A surf camp is certainly not number one on the list of places to stay for those who prefer the finer things in life, but Chaaya Island Dhonveli was surprisingly pleasant. They own the rights to a coveted surf spot called Pasta Point which can be booked exclusively through Atoll Travel in Australia or their affiliates in other countries, which ensures that there is no overcrowding on the waves. Whilst the hotel facilities were more of a three star, the service was excellent. The hotel staff were always smiling and friendly, and they really go out of their way to make the experience memorable. The surroundings are so beautiful – they’re exactly what you see on a postcard without Photoshop – that you cannot help loving every moment that you’re there.

Baros water villas

For a more opulent stay, Baros is the place to go. As part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, you can be reassured that you’ll have a five star experience. Both the beach villas and the water villas are wonderful, and choosing between the two really depends on what you prefer.

View from beach villa

The beach villas have tastefully decorated outdoor bathrooms complete with truly unique rain showers.

Maldives rain shower

The spa treatments here are excellent – both the massages and facials are highly recommended. And for yogis, a private class with the resort yogi Bhupender Kumar are most definitely worth taking. He teaches what he’s learned from practicing for many years in India and is always smiling and patient with those struggling to learn advanced poses. Make sure to have some refreshing ginger tea while you’re at the spa.

The snorkelling and scuba diving here are also great activities to partake in. The coral and variety of fish and sharks are more impressive than those in the Great Barrier Reef Australia, at least from my experience.

scuba diving

The teppanyaki at Cayenne restaurant is delicious and the food is much better than at The Lighthouse restaurant, although the ambiance at The Lighthouse is quite romantic.

You end up leaving here dreaming of the next excuse to come back – vow renewals for that ten year anniversary perhaps? Even if you only get to see the Maldives once, you’ll remember it for a lifetime.

frangipani

As always, have a great trip!

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There is so much to see in the Holy Land – one of the most religious and historically rich places in the world. It is definitely worth a visit, despite all the regional tensions.  This is also a great place to celebrate the traditional New Year’s Eve (December 31st according to the Gregorian / Roman calendar) as it doesn’t coincide with Jewish New Year’s celebrations (Rosh Hashanah). If you only have a few days, you can make the most of it with a tour – either a private hire through your hotel or a group tour through Egged Tours.

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VISIT:

JERUSALEM

It is easy to get lost in the narrow, winding pedestrian streets and to forget which quarter of the Old City you’re in – the Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian Quarters are all closely intertwined. This is the place to view biblical sites and get souvenirs of your trip if you so wish. The Western (Wailing) Wall is also a must see – be sure to pray at either the men’s or women’s side before you leave.

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THE DEAD SEA

One of the most memorable parts of this trip, the Dead Sea really is a unique site. Float in the water, and make sure to wrap the Dead Sea mud all over your body for a proper natural spa session. Or as one creative woman did, take a Tupperware with you so that you can fill it with the mud and take it home! You can also buy Ahava (Dead Sea beauty products) there or for a better deal, at the airport duty-free.

STAY:

There’s a charming new little boutique hotel called Hotel Berdichevsky located on a quiet street in Tel Aviv. The rooms are clean and tastefully decorated, and the breakfast is delicious. The concierge also gives fantastic restaurant recommendations (see below).

DINE:

Eat (as often as you can) at Shila restaurant, also known as Sharon Cohen’s Kitchen & Bar. If you sit at the food bar, the mouth-watering tasting menu is created right in front of you by the chefs.

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A LITTLE R&R:

For a shisha and mint tea in a live DJ setting, stop at Honey Beach (cocktails are also served here).  Or relax on the beach in Tel Aviv – the winter sunshine in December (21degrees Celsius or approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit) is very welcomed by pale, Vitamin-D deficient tourists (myself included).

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As always, have a great trip!


Arguably the most romantic of the Greek islands, Santorini is a great place to go with your other half. You’ll get stunning sunset views from hotels set high up on cliffs overlooking the water – the perfect place to relax and unwind – whether for your ‘mini-moon,’ honeymoon or just an extra-special vacation.

Stay in a suite at Canaves Oia Hotel for a little piece of paradise. Lounge on your own private balcony with incredible views, and alternate with a few hours relaxing at the pool.

If you’d like to go for an intimate dinner, make a reservation at 1800 which is just a few steps away. Dine on the terrace or on the roof. The set menu has an excellent array of fine dishes to thrill your taste buds. Many of the restaurants in Oia are very touristy but this one is a delightful exception.

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, take a private sailing tour for a few hours with George of the Triantafillou Bros Oia Sailing Center. Swim in the natural hot springs to pamper your skin.

If you’re flying from London, easyjet flies directly from Gatwick to Santorini.

As always, enjoy your trip!


Looking for a peaceful weekend getaway?

Drive out to experience nature in Wales. Visit the shore and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Have a cupcake at Casa MariaMagnolia has met it’s match!

Dine at Wolfscastle.

Stay at Crundale House, a picture-perfect bed and breakfast in Wales. Veronica and her husband go out of their way to ensure that their guests are completely content, with the kind of genuine hospital that doesn’t really exist that much anymore. The rooms are tastefully decorated, especially the Rudbaxton room with a view of their beautiful garden and a welcoming bathtub to soak in. The rooms have a cozy feel, and Veronica has added tasteful touches like the True Grace orangery room diffuser leaving you feeling calm and relaxed. They make a delicious breakfast which you can select from their menu, including fresh cut fruit.

As always, have a great trip!


Fuerteventura is the oldest of the Canary Islands, formed by a volcanic eruption 20million years ago, and it still remains a fairly barren, deserted island today, at least in the Corralejo area. Depending on what you’re looking for, this could be the perfect long-weekend getaway with nothing but beautiful beaches, a great hotel and great food at your fingertips.

Where to stay:

Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real in Corralejo – breathtaking views, great service, and tastefully decorated – this is the perfect getaway spot for a romantic weekend away.

Where to eat:

Restaurants in this area generally are not very fancy, but the food is delicious.
Restaurante La Scarpetta da Mario – an Italian restaurant with succulent meats, and freshly made pasta.

Restaurante Avelino (c/. Galicia, 35) – run by the sweetest older gentleman who goes out of his way to ensure his clients are well taken care of. The jamon Iberico and paella were excellent and they even put together a great simple salad. Eat outside so you can enjoy views of the ocean.

As always, have a great trip!


Antwerp has long been known as a diamond hub, and is one of the largest in the world with $16billion in polished diamonds passing through here each year. It is also known for the Antwerp Six, the fashion designers who’ve made a name for themselves in this city, including Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Marina Yee (Source: Wikipedia).

If you happen to be in this trendy port city in the summer, make sure you stop by Strantwerpen, a beach bar on the water where people go to see and be seen or just relax and enjoy some drinks on beds in the sand. It has a bit of an Ibiza feel to it, but a bit calmer of course.

If you’re looking for typical Belgian cuisine, indulge in a steak tartar with salad and fries at Vieux Depot in Brasschaat (Oude baan 11). You can ask to prepare it yourself or they can prepare it for you (meaning adding pickles, egg yolk, mustard and other tasty ingredients).

As always, have a good trip!


Looking for a romantic, relaxing weekend getaway in Europe? Check out Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland, part of The Leading Hotels of the World group. Their website depicts great views of the idyllic countryside surroundings which are even more breathtaking in person.

Service is excellent – TJ especially goes above and beyond. You can choose to do many activities or nothing at all, depending on your preference. If you land at Dublin, the drive is approximately two and a half hours, but it’s worth it. Built in 1228, the castle still retains its charm to this day, and has intrigued many world leaders and celebrities who have stayed here. Take a walk and see the beautiful grounds.

Activities include horseback riding, golf, falconry, and clay target shooting among other things. Spa treatments are also available.

I highly recommend their Virgin Mary cocktail, and both the red and white Puna Snipe wines, and the George V restaurant offers delicious cuisine!

As always, have a great trip:).