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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

Alain Ducasse revitalises Hong Kong presence with Rech restaurant

Rech by Alain Ducasee Interconti HK.jpg

Legendary chef Alain Ducasse’s first foray into food was not a runaway success. As a child growing up in France he would watch his grandmother cooking and aged about 11 he decided to make a chocolate roulade himself. “My grandmother let me attempt this, although I was not up to the task,” Ducasse recalls. “Chocolate ended up everywhere and in the end the cake did not resemble a roulade at all!”

Luckily for the culinary world Ducasse was not put off by his early endeavour. Last month saw the opening of his 25th restaurant worldwide. He has chosen Asia for the first international outpost of Rech Alain Ducasse, a French seafood restaurant replacing his Spoon concept at the Intercontinental hotel in Hong Kong.

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A Private Island Paradise for World Earth Day

Cempedak Island 1

What’s the story?
Cempedak (pronounced Chemp-e-dak) is a new private island resort in the Indonesian archipelago, five years in the making. This just opened venture is from the same team behind nearby Nikoi Island, another Robinson Crusoe-esque set up.

How does it differ from Nikoi Island then?
It’s a few notches up on the design and cuisine front. What they can’t better is the service which is legendarily good on Nikoi – it’s as equally smiley and attentive on Cempedak. The main difference is that Nikoi is geared more towards families with young children whereas Cempedak is for adults only.

You’ve got my attention, how do I get there?
Catch a ferry from Singapore to Bintan (an hour’s crossing) where you’ll be picked up by private car and driven across the island (another hour) then it’s a 30 minute speedboat ride to Cempedak. Trust us, it’s worth it. Or you could arrive direct by yacht.

Cempedak Villa 4

What does the resort look like?
As your chosen vessel approaches the tiny, verdant island, a series of striking structures hone into view. These thatched roofed, curved bamboo buildings make up the villas and public areas of the resort.

So it’s designed to look like a pretty tropical paradise?
Well yes but Cempedak is not just a pretty face, the owners are committed to eco-friendly practices. Bamboo is sustainable and the open sided, high ceilinged designs cut down the need for air con. The resort has been built by local workers using locally sourced materials and employs only Indonesian staff. Added to that, the owners have set up The Island Foundation to help improve the income, health and education of surrounding communities.

Cempedak villa

Tell me more about the guest rooms
They’re all villas and they come in two types: beach fronted or set back and elevated with a view of the sea. Both have airy, open sitting areas, terraces and a plunge pool large enough to get a couple of strokes in. A spiral staircase leads up to a bedroom complete with sitting area to further soak in the view and en suite bathroom with semi open shower.

Cempedak Villa 2

What about the food?
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all held in the main restaurant (though in-villa or on a nearby deserted island are also options) but with a choice of terraces and some hideaway nooks, you can move around for each meal and feel like you’re having a new dining experience every time. All meals are set menus and alternate between Indonesian and western cuisine, using local produce including seafood, fish, vegetables and fruit, and all of a high standard.

Is there a bar?
There are three: one part of the restaurant and one next to the pool plus the gloriously designed Dodo Bar perched on top of a huge rock and with a multi storey thatched roof. There’s a story behind its curious name. Ask the bartender to tell you when he’s fixing your drink from the impressive array of boutique spirits.

Walkway to Dodo Bar

What is there to do?
For active sorts there’s a whole heap of activities on offer including watersports, tennis and croquet. Or you could just loll about by the swimming pool, the beach bar within easy reach. And if you’re even too lazy to do that (mea culpa) you could loaf about on your own terrace next to your own plunge pool. After all, the in room magazine is The Idler.

Cempedak Main Swimming Pool 3

Is there a spa?
Spa treatment rooms are planned for later in the year but for now massages are available in the none too shabby environs of your villa.

Anything else I should know?
This is very much bare foot luxury. There’s no room key or air con, you’ll need to bring your own hairdryer and the walkways do not invite high heels. If you like your luxe resorts hermetically sealed and Disney sanitised this probably isn’t the place for you. If however you like the feel of a sea breeze and being lulled to sleep by the sound of lapping waves, you’ll love it.

I’m sold, what’s the damage?
From SG$450 per night (plus taxes) for a Sea View villa; SG$95 per person per day for full board. For more visit http://www.cempedak.com

Feeling Like Royalty at Raffles

One of the three imposing doormen at the entrance to Raffles

 

[UPDATE: Singaporean residents can book a staycation at Raffles for rates starting at $S499 plus taxes including accommodation, tour with resident historian Mr Leslie Danker, welcome Singapore Slings and personalised check-in at Writer’s Bar, afternoon tea for two your suite, buffet breakfast at the Tiffin Room and late check-out at 3pm.
Book your stay by 30 June 2017, valid for stays before 12 August 2017.]

Checking into Raffles is an uplifting experience. When you pull up the gravel driveway outside the white wedding cake of a hotel in the heart of Singapore, you’re greeted by a toweringly tall sikh doorman, bearded and turbaned and wearing an imposing sashed uniform. He ushers you into the lobby, all cool marble flooring and fluted columns that reach up three lofty storeys. There is none of the hubbub of other hotels – only guests or “residents” are allowed inside – so the atmosphere is reassuringly calm and rarified. To borrow from Holly Golightly, you feel as though nothing bad could ever happen at Raffles.

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Magical Mallorca

 

La Residencia-POOL-19.jpg

Chopstix makes a special European foray this month in homage to the annual reopening of the Belmond La Residencia hotel.

The hillside village of Deia, on the north west coast of Mallorca, embodies “the other side” of the largest of the Balaeriac islands. One that’s altogether more sophisticated and relaxed. Distinctive honey stone buildings with their terracotta roofs and green shutters are staggered in tiered terraces down the hill, punctuated by verdant trees and reached by tiny winding streets. Added to all this is the appealing weather: warm in spring and autumn and balmy in high summer. It’s little wonder that this enchanting enclave with its special energy has become a refuge for artists and the internationally famous. At its heart sits Belmond La Residencia.

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The Rise of Bangkok’s Hotel Residences

ICONSIAM-MO_living.jpg The Residences by Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

This week sees the opening of 137 Pillars Residences, a hotel residence concept at the top of an exclusive Bangkok tower block from the owners of the luxury boutique 137 House in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.

The furnished residences are available to rent and come with access to hotel-like facilities including fitness, wellness and all day dining.

“The market for serviced residences with inclusive services and convenience is expanding in Bangkok,” says Christopher Stafford, COO of 137 Pillars Hotels and Resorts.

“The trend in residential rentals is changing from long term stays to shorter term visits. We will also provide temporary storage of personal effects for this highly mobile group of business & leisure travellers.”

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