Friday, March 31, 2017

Phuket Hotels: The Amatara Wellness Resort, Cape Panwa

by Roderick Eime with material supplied by World Hotels

If you've been considering catching up with the increasing trend for cruises in Southeast Asia, you will have noticed Phuket in Thailand appearing more frequently in the itineraries of cruise lines operating in this territory.

The island of Phuket, a short flight south from the capital, Bangkok, is renown for a boisterous night life in the downtown district, but also for a wide range of ultra-luxurious resorts and spa properties catering to those more inclined to a peaceful stay in this attractive destination. Visitors can enjoy any number of seaside resorts offered by all the major brands in international hospitality ranging from secluded private villas to expansive, integrated resorts catering to more than 1000 guests.

The port of Phuket is located at the southern extreme of the island only a few miles from the bustling city, but also near the idyllic Cape Panwa precinct where several high-end resorts enjoy expansive views over the sea while retaining the convenience of proximity to the port.

I recently joined a Silversea cruise from Phuket and was delighted to stay at the recently rebranded Amatara Wellness Resort which enjoys a breezy location overlooking the port where you can keep an eye out for your cruise ship as well as enjoy superior amenities.

Below is a summary of facilities offered at Amatara Wellness Resort


There are 105 pavilions, suites and pool villas, all featuring scenic and expansive views of the Andaman Sea. Rooms start at a spacious 60sqm for pavilions, up to a generous 150sqm for pool villas. All are equipped with at-call butler service, extended sundeck areas and a private balcony.

Wellness and cuisine:

Eight private treatment rooms, all overlooking the seascape, feature the signature Amatara Spa treatments. All Cuisine is specially prepared by Executive Chef Justin Baziuk with each dish made from 100 per cent organic ingredients and is carefully prepared with the aid of a nutritionist to fit each of Amatara's treatment programmes. The all-inclusive programme integrates accommodation, nutritious and organic food, along with personalised leisure and wellness pursuits.


Recognised as one of Thailand's top restaurants,"The Grill" offers fresh seafood and prime cuts, and serves up an informal fine dining experience. At the "The Restaurant" guests can enjoy international specialities and local cuisine that is incorporated with authentic Asian influences.

Amatara Wellness Resort
84 Moo 8
Sakdidej Road, Vichit
Cape Panwa, PHUKET 83000


For reservations or information, visit where toll-free numbers can be found for all the world.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Where to see Africa’s big five

African safaris are usually top of most people's wish list when it comes to wildlife viewing. Its multitude of national parks, reserves and conservation areas number amongst some of the most beautiful places on the planet, and are home to an astonishing variety of wild animals, ensuring that a wildlife safari will undoubtedly be a major highlight of your trip.

And with so many exciting wildlife experiences to be had at in different destinations and indeed, different times of the year, any visit to Africa is guaranteed to be full of close encounters of the animal kind. But for many travellers, coming face to face with Africa's 'Big Five' – lion, leopard, elephant, black rhinoceros, and African buffalo, remains the pinnacle wildlife experience.

Originally a term coined by big-game hunters to describe the five most difficult African species to track and hunt on foot, today a 'hunt' for the Big Five is typically with camera and binoculars only.

But where are the best places to see them? Well, while animal viewing possibilities abound, the reality is there's no guarantee you'll see each one while on safari. Knowing animals' habits – as well as where to stay and what to do while on safari – will greatly increase your chance of success. 

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

First on the list is the inspirational Serengeti, a classic Tanzania safari destination and one of only a handful with populations of all five species.

Lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara Reserve in neighbouring Kenya, Serengeti National Park is considered one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the park in search of food – and with the herds of grazers, come the predators. One of the best times to visit the park is in May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies offering a spectacular wildlife show.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Next up, is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right, with the caldera's high, steep walls looming steeply over the valley below. And it's these steep walls that also lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals within.

With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, the best times to visit are December, January, February or late June through to early October. And one of the very best places to catch all the action is Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp. Located right in the heart of the Park on the crater rim, and offering spectacular views of the crater and surrounds, it's also home to one of the largest populations of animals in the Park including zebra, buffalo, warthog, wildebeest, hippo and elephants – not to mention an amazing assortment of predators – lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the even elusive leopard.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-round safari destinations, the Okavango Delta forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, and covers a massive 22,000 square kilometres. Although the periphery is semi-arid, the Okavango Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.

Covering almost a third of the entire Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve comprises a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, comprising forests, lagoons, floodplains, pans and woodlands. Because of its unique terrain, the area contains the full spectrum of game and birdlife including all of the Big Five, as well as cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles and plenty of bird life, and offering up superb game viewing.

Moremi is best visited during the dry season, from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the Delta, providing one of the world's most spectacular sights. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, leads to even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.

Masai Mara, Kenya

The final destination on our list is Kenya's most popular game park, the Masai Mara. The Kenyan extension of the Tanzania's famed Serengeti, the Mara is one of Africa's most famous safari destinations and also plays host to the famous Great Migration. Considered the birthplace of safari, Kenya offers up amazing game viewing experiences, not to mention plenty of opportunities to experience the Big Five.

The migration is usually present in the Mara between July and October each year. During this time, dramatic river crossings are the order of the day, with crocodiles lying in wait for wildebeest and zebra.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Best of Malaysia Holidays

One of South East Asia's favourite holiday destinations, Malaysia is a country where 'something for everyone' is more of a daily itinerary than a promise.

Packed with attractions, experiences and activities to meet every traveller's needs, it is truly the ideal holiday destination. From its postcard white sandy beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks, eclectic cities, adventure activities and rainforests abundant with nature, it is a bubbling melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and religions. Throw friendly and welcoming people into the mix, along with some of the best cuisine on the planet, and you'll truly be spoiled for choice!

Choose from popular destinations including Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi. Still not sure which is the right one is for you?

Kuala Lumpur

The main arrival point to Malaysia, dynamic, cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur is the ideal place to start. This eclectic city is full of attractions and entertainment options to suit all tastes and budgets. One of the most popular attractions are the Petronas Towers which soar 88-storeys into the sky, making them the world's tallest twin structure. The towering skyscrapers present the optimal photo opportunity – and the KLCC Shopping Centre at their base and home to a fantastic mix of renowned luxury and premium brands, is the place for a retail fix.

As well as modern architecture Kuala Lumpur offers beautiful historical temples. The Batu Caves and Temple Tour provides a unique insight into Malaysia's cultural and historical diversity. Don't forget to visit the night markets. With an array of aromas filling the air, it's impossible to resist the amazing mix of Malaysian street food on offer.


Known as the ''Pearl of the Orient, Penang is a fascinating fusion of East and West. Heavily influenced by its colonial and oriental past, the Island has its feet firmly planted in the 21st century while still retaining its traditions and old world charm. Venture through lively George Town, which was granted a world heritage status by UNESCO in 2008. View colonial-era homes, private mansions, historical museums and stunning temples, embark on a heritage walking tour, engage with friendly locals and ride a Trishaw.

Feeling hungry? With a unique mix of Chinese, Malay, Portuguese and Indian cuisine, Penang is also known as the 'foodie' capital of Malaysia, offering up some of the tastiest cuisine imaginable from first-class restaurants through to hawker stall delights.

A trip to Penang isn't complete without a visit to the three most popular shopping malls – Gurney Paragon Mall, Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall, for everything from the latest fashion to electronics.

Kota Kinabalu

Situated on the north west coast of Sabah on the tropical island of Borneo facing the beautiful South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is one of Malaysia's loveliest cities, famous for its long sandy beaches, paradise islands, virgin coral reefs, and tropical rain forests. Join the locals congregating along the waterfront each night to witness the fiery sunset, with the popular boardwalk also providing an idyllic backdrop for sampling eateries, restaurants and night markets.

Plenty of wild life adventures are close by and Malaysia's first UNESCO Heritage site, the mighty Mount Kinabalu, is only 90 minutes away. The pristine marine water also makes Kota Kinabalu one of the most perfect destinations in the world for snorkeling and diving trips, with Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park just a short speedboat ride away. And adrenalin junkies can try their luck on the world's longest island-to-island zip-line – the Coral Flyer, at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.


Anyone who adores beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and resorts, and duty-free shopping will love Langkawi. Surrounded by turquoise sea, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. Officially known as the 'Jewel of Kedah', the largest of these, features a range of breathtaking beachside resorts. The island's outstanding geological landscapes have also earned it the geopark title by UNESCO – making it the only geopark in Southeast Asia and one of only 50 worldwide.

With its traditional villages, sandy white beaches and sedated lifestyle, Langkawi offers up an idyllic setting for couples seeking a romantic escape. But thrill-seekers won't be disappointed. Check out Langkawi Wildlife Park, Underwater World Langkawi for a deep-sea experience and the Cable Car in Pantai Kok for a mountain high adventure.

Flights, accommodation and featured package. Sale ends 26 March 2017.

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Colour rules in India - Holi Festival March 12

Wego explores the significance of colour in Indian culture in the lead up to the annual Holi Festival on March 12, the leading travel site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, today reveals the significance of the colours of the country's approaching Holi Festival (March 12), and why many cities have their own colour code.

"India's annual Holi Festival is one of the country's most universally celebrated festivals and an enormous drawcard for international visitors," said Ashwin Jayasankar, General Manager of Wego India.

Holi takes place during spring each year with a variety of religious, cultural and mythological associations attributed to the colourful celebration.

"Holi means so many different things to everyone, but the festival exudes an intense and electric energy that's uniformly contagious," observed Jayasankar. "There are a number of thoughts about how it all began, but Holi is at its basic a celebration of the colours of spring, of life and love. It's a time to make new friends, celebrate family and neighbours and also amend broken relationships. It's a wonderful time to be in India."

The coloured powders, ink or paint each have different meanings. Red symbolises life, festivals and weddings, yellow for prosperity and trade, green celebrates nature, fertility and happiness and blue is the colour of Krishna's skin - peace, love and heaven.

"Each city celebrates Holi a little differently," said Jayasankar. "The most popular cities on Wego are Mathura, for a traditional celebration and Vrindavan for the addition of flowers with your colour. Lathmar Holi is also popular in Barsana where women playfully reenact a Hindu folklore by beating men with sticks, so too are celebrations with children in Shantiniketan, or with the royals in Udaipur. The real community experience with thousands in Delhi or Mumbai are also very popular."

While colourful powder is tossed at all those within throwing distance by revellers during Holi, colour is so significant in India that some cities are known by a certain shade in addition to their official name.

"India has one of the strongest relationships with colour of any country in the world," explained Jayasankar. "From richly coloured spices, six yards of bright saree, robes for holy men representing their beliefs, and wildly artistic delivery trucks - colour is ingrained in Indian culture."

"Many of our cities are colour themed, and each for different reasons," Jayasankar added. "For instance, Nagpur is known as the Orange City due to its large production of oranges, Cuttack (the Silver City) representing its silver industry, and Kolkata gets its Black City moniker from its historical association with the infamous Black Hole prison. Yet others are named for more literal colour associations."

India's cities of colour include:

The Blue City - Jodhpur

Jodhpur is filled with rows and rows of homes painted blue, a shade created by mixing limestone and copper sulphate with water. Beliefs range from the colour selection being attributed to the reflection of heat which sometimes reaches the mid forties, and others say it's representative of the sacred by predominantly Shiva followers. Others say it originated from the dyes created from indigo plantations.

The Pink City - Jaipur

In honour of the British Royal visit (Queen Victoria and Lord Albert, Prince Consort) in 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh painted the entire city terracotta pink - a colour representing hospitality. The Maharaja left no stone (or building) unturned with the pink brush. Lord Albert proclaimed Jaipur 'The Pink City' which remains, and the city regularly receives a fresh coat of paint before Diwali.

The Green City - Gandhinagar

Mother nature has established herself well and truly in Gandhinagar, with an astonishing 53.9 percent green coverage, which is around 416 trees for every 100 people.

The Golden City - Jaisalmer

A relenting sun shines down on the yellow sandstone buildings that fill Jaisalmer giving it an endless golden glow. The city almost disappears into the golden sand dunes of the Thar desert which surrounds it on all sides.

The White City - Udaipur

The nearby marble quarry was the source of the exquisite stone used to construct the majority of this city steeped in history and romance. Countless lakes break up the city's position on the edge of the desert, Udaipur is a glistening white spectacle, also known as the Venice of the East.

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