Alpine Attractions Zermatt

By Shereen Shabnam

My favourite place in Switzerland is Zermatt, situated far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life at an altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level. The historic village oozes with charm and the high street is lined with luxury shopping, world-class restaurants and local gatherings post the day’s adventures.

I usually stay at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof Zermatt, which is more like a second home for me in Zermatt because of the warmth of the staff, the hotel location and the fact that I can see the Matterhorn from my bed as I wake up in the morning.

Dominated by the Matterhorn, Zermatt is a rare place where everything works in synergy and GCC travellers can enjoy memorable summer and winter stays that includes a generous breakfast buffet during the festive season at this majestic property.

My favourite memory from my visit is the transfer to and from the Zermatterhof and Zermatt station in a horse-drawn carriage – most places use an electric bus on the day of your arrival and departure but I always inform the desk on my preference before arrival.

Guests at the Zermatterhof can enjoy a generous breakfast buffet, mineral water and soft drinks from the minibar, Ronnefeldt-Tea, Nespresso coffee machine with capsules, use of the spa, pool, steam bath, saunas, jacuzzi, ice grotto and gym and wireless Internet in the room and in all public areas.

Once you step into the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, hospitality and luxury takes on a whole new meaning. It is a hotel you want to spend time in, meet with other guests and enjoy a hot chocolate while gazing at the Matterhorn.

And Grand Hotel Zermatterhof is where time means something different from what it means in the city. It is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

For ski enthusiasts, there is no better place than Zermatt to flirt with adventure and enjoy the sport with untouched stunning terrain and a helicopter to give you a lift there. Zermatt is the Alps’ largest heli-skiing destination and offers the best snow with the stunning beauty of the Alps.

My last visit to Zermatt was with family so we did more exploring of the mountains, train rides to closer viewing points of the Matterhorn and the highlight for my teen was the Glacier Palace.

The Glacier Palace was filled with sparkling ice sculptures enchanting visitors with artworks carved into different designs. It is a fairy-tale palace deep under the perennial snows leading through the glacier to sites such as a glacier crevasse and an ice toboggan run.

Zermatt is a private playground for guests who truly want to get away and indulge in a memorable holiday. For me, it is always a destination I go to when I am in Switzerland.

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeking the Sun – Lanzarote

By Shereen Shabnam

Lanzaroteis the perfect weather destination for holiday seekers almost all year round with diverse landscapesthat range fromvolcanic caves, lava lakes and craters, sandy beaches and transparent waters.
The natural heritage areas, dramatic landscapes, bustling tourist towns, parks and long sandy beaches makes Lanzarote an island of exceptional beauty and an ideal place to visit. If you are a nature lover, drop in at the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, (Timanfaya National Park) which is one of the island’s greatest tourist attractions.

With excellent year-round climate and unique landscape, Lanzarote allows sun and the beach lovers to enjoy a series of activities likediving,surfing, windsurfing, swimming and kite surfing. It is a paradise for surferswith powerful waves and on calm days, visitors can dive anywhere in Lanzarote.

If you really enjoy surfing, head to Famara Beachwhere both beginners and advanced surfers gather and head to the sea to get practice. Sailingin Lanzarote is also perfect in the summer when the island receivesTrade Winds, ensuring you can sail without risk and enjoy the full experience of being out on the water.

The weather in Lanzarote is perfect for hiking, running, golfing, trekking, bikingand much more when exploring the local outskirts. The cycle network routes to suit all levels of bikers who can enjoy the view the island offers of volcanoes and unique landscapes. Runners can enjoy trails through mountains as they come across wild coasts, cliffs and nature trails as well as shops and cafes to enjoy local food.

If you enjoy golfing, Lanzaroteis known for enjoying each hole against an unbelievable backdrop formed by sea and volcanoes.  Golf can be played year-round in favourable climatic conditions, thanks to the island’s average temperature of 22°C. The two golf courses in Lanzarote are built in perfect harmony with the landscape and close to beaches, restaurants and other leisure activities.

Families can enjoy spectacular crystal-clear waters and superb stretches of white, golden and black sand. Popular beaches are Papagayo, Puerto del Carmen and Matagorda, Famara, Arrieta, Caleton Blanco, Orzola and the island of La Graciosa.

Because of the lush vegetation and natural resources, food in Lanzarote is fresh and mostly organic and visitors can try local traditional cuisine contemporary gastronomic dishes featuring fresh seafood, vegetables and meat.

If you are my type of a holidaymaker who makes spas a reason to go on holiday, you will not be disappointed in Lanzarote which has serene and sophisticated wellness centres, spas and thalassotherapy with massages and treatments that help your mind and body reach unwind and relax.

If you like celebrations, the traditional festivals and the famous Carnival should be perfect for you and on a smaller scale, the popular markets held every Sunday morning are fun with food and music.

Another place to go with children is The Atlantic Museum, the first underwater art museum in Europe that has a large artificial reef formed by 300 sculptures made with the neutral pH concrete that will in time increase marine biomass.

For nature lovers, Cueva de los Verdes is a fascinating cave to visit, created by the eruptions of the La Corona Volcano and The Cactus Garden is perfect for walks. Then there is the Mirador del Río, whichhas a balcony from where spectacular views over the Chinijo Archipelago can be enjoyed.

If you have time, the island of La Graciosa is a must visit as it is the most distinctive island in the Canaries, with only 600 inhabitants and is an idyllic destination full of peace, nature and serenity both in the popular areas and by its many beaches. Lanzarote is indeed a destination that has all one needs in one place for visitors of all ages.

 

 

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Natural Perfection – Sun Siyam Iru Fushi – Maldives

By Shereen Shabnam

There are very few countries in the world that come close to the beauty of my home country Fiji Islands and theRepublic of Maldives is one of few that does come close. Located in the Indian Ocean, Maldives has 1,192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atollswith almost 400,000 inhabitants.

We recently ventured into Maldives to visit the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, a paradise resort known for luxury, romance, water sports, picturesque clear blue sea and tropical bliss.

We started our journey as a group together at the Etihad Business Lounge in Abu Dhabi sampling delicacies and getting to know each other better. From Check-in to the lounge and to aircraft, our experience was seamless and the attentive service by the crew was a bonus.

Being an islander I love the sun, sand and sea when on holiday and the marine world in Maldives is known for its beauty, especially the coral reefs that are home to a variety of marine ecosystems.

During my first two days at the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, I explored the cool and contemporary spaces, stylish interiors, and beautiful gardens around the island. I was offered water based activities such as scuba diving, fishing, swimming, water skiing, wind surfing and snorkeling but I opted for a sting ray feeding experience and a boat ride to spot dolphins at play – both experiences were magical.

Guests at Iru Fushi can enjoy the unspoilt islands of Noonu Atoll, where Maldivian past life is reflected with boat builders working meticulously sanding wood to reveal a silken finish, children being educated about local marine species and farming of fruits and organic vegetables.

My room was a water villa on stilts with a small glass on the floor that gave me a view of the area below serving as personal coral garden and natural aquarium. The area felt like having a large natural swimming pool that protected me from the ocean waves and strong tidal currents beyond the villas. Close by, other guests enjoyed walking on the soft sand and sun bathing before jumping into the crystal clear waters.

Spas are my weakness and the resort offers a 20-room tropical spa with an enormous range of treatments, including massages, relaxation therapies and facials set in a tranquil environment. It is the perfect place for a beauty break.I enjoyed walking barefoot along the cobbled paths; the white sands and watched the palm trees as they gently leaned into the breeze after my massage session.

While waiting for my flight, I waited at the hotel’s private lounge near the airport where I tried a refreshing welcome drink, a quick snack and a short shoulder massage. Designed to be the one of the best airport lounges in the Maldives, the spacious private lounge can be used by guests arriving to The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi.  The lounge also has a children’s play room, outdoor balcony, free WiFi, computer stations as well as showers and changing facilities.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi’s Deluxe Beach has Villas with Pool, Pool Beach Villas, Sunset Horizon Water Villas or Infinity Water Villas. The resort features 221 luxury oceanfront villas, including 70 over-water bungalows, 14 restaurant and bar choices with a wide range of activities.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is 45 minutes seaplane journey from the capital, Malé, where Velana International Airport is located. Guests are met by a uniformed team member on arrival and then taken on a 10-minute drive by shuttle to the seaplane terminal to the designated seaplane lounge while waiting for the seaplane boarding call.

Visit Sun Siyam Iru Fushi and take in its vibrant local life, which has been influenced by various cultures and yet remains unique and a perfect holiday destination with relaxing days that are long and sun-filled and nights that are exciting and energetic.

We flew to Maldives with Etihad Airways because of the convenient timings and premium service and took a domestic fight to the Island. I just wish I could experience this mesmerizing award-winning resort for longer.

 

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Sicilian Vibes – Taormina

By Shereen Shabnam

Seeing Sicily by road with a Jeep Cherokee proved to be one of the most exciting trips I did last month visiting the most famous areas in Taormina, staying on the bay with a picturesque view of the bay, going on a dinner cruise and exploring ancient ruins before continuing the journey to other parts of beautiful Sicily.

Taormina is one of Italy’s most historic holiday resorts perched on a slope high above the Ionian Sea on the eastern coast of Sicily. It is a popular and trendy destination with numerous attractions and dining options close to the site of one of the earliest colonies founded by the Ancient Greeks in Sicily. It is known for its favourable position, mild climate and captivating atmosphere.

The town is on the hill of the Monte Tauro, dominating two grand, sweeping bays below and on the southern side, the top of Mount Etna, the European highest active volcano. From my hotel room in Hotel Villa Diodoro, I still have a vision of a memorable view of almost one hundred miles of Mediterranean sea and the mountains in the distant.

We drove through the tourist town in the new Jeep Cherokee and stopped at the town cathedral to explore the town for a taste of Sicilian dolce vita and ended up indulging in the best home made chocolates, exotic cheeses and gourmet food while going through colourful art, roadside gelato stands and taking in the breathtaking vistas.

The best part of Taormina was visiting the stunning ancient Greek theatre, which although in ruins in most parts, has both a magical and mythical atmosphere, seeing the Roman “Naumachiae”, the 10th century Palazzo Corvaja, the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Nicolò, the 16th century Palace of the Dukes of Saint Stefano and the public gardens.

The preservation of history and culture is evident as we walked through streets with a charming atmosphere exuded from the old town pedestrian areas. We were given the option of seeing art performances at the Greek theatre, painting exhibitions held in local palazzi and churces but we opted to use the day to walk along the famous “Corso Umberto” with its classical music cafès and pastry shops.

Sicilian cuisine uses a lot of natural locally grown ingredients and this is reflected in the taste of the food in the restaurants, pizzerias and cafes. We tried local pasta dishes, gelatos and cafes that were delicious and worth going back for. The quaint shops sold typical Sicilian products such as the renowned hand made ceramics, local gourmet items, fine leather, wrought iron and wooden products.

When we reached the bay area in the evening for a dinner cruise, we noticed a lot of locals and tourists enjoying water sports such as windsurfing, sailing, fishing, scuba diving and canoeing. Our guide mentioned that the Town of Linguaglossa is the point of departure of most excursions heading into the Mt. Etna Nature Park. We never made it to the top but seeing the live lava at night on the top from a distance was special and brought home the message of how nature can be so powerful in its different terrains.

Taormina is easy to reach from Catania Fontanarossa. The journey takes about an hour and a half and our journey was particularly special as we drove the new Jeep Cherokee through different parts of Sicily and explored the best of the natural terrain.The mid-sized SUV offers the pleasure of the open-air driving experience withthe optional CommandView dual-pane power sunroof, an off-road attitude its capability to ease itself through in the city.

 

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Destination of choice – Laax, Switzerland

By Shereen Shabnam

Switzerland is always a good idea as there are so many destinations within the country that have different attractions and vibes. One such place is Laax, a family-friendly haven dedicated to alpine adventures but offering more than just skiing. The area comprises the village of Laax, together with Salums, Cons, Laax Murschetg, and Laax Dorf.

Laax is part of the Weisse Arena Gruppe, which combines and markets the resorts of Flims, Laax and Falera under two brands. The winter programme is thus positioned under brand Laax, while the summer programme of Flims Laax Falera falls under brand Flims.

We enjoyed being there in the summer, as Flims Laax Falera becomes one large outdoor ‘playground’ for active guests.It offers a large network of hiking trails for walkers and has numerous wellness hotels. Falera, with its many patrician houses preserves the charm of a Graubünden mountain village, great for family holidays.

We especially enjoyed taking a Gondola to the summit of Crap Sogn Gionmountain 2252 meters above sea leveland toured the fascinating Galaaxy, which took us back to the past era of vinyl records, VCR videos and much more.

We then headed to the hiking trails, leading to beautiful lakes and enjoyed a culinary trail, which allowed us to sample some lovely local delicacies and organic, homegrown, innovative, gastronomic dishes.

We also spent a lovely afternoon visiting Lake Cauma, a breathtaking area where we walked through thick woods and relaxed by the exquisite turquoise lake, watching people swimming, chilling out, sunbathing and rowing. The Lake is surrounded by forests and contains a wooded island in the centre, where you can relax in complete tranquility.

Among the other beauty spots we came across here is Laaxersee or Lag Grond in the village of Laax Grisons, an excellent place for fishing in the summer.During one of our hikes, wealso managed to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking gorge, Ruinaulta, a canyon created by the Anterior Rhine between Ilanz/Glion and Reichenau and known as Switzerland’s `Grand Canyon’.

In the winter, visitors can enjoy 235 kilometres of snow-assured pistes across 100+ square kilometres around the ‘Crap Sogn Gion’ mountain. In fact, Laax attracts snowboarders and skiers from all over the world to its surrounding pistes and hosts important international snowboarding contests, such as the Burton European Open and the European Freeski Open LAAX.

Laax facilities include four snowparks, over 230km of pistes for all levels, as well as The Freestyle Academy, an indoor freestyle hall, which has trampolines, various skateboarding facilities, boulder area, airtrack, slackline and different sized kickers for skiers, bikers, snowboarders or skaters.

For bikers, Flims Laax Falera is a haven offering330 km of bike routes with marked trails and plenty of variety for every level, whether professional or beginner. An exciting way to explore the region is to book a bike guide and combine summer sports, such as hiking, downhill and mountain biking. 

The villages in the area are great places to have coffee, chocolates and make use of the facilities, including supermarkets, post offices, bakeries and various shops. There are around 40 shops spread through the three base villages, the majority of which are in Flims selling holiday essentials, ski gear, and local souvenirs. There are also food speciality stores where you can buy Swiss cheese and chocolate.

Both Flims and Laax have witnessed a design explosion in recent years, with architects favouring contemporary cool. In spite of this, traditional styles are still very much in evidence. The oldest surviving building in Laax was built in 1580 and the first hotel in 1880. Of particular interest is RestaurantCavigilli, Flims’ oldest house, dating from 1453, which comprises a Gothic parlour and an elegant dining room.

In Laax, we stayed at the Signinahotel overlooking a beautiful mountain panorama and close to great restaurants and places with a variety of recreational activities. We spent our evenings sampling Italian delicacies in the Ristorante Camino and other gourmet restaurants in the neighboring Rocks Resort, which, in addition to great eateries, features shops, biking tracks, skate boarding and roller-skating arenas.

To get there, Laax is only 45 minutes away from Chur by bus and roughly two hours from Zurich by car. We took the Swiss Pass and travelled from Zurich to Chur by train and then on to Signinahotel in Laax by bus – a wonderfully scenic journey in itself.

Bustling Bursa

By Shereen Shabnam

My first ever introduction to Bursa came when we were installing a travelling exhibition in the local science centre and my colleagues mentioned how cold it was there. It was then we realised that Turkey had it’s very own winter wonderland and months later I set out to experience the snow myself with Turkish Airlines.

Together with a group of tour operators from the UAE, we ventured to Mount Uludağ, Turkish for ‘Great Mountain’ which revealed a breath-taking panoramic vista, challenging ski slopes and magnificent views from the top – we even had some fun snowball fights up in the mountains after a scenic cable car ride.

One of the stops we made revealed chic alpine chalets, restaurants, hotels as well as traditional thermal hamams and modern spa facilities. Uludağ is also home to a few national parks and beautiful gardens, which makes it an ideal tourist destination.

Bursa is immersed with history and is awarded the UNESCO World Heritage status for being the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire. The modern buildings are hence built around the mosques, mausoleums and heritage areas.

Situated on the Silk Road, which was the main trade destination that linked the East to the West, the city is also at the core of the silk industry. We also were lucky to visit the Grand Mosque, Yesil Mosque, Emir Sultan Mosque, Yildirim Bazaar, Bursa castle, archaeology museum, the Islamic works museum and the new science centre.

Bursa is known for its food and the Bursa İskender, which is a platter lined with diced Turkish bread and topped with finely sliced doner kebab prepared from lamb meat layered on top with butter and tomatoes did not disappoint. We asked for some garlic sauce that made the dish even more delicious.

We also passed by the seaside town of Mudanya with well-preserved historical houses, a Medikion Monastary and the town’s old train station and ferryboat that now serve as charming hotels.

Highlight of our short trip was visiting the Cumalıkızık village, which was founded 700 years ago and is one of the best examples of Ottoman architecture.The houses are made out of adobe, rubble stones and wood.

Our group had a lovely afternoon at Saitabat, a three-feet waterfall with water sports. When in Turkey, freshly prepared seafood is a delicacy not to be missed. I even had the opportunity to meet some locals here who were passionate about food as they described their local cuisine and helped us sample some of the best delicacies from the region.

To get to Bursa, we flew Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and travelled to Bursa by bus with a ferry ride thrown in for some additional adventure. Bursa is a destination that has a lot to offer so doing some research ahead and planning daily activities ahead of the trip is advisable.

Pristine Paradise – Gstaad

By Shereen Shabnam

During a recent Switzerland trip, we explored numerous parts of the country before venturing to Gstaad, which is a playground for holidaymakers who prefer a touch of exclusivity for their holiday experiences in a unique landscape that is full of tradition, sports, delectable cuisine and culture.

Gstaad is known as a major ski resort and a popular destination amongst high society and the international jet set. Set amongst soaring mountains and prestigious international boarding schools, it is a popular holiday destination for royalty and celebrities. Cable cars connect surrounding ski areas such as Wispile and Rinderberg, with hundreds of kilometers of all-level pistes and cross-country trails.

We started our journey at the centre of Gstaad, which is the most popular and fell in love with the shortest “shopping mile” in Switzerland. With luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, luxury chalets, the car-free resort was a delight as we walked along the picturesque promenade and tried some of the local delicacies.  explored the local galleriesand exclusive shops.

Retail therapy in Gstaad is a delight with designer stores that include Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chopard, Brunello Cucinelli, Prada, Moncler, Ralph Lauren, and Cartier as well as boutiques that stock labels such as Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana, Tod’s, Burberry, Dior, Oscar de la Renta, and Marc Jacobs.

While my teenage daughter enjoyed river rafting thanks to the wonderful staff of the Huus Gstaad Hotel, my favourite part of the visit was going up the mountains for tobogganing, watching my daughter try different games and inhaling the fresh crisp air that makes the lungs feel good.

The countryside in Gstaad offers a versatile and diverse sports programme with hiking, mountain biking, paragliding and golf. Gstaad is also a wellness destination and guarantees an unsurpassed variety of leisure activities, spas, healthy cuisine, sports centres and indoor swimming pools.

Food lovers will be happy to note that Gstaad is also a paradise for fine diners, with more than 100 restaurants ranging from cosy raclette restaurants to acclaimed gourmet venues. Our most memorable meal was a five-course meal at Ultima Gstaad.

 

Leaving Gstaad is not easy as the wonderful views from cosy terraces, the picturesque mountains, fresh alpine air, gourmet cuisine, indoor games near warm fireplaces and outdoor adventures leaves an imprint on the heart and soul.

When I think of a perfect holiday now, my mind wanders to the warmth of the staff and the cosy lobby area of Huus Gstaad and this ultimate hospitality is what makes it a destination that attracts visitors back to the beautiful alpine heaven more than once.

 

Luxury Tropical Escapes – W South Beach

By Shereen Shabnam

Miami is a playground for celebrities and on the boardwalk of the coast area where the elite converge, sits W South Beach, a beachfront oasis in the heart of Miami’s most famous and visited coastal line. I stayed there to experience not just their room but their cuisine and enjoyed walking through their manicured garden area.

The W South Beach attracts visitors with its stunning design elements, high-ceilings, a lobby with a warm ambience filled with eclectic furniture an modern art. Before breakfast, I spent an hour exploring the lobby area and enjoyed the art of Damien Hirst and Jean-Michel Basquiat as well as a bit of retail therapy.

The large pool area featured inviting cabanas and comfortable lounge chairs next to the garden. The garden features winding paths amongst the swamp lily and flowering grasses, lanterns from the late 19th Century, sheets of poetry suspended from sea grape trees and 1920s-era objects discovered in French flea markets.

Dedicated poolside attendants pamper guests with all-natural cocktails and organic cold-pressed juices, light fare from WET Bar & Grille and invigorating towelettes. From here, one truly appreciates the calm and serenity of being in an enclosed garden and pool area reading and enjoying the view.

The ocean-facing rooms come with glass balconies and luxurious furnishings while the suites and penthouses feature amenities such as private rooftop plunge-pools, Wi Fi, docking station and services that remain unrivalled amongst luxury hotels.

Not to be missed is a visit to Mr. Chow, a restaurant that serves Chinese cuisine in an glamorous setting with delicious cocktails as perfect pre dinner drinks in the evenings.

The hotel has fitness facilities for the active guests. The high-tech haven has work out machines, a nutritionist and a Pilates program. A walk along the beach naturally provides a more relaxed workout.

The W South Beach is definitely a place I want to go back to for a sabbatical as it offers all that I need at the doorstep. It is the kind of hotel you hesitate to leave in fear of missing out.

 

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Al Inclusive Hospitality – Rixos Bab Al Bahr

By Shereen Shabnam

Located on the pristine beach of Al Marjan Island, a world-class man-made island, nestled in the waters of Ras Al Khaimah,Turkish hotelchain, Rixos Bab Al Bahr first opened its doors in the UAE with its all-inclusive concept that has proven to be a success with both local and International visitors.

Ras Al Khaimah is only a short drive from Dubai and the Emirate features endless sandy beaches, untouched deserts and favorable weather all year round, which facilitate an array of tourist attractions.  I stayed at the Rixos Bab Al Bahr and experienced the essence of traditional Turkish hospitality, as is the trademark of the hotel chain.

The  ‘All inclusive – All Exclusive’ stay at Rixos Bab al Bahr is a signature offering from Rixos Hotels, who are experts in luxury all-inclusive concept.  The concept very aptly accommodates the Turkish hospitality philosophy of extending attention and services beyond imagination, making every guest’s experience an exclusive one.

The hotel offers a mix of deluxe and premium rooms as well as family, junior, senior and king suites, the property is ready to cater to all family sizes. The ‘All inclusive – All exclusive’ stay at Rixos Bab Al Bahr includes unique dining experiences in several restaurants and bars, a night club, spectacular evening entertainment programs, Rixy Club and Teen’s Republic, Rixos Royal Spa with a marvelous Turkish Hammam, on-site souk for local artifacts, accessories and souvenirs.

I stayed there for only one night so did not try all that was on offer but active guests can enjoy water activities and excursions at an additional charge. Rixos Bab Al Bahr proudly presents an assortment of Restaurants and Bars of true gastronomical experiences from all around the world.

Guests looking for something more relaxed can head to Aisha Lobby Lounge that offers a wide selection of freshly brewed coffee and teas. The Pool Bar and the Sea & See beach bar are great places to enjoy the sun and sand.

The ultra ‘All Inclusive – All Exclusive’ offer at Rixos Bab Al Bahr goes beyond comfortable stay and limitless dining. A daily dose of live entertainment designed by resort’s dedicated, professional and extremely talented entertainment team caters to the preferences of guests of all ages.

Rixos Entertainment Square, the venue for live shows and performances features a live band performance of different genre of music as well as instrumental and acoustic to set the mood with dance shows, operas, acrobatics and other performances by artists of international eminence.

The water sports facilities at the resort under the supervision of a well-trained team. Guests can go sailing or kayaking at leisure, surrender to the winds as they go windsurfing, opt for banana or jet skiing if they enjoy riding the waves or go fishing for a pastime.

For families traveling with kids, staying at the Rixos Bab Al Bahr, will benefit from the exclusive Rixy Club that offers an exceedingly proficient and multi-lingual team, dedicated to turning children’s experiences to memorable moments through age-tailored entertainment programs.

My teenage daughter enjoyed the thorough activity programme for Teen’s Republic, the club for the teenagers between 13 to 19 years offering a gamut of activities.

Guests can also indulge in the exclusive shopping haven at the resort that sells local artifacts, souvenirs and accessories and take back home tangible memories of our weekend away. For down time, enjoy the Rixos Royal Spa, which has a myriad of treatments and rituals as well as contemporary practices specific to Rixos’ Turkish heritage like the Turkish Hammam, which is one of the spa’s signature areas, delivered with great authenticity.

 

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Impeccable Hospitality – The Langham, London

By Shereen Shabnam

Creating exceptional guest experiences since it opened as Europe’s first grand hotel in 1865, The Langham, London continues to enhance its offerings more than 150 years later. Despite visiting London for years, I finally visited the property last year for an afternoon tea and it is indeed a hotel that gives you the best of history, luxury and a regal vibe that leaves one with a sense of gratification.

The exquisitely appointed guest rooms and suites are classically styled and evokes a warm residential feel with renowned service that bears the hallmarks of the hotel’s rich heritage that spans three centuries.

Since releasing brand-new guest rooms, suites and residences last year, and relaunching the iconic Infinity Suite earlier this year, 2017 sees even more development for holidaymakers looking for an unforgettable London stay, with the launch of the brand-new Terrace Suite.

The Terrace Suite vaunts imposing views of bustling Regent Street and beyond with its extensive balcony perched on the hotel’s fifth floor. This unforgettable suite, with separate lounge and bedroom, is ideal for longer stays. At 58 square metres (642 sq ft) in size, the airy accommodation fits up to three guests between the bedroom’s king bed and living room, and additional beds are available upon request (£90).

Brimming with comforts for the discerning traveller, the suite includes a full-size work desk, the Langham Blissful Bed, marble bathroom with separate shower and bath, and a bottle of chilled bubbles upon arrival.

Guests in the room will want for nothing thanks to butler service to assist with personal requests such as unpacking suitcases, colour-coding your wardrobe, or organising bespoke itineraries and 24-hour full-service in-room dining.

Bathed in a refined colour palette of regal jewel tones and soft neutrals, summer’s light pours through the terrace’s glass doors into the suite’s living area, creating one of the best destinations for a getaway for families or special occasions.

Palm Court is famed as the birthplace of the afternoon tea tradition, an indulgent ritual that continues today. Artesian is a glamorous bar designed by the acclaimed late David Collins and is a social hub for chic Londoners conjuring up classic and innovative cocktails, receiving the coveted accolade of “World’s Best Bar” for four consecutive years.

In partnership with culinary icons, father and son Albert and Michel Roux Jr, Roux at the Landau restaurant offers classically constructed dishes using the finest seasonal ingredients with a contemporary style of presentation. Chuan Spa is a pampering haven and is London’s first luxury hotel spa to incorporate the ancient principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine into its signature treatments and ambience.

The Langham, London was opened in 1865 by HRH The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), as Europe’s first “Grand Hotel”.  From the outset it boasted an unrivalled location at the top of Regent Street and this is still true today with an enviable address in the heart of the West End. And with incredible city views, the plush atmosphere of a grand hotel and Langham’s impeccable hospitality, guests can expect an unforgettable experience.

 

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