Carl‘s Island Inn in Bantayan Island: Hotel Review

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I need to tell you about Carl's place. I know, you're probably going to expect me to make some pithy remark about nominative determinism. Still you have to admit it's a little uncanny right? 

Carl‘s Island Inn in Bantayan Island became my sanctuary for a few days. It has the basic amenities, fridge, shower, toiletries. The WiFi is super quick and I got satellite TV in my bedroom. 

What really distinguishes Carl‘s Island Inn like no other place is the service offered. I'd like to think it's because my name is Carl that I got a few special handshakes from the help. Who knows. But everyone came armed with a smile on their face. 

The Hotel is ran by a German-Filipino Couple. The Owner Karsten treated me like royalty and gave me a decent itinerary. He helped me organise some scooters and pointed me in the right direction as to where I could hire a boat to see some Whale Shark Site Seeing! If you want shuttle to the docks they will drive you with their private tricycle. Tony the concierge come-super hero transporter always had a smile on his face and made every trip seem like a pleasure. 

Carl‘s Island Inn is a short five minute walk from the beach and circa 15 minute walk from the city centre. Your best bet is to rent a scooter from the hotel and explore the island. The breakfast was healthy and had a good range. Continental mostly and included in the bill so no hidden costs on checkout. 

Personal note. You'll do well to eat healthy in the Philippines. Outside of The Farm in San Benito I've found the country crucially devoid of any healthy restaurants. It's not like the Bali vibe where you have smoothie stalls at every turn. It's very westernised, very fried chicken and not finger lickin' good. 

It's a very eco-conscious hotel that allows you to refill your bottle for free. They lend you a reusable stainless steel water bottle and canvas tote during your stay so you don't add to the single use plastic waste. Thumbs up for that one! 

Carl‘s Island Inn has only been open a short spell. Not even had a review on Trip Advisor yet at the time of me writing this. I'd say it's got a great future ahead of it. 

 

The Legian Seminyak Bali Hotel Review – Paradise, I’m Home!

Today I'm going to rhapsodise about the incredible Legian Seminyak Bali Hotel. I read some rave reviews about this place before heading out there and I'm here to tell you, they're all true. 

The Legian Bali is a beachfront property facing the Indian Ocean, if you're booking ahead I can recommend asking for my room 132 for some of the most amazing views from the balcony. 

The luxurious accommodation set in landscaped tropical gardens can be found along Seminyak Beach. 

The hotel is heavily centred around wellness which is a growing trend in exotic resorts. My brother has joined me on this tour and we both enjoyed some morning Yoga sessions on the green outside, followed a spin in the cycling studio. 

Top TIP for The Legian Bali

I signed up for the Hommage Package which entitles you to a free facial. The facial was incredibly soothing and my skin was treated to a treatment that used a combination of plant extracts and essential oils. My face was cleansed, exfoliated and massaged leaving it looking bright and feeling rejuvenated. 

After a workout we enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours in the spa, sauna, steam room and the plunge pool which got us down to minus 20. That was followed by a quick swim in the  three-tiered outdoor pool. I know it sounds like I've stole some poor kids ticket from the Make a Wish Foundation. 

The dinner was michelin star-esq! Tuna tartar slices, scallops, marinated chicken finished with wasabi ice cream. 

Location 

As I mentioned you couldn't be any closer to the beach. The Legian Bali is under ten miles away from Ngurah Rai International Airport and airport transfer is available at an additional charge.

You're within walking distance to the local clubs Ku De Ta and Potatohead which keep their lights on until 2am. It's close to Seminyak village and lots of cafes and shopping.

The Seminyak Square Shopping Mall is 450 yards from the accommodation, while Petitenget Temple is 450 yards from the property.

The rooms 

I got my own desk to write this blog, currently listening to the sounds of waves crashing on the beach. I could listen to that all day. The rooms are spaces, the suites are beautifully decorated with natural fibre furniture and flooring against white walls minimally accented by original artwork. 

The open air lobby is gorgeously decorated in rich dark wood and an array of local art. Check-in was efficient and comfortable. You will never encounter a face that isn't smiling.

Conclusion 

I can't fault any part of this hotel. Every member of staff had a smile on their face. Every pillow was fluffed, every single facet in this hotel was a joy to experience. Many thanks to all the staff at The Legian Seminyak Bali Hotel for making this a stay to remember. 

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Six Senses Maxwell: Singapore's Latest Gem

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If you're thinking of traveling to Singapore this year I can certainly recommend the Six Senses Maxwell where I stayed. 

From Singapore Changi Airport, Six Senses Maxwell is a 20-minute taxi ride in the heart of the city and provides the perfect base from which to become acquainted with Singapore’s inspiring sites.

Each of the hotel’s 138 guestrooms and suites are carefully decorated with custom furnishings and original artwork. 

Together with Six Senses Duxton, (just around the corner) the two hotels become Six Senses Singapore and showcase the brand’s ongoing commitment to responsible restoration and conservation. 

The Duxton has more of an Oriental flavour, whilst the Maxwell is steeped in more colonial decor and tradition. 

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The Six Senses Maxwell is exactly the retreat I've been looking for. You can't escape it's underlying themes of wellness; the slim lap pool on the rooftop, the one on one yoga sessions. What better way to start the day?

They run the yoga sessions twice a week and after it left me feeling invigorated and centred for the rest of the day. The pool is also perfect just to jump in and cool down when it gets too hot, which is all the time out here. 

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I've been trying to keep on top of my fitness so having a gym here is paramount to me. So many times people use holiday's as an excuse not to work out. Then when they return from a week of sunning and drinking, they find it that much harder to get back into the routine. 

It's an eco-conscious hotel, they promote sustainability and do not use anything plastic in their hotel. Their turn down service has a very personable feel. Little vessels of Tiger Balm were left and messages of peace encouragement on my pillow. Very Zen, I like it. (I'm assuming they do that for all the guests). 

The Six Senses Maxwell only opened in December 2018 yet it feels like they've hit the ground running. Friendly staff, very well organised as you'd expect. The barman can also knock out a very tasty Sloe Gin Fizz and tonic. 

The bar area is quite resplendent, presented as a cosmopolitan library with thousands of books curated across every genre. I would have loved to have spent a couple of hours reading some, but I didn't. Singapore was on my doorstep, it was time to venture out. 

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Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa | Hotel Review

Today I'm going to regale some thoughts on a recent trip to Cardiff and my stay at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa. I visited Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel as part of the Local Stories campaign, to explore how the hotel is inspired by all things Cardiff.

It's situated in the heart of Cardiff, a breezy 15 minute walk from Cardiff Central railway. The city itself is renowned for its love affair with sport. Us Englanders should be indebted for allowing Cardiff to host our beloved FA Cup at the Principality Stadium, formerly The Millennium Stadium whilst Wembley was getting redeveloped. 

It's a city that embraces sports fans from all around the world. I was at the game on Saturday and saw first-hand their unbridled enthusiasm for the nation’s number one sport; Rugby, with a 20-11 trouncing over South Africa. A ninth consecutive win for the Welsh who look like serious contenders for the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel. By now my readers will know what I appreciate more than anything else in hired accommodation, decent WiFi. I'm pleased to announce the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa has Fibre Optic WiFi internet access. 

I hope you enjoyed this review, feel free to leave some comments in the section below. 

Only kidding. 

I was deeply enraptured by the kind hospitality and the facilities of the hotel. At every stage and every moment of my visit I felt like the staff were willing to go that extra mile to ensure my stay here was a pleasant one.

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Although it was the weekend, I wasn't taking any days off from training. (That Bali bikini body won't sculpt itself). I struck up a great rapport with Scott the personal trainer who gave me some great tips on deadlifting, whilst Cerys gave me the best back massage. I'm not sure why I was so bewildered by the superior quality of the spa facilities, I joked with Cerys the masseuse that I'd seen worse facilities in a dedicated spa. 

Breakfast was 'buffet style' with continental cheeses and Starbucks coffee served at the bar. The bar was a very plush, dual concave semi-circular structure with green and grey fleck marble brick. Finished with a black trim counter top and scrutinised by multiple metallic hanging lampshade shaped like huge chess pawns.

The meetings areas surrounding the bar can accommodate you and your friends should you wish to watch any of the sports games. There are loads of TV's you won't struggle for a spot.

The bartender Luke displayed great flair and had an encyclopaedic knowledge for cocktails. My only gripe would be the lack of Craft Ale which I've had a renewed love affair thanks to my introduction to DiscoverBrew subscription service

It's difficult to characterise this hotel as strictly one of anything. It ticks so many boxes. Perfect for the quiet professional flying in from out of town. (30 minute bus ride from Cardiff airport) also caters for the social element thanks to its vastness, ergonomic seating areas. 

My biggest takeaways from the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa was the quality of service throughout, I had a great night’s sleep (super quiet) and the city in general is just a wonderful orbit to be in for sports fans from all backgrounds. 

Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa Location

Melia Zanzibar, Kiwengwa in Tanzania | Hotel Review

Melia Zanzibar is an utterly decadent luxury beach and all-inclusive resort situated on the north-east coast of the exotic island of Zanzibar, in Tanzania, also known as the “Spice Island”. During a recent stay (although it feels like a lifetime ago in my wanting and longing. Currently writing this during the perpetual British monsoon season) I got to explore every square inch of the 40-acre estate.

It's serene and awe-inspiring beach, composed of pearlescent white sand lapped by warm ocean waters stretches out for 300 metres and is situated at the very end of the property to procure the perfect combination with nature. The resort is ringed by a natural coral reef, making bathing a relaxing and safe experience.

The hotel is around 45 minutes from the international airport of Zanzibar, and the capital city Stone Town, a Unesco World Heritage site. On arrival the first impressions are how well the grounds are kept. Someone had clearly been assigned to design and manicure this gorgeous landscape. 

The staff are super friendly, and each comes with an infectious smile. A genuine one that comes from the heart and works its way up. 

The amazing sandbanks and stretched jetty, with its tip sandwiched between two huts, make for incredible photos. What’s more the beaches are private so remain unsullied. Yes, I'm a tourist here, but the exclusivity the hotel offers entitles you to a dangerous sense of ownership. 

You know what it's like when some randomer spoils a perfect shot by wondering aimlessly through. How dare they right? 

There are three restaurants and you can do an option for the all-inclusive pack. My tip is to try and go off-piste with some of the dishes and experiment. If you're on a budget then sure go for a pack, but the food is so good you won't want to feel inhibited. 

Of course we had a little rain, it is rainy season during the early weeks of May. This did mean we incurred some power outages and drops in WiFi. (Oh the humanity!) But the team were on hand to resolve issues very efficiently. The managers make a great team and the power generator kicks in for a spell so the problems and loss of power are minimal and short lived. 

Overall a great relaxing experience, wonderful decor, an awesome place to unwind and decompress. 

The Philippines: Home of Don Papa Rum & The Land of Smiles

The Philippines is a fascinating country of contrasts; of tranquil countryside and noisy urban sprawl; of vertiginous mountains and golden beaches; grinding poverty and ostentatious wealth. Many of the rural farmers carry on as though the last couple of hundred years never happened, while just up the road are humming mega-cities that appear transported from the future. It’s not a place for doing things by half.

I was lucky enough to spend the very best part of a week here recently at a few contrasting hotels. The first was a high rise in the relatively sleepy Bacolod City. The other, an oasis of calm in the chaos of Manilla, all thanks to Don Papa rum who invited a selection of the UK's top press and bloggers to experience this beautiful country where they make their famous rum. 

Don Papa Rum is a genuine Philippine premium rum, inspired by the island’s legendary revolutionary leader, Papa Isio and the dream-like landscape, Don Papa was launched in 2012 and now present in over 20 countries including France, Germany, Spain, UK, United States of America, South Africa, Belgium, Italy, and Japan.

The Seda Capitol Central hotel is smack bang in the middle of the ‘City of Smiles’ – Bacolod which is the capital of Negros island aka Sugerlandia, where Don Papa grows, harvests and processes the raw material sugar cane which produces the molasses for their rum. Efficiently, a short drive away is the Bago Distillery where the molasses is fermented, distilled, aged and turned into the finished product ready to be shipped and bottled.

The Philippines is the 3rd largest rum market worldwide with annual volumes of c. 15 Million cases, although most of this is for domestic consumption.
Starting from a small base, exports are increasing rapidly with annual growth of + 30% vs LY.
— Stephen Carroll, Don Papa's Founder

The first of these smiles was waiting for us at the airport, where our super friendly driver, Bayani, greeted us. It’s often said of a country that its greatest natural resource is its people. This isn’t always true, but it definitely is with the Philippines. The genuine friendliness and willingness to go out of their way to help were a constant throughout our stay.

Once at the hotel we were ready for a siesta, so after a long trip it was a relief to find that it errs on the side of luxurious. The entire hotel is very tastefully furnished – light and airy, rather than cosy, which of course is the last thing you need here! There’s good wifi throughout, much-needed air conditioning and an excellent, also much-needed, pool. The bed was one of those King-size+ jobs; you almost needed Satnav to find your way out. 

The brand new building overlooks the Provincial Capitol Lagoon, the Negros museum and the capitol building itself. Of course, being so central, it’s walking distance to everything, including Pala Pala seafood market, barely five minutes away and another five to the spectacular San Sebastian Church. As usual, when this close to the equator I divided my time between sightseeing outside and ducking into shops or popping back to the hotel for a little air-conditioned relief. It was great having such a central base that allowed us to do this. 

Before heading to the airport we had to fully immerse ourselves in the Filippino lifestyle, which for us Brits is a visit to a secluded island staying in traditional beach huts and we found this paradise in Lakawon. Finally we left time to visit the beautiful Ledesma ruins in neighbouring Talisay City. This was a little different to the English ruins I’ve become accustomed to. While those date back to medieval or even Roman times, Ledesma was built only last century. Despite the condensed history it’s well worth a visit, especially if you can arrange one around sunset. It made for a beautiful, romantic end to our visit to the city of smiles.

Flights from the UK: I flew with Philippine Airlines where you can experience service from the heart onboard the Philippines' only 4-star airline. Flying non-stop daily between London Heathrow and Manila, Philippine Airlines has full-flat beds in Business, with Economy Class also equipped with personal TVs, USB ports and onboard wi-fi. Enjoy in-flight dining with a vibrant mix of Asian, Spanish and American cuisine offering a mosaic of flavours that are all passionately prepared.

Here are the lead-in fares: 
LHR-MNL from GBP 579
LHR-BCD from GBP 670
 
Business (promo):
LHR-MNL from GBP 2989
LHR-BCD from GBP 3079

salamat sa pagkakaroon mo sa amin (thank you for having us).

Next stop, Manila…

M Summit 191 Executive Suites in Penang, Malaysia | Hotel Review

M Summit 191 sounds like a cologne that Roger Federer would endorse, or maybe a Liam Neeson hijack movie where he plays a troubled anti-hero with a special set of skills. It's actually a 23-storey spire standing proud in the heart of George Town, housing 96 executive suites available in 6 different interior designs, to match all your business travel needs.

The lobby features an elongated black marbled desk with white veins covering meshed grills that encase a boxed alcove made of European pine. This wood tone is consistent with a centre-piece composed from tubular tiered stalactites, almost like some goliath had taken a calculated bite out of the pipes of a cathedral organ. 

Imagine in your minds-eye, the best WeWork office imaginable. One that is brand new that targets the business market with an electric white board in every room plus free legal advice. Not every hotel has to come with a pool in order for you to relax. My idea of relaxation is not having to worry about parking when I arrive at a hotel (complimentary parking at automated tower car parking) having a concierge on hand 24 hours (God do I sound like Madonna?) and above all, fast free internet (high speed internet up to 50 mbps). 

Whether is a corporate meeting, seminar, social event or even an exclusive wedding reception, Summit 191 with state of the art technology will ensure your show and planned event has everything you need. The combination of old and contemporary design ranging from the Peranakan to Modern European style room facilitates an odd sense of familiarity, or as they would like to coin, the feeling of "home Feel"

The hotel is very much geared towards the working professional. Speaking to some of the locals they evangelised about the 6 types of suites on offer and how they were accommodated with projectors, screens, printers and microphones for their meeting requirements. For the tourists its location in the heart of Penang City makes it easy to navigate. You can access Penang's city highlights such as malls, famous hawker food stalls and even some museums with transportation services provided. 

Overall a very relaxing visit and an enviable, stylish work space I wish we had back in London.

Mercure Salisbury White Hart Hotel Review | Close to Magna Carta & Stonehenge

Salisbury is known as ‘the city in the countryside’. A little modernity set in the timeless storybook Wiltshire countryside. So it is with Mercure’s White Hart hotel: a stunning, listed four hundred year old building in the heart of one of England’s great medieval cities with all the mod cons a proud Instagrammer could wish for. With good wifi, dry cleaning, a porter service, 24 hour reception and online check-in it’s a grand old hotel with a not so grand price tag.

The front of the hotel resembles an embassy. Above the street level archways sit four grand pillars in front of a balcony that feels ready-made to deliver a speech from or perhaps toss a bouquet backwards over. So it’s no surprise that the hotel is a popular wedding reception venue.

Inside, on the other hand, it’s a home away from home. The staff are all helpful and friendly, with that lovely familial country touch that you really need to get outside of the M25 to find. The dining and lounge areas are light and airy, sprinkled with soft, comfortable chairs while the bar is small and relaxed: I had to refrain from hopping behind it and helping myself.

If you’re coming to Salisbury, unless it’s for business - in fact even if it is - then you’re going to do a little touristing. In 2015 Lonely Planet included Salisbury as one of its top 10 cities in the world to visit. Given that its main attractions are 800 (Magna Carta) to 5,000 years old (Stonehenge), it’s safe to say that the appeal still applies.

The cathedral is any visitor’s first stop for very obvious reasons. It’s truly one of Europe’s truly great medieval churches. Impressive on the outside, jaw-dropping inside. It’s also home to the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta, not to mention its having the tallest church spire in Britain helps give you your bearings no matter where you are in the city.

Arrundels is just around the corner. This is the former home of Edward Heath and is simply the archetypal English country manor, just minutes from the heart of the city. The High Street is another blend of the new and the very old, with its imposing 14th century gate leading through to Cathedral Close and you-know-what. 

Once you’re back from taking in the city or perhaps completing a pilgrimage to Stonehenge or Avebury it’s time to put your feet up. Weather permitting you can enjoy a drink in the garden out the back before retiring.

The bathroom was sleek, minimalist, contemporary and stylish, just what you want in a modern hotel. The bedroom was full of warm gold, brown and autumn green, soft lighting, comfortable chairs and the one of hotel life’s great indulgences: a four poster bed, fit for a latter-day medieval king.

White Hart hotel provides the perfect base for a visit to Salisbury and the surrounding area. It’s relaxed enough to be a home away from home, yet still has all the little luxuries you’d expect from a four star hotel. I really didn’t want to leave but after a full weekend London called and I was on my way…slowly.

I left the White Hart hotel and Salisbury in no great hurry at all, vowing to return as quickly as possible.

 

MERCURE SALISBURY WHITE HART HOTEL

Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel Review | City Centre Location

In Aberdeen there are two incredible Mercure Hotels, both are very different but have their own unique charm and benefits to them. This one is the Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel which is in a city centre location and the other is the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe Hotel & Spa, which you can read my review here and is situated in a rural location. The Caledonian is right in the centre of Aberdeen town centre and only a 20 minute drive to the airport making it a great hotel for a short break or business travellers.

The hotels main entrance is situated on Union Terrace which is a main road, so if you are arriving by car, set you sat-nav to Diamond Street which will take you to the rear entrance of the hotel and where the carpark is. The carpark is small but free to guests staying at the Mercure Hotel, just take a ticket to enter and inform the reception staff that you have parked there with your registration details. When checking out, you'll be handed a coin like token to exit. 

The location of this hotel is just perfect with views out over the Union Terrace Gardens and the Kirk of St Nicholas historic church. It's also a stones throw away from the main shopping areas of Union Street and Union Square Shopping Centre. 

The room that I stayed in was large and modern with a huge, comfortable bed and all required amenities such as free unlimited WiFi, coffee and tea making facilities, flat screen TV, hairdryer, iron and ironing board. There is a variety of different room sizes at different prices, so to get the best rate check out the Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel website here.

The hotel comprises of one restaurant and one bar which kind of merge into one. Its cosy and large with plenty of seating and perfect for a drink after work with colleges or friends. This hotel is comfortable, friendly and welcoming and incredible value for money especially for the location.

MERCURE ABERDEEN CALEDONIAN HOTEL

The Siam Hotel in Bangkok | An Inside Look

Thailand feels like a second home to me having travelled there 11 times for holiday, backpacking trips and even short breaks when I was working in Singapore. This is a great country which offers so much diversity for foreign tourists, culture, beaches, city life, it's all here. This month I've been thinking about where to go for New Years Eve as I'm keen to get out of London for it and Thailand was of course on that list and at the top of it! Bangkok itself is incredible and personally I could spend a lot of time here especially since researching this stunning hotel, The Siam Hotel in Bangkok. 

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For most people travelling to Thailand, Bangkok is a stopover city before either heading north to the Chiang Mai district or south towards the beautiful islands but there is also so much to see in Bangkok and it has some of the countries most luxurious hotels. The Siam Hotel is located alongside the Chao Phraya River in the historical Dusit district only 30minutes from the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. If you are familiar with backpacking around Thailand you would have spent a bit of time in Bangkok and in particular the Khao San road area. The Siam Hotel is only a 5-10 minute tuk-tuk journey from the hustle of Khao San and Soi Rambuttri, so if you are in Bangkok at the beginning or end of your trip treat yourself to a bit of luxury at The Siam Hotel.

Whether you are in Bangkok for a couple of nights stopover or you love city life, you'll have something to do. Go shopping at the Siam Centre or MBK if you are after gifts or love the hustle of bargain shopping. Visit Bangkok's sacred temples, exotic local markets, fascinating monuments and buildings. But if you are after a chilled out few days and want to make the most of the hotels facilities then you'll in great hands at The Siam Hotel. You can experiecne the best of Thai spa treatments as well as a couple of quirkey unique experiecnes such as professional Thai Boxing training and sacred bamboo tattoos.

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One thing that I've never done when visiting Thailand is Muay Thai Boxing and it's something that since training at KOBOX in Chelsea, London I'm extremely keen on doing. The Siam Hotel has a professionally equipped Muay Thai gym, complete with full sized ring and Pro-Thai Olympic Muay Thai trainer Kru Yim. Book yourself in to their 5 day course at the state-of-the-art workout space which takes a holistic approach to fitness, focussing on well-being and cultural immersion.

Because the courses are built around individual needs, guests can sign up for any duration, whether they have a spare afternoon and would like to learn some basic Muay Thai skills, or want to immerse themselves for a week. One-to-one coaching will teach techniques such as stepping, punching, blocking, the kicks, wrestling techniques and more. 

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To accompany the programme, The Siam’s Executive Chef has devised a healthy menu to fuel the training sessions and ensure guests stay in peak condition to achieve their wellness goals. The dishes are low in fat and sugar and high in protein, and could include Norwegian Salmon with Shimeji mushroom and cauliflower purée (GF); Ginger Miso pan-seared sun fish with snow peas; Siam Chopped Salad with 18 different ingredients and truffle vinaigrette and a Jasmine scented Passion Fruit Panna Cotta.

Another one of my loves is art and in particular tattoo art and The Siam Hotel have opened a specialist Sak Yant studio headed by master tattooist Arjan Boo creating traditional sacred tattoos. A craftsman of the highest order, renowned for the quality, intricacy and beauty of his work, Arjan Boo was trained in the traditional art by an esteemed abbot at the Buddhist temple of Wat Bang Phra, the prime pilgrimage spot for those who want to have their body adorned with spiritual Sak Yant ink designs.

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The 2,000 year old tradition, which is thought to have originated in ancient Cambodia, has seen it designs grown in popularity throughout South East Asia; tattoos can only be administered by specially trained practitioners. They are believed to have mystical powers, helping to protect those who bear them from evil spirits and bring good luck. At The Siam’s purpose-built Sak Yant parlour, located in the resort’s deluxe Opium Spa, every last detail has been carefully considered to ensure the traditional tattoos are executed with the utmost care given to hygiene and comfort.

Sak Yant tattoos, which are expertly engraved into the skin entirely by hand, run the gamut from ancient geometric sigils to vivid animal or magical deity figures, which have evolved into Brahmanist and Buddhist prayers. Most famous of them all, thanks in no small part to its highprofile position on Angelina Jolie’s shoulder blade, is the Hah Taew or 5 Lines Yant. This particular design goes back over 700 years to the ancient Kingdom of Lanna (now Northern Thailand) and features five meaningful lines of script, each designed to provide protection and benefits to the wearer.

After the tattoo has been applied, guests will be brought to Wat Bang Phra, a traditional temple about an hour outside of Bangkok, to have their body art blessed, before returning home with a permanent and deeply significant reminder of their time in Thailand.

Finally what about the rooms? Well The Siam Hotel offers a variety of rooms, suites, villas and cottages, each having their own unique interior design from traditional features to the best of contempary furnishings.

Find out more and book today for your next holiday abroad.

Celebrating the Pine Cliffs 25th Anniversary with UB40

Earlier this year I visited the Pine Cliffs Resort on The Algarve in Portugal to try out their new multi-million pound Serenity Spa expansion alongside the launch of heritage men's barbering and product experts Gentlemen's Tonic. You can read my review here. After coming back to good ol' Blighty I'm pretty sure I bored everyone I know by repeatedly telling them how amazing it was. And when I showed them the video I created of the resort most replied "no way is that in Portugal" but it is, a Grand Canyon-esque deep red & orange pine cliff on which sits a huge Luxury Collection Resort and golf course. Earlier on in the year, all of my best friends and I booked a trip to Albufeira, this time around it was not work, not blogging, it was a mates holiday, a self catering budget, villa holiday. We try to get away every now and again for a 'golfing & cycling' holiday which more often than not just turns into more of an 'eating & drinking' kind of holiday.

To try and keep the holiday as authentic as possible and to avoid another day of all-day-drinking it was a friend of mine Parky's responsibility to book the golf. To my amazement he booked us in for 18 holes of the 9 hole course (2 rounds) in the Pine Cliffs Resort, lured in by the incredible par 3 hole 6 which you have to tee-off over a huge drop in the cliff face and on to a tiny green. So it looked like I was heading back to my favourite place in Portugal only a couple of months after I left it. 

We only made it around 9 holes because we were playing in 40 degree heat and we hadn't had a beer in like 8 hours, so the bar was quite tempting. My favourite place to eat in Pine Cliffs is O'Pescador, their on-site fish restaurant, perfect for a light lunch. I would recommend the plate of sardines to share as a starter then the linguine ai frutti de mare for main, it was delightful. It was during this lunch that we were made aware of the Pine Cliffs 25th Anniversary Summer Gala.

A UB40 concert, fireworks and an invite to the exclusive after party were too tempting for a bunch of 30 something year old guys who many of us grew up listening to 90s reggae/pop UB40 classics. Personally it always brings me back to driving around with my parents in our Ford Sierra of which my dad played classic UB40 tracks like rat in mi kitchen, red red wine and higher ground. Listening to UB40 live had me in fits of nostalgia, my parents would have loved it!

All of the above doesn't really portray what the holiday was mainly about, which was actually drinking pretty much breakfast, lunch & dinner....bars, clubs, food. So as the Pine Cliffs afterparty kicked off at 01:00 we had already been up and drinking from midday the previous day. For the few of us that made it to the afterparty, it was totally worth it as you can see from the pictures above, we just had fun and partied with everyone that has made Pine Cliffs Resort such a great holiday destination. The highlight has to be the phenomenal singing performance of Sisters G, who had the whole place singing and dancing.