An Aura of Elegance: Hotel du Palais

By Shereen Shabnam

I fell in love with Biarritz the minute I got off the train. Facing the Ocean Atlantic and on the beach “La Grande Plage de Biarritz” near the city center of Biarritz, the prestigious sea side deluxe Hotel du Palais of Biarritz was breathtaking at first sight.

Walking into the reception area, I had images of the past filled with memories of Gala evenings and stately affairs of the past era. During one of my visits to France over the last few years, I go back in time when I experienced the best of all that a luxury resort can offer at Hotel du Palais.

During meals where I was never left alone, I found that luxury travellers come from all over the world, all year long to enjoy this fabulous setting, warm welcome, elite service, charm and comfort. It is indeed a living souvenir of the history of Biarritz, France and Europe. The “Villa Eugénie”, now the Hotel du Palais, was constructed in 1855 by Napoléon III for his wife Eugénie de Montijo.

No matter how many times I go back to France, the memory of this visit is as fresh and alive in my mind. The clear blue sea at my doorstep reminded me of my home country, Fiji Islands. I still visualise the elegance is deco in every corner from the entrance to my breakfast table where I enjoyed writing while gazing at the blue waters overlooking the hotel.

The main hall, the private salons, the dining room and the grounds have all maintained their Second Empire style. A style that defines Biarritz and assures its reputation as an amazing sea resort, it is this charm, touched with elegance, deluxe and personal that makes this hotel one of a kind.

Biarritz is a little city that has it all. Lively with its casinos, its greens (the region has ten 18 holes golf courses and an International training center, unique in Europe), its boutiques, and the rich green hillsides and its gentle year-round climate.

This picturesque seaside town became a favourite with European royalty in the 19th Century, who fell in love with its pretty beaches, warm climate and relaxed atmosphere. The Hotel du Palais has played host to stars of screen and other luminaries since the 1950s and 60s and offers a timeless glamour and luxury rarely found in today’s resorts.

Biarritz has a lot of beautiful buildings to offer today amongst which, the Hotel du Palais stand out. It’s a vibrant cosmopolitan town with magnificent beaches, golf courses and numerous sporting facilities, not forgetting the surf. Surfing started in France here in Biarritz and surfers come from all over the world to ride the waves.

The Hotel du Palais has practiced and perfected the art of receiving people. In the public areas and guest rooms the original Second Empire style has been retained, with period furniture, original works of art and high decorated ceilings. This is the place to stay for the ultimate Biarritz experience. Guests can lounge by the pool with a cocktail, or head to the nearby beach for some sunbathing, surfing or people-watching.

I enjoyed the world of the Spa Imperial with Guerlain dedicated to well-being, relaxation and fitness. It is the most transforming and customized Spa experience, where cutting edge innovation unites with luxury, emotion and sensuality. It comes with an indoor swimming pool, sauna, stream rooms, fitness center and a beauty parlour with a Hair Care Institute.

Food in France is always a talking point and the great dining experience at the hotel’s restaurants and lounges provide guests with an unforgettable culinary experience. Among the facilities available at the hotel is a foreign exchange service, safe deposit boxes, telex, photocopy, fax and secretariat services. Other Business centre facilities at the hotel include computers for guest use and in room facilities include voice mail, fax machine on request, work desk and modem point.

Executive rooms in addition boast butler service and express check out. L’Hotel du Palais also boasts a selection of reception rooms which can host from 14 to 500 people in various settings – ideal for meetings, seminars or launch parties

All reservations for tickets, sightseeing tours, shows etc are available from the Concierge. For guest convenience, there is also a babysitting as well as medical assistance.  The hotel also has a boutique, hairdresser, heated sea-water swimming-pool with direct access to the beach, solarium, sauna and a golf pitching green. For the active guests, there is the option of playing tennis, golf and horse riding.

There are a number of interesting museums in the area, including the Biarritz Marine Museum with its underwater viewing area, and the rather indulgent Chocolate Museum, which offers tasting sessions. The Historical Museum of Biarritz is situated in a former church and tells the story of the town’s transformation from tiny fishing village to high-society resort.

Hotel du Palais is obviously an address of undeniable prestige and one of the last great palaces around where guests can enjoy being treated like royalty. I felt regal throughout my stay and it has become one of my top destinations in Europe.

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Top five places to visit in the UAE

By Shereen Shabnam

As a Lifestyle, Travel and Motoring journalist, I spend a substantial amount of time on the road and recently, I decided to do my test drives with a purpose and with the aim of getting to a new or attraction around the different Emirates. Below are some of my favourite places in the different Emirates.

Al Khor Kayak – Al Rafisah Dam

During a recent test drive with the Nissan Xterra, I stopped at the Al Rafisah Dam in Khor Fakkan with my daughter and enjoyed kayaking amidst stunning hilly landscapes complete with a mini waterfall followed by spending time watching kids enjoying the playground and parents enjoying a cup of coffee at the cafe.

The Al Khor Kayak is near Khor Fakkan and it costs only AED30/- for a double kayak rental. There are also restrooms and a terrace with gorgeous views across the water and surrounding mountains.

IMG Resorts

Situated along Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, IMG Worlds of Adventure, the largest temperature controlled indoor themed entertainment destination in the world is another favourite spot for us to visit as it offers four epic adventure zones in one location.

After a leisurely drive in the new Ford Explorer, it seemed like a perfect place to stop for a dose of adventure with Cartoon Network, MARVEL, IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure zones.

Here you can enjoy adrenaline-pumping roller coasters, thrill rides, attractions based on Cartoon Network characters, iconic MARVEL Super Heroes and dinosaurs. We loved the variety of themed retail stores, the various dining venues and the 12-screen state-of-the-art cinema.

Yas Island

We ventured to Yas Waterworld while I tested the Honda Odyssey as it is a car for the family but you can fit in two small families for family fun at a venue that comes complete with three award-winning theme parks and a mall.

We were able to have some splashing excitement at Yas Waterworld that comes with an adventure playground and did a photoshoot with the kids. Then we moved on to speed and thrills at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi trying to fit in the many rides and attractions.

This left us with not much time to meet the live characters at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi but thankfully we had another full day to do it all over again with a bit of retail therapy at the mall and exhilarating rides, live shows and sampling different cuisine in the restaurants on the Island.

Shees Park

We stopped at Shees Park on the way back to Dubai from Fujairah for a bit of desert nature and a coffee at the Gerard Cafe after a Nissan SUV experience.

The recreational park is near the village of Shis in Khor Fakkan and features a 25-meter-high artificial waterfall as well as 506 meters of walkways across three mountain terraces connected by stone stairs leading to the main viewing platform.

The viewing area on the top elevates is about 30 meters above the main park level.It includes a children’s play area, 32 shaded seating areas for families, an outdoor theater and a barbecue area. We spent some time on the swings before heading back to Dubai.

Al Ain Zoo

This is an old favourite. I headed to Al Ain in the new BMW 4 series which was a comfortable ride from Dubai to the Garden City.  While I love driving up to Jebel Hafeet, the Al Ain Zoo is also a great family destination.

Set within in a natural outdoor environment, the Al Ain Zoo has a large animal collection of over 4000 animals. Here you can see endangered species as well as the successful breeding of desert antelopes, gazelles and Arabian Oryx. You need to give yourself at least half a day to do justice to this venue.

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Incredible India: A sanctuary for wellness retreats

By Shereen Shabnam

India has always been an interesting destination with fascinating diversity but now it is on the top of the list for tour operators and others in the industry for short breaks and wellness retreats. Regional residents always look at India for medical tourism and wellness sector. It is a multi-faceted tourist destination for Luxury, Wildlife and Wellness.

India is also poised to become the hub for medical tourism because of several factors. World class hospitals with latest technology, highly skilled Indian physicians and surgeons, low cost of treatment, excellent quality of care, nursing and Indian hospitality, comparatively less waiting time for availing the medical services, India’s traditional healthcare therapies like Ayurveda & Yoga combined with allopathic treatment providing a holistic wellness are key reasons for tourists heading to India for healing purposes.

Almost all thestates of India are developing new products to capitalize on India’s potential from its traditional systems of wellness and medicines, such as Ayurveda, Siddha and Yoga, to present the country as a unique destination for spiritual healing. As the rain clouds start rumbling in the horizon, health resorts and clinics come up with comprehensive Ayurveda packages to pamper and rejuvenate tourists.

Monsoon is considered the best season for Ayurveda rejuvenation programmes as the atmosphere remains dust-free and moist, which in turn opens up the body pores making them more receptive to herbal oils and massages. India has one of the most lucrative health and wellness tourism markets in the world.

Medical Tourism has been growing rapidly and the whole world has taken a note of the massive transformation that has taken place in the Indian Healthcare sector particularly in the Secondary Super Specialty Care in the last two decades.

Tourism sector in India is looking forward to further strengthening the spirit of Indo-Arab partnership for trade development and cultural exchanges between the two regions. India’s centuries old multi-faceted ties with the Arab world, its geographical proximity, long-standing cultural and trading ties between the two nations will help take this partnership to newer heights.

India is promoting the “high-tech healing” of its private healthcare sector as a tourist attraction. As a leading healthcare services hub in the region, more and more Arab patients are flying to India each year for low-cost but world-class medical treatment. Most estimates claim treatment costs in India start at around a tenth of the price of comparable treatment in America or Britain.

The country has established world-class expertise in practices such as cardiac care, cosmetic surgery, joint replacements and dentistry. Another major attraction is yoga and naturopathy that is fast gaining popularity across the globe.

Explore nature, wildlife and landscapes out of this world. Collect handicrafts, jewellery and fabrics like nowhere else. Discover heritage, monuments & sculptures you’ve never imagined or simply rejuvenate your body, mind and soul like never before.

India tourism is already taking steps to well equip the infrastructure facilities to welcome so many tourists. With the modernization of airports all across the country, adding hotel rooms especially at the tourist interest places and with clean India campaign launched, India is all set to welcome the additional number of foreign tourists.

With its natural beauty, vivid festivals, exotic beaches and architectural marvels, from Palace & Heritage hotels, to deserts, to skiing in the mountains, swimming or diving at beautiful beaches; boat houses in Kerala and Kashmir, luxurious camps in national parks, luxurious train journeys as well as the diverse range of accommodation from budget to the top 5-star properties and spa resorts, India has charmed and mesmerized its visitors from this region.

There are countless reasons to visit Incredible India!

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Return to Budapest

By Shereen Shabnam

After a few delightful days in Prague, we took a train to Budapest to experience the city’s rich history, natural sites and their thermal springs.  I expected my second visit to Budapest to be an adventure going into areas not discovered in my first trip but I was drawn once again into doing everything I did before and more.

 The Danube cruise is magical and the view of the city from Gellert Hill is a breathtaking experience as always but Budapest has so much more to offer. My first task was to find a hotel conveniently located in the centre of the city and the Radisson Blu Béke Hotel, Budapest fit the bill perfectly. 

My daughter was adamant about going into the House of Terrors and I reserved this for the last day so she could walk there from the hotel while I could shop during her tour. The hotel allows guests to experience history without sacrificing modern amenities as all rooms provide individual climate control and Free high-speed, wireless Internet, while Olive’s Restaurant and Zsolnay Café serve freshly prepared meals and desserts.  

We took a private tour of the city, divided into 2 parts by the Danube. Buda, the hilly area, lies west, while Pest lies to the east of the river and both have historic sites so the tour ensured we cover both sides depending on our interests with an English-speaking guide.

The Castle Hill area is perfect as well to view the city and it houses several museums and galleries showcasing the history and culture of Hungary. It is a great place for taking pictures. Matthias Church, one of Budapest’s architectural masterpieces looks stunning and makes a perfect backdrop while the Fishermen’s Bastion, built on the site where the old fish market stood in the Middle Ages even attracted newly weds doing their wedding portraits on site. The Bastion’s walls, staircases and domed turrets offer picturesque views overlooking the Danube.

Our guide took us to Gellert Hill, a 140-metre dolomite cliff which I feel has the best views of the city. You can also see the statue of St. Gellert and we looked at large blown up images of the city in the past and how it looks today.

We passed the Chain Bridge and later saw it again in all its glory at night during the river cruise at night. Another elegant bridge over the Danube is the Elisabeth Bridge, named after King Franz Josef I’s wife, Elisabeth.

On the other side of the river, Pest has wonderful palaces, churches, monuments and squares, as well as being the commercial hub of the city. St. Stephen’s Basilica has many beautiful mosaics, paintings and sculptures, including one of St. Stephen wearing a halo.

The Parliament Buildings looked stunning in the day and even more majestic at night. It is Budapest’s most famous building with the most beautiful exteriors and interiors. We loved the performance by the Palace guards that attracted bus loads of visitors to the Palace.

Our next stop was the Heroes Monument area, a vast, paved square featuring a 36-metre column with a statue of Archangel Gabriel on top. At the base, there are several statues of Magyar chieftains and behind the column and on either side of it, there are two semi-circular colonnades, with groups of horsemen on top and statues of past Hungarian rulers within the square.

The Margaret Island in the centre of the Danube is a recreational hub that has numerous recreational activities like biking, swimming or visiting a bathing complex, with thermal pools. If you prefer nature, then head to the City Park that has a large lake, which, in winter, is used for ice skating, a fairytale castle, the Transport Museum, the Szechenyi Baths with hot springs, an amusement park and Budapest Zoo.

On our return to the Radisson Blu Beke, we relaxed in the hotel Café that boasts the best pastries. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, a business centre with secretarial services and eight flexible meeting rooms. I loved the one with paintings all over the wall.

Budapest indeed caters to all tastes; there is a thriving theatre culture, classical concerts, jazz, outdoor activities, opera, much to my daughter’s delight and great food options. I need to get back there with more time to soak in the mineral water that comes from various thermal springs surrounding the city.

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Sandbank Picnics to Sunset Escapades

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa

By Shereen Shabnam

After a period of not travelling for nearly a year, heading to Maldives was indeed a treat and a few days at the award-winning Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa brought so many memorable moments.

The resort is home to an exquisite collection of accommodation options from elegant deluxe rooms to charming cottages and indulging water bungalows and villas. We stayed in a chalet right on the beach with an open-air bathroom that in itself was exquisite.

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa has five dining venues and two bars, offering a diverse selection of cuisines that range from authentic Thai or Indian, savory Chinese and Caribbean-inspired meals, to favored Mediterranean picks.  

The Resort also features Sea Salt, a seaside open-air seafood restaurant, where we had an amazing meal during sunset. The sandbank picnic, sunset dinner and the lunch in the sea while our feet stayed submerged in the water were all memorable experiences we will not forget for years.

On our last night, we went for a Maldivian buffet right on the beach with entertainment from the hotel staff that left us mesmerised and while the more adventurous diners had a great night dancing under the stars while enjoying the freshly grilled seafood from the dinner.

During our stay, we tried the award-winning Shine Spa for Sheraton, located on its very own island and offers a generous treatment menu to restore balance to body and mind. I selected a massage that restored my energy and had we ready for more island adventures on offer at the resort.

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa also invites guests to participate in the coral-fragment plantation activity in an effort to promote reef habitats and generate new coral. The resort has teamed up with Reefscapers, a coral propagation organization appointed by the Maldivian Government as custodians of the coral colonies in the Gulhi Falhu lagoon which was slated to be destroyed as part of a reclamation project.

The activity is led by experts and offers a hands-on experience to participants while also providing an alternative business to the 250 inhabitants whose sole previous source of employment was fishing.

Another activity we enjoyed was the weaving workshops where we learnt to weave gorgeous headbands, hats and bracelets from palm tree leaves. The activity is a favourite amongst guests of all ages but in particular kids who prefer making cute leaf animals they can play with.

My favourite was getting up for yoga by the beach early morning to start the day, just before indulging in breakfast. The boat ride to watch dolphins was memorable as we watched dolphins playfully chasing each other in the sea. Sailing back to the resort during sunset was definitely a value add to the boat ride.

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is definitely a resort I would go back to in a heartbeat for a relaxing and chilled out holiday.

Tranquility with Sun, Sea and Sand: Grand Park Kodhipparu

By Shereen Shabnam

As one of the few countries currently open to tourists, Maldives has become the best place to be for GCC travellers with no quarantine, well-coordinated safety measures and in-resort PCR testing. We travelled to two different Islands to and find that Maldives as a travel destination is doing all it can keep the tourism industry alive safely during this pandemic.

After a four-hour flight with Emirates taking all precautions, we arrived at the Grand Park Kodhipparu taking a 20-minute speedboat ride from the airport. The first view of the island left us breathless with pristine beaches and stunning scenery while the welcome music and drinks put us into holiday mode right away.

Grand Park Kodhipparu is located in North Male Atoll famous for its dive sites, abundant marine life and enthralling underwater experiences. It is a one-island-one-resort destination and an oasis of tranquility.  

I stayed in one of the water villas that has a spacious and modern interior and a warm, rustic exterior. Highlights were direct lagoon access, a private plunge pool and an over water net for lounging. We had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of turtles, stingrays and hundreds of colourful fish species directly from our water villa. 

A fully equipped Dive & Water Sports Centre includes a team of PADI certified professionals to introduce some of the best diving spots in the Maldives, suitable both for beginner and advanced divers, and a wide array of water sports activities, such as catamaran sailing, jet skiing parasailing, banana boat riding, kayaking, windsurfing and more.

The resort is also family-friendly with a wide array of children’s facilities including a kids club with dedicated staff offering engaging children’s activities. Babysitting service is available upon request.

For recreation, there is a gymnasium, yoga deck, games lounge, sauna rooms and of course a great meeting point is the 45m long infinity pool located at the Breeze Poolside Dining & Bar. Here we enjoyed welcome drinks, sundowners as well as post dinner drinks that came with live music.

Ocean front dining is a must for visitors to the resort at the pool bar, on the beach where couples can organize a candlelight dinner under the stars or head out for fine dining at Fire Door with a view of sharks and other marine life swimming while the chefs prepare a delectable meal in an open kitchen. Every meal at Grand Park Kodhipparu was a culinary delight.

Highlight of my trips abroad is always the spa experience. The warm ambience of treatment rooms at the Grand Park Kodhipparu were ideal for our massage with friendly therapists who helped us select the right oils for relaxation.

We were indeed sad to leave the Resort as we felt safe and at ease throughout our stay with social distancing in public areas, QR code menus and regular sanitisation all around the island. For tourists looking for a safe haven to rest and relax, Grand Park Kodhipparu offers an island sanctuary with pristine natural beauty, waves crashing against the shore, palm trees swaying, seclusion away from the crowds and a laid-back island life.

#Maldives #GrandParkKodhipparu #Hotel #Resorts #Destination #Travel #Staycation #Vacation #GlobalTrendMonitor #Island #IslandLife

Redefining Luxury Travel

Turkish Airlines’ state-of-the-art lounges

Shereen Shabnam

Using Istanbul as a stopover when I head over to my Spanish home is a lot more fun now as the stop in Istanbul breaks the journey and gives us an opportunity to experience the luxuriously revamped airport lounges that Turkish Airlines is famous for amongst seasoned travellers.

The newly expanded airport lounges align with the Turkish Airlines’ brand of luxury and offer travellers a more rewarding airport experience. When flying with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul Airport, Business Class passengers and Economy passengers with Miles&Smiles membership can make use of one of the 2 international lounges, the Business Lounge or the Miles&Smiles Lounge depending on their eligibility, or they can use the Domestic Lounge for domestic flights.

The Business Lounge sprawls across 5,800 sq.m, seats 765 guests, and is easily one of the most well-equipped lounges in the world. With 13 private suites, shower cabins, a Turkish museum, a movie hall, and a variety of delicious Turkish food, the lounge offers world-class refinement and promises a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Miles&Smiles Lounge, designed for Turkish Airlines’ frequent fliers, also offers a diverse range of entertainment which make the transit between cities the best part of the journey. Open 24 hours, passengers can spend their downtime at the cinema, console gaming or use the spacious children’s playground where the fun never ends.

Meeting rooms and a library are also available. Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles Lounge has an area of 5.600 m2 and can seat up to 765 people. The lounge houses 11 suites with 11 showers, comfortable couches and delicious treats of Turkish and world cuisines.

The Domestic Lounge is accessible through a special entrance gate located outside the terminal and is designed to help passengers relax and revive. With a brand-new children’s play area equipped with game consoles, and an interactive gaming experience, the lounge offers parents a chance to enjoy a stress-free experience as the play corners are overseen by a dedicated Turkish Airlines supervisor.

A selection from the Istanbul Modern Collection can also be seen at the Turkish Airlines Lounge in the airline’s brand new hub, Istanbul Airport. Turkish Airlines and Istanbul Modern entered into a cooperation to introduce Turkey’s modern art to the world.

As the Turkey’s first modern and contemporary art museum, a special selection from the Istanbul Modern will be displayed in Turkish Airlines Business Lounge at Istanbul Airport. Spanning 130 square-meters, the exhibition titled “A Selection from the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection” will bring significant examples that represent four main dispositions of modern art of Turkey together.

Made possible with the collaboration of Turkish Airlines and Istanbul Modern, collection selections will be renewed three times annually within the project. Within the exhibition there will be varied type of artworks ranging from the early 20th century landscape painting tradition to the abstract paintings of artists looking for a synthesis between eastern and western arts during 1950s.

Housing the works that illustrate the daily life presence of figure painting, the exhibition will also display compositions that interpret cultural values of Anatolia with a new perspective.

Now with an advanced new hub and superior facilities, Turkish Airlines’ goal remains to continue expanding globally by increasing both its destination and fleet numbers, while providing passengers with unparalleled customer service in-flight and on the ground.

Perfect Portugal

By Shereen Shabnam

When I look back at my time in Portugal, what comes to mind is the medieval castles, palaces, hilltop castles, picturesque cobblestone villages, bustling towns and great food.

My favourite time was sitting in the open-air cafes, watching the locals while enjoying freshly baked bread, delicious fried sardines served with sauces of your choice, olives, a wide variety of cheeses and the best potato dishes that I have never been able to emulate in my kitchen. If you like desserts as much as I do, indulge in an egg custard tart from the many cafes around the city.

As a foodie, I found the Mercado da Ribeira a haven, in particular the local produce in the food hall with a wide variety of cuisine to suit different tastes.

Portugal is idyllic and has a bountiful coastline, fertile countryside, scenic vineyards and some of the best markets to wander through. I was lucky enough to venture outside the city in search of ceramics one year and loved the true beauty of Portugal.

The country has biking and hiking trails with pristine scenery, olive trees, all the beautiful colours of nature, historic villages, riverside cafes, beaches with calm blue seas, boating, surfing and kayaking areas along the meandering Rio Guadiana, country fairs and music fests all along the coast.

In Lisbon, I recommend taking the vintage retro streetcars to explore the city’s narrow streets and normally unseen streets. Take the historic Alfama tour which takes you through Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood.  There are walking tours, rail tours and private day trips offered by local agents who know the city best.

The museums and Aquarium tours and the Tagus River sunset cruise leaves you with a really great feeling afterwards and the cruise is one of the most relaxing activities you can do in Portugal.

I flew to Lisbon with Emirates and stayed in the town square which was a perfect place to wander around in the evenings.

#Portugal #Travel #destination adventure #GoingPlaces #aircraft #Tourism LuxuryTravel #TravelDiary #AmazingPlaces #Travelling #Globetrotter #Traveller#OffTheBeatentrack

Pearl of the Orient: Penang Malaysia

By Shereen Shabnam

During my nine years in Malaysia, Penang was the most popular local exotic holiday destination we used to head to for a dose of cultural sights and natural scenery.

Known as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is famous for its many soft sandy beaches and viewed as the food capital of Malaysia. As students, we used to spend most of our time trying street food in hawker stalls and exploring night markets with local delicacies which on the weekends was popular among residents of Penang and visitors to the Island.

Penang is also popular because of the palm fringed sandy beaches of Tanjung Bungah, fishing villages, the Snake Temple, the vibrant Georgetown area with heritage houses, small shop houses, old British colonial buildings and the Tropical Spice Garden.

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, many of the old derelict buildings are being restored to their former grandeur, offering even more places to visit on the island.

We love staying on the Batu Ferringhi Beach when we visit Penang as it offers a long stretch of shoreline ideal for swimming and the hotels are in abundance to suit every budget. Tanjung Bungah is another popular option for tourists.

Penang is an island that leaves you wanting to stay longer because of the historical sites, sandy beaches, night markets and so much more.

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Indulgent Escape: Gramado

By Shereen Shabnam

One of the most memorable trips I have taken as a motoring enthusiast was to Gramado, a tiny mountain resort that has the Hollywood Car Museum and a place for super car driving experiences. The town is like a Swiss mountain village with boutiques selling avant-garde glasswork, gourmet chocolate and has some of the best local clothes and shoe designers.

Cuisine

For food lovers, Gramado is a town that arouses all of your senses. The smell of chocolate and fondue is all around and the gastronomic experiences at cafes with restaurants along the streets that specialize in fondue. The city’s strong European influence can be seen in several traditional local dishes, but delicious Brazilian-inspired favorites can also be found throughout this destination. 

Italian and German recipes, brought to the city by its European colonists and founders, are the most popular of the city’s diverse options. I had my best Italian meal in Gramado.

Architecture

Most of the architecture comes from Bavarian inspiration with a lot of timber-framing and hotels are decked out like Swiss chalets with an Alpine vibe. The city is a delight to explore with building designs that are head turners.

Lago Negro

One of my favourite stops was the manmade lake Negro with pine trees grown from seedlings from Germany’s Black Forest. A great place to walk and explore nature and visitors can enjoy the paddle boats as well. The walk around the lake is memorable and a must if you are in the area.

Hollywood Dream Cars Museum

One of my first stops in Gramado was the Hollywood Dream Cars Museum with a collection of some very interesting vintage and rare cars, memorabilia from the past with period music andan eclectic atmosphere. Visitors can step back in time as this collection explores the golden age of both the automobile and the movie industry.  

The museum showcases cars dating from the 1920s to 1960s that have been restored and polished to perfection. I enjoyed adding some retro props to my attire for some nostalgic pictures during my tour. It is the most fun I have had in a car related journey I took in an exotic location.

Gramado is definitely a place I would love to go back to try more super car experiences, have more fun at the car museum and for a dose of chocolate treats along the way.

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