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Extreme Luxury

Mister Zimi - Shot at Motel Mexicola
Boutique Budget, Destination Dining, Destination Drinking, Extreme Luxury, Travel

Must Map: Bali, Indonesia

Ah, Bali. If you’re Australian it’s easy to write off this idyllic location as an alcohol-soaked cheap getaway but as we recently discovered, it’s so very much more. To celebrate the first flight of their new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, we joined Jetstar in Bali and unearthed more gems than can really fit on one map. When flights are Jetstar-priced, what’s stopping you from trying them all?

Presenting our Must Map for Bali… edition one!

The Lifestyle Department - Must Map - Bali

MUST TASTE
There are many local delights to be sampled when you’re in Bali, but if you’re used to enjoying an assortment of different cuisines, there’s no need to stop when you’re here.

Finn's Beach Club

Finn’s Beach Club – Uluwatu

BABA’s at Hu’s Bar (Seminyak)
South-east Asian cuisine, sumptuous cocktails and plenty of people watching in this enchanted garden. Don’t miss the laksa. 

Motel Mexicola (Seminyak)
For some good old-fashioned Mexican in er, Bali. Sit on the street, soak up the heat and knock back a taco and tequila or two.

Sea Circus (Seminyak)
If you’re thinking performing sea monkeys, you’re going to be disappointed. Neither a circus nor on the sea, Sea Circus is great for sipping, supping, brunching and lunching. Get to it.

Cafe Zucchini (Seminyak)
Cute little cafe sporting the sort of menu that wouldn’t be out of place in Melbourne or San Francisco. Easy choice when you’re up to your eyeballs on local cuisine.

Revolver Espresso (Seminyak)
Where is the good coffee in Bali? Here. Here it is. Down an alley, of course. 

Chandi Restaurant
Oh Chandi, your satay, your ginger sorbet, your jugs of cocktails, your private dining room and soothing air conditioning. Can we take you home?

Finn’s Beach Club (Uluwatu)
Imagine you could walk into one of those idyllic restaurants in magazines – built on the beach, surrounded by baby-blue warm waters and serving sumptuous food. You can, it’s Finn’s.

Ibu Oka (Ubud)
Do you love pork? Really, truly, love it? Then this is the place for you. It’s not fancy, but it is packed with enthusiastic locals gorging on pig.

Bebek Bengil AKA Dirty Duck Diner (Ubud)
Where do locals go for duck? Bebek Bengil, that’s where. Take a seat in your own private hut, share some dishes and take in the view of the rice paddy (and one curious, lonesome Bottle Brush tree).

 

MUST DO
Not one for kite surfing? No problem. No one in Bali will think any less of you for doing… well, nothing. 

Sundara Bali - Jimbaran Bay

Sundara Bali – Jimbaran Bay

Potato Head (Seminyak)
Everybody goes here. You should probably go once. People will ask if you went. There’s a pool and a bar and you can see the beach.

Sundara (Jimbaran Bay)
Happy Hour by a lotus flower just metres from the beach? Yes please. Sundara is part of the well-appointed (and charmingly gated) Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay.

 

MUST HAVE
There are now a plethora of gorgeous boutiques to choose from in Bali selling everything from clothing to homewares and art. Seminyak and Ubud are particular hotspots. Try these three on for starters.

Mister Zimi - Shot at Motel Mexicola

Australian / Indonesian label Mister Zimi – shot at Motel Mexicola

Mister Zimi (Seminyak)
A glorious accident if ever there was one (the name Mister Zimi is a mashup of husband-and-wife team Zoe and Jimi), Mister Zimi concocts the sort of pieces you’ll love to wear in Bali, and then keep on high rotation when you get home.

Enfant Paradis (Seminyak)
The Enfant Paradis store is a welcome relief from what can be sweaty, same-y shopping in Seminyak. Pick your way through the stepping stones and open the door to a mercifully air-conditioned, beautifully designed mecca of good smells.

Milo’s (Seminyak)
If you’re after a special something for your wardrobe to remember Bali by, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better quality than Milo’s. With Italian design, Italian fabric and Balinese production, it’s a match made in heaven.

MUST STAY
From budget to extreme luxury and everything in between, Bali has a player on every base.

Semara Uluwatu

Semara Luxury Villa Resort – Uluwatu

Hu’u Villas (Seminyak)
Ah, the perfect balance of island luxury (your own private pool), party time (your courtyard can be joined to next doors’ for happy hour) and details (the linen store is air conditioned to keep everything fresh as a daisy). When can we move in? Rooms from $295.00 USD per night. 

One Eleven (Seminyak)
Chic, minimalist and luxurious… if you get sick of all that serenity though, the hustle and bustle of Seminyak is but a moment away. Only 9 rooms and they start at around $580.00 USD per night.

Semara Luxury Villa Resort (Uluwatu)
Since you’ve saved all that cash on your flight with Jetstar, you may as well go all out on the accommodation. Snaffle yourself one of these villas. Options include massage / private chef / cable car rides to Finn’s. Stunning clifftop view of ocean mandatory. Suites start from $1,188.00 USD per night.

Uma by Como (Ubud)
For the side of Bali that isn’t about the beach, you can’t go past Uma by Como. Just 5 minutes’ drive from the centre of Ubud yet somehow in the middle of the forested volcanic mountains. Rooms start at approximately $216.00 USD a night.

Download a large high-quality version of the map to print here – Must Map – Bali.

Special thanks again to Jetstar for inviting us to join their celebration. Anytime you want to christen a new plane, you just let us know and we’ll be there with passport in hand. We’re selfless like that.

Khoka Moya Deck
Extreme Luxury, Travel

Extreme Luxury: Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps – Africa

Mantobeni Tent At Twilight

By now you’ve surely heard of ‘glamping’ – a mashup word combining ‘glamour’ and ‘camping’. Well, it seems Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps doesn’t just deserve the use of the word, it deserves the prefix ‘extreme’. Nestled alongside South Africa’s renowned Kruger National Park is the Manyeleti Game Reserve, sprawling nearly 100 square miles of wilderness and home to a variety of game – including the Big Five. Owned and managed by the Mnisi tribe, it’s now open to select visitors, guests of the Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps.

There are two distinct sides to this ‘hotel'; the Mantobeni Camp, the more rugged and retro-romantic of the two, and Khoka Moya, the slightly more comfortable and contemporary of the two (this is also the one which allows children).

The park is private, which means Honeyguides guests are unlikely to cross paths with much outsider traffic. Within the camps however, there’s a more community-oriented vibe — meals are taken communally, and there’s every opportunity to indulge in a bit of camaraderie and compare notes after the twice-daily game drives.

Although aesthetically Honeyguides is highly authentic, you won’t need to go without modern amenities. The camps boast free wifi, a pool, a wine cellar and steam rooms. Gym facilities, shopping and other such things are nearby.

If you’ve always wanted to experience Africa or your safari experience to date is limited to big game parks, this is as exclusive as it gets.

Rooms start at $3,250.00 USD per person per night, including all meals and game drives. For traveller reviews and to book, visit Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps at Tablet Hotels.

 

Thank Krug It's Friday
Destination Drinking, Extreme Luxury

Thank Krug It’s Friday

Lui Bar Melbourne

Is there any better feeling than late on a Friday afternoon? The maximum amount of weekend and all its delicious possibilities still lies ahead… Whilst it can sometimes be tempting to slink home on a Friday evening, indulge in a bottle of something, your home delivery of choice and a movie, the sure-fire, proven* method for extending that weekend-eve feeling is a Friday night outing.

Now, drinks with your colleagues is almost always an option, but if you’re looking for something more special, allow us to introduce the latest in decadence from Krug. Originating at The Punch Bowl in London, the purveyors of fine Champagne have now teamed up with Lui Bar at Vue De Monde in Melbourne to bring you Thank Krug It’s Friday. Until the end of December you can enjoy a flute of Krug Grand Cuvee alongside a gourmet West Australian marron bun for $75.00 AUD (or $250.00 AUD for half a bottle).

Our little secret? It’s not just Fridays! Head on up any night of the week to indulge in this little luxurious delight. No reservations required.

Lui Bar is located at Vue De Monde, Rialto Tower, Level 55, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne. For more, visit: www.vuedemonde.com.au.

Thank Krug It's Friday

Garden Party TImara Lodge
Extreme Luxury, Travel

Luxury Marlborough

Our latest destination infatuation is undoubtedly New Zealand’s Marlborough region. To say it has something for everyone wouldn’t just be a cliche, it’d be an enormous understatement. Not just in terms of activities, but also in terms of price. Whether you’re travelling on a budget or have a little more room to splurge, Marlborough caters to both ends of the spectrum (and everything in between). Here, we explore the luxury side…

No luxurious trip is complete without a private guide and that’s where Sounds Connections comes in. A family-owned business boasting local guides, Sounds Connections is like your personal key to Marlborough, unlocking all kinds of otherwise unavailable experiences. Whether you’re into water-based activities (hellloooo fishing charters) or something on firmer ground (gourmet wine tour, anyone?), Sounds Connections can design something just for you. Private tours are available by request only and quoted after consultation. Group tours start from around $69.00 NZD.

Taking a Sounds Connections private tour? Make sure you ask for them to use their local knowledge, make a few phone calls and get you into to have a little tasting with the winemakers at smaller vineyards that don’t typically allow the public in as they don’t have commercial cellar doors. If you’re looking for a tip, we absolutely love Greywacke – just make sure you say hi to Dixie for us!

Wither Hills Cellar Room

Wither Hills Cellar Room (photo taken on a Nikon P520).

Should you only be in Marlborough a short time, but want to get at least a little wine action into your stay (of course you do – the Marlborough region produces more than 75% of all wine produced by New Zealand) make a beeline for Wither Hills. Here, you can taste straight from the barrel, eat grapes of more than 30 varieties directly from the vines during harvest and (duh) sample wine. Pick a warm day and take it all in from the spectacular walled garden whilst lounging in custom-made beanbags.

Timara Lodge Gardens

The lake at Timara Lodge (image taken with a Nikon J3 using the tilt shift setting).

If you’re a bit of a wine warrior, you’ll want to stay in the region and you can’t go past Timara Lodge. Set amid 600 acres of pastures, spectacular gardens (home to more than 350 rose bushes and a daffodil lawn, amongst other delights) plus a lake (shown above) to take your evening tipple beside. Happily, said evening tipple is included in the room rates, along with hors d’oeuvres, dinner, breakfast, airport transfers, full laundry service and wifi. Rooms start at $700.00 NZD per person per night.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking of a destination more aquatically-oriented, Marlborough has that covered too. A full 20% of New Zealand’s coastline is in Marlborough alone thanks to the Marlborough Sounds. This particularly special part of the world sees mountains rise directly out of the water creating seemingly endless coves to explore. Bay of Many Coves boutique resort is located in a particularly secluded cove and offers a selection of one, two and three bedroom apartments, a day spa and – of course – a private beach. One bedroom apartments are priced from around $635.00 NZD, but for the ideal experience check out their packages.

Bay of Many Coves

Bay of Many Coves (image via theluxurytravelbible.com)

Sometimes, land and water just don’t cut it and you need to survey the scene from the air. There arguably isn’t a better way to take in a place than from a helicopter – floaty and serene and ideal for taking the kind of pictures your friends will use as their desktop wallpaper. For that matter, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a picnic somewhere only accessible by helicopter. Windhawk Helicopters offers a heli picnic package for $980.00 NZD.

Prefer your food on white linen rather than a tartan rug? Head to Hans Herzog. More than just an uber-selective vineyard (the entire plantation covers only 11 acres), Hans Herzog himself holds 500 years of wine making lineage, selling up the family estate in Switzerland to move to Marlborough. Of course, you don’t offload 500 years of family and industry history to do something by halves and absolutely everything at Hans Herzog is the best of the best. The restaurant is possibly the only of its kind in the world; wines are offered with matched food rather than the more common inverse (the 7 course menu is $253.00 NZD). Don’t be fooled into thinking the food isn’t the priority – only chefs with Michelin star restaurants on their resume grace the kitchen here. Seating only thirty lucky folks a night, you’ll need to make a reservation and if you’re going to go to the trouble of making reservations… why not check out their accommodation? It’s only available to restaurant guests, after all.

Extreme luxury? Marlborough has it in spades.

 

Umaid Bhawan Palace
Extreme Luxury, Travel

India’s Top 5 Palace Hotels

Think less slum dog and more millionaire when you experience over-the-top opulence and luxury at India’s top 5 palace hotels.

Taj Lake Palace India

Taj Lake Palace

Taj Lake Palace

Floating on Udaipur’s Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Palace is a vision of marble and is said to be one of the most romantic hotels in India. Each suite is distinctly designed to capture a different mood and period. Mosaics, exquisite artifacts, and other fine embellishments punctuate opulent silks, richly colored frescoes and ornately carved furniture. Originally built as the Summer palace for the royal family, construction of the palace finished in 1746. If you’re thinking it looks a little familiar, the thirteenth James Bond film, Octopussy had some scenes filmed at the hotel.

Oberoi Amarvilas - A great palace hotel of India

Oberoi Amarvilas

Oberoi Amarvilas
Ever heard that the Taj Mahal is one of the most crowded tourist attractions in the world? Not for guests of the Oberoi Amarvilas where every guest has a private uninterrupted view of the Taj Mahal. The resort is often recognised as one of the leading luxury hotels in the world. Built in a style inspired by Moorish and Mughal architecture, the resort is a splendid display of terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions with rich interiors. Guests have access to their very own personalised butler service.

Rambagh Palace Hotel India

Rambagh Palace

Rambagh Palace

Rambagh Palace in Jaipur offers its guests a taste of royal living – a luxury and extravagance that was once the sole preserve of kings. Its elegantly appointed rooms, marbled corridors and majestic gardens echo with history. Each richly renovated room has opulent interiors with unique themes, hand painted motif work on the walls, regal four-poster beds and luxurious bathrooms to provide a distinct experience befitting royalty and even includes free-roaming peacocks.

Leela Palace New Delhi Lobby

Leela Palace – New Delhi

Leela Palace New Delhi

Voted amongst the top four hotels in the world, The Leela Palace New Dehli is a palace style hotel offering 260 lavish rooms. All suites at the palace include a plunge pool, Jacuzzi, Bvlgari toiletries and a fully stocked butler pantry. The hotel’s spa was a collaboration with Warren Tricomi, the legendary American salon brand which boats a list of celebrity clients such as Ivanka Trump, Jessica Alba, Kate Beckinsale and Adrien Brody.

Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel

Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel

Umaid Bhawan Palace

The palace is one of the world’s largest residences housing Jodhpur’s royal family while another section of the palace houses a luxurious heritage hotel that makes guests feel like nobility. Interiors are opulent, with Art Deco touches, gilded furniture and colored murals.

Can’t decide? Insight Vacations’ 9-day Imperial Treasures of India escorted journey includes a stay at each of the above listed hotels. Prices for the tour start at $5,450.00 AUD per person or $6,765.00 AUD per person including return flights with Singapore Airlines (these prices are accurate until 31 December 2013).For more information visit: www.insightvacations.com/au.

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
Extreme Luxury, Travel

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa – Australia

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

The Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is located about 3 hours from Sydney in the 4,000 acre Wolgan Valley Nature Reserve. With such a location you’d expect some serious views and as you can see above, it absolutely doesn’t disappoint. Where the resort truly excels however, is in its combination of absolute luxuries like exquisite spa treatments, private temperature controlled swimming pools, decadent dining, high-speed wifi and oversized rooms with eco-concious destination experiences. We’re talking Australian wildlife “safaris”, horse riding adventures, glow worm walks, photography expeditions and – wait for it – even on-site laser shooting.

Of course, reservations here aren’t just for a room. They’re for the full experience – breakfast, lunch and dinner, non-alcoholic drinks and a selected range of local alcoholic beverages plus two nature-based activities each day area included in the (rather healthy) price. Children are welcome and the resort has designed a series of activities to keep little-uns occupied. For those without children (or just escaping their own) it’s lovely to note that evening dining hours in the Wolgan Dining Room and the Valley Bar for children under eight years of age are between 6.00pm and 7.30pm hours.

Without a doubt, this is the sort of location you could get lost in. Both literally and mentally.

Suites start at $1,950.00 AUD per night (slightly less for singles). There are a total of 40 self-contained suites across the resort. Lots of loveliness to look at below, but to find out more and to book, visit Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa.

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa - Safari

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa - Pool At Sunset

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa - Outdoor Dining

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Mandarin Oriental Royale Suite Terrace
Extreme Luxury, Travel

Mandarin Oriental – Paris

It’s fair to say there are few bucket lists in which Paris doesn’t feature. Home to the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and its Tuileries, Notre Dame, hot chocolate so thick you can stand your spoon in it and utterly brilliant vintage shopping, how could it be forgotten?

If you’re fortunate enough to have the means, want a film-worthy experience, or simply plan on making the trip of a lifetime and sparing no expense, the Mandarin Oriental in Paris may just be the start of the ultimate French fantasy.

Of course, it has everything you’d expect from an exceptionally high-end hotel. A day spa, four dining options including a cake store selling French pastries and a babysitting service are all available. What really sets this hotel apart (other than the utterly exquisite decor and fittings, naturally) is the rue Saint-Honoré location. Now Paris is undoubtedly a city to explore by wandering the streets and discovering the surprises as you round each corner. That said, what can compare to starting your day with covetable views, surrounded by Parisian perfection and stumbling out into the heart of your adventure?

Admittedly, with rooms starting at €875.00 per night (suites from €1,395.00) for many of us this will be a hotel for which we get frocked up and have a drink at the bar. So until you win the lottery or lose a loaded long-lost relative, some images below for your visual pleasure…

Mandarin Oriental Royale Suite Terrace

Mandarin Oriental Atelier Suite Mandarin Oriental Couture Suite Living Room Mandarin Oriental Royale Suite Mandarin Oriental Atelier Suite Living Room Mandarin Oriental Premier Suite Mandarin Oriental Paris

Huka Lodge - Alan Pye Cottage Dining Room
Extreme Luxury, Travel

Huka Lodge – New Zealand

Let’s be clear about something upfront – this one is firmly for filing under L for “when I win the lottery”.

To put things into perspective, give you a sense of the regular clientele and the sheer exclusivity of Huka Lodge, it’s best to start with the explanation of a room type you’ll seldom find elsewhere. The ‘escort’ room. No, this isn’t a room for your gentleman caller or lady friend. This is a spartan room for your driver, security guard, nanny, publicist or other such person you might have travelling with you. These rooms are priced at a fraction of the others on offer, and start around the $500.00 – $600.00 NZD per night mark.

But goodness, this hotel is the stuff cinematic masterpieces are made of. Huka Lodge has only 25 rooms (plus 6 ‘escort’ rooms) set on 17 acres of absolute perfection bordering Wairakei Park Reserve. Meticulously maintained, they enclose a tennis court, a heated swimming pool, spa pools, an orchard, a wine cellar, petanque and croquet courts. Of course, no establishment of this calibre is without spectacular dining options and the lodge can arrange for meals to be taken almost anywhere within the grounds. The price of every room includes pre-dinner drinks, a 5 course dinner and full country breakfast.

Off-peak prices for the junior lodge suite (the cheapest after the ‘escort’ rooms) start at $1,205.00 NZD + GST per couple per night. They do however have couples ‘time together’ packages that include things like French champagne on arrival. These, in an off-peak period may *just* scrape into the realm of possibility for an extremely special occasion – we’re talking significant wedding anniversaries and that kind of thing – at $3,814.00 NZD (incl GST) per couple for two nights.

If this is your speed, reservations for most rooms can be made online.

Otherwise, until you come in to rather a lot of money or have a justifiably-significant life event, we invite you to ogle the exquisiteness of the promo shots. Beyond gorgeous.

Huka Lodge - Alan Pye Cottage Dining Room

Huka Lodge - Alan Pye Cottage

Huka Lodge - Alan Pye Cottage Study

Huka Lodge - Alan Pye Cottage

Huka Lodge - Alan Pye Cottage Exterior Garden

Huka Lodge

Huka Lodge - Pre Dinner Drinks

Huka Lodge - Trophy Room

Huka Lodge - Gardens

Huka Lodge - Petanque And Croquet

Huka Lodge - Dinner In The Garden

Huka Lodge - Tucked Away And Totally Private

Huka Lodge - Two Of The Guest Suites Enjoy River Views

Huka Lodge - The Owners' Cottage

Huka Lodge - The Owners' Cottage Living Room