Oman as a holiday destination?
Life is filled with opportunities to seek the exceptional, encounter the new and widen our horizons and this is exactly what we did. Nestled 2,000 metres above sea level on the curving rim of a great canyon, the imaginative luxury resort beckons the intrepid traveller to immerse in rich local culture and indulge in adventures into the otherworldly mountainscape of northern Oman – THE ANANTARA AL JABAL AL AKHDAR RESORT luxury at its best.
An idea fostered by me and my significant other, Puneet, Anantara Resorts, Oman is a highly appealing property in the desert Decision was taken but I must admit with some trepidation from my parents. All the doubts were well and truly blown away soon after.
Received at the airport most courteously by smart, educated and suitably attired Omani escorts, the incredible journey began. The luxuriant 4-wheelers expertly driven, took us up through a long and winding road. The exquisite scenery was a forerunner to what would be a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’.
Flanked by majestic rocks, vast date plantations, historic forts, dry riverbeds called Wadis, and mountains of ethereal beauty, we ascended to cooler climbs, convinced that it could get only better. Three generations were treated to a delightful holiday in the Middle East. The stark beauty of the rocky landscape says it all.
Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Arabic for ‘The Green Mountain’, is a gem tucked away that offers Omani splendour in the most breathtaking of natural settings. Arrival at the Anantara property was so welcoming that even the kids couldn’t conceal their excitement.
Built-in traditional architecture, to resemble an Omani fort, it has a forbidding exterior, but once inside, its opulence is mind-blowing. The arched spaciousness and the sandy hue of the walls transport one to medieval times in most modern settings. The contrast was so compelling, the resort strives to be authentically Omani while providing international levels of luxury. It has one attraction that is unquestionably world-class – the breathtaking view and location.
The villas allotted were magnificent; excellently appointed - large with each room effortlessly seeming into the next, affording the children with ample space to play with gay abandon. All rooms look out onto the grand canyon and boast large balconies where you can sit and sip a nice hot soothing brew while taking in the gorgeousness of this place. The service, professional.
Early morning swims in the infinity pool is an experience beyond comprehension.
The precipitous ravines and the wide expanse of the rocky mountains and the gorgeous sunrise is mind-boggling. Swimming in temperature-controlled water with such a stunning backdrop is a perfect way to start the morning.
Dining was equally appealing. Breakfast at the stunning Al Maison is a treat for all the senses. Offering a wide array of world flavours and delicacies, ranging from authentic Omani, Indian, French pastries, this grand restaurant extends to an outdoor terrace where the view is unparalleled. Rose jam, a speciality of Oman cannot be ignored, and for the Indian palate the special “CHAI” for breakfast!
A picture prefect view of gorgeous stark mountains, pristine blue skies, the sun shining bright and a cup of hot chai…a moment to truly cherish.
The sunset draws all the guests to the Canyon View Platform purportedly loved by Princess Diana. An unbelievable sight with the majestic mountains silhouetted against the setting sun. A well-appointed bar warms the spirit as the desert cold now strikes.
Last but not the least, imagining Christmas in Oman was truly farfetched. We were in for a pleasant surprise. Overnight, the courtyard was transformed with wondrous lighting and decorations and Christmas was aptly and wholly welcomed.
Guests of myriad nationalities joined in the festivities with great fervour and enthusiasm. Fun and games for the children and Santas arrival were heralded by traditional Omani music and rituals. Lovely carols, hot chocolate with marshmallows, gifts from Santa and music rent the air and the festive spirit was there for all.
All good things must come to an end but we didn’t expect the glorious Christmas dinner that awaited us.
The roast turkey so expertly carved by the chef was a connoisseurs delight not to mention the wide array of desserts. The management surpassed all our expectations in making Christmas happen in Oman. Distinctive and special, a Christmas one can never forget.
It was time to leave and once again travel the long and winding road but not before experiencing a holiday of a lifetime, looked after the most generous and courteous staff in a resort of exquisite beauty.
Memories to last us for years and a holiday we as a family will always cherish for a lifetime. THE ANANTARA AL JABAL AL AKHDAR RESORT truly luxury at an all-time high!
We have been fermenting grapes for years but it hasn’t got any easier to understand. That’s why starting out in the world of wine can be quite bewildering. Every country regulates wine differently and there are no internationally agreed-upon standards.
The old world wines from regions of France, Italy and Spain are usually named from the wine-producing regions such as Bordeaux from France and Chianti from Italy. However, the new world wines from regions of Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are named after the main grape that are produced from - such as Cabernet Sauvignon from California and Chardonnay from the commonly used white grapes grown in Australia, New Zealand, Chile etc.
Here's a quick uncomplicated guide to some of my favourite wine, regions and why they are so special.
Let’s start with France since it is one of the most renowned winemaking regions in the world. Home to Bordeaux and Burgundy, France is home to many popular wine regions, each special in their own way. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, The Loire Valley, The Rhone valley and Alsace, to name a few.
French wines are labelled according to the soil with which are grapes are produced and this makes some regions more valuable in the wine market than the others. It was emperor Napoleon III who suggested a classification system be developed to identify the best wines and vineyard in Bordeaux and that laid the groundwork for today’s elite Grand Crus.
The Bordeaux wine region is further divided into two subregions. Everything west of the estuary is known as the "left bank", while everything on the east is called the "right bank."
Because of the higher gravel content, The left bank is more favourable for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In contrast, the clay-rich soil and harsher temperatures of the Right Bank are ideal for growing Merlot grapes.
The two sides of the estuary also have different appellation laws and classification systems.
The most popular left bank red Bordeaux wines that you must look at add to your collection are Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Haut Brion, Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Palmer.
While the right bank red Bordeaux’s worth the price tag are the ones from Chateau Le Pin from Pomerol, Chateau Petrus, Chateau Lafleur Pomerol, Chateau Angelus, Chateau Ausone and Chateau Pavie
Italy is romanticized for various reasons and of course wine is one of them. It is also one of the finest wine producers and recently has overtaken France. Sadly, Italy doesn’t have a classification system like France. There are close to 20 wine-producing regions in Italy each producing a kind. Besides their diversity, Italian wines are my favourite because they are extremely food-friendly as well as have enough of a certain character to be enjoyed on their own.
The fine fancy sip and wine swirls are produced in Lombardy, Sicily, and Tuscany. Barola from Northern Italy and Barbaresco from the Piedmont region are two wines that I would highly recommend. Barola is undoubtedly the king of Italian red wines. Save it for a year, five years or ten, and you’ll love this aged wine.
Wine enthusiasts like me are looking to add Barolo in Italy to their bucket list, as this hotspot has just been named Italy's official 'City of Wine' for 2021. Nestled in the Langhe Valley, this breathtaking location is surrounded by lush green hills most of which are vineyard-cultivated. If you are looking for something light, white, fruity and affordable I would recommend trying the Pinot Grigio. Another one of my favourite because it's crisp, refreshing and an ideal choice for warm weather.
While France is known for the champagne, Italy is popular for its Prosecco. This may have risen to stardom in recent years, but this amazing Italian drink has a history dating back many years. It is named for the place it calls home. Travel north of Venice to Conegliano Valdobbiadene to track down some good bubbly. There is something for every palate, budget Vino paired with excellent food with Dean Martin songs in the background, what’s not to love about this region?
The red and white crisp wines have a huge fan following all over the world. The best part is that the Spanish wines are all about value for money, as compared to the French and Italian wines. Traditionally Spain can be divided into 12 main regions such as La Mancha, Catalonia and La Rioja to name a few. Another thing that makes Spanish wines special is that many wineries age the wine for you. So one can get to experience cellared wines that are aged to perfection. Next time, spot the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, which explains the ageing of the wine.
The famous sparkling wine of Spain called Cava is mostly produced in Catalonia. Usually dry, Cava can be white or rose and a great weeknight dinner choice. Spain also produces Sherry that is loved by the British ever since Sir Francis Drake ransacked the port of Cadiz and took off with 3000 barrels of Sherry. They remain their loyal customers. Interestingly, Cava can only be made in between the area lying between Jerez de la Fronters, Puerto De Santa Maria and San Lucar de Barrameda which is popularly known as the Sherry triangle. They can perfectly be paired with cheese or dessert, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I haven’t ever sipped a bad Spanish wine. So I would recommend trying them all. However, one of my all-time favourites is Marques de Riscal. Its consistent high quality makes it a benchmark for Rioja wines. No wonder it’s been praised by Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali.
One region that instantly comes to mind when we talk about American wines in California. This area produces around 90 per cent of the country’s wine. Within California, it is Napa Valley and Sonoma are still the templates for every other wine regions in the country. The world-class Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Merlot come from Napa while Sonoma is known for their Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Argentina and Chile
I love Argentina for their Mate and Malbec. This country has established a good wine reputation with a strong international presence.
Mendoza is a popular wine region in Argentina that has breathtaking views of the foothills of the Andes. Malbec is a leading grape variety that was imported to Argentina from France in the mid 19th century. Even though it's part of the new world, Argentina now one of the producers of the most popular Malbecs. From this region, my pick would be the Cheval des Andes, a Bordeaux style blend that has become a signature wine of this country. It was the French who immigrated to Chile in the 20th century that carried vino knowledge to them. This fifth largest producer of wine in the world has wine laws similar to the US appellation system to the French. Like many, I was quite surprised to hear about Chilian wines back in the early 2000s when I first sipped Montes Alpha. I am so glad that I had an opportunity to try it making them a favourite on my list. Looking to add some to your list? You must explore the ones from the Maipo Valley. They produce a trio of signature wines that are Almaviva, Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor and Vina Errazuriz’s Vinedo Chadwick.
Australia and New Zealand
Some of the highly acclaimed new world wines come from Down Under.
Australia is known as a popular wine region both in terms of quality and quantity of wine it produces. They have various noteworthy grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir besides of course the Shiraz and 65 wine regions, making it a perfect paradise for a sommelier. Some of the most expensive red wines now come from Australia such as the Penfolds Grange.
You can't miss Cloudy Bay when talking about the wines from New Zealand. It was Cloudy Bay that was responsible for putting New Zealand on the worlds winemaker map. Out of all the regions, I love the wines from the Marlborough region. I am currently sipping Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It’s such an easy weeknight wine to sip and pairs well with almost every cuisine.
Paulo Coelho perfectly sums it up, “Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has routed and ripped apart the best business models of the last few decades, companies are gradually reinventing and adapting to the new realities. This is quite evident with many employees working from home.
Travellers world over are altering their perception of commercial travel especially at the thought of crowded airport terminals and cramped aircraft cabins. This works in favour of private aviation providers, which have reported an unprecedented interest among new customers. The silver lining of the coronavirus is that it has taken a page from E F Schumacher ‘Small is Beautiful’s’ economic model and has shaped private aviation around the needs of the community — creating a safety bubble to travel.
The growing demand for private air charters come from health and safety concerns, driven by the pandemic and the incentives that it comes with — personalised service, social distancing from crowds and lines, onboard social distancing and hassle-free security checks and dedicated cabin hostess to minimise interactions and possible exposure. If flying commercial exposes travellers to over 700 touchpoints, private jets can reduce them to 20, lowering chances of infection by 97%. In that regard, we have listed some of the famed private air charters across the globe, post lockdown.
NetJets is probably a name that’s synonymous to private air chartering, being the oldest and largest private jet operator in the world. Founded back in 1964, it boasts a fleet of over 700 airplanes, offering fractional ownership, jet card and lease programs. NetJets quickly became a firm favourite among fliers for its guarantee of the same personalised level of service no matter which program you choose. The beauty of having a large fleet at their disposal is the ability to cater to various requirements, from the likes of Embraer Phenom 300 in the light jet category, to the Bombardier Global 6000 which can seat up to 14 passengers. Armed with 55 years of unrivalled experience, NetJets is unwavering in the face of the pandemic, offering hundreds of flights operating daily.
With a slogan, “Flying Private Made Simple”, you know you’re placing your trust in the right private aviation company. VistaJet is one of the leading private aviation companies in the world, offering exclusive membership. The VistaJet Program membership essentially allows you to individually tailor your flight to your preference, guaranteeing access to a business jet anytime, anywhere. Offering over 70 aircrafts, VistaJet gives its members access to the largest privately owned Bombardier fleet in the world, all of which feature the brand’s signature exterior and interior detailing for you to feel like a prince or princess.
Guests can rest assured knowing that the company has strengthened and secured procedures, including the number of people interacting with the aircraft, every effort is taken to assign a single set of crew to a single aircraft over their full 17-day rotation. All crew are checked for signs of the virus twice a day and if there is any doubt as to their health, VistaJet will take them out of service until cleared by a certified professional. VistaJet also offers bespoke, once in a lifetime itineraries in far-flung locations across the world, positioning the company as more than just a jet operator. Besides offering bespoke services, its pledge to comprehensive sustainability and reducing carbon footprint is meaningful and commendable.
Travelling safely for business or to your loved ones in this unprecedented time is the main reason why many turn to private air charters. Enter Magellan Jets — a premium network of the highest-quality aircraft and flight crews. The Magellan Jet Card, the only Build-a-Card tool in the industry is fully customisable, allowing owners to enjoy flexibility besides tailoring how you want to fly, how often you want to fly and creating an experience that comes as close to jet ownership as possible. Take the experience further with the membership — an option that invites requires travellers to pay a sign-on fee which will then lock in their hourly price and from there, members can make use of the pay as you go function and opt-in to Magellan’s carbon offset program. Magellan Jets ensures a premium experience, including personalised service where aviation consultants would be assisted every step of the way, helping you find the most suitable and cost-effective travel solutions.
GlobeAir is another leading and award-winning European based company in the private jet charter arena that has been filling in the gap for other commercial airlines. Founded in 2007, they have set a benchmark in private jet charter services across Europe, flying to over 948 airports across the continent. Cabin crew who are tending to you use face masks and maintain safe distances. Continuous air cabin circulation within the plane ensures 100% fresh air on board at any point in time and most importantly, your private jet is deep-cleaned. A complimentary disinfectant kit is complementary, to keep you at ease and hygienic. Board your private jet from private dedicated terminals and skip unnecessary touch points.
Our fascination with books get to the peak when it comes to a new year. While making resolutions, without fail, reading will be on top of lists for many.
With that in mind, we bring you some of the Most Beautiful Libraries In The World. Afterall, a conducive and beautiful environment is the catalyst for better absorption of information.
The Church and Convent of the Girolamini is a church and ecclesiastical complex in Naples, Italy. It also houses a library, Biblioteca Girolamini. Completed in 1619, the magnificent library, Biblioteca Girolamini is now run by the Italian state. The style is a sobering Florentine Renaissance, with a Latin cross and three naves supported by arcuated colonnades and with lateral chapels.
The doors of this massive library were opened in 1887. Endless collection of Portuguese texts from Rio de Janeiro, then the capital of the Empire of Brazil can be found here. The huge, opulent library cabinet was founded in 1822 by a trio of Portuguese immigrants who wanted to bring their country’s literary tradition to the newly independent nation of Brazil. Brazil had previously been a Portuguese colony since 1500. The collection’s current home was designed to evoke a Gothic-Renaissance influence. 350,000 titles and the largest collection of Portuguese work outside of Portugal, it also includes rare original manuscripts, singular works of literature and unique proofs.
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and in Britain, it is second in size after the British Library. It was first opened to scholars in 1602. Oxford’s libraries are among the most celebrated in the world, not only for their incomparable collections of books and manuscripts, but also for their buildings, some of which have remained in continuous use since the Middle Ages.
The Library’s history dates back to the establishment of the College in 1592 and it is the largest library in Ireland. Today, it has over 6 million printed volumes with extensive collections of journals, manuscripts, maps and music reflecting over 400 years of academic development.
The Bibliotheque Mejanes was originally founded in 1810 and is located in the town hall of the provincial city of Aix. Since 1989 it has formed part of the Cite du Livre complex, which was former match factory. Incorporating a number of research institutes as well as fulfilling the function of a public library, its most striking aspect is the architectural frontage, which takes the form of three giant-sized books of Albert Camus’s L’Etranger (The Outsider/The Stranger), Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince and the writings of Moliere.
Opened on May 23, 1911, the architectural firm Carrère and Hastings constructed the structure in the Beaux-Arts. The marble facade of the building contains ornate detailing and the Fifth Avenue entrance is flanked by a pair of stone lions that serve as the library's icon.
Klementinum Library was first opened in 1722 as a part of the Jesuit University based in Klementinum. It houses over 20,000 volumes of mostly foreign theological literature. The interior of the baroque library has remained intact since the 18th century. The hall is decorated with ceiling frescoes by Jan Hiebl depicting allegorical motifs of education and portraits of Jesuit saints, patrons of the university and prominent representatives. Worth mentioning, is the collection of geographical and astronomical globes in the center of the library. These are mainly works of the Jesuits. Among the globes are also astronomical clocks, constructed mainly by Jan Klein.
Abbey Library was founded by Saint Othmar, the founder of the Abbey of St. Gall. During a fire in 937, the Abbey was destroyed but the library remained intact. The library hall, designed by the architect Peter Thumb in a Rococo style, was constructed between 1758 and 1767. A Greek inscription above the entrance door, psyché iatreion, translates as "apothecary of the soul". A significant medieval monastic library, in 1983, this, as well as the Abbey of St. Gall were designated a World Heritage Site, as an outstanding example of a large Carolingian monastery.
The Library of Parliament is the main information repository and research resource for the Parliament of Canada. The main reading room rises to a vaulted ceiling and the walls and stacks are lined with white pine panelling carved into a variety of textures, flowers, masks, and mythical creatures. The library's collection comprises of 650,000 items, covering hundreds of years of history and tended by a staff of 300.
Winter is the most magical season of the year — the glistening snow, a white quilt of snowflakes kissing the trees, snow capped mountains, hot cocoa, sitting snugly in front of a fireplace and the cold climate. We urge you to virtually experience your very own winter wonderland at these postcard-perfect luxurious hotels, scattered across the globe. When the world opens up again, who knows you might be on your way there.
Arctic Snow Hotel & Glass Igloos
Make like modern-day Eskimos in this frosty destination in the city of Rovaniemi, Finland, where white winters are guaranteed. Inside, temperatures are set to a chilly -3ºC to retain the original forms of decorative sculptures and furniture in the rooms. If that sends chills down your spine, their heated glass igloos will make a warmer option. When you lie down at night, starry skies – or if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights – become your roof. When the Northern Lights do illuminate the skies of Rovaniemi, you will be woken up by an optional aurora alarm, so you will not miss a thing.
Gstaad Palace, Switzerland
“Gstaad is the last paradise in a crazy world,” Julie Andrews once exclaimed. And towering over this paradise is the luxurious Gstaad Palace, which has long been a winter playground for glamorous jetsetters. One of the last family-operated hotels in Switzerland and managed by the third generation of the Scherz family, it has withstood a history of over a hundred years, offering old-world elegance to its well-to-do guests. If circumstances allow, opt for the suites, where you will have a magical view of the Swiss mountains from inside the rooms outfitted with alpine elegance.
Le Lodge Park
Tucked in the region of vinous valleys and mighty peaks of the Rhône-Alpes, Le Lodge Park blends into its arresting surroundings. For those seeking for a perfect winter wonderland, this is it. Nestle comfortably in the chairs facing the fireplace or on the heated terrace, looking back and reminiscing the highlights of the day. After a day of thrilling descent down the slopes, bask in Megève's legendary après-ski atmosphere at the hotel's bar, outfitted in the rustic, lodge look. Now ready for your evening, whether you are in a festive mood or simply want to relish in good times, head over to the Beef Lodge for the finest cuts of meat or a stylish truffle-themed evening meal at the Fermes de Marie for a gastronomic adventure to be remembered. After a long and fulfilling day, retire to the distinct and rustic rooms in Lodge Park, where the walls are dressed in authentic Scottish fittings and playful touches of exotic textures — leather headboard in hues of Bordeaux and gold, crisp-white bed linens with the warming touch of a woven fur throw, nestled just close enough to the room's fireplace.
Hotel La Perla
Nestled in a quiet, cozy corner of Corvara village’s stunning landscape, is Hotel La Perla, a family-run property renowned worldwide for its distinctive approach to hospitality and to creating joyful and lasting guest relationships. Offering sheets of ice and alpine atmosphere, Hotel La Perla allures skiers and dreamers to bask in its very own winter wonderland. Here, bounteous and dreamy rooms exude style and sophistication with warmth, respect, and etiquette at the fore. Après-ski, indulge their one Michelin star gourmet restaurant where traditions and modernity are married, serving dishes prepared with quality ingredients and the emotions of chef Nicola Laera for an amazing culinary experience. Mahatma is the celebrated wine cellar here — a must-visit, along with the indoor pool and Spa where one can release the knots that bind the body with natural holistic treatments. Winter season here is naturally as magnificent as one can imagine – the climate, snow-capped mountains and sheets of snow.
Higashiyama Niseko Village — A Ritz Carlton Reserve
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve set in Japan’s winter wonderland is a stunning ski-in/ski-out resort that interweaves great personalised service with the Japanese charm, culture and cuisine. Embodying the philosophy of discovering oneself through nature (Kachou Fuugetsu), one can discover the power of solitude while on a mountain trek or realise the healing elements of Japan’s hot springs. Rooms and Suites at Higashiyama Niseko Village are designed around the alpine and mountain experience, inviting the beauty of nature to flourish within. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out over mount Yotei or Niseko Annupuri, and the interior décor is a juxtaposition of classic and contemporary aesthetics that hint elegantly to the surroundings.
Once the stomping ground of Vikings, this is a land rumbling with legends and rich with culture. The postcard-worthy town of Bergen is home to a Small Luxury Hotels of the World recipient — Opus XVI. Named after the famed piano concerto, this hotel is immersed in Bergen’s rich musical heritage and is helmed by descendants of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. In a renowned, historic building that was originally built as a bank, Opus XVI offers 65 unique and luxurious rooms located in the very heart of Bergen and each designed with classic yet modern design and interiors. Choose for a view of Mount Fløyen or the quiet plaza of Vågsallmenningen.
The merriest month of December is upon us, which means the countdown to Christmas has already begun! It’s the season to set up your Christmas tree, deck the halls with shimmering decorations and of course, find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. If you’re looking for a spot to get in the festive spirit of joy and love then take a trip to your nearest Christmas market!
What’s a Christmas market, you ask? Well, Christmas markets are street markets associated with the celebration of Christmas held during the four weeks of the festive season. These markets originated from Germany, but are now held in many other countries including Asia, the United States and even in the Middle East. This month, we’re listing down Christmas markets you can find all around the world.
Dresden Striezelmarkt in Germany We’ll have to start off our list with the OG, also known as the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Not only did the market showcase the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid in 1999 with a height of 14.62 metres, but is also the place to find traditional handcrafted nutcrackers that are a definite must-have for the festive season. Dresden Striezelmarkt is where visitors can indulge in the country’s iconic stollen fruit loaf while feasting their eyes on the bright and colourful decorations throughout the market.
Viennese Dream Christmas Market in Austria In the Austrian capital, there are about 20 Christmas markets that people can visit. Nevertheless, the Viennese Dream Christmas Market (or Wiener Christkindlmarkt) is known as one of the oldest and most traditional events in the country, which is why many still look forward to patroning this particular market. It is held in front of City Hall and features reindeer rides, a ferris wheel and over 150 stalls offering delicious delights like Austrian sausages and gingerbread cookies.
Basel Christmas Market in Switzerland Switzerland is known for its festive markets and many can be found throughout the country. However, it’s no surprise that the biggest (and best) market in town is the Basel Christmas Market. The market features two sections located at Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz, with 200 fabulous stalls selling the merriest of spices, decorations and warm scented candles that are sure to add a touch of Noel in your home.
Fira de Santa Llúcia in Barcelona Held outside the Barcelona Cathedral, Fira de Santa Llucia has grown from a one-day event to a three-week fair. The market features four different sections including nativity and figurines (decorations), greenery and plants (natural and artificial trees), crafts (handmade jewellery) and simbombes (musical instruments). Activities like storytelling and a Christmas parade also happen at the market throughout the season.
Skansen's Christmas Market in Stockholm When it comes to Christmas markets, one can find many in Stockholm. However, there is one in particular that’s more traditional than the rest, and that’s Skansen’s Christmas Market. Held in the world’s oldest open-air museum in Djurgarden, this Christmas market is filled with Swedish culture along with the essence of yuletide. Workshops are held for visitors to make their own decorations while dancing games are also available around the Christmas tree.
Christkindlmarkt in Leavenworth, Washington Despite it being a one-day event, Christkindlmarkt in Leavenworth, Washington is the closest market you’ll get to the classic one in Germany. This Bavarian-styled village lights up during the holidays with booths selling sweet treats while live music is played. Bavarian food and beer can also be found alongside candies, cakes and pastries.
Christkindlmarket Chicago in Chicago, Illinois Since 1996, this traditional German-styled Christkindlmarket has been a city favourite. Visitors can relish in international cuisines as well as local bites, while enjoying a cold mug of German beer or a warm glass of mulled wine. What makes the Chicago Christkindlmarket unique is its Stammtisch - a sacred table that can be booked for your family and friends to gather and enjoy German dishes and beverages.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park in New York Dubbed as one of the prettiest Christmas Markets in New York, this particular Christmas market features more than 150 glass kiosks that line the park during this festive season. From local and international goodies to those selling artworks, home accessories, beauty products and toys, you’ll never run out of gift ideas here. Visitors can also ice-skate at the rink in the middle of the park.
Landmark Christmas Market in Hong Kong Be transported to European towns when you visit the Landmark Christmas Market in Hong Kong. This pop-up market features colourful installations and various booths selling homeware, accessories, fine spirits and even gift hampers. You can also satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with freshly baked pastries and canales with rum filling.
Crane Festive Weekend in Singapore
This two-day festive pop-up market is a weekend you won’t forget. Indulge in festive goodies while exploring meaningful gifts like handmade ceramics and artisanal soaps from small local businesses. Visitors can rest assured that items sold are of high-quality as the market focuses on artisanal, handmade and sustainable products.
Roppongi Hills Christmas Market in Tokyo If hot chocolate, warm pretzels, chill beer and a whole lot of photo opportunities is something that piques your interest, then the Roppongi Hills Christmas Market in Tokyo is the place to be. It’s the ideal place to have dinner with family or friends before experiencing the European Christmas tradition. Aside from delightful bites, you can also find unique gifts for your loved ones.
Christmasland in Taipei Every Christmas, Taipei’s Xinban Special District holds an event known as Christmasland that attracts both locals and tourists alike. This enormous yet intricate event features illuminating installations, activities, concerts and amazing food options as well. Christmasland is also where you’ll find the country’s tallest Christmas tree that’s decorated with bright lights and a dazzling gold star on top.
Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market in Dubai The Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market is a 16-day gleeful occasion filled with activities for the young and for those who are
By : Hiranmayii Mohanan
By Malaysian for Malaysians or Residents of Malaysia.
An international getaway to luxurious resorts like Soneva Jani in the Maldives or Amanyara in Turks and Caicos may seem impossible for the foreseeable future but a similar experience, if not better, is attainable within the beautiful Malaysia.
As we continue to grapple with the pandemic and remain indoors from the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), a touch if indulgence is much-deserved and with that in mind, we have curated a list of luxurious resorts in Malaysia for you to get some TLC post-CMCO.
Pangkor Laut Resort
When hailed as paradise by the late Pavarotti and previously voted as ‘Number One in the World' by Condé Nast Traveller, Pangkor Laut is a postcard-perfect resort nestled amid two million-year-old rainforest and framed by emerald waters and white sandy beach. Resting beneath the shade of forest giants as old as the land, this island is not only home to one of the world’s premier resorts but also to a variety of wildlife. Long-tailed macaques and oriental pied hornbills perch in the branches above while white-bellied sea eagles soar overhead and large monitor lizards sunbathe on the island’s rocky outcrops. No matter which villa you choose — be it ones resting in the middle of lush gardens or sitting above the sea, comfort, warmth and elegance is the recurrent theme.
Mangala Resort and Spa
Affiliated with the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Mangala Resort and Spa is a beautiful, sprawled resort in Kuantan, Pahang. Here, the villas are nature-inspired and designed in small-scale pavilions for you to appreciate the green surroundings. Get a bike in the evenings and explore the property or if you’re in need for some well-deserved relaxation, the Mangala Spa is the place to be. It features a host of holistic therapies—including manicures, pedicures, scrubs and facials. You can also opt for archery, cycling, kayaking, birdwatching, and more while you're here — never a dull moment. mangalaresortandspa.
The Datai Langkawi
Reconnect with nature at The Datai Langkawi, located along the crisp sea. Nestled in the heart of a 10-million-year-old rainforest, this captivating destination is a stunning resort that blends into its natural surroundings. Housing 121 rooms, suites and villas, the resort features canopy deluxe rooms, canopy premium rooms, canopy suites, the datai suite, rainforest villa, rainforest pool villa, the Datai estate villa, the one-bedroom beach villa and the two-bedroom beach villa. The luxury rooms are perfect for solo travellers, couples, families and even large groups of friends. Dining at The Datai is easy, with delicious delights of various cuisines to choose from. Adjourn to The Gulai House for some authentic Malaysian cuisine, The Pavilion for some scrumptious Thai food or The Beach Club and Beach Bar for drinks and hand-tossed pizza. thedatai.com
Gaya Island Resort
Gaya Island Resort’s allure lies in protected mangroves, sheltered coral reefs and the pristine coast of Malohom Bay. Resting on an island within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, this hillside resort is a paradise that promotes the natural beauty of Sabah, including ancient rainforests and the majestic Mount Kinabalu at the horizon. Distinctively Bornean, Gaya Island Resort is where couples and families can catch the waves, bask at the sun-dappled beach and at the end of the day, retreat to a contemporary and eco-luxurious villa boasting the Sabahan identity. What’s impressive about this vacation spot is its commitment to ecologically-sustainable practices to minimise its carbon footprint within the environment. This is evident in its minimal usage of motorised vehicles for operational purposes. gayaislandresort.com
Resting under the foothill of Mount Santubong in Sarawak, Cove 55 — a luxurious boutique resort that weaves tribal elements with contemporary sensibilities. What was initially built for an Iban family’s holiday home was soon converted into a sprawled estate of 13 rooms, two suites and a villa. Explore the wilderness with a hike up Mount Santubong or search for crocodiles on a boat tour. Alternatively, venture out on your own on a bicycle to witness the Sarawakian offerings first-hand. Avid golfers can tee off at an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and when hunger befalls, leave your palate to the chefs at Kechala to excite you with modern Sarawakian cuisine crafted ethically-sourced ingredients from the surrounding jungle and the chef’s garden. For digestif, head to the Cove Bar relish in their scrumptious tipple. cove55.com
Winter is one of my favourite seasons for dressing-up but looks like I won’t be reveling in winter wear this year, given fact that I am confined in Malaysia for the next couple of months, at least until the covid situation dies down - which doesn’t seem to be anytime soon.
For those who are in wintery places - witnessing beautiful white snow falling from the skies, manouevering ice while walking, building that snowman – this one is for you.
Let me tell you first, winter dressing truly does not have to be drabby and boring. Having lived in a couple of wintery places, boring is the last thing I think about when dressing up for the season. Women or men, we have smorgasbord of choices when winter-proofing ourselves.
First and foremost, learn the art of layering. With this, you will achieve two things. One, of course, the main objective of feeling toasty and cosy under all those layers. With that taken care of, you will feel like you can take on the world even in the coldest of lands. Secondly, layering is stylish; done correctly, you will look pretty much like you have just walked out from magazine shoot. An example of layering will be; a turtleneck as a base, under a sweater and topped up with a jacket. Or try this, a current favourite – white tee topped up with black colour, one sized-up blazer and pile on a camel jacket. Finish off the look with a pair of black jeans; classy and toasty wrapped-up into one!
Use colors as part of your winter ensemble; do not shy away from them. My few favourite combinations – purple and grey, blue and emerald, blue and red, red and beige Play around, experiment with colours, you will be surprised how much you will stand out amongst the dark-colored combination you see on the streets during cold months.
If there is one thing I totally look forward to in winter, is the many hats I get to wear, no pun intended. Hats immediately pull together an outfit besides of course, not to mention the main aim of keeping your head and ears warm. Look for a couple in complementary colours that can accompany your winter wardrobe.
This is for the ladies especially; there is somehow a misconception that winter wear needs to be bulky. There need to be room for layering, yes; the thermal wear, sweater, parker – however there is no need for bulkiness, which create an illusion of a bigger silhouette. My favourite accessory for this is most definitely the belt. Belt-up your coats and sweaters; this immediately gives it a new lease of life. A cinched waist makes your ensemble more subtle and feminine.
We know that shoes can singlehandedly change the vibe of your whole outfit; so do winter boots. No one boot fits all occasions, so invest in a couple. My collection of boots consist of these - ankle boots for days I know I will be mostly indoors, knee-high ones for walk around town, wellies for wet, slushy winter days and snow boots for walks in woods.
Scarves - oversized ones perks-up a winter look almost immediately. Throw it on your shoulders, wrap it around your neck - nonchalantly and stylishly messy, adds an edge to the whole look
Oh and winter look is not complete without fur – however, make that faux fur, please. Fur coat, fur mittens, fur vest, fur collars, fur hats – just have fun with them, however, not all at one time. If you choose to wear a fur coat, opt for leather gloves. If you choose to wear a fur vest, opt for a suede coat – balance out fur and non-fur; done properly, fur elevates your outfit. Try it and feel a million dollars almost immediately.
There is some kind of defensive air when you mention looking good when travelling. While I am one who is an advocate for being comfortable when travelling, there is also a part of me who truly believes one should never discount good things that can happen while running through terminals.
Firstly, let me reiterate this - being comfortable is a whole lot different from not-being-bothered about how you look.
Presentation and the first impression is everything; even when you are dashing for that Dreamliner. Always remember that it takes only 7 seconds for someone to size-you-up on the first meeting and you want to make sure, that sizing-up is a good one
A first good impression might open doors, for something good that is to come. Intelligence, wit, EQ and all those things that set you apart intellectually are important; so is the first impression. It is not too much for me to say one is dependant on the other.
Human beings are visual creatures; some may say fortunately and others might disagree but one thing is for sure, it does not take much to make that first impression work for you.
Let’s talk about how to make yourself in tip-top presentation mode even when you are on the way to be at 35,000 feet up in the sky.
I love wrinkle-free fabric. Choose a loose, breathable one to stay comfortable all day. My travelling favourites are wools and knits.
Have you ever had this cold spells in aircraft; they tend to be “fridgy". For this very reason, I would usually turn to layering. First, decide on basic outfit then layer. Layering helps with cold and most definitely a great fashion statement. Stretchy jeans or tights, t-shirts & long cardigans are my favourites. Depending on destination; if it is a colder place, bring along a jacket in your hand-carry to wear at arrival.
The good old scarf – what not to love? It is indeed a versatile piece. Wrap yourself, put them around your neck, use as a blanket. It even folds-up as a pillow – one item, few uses.
A fan of heels, the only time you will not see me in one is when I travel – a pair of sneakers scream chic and transit perfect!
For the ladies, our struggle for a good airport or travelling handbag is real. We need our lappy, book, energy bar, wallet, passport, mints and make-up purse to be part of our travelling-handbag ensemble, right? But do remember, you need one that is big enough to carry your essentials but small enough to be tucked under the seat.
The quintessential travelling item award goes to the sunglasses. It turns you up few notches - you will look put together; and those eye bags from lack of sleep, camouflaged. It also acts as a hair accessory after that thirteen hours flight!
Flying, especially long haul, takes a toll on he body and definitely not too much to say on one's wellbeing as well. With that in mind, it always help to make the appearance look somewhat presentable. Remember the adage, ' when you look good, you feel good'? That one is gold!
Food and drinks make-up huge part of Christmas celebration anywhere. Family and friends sitting around the dining table, all decked-up in shine and sparkles while the fireplace crackles in the distance.
With that in mind, Fab! Luxe travelled across the globe, albeit virtually this year, to venture into the eclectic spread of Christmas dinners around the world. We picked-up ten dishes – some, mouthwatering, while others might be a little jaw-dropping.
Feast Of The Seven Fishes
The meal's components include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, dried salt cod or bacala, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams. The menu may also include pasta, vegetables, baked goods and wine. With all these on the menu, you better be hungry!
A staple of any Vanezuelan Christmas, Hallaca is a dish made out of cornmeal and stuffed with beef, pork, chicken, raisins, capers and olives. All these are then wrapped in a banana leaf and traditionally served on Christmas and New Year's Eve.
This delicacy consists of up to 500 small seagulls fermented whole, within a suture-closed freshly disemboweled seal. Oils are applied to the skin to prevent infestation by maggots. This is then buried underneath a large, flat stone, seam-side up to prevent rupturing by the gases that evolve and contamination. The pelt is dug up about a half year later when fermentation is complete. The sutures are then cut to reveal the fermented seagull. The fermented intestinal fluids are sucked out from the whole birds and used as sauce for other foods. It is said to taste similar to natto paste or very mature cheeses. Definitely not for the faintest of hearts!
This is sweet grain pudding that is traditionally served as part of a twelve-meal Christmas Eve supper. This festive treat is believed to have existed long before Christianity. It is made with wheat, berries, honey or sugar, nuts, raisins, and poppy seeds. On Christmas Eve, before consuming the dish, a small bowl of Kutia is traditionally placed outdoors as a bribe to Father Frost, then some of the Kutia is tossed to the ceiling, and the number of grains that stick to the ceiling are used to predict next year's agricultural prosperity.
Rooster Doro Wat
A hearty chicken stew called Doro Wot is the traditional Christmas feast. It is created from a mound of diced onions, clarified butter and a heap of berbere spice, which simmers together on the stove for hours with a carefully carved chicken to symbolize the 12 apostles. The stew is accompanied by 12 hard-boiled eggs, which represents eternity.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
It is not as simple as walking in and ordering. December is a busy month for KFC in Japan. It is said that daily sales at some restaurants during the Christmas period can be 10 times their usual take. Getting the KFC special Christmas dinner often requires ordering it weeks in advance, and those who didn’t will wait in line, sometimes for hours – all thanks to Takeshi Okawara, the Manager of the first KFC in the country. In 1970, Okawara woke up at midnight and jotted down an idea that came to him in a dream: a Party Barrel to be sold on Christmas. Okawara dreamed up the idea after overhearing a couple of foreigners in his store talk about how they missed having turkey for Christmas. Okawara hoped a Christmas dinner of fried chicken could be a fine substitute, and so he began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate the holiday.
Puto bumbong is a Filipino delicacy traditionally served during Christmas season in the Philippines. It literally translates to steamed glutinous rice (puto) cooked in bamboo (bumbong). The rice is usually wrapped in banana leaves and then served with warm butter or margarine, coconut flakes and brown sugar.
Lutefisk starts off as cod, traditionally caught in the cold waters off Norway. It’s then dried to the point that it attains the feel of leather and the firmness of corrugated cardboard. Water alone can’t reconstitute the fish, so it’s soaked in lye. The fish is then repeatedly rinsed before being shipped off for cooking and eating. In Norway, Lutefisk is traditionally served during Christmas alongside boiled potatoes, mashed green peas, melted butter and small pieces of fried bacon.
This mouth-watering concoction is made with water and infused with spices like cinnamon and clove. This can be on the stove for hours, resulting in an absolutely overwhelming aroma that envelops every street. Drinking chocolate has been part of Peruvian culture for centuries although the consumption has usually been reserved for the middle and upper classes of society. This is especially true of the classic hot chocolate served at Christmas, as tradition calls for it to be made with shavings of high-quality chocolate, something most Peruvians (especially in the countryside) simply can’t afford to purchase. True to the meaning of Christmas, season of sharing and giving, Chocolatadas are offered to the poorest families in the region, most likely than not, these are the only treats they get over Christmas, which makes the tradition all the more special.
The tradition of eating carp for Christmas is particularly alive and well in Poland. Fish became popular for Christmas Eve dinner during the 13th century, because Polish are predominantly Catholics and Catholics considered fish as a fasting food. The history of eating fish on Christmas Eve is entirely due to the fact that Catholics couldn’t eat meat during the f
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