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.

 

Explore Shakespeare’s Country

By Shereen Shabnam

A tour of the UK is not complete unless you spend a few days in Shakespeare country and nearby attractions. This Midlands area and its surroundings are a fascinating blend of history and myth, industry and culture.

Naturally I loved Stratford-upon-Avon, the historic market town and birthplace of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare. After doing some extensive tours of Shakespeare’s birthplace and indulging in plays both at the Royal Shakespeare theatre and outdoor performances in the park, I chose to stay for a few days at the Macdonald Ansty Hall.

Macdonald Ansty Hall is without doubt one of the finest 4-star hotels in Warwickshire. Set in the heart of Shakespeare Country offering the best of breathtaking scenery and facilities.

Close to Cadbury’s World, Warwick Castle and the beautiful town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the hotel is a popular choice for family holidays, business and weddings.

The hotel is a perfect venue for celebrations, events and conferences with superb hotel accommodation, stylish meeting and function rooms and breathtaking views over the eight acres of landscaped gardens.

Highly recommended is a visit to the AA Rosette awarded Shilton Restaurant, followed by a nightcap in The Warwick Bar and Lounge.

Car lovers should make a beeline for the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, which is a 65 acres housing the largest collection of British-made cars in the world.

If you are into aviation like me, head to the Midland Air Museum at Coventry airport. It reflects the genius of local engineer Sir Frank Whittle, designer of the first jet engine.

Stratford Upon Avon and Warwickshire in general is a must see for visitors touring the UK and staying in hotels like the Ansty Hall makes it a memorable experience.

 

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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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Classic Elegance – Luxury at every turn at Villa Magna, Madrid

By Shereen Shabnam

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On the way to my Spanish home recently, a stop in Madrid led me and my family to discover the luxury Villa Magna in Madrid where the ambience celebrates the old and new in a space that only be described as classically elegant.

In the last century, where this modern building stands today on the Paseo de la Castellana, was the Palace of Anglada which was demolished in the 1960`s. The hotel on the same site shows the same sophistication and after an extensive renovation, the luxury hotel has become a home to regular visitors who love the Bauhaus concepts and Chinese screens that combine to create a welcoming and luxurious atmosphere.

From the moment we were picked at the airport by a private chauffeur to the moment we left, the experience we had was more than amazing. The Concierge led us to the most interesting exhibitions and fashionable boutiques in Madrid but the highlight of the excursions was our teenage daughter experiencing the VIP shopper experience at El Corte Ingles…a must for all GCC visitors.

The hotel lobby is warm and welcoming with a large window offering a marvelous view to the Magnum Patio. To add a sophisticated touch the walls were adorned with Bauhaus and Vienna Secession designs. Different styles also combine among the furnishings: Louis XVI rosewood consoles, exotic screens and rugs with their geometric shapes give warmth to the marble floors.

The Restaurante Villa Magna has beautiful natural light, complimented by the choice of light colours and a large framed mirror that reflects the space as a painting. The beauty of the carpentry work and the relaxing upholstery combine to make a perfect ambience relaxing.

The Lounge, off the Lobby of the Villa Magna, is the ideal setting to meet friends, discuss business or enjoy a relaxing meal at any time of the day. We spent our lunchtime mainly there with a selection of snacks, light lunch dishes whilst enjoying views onto the Lounge Terrace and Paseo de la Castellana beyond.

The room we stayed in was spacious, comfortable and washed with soft lighting, bright colours and warm fabrics. It was tastefully done and every detail was taken care of…from attending to my love for chocolates to the availability of prayer mats in the cupboard.

 Our day excursions meant revisiting our favourite Madrid attractions starting from the “Art Triangle” the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, the Mercado and the Reina Sofia Museum to walking through Plaza Mayor and retail streets dotted with local and international brands.

The Villa Magna´s Fitness Club is equipped with the latest Technogym equipment and a team of fitness experts to provide a personalized fitness programme. The Wellness Club is a quiet area to be pampered with luxurious body treatments and skincare in a retreat of tranquility and naturally I opted for a massage on arrival.

Withthe city’s main shopping streets and attractions at the doorstep, the Villa Magna offers the most exclusive and ideal place to stay while visiting Madrid.

 

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Rose Park Hotel – Al Barsha

By Shereen Shabnam

Inspired from past success in hospitality and the enviable reputation for delivering excellence in guest service over the last 10 years, the award-winning Rose International Hotels Management recently introduced us to the Rose Park Hotel in Al Barsha.

Over a sumptuous lunch, Thameem Razick, Director of Sales & Marketing at Rose Hotels & Hotel Apartments tells us that the 4 Star hotel is the newest addition to the growing portfolio managed by Rose International Hotels Management.

Located close to Mall of the Emirates and only a metro ride away from Dubai’s tourist attractions and business centers such as the Dubai World Trade & Exhibition Centre, the hotel is the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding areas. Rose Park Hotel – Al Barsha gives guests a 360 degree access of Dubai. The cozy new hotel is easily accessible to the Ski Dubai, the largest Ski zone at Mall of the Emirates, one of the iconic shopping malls in Dubai, the Jumeirah Beach and to Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.

Thameem hopes that locals, hotel guests and visiting tourists will enjoy the hotel’s exceptional hospitality services and feel at home during their stay in the city. The hotel’s target market includes travelers and tourists from GCC, Asia, Europe and CIS and fast growing markets such as Eastern Europe, Far East and Latin America who visit UAE for business or pleasure.

Combining fully equipped business space with luxurious rooms and premium facilities, the hotel meets the needs of those travelling for work as well as leisure. The 4 Star hotel comprises of 168 contemporary bedrooms with a choice of deluxe rooms, including 24 suites, all equipped with high speed internet and 49”inch LED TVs. Dining options include the ‘Bombay Urban Cafe’ restaurant with its lavish, fine dining ambiance. There is also a business lounge for busy executives.

A well-appointed meeting room with a capacity up to 20 – 25 guests ensures all business meetings can be handled with ease. Guests can benefit from complimentary access to the hotel’s health and leisure facilities, take a dip in the swimming pool on the deck while sipping fresh juices amidst Dubai’s panoramic skyline view. Accessible 7 days a week, guests can keep fit with gym equipment, weights, sauna and steam room.

Centrally located in Al Barsha, across the street and a minute away from Sharaf DG Metro station, and adjacent to Sheikh Zayed Road, guests can have a warm and relaxing haven to stay in. With its calming ambiance mixed with intriguing design elements, guests are in for a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

Rose International Hotels Management continues to strengthen its portfolio with a focus on acquiring and managing properties. Since 2006, the group has been in the forefront of the development of luxurious commercial properties across key locations in UAE & Oman. The group has about six more hotel properties in the pipeline with around 687 keys, which will be delivered before Dubai Expo 2020. These are being developed in Science Park, Al Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road, Jaddaf, Bur Dubai and in Oman – Ruwi.

 

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Pearl of the Adriatic – Dubrovnik, Croatia

By Shereen Shabnam

Dubrovnik in Croatia is a city for all seasons and one of the world’s most prominent tourist destinations. Surrounded by unique medieval ramparts, Dubrovnik attracts visitors for its rich history, mild climate, traditional hospitality and its many festivals, open-air events and architectural treasures.

I explored Dubrovnik, a UNESCO registered protected world heritage site during the evening and in the day taking in the charm of bustling streets, art and different cultural events.

Walking along the promenade during the day meant coming across various art and artefacts on sale as well as live music performances. The open air performances add character to the different areas of the old town classical and jazz music and brings rhythm and charm into an already dazzling atmosphere.

While wandering through the markets, we toured the filming location of the ‘Game of Thrones’ television series and enjoyed some retail therapy of the related merchandise for fans back in the UAE.

The best part of Dubrovnik was exploring the old city, which had interesting markets, art galleries and city walls with fortresses offering beautiful views of the city, the open sea and the Island of Lokrum.

For panoramic views of Dubrovnik, visitors can take the cable car and set out on a scenic adventure that includes breathtaking views of the old town and enjoy the sunset. Make time to head to the Island of Lokrum and Elaphiti Islands or visit the Trsteno Arboretum, which is a protected monument of nature.

Dubrovnik is a great destination for adventure sports or active tourists who enjoy horse riding, hiking, cycling or sailing. A jeep safari or a canoe tour is also an interesting way to explore the area.

Dubrovnik was a gastronomic delight with an abundance of fresh and delectable food, often seasoned with olive oil. Try the naturally grown vegetables like courgettes, cabbage, aubergines tomatoes as well as seafood prepared in a simple way.

I had a full day exploring the old town and came across a Salvador Dali exhibition, which was an unexpected delight. Visitors who enjoy experience centres will enjoy The Cultural History Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Archeological Museum exhibition at Fortress Revelin, the Dubrovnik Natural Science Museum and the Dubrovnik State Archives.

The natural scenery in the area and panoramic views of the coast on the way to the old town in Dubrovnik were definitely some of the most memorable moments in Croatia.  I am already planning my next venture into the land of fortresses and medieval architecture.

Turkish Airlines recently added Dubrovnik, Croatia to its expanding network with three weekly flights for visitors intending to explore this beautiful city.

 

#travel #hospitality #TravelJunkie #TravelTheWorld #wanderlust #globalista #wanderer #explore #discover #travel addict #destinations #adventure #GoingPlaces #aircraft #ShereenShabnam #Tourist #LuxuryTravel #Planespotters #TravellingIslander #TravelDiary #Fijian #AmazingPlaces #TravellingFijian #Globetrotter #SeeTheWorld #flight #Traveller#OffTheBeatenTrack #Shereen_Shabnam

 

British Polo Day celebrates its 9th event in Dubai at the Al Habtoor Polo Club & Resort

Mr Ghazi Al Madani presenting the  plate to to the victorious Bentley Habtoor Polo Team at BPD Dubai- Sam  Churchill-17.jpeg

Friday 24th March 2017: British Polo Day, presented by RJI Capital, returned to Dubai for its 9th event. The British Polo Day 2017 Series was launched in style with Bear Grylls throwing the first ball of 2017, but British Polo Day began in Dubai in 2009, in partnership with Habtoor Polo. This was the first time that the event was held at the fabulous new St. Regis Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club. Some 450 guests and VIPs including Khalaf Al Habtoor, Mohammed Habtoor, Mr Ghazi Al Madani Paddy Meade, 8th Earl of Clanwilliam , and Randle Siddeley, 4th Baron Kenilworth came together to celebrate the best of UAE and British traditions.

The UK/UAE Year of Creative Collaboration was launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and HRH The Prince of Wales in October 2016, with the aims of increasing the visibility of the UK in the UAE and vice versa in order to give greater focus, depth and contemporary relevance to the long-standing relationship between the two nations. The unique cultural programme has been initiated to strengthen existing relationships and broker new ones between people, institutions and businesses.

The British Polo Days in the UAE provide such a platform, with the best of British and the UAE on display, with Harrods, Bentley, Royal Salute and Hackett all supporting. There was also a chance to introduce the new British Polo Day global partner, Chelsea Barracks, the exceptional new neighborhood development incorporating 5 new garden squares in Belgravia, London, to the guests. Other new partners included VistaJet and YPI Luxury Yachts, further cementing the British Polo Day community.

The event kicked off with a Cavalry v Guards Camel Polo display, a sport that has its biggest annual showcase at British Polo Day. Next followed a bicycle polo demonstration, a sport played in the Olympics over 100 years ago, with players from the regiments of Cavalry and Guards competing in Bentley and St. Regis Dubai Polo Resort and Club Teams respectively for The Thesiger Trophy.

Mohammed Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club said: “It is wonderful to see British Polo Day here at our Polo resort and Club. I was very happy to take part in the forming of this event back in 2009 with my Habtoor Polo organization. I am always glad to see the British Polo Day team come back to Dubai and now I am especially honored to welcome them to our brand new and excellent facilities.

Mohammed Al Habtoor leading his  Bentley Habtoor team to victory at BPD Dubai- Sam Churchill-15.jpeg

At 3.15 pm, Stuart Wrigley captained the Oxbridge team, sponsored by Chelsea Barracks, against the Gulf team, sponsored by Vista Jet. RJI Gulf beat Chelsea Barracks with 8 ½ goals to 6.

British Polo Day Dubai’s official prize giving ceremony saw the winning teams collecting the bespoke-commissioned British Silverware British Polo Day trophies presented by Richard Oakes from Chelsea Barracks, James Houghton of British Silverware, and Mr Ghazi Al Madani. The agile Don Juan, ridden by Guillermo Cuitino, was named Jaeger-LeCoultre’s ‘Best Playing Pony’ by Marc de Panafieu, Brand Director for Middle East.

This completed the British Polo Day UAE events, and everyone is eagerly awaiting the 10th British Polo Day Dubai in 2018.

*British Polo Day Abu Dhabi took place on

Saturday 18th March at Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club

The event is presented by RJI Capital, and partnered with Royal Salute, Harrods, Bentley, Chelsea Barracks, VistaJet, YPI Yachts, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hackett London, Justerini & Brooks, Charles Russell Speechlys, Nyetimber, British Silverware, True Luxury Travel, InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Clinova, Taylor Morris Eyewear, DR Harris, Floris, Cassabo and Brompton.

 

Picturesque landscapes – New Zealand

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New Zealand has to be one of my top five destinations not because it is on the way home for me when I travel back to Fiji Islands but the terrain truly is breathtaking. From spectacular glaciers, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forests, volcanic plateaus to miles of coastline with beautiful sandy beaches.

New Zealand has two main islands, the North Island and the South Island and many smaller islands lie offshore. The country enjoys varied landscape and dramatic geographical features and is a popular location for tourists as well as the production of TV programmes and films, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

Maori Culture is an integral part of New Zealand society. Perhaps the most well known piece of Maori culture is the Haka, a Maori war dance that is performed at many important events, including before each All Blacks game of rugby. It is captivating and one of the things we look forward to during the Dubai Rugby 7s.

Like Fiji, Maori culture has roots in the Polynesian islands but Maori natives have their own particular style developed over centuries. Maori people still consider family and community to be paramount and aspects of this can be found in their art, music, dance and dress. Maori men and women are known to tattoo their faces and bodies with beautiful intricate patterns throughout history.

Nature has blessed New Zealand with some spectacular geothermal areas and relaxing hot springs, as well as providing electricity and heating in some areas. Rotorua is the centre of geothermal tourist activity, with plenty of mud pools, geysers, and hot springs in its active thermal areas–not to mention its trademark ‘Sulphur City’ smell.

First settled by Maori who used the hot springs for cooking and bathing, Rotorua soon attracted European residents. The reputed health benefits of its hot pools quickly earned the area the name of ‘Cureland’.

In addition to Rotorua, you can enjoy hot springs and other thermal activity in most regions of the North Island north of Turangi, as well as in Hanmer Springs and the West Coast in the South Island. The sandy beaches on the coast are perfect for swimming, surfing and sunbathing.

If you love nature, visit the Abel Tasman National Park to explore the most beautiful beaches, bays and lush forests NZ has to offer.  The Abel Tasman is quite like paradise and New Zealand’s only coastal national park. Enjoy long stretches of deserted golden beaches, turquoise clear waters with a fantastic variety of adventure activities.

For extreme adventure, adrenaline attractions are plenty in New Zealand. You can leap from an airplane for a sky diving experience, get dropped off by a helicopter on unique and rugged terrain and ski the slopes at a dizzying altitude, jump off a bridge or suspension pod attached only by a bungy cord to your ankles, or ride the Nelson Fly by Wire reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

New Zealand’s Southern Alps have a number of glaciers, the largest being Tasman glacier, which you can view by taking a short walk from Mount Cook village. New Zealand’s most famous glaciers are the Franz Josef and Fox on the South Island’s west coast.

Health resorts and spas are ideal for spiritual retreats, rejuvenation, beauty treatments or as a getaway to improve your health and well being and New Zealand has plenty of these on both main islands.

If you are in Auckland, drive or take the ferry from Auckland City to historic Devonport, explore the naval caves at North Head, and admire the city view. Spend some time at Cheltenham or Devonport Beach. Browse through the boutique shops and cafes and visit the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, the official museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

If you have kids, they may enjoy the Kelly Tarltons SEALIFE Aquarium. An all-weather visitor attraction, you can see the world’s largest penguin colony, over 30 exhibits and more than 80 different marine species.

For a self-guided tour of Auckland City, visit the Aotea Square, which is used for a myriad of activities including festivals, parades and community events. Auckland’s newest waterfront neighbourhood Wynyard Quarter provides free activities for families in the weekends and school holidays as well.

Weather in New Zealand can change unexpectedly. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months daylight can last up until 9.30pm. Which can be a good thing, as you do need more hours in the day to explore the many attractions New Zealand has to offer.