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

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