porter it is quite a trek, and head to the most handsome Water Taxi owner that you can find.

 

Don’t even think about a Waterbus, unless you want to be squashed and uncomfortable with tourists (we are travellers NOT tourists!) and stop a hundred times en route.

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Safely delivered to the Hotel.

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My ‘Gaff’ for the week

IMG_1191Bauer Hotel http://www.bauervenezia.com

Chosen for its unbeatable location.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be in the heart of Venice and not on some island over yonder!  This is the perfect choice literally a stones throw from Piazza San Marco square but step through the hotel doors and you enter an oasis of calm and tranquility that seems far from the crowded square.

Step out of the door and you have Gondola’s waiting to transport you if you turn left and glorious shops followed by Piazza San Marco on the right.  Louis Vuitton is literally just outside the hotel, which is not great for my bank balance but a lovely treat.

If you want to splurge The Gritti Palace http://www.thegrittipalace.com is just one block over towards San Marco and Harry’s Bar is just around the corner.

Who could ask for more from the Hotel Bauer?  To be honest, I would like to be let loose with an interior designer – but the old world charm, excellent staff and wonderful restaurant are enough to bring me back for another visit.

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It is easy to escape into the ‘true’ Venice, just keep away from the typical tourist itinerary and one street over will be an oasis of calm, just as the photo above which was taken in crowded September.  One of my favourite routes is to leave the Bauer, turn left and cross the canal take a right and then left – you are now away from the crowds! Keep going and meander along marvelling at the hidden delights in the tiny little shops.

You are now in culture lovers heaven, there will be a church, Museum or gallery at every turn.  Once I arrive at Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, there will probably be an exhibition that is too good to pass by, but then cross the bridge.  Galleria del Academia is right there to explore, afterward turn left and keep going and you are now in a completely different Venice. Quiet little canals with sleepy houses and delicious little restaurants to try out.  I love to stop off at Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, an amazing collector.

IMG_1184-2Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

Revived after a cup of tea at the Guggenheim Cafe continue on to Punta Della Dogana and view another wonderful contemporary art collection.  Choose somewhere for lunch and congratulate yourself on a fabulous morning!

Retrace your steps or hop on a Gondola back across to the Bauer for a little nap.  Dinner on the terrace of the Bauer is a highlight, the view unsurpassable and constantly entertaining with guests alighting onto water taxis resplendent in their evening wear and all the canal boats toodling along.

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Another must-do another night is to book tickets for the Opera, put on your glad rags and take a water taxi to the Opera. You will have another James Bond moment, for sure!
IMG_0464Helpful Tips

When to Visit: Try and avoid the busy tourist months of July and August if you can.

Information: http://www.venice-tourism.com  http://www.venice-carnival-italy.com

 

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Thirty Nine Monte Carlo is the first Private Members Lifestyle Club in Monaco.  It is a new, exclusive lifestyle club in the most glamorous Principality in the world…. and I received an invitation to spend the day exploring all that the club has to offer!

I know some of you want to get to the important bit straight away, so here goes:  Yes, join today.  It is worth every penny of the 4,900 euro annual membership and most definitely has the Luxury Diva stamp of approval.  In my opinion it is the best lifestyle and fitness club in Monaco and the South of France.  Infact, no other club comes close and  Thirty Nine has set a new standard in excellence.

Thirty Nine has is one of the worlds most exclusive gym facilities.  You will find an International team of experienced professionals waiting to prepare a tailor-made training program.  But wait .. there is more! The best Pilates machines you will find anywhere in the world, aerial yoga the list goes on and on.  I particularly enjoyed the members Dining Room which boasts a delightful  Chef and delicious, healthy food.  In the afternoon, the best facial I have ever enjoyed and an excellent hairdressing team handpicked from Holland.

My Day at THIRTY NINE Monte Carlo:

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Reception at Thirty Nine Monte Carlo

The Club is situated right opposite the beach on Avenue Princess Grace, just a perfect location and underground parking is right across the street.  The reception, pictured above, is chic and understated.  I received a lovely warm welcome from the staff.

Morning:

The Club opened in October 2016 so everything is brand new.  Comprising of 1800 sqm over 3 floors and designed by exquisitely by Morpheus, London.  It is the brainchild of Ex Professional Rugby player Ross Beattie.  Thirty Nine focuses on the following elements to create a whole new you.  Wellness,Fitness, Mental Strength, Leraning, Nutrition, Work and Play.  Yes, I need some of that please!

My day started in the Ladies changing area, which is a calm and relaxing oasis.

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Ladies Changing area

img_4665Ladies Changing Rooms

Whisked upstairs to get ready for my first session of the day.  A delicious coffee was brought for me to enjoy while I changed in this perfect changing area.  So much thought has gone into every little detail and the quality is second to none.

Pilates:

A Pilates Postural Assessment with Nevena:A postural assessment is essential before embarking on a Pilates program.  This is a contemporary method of Pilates designed for the 21st Century lifestyle and posture.  Nevena, explained that posture realignment is essential and even Pro athletes use Pilates for posture. The club also use Pilates for rehab after illness or part of a treatment program.

Well, it was a revelation, and Pilates will definitely be part of my exercise program from now on!  Nevena concluded that realignment will help will some joint strain following a broken leg injury.

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Nevena demonstrating some posture realignment exercises 

The staff at Thirty Nine are all, without exception, friendly, kind and knowledgeable.  For me, the staff are just as important as the facilities in a club, we all want to feel special and welcome don’t you think?

The Sports Floor and a Fitness Assessment

The Sports Floor, frequented by World Class Athletes as well as Club members.  Every new Club member receives a fitness assessment and a program tailor made to their individual fitness  goals.  Mathias was in charge of my assessment and if I join the club I can work with a personal trainer to help me achieve my fitness target.  Prices start at 80 euros, which is very reasonable.

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Fitness assessment with Matthias

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Pro Club Machine

I really wanted to take this boxing machine home with me.  How to make exercise fun!

img_4700-3The Sports Floor

This is just one shot of the gym, which doesn’t really show the mind boggling array of state of the art equipment available to members.  The handpicked trainers will help you achieve your potential fitness levels with the best equipment you will find anywhere.

Matthias used an In Body Machine for an In body test, this works outs your Body Composition and Body Fat, this will help monitor your progress as fitness levels improve.  Good to know !

Aerial Yoga

Yoga bunnies out there, you must try Aerial Yoga, it is the best fun ever!  Noora taught me the basics and I can’t wait to have another go, you will feel like a trapeze artist and have a great yoga session at the same time!

img_4717-2Noora demonstrating some Aerial Yoga poses

Members can choose from a large selection of exercise classes available.

LUNCH:

img_4719-2Dining Room at Thirty Nine Monte Carlo

The Dining Room is super chic, as one would expect, with a first class chef, Tiziano Rossetti, who was a delight and created a delicious lunch.  You will be instantly captivated by him and his food. I loved the outdoor garden dining area, perfect for hanging out with friends on sunny days in Monaco.

img_4721-2Outdoor Garden Dining area

I enjoyed a delicious healthy soup to start:

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Followed by a delicious Cod dish, Cod, Green beans, Potato, Olives and a Parsley sauce.

img_4732-2Cod Main Course

You will love the modern menu with clean, healthy dishes. Cold pressed juices and shakes, including Vegan options, which is good to see on a menu 7 euros and Smoothies 5 and 7 euros.

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Dining Room Menu

The breakfast menu is just as healthy and delicious.  I would eat here all the time if I join the Club!

Members Lounge:

Club members can recharge their batteries in this relaxing space.

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AFTERNOON:

I needed a little lie down by this time, so it was just as well my first appointment was with Emilie at the beauty Spa.

BEAUTY SPA:

img_4744-2Emilie and Biologique Recherche products

Just look a Emilie’s radiant skin in this photo! She conducted a skin analysis on my face with state of the art machines and created a special treatment tailor made for me using Biologique Recherché products.

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Enjoying a Treatment at the Beauty Spa

Emilie was  knowledgeable and explained the treatment program so well. Once she had finished the treatment the difference in my skin was, without exaggeration, astonishing!  Infact, every friend I have met since that facial has commented on my luminous, healthy skin. Emilie, I will be back!

Enjoy Biologique Recherche facials and body treatments. ILA treatments, massages and a full list of beauty treatments.

Enjoy the Beauty Spa treatments and the Hairdresser without being a member of the Club.

VELVET MONKEY HAIRDRESSING SALON:

Last but by no means least was a visit to the Velvet Monkey Hairdressing Salon in the Club.  As you would expect, the team at Thirty Nine have spared no effort to find the very best!  Iconic Dutch hairdressing team Velvet Monkey have now come to Thirty Nine Monte Carlo!

Enjoy customised hair experiences from an award winning team of Professional Stylists at Velvet Monkey.

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The Team at Velvet Monkey

If you visit Monaco and want a recommendation of where to get your hair done, well here you go!  Doesn’t my hair look great?  Super professional, friendly and fabulous results.  The Salon is open 7 days a week, unique in Monaco.  Again, this is my new hairdresser when I stay at my home here!

Thank you so much to everyone at Thirty Nine for making my day so special.

Information:

Studio 39 Hair and Beauty http://www.39montecarlo.com studio39@39montecarlo.com

Thirty Nine, 39 Avenue Princess Grace, 98000 Monaco  Telephone: +377 93 25 39 39

 

fullsizerender-1Victoria Silvstedt

My guest blogger this week is the fabulous Victor de Monaco and he is contributing a lifestyle blog, interviewing the stunningly beautiful Star of Monaco, Victoria Silvstedt.

I can’t wait to read all about Victoria and hope you enjoy it too!  Let me know what you think.  First of all here is a little introduction to my fellow blogger Victor.  The blogging world is full of interesting, dynamic and talented people and I love getting to know them.

Victor de Monaco:

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Victor De Monaco
Victor is a Paris/Monaco-based project manager specialising in international communication and marketing. After having worked at the headquarters of global firms in the luxury industry, he is currently launching his own fashion brand and works as a part-time consultant. His mission is to find the right balance between a brand’s digital and offline presence. In his spare time Victor enjoys writing feature stories for lifestyle publications. You can reach him via victor@victordemonaco.com.  http://www.victordemonaco.com

A sit-down with supermodel Victoria Silvstedt:

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When I go through Victoria Silvstedt’s Instagram page, the first phrase that pops up in my mind is “oh la dolce vita.”
A jetsetter who is always flying from the South of France, to New York and other fabulous destinations, Victoria is not your typical beauty. After gracing more than 500 magazine covers, Victoria ventured into acting, TV hosting and fashion design. She has also released a music album and starred in her very own reality show on E! Entertainment Television.
From Monaco, her new home, I had a quick chat with the Principality’s fashionista Victoria Silvstedt.

Victoria, you are definitely the queen of multitasking (acting, singing, TV hosting, etc.) But out of all, what job is the closest to your heart?

Well, let me just say that is singing is quite fun, but I am definitely not a singer. It was an offer from EMI Records and an opportunity I couldn’t say no to. Shooting movies both in the United Sates and Italy was an adventure as I spent weeks and months on movie sets.
My E! reality show was fun because the camera was following me as I lived my daily life. But for me, the action is all in television, and I live for action. Hosting shows on Swedish, French and Italian TV is something I enjoy and is very fulfilling.

Going back to your style, tell me more about your fashion rules and guidelines?

I don’t really apply a general rule. I love to mix and match. For instance, you could see me wearing a Zara skinny jeans with a Balmain jacket and an Hermès bag. Of course, because I live in Monaco, I have to be always dressed up. Also, I do follow a lot of instagram bloggers to catch up on the latest trends.

So how is your diet and beauty regimen like?

First of all I love to eat. I am not your green juices 24/7 kind of girl. I must have a desert everyday and especially chocolate. And what is a night like without a glass of wine? However, I try to avoid eating carbs and especially before a photo-shoot. I also try to limit my amount of red meat intake. I guess you can describe my diet as a Mediterranean wholesome and vegetable-based diet.
As for my physique, I try to take a lot of vitamins for my hair and skin. And I love working out outdoors like doing some yoga and pilates every now and then. I prefer to go running outside rather than to workout at the gym.

Finally, what are some must have-items that every woman NEEDS to have in her closet?

High heels! They always add some oomph and make a woman’s outfit look sexier no matter what she’s wearing. Also, a good pair of jeans and of course a cocktail dress. I mean you never know when you get a last minute invitation. And a Birkin or a Kelly bag, I mean why not?

Thank you Victoria and see you around in Monaco.

http://www.victoriasilvstedt.com

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I am updating this article, be cause I am busy looking for great deals right now! November is the cheapest month to travel and there are some great flight and holiday bargains around.

Let’s get Bargain Hunting!

How do I travel First and Business Class around the world? Not by paying full ticket price, that is for sure!  I will share some of my tips for getting a good deal so you will never be squashed into a Tourist Class seat again!

Yes, I know it is expensive, even with a good deal, but it is worth it!  I would stay home rather than travelling in cattle class.  The thought of being squashed upright for 17 hours just fills me with horror!  It is getting worse too, back in the day many flights were half empty and you could grab 3 seats in a row for a good sleep.  NO MORE, in these days of small profit margins nearly every plane is full and a very unpleasant experience.

Meanwhile, up in Business and First Class a different world exists.  It really is a different world and you will never go back!

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Business Class flat bed seat Oman Air

Get a good deal:

Loyalty Programs:

This tip goes for hotels as well as airlines.  Find a few airlines that you like and stick with them.  Join their loyalty schemes.  Build up those reward points.  There are so many ways to collect points apart from through flights.  For example, British Airways allows you to collect Avios by shopping online at your favourite stores.  simply follow the link on the British Airways website and you will collect Avios as you shop!  Although, I must admit this does encourage shopping to excess especially in Bicester Outlet Village.

It is no secret that I love the Middle Eastern airlines for their amazing planes, inflight service, Chauffeur service, food …. the list is endless.  Many of the Airlines partner with each other for Loyalty programs.  For example you can transfer your BA Avios to Qatar Airways Qmiles.  The options are endless.

Amaze yourself with how quickly you have enough points for an upgrade or a free ticket.  For an upgrade with points you can pay a tourist ticket price and use points to upgrade to Business Class! Perfect.

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Lunch time on Oman Air Business Class

Book with new and up and coming Airlines:

A new airline, trying to establish itself in a crowded market place will always offer enticing deals in order to establish a clientele.  Oman Air is one such airline at the moment and has some really incredible deals.

Route Options:

Money can be saved, a lot of money sometimes! by being creative with your route.  Look at different options when searching.  Yes, it takes a little time but think of the savings running into hundreds of pounds.

Email Special Offers:

Once you are signed up to the loyalty program, you will start to receive special offers through to your inbox at regular intervals!

Top Tip:  Be Flexible

We travel at off peak times, partly because we hate crowds and also because this is when you will receive the best deals! Did you know that November is the cheapest month to take a holiday? This is just as true with hotels and villa rentals as with airlines.  I know it is probably stating the obvious, but you are much more likely to receive discounts at off peak times. Never try and find a bargain at Christmas for example unless you are incredibly lucky!

Hotels will upgrade you and give discounts at low peak times and flight discounts will be available.

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Business Class Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Internet Search for Flight Discounts:

I know I have said this before but it is important so I will repeat. Most Internet search engines are owned by only 3 or 4 organisations.  You need to shop around!

Top Tip:  Search, find the flight you want and wipe your browser history before going back to book!  You want to wipe the cookie history because the flight prices go up every time you search.

 

My favourite internet sites

These are my current favourites.  Kayak.com  A friend found a fabulous deal on here for me recently!  Now it is my first go to site for a great deal!

Skyscanner.net is another favourite at the moment.  Good old fashioned bucket shops can sometimes turn up a good deal.  Try http://www.business-flights.co.uk or http://www.flightguru.com

I use several websites to find the best deals, and go back to them time and again because they are so good.

Hope these tips help!  If you have any of your own, please tell me.

Useful information:

http://www.omanair.com  http://www.britishairways.com http://www.qatarairways.com

http://etihad.com  http://www.kayak.com

 

 

 

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Where to eat in Monte Carlo?  I’m going to share some of my favourite restaurants in Monte Carlo with you.  There are so many wonderful places to choose and I will write a series of reviews of Monaco restaurants.  Here is the first:

Maya Bay

Address: 24 Av Princess Grace, 98000 Monaco http://www.mayabay.mc

I have dined here for a few years now and then.  Every time I visit it gets better and better, more and more popular and buzzes with life.  Make sure to book!  Choose between the Japanese food section and the Thai. Both are excellent.  The vegetarian options are just brilliant.  Healthy, vegetarian options are at last catching on in this part of the world which is brilliant.

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Maya Bay Restaurant Menu

The menu is so extensive, it is actually a book!  Be prepared to take a long time choosing.  I promise everyone will be happy from Vegetarians, vegans to the staunchest meat eater.

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Tempura Prawns and Sushi

Apologies for the photos but it was dark in there!

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Wine  Rose Bellet

I chose a local rose wine to accompany the meal, Bellet which is a light and delicate wine which compliments the strong flavours of the Tempura.  You can even buy bags and clothes at Maya Bay, you will almost think you are in Thailand!

IMG_2415-2Beautiful Bags and clothes at Maya Bay

They even have a TukTuk to take you home.

IMG_2491-2Maya Bay Tuk Tuk

Just a hop, skip and a jump from Maya Bay along Avenue Princess Grace you will find Le Sporting Club.  Home of many a fabulous eveniing out during the summer time.  If you are lucky enough to stay in Monte Carlo during July or August take a look at the website and see who is performing at the Club.  Many a famous face has performed here over the years.  It is a magical evening out, put on your best dress and enjoy a Michelin star meal and then see a fabulous show. Check out http://www.montecarlolive.com and also http://www.montecarlosbm.com  The Sporting Club is also home to an Italian Trattoria and Le Pit Stop.

La Trattoria

26 Av Princess Grace Monaco  http://www.alain-ducasse.com

The Trattoria has a beautiful setting in the Sporting club.  Dine on the terrace overlooking the sea and enjoy some Italian Trattoria style food.  The food is good, and so is the view!  The large chap in charge of seating you is the only disappointment.  If I were Alain Ducasse, I would get rid of him but everything else is up to Diva standards!

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La Trattoria Le Sporting Club

We enjoyed antipasto which is shared amongst everyone but the portions are tiny so order plenty.  Delicious!  This was followed by

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Antipasta

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We drank a rather nice Chablis which was perfect with our choice of fish.  Vegetarians will find things to eat but not the wondrous array of dishes available at Maya Bay.

Pop next door, still inside the Sporting Club and have an after dinner digestif at:

Pit Stop  Le Sporting Club Monte Carlo

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IMG_0016-2Arrive by Seaplane

My feelings about the Maldives are mixed.  On the one hand, the islands are just fabulous with pristine beaches, crystal clear waters plentiful fish, Dolphins, Turtles and more to see.  One is spoiled for choice with top five star hotels on the islands represented by many of the top hotel groups.

Perfect beaches

The beaches really are just as perfect as they look in the pictures and fish swim around your feet as you paddle in the shallow water.

IMG_0814-2Heavenly, pristine beaches

On the other hand, if like me, you enjoy visiting countries for their culture, exploring and finding different restaurants and special places  – you will be bored after a few days.  I dislike, intensely, an ‘all inclusive’ resort.  The mere mention of the word makes my heart sink!  In the Maldives you are pretty much trapped on an island and forced to eat in the resort/hotel complex.  Unless you are sailing and island hopping, of course.

Watersports:

Firstly, the things I did enjoy:   I loved hiring a speedboat with the watersport staff to accompany us and show the best spots for snorkelling and diving.  Sadly, I didn’t have an underwater camera – I definitely intend to buy one!  The seas are filled with Turtles, Dolphins, Stingray and too many fish to name.

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Who wouldn’t enjoy whizzing around on a jetski without any one else to be seen except for a few dolphins!

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Friendly and helpful staff and delicious food.  I’m aware that you will think that I’m living up to my diva name by complaining!  BUT … the terrific staff are woefully underpaid and I for one find it very uncomfortable when relatively wealthy guests are paying more for a bottle of wine that the staff are earning in a month.  I know this is true of many poor areas of the world, but I try and contribute in some way to the communities I visit, and this is not possible here.  The only ones profiting from tourism are the super-wealthy Hotel groups.

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The guests are so well looked after and pampered from the moment they arrive and luggage is whisked away by buggies.

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cocktails watching the sunset going down on the beach, so relaxing, romantic and just magical- there is so much to enjoy.

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This is all very lovely for a few days ….. and then you start to go stir crazy!  Trapped on a small island – you can’t pop out to a local restaurant or visit some sites because there aren’t any!  You can’t go anywhere because there isn’t anywhere to go – particularly if you are staying on an island that is a plane ride away from Male.

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Classic Maldives 

Another downside to staying here is the price.  Now, I don’t mind paying for a top quality holiday – but I feel the Maldives is way too expensive for what you get for your money.   Everything has to be imported and so this makes everything expensive.  There are many places in the world just as idyllic and a fraction of the price.

To recap – you will love the Maldives if you want a complete get away from it all break, enjoy all inclusive set-ups and have a devil may care attitude to cost!  Will I return? well, never say never I suppose!

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Information:

We flew with British Airways http://www.britishairways.com

metaxa-mike-hornMike Horn Metaxa Brand Ambassador

Metaxa 12 Stars, an intoxicating alcoholic aperitif from Greece and Mike Horn, ruggedly handsome explorer, are a match made in heaven really.  So, when an invitation arrived to explore Metaxa 12 Stars at a tasting it was too good an opportunity for your Luxury Diva to miss!  Sadly Mr Horn was off exploring, but Metaxa was a delicious revelation.

Have you ever tried Metaxa, a splendid drink from an iconic Greek spirit house? No I had never hear of it either.  However, if you are invited round to my house you will definitely be served a glass!  It is my new favourite apero and at 40% proof my guests will soon be very merry indeed!  Metaxa is a blend of aged distillates and fine Muscat wine from the Aegean islands.

metaxa_bottle_boxBeautiful new bottle of Metaxa 12 Stars

A deliciously warm and spicy amber liquid that sensuously reveals fragrant notes of toasted oak wood, fruits and spices.  Hints of dried orange, dark cocoa , honeyed figs and prunes and spices delight the senses.

Live Tasting:

The tasting was held at The Apartment, Hoxton Holborn Hotel, a chic urban hotel in London.  A welcome cocktail of Metaxa 12 stars and ginger ale was a very nice welcome indeed.  Followed up by a tasting of Metaxa over ice with a professional ice carver and a beautiful ice sculpture which encased a bottle of Metaxa 12 stars.

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Metaxa 12 Stars Tasting

A visit to the Metaxa 12 stars sensory room followed a live tasting complete with a tasting of the fresh ingredients and a visual display and video.  Thank you to Metaxa for a lovely evening and the bottle of Metaxa 12 Stars.  We are enjoying sharing it with friends as a new aperitif discovery!

Visit http://dontdrinkexplore.com for a chance to win the opportunity to travel with Mike Horn!  Yes, I know what you are thinking. I’ve already entered the competition, needless to say!

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img_4203-2Afternoon Tea at C Lounge Conrad Manila Hotel

Who likes afternoon tea? Yes! we do.  Especially when it is set in the most glamorous,super chic C Bar in the Conrad Manila Hotel.  My favourite hotel in Manila and a delicious afternoon tea with a twist.

img_4215-2Green Tea Scones

The tea was definitely up to Diva standards,  and you all know how demanding I can be!  We chose the traditional Tea menu which included a choice of Tea by Harney and Sons, Sandwiches, delicious cakes, the most yummy chocolates.

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Room with a Room with a view, and a traditional teapot

It is always nice to try something new and Green Tea Scone were a first as were Ube Macarons.  Use is a local vegetable and the Macarons were a triumph.  We polished off the lot and there was barely a crumb left!

img_4213-2Chocolates!

Go and enjoy afternoon tea if you are in Manila, I promise you will want to check into the hotel and never leave.

img_4202-2Beautifully presented afternoon Tea

C Lounge:

A wonderful bar to meet for cocktails and enjoy the spectacular sea views from the stunning windows.  The Hotel is designed to look like a ship at sea and it certainly succeeded with this brief.  You will feel as if you are sitting on board a fabulous private yacht sipping a delicious cocktail.

img_4225-2C Lounge, Conrad Manila Hotel

A dizzying array of cocktails awaits you!  Particularly intriguing are this with fizzy Sake, definitely something different to try.

img_4224-2Sparkling Sake for exotic cocktails

 

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the music!  There is a live band playing in C Lounge every night!  Also delicious bar snacks.

img_3981Tasty Bar Snacks

Enjoy some live music, the best view in town, cocktails to die for and delicious snacks!

img_4229-2My favourite Conrad Manila Hotel

Useful Information:

http://www.conradhotels3.hilton.com/Manila

Afternoon Tea prices:  1,450

Cocktails: 350/400

Dress: Smart Casual

 

img_3870Miniloc Island

Explore the islands of El Nido, Palawan, The Philippines:

You will certainly not get bored if you spend  few days on the El Nido Islands!  The El Nido Resorts gave us a boat, crew and guide for the day and it was such a special day.

img_4374-1Big Lagoon, Miniloc

The day started with a boat ride to Little Lagoon, Miniloc.  The ride itself is a treat, passing some of the most beautiful islands imaginable and the most crystal clear seas.  We kayaked through the Lagoon which was unimaginably beautiful, with limestone cliffs soaring above us.

img_0983Kayaking on Little Lagoon

Do you love kayaking?  Well, this is the best place in the world to kayak.  Smooth waters and fantastic views.

Top Tip: Hire a private boat and go early before all the boats arrive from El Nido mainland

img_0991Miniloc Island

Next stop, Large Lagoons and we took the boat into the Lagoon this time.

img_3953Big Lagoon

Snorkelling:

Next stop, Miniloc Resort and snorkelling!  A fantastic array of fish on perfectly preserved coral.  We saw Giant Trevally, Parrot Fish, Nemo, Moorish Idol, Regal Angelfish, Titan Triggerfish, Giant Clam and even a Green Sea Turtle!

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Spot the Giant Trevally swimming behind me!

Top Tip: Snorkel with a guide, they know all the best spots!

Lunch on Miniloc Private Beach, just for the El Nido Resort clients.  A delicious picnic barbecue.

img_1158Lunch Time on Manioc Private Beach

img_3868Miniloc Private Beach

A happy afternoon island hopping on our outrigger boat.  Stopping to swim as we pleased and stroll along pristine beaches.

img_0982-1Helicopter Island

I have never seen such pristine beaches, thanks in part due to the rubbish collection co-ordinated by El Nido Resorts.  Every guest is given an environmentally friendly bag in which to collect any litter, but we didn’t see anything to collect!

img_3906Perfect spot!

The islands were just magical and will be in our memories forever.

img_0999-1Perfect spot to watch the sunset

A happy afternoon island hopping and so well looked after by our guide, Jamie.

Jungle Hike

The next day started with a hike after the rain cleared.  There are two hikes on Lagen Island one an hour long and another two hours.  Glen is one of the larger islands and has wonderfully preserved forest with 16 varieties of Butterflies on the island, countless birds including Yellow Throated Leafbird, Olive-Backed Sunbird, Palawan Hornbill, White-vented shama and many more!

img_1180Forest Hike on Lagen Island

The island is home to Long Tailed Macaque monkeys, Palawan Suirrels and Water Monitor Lizards.  You don’t need to hike to see all of the wildlife, you will spot everything near your Water Villa!  The selection of trees is extraordinary too and well signed so easy to spot.  El Nido Resorts have done a wonderful job preserving the flora and fauna.

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Vast selection of Trees in the Forest

img_0987Lagen Island Private Beach

The hike ended on this fabulous private beach!  We were collected by speedboat and whisked back to the resort.  You can arrange a private dinner on the beach, can you think of a more romantic spot!  Or, take one of the free Kayaks at the resort and Kayak to the beach for snorkelling and a sunbathe.

There is plenty to do to keep you busy during a stay on El Nido Islands, and I haven’t even mentioned the diving which is exceptional and can be arranged by the resort.

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Celebrating finishing my hike!

Thinking of Planning a Trip to El Nido?

El Nido resorts have 4 resorts to choose from on different islands.  My choice would be Pangulasian Island, the jewel in the crown of El Nido resorts and opened a couple of years ago.  Yes, a little more expensive but well worth the extra cost.  This is a really special resort with exceptional villas and facilities.  Read my blog dedicated to the island soon!

Information:

http://www.elnidoresorts.com

 

img_3777The Pool at Lagen Island, El Nido Resorts

This is my review of Lagen Island, El Nido Resorts, Palawan, The Philippines.

I looked at so many traveller photos of the beautiful islands of The Philippines and longed to visit!  My fellow travellers always pointed to El Nido and Palawan as the prettiest spot  and so we planned a trip flying into El Nido Airport from Manila with Airswift airlines.  A fabulous trip followed and El Nido Resorts definitely have Diva approval and you know how Diva-esque I can be!

El Nido Airport:

The journey from the small Terminal 4 at Manila Airport was hassle free and the views from the small plane were delightful.  Everything was so well organised and our luggage  transferred to Lagen Island resort directly so we didn’t have to worry about a thing!

img_4267AirSwift, El Nido Airport

El Nido airport is small, charming and very pretty!  We were even greeted by singers as we arrived at the terminal, which is little more than a grass hut but everything was well organised and went smoothly.

A 50 minute boat ride, just for Lagen Island passengers followed and gave us lovely views of the islands along the way.

Lagen Island:

You will have your breathe taken away by the perfect setting of Lagen Island.  Pristine beaches, crystal clear water and a tropical paradise!  I’m so happy I decided to make the long journey and this is one happy Diva!

Arrive at Lagen Island to warm welcome and you will definitely be delighted by the awe inspiring setting of Lagen Island.  It is a little piece of paradise and it will be yours for the duration of your visit! We never felt as if there were many people around, the peace and tranquility are perfect.

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Lagen Island Boat dock on the right of my photo

We stayed in a Water Villa, the one on the far left in the picture with lovely views.  There is a choice of 3 types of villa, Forest Villas which are slightly larger, Water Villas, my favourite choice right on the water.

img_1111Water Villas, Lagen Island

The setting is breathtaking, Lagen Island has a magical setting on a larger island than the other El Nido Resort properties.  I loved their Eco-friendly approach, we were given bags to collect any rubbish washed up from the sea.  the islands were all pristine so we didn’t really need these bags.  All the staff are given training on sustainability and protecting the wildlife.

The birds sing in the trees, and if you are lucky you will see monkeys eating fruits in the trees outside your villa.  Watch the bright tropical fish swimming along in the pristine waters as you sit on your villa terrace.

img_4431My Water Villa, Lagen Island

The Water villa is comfortable with a comfy bed. WIFI, tea and coffee and TV.  I loved lying in bed and looking at the sea view with the little boats going past.  The setting and breathtaking views are definitely the highlights of a stay at this resort.

img_4295Room with a view!

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Comfy bed

The bathroom has everything you need, it is small but with a good shower. A beautiful walkway links the Water villas with the rest of the resort.  It is a delight to walk along spotting butterflies and birds in the trees and fish in the water below.

Villa Veranda:

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Enjoying the view on my Water Villa Terrace.  The perfect spot for my Yoga practice too!
img_4445The Bar, Lagen Island

Restaurant:

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Restaurant at night

All meals are in the buffet restaurant, which has a lovely veranda where you can sit and enjoy a delicious meal.  It is impossible not to be relaxed here on Lagen with the peace and tranquility.  Staff at Lagen are all charming, friendly and super helpful.

img_3779Buffet style restaurant with a barbecue grill outside

Choose from a good selection of fresh shell fish, fish, meat and chicken.  Salads, soups to start and always some exotic fruits to try.

 

img_3926Private Dining by the Pool

We enjoyed the delicious seafood and fish at the restaurant.  We were treated to a private dining experience by the pool which was a wonderful treat!  The chef discussed our menu with us and we enjoyed a bottle of New Zealand Monkey Bay White wine with a delicious chowder with squid, fish, shrimp.  Our main course of Snapper, grilled vegetables and Jumbo Prawns was equally delicious. Desert was Cheesecake and fresh fruit.

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Private Dinner – Delicious!

Visit the Private Beach:

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Lagen Island Private Beach

A private dining experience can be arranged on Lagen Island Private beach which is a couple of minutes by speed boat and is the most romantic spot imaginable.  Make sure not to miss out on this beach if you stay here.  The resort provide free Kayaks and Paddle boards.  The beach is an easy 15 minute Kayak ride away.

img_4368View from Lagen Island

Pool:

img_3785Pool

The large pool is just perfect!  The prettiest setting for a pool I have ever seen.

View from the boat:

Activities:

There are so many activities!  I’m going to give the activities there own special blog. So look out for Part 2

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El Nido Resorts Lagen Island definitely has the Diva stamp of approval and I recommend a stay!  You will not be disappointed.

Information:

Top Tip:  Try and visit during the dry season from February to April.  We went in October and did have some bad weather as well as sunny days.

Look at the resort website for more information.

http://www.elnidoresorts.com      http://www.AirSwift.com

hyattpv1Kristin from Vacation Couple

Travel Blogger Secret Top Travel Tips:

I invited my favourite Travel and Lifestyle bloggers to share some of their secrets with us!  Who better to ask for some travel tips than top bloggers who travel the world year round.

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First up are Kristin and Shadi from Toronto.  You must click on their blog link and take a look at their amazingly good website. http://www.vacationcouple.com and their excellent youtube video http://bit.ly/rrctour

 

The luxury of traveling can be less than enjoyable if you’re not prepared for life along the way. When getting from Canada to our next tropical destination we’ve fallen into a certain routine for packing our carry-on to avoid potential mishaps. I’m what you call a worrier and thoroughly packing for any occasion is something I do for the both Shadi and I. Here are some of our tips for packing your carry-on.

Always pack an extra outfit. You leave your home, travel to the airport, fly through the air to your tropical retreat and you finally make it to your destination… only to find that you’ve beaten your checked luggage to your room. You don’t want to wait in your room; you want to immediately jump into that Ocean! Having an extra outfit, bathing suit and ‘undergarments’ allows you to start the fun as soon as you can, remain comfortable, as well as saves you from having to purchase certain clothing at your destination if your luggage is lost.
vc1Kristen and Shadi, Vacation Couple

Carry all of your liquids in a sealed bag. Okay this one doesn’t seem as straightforward as the last one. But this will save you so much time going through security at the airport. I bring my sanitizing wipes, make-up, lip balm and medications and put them all into a clear plastic bag. When it’s time to go through the security line I take it out and place it next to my laptop and phone and I’ve never experienced a delay. Also, it protects my purse from any potential spills, which is a necessary perk.
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Find the Right Backpack for you and your needs. Having a bag that’s too bulky or too small can lead to a carry-on disaster. We use a hard shell carry-on for our drone, camera and accessories because it gives maximum protection and space. We’ve found our other ‘perfect’ backpack in the form of a slender, sleek grey cloth backpack with several pockets and zippers. Our valuable documents are hidden safely away, there’s a secure pocket for our laptop & accessories, and it tucks everything away perfectly while fitting comfortably on my back. We’ll need to update our carry-on tactics as we change our travel plans but for a tropical resort vacation, we have it down to a science!

Many thanks to Kristen and  Shadi

Next up is The BlondeCitizen.  A wonderful blogger based in Florence, make sure you read her blog too.

http://www.theblondecitizen.com

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The Blonde Citizen Travel Tips

I have travelled rather extensively in my life thus far, living in over 7 countries in the past 6 years alone, so it’s safe to say I have accumulated some great tips over the years; everything from packing, how to get free upgrades, to what to always keep with you whilst on board your flight! With my recent move to Florence, followed by a complete career change which you can read more about on my blog www.theblondecitizenblog.com I’ve been focussing on gaining inspiration from my fabulous surroundings and discovering more of Italy! With that being said, I feel now is a better time than ever to put all that experience to good use and share with Marias wonderful followers some information of my own, so that no matter where in the world you live, or are traveling to, you too can hopefully benefit from my mishaps and travel success’!
Benefits of Airmiles:

Airmiles, if used correctly can save you and your family a ton of money in the long term, it will also allow you to travel more often to the places you love! Nevertheless, sometimes we rush straight to finding the ‘cheapest’ deals which often involves dragging yourselves out of bed at 3am to get to the airport and spend less time planning, which is key. Airline miles, also known as frequent flyer miles or travel points, are part of a loyalty program offered by airlines and/or credit cards. Airmiles work on a point based system which typically allows you to earn points as you fly, or in some cases when you use a credit card, that offers you airmile ‘points’ as you spend. If you or a family member travels often for work, get them to sign up to a family sharing airmile account, with whichever airline they most use; I personally use British Airways. This allows them not only earn points as they fly, but for every 20,000 points they generate, they will receive a free return trip in economy. With family sharing active (which you can sign up for at any stage, as well as claim past flights up to two years) you can combine your points and use them to get great discounts, off from your holidays, hotels and family vacations, in economy, right up to first class. I travelled so much through work, that I could send my parents for free; business class return to Dubai from the UK. Other bonuses include access to the lounge and getting ahead of those enormous lines at check-in, so worth sticking to one airline. Another hack is, even if you use an external site like sky scanner to purchase a cheaper rate ticket with for example BA, you can type the flight code into your BA account, and still receive the airmiles.

Free Upgrades:

Over the years I have received free upgrades that were not pre-booked, at check-in around 9 times. Here are some tips on how you can give yourself the best chance to get the same.
When I travelled from NYC to London with United airlines I had 8 suitcases (I know ridiculous but I did LIVE there for two years) upon check-in they asked for payment for the bags which is a flat rate fee (gotta love the Americans for that), $50 for a small bag and $100 for a large bag. My economy flight cost $356 which allowed me two free checked in bags. Total excess baggage charge was $300, so the lady offered me an upgrade to business class for $300 rather than spending it on baggage charges. A good exchange in my mind!
Travel at quiet times: this also gives you the best chance at being upgraded for no extra charge. However, to be offered this, you must be dressed nicely which means no lounge suits, no sneakers, no ball caps! If you want to be comfy on a flight, do what Victoria Beckham does and walk on looking glamourous and then get changed after take-off in the bathrooms, into your lounge wear. Also, do not be afraid to ask for an upgrade when travelling alone or with a plus one, invariably they say yes, but if there is no room, they may offer you access to the lounge instead. Keep in mind that airlines love loyalty, so you have a better chance of success if you collect points from them.
Arrive early for your flight: I am bad for this, you’re lucky if I get to an airport 1 hour ahead of check-in closing for an international flight, however on the rare occasions I have arrived early, they have offered me an upgrade. The airlines tend to have at least two free upgrades available on their system for every flight, depending on how busy it is and you know what they say about the early bird.
If like me, you have no chance of getting their early, sometimes arriving late can work in your favour. Airlines can often over book flights and as a result, if you are not in a rush, they will offer you an upgrade on a later flight (often the same day) as a reward for giving up your seat.
On Board Essentials:

Here is what I find is a must for on board your flight, whether you are traveling alone or with children, in my case, my god daughter.
If traveling with children that you know won’t settle easy, pop into the sweet shop/pound store and pick up some sweets pre-flight. Not for your children, but for those sitting next to you. People are often more gracious and understanding of children if you are pre-prepared with ‘peace offerings’. I once saw a woman do this, she placed a few different sweets into a little pouch with a label on it saying ‘please be patient with my children’. It worked a treat, pun intended.
A good moisturiser, my favourite is the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturiser (also available in duty free) this is a must as the cabin air is notoriously dry and air stewardess use this to keep their skin looking and feeling hydrated whilst traveling.
If in economy always bring an eye mask, unless you know your airline provides them – there’s always someone insisting on using the light at an unreasonable hour – this also keeps your eye make-up looking fresh, if placed flat!
Always bring a pen, especially when traveling long haul. Often the staff don’t carry as many as they need and you don’t want to be filling out custom/visa cards once you’re off the flight as there is rarely table tops available before customs.
Make sure you have fresh underwear, a disposable toothbrush and fresh wipes in your carry on! The amount of flights I have been on and we have had to make either an unexpected stop somewhere or my luggage has been checked in and there is an over-night delay is ridiculous. These items are a must have for those just in case moments.
The most important tip is to always have a photocopy/print off, of your passport and those that travel with you, both at home on a desk where someone can access it for you, AND in your carry on. You never know when you could get robbed, need to go to your Embassy whilst abroad, or face an emergency. I was once robbed in Miami and having a photocopy of my passport enabled me to get an emergency passport within 3 hours! So even if it’s a long-haul flight or short, please remember to do this.
Finally, if you are traveling alone or with children, you will understand how important it is to have in-flight entertainment available in the case of a delay, or there’s nothing of interest on the screens…or if like me, you need your phone fully charged once at your destination but love listening to music. Having a portable charger for the ipads, ipods, iphones, ifixmylife’s whatever it is, this will make sure that your devices are available to you when you need them. I of course, (she says nonchalantly) use my own brand, which just happens to be a fabulous Unicorn Power Bank that brightens up any persons day when they see it, from old to young and from a drained battery charges my phone to 98% in two hours.

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Speaking of useful accessories and my above mentioned drastic career change as some of you may know, I used to work in finance… upon moving to Florence, Italy and becoming immensely inspired by all this beauty around me, I set up and iphone accessories company. Sick of ordering cases that where overpriced and arrived in not so glamourous packaging that claimed they were made from brown cardboard, to quote ‘save the planet’ when it in fact, just saved them money and all whilst STILL a silicone case…I decided that there was room for a company whose quality gave the leaders in the market a run for their money and that arrived looking luxuriously packaged at a more affordable price point! Everything from our accessories, to our cases, to our boxes and even the black custom jiffy wallets they are posted in, screams fairy tale glamour for every age. The Blonde Citizen™ is a luxurious Italian line of mobile accessories. Designed over fine wines and gelato in the beautiful city of Florence, our unique and imaginative designs are inspired by our love of fairy tales and all things glamorous. We are proud to deliver your order worldwide and beautifully packaged.

The Blonde Citizen™ brand is managed by the Cittadini Group SRL, Firenze, a family enterprise which promotes the best in Italian designed products & services, worldwide. Our logistics center ensures these high-quality products will arrive with you, beautifully boxed in premium packaging, perfect for all occasions.

Yours Truly,

The Blonde Citizen

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Thank you so much Frances, The Blonde Citizen for the great tips.  

Next up is the divine Victor de Monaco 

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Victor de Monaco

Victor is a Paris/Monaco-based project manager specialising in international communication and marketing. After having worked at the headquarters of global firms in the luxury industry, he is currently launching his own fashion brand and works as a part-time consultant. His mission is to find the right balance between a brand’s digital and offline presence. In his spare time Victor enjoys writing feature stories for lifestyle publications. You can reach him via victor@victordemonaco.com

http://www.victordemonaco.com

My Top Traveling Tip: Choose Your Travel Buddy Wisely

So it’s almost the time of the annual ski vacation, and you are preparing your bag for hitting the slopes of the fabulous white Alpes. You are looking forward to spending some time in a luxurious resort you have booked a couple of months ago.

You are throwing some of your favorite ski gadgets and outfits here and there, but wait, have you remembered to choose the right travel buddy? Because that’s definitely something you cannot pack, but will be one of the most important elements of the success of the trip.

Trust me, I have heard horror stories of people who have ended their relationships (friendly or romantic) right after they spent a holiday abroad.

So in the case of escapades that are neither a family nor a forced vacation, i.e. the no-strings-attached kind of leisure time, I have one golden rule for you: set up an “imaginary” casting for your travel buddy. Because it’s only during a vacation when you get to discover the real personality of a person, as people tend to remove the social mask they put on a daily basis. And that authentic version of the person will accompany you during the entire vacation, from day to night.

And when I say an “imaginary” casting, I mean shuffling a list of potential candidates in your head, until you fall upon the right applicant for the assigned mission.

For instance, what if you want to pass your time skiing and your travel buddy doesn’t know how to ski? He/she will have to stay indoors, and will eventually be angry and make you feel guilty, since you are the only one having a good time

My rule doesn’t mean that you should always choose the same traveling companion, but rather choose a buddy that corresponds to the vacation destination. So you can have your party lover friend accompany you to Ibiza, and invite your Zen cousin on your trip to India. Therefore, you will have plenty of different opportunities for many of your friends and relatives. And no one will be left out, while you spend a good time and strengthen your relationship with that perfect travelling partner.

Thank you Victor, really good advice on choosing a travel companion!

IMG_3652V.I.P Dogs of Monaco

It isn’t only the residents of the most glamorous Principality in the world that have a great lifestyle.  Their pampered pooches do too!  My guest today is Victoria. She takes care of the V.I.P dogs of Monaco taking care of their every need!  If the dogs need a little holiday away from the hurly burly of Monte-Carlo?  Victoria whisks them off for a little doggie holiday in Piedmont or The Italian Lakes.  Whether it be dog training, a trip to the Vet or Hydrotherapy then Victoria takes care of everything.

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My Pomeranians Freddie and Zarya both benefited from Victoria’s behavioural classes when they were younger.  This is how Victoria and I met and we still sign up for refresher classes whenever I am in town.

Victoria’s classes are great fun we go out to dinner, wine tasting, agility in the vineyards and go on speedboats.  Fun for us and the dogs!  Freddie in particular loves his time in Monaco, we live nearby and have to spell the word because he gets so over-excited at the prospect of a visit!  He loves the Cafe de Paris, Monte Carlo and howls if we don’t stop by so he can check out the gorgeous pooches strolling by.

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Freddie and Zarya go to Monte Carlo

Victoria and Champagne

What do you love about Monaco and Cap d’Ail:

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Monaco offers a wonderful mix of village life and big city all in one. It is vibrant, elegant and offers the perfect location for enjoying one to one time with your dog whilst being surrounded with fantastic views and some luxurious places to visit.

There are lovely restaurants to eat in all extremely doggie friendly and ready to attend to your dogs needs including Oliban Lebanese Restaurant in Monaco and La Cambuse in Cap d’ail a short walk from Monaco’s helipad.

You can feel safe and secure walking around the Principality which puts you completely at ease while walking and training your favourite canine companion. There are wonderful opportunities to socialise your dog such as visiting the food market at Beausoleil and a visit to the exclusive Metropole shopping centre.

Take a stroll starting at Larvotto Beach past Grimaldi Forum up the steps and through the Casino gardens with a quick stop for that essential glass of Champagne at The Cafe de Paris.

What do you hope the rest of 2016 will bring?

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More fabulous clients and their dogs to enjoy personalised, bespoke doggie training days out, doggies stays and doggie holidays providing the perfect opportunities to meet new training challenges, have fun and socialise. My clients dogs really do become part of my family and owners love knowing their dogs are with a caring professional who they trust and who their dogs love.

At the same time owners know their dogs are being trained and any behavioural treatment provided.  My International clients travel the world and can rest assured that the dogs have a wonderful social life during their absence.  They receive regular photo and video updates.

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I also want to continue with my dog training classes including agility, dog dancing and obedience.  I treat a wide variety of behavioural problems only using kind and ethical methods.

I love the International travel involved with my work when I collect VIP doggie clients from all corners of the world.  I am also able to provide comprehensive Skype consultations for my clients to train their dogs whether my clients are based abroad or my existing clients are travelling.

What are your travel essentials?

Dog training essentials that will be in my upcoming book.

A camera to take some pictures, sun tan cream and a bottle of water.

Bio:

Victoria Morris BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviourist and Trainer has a degree in Animal Behaviour and Marine Biology from Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge and has been working as a professional consultant for 15 years both in the UK, Monaco and French Riviera.

Victoria loves working with animals and it is her true vocation! She really wouldn’t do anything else and loves nothing more than seeing the wonderful improvements in the dogs that she works with, her motto is ‘A trained dog is a happy dog!’

CONTACT VICTORIA: victoriaspettraining99@yahoo.co.uk Facebook: http:www.facebook.com/TheAnimalTrainer  for information on Skype consultations or dog training.