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Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Sabah Malaysian Borneo
Words and photos by Kelly Tang

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Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

First impressions of the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu [population 600,000] are unexpected. In WWII Allied forces levelled the city to liberate North Borneo from Japanese occupation, leaving it with little in the way of architectural history apart from the Sabah Tourism Office and the 15.7 metre Atkinson Clock Tower, built in 1905, and still standing proudly today.

Also unexpected is the laid-back nature of the city. Unlike many frantic, frenetic Asian cities it feels positively laconic – even the traffic.

In town, our guide takes us to his local café for a cup of ‘kopi ‘o’ [strong black coffee and sugar]. The coffee is good but I’d come back just for the name of the establishment: The Fook Yuen.

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Kota Kinabalu harbour side bars and restaurants

After our caffeine hit we hit the markets. And so, it seems, does half the town as well. Like most Asian markets this is the bustling epicentre of the city – relaxed, colourful, fruit filled, smoky (due to all the chicken wings cooking) and full of smiling faces and teeth, well, some teeth. The seafood section alone is the loudest and maddest I’ve ever encountered.

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Colourful harbour side markets

The markets are on the harbour waterfront, which is also the hub of Kota Kinabalu’s restaurants, bars and live music. It’s definitely a great place to hang out in the early afternoons and late into the evenings.

One of the main reasons for me being here is the golf and the state of Sabah has eight premium golf courses and 10 smaller courses accommodating all levels of enthusiasts. While we were there the Sabah Masters Championship 2014/15 finale, was being played on the Graham Marsh designed 27-hole championship golf course at the Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club (part of and opposite The Pacific Sutera Hotel where we are staying).

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Sensational golf courses in Sabah

The hotel is set on 156 hectares overlooking the South China Sea, golf course and marina. The Sabah Masters Championship is a stepping-stone for Asia’s brightest golfing stars, such as Mardan Mamat from Singapore who we watched take out the championship top honours on an exhilarating final day. All four players in Mamet’s group were in contention to win at the beginning of the final round.

The Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club is a golfing paradise and along with its championship course the club has a two-tiered driving range, practice putting and chipping areas and is the only course in East Malaysia with a 20-hole night golf facility.

Next day we are taken on an island tour to Pulau Sapi Island in Sabah, which is one of the five islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and is just a 15-minute boat ride from the city of Kota Kinabalu. It’s picturesque with a main white sandy beach and aquamarine coloured water. The weather was perfect and after a few swims and a delicious buffet lunch provided by our tour we’re back in town to begin our next adventure.

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Sapi Island

Our next port of call is Shangri-la’s beautiful Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, set on 162 hectares, right next to one of Sabah’s best beach and just a 40-minute drive from the city. It includes a world-class golf course, part of the Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club.

The Rasa Ria also has a nature reserve with both a petting zoo and, more importantly, a facility where young, abandoned orangutans are rehabilitated so they can eventually be put back out in the wild. …..Which was the reason we were here and of course to play some golf.

We play a round of golf and you’d be hard pressed to find a prettier championship golf course or location. Water hazards are quite prominent and Mount Kinabalu can been seen in the distance when clouds allow. Large monitor lizards appear occasionally to check out our golfing prowess and can’t get away quick enough as their lives are in danger from my wayward golf swing.

After golf we visit the Rasa Ria orangutan facility which is currently looking after two young orangutans (four have just been moved on to continue their rehabilitation to another facility) and we are lucky enough to have had a private viewing with two of these most beautiful, unique and very funny animals.

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Rasa Ria orangutans

The orangutans arrive at Rasa Ria due to many reasons some of which include, mothers killed by poachers, rescued by wildlife authorities from people keeping them as pets and some are abandoned by their mothers at logging farms.

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I’m yet to meet a cuter animal

Feeding times are 10am and 2pm, which is when the public is allowed in to watch them. And watch them we do – absolutely mesmerized as two five year old males wrestle, roll, run, jump, swing and, believe it or not, blow raspberries. Definitely one of my most memorable and favourite animal experiences ever.

Our final golfing day is at the Mount Kinabualu Golf club, 1500 metres above sea level and a hilly two-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. The course is as scenic as any golf course I’ve seen and sits in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s second highest peak at 4,095 metres.

We only play nine holes as the course is having restoration work done. Being in the mountains hazards include drifting clouds, which momentarily make visibility poor. On the first four holes you hit downhill, which means I make a few unintentional long shots in the right direction – down.

But what goes down must come up and the remaining five holes are uphill and for me the par fives are five shots too long. My playing group loves it and thrives on the challenge.

Golf isn’t the only attraction at Mount Kinabalu; you can also hike the mountain, a two-day endeavor so popular you have to book months in advance. Other mountain options available include a jungle rainforest canopy walk, which is not for everyone and requires both a degree of fitness and a lack of vertigo.

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National Park canopy walk

After the canopy walk we head back to town and on the way stop at the Kundasang War Memorial to pay our respects to the Australian and British prisoners of war who died in Sandakan and during the infamous death marches to Ranau during World War II. The memorial also remembers the people of North Borneo who risked their lives to help the POWs.

I didn’t know much about Kota Kinabalu before arriving but after just seven days I’ve fallen in love with Sabah, the warmth of its people, its golf courses, its beautiful wilderness and, more than anything else, those raspberry-blowing orangutans.

Some attractions in Sabah:

*Visit Sapi Island
*Harbourside Markets Kota Kinabalu
*Harbourside bars and restaurant Kota Kinabalu
*See the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
*Play golf at The Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club Championship Golf Course
*Visit the Shangri-la Rasa Ria resort to visit orangutan rehabilitation centre and nature reserve and play a round of golf at the Dalit Bay Country Club
*Play golf at the Mount Kinabalu Golf Club
*Visit the Kundasang War Memorial
*Jungle rainforest canopy walk

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Pacific Sutera Hotel pool

FACT BOX:

Where to stay:

The Pacific Sutera Hotel:

The Sutera Harbour Resort is only a 10-minute drive from the airport and has spectacular views of the South China Sea, the resort’s 27-hole championship golf course and the 104-berth marina. With a multitude of dining options, recreational activities and renowned Mandara Spa this is a fantastic resort.

www.suteraharbour.com

How to get there:

Malayasia Airlines

www.malaysiaairlines.com

The Travel Café Bondi

www.whitestartravel.com.au

02 9130 1345

www.sabahtourism.com

 

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Winter Sydney

To all my paradisesonline.com regulars and guests. Hope you all had a very relaxing Easter and wishing you all many Pacific and Asian paradise holidays while wearing the latest gorgeous Lisa Maree creations.

We’re getting a little ‘fruity’ here at Lisa Maree with our latest collection!

I created my current collection “Immortal Creatures” using neutrals. Basic black and white featured, in light of the fact that we will be moving onto colours such as Wine, Magenta and Browns for Fall (Autumn). And with transitioning into those cooler months, even though I am a sun chaser and like to follow warmth around the globe living my endless Summer, I’m offering up a few tips for winter dressing as the days start to cool off for you!

My key winter dressing tips are:

– Firstly, turn all of your favourite summer dresses into winter outfits by adding tights and boots, save your pennies for a holiday!

– Then wear a legging underneath your stockings/tights, it darkens the stocking and incredibly makes your legs look thinner!

– Turn your maxi dresses into a skirt by wearing a jumper/t-shirt over the top, you’ll achieve a versatile and effortlessly chic style.

– Wear your dressiest dress with a baseball/trucker cap and converse(sneakers), tie a jacket around your waist and you’ll be able to make most of your night-time dresses day appropriate and chic.

– Layer, layer, layer! By layering your clothes you can create your own runway moment. Add a scarf or a beanie under your fedora to complete the look.

Stay Warm!

Lisa Maree xx

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LisaMaree

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Dolphins Pacific – Undersea Wonders

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Palau is known for its undersea wonders and Dolphin Bay is nestled amongst beautiful rock islands just minutes via boat from the main town of Koror.

Dolphins Pacific’s philosophy has three major aims – environmental education, a facility where everyone can have fun and to develop tourism in Palau. The centre believes in the importance of environmental education and the facility provides world-class educational lectures for the children of Palau that are incorporated in school programs.

With tourism the main industry in Palau, new ventures are vital to its economy and the dolphin centre hopes to attract even more tourists through its wide-ranging programs. There are several opportunities to learn about and interact with the dolphins including diving with them in their natural habitat.

The Close Encounter is approximately a one-hour program that includes an educational tour of Dolphin Bay with a lecture about the ecology of dolphins and the importance of preserving the environment. Guests will be directed to a platform where they will begin interacting with the dolphins.

Dolphin dives allow you to enjoy the magnificent underwater wonders of Palau with dolphins, using a scuba tank. Dolphin lovers can even be married at a one-of-a-kind ceremony at Emerald Lagoon. The staff will arrange various dolphin performances for you and your friends to celebrate your special day.

Dolphins Pacific invites you into their world – a world of wonder and learning with these playful mammals.

For more information, log on to http://www.dolphinspacific.com/top-e.html

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BORACAY ISLAND, PHILIPPINES

BORACAY ISLAND, PHILIPPINES

Words and photos Kelly Tang

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Stunning sunsets

I’m one of those people that listen to a song for the first time and sometimes don’t get it. If I listen to it a few more times it grows on me and I soon realise how great the song really is. This falls into other categories of my life such as travel. On occasions I’ve arrived at a destination only to have been disappointed at how much I dislike it, only to reassess a day or two later and utterly fall in love with the place.

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Crowds milling waiting to be transported to island

This happened recently on a trip to Boracay Island in the Philippines. This island is nominated regularly in the top islands to visit in the world. Well that rating in the first hour of my arrival wouldn’t have made the top 100 as we were herded around like cattle on arrival.

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Golden Boracay

From the terminal we were taken to a minivan for a short drive to a marina where we were put into holding pens until we were corralled onto a ferry for a short twenty-minute cruise to Boracay Island. Then if that wasn’t frustrating enough we then had to bide our time after disembarking in extreme heat till a tuk tuk was arranged to take us to our hotel.

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Sailing boats Boracay beach

(Some of the more up-market hotels offer a service where they seamlessly pick you up from the airport and your journey is a pleasurable experience compared to the average tourist).

While I’m on a rant you also have to pay three separate fees for the privilege of this discomfort and they are: a landing fee, transport from the airport to the marina fee and then a fee for the transport to your hotel. A one off payment for all these of 400 Pesos ($10AUS) can be paid on the plane. It is advisable to do this as it alleviates the inconvenience of making three separate payments.

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Colourful serene sunsets

After settling in to my beachfront hotel I walked the thirty metres to the beach and was only accosted with offers of a massage and a island hopping sailing tour half a dozen times. There was however a saving grace, the sand was as white as per the brochure and diving into the aqua sparkling ocean bought respite.

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Paraw sailing boats main beach

If I had to describe my first impressions of Boracay it would be a combination of Paddy Markets meets Pitt Street. The crowds of tourists were enormous.

I was overwhelmed by the crowds but as the warm afternoon lingered a kaleidoscope of colours started filling the sky. Mixed in with the many sailing boats near the shore ensured Boracay was now beginning to resemble the paradise I was promised. The first sunset I witnessed was as stunning as I’ve ever seen.

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Crowded but awesome

The main beach (named white beach for obvious reasons) is where you will spend most of your time and there is so much going on here: watching competition frisbee football, walking, sailing, swimming and sunbaking.

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Coconut palms and sailing boats

The night was an eye opener as there is immense competition for your patronage. The choice of where to eat and what bar to drink at is enormous as most hotels set up eating areas on the beach outside their properties. There is just so much happening and the air is abuzz with live music and DJ’s playing their thumping music. It’s crowded, but the longer you’re there the more normal it becomes and its not long before you get into the island groove and the crowds soon become part of the scenery and appear quite normal.

 

The main beach is divided into three stations: Number One station is the place to stay as it is where the majority of bars restaurants and cafes are.  Stations two and three are all very well positioned just slightly further away from the action. There is a huge array of accommodation available in Boracay catering for all budgets.

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Deserted beaches Boracay

I stayed on Boracay Island for four nights and the longer I stayed the more I started to love the place. There is so much to do and one thing I would advise anyone who visits the Island is to hire a boat and do a tour of the island. As crowded as the main beach is the other side of the island is the exact opposite. There are glorious palm fringed beaches and this is an ideal place to spend some time if crowds are not your thing.

First impressions were that I would never come back. After four days, I didn’t want to leave!

THINGS TO DO:

 1. Island Hopping

Hire a boat for a half-day tour around the island’s many beaches including Puka Beach, Crocodile Beach, and Tambisaan Beach. Tours usually include lunch!

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Secluded bays and inlets Boracay Island

2. Scuba diving

There are over 15 dive sites around Boracay.  A good mix of corals, underwater tunnels, caves, and other interesting spots!

 3. Parasailing

 Speedboat off Bulabog Beach and then soar high above the island! Get a fantastic view while you’re at it.

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Parasailing Boracay beach

 4. Paraw sailing

Sailing old school! A paraw is an outrigger boat with two sails. Get onboard, control it and let the wind take you to the best sites and sights around the island. Best done during sunset.

5. Standup Paddling

You don’t need to be a skilled surfer to maneuver a standup paddleboard. “White Beach’s placid and shallow waters on a fine day make this activity perfect for beginners.”

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Blissful quite morning

6. Cliff Diving

Ariel’s Point has five cliff diving platforms and is a favourite for the adventurous. The highest at 13 metres and the lower ones are at 7, 6, 5 and 3 metres

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Paraw sailing boats

7. ATV Ride

Drive to the island’s highest peak, Mt. Luho, great fun

8. Food Trip:

Great variety of food available especially the seafood

 9. Sunset watching;

 Some of the greatest sunsets I’ve seen

 How to get there and accommodation information:

 The Travel Café Bondi

www.whitestartravel.com.au

 02 9130 1345

www.paradisesonline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

paradises

Manila

MANILA
Photos and words Kelly Tang

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Manila Bay

Manila is the capital of the Philippines and is divided into 16 regions with a population of approximately 12 million people. Like any international city there is so much to see, do and visit and that includes restaurants, bars, shopping centres, markets, museums, churches, day tours, boat tours, walking tours and the list goes on that it’s advisable to work out some kind of itinerary before you arrive.

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The old walled city

One thing I recommend is hire a private vehicle with a driver or even a taxi and do a day tour of the city. There are some great day tours to do in Manila, which includes the ‘Old Walled City’, the island of Corregidor (which was the epicenter of the allies war effort in WW11) and a trip to Luzon to scale and observe the Taal volcanoes that are the second most active volcanoes in the Philippines.

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The Taal Volcano

But to really get a feel of the vastness of this city and get to meet the local people I highly recommend you see metro Manila in a taxi or a hire vehicle as they are very cheap and your hotel can organize these vehicles for you.

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Greenbelt Shopping Centre

I recently spent some time in the city of Makati, which is one of the more affluent cities in Manila and is home to Manila’s financial district, the Philippine Stock Exchange and Greenbelt Shopping Centre that is home to luxury boutiques and a multitude of dining and entertainment options. Skyscrapers dominate the Makati skyline and what was once a near exclusive business city has morphed into a thriving metropolis full of restaurants, major shopping centres and residential towers.

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Raffles swimming pool

I spent 2 weeks in Manila and during this time I had the pleasure of staying in three superb Makati hotels:

Raffles:

Raffles Makati is a striking 30-floor masterpiece. The hotel is a mix of old charm and contemporary mixed in with a very funky upmarket vibe and is close to the best shops, restaurants cafes and bars. Like its sister hotel in Singapore, the Manila version is a luxury five star hotel that has been superbly designed and also has The Long Bar which is synonymous with Raffles Hotels. Apart from The Long Bar, the Raffles Makati is nothing in design like the original Singapore Raffles Hotel. Every suite has large floor-to-ceiling windows and captivating views of the Makati cityscape.

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Raffles suite

The Fairmont:

A classic five star luxury hotel with a slight lean towards the business traveller comprising of 280 deluxe rooms. It also has exquisite facilities from the fit-out of the foyer to the timeless classic designed suites. The Fairmont is an elegant hotel that encourages you to indulge in all the luxuries that a discerning business traveller expects.

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Fairmont Hotel pool

The Dusit Thani:

Ideally positioned in Makati and like Raffles and the Fairmont is a five star rated facility. Spoil yourself and stay at the Dusit and enjoy the opulence. They have a club floor, which serves some of the best hor-derves I’ve eaten! With seven speciality dining outlets that offer memorable gastronomic experiences, Dusit Thani is one of Manila’s culinary destinations of choice. For the ultimate in relaxation, Devarana Spa provides a selection of pampering treatments while the well-equipped DFiT Fitness Centre offers a wide range of exercise options.

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Beautiful food at all three hotels

All three hotels have a pool, spa and gyms that offer the perfect oasis in a hectic city to allow you to slow down, relax and let the world drift away.

If you’re in Manila to celebrate a honeymoon or any special occasion, then any of these three hotels I can highly recommend.

PLACES OF INTEREST & DAY TOURS:

The Ayala Museum is a six-story museum housing ethnographic and archaeological exhibits on Filipino culture, art and history and showcases overseas collections and contemporary Philippine art.

Other museums worth visiting are:

Natural museum of the Philippines

Museum of arts and sciences

DAY TOURS:

Old Walled City, Intramuros:

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The Old Walled City

Intramuros, which literally means ‘within the walls’ is the remains of the original settlement of Manila. You can have a guided walking tour or there is a horse and carriage option, which I took and can highly recommend.

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Horse & carriage Old Walled City guided tour

The Island of Corregidor:

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Statue of General Macarther at Corregidor Island

During World War II Corregidor played an important role during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces. Heavily bombarded in the latter part of the war, the ruins left on the island serve as a military memorial to American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who served or lost their lives on the island. Corregidor is one of the important historic and tourist sites in the
country.

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Memorial Corregidor Island

Taal Volcano Luzon:

Taal Volcano is a complex volcano located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It is the second most active volcano in the Philippines with 33 historical eruptions. You can walk to the top, which takes about 60 mins or you can be transported there by horse (along with a guide). The walk can be easy but quite challenging in some parts.

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Boat transport to Taal Volcano

Shopping & market centres

Greenbelt Shopping Centre:

A huge array of shops, with the main attraction being a multi level quadrangle that is filled with a wide selection of restaurants and bars with surrounding water features and landscaped gardens. When you are inside the Greenbelt precinct you feel as though you could be in any upmarket shopping centre in the world. Cool place to hangout either for a meal or just having drinks at a bar and listening to live music.

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Fairmont bar

OTHER CENTRES:

*Glorietta Mall

*SM Makati

*Market Makati

MUST DO MANILA ACTIVITY:

HALO-HALO: Have a serve of Manila’s favourite dessert. There is no better place to indulge in this classic dessert while the setting sun melts into the famous Manila Bay.

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Famous Manila Bay sunset

The name halo-halo literally translates as “jumble-jumble” and is a refreshing concoction of shaved ice and evaporated milk, mixed up with any combination of sweetened beans, candied fruit, nata de coco, leche flan (Filipino crème caramel), ube (purple yam) concentrate and jelly, among other ingredients. Don’t forget to top it off with a scoop of ube ice cream.

Irish pub in Makati:

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There is even a classic Irish pub in Makati called Murphy’s that has a midweek trivia night and serves home cooked meals. I heard about Murphy’s and went to the midweek trivia night and loved it so much that I revisited the pub on a Saturday night to hear the band and dust off the dancing shoes.

How to get to Murphy’s: Citiland Condo III Bldg. 105 V.A. Rufino St., cor. Esteban St., Legaspi Village
Makati City, Metro Manila
Philippines
(02) 894-1884

TIP:

Plan your Manila tour with military precision so you get to see and visit as much as you can without the stress of cramming and rushing.

For best rooftop bars and clubs seek advice from your hotel concierge as clubs and trends can change and they’d have the latest information.

HOW TO BOOK:

www.paradisesonline.com

HOW TO GET THERE:

The Travel Café Bondi

www.whitestartravel.com.au

02 9130 1345

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Fashion for Christmas

It’s that time of year again… Christmas! And with Christmas not only comes presents, puddings and punch but also Christmas parties! Whether it be on the harbour in a fabulous yacht, afternoon cocktails in a swanky bar or a casual laid back BBQ here are some great glam ideas that will get you out the door fast and into the soiree season looking sexy, fabulous and fearless!

1. Overdress rather than Underdress

That’s right you heard me! It’s the Christmas season so lets get merry! Invest in a plain coloured kaftan and dress it up with hot red or pink lips with a bright oversize clutch and sexy wedges for the comfort yet effortlessly chic factor. If you want to dress it down but still look glamourous opt for a crochet mini dress like the one in the pic and team it with a fun tote bag and sandals.

2. Throw on a coverup!

If you’re over wearing the standard ‘party’ dress this season and want to try something different, throw a maxi kaftan on over the top!  Comfortable yet chic, maxi Kaftans can be dressed up or down and are just perfect for a day to night look.  Experiment with different length options, and flats or heels both work with this look.

3. Wear a bikini confidently

Between the christmas pud, champagne and cheese sometimes strolling around in a bikini seems somewhat daunting but please don’t go for the oversize t-shirt! Cover up and look effortless with a full length robe. Crochet, Silk, print or sheer, robes can be worn casually at the beach or dressed up with heels and jewels by the resort side pool.

So this christmas be bold and experiment with colours – Don’t be boring and head straight to your ‘red and greens’ try out turquoises, greens and bright whites – And most importantly wear them with confidence!

Have a safe and sexy Christmas and New Years all!

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Much love

Lisa Maree xxxxx

paradises

WESTIN DENARAU ISLAND RESORT & SPA, FIJI

WESTIN DENARAU ISLAND RESORT & SPA, FIJI
Words and photos Kelly Tang

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Stunning Fijian sunset

The Denarau Island complex is situated only 20 minutes drive from Nadi International Airport and includes The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Fiji Beach Resort & Spa (Hilton), Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island, Golf Terraces and the Raddison Blu Resort. There’s also an 18–hole championship golf course, a racquet club and a 30–berth marina.

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Diving & snorkelling boat

As Fiji’s only five star integrated resort complex, guests are able to enjoy access to the facilities and restaurants of the The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort and the Sheraton Denarau Villas and also the use of the Denarau Golf & Raquet Club.

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Serene Westin Denarau sunset

A ‘Bula Bus’ offers free transportation to Denarau Golf & Racquet Club from both the Westin and Sheraton resorts. There are six swimming pools across the resort complex, a bowling green and daily activities include aqua aerobics and beach volleyball.

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Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa

Recently I had the pleasure to spend some time at the Westin Denarua Island Resort & Spa and it was here I met a couple that have been coming to the Westin every year now for over 30 years.

I’m normally a one visit per resort, town, country type of guy but having spent some time with this gorgeous Aussie couple Ken and Alva Muller, I found out why they have such a love for Fiji and in particular the Westin.

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Ken & Alva, been holidaying at the Westin now for 30 years

They explained how they are made to feel so special and that all the staff know their names and they are treated like family. They love the accommodation, the restaurants and pool and will continue coming here forever.

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Westin swimming pool

It didn’t take us long to discover for ourselves why people keeping coming back here. From the time our luggage is delivered to our room after a friendly check in at reception, we are soon by the pool lapping up the Westin’s relaxing ambiance.

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Gorgeous wedding chapel

Many ‘bulas’ later and a few cool beverages our plan is to not move too far from this pool! Ok we did move but only from the pool to another comfortable area closer to the ocean that gave us better views of the stunning Westin Denarau Fijian sunset. Once the sun had melted into the horizon the next tough decision was where and what to eat!

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Beachside restaurant

The resort has a variety of restaurants so you don’t rally need to leave the confines of the Westin. There is however the Denarau Marina only 10 minutes drive away and there is a great selection of restaurants and bars here. A favourite of mine is the Hard Rock Café and I have to recommend the ribs and cob salad. Great restaurant for both adults and kids with plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

Water sports available at the Denarau

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Denarau Island water sports

Fiji is known the world over as one of the most beautiful and natural paradises in the Pacific where the climate and inviting mild water temperatures ensure full-year enjoyment for all holiday aficionados. A wide range of water sports, from kayaking to standup paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing and luxury boat charters are available. Cruise on your own private charter boat through the beautiful Mamanuca Islands or swim, snorkel, or surf with tropical fish and experience Fiji’s prestige environment. Professional and experienced watermen will ensure that your safety and comfort is a priority, so you can lie back and enjoy.

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Sailing in paradise

The Westin Resort & Spa has a lovely ambiance and the staff are so loveable and friendly that you want to take some of them home.

I’m thinking this is the kind of resort that I could come back to and become one of those repeat guests….

BULA VINAKA!

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Chiang Mai Royale

Within the old city of Chiang Mai, lies Rachamankha, a 25 room and suite property that very well compasses the rich history of Chiang Mai. The distinctive architecture is strongly inspired by the eleventh centuries B.C, which makes Rachamankha, exudes old world charm and character.

Getting to the hotel from the airport is very easy. Just head out to the taxi stand and there’s a booth where all the drivers congregates and someone will be there to help you get a taxi. Don’t worry about touting, prices are fixed prior you get on a cab.

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Check in was a breeze. We stayed in a Courtyard Superior which was on the second level of the property. Room is furnished with strong emphasis on wood and simplicity. The high ceiling was a plus that made the room look spacious.

Around the property, there are places where you can simply sit and enjoy a book or even a cup of tea while you take in the serenity of the surroundings. Didn’t bring a book for your trip? Just hop over to the library where it houses over 2,000 books ranging from history, art to architecture. The library was such a tranquil place that I even spent a few house in there, slipping my coffee while tapping away on my laptop.

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You can either dine in the restaurant proper or al fresco at the patio. Should the weather permit, choose the latter. The patio is set within an intimate area of concrete walls and perfectly manicured potted topiary. Ideal for a romantic dinner after an evening stroll, exploring the little nooks of the property. The restaurant serves traditional dishes that celebrates the cultures of the Lanna, Burmese and Shan cuisines.

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There are many points of attractions that you can visit whilst in Chiang Mai. Just round the corner, there are four notable temples within walking distance. Looking for something more historical? Head over to the tour counter, located right in front of the restaurant and seek for some recommendations.

Transportations are aplenty within the old and new city of Chiang Mai. I love taking the red tuk tuks as it’s fast and definitely low priced. A trip into the new city starts from just 10 BAHT.

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Rachamankha is definitely a place to consider if you are in the mood for historical Northern Thai culture or just seeking a residential living rather than a hotel stay.

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Yacht Weather (Boat Fashion do’s and don’ts)

With summer fast approaching and the weather finally showing some signs of Spring I’ve decided to write a little blog about my recent experiences during the European Summer of 2014, spending most of my free time cruising on a Yacht, one quickly learns the Fashion do’s and don’ts of yacht life.

A little safety first: Cocktails, sunscreen and a boat deck can be an accident waiting to happen. Get travel insurance! It’s a must. Breaking an ankle on a remote island is not the ideal way to spend your vacation. Also keep a little first aid pack on board, little cuts and scrapes are all a part of Yacht living.

First of all, don’t bother with the Jimmy Choo’s and Louboutin’s. No shoes required on board, well actually that’s the general rule….no shoes on boats, so as you can understand, my suitcase size was reduced significantly when I realised that all the high heels could be removed, to be honest, I did leave one pair for evenings out on shore….just in case, although with the quaint Islands and Marinas we frequented, high heels are absolutely not needed, a few pairs of beautiful summer flat sandals is all you’ll need.

Daily living consists of wearing a bikini with a cover up/kaftan. I can absolutely advise that majority of your suitcase should contain swimwear, bikini’s and one pieces as well as an array of kaftan and coverups. Wearing a kaftan over your swimwear as a rule adds sophistication and sexiness, I believe that showing a little less definitely creates more interest than revealing everything. Ladies lets leave something to the imagination. This rule crosses over to pool parties and beach life. A beautiful long open coverup robe adds a sense of style to your look.

At night you might stop in a small bay or a marina and go ashore for dinner, Summer outfits for nights out can be simple and sexy with the gorgeous tan that is rapidly growing from your days on board. Do wear a pop colour, mix it with navy or white to create your perfect look. Don’t wear all black long sleeves, pants or skirts. Black in Summer is just  depressing. Do wear a sexy piece out at night but avoid super tight mini skirts or tank tops, guys like a little mystery, it’s intriguing. Leggings are out, they are not real pants and it’s summer, instead try a maxi dress and some jewelled summer sandals or brightly coloured wedges. And finally our biggest summer shoe no-no, DON’T wear black boots, uggs, crocs (NEVER) or clogs, it’s summer, you’re on a yacht and you are a stylish sophisticated woman.

With these rules in mind, enjoy your summer and your yachting!

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Hotels with the best pool in Bali

The cold season is slowly breezing in but there are still places that provides almost 365 days of pure summer heat.  Here are 3 of the best swimming pools we have seen in Bali that guarantees a splashing good time!

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With a pool that’s perched on a cliff top of an elevated limestone peninsula, you know the view would be exceptional. Karma Kandara is an award-winning luxury resort that comprises of 54 private pool villas. Not only do you get your own private pool, you also get access to their main pool (pictured above). Rates start from USD 1140 per night.

 

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Nestled within 14 hectares of tropical manicured garden, InterContinental Bali Resort offers premium accommodations in three unique levels of accommodation: Resort Classic, Singaraja and Club InterContinental. With its six swimming pools, you are never short of choices. Opt for a night in their Club Room and get access to the Club Intercontinental Pool where complimentary light refreshments are served all day.  Rates start from USD 320 per night.

 

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From its spectacular saline water turquoise Lagoon to its Main Pool with two Jacuzzis, St Regis Bali Resort offers multiple options for refreshing dips. Don’t miss out on getting a few treatments done at the Aqua-Vitale Pool at Remède Spa where sheer pleasure is delivered at its best. Rates start from USD 616 per night.

 

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