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Seducing travelers from the world over to return time and time again seems to comes naturally to France. As one of the world’s top tourist destination, this relatively small country packs a lot of architectural masterpieces, noteworthy museums and striking landscapes that are as chic as exceptional. Top it off with their selection of fine wine, cured meat delicacies, and everything that comes in one of those tiny glass jars, and the only thing to decide when planning a luxury holiday to France is which French resort town to explore.

Some swear that France is a summer destination with its luxurious villas overlooking the Mediterranean Sea while others believe that France is perfect for a luxurious winter skiing holiday with its adorable village-dotted French Alps. I believe that France is perfect for both. Winter or summer, let’s explore the two sides of a fabulous French holiday by exploring six picturesque villages that will not only impress you but delight you.

Courchevel 1850 – the “uber-luxury” French resort town

Set apart from the other three Courchevel resorts towns in the region with its Michelin-starred restaurants and exclusive nightclubs and considered by many to be the epitome of luxury, Courchevel 1850 is the home of glamorous skiing conditions. Après-ski is all the rave here as you can soak up the winter sunshine while enjoying jet-setters from around the world coming down the slopes in style.

Situated in the Trois Vallées, one of the world’s largest and most beloved ski areas in the world, Courchevel 1850 offers over 600km of slopes linked by 165 lifts, more than enough options to satisfy everyone in the family. From well-groomed slopes perfect for beginners to challenging off-piste terrain fit for expert snowboarders and skiers alike, Courchevel 1850 is a pricey winter destination that never disappoints.
 

Antibes-Juan-Les-Pins – the “Yachtie” French resort town

As the midpoint between Cannes and Nice on the legendary Côte d’Azur, Antibes-Juan-Les-Pins is everything a classic French resort town should be. Surrounded by over 20km of coastline overlooking the blues of the Mediterranean Sea and dotted by numerous public beaches, Antibes is also famous for its exclusive luxury villas, luxurious hotels, and jet-setting ambiance.

With over 100 superyacht berths available and a few hundred more for smaller vessels, Antibes is also known as the epicenter of yachting in Europe. It’s ‘Millionaire’s Quay’ is probably the most famous dock in the world as it attracts some of the most impressive superyachts ever designed, ranging from 60m to well over 100m. Whether you rent a yacht for a day, a week or a month, or whether you can only afford to walk along the docks, Antibes is a must-see on the French Riviera.
 


 

Val D’Isère – the “snowy” French resort town

Boosting several ski and snowboarding events each year such as the “Criterium de la Premiere Neige” (First Snow) series of World Cup races for men and women in December, Val D’Isère may not be the most scenic ski resort town in the Alps but its proximity to over 300km of snow-sure slopes makes it the ideal skiing destinations for anyone looking for some of the most varied and exciting skiing and snowboarding in the Alps.

“Val”, as it is known by regulars, is situated in a micro-climatic area that attracts several impressive snowfalls every year, but to guarantee that it always delivers on its snow promise, Val is also the proud parent of the “Snow Factory”, the biggest snow-making facility in Europe which can pump out 2,500 cubic meters of snow in an hour, the equivalent of covering a football field with a meter of powdery snow. Val D’Isère is all about that fresh powder.

A post shared by Val d'Isère (@valdisere) on Jan 9, 2018 at 9:38am PST

Aix-en-Provence – the “quintessential” French resort town                                 

Situated only 30km from Marseilles, but a world apart in every other sense, Aix-en-Provence represents without a doubt the very expression of French excellence. Since before the dawn of Instagram, Aix-en-Provence has attracted artists, artisans, and students alike forming a sort of cultural hotspot for anything intellectually French.

In Aix-en-Provence, the streets are lined with fountains, big and small, bubbling and spraying to the delight of onlookers. The Vieille Ville is bursting with tiny shops, historical sites and museums to explore at a leisure pace. And the main market by the Palais de Justice – Mon, Tue, Thur, Sat – is an affair to remember with its fresh produce, local delicacies and brick-à-brac souvenirs selection. Aix-en-Provence intoxicating attitude it everything we love about the French.


 

Chamonix – the “thrill-seeking” French resort town

Perfectly situated at the footsteps of the infamous Mount Blanc and nestled at the intersection of France, Italy, and Switzerland, Chamonix offers thrill-seeking skiing conditions for expert skiers who feel the bucket list urge to master the challenging slopes. But rest assured, you do not need to be an expert to ski down the infamous and oh-so-beautiful 20km Vallée Blanche glacier run.

The inauguration of the 11km Mont Blanc Tunnel has forever changed the landscape of Chamonix, making it accessible to anyone who can afford the 45 -euro tunnel journey. You may be stuck in traffic getting in and out of this dreamlike village, but the wait just makes it even better to find yourself skiing down its breathtaking slope with no one in sight.

Bonifacio – the “breathtaking” French resort town

Full of secrets and ancient beauty, Bonifacio is an absolute open-air museum that is both impressive visually and historically inspiring. Sitting at the edge of Corsica, and perched atop an imposing cliffside, this little French village will surprise you with its chic Italian feel reminiscent of La Dolce Vita, a life full of pleasure and indulgence.

Bonifacio is also a mecca for those who love to dive deep and discover what lies beneath the waters. The underwater topography of the Réserve Naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio is impressive to say the least with its trenches, pinnacles and sea mounts, canyons, and rocky ridges. All in all, Bonifacio is beautiful whether you explore what lies above or beneath its surface.

When planning your next luxury holiday in France, whether to spend your days gliding down its notorious ski slopes or lounging next to a sexy sea-side pool, remember that the beauty of France often lies from exploring the road packed with unrivaled vistas and spectacular terrain that leads up to its fabulous French resort towns. What are you waiting for? France is ready to receive you in all its beauty.

Sponsored post by Oxford Private Company. All opinions are my own.

The post Winter versus summer – Exploring two sides of a fabulously French Holiday appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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This year is the year where you finally decide to treat yourself to that oh-so-desirable bucket list item – the luxury yoga retreat hosted in a dreamlike setting.  But where to go when you can easily find a yoga studio on every corner of every city of the world. Somewhere wild and beautiful of course! Yoga escapes are not just about transitioning from downward dog to cobra or from mountain pose to warrior one, they are about connecting with your inner-self by aligning your body, mind, and soul with the energic flow of Mother Earth.

Practicing yoga between four concrete walls in a small studio above a popular lunch venue is probably not what the original yogis had in mind when they unleashed their teachings to the world. Obviously, practicing yoga anywhere is better than not practicing at all, but when it comes to rewarding yourself with a luxury yoga retreat, allow yourself to dream of calming natural vistas, soothing flower smells, and inviting chirpings sounds in a peaceful and serene setting. Let your yoga mat whisk you away to an intoxicating distant land. Maybe go even as far as India, Peru, Mauritius, Austria or Botswana.

And remember, a luxury yoga retreat is not about snapping Instagram selfies nor about browsing the web to stay up to date with the Kardashians. To maximize your yoga escape, and make it a trip of a lifetime, you first need to commit to disconnecting from your digital self. Leaving that cell phone home, or at the very least, hiding it in your hotel safe for the duration of your yoga trip will give you a better chance to fulfill your transformative experience.

From Yin Yoga to Ayurveda, Hatha Yoga to Pranayama, if you are longing for a complete holistic wellness experience to rejuvenate your senses and rekindle your love for life, our luxury yoga retreat guide will help you kick-start your search and, hopefully, allow you to tick-off that luxury lifestyle bucket list dream of yours. Keep your Lululemon or Lole yoga pants on as you browse through our selection of the best luxury yoga retreats in the world.

9 Luxury Yoga Retreat for a Transformative Experience Photo: Made In Africa Luxury Yoga Safari and Retreat in Botswana – 11 days

When you think yoga trip, you may not be thinking lions, elephants and zebras, but this is exactly what you will get if you decide to combine the deep sense of relaxation and tranquility of a luxury yoga retreat with a once-in-a-lifetime African safari experience. Morning yoga practice and afternoon meditation sessions held in pristine African bush will help you reconnect with yourself through movement and breath while at the same time create memories that will last a lifetime. And rest assured, you can take selfies with your new wildlife friends on this luxury yoga safari. Just make sure to breathe deeply before you do.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Loving several daytime or nighttime game drive in open safari vehicles.
  • Admiring your favorite African animals up close and realizing that they need our dedication and love, now more than ever.
  • Practicing your favorite yoga pose in a setting like no other.
  • Sleeping peacefully in a luxury camp while listening to the sounds of wild Africa.

Where: Botswana (Central Kalahari Game Reserve > Okavango Delta > Savuti > Chobe) with Made In Africa

When: Dates available throughout the year.

Price: From $11,685 per person ( single occupancy) for this luxury yoga retreat in Botswana.

Yoga and Nourishment Detox Amazonian Retreat in Peru – 8 days

Detoxing, a word that scares some and excites others is, in fact, nothing else than giving your body a chance to eliminate all the accumulated toxins allowed in due to dietary and environmental factors. Don’t be scared, the detox process is effortless when you have someone like Johanne Delisle guiding you along every step of the way. By combining a simple yet delicious diet of fresh fruit extracts, superfoods and healthy balanced vegan and gluten-free meals with an easy schedule of swimming, walking, stretching and daily yoga to help you move the toxins through your body, this beloved wellness coach will guide you towards a new you. The focus will be on cleansing your liver, the body’s workhorse, but, in fact, you will feel like you have eliminated so much more.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Waking up to peace and serenity in a jungle setting.
  • Swimming or practicing SUP yoga in a natural lagoon amidst the chirping sounds of Amazonian birds.
  • Feeling complete inner-peace after a session of restorative yoga held at sunset in a traditional Amazonian hut.
  • Enjoying vegetarian and gluten-free foods and realizing that your body, mind, and soul all feel so much better when you feed it just the right things.

Where: Johanne Delisle at Tambo Ilusion in Tarapoto, Amazon, Peru

When: Dates available throughout the year

Price: From $1500 per person single occupancy for this luxury yoga retreat in Peru

Photo: Still Point Lodge Adventure, Nature & Nurture Yoga Retreat in Alaska – 6 nights

Alaska is a dream destination for those who seek wild and unspoiled natural beauty, and what better way to experience Alaska than splurging on an eco-lodge luxury yoga retreat that combines adventure, leisure, and wellness. Fulfill your need for adventure as you take a helicopter or a float plane for a day of bear, volcano, and glacier viewing. Improve your physical fitness as you hike, bike or kayak through scenic passages full of wildlife. Disconnect from it all while reconnecting with your inner-self through a daily practice of Vinyasa and Yin yoga. And at the end of the day, return home to your cozy yet luxurious bed for a night of blissful sleep.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Surrendering and meditating in the mindfulness cabin.
  • Mindfully walking along the path of a peaceful labyrinth.
  • Exploring the beauty of Alaska as you boat, hike or kayak along Glacier Lake.
  • Deepening your relaxation with daily yoga practice, a soak in a hot tub and an hour-long full body massage.

Where: Still Point Lodge in Halibut Cove, Alaska, USA

When: Dates available between May 23 & September 23

Price: From 7,650 per person single occupancy for this luxury yoga retreat in Alaska

Photo: Kamalaya – Thailand Embracing Change Program in Thailand – 4 nights

Sometimes we need something to change at the very core of our being before we can continue forward and embrace a new life direction. Identifying the elements that need letting go is not always easy, but when alongside a team of wellness professionals to guide you through every step, the challenge doesn’t seem as overwhelming. A new you is within reach if you learn to let go of emotionally-driven eating habits, relationship issues that are holding you down and work-related difficulties that are causing you anxiety and grief. Explore your inner life, address current life issues and learn effective tools that will help you restore your emotional balance all while exhaling deeply in a luxury setting.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Getting to know your body a little better with a body bio-impedance analysis.
  • Closing your eyes, relaxing and unwinding during your 90-minute traditional Thai massage.
  • Embracing world-famous Thai hospitality as you accept the change happening within you.
  • Being initiated to traditional Chinese medicine and new-found knowledge to take home with you.

Where: Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand

When: Dates available throughout the year

Price: From £3,518 per person single occupancy for this luxury yoga retreat in Thailand

Photo: Vana, India Heavenly Escape & Personalized Program in India – 7 nights

Escape, discover, heal – the choice is yours. Isn’t it the ultimate luxury to have a wellness program designed exclusively for you? Of course, it is! You deserve nothing but the best, especially when you finally allow yourself a little pampering. From Ayurveda to traditional Chinese medicine, from Tibetan healing techniques to Watsu massages in a warm woob-like pool, from Sufi singing sessions to mindful walks in an intoxicating herb garden, nothing is forgotten at the Vana Malsi Estate. And if food is something you crave, you will be delighted to know that the chefs are masters of wellness cooking and upon your arrival, they will design a menu that suits your own body type and retreat objectives. Delicious.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Gaining all the benefits of a wellness program designed exclusively for you.
  • Learning about the added value of healthy eating in a culinary class held in an organic garden.
  • Enjoying views of the lychee and mango plantation surrounding this world-class sanctuary.
  • Picking from a vast selection of wellness treatment. The menu is something you have never seen, so go ahead, and splurge a little.

Where: Vana Malsi Estate in Malsi, Dehradun, India

When: Dates available throughout the year

Price: From £3,375 per person single occupancy for this luxury yoga retreat in India.

Photo: Como Shambhala Estate #6 – Luxury Well-Being & Holistic Health in Bali, Indonesia – 7 days

Think pristine beauty and haven of serenity when dreaming about escaping your ordinary and stressful daily routine. Simply said, imagine yourself in Bali. As one of the world’s most beloved destination spas, the Como Shambhala Estate is often considered to be one step above the rest. Everything is carefully designed to maximize your pampering through a completely immersive, 360-degree wellbeing experience. Enjoy various Asian and Western holistic treatments and therapies to achieve your personal wellness goals. Stay active with plenty of outdoor activities such as trekking, cycling, rafting, and canyoning. And eat the delicacies selected to suit your needs.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Getting pampered by your very own personal assistant throughout your stay (one assistant assigned per residence and villa).
  • Appreciating your bespoke eating plan prepared with the resident nutritionist and resort chef, and learn what foods your body needs to stay healthy and nourished.
  • Learning to love martial arts including Tai’Chi and Qigong with beginner’s lessons.
  • Enjoying the sunrise at the top of Mount Batur after completing a 1-3 hour invigorating early morning climb.

Where: Como Shambhala Estate in Bali, Indonesia

When: Dates available throughout the year

Price: From £3,295 per person single occupancy for this luxury yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia.

Photo: Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof #7 – AyurDetox & Weight Loss Intensive Program in Austria – 7 days

On the high plateau of Austria’s Thiersee Valley sits a natural paradise where you can enjoy all the benefits of Ayurvedic philosophy without the long-haul travels to India. At 900m of altitude, here, the air is fresh, and the views are spectacular, allowing you to embrace the surrounding holistic energies with ease. Through an individual diet program aimed at experiencing sustained weight loss, and targeted detoxing measures and treatments that will help your body expel toxins, once you have completed your luxury yoga retreat, you will feel a sense of lightness and vitality like no other.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Feeling re-energized after your Vinhesh (energy massage), and at peace after your Shirodhara (flowing oil treatment).
  • Noticing the benefits of Virechana, a day of purification, and of Udanavata, a special abdominal massage.
  • Being mindful of your surroundings with daily yoga and meditation sessions.
  • Improving your knowledge of nutrition to remove unnecessary toxins from your future daily food intake.

Where: Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof in Austria

When: Dates available throughout the year

Price: From £2,440 per person single occupancy for this luxury yoga retreat in Austria.

Photo: Amangari #8 – Earth, Wind, Fire & Water Wellness Experience in Utah

Achieve a state of equilibrium by embracing the all-encompassing philosophy of the Navajo people who have made the Four Corners region of Utah their home for centuries. The foundation of these ancient healing ways promotes the respect of the four elements of life and destruction – earth, wind, fire, and water. Spending time at Amangiri, a luxury wellness and adventure resort, is just what you need to get in touch with your inner-self while reconnecting with your environment. The spa resort offers a section of à la carte Movement Journeys or inspirational experiences that are truly unique in every way.  The names alone inspire a luxury escape to Utah – Desert Sky, Desert Wind, Desert Storm and Desert Fire.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Learning about smudging, a cleansing technique that intends to clear any negative energy, allowing healing to take place.
  • Admiring views of the Mesa during candlelit restorative yoga evening sessions.;
  • Experiencing the unique sensation of floating which will surely bring you into a deep meditative state at the Floatation Pavilion.
  • Enjoying the fresh air while out on a hike in the nearby Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park or Monument Valley.

Where: Amangiri, Utah, USA

When: Dates available throughout the year

Price: Prices vary according to special requests and spa package.

Photo: Shanti Maurice #9 – Traditional Ayurvedic Dinacharya + Beach Experience in Mauritius

Cleanse your body, revive your mind, and calm your soul all while discovering the unreal beauty of isle Mauritius.  With a focus on balancing the mind, body, and soul to achieve better overall health, the wellness activities available at this luxurious beach resort will leave you wanting for nothing else than a few extra days in paradise. You can alternate your time perfecting your yoga, enjoying state of the art hydrotherapy, or taking a dip in the aqua-colored ocean waters. And remember to rejoice in the traditional local cuisine which balances delicious flavors with rejuvenating nourishment, a cooking technique that blends ancient Ayurvedic concepts with modern day spa-orientated nutrition.

Luxury yoga retreat highlights:

  • Encompassing all aspect of life by practicing Hatha Yoga in a luxurious setting;
  • Golfing at the nearby prestigious 18 hole Avalon Golf Estate;
  • Feeling blessed to experience the white-sanded beaches of the resort in all tranquility;
  • Splurging on a Watsu treatment or a sensory revitalization therapy treatment after a day of pure relaxation.

Where: Shanti Maurice Resort & Spa in Mauritius

When: Dates available throughout the year

Price: Prices vary according to special requests and spa package.

If you are looking for something a little different or simply need to browse the web a little more before you commit to booking your luxury yoga retreat, consider these following articles from established magazines to continue your readings.

The post Luxury Yoga Retreat: Where to Go on a Yoga Escape for a Transformative Experience appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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Some of you might know that I have spent over 170 months traveling around the world, experiencing the ups and downs that come from living a nomadic lifestyle. How to be a peaceful traveler and leave the world a better place is something that has always been on my mind. Some of my most memorable stories come from being welcomed into a home at an unexpected moment, from helping someone in need at the strangest place and from opening my mind to new adventures. Over the years, I have learned how to be a peaceful traveler, a traveler that embraces cultures, encounters, nature, and the unknown. While studying sustainable travel, I became aware of the Credo for the Peaceful Traveler, a credo put forward by the Sustainable Travel International organization, here is the Credo of the Peaceful Traveler:

Grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience the world and because peace begins with the individual, I affirm my personal responsibility and commitment to:
• Journey with an open mind and gentle heart
• Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter
• Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains all life
• Appreciate all cultures I discover
• Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome
• Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet
• Support travel services that share these views and act upon them and,
By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace

Since I found in the Credo of the Peaceful Traveler a credo that resonates with me, I wanted to elaborate on each theme in this blog post.

Journey with an open mind and gentle heart

We have all been there. We have all struggled somewhere along the road. I remember a time when I would get outraged when a local would charge me extra just because I was a “gringo.” I remember a time, and that time was just last month when I wanted to file an official complaint against a corrupt cop who was trying to extract money from us just because we were driving a foreign car in his country. Travelling pushes your boundaries, boundaries that would otherwise not be present if you stayed in your hometown.

Although I still struggle with corruption, I have learned that those who are corrupt, those who inflate rates by the color of your skin, and those who try to take advantage of travelers in any shape or form, are only doing so in the hopes of surviving an extra day. It is easy for a traveler like myself to forget that I am amongst the 1%. I do not know what it is to struggle to feed my family.

As a traveler, I am spoiled, and because of this, I need to travel with an open mind and a gentle heart. I need to put myself in the shoes of those I judge, and I need to remember that the art of traveling is about understanding the differences and inequalities in this world so that we can share the stories in the hopes of creating a better world. Ideally, one would choose to try to make a difference through their travels, making small contributions along the way so that we can leave the world a better place. I have chosen to make such an impact in Peru where I donate water filters to communities in need after massive floodings and hope to continue doing the same. What will you do as a privileged traveler?

Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter

Let’s face it. We are not all the same. Some of us are tall, dark, and skinny while others are short, white, and pack on a little extra weight. Some of us are pure racists while others are just a little ignorant. When you have been on the road for as long as I have, you start to wonder why we can’t all just get along and accept each other the way we are. I am not perfect, I still have a few prejudices, but I am aware that it is because I have not encountered someone from that culture or environment that took the time to change my mind. One thing that I have learned from 170 months on the road is that humans are goodhearted whatever their race or culture unless they are put in a situation that overtook them.

There is not one bad race or bad religion. There is only a small percentage of people from that race and that religion who create havoc for the others and who gets all the media attention. I struggle when I hear a comment such as “I don’t share the same values, ethics, and morals of people from that race or religion.” Such a comment usually comes from someone’s who has never opened their mind and heart to someone from that race or religion. Someone who has not dared to get out of their comfort zones to travel the world and expand their horizons. Someone who should be left alone, at home. Diversity is not easy, but diversity is what makes us human. I challenge myself every day to open my heart and my mind to meet and love someone from a culture that is different than my own. I dare you to do the same.

Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains all life

We all know it, we are slowly destroying our planet and our way of life. Why do we do it? Why do we consume so many products in a day only to discard them the very next day? Why can’t we just behave in such a way that benefits all of the mankind instead of just benefiting ourselves? As humans, we are a little selfish by nature, but as travelers, we have a duty to think of our planet as a whole. We have all seen the land fields filled with human waste while driving alongside an otherwise scenic road yet we are still blinded by the impact of our choices on the future of our people and our planet. Choosing to recycle is, of course, a good option, but what is even better is choosing to live a minimalist lifestyle.

As a traveler, you learn that there are not many things that are needed to live a fulfilled life. We usually travel with just a few things, yet our lives are full of remarkable experiences. As a digital nomad who lives on the road, I travel with a few more things than the average backpacker but compared to those who have chosen a sedentary life, I live with barely anything in my name. I tried to consume less and less every day, and by doing so, I feel free a little more and more every day. Whether you stay home or travel the world, choose a lifestyle that reveres and protects our natural environment instead of one that is about consuming something new every minute of the day.

Appreciate all cultures I discover

If you take the time to stop and listen, and watch, and learn about a new culture, you will find yourself in awe of what it means to see the world with a different set of eyes. Discovering a new culture does not mean visiting ten countries or ten cities in ten days regardless of what the brochure tells you. Exploring a new culture means taking the time to immerse yourself in the different ways of life of a people who are foreign to you. It means traveling at a very slow pace, often staying put in the same place for a given length of time or returning to the same location time and time again.

Although I have traveled for over 150 months in the last 17 years, I have only visited 75 countries. Seventy-five might seem like a lot, but when you compare it with those who boost having visited the same amount of countries in three years, you understand that I travel at the speed of a turtle. Saying this, if you ask me about any of those countries, I will tell you that I feel like I still know nothing about every single one of them, including my own. I appreciate all cultures that I discover yet I am aware that it would take me more than a lifetime to completely understand a culture that is not my own. Although I am aware of this challenge, I have made it a lifelong mission to discover as much as I can about as many cultures as I can until the day I die.

Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome

When we travel, we usually spend too much time focusing on selfies when we should be focusing on connecting with those who call the place home. Time and time again I see travelers running from one top ten attraction to the next instead of having meaningful conversations with locals about the challenges and struggles of life in this part of the world. Nothing shows more respect for a community than genuinely listening to one of their own explaining the challenges and opportunities available to them.

Getting to know someone intimately is a privilege, one that should be sought out by all travelers. Climbing the Eiffel Tower is one thing, but being invited to share a bottle of wine with a group of new friends at the footstep of the Eiffel Tower is simply another. Since we only have one life to live, we should all take the time to have hour long conversations with random strangers in random places about random things. Anyone can Google a picture of Tikal, but not everyone can be invited to a private dinner. There is simply no better way to thank a community for allowing you to experience their culture than by making new friends.

Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet

Friendships are not created equal. No one knows this better than a nomad. Genuine friendships, the ones that follow you throughout your life, only come in a handful. This type of friendship takes years of commitment, something that travelers often can’t do by the very nature of their lifestyle. What travelers experience is something entirely different. Traveling friendships are usually short, intense, and memorable. They are about sharing a once-in-a-lifetime memory with someone unexpected. It’s about remembering that person at that precise moment for the rest of your life. Over the years, I have made many friends from all walks of life. I know that when I visit their cities, I will be welcomed with a warm embrace even though we might not have spoken for a few years or even a few decades. The connections are precise in time, but they have a long-lasting effect. Next time you sit at a restaurant, at a bar, or in a park, notice the people around you and ask yourself what memories could be shared if you simply took a moment to say hello.

Support travel services that share these views and act upon them

The sharing economy is here to stay, and travelers like myself couldn’t be happier. AirBnB, Couchsurfing, Internations, Meetup, co-working spaces, we need to continue to step out of our comfort zone to meet interesting people.  We need to share our authentic experience with those who seek new adventures. We are heading into a promising time, a time tailor-made for a nomadic lifestyle. There are no longer any reasons to feel disconnected when traveling abroad. We need to continue to embrace these changes brought on by technology and serve our communities as we create a new traveling reality.

By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace

This blog post is the first in a series of many posts that will aim at sharing my traveling spirit with those who are interested in learning how to be a peaceful traveler. Traveling has made me a different person. From someone who used to judge and reject new things to someone who hugs all that is new. Traveling has opened my eyes to the beauty of diversity, and to the benefits of mixing cultures. With my words, I hope to reach one person so that they can, in turn, reach one more. If you like this post, please spread the message by sharing or liking.

The post How to Be a Peaceful Traveler And Not A Tourist While Traveling the World appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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Some of you might know that I have spent over 170 months traveling around the world, experiencing the ups and downs that come from living a nomadic lifestyle. How to be a peaceful traveler and leave the world a better place is something that has always been on my mind. Some of my most memorable stories come from being welcomed into a home at an unexpected moment, from helping someone in need at the strangest place and from opening my mind to new adventures. Over the years, I have learned how to be a peaceful traveler, a traveler that embraces cultures, encounters, nature, and the unknown. While studying sustainable travel, I became aware of the Credo for the Peaceful Traveler, a credo put forward by the Sustainable Travel International organization, here is the Credo of the Peaceful Traveler:

Grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience the world and because peace begins with the individual, I affirm my personal responsibility and commitment to:
• Journey with an open mind and gentle heart
• Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter
• Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains all life
• Appreciate all cultures I discover
• Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome
• Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet
• Support travel services that share these views and act upon them and,
By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace

Since I found in the Credo of the Peaceful Traveler a credo that resonates with me, I wanted to elaborate on each theme in this blog post.

Journey with an open mind and gentle heart

We have all been there. We have all struggled somewhere along the road. I remember a time when I would get outraged when a local would charge me extra just because I was a “gringo.” I remember a time, and that time was just last month when I wanted to file an official complaint against a corrupt cop who was trying to extract money from us just because we were driving a foreign car in his country. Travelling pushes your boundaries, boundaries that would otherwise not be present if you stayed in your hometown.

Although I still struggle with corruption, I have learned that those who are corrupt, those who inflate rates by the color of your skin, and those who try to take advantage of travelers in any shape or form, are only doing so in the hopes of surviving an extra day. It is easy for a traveler like myself to forget that I am amongst the 1%. I do not know what it is to struggle to feed my family.

As a traveler, I am spoiled, and because of this, I need to travel with an open mind and a gentle heart. I need to put myself in the shoes of those I judge, and I need to remember that the art of traveling is about understanding the differences and inequalities in this world so that we can share the stories in the hopes of creating a better world. Ideally, one would choose to try to make a difference through their travels, making small contributions along the way so that we can leave the world a better place. I have chosen to make such an impact in Peru where I donate water filters to communities in need after massive floodings and hope to continue doing the same. What will you do as a privileged traveler?

Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter

Let’s face it. We are not all the same. Some of us are tall, dark, and skinny while others are short, white, and pack on a little extra weight. Some of us are pure racists while others are just a little ignorant. When you have been on the road for as long as I have, you start to wonder why we can’t all just get along and accept each other the way we are. I am not perfect, I still have a few prejudices, but I am aware that it is because I have not encountered someone from that culture or environment that took the time to change my mind. One thing that I have learned from 170 months on the road is that humans are goodhearted whatever their race or culture unless they are put in a situation that overtook them.

There is not one bad race or bad religion. There is only a small percentage of people from that race and that religion who create havoc for the others and who gets all the media attention. I struggle when I hear a comment such as “I don’t share the same values, ethics, and morals of people from that race or religion.” Such a comment usually comes from someone’s who has never opened their mind and heart to someone from that race or religion. Someone who has not dared to get out of their comfort zones to travel the world and expand their horizons. Someone who should be left alone, at home. Diversity is not easy, but diversity is what makes us human. I challenge myself every day to open my heart and my mind to meet and love someone from a culture that is different than my own. I dare you to do the same.

Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains all life

We all know it, we are slowly destroying our planet and our way of life. Why do we do it? Why do we consume so many products in a day only to discard them the very next day? Why can’t we just behave in such a way that benefits all of the mankind instead of just benefiting ourselves? As humans, we are a little selfish by nature, but as travelers, we have a duty to think of our planet as a whole. We have all seen the land fields filled with human waste while driving alongside an otherwise scenic road yet we are still blinded by the impact of our choices on the future of our people and our planet. Choosing to recycle is, of course, a good option, but what is even better is choosing to live a minimalist lifestyle.

As a traveler, you learn that there are not many things that are needed to live a fulfilled life. We usually travel with just a few things, yet our lives are full of remarkable experiences. As a digital nomad who lives on the road, I travel with a few more things than the average backpacker but compared to those who have chosen a sedentary life, I live with barely anything in my name. I tried to consume less and less every day, and by doing so, I feel free a little more and more every day. Whether you stay home or travel the world, choose a lifestyle that reveres and protects our natural environment instead of one that is about consuming something new every minute of the day.

Appreciate all cultures I discover

If you take the time to stop and listen, and watch, and learn about a new culture, you will find yourself in awe of what it means to see the world with a different set of eyes. Discovering a new culture does not mean visiting ten countries or ten cities in ten days regardless of what the brochure tells you. Exploring a new culture means taking the time to immerse yourself in the different ways of life of a people who are foreign to you. It means traveling at a very slow pace, often staying put in the same place for a given length of time or returning to the same location time and time again.

Although I have traveled for over 150 months in the last 17 years, I have only visited 75 countries. Seventy-five might seem like a lot, but when you compare it with those who boost having visited the same amount of countries in three years, you understand that I travel at the speed of a turtle. Saying this, if you ask me about any of those countries, I will tell you that I feel like I still know nothing about every single one of them, including my own. I appreciate all cultures that I discover yet I am aware that it would take me more than a lifetime to completely understand a culture that is not my own. Although I am aware of this challenge, I have made it a lifelong mission to discover as much as I can about as many cultures as I can until the day I die.

Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome

When we travel, we usually spend too much time focusing on selfies when we should be focusing on connecting with those who call the place home. Time and time again I see travelers running from one top ten attraction to the next instead of having meaningful conversations with locals about the challenges and struggles of life in this part of the world. Nothing shows more respect for a community than genuinely listening to one of their own explaining the challenges and opportunities available to them.

Getting to know someone intimately is a privilege, one that should be sought out by all travelers. Climbing the Eiffel Tower is one thing, but being invited to share a bottle of wine with a group of new friends at the footstep of the Eiffel Tower is simply another. Since we only have one life to live, we should all take the time to have hour long conversations with random strangers in random places about random things. Anyone can Google a picture of Tikal, but not everyone can be invited to a private dinner. There is simply no better way to thank a community for allowing you to experience their culture than by making new friends.

Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet

Friendships are not created equal. No one knows this better than a nomad. Genuine friendships, the ones that follow you throughout your life, only come in a handful. This type of friendship takes years of commitment, something that travelers often can’t do by the very nature of their lifestyle. What travelers experience is something entirely different. Traveling friendships are usually short, intense, and memorable. They are about sharing a once-in-a-lifetime memory with someone unexpected. It’s about remembering that person at that precise moment for the rest of your life. Over the years, I have made many friends from all walks of life. I know that when I visit their cities, I will be welcomed with a warm embrace even though we might not have spoken for a few years or even a few decades. The connections are precise in time, but they have a long-lasting effect. Next time you sit at a restaurant, at a bar, or in a park, notice the people around you and ask yourself what memories could be shared if you simply took a moment to say hello.

Support travel services that share these views and act upon them

The sharing economy is here to stay, and travelers like myself couldn’t be happier. AirBnB, Couchsurfing, Internations, Meetup, co-working spaces, we need to continue to step out of our comfort zone to meet interesting people.  We need to share our authentic experience with those who seek new adventures. We are heading into a promising time, a time tailor-made for a nomadic lifestyle. There are no longer any reasons to feel disconnected when traveling abroad. We need to continue to embrace these changes brought on by technology and serve our communities as we create a new traveling reality.

By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace

This blog post is the first in a series of many posts that will aim at sharing my traveling spirit with those who are interested in learning how to be a peaceful traveler. Traveling has made me a different person. From someone who used to judge and reject new things to someone who hugs all that is new. Traveling has opened my eyes to the beauty of diversity, and to the benefits of mixing cultures. With my words, I hope to reach one person so that they can, in turn, reach one more. If you like this post, please spread the message by sharing or liking.

The post How to be a Peaceful Traveler instead of just being a tourist appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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With so many superyachts gleaming at the docks, it can be difficult to select a superyacht charter. Obviously, the luxury yacht needs to take you to dream destinations while providing all the comfort you desire, but there is more to picking a superyacht to charter than meets the eyes.

It’s a fact; no two superyacht charter is the same. Some luxury yachts cater to families wishing to spend quality time together while others are better suited for an intimate romantic retreat. Some have a shallow draft allowing you to inch your way in unchartered waters while others are perfectly capable of handling an expedition to Antarctica.

Planning a superyacht charter can seem overwhelming. First, you need to determine whether you want to head for sun-drenched island shores, lush rainforests, cosmopolitan cities or far-flung exotic destinations. Then you need to find the right the best ship to suit your personal cruising style. As a former superyacht crew member that has sailed from Thailand to New England, here are six things you may want to consider for your next superyacht charter.

The Superyacht Captain

The person at the helm is of significant importance. A superyacht Captain with a can-do positive attitude, a wealth of knowledge and a little black book of contacts can truly make all the difference when it comes to planning the perfect escape. You want to feel comfortable with your captain and at ease with his/her suggestions. You want to trust their expertise that goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you get the best experience possible. Finding a captain who comes with sterling recommendations and a first-class stamp next to their name should be at the top of your list when it comes to priorities.

The Superyacht Crew

The experience and longevity of the crew will make the difference when it comes to availability of seamless service during your stay. The longer the crew has been working together, the more intuitive they will be when it comes to what Captain Sputh of MY Starfire calls “Effortless Service”. Effortless service happens the moment a charter guest forego all incertitude and concerns as to whether or not they should allow themselves to fall into the complete and utter care of the Captain and crew. When on board you want professional and flawless service with a personal touch that is illuminated through attention to detail, impeccable interaction and everything in between.

The Superyacht Chef

Indulging in finely crafted food can add to the decadence of your superyacht vacation which is why you need to think about the chef when selecting your dream charter. You want a chef who is experienced, innovative and perfectly able to pick plates that match your palate. From fresh and organic breakfasts on the deck to lavish lunches and delicious dinners beneath the stars, you want to ensure you have a chef who will make you say wow every time you lift a fork.

The Superyacht Amenities

Superyacht charters come in all shapes and sizes and with many different designs meaning you can pick the perfect surroundings to make you feel completely at home. From lush interiors swathed in silks to simplistic Zen-like minimalist décor, you should always consider which style of superyacht will add delight and inspiration to your stay. Consider cabin berths, layout, bathroom size, the inclusion of a spa, gym, outdoor pool and other added extras that will turn your stay into an experience like no other.

The Superyacht Sundeck

Even if the interior of your beautiful superyacht is adorned in opulence you want to scan the sundeck to ensure it is an environment perfectly tailored for relaxation and rejuvenation. Plush lounging areas, decadent designs and plenty of shade are the starting points for a fabulous spot to whisk away the hours out on the sea. Most superyacht charters come complete with bubbling hot tubs, lavish outdoor dining areas, crystal clear swimming pools and an open plan concept.

The Superyacht Watersports & Toys Selection

Long sun-drenched afternoons call for excitement and fun out in the open water playground, and you want to ensure that your luxury yacht is set up to offer plenty of opportunity for fun. Many superyachts will have toys and experts on board who can help you take to the waves in style. Those looking to explore the sea bed may want to choose a superyacht with a diving instructor on board. You can also ask about the availability of kayaks for lazy afternoon paddling, Quadski for tearing up the ocean and its shores or fishing gear for those deep sea explorations.

Although you might want to rely on your broker to pick your superyacht, don’t forget to use search engines and social media to learn a little more about the Captain its crew before signing on that dotted line. A great superyacht charter is all about the crew.

This article was originally published on Pursuitist.

The post Superyacht Charter – You May Want To consider These Six Things appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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The idea of luxury holidays in Mexico conjures images of white sandy beaches, sparkling blue waters, and sweet margaritas, but Mexico offers much more to those who seek a cultural adventure. One way to experience an authentic side of Mexico is to leave the beach behind and head deep into its heartland.

Mexico’s colonial cities are alive, mixing old traditions with modern-day influences to create an unexpected atmosphere. One can easily spend days exploring the nooks and crannies of one of these inviting cities.

1- Guanajuato – Mexico’s Colonial Cities

Arguably one of the prettiest cities in the world, Guanajuato is a cluster of brightly colored houses built one atop another on a mountainous terrain. From dawn to dusk, the sun warms the city and creates a magical kaleidoscope of colors – reds, greens, blues and yellows with a hint of sparkling silver. As a former mining city, Guanajuato is rich with museums, plazas and summertime festivals.

2- San Miguel de Allende – Mexico’s Colonial Cities

Often voted as one of the top cities to live or visit in the world, San Miguel de Allende has been welcoming expats since the 1930’s. As a hub for culture, art and architecture set amidst mountains, canyons, and valleys, the city has much to offer. In San Miguel de Allende, one can also be sure to have a fantastic meal ranging from a juicy organic burger to an assortment of Mexican delicacies.

3- Oaxaca – Mexico’s Colonial Cities

As the birthplace of chocolate, Oaxaca is all about life’s sweet pleasures. Shop for indigenous crafts in nearby villages or the city’s vibrant market; discover Mayan history at the hilltop ruins of Monte Albán, or simply explore the many museums and churches scattered around the city. Try to make it to Oaxaca in July for the annual Guelaguetza Festival to see ceremonial music and dances from the seven regions of the Oaxaca state.

4- San Cristobal de Las Casas- Mexico’s Colonial Cities

Sitting at the center of Mexico’s Chiapas state, San Cristobal de Las Casas is one of Mexico’s best-preserved colonial towns due to its remoteness. Getting to San Cristobal de Las Casas requires a road trip through lush valleys, home to several indigenous groups including the Tzotzils and Tzeltals.

5- Merida – Mexico’s Colonial Cities

Steps away from the Riviera Maya, Merida is a burst of fresh air. While the colonial heritage is omnipresent through the cobblestoned streets and the lovely architecture, Merida now blends perfectly with modern-day amenities. One can easily go from a horse-carriage ride to a nightclub in less than five minutes. As a hub for the region, one can find a lot of shopping opportunities in Merida, but what is even better than finding that perfect souvenir is stumbling upon a Mayan ruin that is unknown to all your friends.

This year, instead of heading to Mexico to simply lounge on the beach, I recommend you spend some time exploring its colonial cities to get a sense of the true Mexican spirit.

This post was originally published on Pursuitist.

The post Mexico’s Colonial Cities Will Charm You In A Heartbeat appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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Personal review from Vanessa Liwanag’s stay at Villa Caemilla Luxury Boutique Hotel in Boracay Island, Philippines.

Feeling at Home – Villa Caemilla, Boracay

Having lived in Europe for the longest time, tracing my roots coming back to Philippines had me yearning for a spot to call home. I grew up in the busy city of Manila, with lingering dreams of owning my own piece of paradise away from the city noise, on the beach with powdered white sands and swaying coconut trees hovering over.
Fast forward to August of this year and I found myself on the plane from Paris going back to the country of my origin. Time and time again, the island of Boracay seemed to be always on my list to visit other than the obligatory stay in Manila. This island has been close to my heart and coming to Villa Caemilla Luxury Boutique Hotel was something that I looked forward to discover.


We arrived on the airport of Kalibo on a beautiful Monday. A team called My Boracay Guide came and picked us up and transported us from van-to-boat-to-minivan until we reached the famed shores of the island of Boracay – a total of 4 hours from the airport including the exclusive boat transfer. With a private concierge assisting us along the little trails leading to the resort, we finally reached Villa Caemilla. Owned by Dr. Harry C. Van Caem, the luxury boutique hotel was a welcome oasis on a 4-kilometer stretch of powdered white sand, named as White Beach, at the very tip of Station 3.

General Manager Wesley Van de Voort welcomed and introduced us to the lovely staff. Our room was just a couple of feet away from the beach front, a pleasant treat for us who wanted to have easy access to the sea and wade through the turquoise blue waters in an instant. Fine cotton linen and an array of luxurious pillows created the first delightful impressions upon entering our room, with local fruits and flowers laid out on the dining table in the center of a vast living room.

The Fine Dining – Villa Caemilla, Boracay

The hotel’s restaurant was well-situated just in front of the beach, giving us a magnificent view of the relaxing sunset that accompanied us as we sipped our fresh tropical cocktail drinks. As we commenced with dinner, the chef recommended us to try their latest special serving, a symphony of prawns, crabs, and clams sautéed in special local herbs and spices. It was a glorious cornucopia of the freshest seafood caught straight from the bounty of the ocean that surrounded the island. We continued to linger over dessert as we planned our itinerary for the next couple of days.

The morning sun felt good on our skin as we took our breakfast on the beach front with rays of sunlight streaming through the bamboo stilts surrounding us. It was a delight to have a big breakfast, served the Filipino way with savory garlic rice, sweet-marinated beef locally called as tapa, sunny side up eggs and fresh tomato and lettuce salad on the side to start a hectic day ahead. Much to our surprise, we were also informed that breakfast was served all day, and thus we noted to grab a serving of their famous mango pancakes later in the day with some good coffee.

The Island Experience – Villa Caemilla, Boracay

Villa Caemilla offered us a ride in one of their eco-friendly electric minivans for a day tour. As Boracay is a small island, it took only half a day for the whole road trip that included a stop-over on top of a hill, afternoon picnic on Puka Beach, well- known for the white puka shells that washed on the shores, and colorful shopping along Station 1 and 2 where the malls called D’Mall and Talipapa were located. A lot of other exhilarating activities can be done on Boracay. For the wild-at-heart explorers there is cliff-jumping at Ariel’s Point, and for water-sports lovers there is parasailing, island hopping on a local paraw boat, and wind surfing on the beach of Bulabog on the eastern part of the island.

The Friendships – Villa Caemilla, Boracay

As nightfall arrived, we found ourselves back in the lobby, speaking with Reception Manager Grace who shared to us inspiring stories of life on the island. We felt we were in the very corners of our home, as we mingled with the other staff of the resort who were around us, like a band of brothers and sisters in a big house filled with so much good food and music. A nice walk on the beach front towards the other side had us pass by all the famous clubs and bars that Boracay has been known for in party circles locally and internationally. Though the lure of all-night clubbing was there, we were more attached to the idea of lounging back at the nicely laid out beach bar of Villa Caemilla, with cool cocktails in hand and good live music, courtesy of the wonderful guitar man who sang every night to the delight of all the guests staying at the resort.

If there was something that I wanted to take back with me as we left Villa Caemilla Luxury Boutique Hotel, it was the light and positive energy that the staff and GM Wesley Van De Voort had passed on. The service we received was genuinely excellent, a rare treat that a few top luxury resorts can really offer. It is the warmth of the people of Villa Caemilla Luxury Boutique Hotel that brought true luxury to us during our stay. And from this, we knew we found our home away from home and that we would be coming back soon.
LuxeInACity highly recommends a stay at Villa Caemilla Luxury Boutique Hotel in Boracay Island, Philippines.

Visit www.villacaemilla.com to plan your luxury stay.
Photos courtesy of Villa Caemilla, Bertrand Caille and Vanessa Liwanag

The post How I retraced my roots at Villa Caemilla appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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A personal review of Under The Stars in Boracay by Vanessa Liwanag. 

The Story – Under The Stars, Boracay

Part of our visit in the island of Boracay was a tour of the famed luxury property called Under The Stars, which is located on the calm beach of Tambisaan in Boracay, the Phillipines. Built by Dr.Harry C.Van Caem, owner of Villa Caemilla Luxury Boutique Hotel, this modern and contemporary luxury haven is set over three floors with a vast penthouse and a blue lounge pool on the last level, with a commanding view of the sea and Crocodile Island just across.

The Luxury Amenities – Under The Stars, Boracay

Impeccably built, grand wooden beams flown straight from Papua New Guinea frame the spacious salon and rooms which are encapsulated in glass, offering a breath-taking view of the greenery and the sea just a couple of feet outside. A high-end Italian-designed Noblessa kitchen is complete with everything anyone can ever need, including state-of-the-art German-designed Gaggenau appliances, DeLonghi coffee machine and a private executive chef on-call to prepare a superb feast of your liking at any time of the day.


Four spacious apartments laid out in a 500 square meter space with 3 exquisite rooms each comprise the first and second levels of the house. These luxurious apartments are offered for all who want to get away from the busy areas of Boracay Island and relax in modern comforts in a well-designed space. Artworks from internationally-renowned painters and artists adorn the walls, adding splashes of color to the neutral shades of the rooms, set in walls of cream and beige, with a grand master bed wrapped in luxurious white sheets crowned with pillows in silk and cotton.

Surrounded by a lush garden, slender green bamboo stalks are planted at the entrance and in every corner, tended by the private butler who is at service for all who have the chance to stay at this luxury abode. A grand pool glistens gloriously under the sun, spread in front of the whole property, reflecting the blue sky and coconut trees lined-up and extending to the magnificent ocean shore. Walking around the premises, we felt that this was no ordinary house on the beach.

Operations Manager Wesley Van de Voort shared to us that Under the Stars is one of a few unique locations in Boracay where first-class amenities are on-hand to cater to an exceptional stay with family and friends. It is exclusively available for rent for those who have already heard the buzz about it since its launching in 2013 and is now currently on Sotheby’s for sale for those who are up for ultra-luxury seaside living and the jet set who are ready to invest in the best island property in the Philippines.
LuxeInACity highly recommends a stay at Under the Stars.

For sales inquiries, contact Operations Manager, Wesley Van Der Woot at rm@villacaemilla.com and visit http://www.boracay-apartments.com.

Photos courtesy of Under The Stars.

The post Why You Should Sleep Under The Stars in Boracay appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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Personal review from Vanessa Liwanag’s stay at Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines.

The Arrival – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines

The north of the Philippines is home to numerous historical destinations which includes the quaint and charming city of Vigan. Stepping on the sidewalks of this acclaimed UNESCO heritage site transports one back to the olden times where horse-drawn carriages were kings of the road and gas-lit lamps provided the warmth and security for the local townsfolk. Among the maze of the winding streets, we found a precious gem, the luxury boutique hotel called Hotel Felicidad, resplendent in all its glory along the street of kings called Calle De Los Reyes.


Entering the royal entrance of the hotel, we breezed through the lobby embraced in an atmosphere of warm smiles from the kind staff who offered us sweet ripe mango refreshments to quench our thirst after a long drive from Manila. A grand wooden staircase took us upstairs to the majestic room that was prepared for us, adorned in antique furniture made of solid kamagong and molave wood, carved in the style of legendary craftsman Ah-Tay. It felt like home as we slept through the night, in white luxurious sheets accentuated with soft pillows covered in hand-woven soft abel cloth that had us fall asleep easily and dream of being back in the 1800s, where all was still and silent in the province.

The Heritage – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines

Owned by Jose “Bonito” Singson, Hotel Felicidad is a blissful haven that is highly recommended to be visited by a majority of the Ilocanos, the people from Ilocos Region, who are proud of its history and presence. Bonito described the hotel as a place where “Ilocano heritage and hospitality is experienced at its best”. First built in 1918, the original structure was an ancestral house that was fully restored and converted into the luxury showcase that is appreciated today with 21 beautifully decorated suites and rooms fully equipped with modern amenities. Wandering through the grand historical hallways filled with artworks of Philippine master painter Jim Orencio had us feel that we were truly in the corners of true luxury. Everywhere we went, we had a private concierge assisting us and catering to our every whim and wants.

The Copious Brunch- Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines

Brunch was served at the adjacent Casa Caridad, where their best guarded secret is a delightful family chef called Manang Cristeta Mendoza who has been living in Vigan for all her life and has delighted a lot of hotel guests with her magical creations. Manang Cristeta knew all the best suppliers of the freshest greens and top quality produce in the region and it was a genuine treat to sample all the wonderful dishes that she has concocted from old recipes passed on through generations. Together with her local culinary staff, she served us a sumptuous spread of aromatic garlic rice, fresh farm eggs cooked according to preference, an excellent local dish called Pinablad a Pusi which included tender portions of pork knuckles slowly cooked in a transparent broth filled with leaves from the drumstick tree locally called as malunggay, and the best longganisa sausages – a local delicacy famous in the Philippines which is yet to be discovered by culinary circles internationally. Bonito shared to us that they would be offering their old family recipes on fine plated dishes soon in a first-class restaurant called Casa Vicente which was being built on the same street of Hotel Felicidad. After a regal feast prepared especially for us by Manang Cristeta, we were already looking forward to visit this future gastronomic destination that will soon be open for all.

The Island Activities – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines

After a good fill, we were off to the charming streets of Vigan, where a ride on one of the horse-drawn carriages was waiting for us on the famous street of Calle Crisologo, situated one block near the hotel. A tour of the city had us traversing streets laid with century-old stone tiles centered among well-preserved colonial houses and restaurants with facades that reflect the best of Asian architecture.

The slow pace of our tour had us relish each moment that delivered us back to that old chapter of Spanish rule in the Philippines, documented in bronze plaques that can be seen on the walls of various historical monuments which includes the magnificent Vigan Cathedral, and the celebrated Plaza Salcedo with statues of revered heroes standing up high amidst the business of people and locals all around. Our last stop was an interesting visit in one of the oldest pottery barns in Vigan, where we marveled at the sight of pots and trays in clay being baked in a massive oven which resembled a tunnel made of rich hardened soil from the hills nearby.

Lots of activities can be done in the region encompassing the city of Vigan and the staff of Hotel Felicidad recommended us to visit a preserved lighthouse, built in 1892 located at Cape Bojeador. It showcased a grand panorama of the northern seas of the Philippines at the best vantage point any one can ever have. After taking in some fresh air and breath-taking views, we headed off to the unique rock formations that were situated 2 hours away in Kapurpurawan Beach in the municipality of Burgos. Recently developed by the local tourism authorities, the rock formations are a sight to behold, amidst a lush valley filled with dragonflies and little flowers in a seemingly untouched environment. Hotel Felicidad is also offering exclusive tour packages for all their guests wanting to visit all the other beautiful sites of the Ilocos Region which includes the famed shores of Pagudpud Beach, the vast estate of Fort Ilocandia, the grand church of Paoay and the cockfight pits dotting every village along the way, serving as an authentic local experience of a festive crowd-gathering tradition that is still practiced until today.

The Love – Hotel Felicidad in Vigan, Philippines

Hotel Felicidad exceeded our expectations as one of the best accommodations in this part of the country that is starting to be discovered by intrepid travelers yearning for an authentic experience in other prime locations apart from obligatory visits to the beaches and islands that the Philippines is globally known for. It is truly a diamond in a treasure chest, well-guarded with pride in the heart of the city. A place that welcomes each and every one wanting to savor the luxury of time and local traditions found only in Vigan – a city that merits its position in the list of top heritage sites in the world.
LuxeInACity highly recommends a stay at Hotel Felicidad.

Visit www.hotelfelicidadvigan.com to plan your luxury stay.

Photos courtesy of Hotel Felicidad, Commons Wikimedia, Katrina Manahan and Vanessa Liwanag

The post Why heritage is all in the details at Hotel Felicidad appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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Personal review from Vanessa Liwanag’s stay at Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines.

The Unique Setting – Crimson Resort and Spa

A visit to the Philippines requires any itinerary to pay homage to the Queen City of the South, Cebu. Home to great furniture designers, the best seafood and the sweetest mangoes, it boasts of many luxury resorts that cater to different visitors coming in from nearby countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. Part of this big bustling city is the island of Mactan, where an abundance of marine life has continued to lure people the world over. We decided to try out one of the most recent luxury island resorts in Mactan Island, the beautiful Crimson Resort and Spa.

Bound southeast from the international airport of Cebu, a quick 20-minute ride had us arrive the resort in a breeze. With wreathes of tiny pearly shells, a warm welcome embraced us with the cool caress of the ocean air just a couple of feet away from the main lobby where we unloaded our bags. PR Manager Mia Mae Sy was on-hand to give us all the information needed to ensure an excellent stay in the resort. A couple of minutes of chit-chat over cool cocktails, our mini golf cart arrived to bring us to the Ocean Villa that was prepared for us.

The tiled path going to the Ocean Villa was lined with fragrant monoi flowers or kalachuchi as they are known locally. The delicate scent followed our tracks as we reached the big wooden door of the villa that resembled a mini Balinese temple amidst swaying bamboo stalks. The Ocean Villa was excellently situated, right beside a cliff with an amazing view and its very own lap pool. Upon entering, we were treated with a traditional hand-washing ritual wherein a mixture of eucalyptus and hibiscus flowers were poured gloriously on our hands, washing away all the weariness that we had accumulated from all the travels we had already done 3-weeks into the country.

Upon settling on the lounge terrace of the villa, we marveled at the sea and a big neighboring island laid out in front of us. To our surprise, a couple of dolphins went bobbing up and down with the little waves afar, as if they were saying hello to the new visitors to their beloved home. It was almost sunset when we settled in and the colors of the sky was a spiraling mix of blue, pink and orange, a majestic welcome for us as we relaxed in the spacious lounge chairs spread on the vast space of the terrace.

The Fine Dinning Experience – Crimson Resort and Spa

Dinner was a fancy affair as we had 3 locations to choose from: the Saffron Cafe, the Azure Beach Club and their fine dining restaurant called the Tempo. We went first to Azure Beach Club to have a quick serving of a delectable tuna tataki appetizer washed down with a cool drink made from a mix of passion fruit and tamarind. We then headed over for the buffet serving that was spread out at the Saffron Cafe to try out the specials for that evening – a grand mélange of Filipino fare that included a roasted pig centerpiece called lechon, (a prized delicacy in Cebu), chicken adobo ( the national dish comprising of chicken marinated in soy sauce, vinegar and lots of garlic and onions), balot ( another original Filipino delicacy which is unfertilized duck egg boiled and eaten as an appetizer) and a massive seafood spread of different kinds of fish, crabs, lobsters and prawns to choose from. We especially loved the kilawin – a delightful dish of raw tuna and snapper fish cured in vinegar, local spices and coconut milk. Fully satisfied, we barely had room for dessert which was a delightful arrangement of sugar-glazed hibiscus leaves topped on a whipped mango tapioca concoction with fresh coconut slivers. It was too beautiful to eat with the frangipani petals that adorned it. Overall, the buffet was an excellent introduction for all guests wanting to try the best of Philippines cuisine in one set-up. It was the marvelous idea of Chef Godfrey Laforteza who wanted to promote the flavors of the Philippines in a buffet setting that was impeccably curated and beautifully decorated.

The Day-to-Day – Crimson Resort and Spa

The spa was one of the highlights of our stay at the resort. PR Manager Mia toured us to the vast space where their much awarded spa called Aum is located. We walked through subtly lit pathways leading to the little white huts crowned with coconut and bamboo thatched roofs where the treatments are done amidst water pools flowing all around. We were treated to the traditional Filipino massage called hilot and in an instant, we were magically transported in the lap of luxury where time did not exist and the lull of sleep lorded over us as gentle hands rubbed away all the tired joints and aches that life has accumulated in our bodies.

There was so much things to do in the resort, as every morning, a half-carved coconut shell filled with frangipani flowers was delivered on our doorsteps with a little tied-up note announcing all the events for the day. We chose to wander around the beach and swim with the fishes to start the day. It was amazing to wade through the waters and see all the vibrant marine and coral life, just a couple of steps from the shore.

As we spoke with the locals who worked at the resort, we felt one with them as they shared the happiness that they have in their hearts since the resort has opened 5 years ago. We couldn’t agree more and as we parted from Crimson Resort and Spa, we only have much love and praises for a luxury island resort that exceeded our expectations.

LuxeInACity highly recommends a stay at Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines .

Visit www.crimsonhotel.com/mactan to plan your luxury stay.
Photos courtesy of Crimson Resort and Spa, Bertrand Caille and Vanessa Liwanag

The post How to be Swept Away by the Crimson Resort and Spa appeared first on LuxeInACity.

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