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Amanbagh: a Rajasthani Retreat

Pool and main building at night

Deep in the Rajasthani countryside Amanbagh is the perfect antidote to energetic Jaipur.  The former royal hunting ground turned exclusive retreat is part of the elite Aman resorts. As we draw near the landscape becomes rockier and the road bumpier until we reach the ancient walled grounds of Amanbagh. Within are palm, mango and fig trees and a camel trots down the driveway ahead of us. “He is Babu, our in house camel,” explains our driver. Lucky old Babu being an Aman camel I can’t help but think.

Although Amanbagh is 21st century built it’s classic fairytale India in its design: all romantic domes and archways, colonnades and courtyards, in pink marble and sandstone. Our room is a Pool Pavilion, a standalone villa with its own private swimming pool. We spend most of our time in the terraced garden and are joined variously by families of monkeys and colourful butterflies and birds that swoop over the pool.

Main pathways

Pool pavilion pool

Some guests come to Amanbagh for safari trips to the nearby Sariska Tiger Reserve (further afield Ranthambore may be more well known but Sariska is less crowded and has a high rate of tiger sightings); others book in for the four to 21 day Ayurvedic programmes. And there are easily doable day trips to lesser visited sites such as the temples of Neelkanth, serene Somsagar Lake (good for picnics or meditation) and the abandoned city of Bhangarh where you are more likely to encounter monkeys and peacocks than other tourists. As such it makes for a special place for a yoga session. But one of the unique, unforgettable experiences of Amanbagh is simply to witness rural Rajasthani life around you.

One evening we joined aarti at the local roadside temple where devout locals banged drums, rang bells and chanted to herald the last hour of prayer. Another night we joined The Cow Dust Tour, so named after the Indian phrase for the time of day when the cows are lead home, stirring up dust as they go.

Ajabgarh fort

Just before dusk we head out in an open topped jeep and pass a smattering of chhatri, a hillside fort and temple (once connected by tunnel) and a “haunted” village. In the golden light we pass camel and carts and goats being herded. Long, loopy tailed langur monkeys regard us from stone walls and smaller macaque monkeys crouch overhead in the trees. There’s an abundance of peacocks and it’s easy to see why this area is a bird watchers’ paradise even though at the time of our visit many have already migrated.

Women in brightly coloured safaris and headscarves of orange, yellow and purple farm the fields for wheat or okra, the former impressively balanced on their heads in huge parcels and the latter a local speciality that later we see being sold in the village centres. As we drive through tiny enclaves small children run out waving and calling “goodbye!” to us and we are invited in for chai several times.

Dining Terrace

That evening we sample both okra and goat on the Amanbagh’s superb pan Indian menu. We eschew the pleasant air conditioned dining room each meal for the terrace, overlooking the fabulous swimming pool and serenaded every night by traditional musicians. There are also opportunities for private dining on the lantern lit roof terrace or more intrepid locations in the surrounding countryside.

Experiences Chhatri dinner

As with all Amans there’s a calming energy about the resort that’s hard to leave. And of course the spa is fantastic (the suites are particularly stunning). As well as ayurvedic treatments, following a consultation with a traditional Indian medicine doctor, there’s a range of body treatments on offer such as the Maharaja or Maharani massage which I opt for. The masseuse applied just the right amount of firm pressure to sort out my back tension and I emerged feeling as if I was walking taller.

Spa

And if you haven’t had your fill of shopping by the time you reach Amanbagh, the boutique here has a tight, expert edit from some of Jaipur’s finest including The Gem Palace and Kashmir Loom. This being Aman they promise to fetch more from Jaipur if you wish.

https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanbagh

 

In the Pink at Sujan Rajmahal Palace

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

In the middle of negotiating the hectic roads of Jaipur our driver suddenly swings the car into a discreet driveway. We pass through a turreted “elephant gate” painted a pretty pale pink and follow the graveled route flanked by verdant gardens before pulling up outside a palace painted in the same sugary shade as the regal entranceway. Jaipur was painted pink for the visit of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, but while the Rajasthan capital is more terracotta toned, this is a delightful, millennial pink.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

Smiling and smartly dressed men each wearing a distinctive candy coloured turban wait to welcome us. We are greeted – rather fittingly for The Pink City – with a glass of rose sparkling wine. So far, so Jaipur perhaps but inside is a complete surprise. Sujan Rajmahal Palace, now a luxury boutique hotel, may be approaching 300 years old but it has been interior decorated in a refreshingly contemporary way. Each of the public spaces is adorned with fantastically striking, custom made wallpaper from bright pinks and turquoise blues to sultry Art Deco chinoiserie and Indian inspired designs. The chandeliers, antiques and paintings remind you however that you are staying in a royal residence.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

As palaces go Rajmahal is on the petite side rather than a mammoth mausoleum with just 14 guest rooms – it was commissioned by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II for his wife. Society interior designer Adil Ahmad, recently commissioned to spruce the place up, has achieved a sumptuous cosiness that feels like a private home albeit a very grand one.

Jaipur’s royal family still own Rajmahal (it is run by Sujan the renowned company behind luxury tented camps throughout Rajasthan), the queen mother’s Thunderbird takes pride of place in the entranceway and the princess has an office in the grounds though they reside in the far larger City Palace in old Jaipur (the hotel can arrange a private tour of this palace as well as secure you a set in the royal box at the polo).

While still a royal residence, Rajmahal played host to the likes of Queen Elizabeth the second, the Prince and Princess of Wales and Jackie Kennedy as the framed black and white photographs and the names of the suites attest. Beautiful carpets gifted by another distinguished visitor, the Shah of Iran, hang on the walls as the Maharini magnanimously wanted everyone to enjoy them. The family’s love of “the sport of kings” is also reflected in The Polo Bar, lined with trophies and photographs.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

Our Palace Room is reached via a stunning marble staircase and curved corridor and like all the guest rooms and suites lies discreetly behind mirrored doors which adds to the feeling of a private home. Inside our host tells me “A Maharini does not make her own coffee,” before explaining that there are no facilities for hot beverages in the room: “You ring and we will bring you coffee.”

Another special touch is that afternoon tea is served to hotel guests every day between 4pm and 6pm. You may have it wherever you wish but an especially charming spot is on the manicured lawn under a series of charming open sided tents (pink hued of course).

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

A pleasant surprise for the (relatively) diminutive size of the hotel is that there are three dining rooms, each more strikingly designed than the other: the grand Orient Occident is open for dinner while the cool mint Colonnade and 51 Shades of Pink (decorated as the name suggests) restaurants both serve breakfast and lunch. All offer the same menu of Indian and Western dishes, we stuck resolutely to the former which is excellent.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

We also tried one of the Sujan Rajmahal Palace’s private dining experiences one evening, dining in one of the aforementioned tents on the lawn. At night the scene is enticingly lit by lanterns and makes for a very pretty venue.

Once you’ve ticked off sightseeing inside the old walled city and the Amber Fort; and shopped ‘til you’ve dropped in the bazaars and boutiques, Rajmahal Palace provides a whimsical oasis. We spend our days exploring in the early mornings, after breakfasting on fresh juice and stuffed parathas, and retreating to Rajmahal in the heat of the afternoon.

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Sujan Rajmahal Palace

The hotel has the bonus of a large, glamorous looking swimming pool surrounded by inviting sun loungers.  The designer has had fun here too with a shady terrace complete with mirrors and modern chandeliers which looks spectacular at dusk.

And a note for shopping fans: there’s a branch of the revered New Delhi based Kashmir Loom at Rajmahal so you can stock up on the best cashmere shawls without leaving the grounds.

www.sujanluxury.com

 

In Singapore for business or the F1 or both?

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View of Singapore skyline from the Lantern Bar, Fullerton Bay Hotel

Then follow Chopstix’s guide to Singapore’s CBD and beyond…

The small city state island of Singapore is immaculately clean and lusciously green with gleaming new skyscrapers juxtaposed by colonial era buildings and plenty of glossy shopping malls and restaurants. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find traditional shophouses with shuttered windows and fronted by undercover walk ways in Chinatown and Little India and a melting pot of cuisines in Singapore’s signature hawker centres.

Being practically on the equator The Lion City has two types of weather: hot and wet or hot and wetter. Although the “wet” season is around September to February there is no bad time to visit. Carry an umbrella with you at all times anyway – either to protect from the downpours or the sun.

 

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The Lantern Bar, Fullerton Bay Hotel

If you’re doing business in the CBD you’ll be spoilt for choice for lunch spots after work hang outs in this compact area bordered by the Singapore river and the bay. A perennial favourite is The Lantern Bar, a glamorous pool side terrace on top of the chic Fullerton Bay hotel and overlooking the water.

The art deco-esque Black Swan is great for salads and surf and turf in a sultry but casual while a short hop over the river, Gunther’s in a charming shophouse serves contemporary French fare to the expense account set.

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Odette at the National Gallery Singapore

The city’s Civic District has recently been spruced up with the main gem being the National Gallery, a stunning monolith that’s actually two colonial structures conjoined with some clever modern architecture. Inside holds the largest collection of Southeast Asian art and the F&B outlets are equally impressive including French fine diner, Odette, and National Kitchen by Violet Oons, the doyenne of Singa’s dining scene with her Peranaken cuisine – a hybrid of Chinese and Malay cooking. Smoke & Mirrors on the top floor is a terrace bar that overlooks the Padang, the bay and CBD

Further afield on Orchard Road is Iggy’s. Owner, wine connoisseur and convivial host, Ignatius Chan was at the forefront of bringing fine dining to Singapore. Newer names have come on the scene but Iggy’s still holds its own with a recent refurb and new chef. 

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Iggy’s, Singapore

A short taxi drive away is the glorious Singapore’s Botannic Gardens. This sprawling tropical eden includes lakes, secluded pathways and the famous Orchid enclave. Go early in the morning or late afternoon like the locals do when the heat is less oppressive. 

Uniquely Singaporean are the Hawker Centres – food stalls grouped together in covered settings and complete with health and safety ratings – so essentially street food for softies. The centrally located Lau Pa Sat is the prettiest with its Victorian wrought iron carousel design. If you’re only going to order one thing make it the satays

Stay

The Warehouse Hotel

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Singapore’s most talked about hotel opening of the year is a converted riverside warehouse among the busy eateries of Robertson Quay. The space retains its industrial design flavour with some quirky details thrown in. 

Parkroyal on Pickering

Based on the fringes of both Chinatown and the CBD the hotel has a spectacular, verdant design and includes an infinity pool with city skyline view.

Krug puts the Fun into Fungi with champagne and mushroom trail

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Krug x Mushroom dish at Jaan

Krug has launched an exclusive champagne and mushroom tasting trail across top restaurants in Singapore from now until September 30th as part of its latest single ingredient showcase. Chefs at five eateries in the city have created mushroom focused dishes designed to pair perfectly with Krug Grand Cuvee, a champagne blended from over 120 wines from more than 10 different years and aged for a further 15.

“We want to show the individual character of the champagne,” Moet Hennessy brand manager Lucie Pugnot says of the collaboration which sees Krug select one ingredient for chefs to work with. “The first year we chose the simple potato, then last year the humble egg. This year we chose the mushroom which is also familiar but multifaceted.”

The beauty of this fascinating fungi is that it comes in many varieties, including the luxurious truffle, with some types only available in certain months. So the Krug mushroom dishes may evolve according to what produce is available on the day.

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Chef Kirk Westaway at Jaan

“The mushrooms keep changing throughout the year and we are all about what’s in season in Europe, particularly in France and the UK,” says Kirk Westaway, head chef at Jaan. So while we sampled the very last morels of the season in his exquisite langoustine with Hollandaise sauce course, this month the dish will segue into grey and blue chanterelles. It’s part of a six course menu matched with three types of Krug champagne including the Grand Cuvee.

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Krug x Mushroom dish at the Tippling Club

Similarly at Tippling Club, chef owner Ryan Clift has moved on to girolles sourced from a small farm near Lyon in France along with black truffles as part of a six course menu. “I like to lightly sautee the girolles in butter and add salt at the end,” he says. “Mushrooms should never be seasoned until the last minute – if you add salt at the beginning you draw out the moisture and lose the caramelisation.” A surprisingly delicious component on the plate is a cocks comb which has been confited and pan fried to crispy perfection.

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Chef Ryan Clift at the Tippling Club

At the fine dining Song of India restaurant Manjunath Mural is presenting a platter for two people including a tandoori chargrilled portobello mushroom stuffed with Roquefort cheese and spiced with two types of cardamom, chilli and a tamarind foam, matched with a half bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee. “The cheese pairs well with the champagne and I think Indian spices also go very well with it,” says Mural and we have to agree.

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Krug x Mushroom dish at Song of India

“We have a lot of very good mushrooms in Japan,” says Hashida Sushi’s Chef Hatch who is originally from Tokyo. “I chose the shitake because it is juicy and has good flavour.” The chef has cleverly transformed the four day fermented mushrooms into an ice cream served with tempura vegetables in a stunning mix of hot and cold on the same plate. The Shitake Ice Cream comes as part of an omasake menu and vegetables featured in the tempura will change according to produce available.

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Krug x Mushroom dish at Hashida Sushi

At Atlas you can enjoy a glass or bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee with a gourmet snack befitting its gorgeous bar area. “As an Italian, when I was growing up mushrooms to me meant porcini,” says executive chef Daniele Sperindio. As such he has used porcinis to make a rice “bark” crisp and as the basis of a “Mont Blanc” paste topping along with blue foot mushrooms from France and Singaporean king oyster mushrooms. The result is a striking and richly flavourful canape.

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Krug x Mushroom dish at Atlas

An added amusement, and unique to the Lion City, is that diners can collect stamps for a Forest to Fork “passport” after they sample the dishes at each restaurant. Krug lovers probably don’t need any incentive to try the entire trail but even so the first 10 people to collect three stamps stand to win a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee Edition 163 and for all five stamps, the first five win a magnum.

 

“The Lamborghini of Ice Cream”

 

Morelli's hot fudge sundae

[UPDATE: If you’re heading to Malaysia or The Philippines over the stifling hot summer, make a stop at Morelli’s Gelato for some soft scoop Italian ice cream.]

As a child Bibi Morelli use to watch her grandfather, father and uncles make ice cream at the parlour her great grandfather, Mario, opened in Kent. Mario’s father, Giuseppe Morelli, emigrated to the English seaside resort of Broadstairs in 1907 where, like many other newly arrived Italians, he set about making ice cream from a family recipe. He’d churn the fresh cream, milk, sugar and eggs the night before and the next day, when the ice cream was ready, he’d sell it from a cart attached to the back of his bicycle.

Morelli ice cream became a hit with the locals and eventually Mario took over the business followed by his son, also called Giuseppe, and then his son – Bibi’s father – Marino. Clearly she has fond memories of her childhood. “I remember when I was growing up we used to have pasta followed by ice cream for dinner – that was my favourite meal,” Bibi laughs.

Although she was born into an ice cream dynasty, Bibi had no thoughts of joining the family firm herself. “Absolutely not,” says the glamorous blonde who until a few years ago worked as a lawyer in the City of London. “I was quite happy working in the banking world and then my dad said he was going to retire. I thought: ‘It’s all going to end now, after all these generations,’ and that was really sad so I resigned from my job.” Bibi learned everything about the business in less than three years and has set upon an expansion plan that will see Morelli’s open in Las Vegas and Dubai [there are also now outlets in Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Subang]

Morelli's Amore

Meanwhile, Morelli’s ice cream parlour in Broadstairs is a homage to retro. From the chrome and neon signage outside to the rattan chairs and Formica fittings inside, there’s no mistaking that this is a company with a heritage. At the time when hip new ice cream brands seem to be launching every week, the retro aspect is what marks Morelli’s out and Bibi has been keen to play on that. “The ice cream parlour was built in the 1930s and was last remodelled in the 1950s and I won’t let anyone touch it!”

Until recently the parlour still used its original 1930s silver: dinky ice cream pots, long handled spoons and elegant teapots. “But people started stealing them,” says Bibi. Not that the brand hans’t moved with the times. At the end of 2003, Morelli’s Gelato opened with Harrods Food Hall – an ice cream bar as slickly modern as the Broadstairs parlour is charmingly nostalgic [now closed]. But the recognisable touches are there – the ice cream comes in a glass sundae or Knickerbocker Glory dish, adorned with over the top umbrellas, pompoms and teddy bear wafers. And there’s a gorgeous old fashioned ice cream cart – a nod to the original one used by Giuseppe available to hire (price on application).

“Although we have the provenance I want to be contemporary as well,” Bibi emphasises. “We have everything from traditional to modern but there are elements that will never change. I want Morelli’s to be the Lamborghini of ice cream!”

Morelli's Baccio

Certainly the product is top notch. “Most people don’t realised there’s a difference between fresh ice cream and frozen,” says Bibi. “Frozen could have been hanging around for months. We make all our own ice cream on site and anything that isn’t sold at the end of the day is discarded.” Only fresh double cream, eggs, milk and sugar are used and ingredients are souped from Italy with Bibi herself making trips to her father’s homeland to deal with suppliers and seek out produce. “We get the pistachios from Sicily and the hazelnuts from Piedmont,” she says as we look at the tantalising range of ice cream on display.

Morelli’s makes some 60 flavours of ice cream and while vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are the most requested, their new creations include fig and mascarpone, Parmesan and pear, and Gorgonzola and honey. Then there’s the bespoke service where you can have any flavour you desire made for you.

Morelli's Berry Pavlova

With such exotic concoctions laid out before me I’m almost too embarrassed to admit that vanilla is my favourite flavour but Bibi confesses it’s hers too: “But ours is a soft vanilla, you have to try it.” Gino Soldan, who looks like a young Frank Sinatra and is the Morelli’s ice cream maker at Harrods, appears with a scoop of ice cream. It is absolutely divine.

“Try one of these,” Bibi urges as Gino slides a silver dish in front of me. It’s one of Morelli’s new ice cream truffles – a small chocolate sphere containing hazelnut ice cream. Again it’s a sign of Bibi’s forward thinking, taking hold fashioned Italian ice cream and wrapping it up in a sophisticated package.

Bibi is off to Italy this afternoon on another sourcing trip – to San Remo where her grandmother lives. “there’s a fantastic restaurant there where every dish uses mushrooms,” she enthuses. Obviously she knows and enjoys good food but surprisingly that doesn’t extend to her being diva in the kitchen. “If anyone who knows me reads me staying Enjoy cooking they’ll laugh!” she says. And then she dashes off to catcher her plane, and no doubt enjoy grandma’s home cooking.

[This piece was originally published in 2006]

Morelli’s Gelato has outlets in Manila at the Shangri La and Rockwell Mall as well as at Bangsar in KL and the Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang.

Five Luxury Family Holidays in Asia

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Villas overlooking the rice field at Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

Luxury resorts catering to multigenerations have evolved enormously in recent years offering children’s cooking classes and spa treatments to wildlife excursions and cultural activities for the whole family. And multigenerational or 3G holidays where grandparents, parents and kids holiday together, are on the rise fuelling even more demand for a great family getaway. Here are five of the best luxury resorts in Asia that offer more than the usual kid’s clubs.

Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

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Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai

This northern Thai resort resembles an impressive film set of a Lanna style enclave. A paddy field at its heart is surrounded by two storey teak villas some with their own pools. Both kids and adults can ride on the paddy’s resident water buffalo and learn about rice planting (above). Over at the rustic Arts and Crafts Village families can try out traditional Lanna skills such as rice pounding, bamboo weaving and paper cutting. There are also child specific activities including meditation and yoga in a one hundred year old wooden house. Leaving parents free to visit the stunning spa.

http://www.dharadhevi.com

The Datai, Langkawi

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The Datai, Langkawi

With its enchanting rainforest setting, The Datai has access to mangroves and waterways as well as being close to the sea. Accommodation spans rooms in the main house to Rainforest or Beach Villas. There’s a variety of restaurants too most beguiling of which is the treehouse like Pavilion, on 30 metres high stilts and shaded by the forest (above). Monkeys roam freely around the resort. Resident naturalist Irshad Mobarak guides complementary morning and evening walks through the rainforest pointing out plants and wildlife such as flying lemurs. Families may book a number of adventures including kayaking through the mangroves to spot kingfishers and eagles, trekking though the jungle and swimming in natural pools.

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Children’s Beach Combing at The Datai

http://www.thedatai.com

[UPDATE: The Datai closed on September 4th 2017 for refurbishment and will re open July 2018]

Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives

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Teens’ Club at Cheval Blanc Randheli

Part of the prestigious Cheval Blanc stable, Randheli has been slickly designed by the starchitect Jean-Michel Gathy. There are trademark romantic over-water pavilions but also family friendly Island villas which have two bedrooms and a large outside dining area. No details have been overlooked with specially designed mini furniture and food and drink menus for kids. As well as dedicated play areas for children and teenagers with wall to wall activities, the resort organises Mini Olympics where the whole family can take part in swim races, volleyball, beach football and rope pulling. Finished off with a barbecue on the beach.

http://www.randheli.chevalblanc.com/en

Soori, Bali

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Pool villa at Alila Villas Soori

Soori, on the quieter West coast of Bali, is an all-villa resort, all of which with plunge pools and most have direct access to the beach. The pared back, modern design carries on in the restaurants (though in villa dining is very popular here) and the spa (which has children’s treatments). Journeys for the Little Ones offer children an insight into local life and culture. Choose from visiting a nearby bat cave, traditional Balinese kite making (and flying), creating terracotta pieces with a local craftsman, learning to bake with the pastry chef or dressing up and learning to dance like a Balinese princess. Move over Disney.

http://www.sooribali.com

Amanpuri, Phuket

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A pool villa at Amanpuri

Set in a coconut grove on an isolated peninsula of the island, Amanpuri is designed to appeal as much to Aman Juniors as Aman Junkies. Two bedroomed pavilions overlooking the sea come with a private swimming pool and outdoor dining area. With their parents present, Aman Juniors may try spa treatments, snorkel and kayak in the Andaman Sea or take a dingy out to an ocean platform to feed the fish. Amanpuri also has its own fleet of boats from sleek yachts to a Chinese junk for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving or a cruise to nearby islands.

http://www.aman.com/resorts/amanpuri

Best Presidential Suites in Hong Kong

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The Peninsula Suite

 

The Peninsula

The grande dame of Hong Kong hotels has had a little nip and tuck recently including the presidential show piece: The Peninsula Suite.

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Top 3 Hotels (and their Restaurants) for Hong Kong’s 20th SAR Anniversary

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View of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour from the Kerry Hotel

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s SAR so expect an even more fireworks than usual (ahem). The celebrations start at 8pm on July 1st so make sure you have your hotel room and restaurant booked. These are our three top spots – all on the Kowloon side for optimum viewing:

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Countdown to the second Singapore Michelin Guide

[UPDATE: One week to go until the second Michelin Guide Singapore is announced on June 29th 2017 at The Fullerton Hotel. The inaugural event was held at RW Sentosa and pundits were a little surprised when four of that venues restaurants were awarded Michelin stars. With the gala held at The Fullerton this year can we expect to see one the hotel’s eateries such as Jade awarded?

The evening will include a five course dinner with dishes created by the chefs Seita Nakahara of Terra, Singapore (one Michelin star), Jason Tan of Corner House, Singapore (one star), Tam Kwok Fung of Jade Dragon (two stars), Macau and Curtis Duffy of three Michelin starred Grace in Chicago. Read on for our thoughts on the current, 2016 list]

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The Rivers Less Travelled – New Journeys in Myanmar

 

The intriguing Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, flanked by Thailand, Laos, China and India, has opened up to tourism in recent years and one of the best ways to see the country is by boat. As many of the roads in Myanmar are in poor condition, some villages and areas can only been accessed via the waterways. Belmond Orcaella, a boutique sized river cruiser, is designed to reach remote, less travelled areas of Myanmar between July and March, avoiding the hottest and rainiest months of the year.

As a passenger you may choose to start your journey in the bucolic central region of Myanmar at Bagan or Mandalay, or alternatively at Yangon in the south of the country near the Bay of Bengal. Yangon, the former capital, is home to the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda, fascinating markets and historic colonial buildings as well as Southeast Asia’s largest reclining Buddha. Waterways connect Yangon to the great Ayeyerwady River which runs north to south through the centre of Myanmar. So for guests staying at Belmond’s Governor’s Residence hotel in Yangon (below) it’s possible to begin your trip here.

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Back to Bombana

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Chef Umberto Bombana is the recipient of Asia’s Best Restaurants’ Lifetime Achievement Award 2017

[UPDATE: Never let it be said that Chopstix isn’t prepared to admit changing our minds from time to time. On our recent return visit to 8 and a half Otto e Mezzo Bombana we were pleasantly surprised at the vast improvement in service. There seems to be a high ratio of staff to customers and the whole operation is now very slick. We’re still not sure about the 3 Michelin stars but nonetheless less, bravo Bombana. Read on for our original review.]

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Veuve Clicquot’s Extraordinary new Champagne

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This week Veuve Clicquot launched its newest champagne in Hong Kong and Singapore. While the name Extra Brut, Extra Old may not roll off the tongue this champagne is certainly very pleasing upon it.

Extra Brut, Extra Old is made entirely from the house’s reserve wines – a first for Veuve Clicquot, and it is thought, for champagne. Blending still wines from 1988 to 2010 cellar master Dominique Demarville has achieved a champagne that is delicate, fresh and silky.

“The lower dosage is a consequence of using the reserve wine. And it’s Extra Old because of the double ageing,” says Dominique. “It’s a traditional at Veuve Clicquot to age on the lees to get the complexity of taste and the creaminess of texture. [For this champagne] we put the wines the bottle for a second ageing.”

The reduced sugar of the lower dosage also means it pairs well with food so look out for it on wine lists across the Fragrant Harbour and the Lion City.

http://www.veuveclicquot.com

Rocking the Red Carpet at Cannes

70th Anniversary Red Carpet Arrivals - The 70th Annual Cannes Film Festival

In the darkest of days sometimes it’s good to have some beauty to look at and frippery to indulge in. Here: dazzling diamond jewels by Chopard worn by Charlize Theron and Liu Wen on the red carpet of the 70th anniversary of the Cannes Film Fesitval.  Because they Cannes Cannes Cannes…. (with apologies to Baz Luhrmann and Moulin Rouge!)

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Some thoughts on the first Singapore Michelin Guide

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The Michelin Star winners in Singapore

[UPDATE: The Michelin Guide Singapore will be announced on June 29th 2017 at The Fullerton Hotel. The event will include a five course dinner with dishes created by the chefs Seita Nakahara of Terra, Singapore (one Michelin star), Jason Tan of Corner House, Singapore (one star), Tam Kwok Fung of Jade Dragon (two stars), Macau and Curtis Duffy of three Michelin starred Grace in Chicago.]

Before the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore was launched on July 21st I was sure of two things: that at least one hawker stall would gain a star and that Joel Robuchon would be awarded three. The former because I could see the headlines about “the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant” pinging around the world (and so could Michelin, I’ll wager) and the latter because Robuchon tends to collect three Michelin stars around the globe as naturally as breathing.

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Star Chefs on the Rise in Hong Kong

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Pierre Gagniere in Central, Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong is set for another influx of Western celebrity chefs as Yannick Alleno’s long awaited bistro, Terroir Parisien, is slated to open in Central this summer, Bjorn Frantzen has opened Frantzen’s Kitchen and Jean-Georges Vongerichten has returned to the city with Mercato. David Thompson and Wolfgang Puck are also thought to be searching for sites here. But Asian expansion doesn’t mean guaranteed success: Mario Batali’s Carnenvino has closed in Hong Kong, Gordon Ramsay shut his restaurant in Tokyo and both Guy Savoy and Jason Atherton shipped out of Singapore. So what makes some international restaurants thrive in foreign markets while others falter?

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Alain Ducasse revitalises Hong Kong presence with Rech restaurant

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

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

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A Private Island Paradise for World Earth Day

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

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

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

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Feeling Like Royalty at Raffles

One of the three imposing doormen at the entrance to Raffles

 

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

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Is there a need for Best Female Chef awards?

Lanshu Chen at the pass

Asia’s Best Female Chef 2014 Lanshu Chen at Le Mout, Taiwan

[UPDATE: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 have been announced amid the usual controversy. Not least because of the lack of female chefs at the helm of restaurants on the list. Highlighted by the fact that the restaurant run by The World’s Best Female Chef 2017, Ana Ros, doesn’t even make it onto the World’s 50 Best restaurants list. (Hisa Franko in Slovenia is number 69 on the “long list”).

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards are no better. Lanshu Chen of Le Mout in Taiwan remains the only recipient of the Asia’s Best Female Chef accolade to be (sole) head chef of a restaurant that’s also recognised as one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. While Bo.Lan in Bangkok which consistently makes the top 50 is helmed by another previous winner, Bo Songvisava, she does so with her husband Dylan Jones (the “Lan” in Bo.Lan).

This year’s Asia’s Best Female Chef May Chow’s eatery, Little Bao in Hong Kong, doesn’t feature in the top 50, neither did any of the restaurants overseen by last years’ winner Margarita Fores of the Philippines or the Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong run by Vicky Lau, Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015.

Which begs the question, is there any point in naming a Best Female Chef if their restaurants are not deemed good enough to be voted one of the Best 50 Restaurants? Or is it further proof that more spotlight on and awareness about female chefs is needed?]

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Is this the best restaurant in Hong Kong?

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[UPDATE: Amber is now number 24 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2017 and remains the only restaurant in Hong Kong to be recognised on the list.]

This month the iconic 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards roll around again. Last year, a Dutch born, French trained chef working in Hong Kong achieved something no one else in China has managed for six years – an entry on the coveted list.

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5 Minutes with Guy Savoy

Guy Savoy

Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris has retained three Michelin stars for 15 years running. Chopstix caught up with Guy Savoy himself, one of the most personable chefs in the business, on a recent trip to Asia.

Who inspired you to become a chef?
My mother. Firstly, I liked to eat and my mother was a good cook. I didn’t imagine how much work went into it though then I watched my mother one day. I saw how she blended flour, butter, eggs, salt and sugar. The ingredients were not interesting separately but then they became a cake. For me, it was like magic.

What is your food heaven and hell?
I love ice cream; it is an addiction. I don’t like capsicum. When they’re cooked they’re ok but I can’t eat raw ones.

What do you like to cook for yourself?
For a snack: toasted rustic bread with a thick layer of cold bread and some sardines and ground pepper on top. The most important thing is to have cold butter.

What would you be if you couldn’t be a chef?
Nothing. I can’t imagine being anything else.

Who would you most like to cook for?
Me.

What would you prepare as a last meal?
I am too too young to think about that!

What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten?
Crocodile finger at Justin Quek’s restaurant in Singapore [Sky on 57 at Marina Bay Sands] and then a month ago, ants in The Amazon. In France we eat frog’s legs and snails, that’s part of our culture. Eating ants is not normal for us.

What’s the best restaurant we’ve never heard of?
My mother’s. I’ve never found better.

The Bling Ring arrives in Hong Kong

The Pink Star_mounted

Feast your eyes upon The Pink Star, a 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut pink diamond that’s the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded.

It’s up for auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on 4 April 2017 with estimated sales price in excess of US$60 million / HK$468 million.

Paddles at the ready…

Magical Mallorca

 

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

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

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Ode to Odette

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Odette restaurant, Singapore

[UPDATE: Odette has entered Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant 2017 list at number 9 making it the highest new entry and the highest new entry since the list was created.]

Julien Royer, formerly head chef of the acclaimed Jaan, now has his own restaurant in the form of Odette, a bread roll’s throw away from his alma mater, within Singapore’s stunning new National Gallery.

Odette is named in homage to Royer’s grandmother. And the family theme continues as the dreamy design is down to artist Dawn Ng – wife of the restaurant’s co owner, Wee Teng Wen of the Lo and Behold group – in conjunction with Universal Design Studio.

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Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Rolls Around Again

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A dish at Narisawa – Asia’s inaugural Best Restaurant

With the fifth incarnation of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants being held on February 21st, Chopstix looks back at the launch of the list in 2013:

On Monday evening [February 25th 2013] the best restaurant in Asia will be announced. Whatever your viewpoint on awards and rankings, the winner is certain to be thrust to international fame and a year of being officially referred to as “Asia’s best restaurant” across the media. At least, such is the precedent of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, the creators of which are behind this launch.

Back in 2002, journalists at the UK industry magazine, Restaurant, came up with the idea of running The World’s 50 Best Restaurants as a feature which they knew would ruffle a few feathers and create publicity in the process. They couldn’t have predicted quite how huge their creation would become though.

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The Rise of Bangkok’s Hotel Residences

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

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

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

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

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

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First Look at the Aman Shanghai

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Aman Resorts new hotel just outside Shanghai, its fourth in China, has been named Amanyangyun after the ancient Chinese phrase Yang Yun meaning “the nurturing of clouds” and will open in autumn this year.

This “renovation like no other” has been a ten year project to save and transplant endangered ancient trees and historic buildings from the flood planes of Jiangxi.

Some 50 Ming and Qing Dynasty houses have been preserved and reconstructed by master craftsman in their new home just outside Shanghai. And traditional Chinese architects have added new buildings to blend with the historic structures.

Antique Villa

10,000 camphor trees have also made the 800 kilometre journey, overseen by expert botanists. They’ve been replanted in native soil and face the same direction as they had previously. Three years later they are said to be flourishing.

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As well as the historic houses which are now four bedroomed villas with pools, there are newly built one bedroom club suites designed by Kerry Hill Associates the architect behind Aman Tokyo.

Club Suite

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Amanyangung also features several dining options, a Club Lounge, banqueting hall and of course a spa.

Dining Terrace

Dining Terrace

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Love is all you need (especially when it’s a Tiffany diamond pendant)

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Rose gold – tick, diamonds – tick, LOVE.

http://www.tiffany.com

Raffles Rings in the Changes for the Singapore Sling

Raffles 1915 gin by Sipsmith Raffles 1915 gin by Sipsmith

[UPDATE: The Long Bar at Raffles Singapore is closed from today for refurbishment until 2018 but Singapore Slings will be continue to be served at the hotel’s Bar and Billiard Room during 2017.]

Take equal measures of quality and tradition, add a dash of modernity and a splash of serendipity, and you have the perfect recipe to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Raffles Hotel’s Singapore Sling.

The gin-based cocktail is said to have been invented at Raffles, Singapore by barman Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915. By chance Sam Galsworthy, the co-founder of Sipsmith artisan gin, visited the iconic hotel and requested a meeting with the F&B director the year before the landmark anniversary. And Galsworthy happens to be a descendant of Sir Stamford Raffles – the British statesman who founded Singapore and after whom the hotel was named.

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Longines Masters Lands in Hong Kong

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The Longines Masters show jumping event is in town until Feb 12th. We absolutely adore their artwork by Italian artist Riccardo Guasco who currently lives in Wales.

http://www.longinesmasters.com/en

The Romance of the Railway: On Board the Venice Simplon Orient Express

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VSOE

Now synonymous with luxury train travel, Agatha Christie and that infamous journey, the original Euro Night train number 469, monikered the more romantic sounding “Express d’Orient”, completed its inaugural journey from Paris bound for Constantinople (Istanbul) in October 1883. The train which Christie caught, and placed her fictional sleuth Hercule Poirot onboard, however was the Simplon Orient-Express – one of several luxury sleeper trains that cropped up as an offshoot linking the port town of Calais in northern France with Istanbul and ran through the golden age of travel in the 1920s and 30s.

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Strut Your Stuff in the Year of the Rooster

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These red frill sandals by Gianvito Rossi are perfect for wearing throughout the Chinese new Year of the Rooster.

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, currently with free shipping to the UK and Hong Kong on this link:

Enjoy Free Express Shipping on orders of $100 or more to the United Kingdom.

Or for US residence receive a complimentary gift card:

Earn a Gift Card up to $700*. Use code FEB2017. Valid 1/31 – 2/2. Online Only 1/31 – 2/1. Online & In Stores 2/2. Shop Now!

The Allure of Chanel Couture

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Lily Rose Depp wearing Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017 Pic: Lucile Perron

“A wedding is very special at Chanel,” says Madame Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnerre, the gloriously named and exquisitely dressed international spokeswoman who oversees the house’s couture division. The House of Chanel shares the same superstitions as other bridal establishments: garters are encouraged, the presence of anyone other than the bride’s mother and bridesmaids at the fittings is discouraged, and the groom is not allowed to see the dress beforehand to guard against bad luck – but there the similarities end.

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Looking for a London Bolthole for Valentine’s?

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Look no further: 45 Park Lane is the Best Boutique Hotel in Europe (according to the European Hospitality Awards 2016.)

[UDPATE: Couples staying at 45 Park Lane can dine on a three-course Valentine’s Dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant in Europe (£115 per person on February 14). 45 Park Lane’s Valentine’s package includes one night accommodation for two with a complimentary upgrade subject to availability, a bottle of Lanson Champagne and English breakfast for two. From £610 in a Superior King, £955 in a Park View Studio Suite; valid February 10-19, subject to availability.]

What’s the story behind it?
Not just a glitzy address, 45 Park Lane is the newly opened younger, cooler sibling of The Dorchester hotel. Based next door to the grande dame, it’s more of a boutique affair with just 45 rooms and one restaurant (headed by a celebrity chef) packaged in a more modern design than The Dorch.

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First look at Aman’s new Spa Houses

Spa House

Spa House, Amanoi

Aman has unveiled a new Spa House concept, a first for the exclusive resort group and part of its recently launched Wellness programme, at Amanoi, Vietnam.

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Best hotel restaurants in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year Fireworks Dinners

If you’re in Hong Kong on January 29th make sure you have a room with a view – of Victoria Harbour for the Chinese New Year fireworks. Here’s our lucky number eight for firework dinners:

Kowloon side:

The Intercontinental

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View of the fireworks in the harbour from the Intercontinental hotel

The Interconti is perched right on the harbour’s edge so many of the guest rooms have fantastic views as well as the Harbourside restaurant and Nobu if you can bag a window table. Both restaurants are offering a Chinese New Year Fireworks Dinner Menu.
http://www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com

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Best Feet Forward for 2017

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[UPDATE: The Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio at The Oriental Spa, Hong Kong is the first to feature BGA InSoles, tailor made to slot inside your shoes. Studio manager Albin Brion will custom make the insoles to fit your feet and address your specific needs after assessing  your posture and weight distribution. Turns out the ballerinas by a very famous designer that Chopstix has been wearing religiously have been terrible for our feet as they provide no support whatsoever.

The insoles are designed for flats rather than heels and we suggest taking a pair that are one size bigger than your usual shoe size – luckily we had pair of Common Projects leather sneakers in our usual size but which tend to fit a size too large. Following the 30 mins consultation your unique insoles will be made in an hour. Wearing them, Bastien says, will result in improved comfort and stability. We certainly found them immediately comfortable and after a month a chronic foot pain has improved.]

The Oriental Spa at the Landmark Mandarin hotel is Chopstix’s favourite spa in Hong Kong. As well as the spacious, gorgeously designed heat and water rooms there’s another reason to love it: Bastien Gonzalez who tends to the talons of celebrities and supermodels has a mani pedi studio here.

The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong

The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong

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Foodie Cruises

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Seabourn Encore

[UPDATE: Thomas Keller oversees The Grill onboard the luxurious Seabourn cruises including the Seabourn Encore which departs from Singapore tomorrow for her inaugural voyage around Indonesia. The Grill by Thomas Keller, designed by Adam Tihany, is inspired by traditional American chophouses and features updated classics such as steaks with creamed spinach and Lobster Thermidor. Caesar Salads and ice cream sundaes will be prepared table side. http://www.seabourn.com]

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Best and Worst Hotels of the Year

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Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

The Good

Good is an understatement: exceptional would be more apt when describing the best hotel Chopstix checked into this year: the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, India.

There are some hotels that have such a stellar reputation that staying at them can be a disappointment. Not so the Lake Palace which actually exceeded  our expectations.

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Early Alert for Smythson Sale

Attention luxury lovers: the Smythson sale will begin on Sunday December 25th at 7am. For 40 per cent off select Smythson products click on the link below.

[UPDATE: Sale is now up to 50 per cent off]

Smythson

New JW Marriott opens in Singapore

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[UPDATE: South Beach hotel has reopened at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach. While retaining the design features of the original, the hotel includes five new F&B concepts including the Court Martial bar (below). More additions, including an Alan Yau restaurant and a spa are expected in March 2017.]

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Two Fat Ducklings in the Lion City – part three

Harvest Salad at Bacchanalia, Singapore Harvest Salad at Bacchanalia, Singapore

[UPDATE: We bid a fond farewell to chef Ivan Brehm who completed his last service at the Kitchen at Bacchanalia last night. Sous chef Mark Ebbels also left the restaurant earlier this month. Chopstix thanks them for bringing great food, integrity and passion to the Singapore dining scene and can’t wait to see what they do next.]

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Is a Woman’s Place in the Professional Kitchen?

maychow

[UPDATE: Hong Kong has clocked up a second Asia’s Best Female Chef award with May Chow (pictured above), chef and owner of Little Bao in Hong Kong and Bangkok (home to the award’s inaugural winner, ‘Bo’ Songvisava of Bo.lan), being named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017. Chow, who opened Little Bao as a pop up in Hong Kong in 2013 and has staged at Bo.lan says: “I hope I can serve as a role model for other Asian female chefs, providing hope and opportunities for those who want to pursue their passions.”]

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Come on in – to Six Storeys on Soho

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Six Storeys on Soho

If you’re in London this month, do yourself a favour and book a spot at the new Six Storeys on Soho, a townhouse turned events space on Soho Square.

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A Trip to Remember

Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle

Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle

[UDATE: There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether elephants and tourists in Thailand can ever be a good mix. Here’s John Roberts, the founder of the Elephant Foundation (which works with the Four Seasons Gold Triangle) on the subject: “Certainly elephants should all be wild, where they’re free to make their own decisions and perform ecosystem services. This is the reason a large amount of the Foundation’s money and effort is spent keeping wild elephants wild.

“Thailand, however, has around 3,500 non-wild elephants and we also need to find ways to look after them. There isn’t enough wild to put them back into, so a well-planned tourism activity such as ours is a great way to do that – they get to walk around as a group, meet new people and lead a rich and varied elephant life. The elephants enjoy it: there seems to be a modern misconception that captive elephants live entirely in misery and fear no matter how you look after them. I have to say that in 16 years of living among elephants I have seen no evidence of this – I have seen elephants looked after badly and I would never seek to bring a wild elephant into captivity but I’m entirely comfortable with this as a way to keep those already in captivity fed, watered and amused.”]

Sitting on top of an elephant, I look down over Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meeting at the Mekong river as the sun begins to rise. I’d ridden the gentle giant, called Thong Kam, up the mountain to watch dawn breaking over the Golden Triangle and now she’s taking a well deserved break and snacking on banana trees. Her foot effortless crushes the tree trunk into smithereens and she eats enthusiastically – it’s time for me to dismount and breakfast myself on fresh fruit and coffee the guide has set up for me.

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A Knack for Design

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Eyewear artisan Naoki “Nacky” Nakagawa’s path to success reads like a real life fairytale. As a seventeen year old sales assistant in a spectacles store in Japan he realised there were no styles on offer that he liked so despite not having any design training decided to design them himself.

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Happy Birthday Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels

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Today is the 150th anniversary of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotel group, owner of The Peninsula hotels around the world. The group’s first hotel was the legendary Peninsula Hong Kong opened in 1928. Like most grande dame’s who look fabulous for their age, she’s had a bit of work having been recently refreshed with HK$450 million worth of minimalist luxe decor and impressive technical wizardry.

Each guest room now features sophisticated but reassuringly foolproof technology. Anyone who’s ever been defeated by how to close the blinds/adjust the temperature/turn out that last light in over complicated hotel rooms will rejoice. LED touch screen control panels placed on the wall (in every room if you’re in a suite) allow you to dictate all the aforementioned functions, plus flick on the privacy alert or valet call, as easy as child’s play.

 

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The best champagne for a sparkling Christmas

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Some 30 metres beneath the streets of Reims lies a labyrinth of chalk cellars housing millions of bottles of champagne. These ‘crayeres’ – limestone mines originally dug in the 4th century purely for materials – form a natural habitat for storing the French fizz. The caves’ temperature, humidity and tranquility are perfect for holding the bottles while the wine undergoes the secondary fermentation that will turn it into champagne.

Piper-Heidsieck, the champagne house that landed on the map when founder Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented his wine to Queen Marie-Antoinette, owns 47 of these chalk pits. Unlike some of the neighbouring champagne houses that own chalk cellars, Heidsieck is not open to the public, so the crayeres have a gentle, ethereal quality, enhanced by the ‘cathedral’ style in which the caves have been dug out.

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Return to Splendour

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The Strand hotel in Yangon, Myanmar has now reopened after a six month refurb to return it to its colonial splendour as well as adding modern in room technology.

As part of the revamp the hotel’s bar, formerly a gathering place for the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Noël Coward and Orsen Welles, has been renamed The Sarkies Bar in honour of The strand’s founders, the Sarkies brothers who also created Raffles hotel in Singapore.

To celebrate its reopening, The Strand Yangon is offering a special ‘New Era’ package, offering guests booking a Superior Suite for two nights or more for stays from 15th November 2016 to 30th April 2017 a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe Suite (subject to availability) along with return airport transfers, High Tea for two, a bottle of wine in room on arrival and a Myanmar degustation menu for two at The Strand Café.

http://www.hotelthestrand.com

Is A Woman’s Place in the Professional Kitchen?

 

 

Vicky Lau, Veuve Clicquot Asia's Best Female Chef 2015

Vicky Lau, Veuve Clicquot Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015

Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015 is Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room, Hong Kong. Lau becomes the third winner of the award and will be officially presented with it at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony at the Capella Hotel in Singapore on March 9th.

“The aim is to promote and celebrate female talent in an industry that remains very male dominated,” says William Drew, spokesman for the award, sponsored by Veuve Clicquot – a drinks brand associated with a strong, woman boss. “We would love to reach a position where this award becomes unnecessary but I think we are some way off that situation yet, unfortunately.”

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