Thursday, May 19, 2011

10 Unusual Places to Celebrate Christmas in India - #3 Vailankanni (Chennai), Tamil Nadu

Vailankanni, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Join the devout and festive throng as ou pay homage at this Lourdes of the East to Our Lady of Good Health. The beach town of Vailankanni is the perfect place to truly appereciate the spirit of Christmas and hope. All activity is centered on the church with cribs, being displayed in the quadrangle and main church complex, special prayers being conducted in serval languages and floats carrying coral singers travelling through the town. Declared a Holy City by the Pope. It is one of the best places to pray for the health of your loved ones.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

10 Unusual Places to Celebrate Christmas in India - #2 Mangalore, Karnataka

Relish the slow ace of life in this multicultral town where Christmas looks a lot like Diwali with day lamps lighting up houses, as Mangalore's humid air is replaced with a chill. Mangalore's cake shops contain works of art designed for the season of giving. The spectacular church picture cakes are worth a look. Do taste the 'Kusvar', the Konkani word for sweets and savories comprsing 22-odd different traditional sweets. As you pay homage at the St. Aloysius College Chapel you get to see a wonderful series of paintings that cover the interior roof and walls. 

10 Unusual Places to Celebrate Christmas in India - #1 Daman

Festiities at this town have taken on a new pitch with the tourism department getting involved. You can witness the vibrant and fascinating Portuguese dance here as you appreciate the subtle flavour of the mouth-watering christmas cookies. As you make your way through this appreciate its well-preserved churches, you can spot cribs and manages everywhere. These are crib competition, which is an integral part of christmas in Daman. The beaches at Daman rival those at Goa shaded by casuaring groves and haunts of seafood lovers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A new lunch menu at Olive Beach, Banglore

A new lunch menu awaits you at Banglore's popular Mediterranean cafe where the chefs have out together a delicious potpouri of soups, salads, pastas, entrees, grills, pizzas and desserts. Some of the new items include Grape and Goat Cheese Salad, Crumb Fried Soft Shell, Crab Sandwich, Lamb Gyro on Pita, Meatless Moussaka and Pizza Romana, End this gastronomic delight with Wild Berry or Apple Streusel and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011


You're guaranteed sweet dreams in the world's coolest (and strangest) hotel beds.

Underwater Bed, Conard Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
Ithaa, the hotel's all glass underwater restaurant, can be converted into a suit subject to availability. Stay 16 ft beneth sea level amongst breathtaking coral reets, and wake up to the indian ocean's kaleidoscopic marine life.

Floating Bed, Hotel Seven, Paris
Ever dreamt of floating in space? This hotel's Levitation roooms have specially-engineered 'floating beds' that feel like they're suspended in mid-air,

Ice bed, ICEHOTEL, Sweden
Experience the real Lapland by sleeping in thermal sleeping bags on a bed made of packed ice covered in reindeer skin.

Outdoor bed, Loisaba Wilderness, Kenya
The Kiboko Star Bed is perched on a platform overlooking a waterhole and can be wheeled out onto the open deck to optimise wildlife viewing

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mountain Highs (See the Himalayas from a different perspective, on a paragliding tour or on new walking trails)

One exhilarating way to scale the peaks with minimum effort is with Himalayan Sky Safaris (, which launches paragliding trips across the Dhauladhar range, Custom-design your trip or do the 45km glide to Dharamsala, spending the night at White Haven.
Wild front ( has taken advatages of a new Bhutan-india crossing by introducing a cultural tour on which visitors can walk from the town of Paro (8,300 ft above sea level) to Thrimphu, Wangdue and Trongsa, across the border and on to New Delhi or Mumbai. Bhutan is also one of the five Himalayan countries covered by the Great Himalaya Trail, a 4,500 km route that also takes in Nepal, China and Pakistan. The Nepal section of the trail will launch with guidebook writer and mapper.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Royal Salute to a true blue Sport

In the land of the royals, it's the sport of kings. Polo has put Jodhpur on the international equestrian sports map, bringing in enthusiasm from around the world to witness the game at its royal best. One of the principle events of the Indian polo calender is the Royal Salute Maharaja of Jodhpur Golden Jubilee Cup, played on the polo fields between the stunning Umaid Bhawan Palace ad the spectacular Mehrangarh fort.

Hosted by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, the Royal Salute Cup is a by-invitation-only, week-long, 10-goal international polo tournament. Last year the Umaid Bhawan Palace team raised the cup beating teams from Royal Salute and other luxury majors. If you're lucky to recieve an invitation, then you're the most likely to meet His Highness Maharaja of Jaipur Brigadier Bhawani Singh, the British High Commissioner to India Sir Richard Stagg and His Grace the 13th Duke of Argyll amongst other dignitaries and celebrities.

Jodhpur's connect with polo goes back centuries. Miniature paintings in the Mehrangarh Fort museum depict the Rathores. Jodpur's royal family, playing polo with the Mughals who brought the game to India from Persia. It originated there as a method to train kings and elite cavalrymen for war but soon developed into a sport.

Off the polo ground the imposing Mehrangarh Fort that towers over the desert landscape is a must-visit for a taste of the regal way of life. The museum houses royal artefacts like palanquins used by the Rathore queens, a silver howdah presented by the Emperor Shahjanah to the Rathore king Jaswant Singh I and Emperor Akbar's sword. Jodhpur also offers a number fo other diversions including shopping for textiles. jewellery and that ubiquitous Jodhpur accessory - the jutti. 

So, if Jodhpur is one of the cities on you 'must-visit'list'; ensure that your trip is scheduled around its year-end polo season. With the Royal Salute Maharaja of Jodhpur Golden Jubilee Cup 2011, of the city will have a lot to offer. 

Check out the Video :

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Andaman Memories - From the Pen of a Diver

stethoscope in airport X-ray machines. It's because officials genuinely wonder which reabid dog bit you into wanting to plummet into the depths of our unpalatably into the depths of our unpalatably grey seas. B everything changes once you arrievs in Port Blair, where they consider you utterly insane if you don't intend to do at least one dive in their emerald green waters.
As we approached Havelock Island, there appeared a distinct break in the water. The inky blue tansformed into an emerald green and then a light aqua. Some flying fish skimmed over the water eliciting a chorus of "aaah" from all the passengers on deck. A louder collective "aaaah" turned my attention to a pod of dolphins bobbing in and out alongside the vessel. Fortunately, our ferry ride concluded in about four hours (or, in sun-stroke time, four years). We docked at Havelock Island, te most popular dive destination in the Andamans - or rather, the only luxury dive destination (apart from the odd budget operators around Port Blair and some ilegal live-aboards playing fro Thailand).
Getting off at the main jetty. I was greeted with warm enthusiasm by two dive instructors. Beaches in the Andamans have been named with brilliant creativity: there is Beah #1,3,5,7. You see the pattern? The dive instructors seemed to be products of a solitary lifestyle, carefree and possessed of a particular sense of humor. I guess if you were stuck here for eight months of the year, a sense of humor would help. 
A lazy amble got me through the main centre of town in about three seconds. I realised that I hadn't caten anything since the morning, aside from a King coconut, aptly named, bacause it's the size of a small country. At a restaurant, the waiter looked at me with disgust when I admitted that I had never eaten barracuda before. Fortunately, the barbecued barracuda turned out to be delicious springy and moist. My waiter was pleased Nights on the island were beautiful. I took moonlit walks on the beach, peering into lagoons as they mirrored the shimmering stars. The tranquillity was tangible; I remember thinking on that first night that there was truly nowhere else I would rather have been. Reluctantly. I strolled back to my room and fell into a sweet slumber once I realised thatthe dinosaur-sized lizard in my room would keep the collection of disease distributing insects at by.
One thing I did not need in Havelock was a map. There's one main road that runs through its pristine rainforest and lush paddy fields, ending at the famous Beach #7 (Radhangar Beach). There were parts where little roadlets branched out, but I discovered that asking for directions and flipping a coin amounted to the same thing. Renting a bike became my preferred mode of transport. I could have embarked on some interesting treks through the lush and very humid rainforest across the island, but I had come here for just one thing, the Big Blue.
The belly of the ocean exploded with life. Millions of neon blue fusiliers formed a swirling cocoon aroud us. Then, suddenly, a robust White-tip reef shark sprung out from behind the coral head in front of us, scattering the fusiliers in all directions. Dolphins glided over us, their whistling audible. Some flipped around to get a closer look at us clumsy creatures with oversized tanks on our back. Wescaled down a reed wall, and a large Greenback turtle curiously swam into my mask. What more could I have asked for? The bed was resplendent with life.; but my tank was on reserve.
After Havelock, I dived off various islands from Neil, all the way to Cinque Islands, further south and everything in between and across. Something we'd drift one way on caught in strong crosscurrents middescent. Other times the surface current would change during the dive, and we'd ascend to find out boat not quite where we expected. If ot for the experienced boat-boy and instructorss, I could have easily ended up in Thailand.
A memorable dive around a protruding rock emerging out of the water near Passage Island revealed serveral small, green mushroom like tips. Back on the boat, I discovered that these were bullets. (The boat-boy explained how the navy would often spray Fish Rock wit a healthy amount of ammo for target practice.) I came to know a diverse fish population native to the Andamans: wrasses, angelfish, exotic Ribbon ecls, frogfish, and Purple Dart Gobies. Andaman damselfish and sweetlips were spotted frequently. And then, on good days there were the mighty pelagics and graceful mantas and large reef sharks.
It is rawness of the Andamans that makes this such an attractive destination - the dungis (dug-out boats) are ear-splittingly loud; the locals are suspiciously friendly; the countryside boast authentic rainforest; the dives are blue and magnificent. You can't put a price tage on something that's Made in Kinara - and in the Andamans, everything seems to be.

Andaman & Nicobar Islands Video 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Experience Swiss hospitality at leading Hotels. Truly in a league of its own

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. 

At the foot of the Alps proudly stand Grand Resort Bad Ragaz*. An elegant year-round leisure resort, it has 56 extravagant spa suites, a Medical Halth Centre, two golf courses and perfectly landscaped gardens to complement the natural beauty of their surroundings with magnificent interiors.

Baur Au Lac, Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich's prestigious landmark of unequalled hospitality has hosted royals, celebriteis and international travelers inover 165 years, With its own private park on the lake shore and the upper and of shopping and financial district, Baur Au Lac offers and intimate atmosphere. 

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, Interlaken, Switzerland

Named by Queen Victoria who was once a guest, Victoria-Jungfrau, is located between two lakes at the foot of the snow-capped Jungfrau. This country hotel melds old-world sophistication with a sleek modern appeal and houses a spa by ESPA with massage treatments combining Eastern traditios and Western techniques. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Four Seasons hotel opens in Seattle

Four Seasons opened its newest US hotel in Seattle's busy downtown district last month. The hospitality group, which left Seattle in 2003 when its managemet contract with the nearby Olympic Hotel passed to Fairmont, has now returned with this modern 147-room hotel. The hotel's restaurant, lounge, grand ballroom (with two-story-tall windows) and rooftop infinity pool all enjoy sweeping views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains.The Seattle Art Museum nd the historic Pike Place Market are also within walking distance of the hotel.
Four Seasons has welcomed back its former chef Kerry Sear, who opened his own Seattle-based restaurant nine years ago, to head the Art Restaurant and Lounge. The restaurant will offer over 160 wines by the glass and the menu will be based on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, in keeping with their sta4r chef's "best source" philosophy.
The 557 sq m spa will use indigenous herbs, balsam fir and even coffee (Seattle being the home of Starbucks) in its treatments. Other highlights include a modern art collection with original works. 

Check out the Pictures :

Check out the Videos :

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two new jungle lodges in MP (India) from Taj Safaris

Pashan Garh in Panna National Park and Banjaar Tola in Kanha National Park are te latest additions to the Taj Safari circuit in Madhya Pradesh, Following suit from Mahua Kothi and Baghvan-in Bandhavgarh and Pench respectively-the two new safari lodges will offer wildlife experiences with naturalists from CC Africa asguides. Panna National Park is 45 minutes from Khajuraho while Kanha National Park is four hours by road from Raipur. 

Check out the pictures :

Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay in Oman

The latest stunner from the Six Senses stable has opened its doors to the public last month. Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay in Oman boasts indigenous village-style accommodations and private marina, with rocky ranges on one side and a sandy beach on the other. Comprising 82 private pool villas, pool villa duplexes and suites, the property also includes two Retreats and a Reserve with its own majlis for up to 60 guests. As with every other Six Senses resort, the spa is a key element in Zighy Bay. It offers Six Senses signature treatments, and also has exclusive Turkish baths for men and women. 

Check out the Pictures of the Resort. 

Self-print boarding passes from Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Airways has launched self-printing boarding pass service for departures from Hong Kong. You can now check in 48 hours in advance for flights departing after 3 am (Hong Kong time) that day. You can print your pass on A4 paper in either black and white or color, using a normal printer. At present the facility is only available to passengers departing Hong Kong who are traveling point on Cathay Pacific flights. Those who are eligible to use the self print option will see a "Print Boarding Pass" button on screen after completing the online check-in-process. The printout will include a lounge pass, if applicable, and details of how to proceed at the airport.