After the holidays – detox at Lake Garda/Italy

Soon the holidays will be over and we’ll all have to pay the price. Too much food and drink, too little exercise, the past- festivities hangover will kick in. Not to worry though, help is at hand.What about booking yourself into this fabulous spa, getting fit and detoxed and enjoying a great part of Italy at the same time?

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Rebalance your body after the festive season at the eco spa Lefay Resort & SPA overlooking Lake Garda with a programme to purify the body of toxins. In just three days the treatments will improve the free flow of vital energy and eliminate such symptoms as fatigue, irritability and swelling.

 

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The holistic purifying programme uses the stimulation of the Classical Chinese energy points to eliminate toxins, caused by factors such as poor eating habits, alcohol and cigarettes.

Treatments include a detoxifying massage, aimed at removing accumulated toxins working on the meridians and specific points of Classical Chinese Medicine that promote lymphatic drainage and eliminate toxins.

Guests will be given personalised phytotherapy, using specific medicinal plants that work mainly on the kidney and liver to create a bespoke Classical Chinese medicinal herbal infusion that guests drink during and after their stay.

Other treatments include a wrap with micro-eclatée algae and detoxifying essential oils, a massage with mud rich in oils, clays, sulphates and marillonite, which performs an osmotic detoxifying and antioxidant effect and a session in the salt water lake – the high temperature allows the body to absorb the trace elements and minerals from the marine salt dissolved in the water, which has a draining, detoxifying and relaxing effect.

The purifying programme is accompanied by a slightly low-calorie and detoxifying diet.   The price per person is £880 (Euros 1,035) based on two sharing and includes accommodation, all treatments and meals but not flights. The nearest airport is Verona.

http://lagodigarda.lefayresorts.com/eng/special-offers/wellness-programme/

Images provided by the resort.

Explore cool and exotic Bogor/Indonesia

‘A romantic little village’ is how Sir Stamford Ruffles once described Bogor in West Java during colonial times.’ Little village’  does no longer apply, because the city, located some 60km south of the capital Jakarta, has grown to a population of over 1 million. But, a romantic charm persists to this day.

Old Post road

Old Post road

Add friendly people,a cool climate, breathtaking volcanoes, jungles and waterfalls, great food and one of the world’s oldest and largest botanical gardens and you’ll want to pack your bags and head to Indonesia straightaway.

lily pond

Botanic Garden Image by Ian Riley wikepedia commons

Plan your trip successfully with the help of Traveloka. You’ll find the best deals, connections, suitable times to visit and everything else to make your stay in Bogor an unforgettable adventure.

An important role in the enjoyment of any trip is the choice of hotel. You can’t do much better than with the Hotel Aston Bogor. Providing all necessary creature comforts, the hotel is suitable for families as well as for solo travelers. A natural river runs through the lush grounds where you get a first impression of the great nature which makes Bogor such a coveted ‘escape’ from hot and crowded Jakarta. Relax in their full service spa and then set off the explore such main attractions as the Botanical Garden or the Jungle Water Adventure Park, all within easy walking distance.

Of course, being in Indonesia you’ll also want to use one of the colorful local rickshaws known as Becak.

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABecak_Bogor.jp
What to see and do in Bogor and surroundings

You simply cannot skip the Botanical Garden. Located in the city center next to the presidential compound of Istana Bogor, this paradise of tropical vegetation covers 210 acres and is home to nearly 14.000 different trees and plants. The garden has many sections, the most remarkable being the water garden with giant water lilies, fish and birds which live in the park and the  Orchid House full of the most exotic specimen. Or get lost in the massive maze garden. There are also monuments reflecting Bogor’s British and Dutch past, such as a memorial to Lady Raffles.

A logical next stopping point is the presidential palace right next to the Botanical Garden. The building originates from 1744 under Dutch rule but was destroyed in an earthquake. The current palace dates from 1850 when it was rebuilt. The Botanical Garden was once the palaces’  backyard and even now it is surrounded by lavish grounds. Strangely no president or anybody else lives there, but deer, once brought over from Nepal roam the grounds freely and are much loved (and fed) by visitors.

View over the Bogor Palace in Botanical Garden in the morning in Jakarta Indonesia.

View over the Bogor Palace in Botanical Garden in the morning in Jakarta Indonesia.

Bogor is divided by two rivers and located in a basin surrounded by mountains, jungle and volcanoes. The highest peaks are volcano Salak and Mount Gede. Naturally, no visit to Bogor is complete without venturing further afield.

Mount Salak in the background

Mount Salak in the background

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKota_Bogor_%26_Gunung_Salak.jpg

 

Visit the Tea Estate and enjoy some horseback riding at Gunung Mas.  You can join a guided tour to learn about Java’s tea culture.

Admire West Java’s largest  Hindu temple, Pura Parahyanan Agung Jagatkartta. Tourists are not allowed in the inner temple but you can enjoy the beauty of the buildings and even more green gardens.

This is just a small selection of attractions to wet your appetite for a visit to Bogor. You can swim under waterfalls, hang glide in the mountains, hike and rock climb or simply enjoy a variety of great food at the Ah Poong  Floating Market.

Just don’t forget to bring umbrella and raincoat. Regardless to which time of the year you visit, all this abundance of vegetation has a reason: it always rains, even in the dry season.

Be surprised by summer delights in St. Moritz

When I think about the legendary resort of St. Moritz in Switzerland, its winter that springs to mind. Skiing down Corviglia, after ski in the many glamorous bars and clubs, watching horse races on the frozen lake or jingling along, wrapped in warm blankets,  in horse drawn sleighs.

To my surprise, I recently found out that in the 19th century, St. Moritz was a very popular summer holiday destination, to which loyal customers retreated year after year “to take the waters” of the healing springs that date back almost 3,500 years.  Today, the stunning natural landscape, with its glaciers, creeks, rivers, lakes and snow-capped peaks, plus the modern spa facilities offered by hotels such as the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com) make it the perfect place for a truly restorative holiday.

Kulm Hotel - summer exterior

For example, on the slopes of Corvatsch, there is a designated 2.5 hour “Water Path” around six small mountain lakes, while the much larger Lake Silvaplana and Lake St. Moritz provide ample space for everything from paddle boarding to kite surfing and fishing, depending on how active you want to be.

Paddle boarding

Paddle boarding

Corvatsch Water path

Corvatsch Water path

At the hotel, after a long day of water-based activities, the in-house spa provides multiple opportunities to continue with water therapy, whether it’s a swim in the indoor lap pool, a session in the heated outdoor pool with its various water jets while being mesmerised by the stunning panoramic view or a hydro-massage or herbal bath in one of the treatment rooms.

Summer spa pool

Summer spa pool

For summer 2016, the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com) has put together a “Water is Life” package designed to completely re-charge the batteries, because – as experts inform us – the only way a body can begin to heal is when it is really relaxed and the comfort of water stimulates the body’s natural ability to relax.  Included in the package are three nights’ half-board accommodation, a boat trip, lunch out to sample delicious fresh fish straight from the lake, a sailing excursion, a guided hike along the Water Path, a hydro jet massage bath and early morning stand-up paddling, as well as unlimited use of the Kulm Spa St. Moritz.

Prices start from CHF1,585 (approx £1100) per person sharing a double room. To book, call the Kulm Hotel St Moritz on +41 81 836 8000 or email info@kulm.com.
Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (www.kulm.com) was the first hotel to be built in St. Moritz. The Kulm Hotel opened its doors in 1856 and immediately became popular for summer spa and painting holidays, particularly among the British who comprised around 75% of the hotel guests. The owner of the Kulm Hotel, Johannes Badrutt, initiated winter holidays to St. Moritz from 1864 and, as a result, the hotel, resort and Switzerland itself celebrated 150 years of winter tourism in the 2014/15 season.

 

Since the 19th century, the Kulm Hotel has changed considerably through expansion and renovation, but the fabulous location at the heart of St. Moritz with views over the Lake remains the same. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Kulm Hotel St. Moritz has 173 rooms, five restaurants (offering formal dining, French fine dining – the Gourmet-Restaurant the K has 16 GaultMillau points, the Italian Pizzeria with 13 GaultMillau points, local Engadine specialities and Japanese), the extensive  Kulm Spa St. Moritz (with a 20 m indoor pool with underwater music, various saunas and steam room, a Jacuzzi, a fully-equipped gym and treatment rooms, all with stunning views over Lake St. Moritz) and six conference rooms, with capacities ranging from 50 to 500 people.

 

Entertainment and sports facilities include the 9-hole Kulm Golf Course St. Moritz (the oldest golf course in the country), three tennis courts, a natural ice rink, a curling field and the Marmotta Kids’ Club. The Kulm Hotel St. Moritz is inextricably linked to the Cresta Run, which was built within the hotel’s grounds in 1891. To this day, tobogganing pilots congregate in the Kulm’s Sunny Bar, which is Switzerland’s oldest sports bar; the walls of the bar are lined with trophies and images of famous people who have hurled themselves down the infamous ice track.

 

Recent awards for the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz include being named best mountain hotel in Switzerland at the Connoisseur Circle Awards, Switzerland’s third Top Luxury Hotel in the 2016 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards, as well as fifth place in the hotels worldwide recognised for best service category. This year, the Kulm was also named sixth best hotel in Switzerland by HolidayCheck and one of the most popular hotels worldwide. In 2015, the Kulm secured a top ten place in the “Friendliest Luxury Hotel” category at the Switzerland Tourism PRIX BIENVENU awards, entered the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame for excellence in hospitality for consistently achieving great traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, was named 5th best hotel in Switzerland by SonntagsZeitung’s hotel critic Karl Wild and was named the best five-star hotel in St. Moritz for wellness, active holidays and luxury travel by HolidayCheck; the hotel’s Gourmet-Restaurant the K also won 16 GaultMillau points. In 2014, the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz was included in a list of the top ten best holiday hotels in Switzerland compiled by renowned Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung and the top ten most welcoming luxury hotels in the country list put together by Switzerland Tourism.

Granted, this is not a cheap holiday, but then, why not splash out on a glamorous break which will do wonders for your health in truly splendid surroundings.

Of course, bank balance allowing, you can always return in winter.

Disclaimer: This is not sponsored post but based on a press release from Sue Heady Communications with permission. Images courtsy of SHC.

 

Where History meets Luxury – Pera Palace Hotel Istanbul

There are plenty of 5 star hotels to choose from in Istanbul. But nothing beats the combination of modern day comforts with the flair of history, intrigue and romance which seems to linger in every corner of the fabulous Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, overlooking the Golden Horn.

The Golden Horn

The Golden Horn

History

Several years ago, the hotel underwent a complete restoration which not only unearthed hidden treasures but also added amenities indispensable for a luxury hotel today. One of the treasures was a huge set of Christoffel silver from Paris, still in its original packaging. And the amenity is the dreamlike spa and hamam bathed in soothing blue light.

silver

In the 1800 when Istanbul was the final destination of the Orient Express, a fashionable crowd was drawn to the mystic city. Sadly, she lacked a luxury European style hotel to accommodate the writers, journalists, artists and other well heeled travelers and that’s how the Pera Palace was conceived.

Overlooking the Golden Horn, the hotel opened its doors in 1892 and boasted the first electrically operated elevator in Turkey as well as hot and cold running water, but only up to the second floor. The upper floors were reserved as quarters for the maids and man servants.

Elaborate art deco furniture, fixtures and fittings were of the highest quality and many a flute  of champagne was consumed in the Orient Bar, by the likes of Hemingway, Atatürk, Churchill and…Agatha Christie. The first ever fashion show in Turkey took place in the Pera Palace in 1926.

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Agatha  loved the place and always insisted in being  given  ‘her’ room, number 411. It was in this very room that she wrote one of her most famous crime novels: Murder in the Orient Express. During recent years, the Pera Palace has undergone extensive restorations and finally opened its doors again to the public in September 2010

Staying there

By modern day standards, the Pera Palace is not a big hotel, ‘only’ 115 rooms and suites. Stepping through the front door, I immediately felt at home. The plush lobby could even be called cozy, due to the lack of size. Your eyes meet the famous elevator, flanked by two sweeping staircases which lead to the upper floors. On your right is the equally famous Orient Bar, adjacent to the reception desk you are tempted by the delicacies of the patisserie or you walk straight ahead to the lobby with a terrace overlooking the Golden Horn.

käfer

Antiques, paintings, carpets, chandeliers, wherever you look you find something to admire. Sadly, the Agatha Christie room wasn’t available, but I got the Greta Garbo room. I have to say, that I am not a fan of minimalism, I don’t want to bash my knees on sharp corners and sleep on a rock hard mattress. Neither do I fancy needing an engineer’s degree to be able to work the tabs in the bathroom.

I want to sink into an armchair, relax and enjoy and that’s exactly what the Pera Palace is all about.

The service is immaculate, attentive people are everywhere to help you with whatever you need.

For starters, a glass of champagne in the Orient Bar was called for. It was easy to evoke the spirits of all the famous people who have done just that in this iconic place. Ataturk, Agatha, Greta, Hemingway, Jackie Kennedy and countless others have partied here.

The hotel features two excellent restaurants if you don’t want to go out and eat. The kitchen is open, so you can see the chefs toiling over their creations. You eat with silver, but not the one which was discovered during restoration. This treasure is beautifully displayed in glass cases along the wall.

And finally, there is the spa and pool. Three treatment rooms, a pool with loungers, a steam bath, Turkish bath and sauna await to spend an hour or two in utter bliss, bathed in the magic blue light. And as the hotel is relatively small, it’s never crowded.

For reservation and further information please consult www.perapalace.com.

Disclaimer: I paid a reduced press rate but my opinion and observations are my own.

 

 

 

 

Pfund’s Dairy – an Empire Built on 6 Cows

Pfund’s Dairy in Dresden/Germany made the Guinness Book of Records for the first time in 1998 as the ‘world’s most beautiful dairy shop’. Behind this achievement lies the story of a man with a vision and entrepreneurial impulses.
Paul Gustav Leander Pfund, to quote his full name, was a farmer in Reinholdshain/Saxony. In 1879 he grabbed his wife Mathilde, six cows and some pigs and made his way to Dresden. Of course, there was a plan behind this move. He had observed that the ever growing population of the city in need of fresh milk, was poorly supplied by milk from surrounding farms. The milk was transported in unhygienic vehicles, not l all equipped for the transport of food. When the milk was sold, the vehicles returned laden with rugs and other non food related goods, to be used again as milk transport the following day.
Pfund was driven by the desire to supply the population with fresh and hygienic milk and thus opened his first dairy shop in the Goerlitzer Strasse. Customers, who soon formed long queues, could see through the windows how his cows were milked, the milk then filtered through several different layers of clean linen and gauze and sold in the quantities requested.
His reputation spread and soon he moved to bigger premises in Bautzener Strasse.

He opened a shop which not only sold milk but also delicious cheeses and buttermilk. Always open to new technologies, Pfund was the first one to produce condensed milk, soon followed by baby food. In 1990 he introduced pasteurized milk.
Soon his milk empire grew and his products were exported to the rest of Germany and even Europe. Today milk based products such as milk soap and cosmetics as well as a rather exotic milk grappa are added to the list.
Center piece however remains the dairy in Bautzener Strasse and it is the extraordinary decoration of the place which won Pfund the Guinness Book entry. Imagine 249m2 entirely covered with hand painted tile from Vileroy and Boch. Farm scenes, cherubs, allegories, you name it, it’s depicted in the colorful tiles on floor, ceiling walls and the beautiful predominantly blue counter.

Image courtesy of Pfund Molkerei

Image courtesy of Pfund Molkerei

You won’t know where to look first to take it all in before you turn your attention to the delicious products. Small wonder that the place is visited by virtual bus loads of sightseers every day.
And that’s only the ground floor. The first floor houses a fine 90 seats restaurant where you can enjoy Saxony specialties, sample the local wines and top it all off with Pfund’s ice cream.
After that you will be more than ready to admire more of Dresden’s many attractions like the Semper Opera or my favorite, The Japanese Palais. Or go on a boat trip along the river Elbe in one of the historical steam boats, known as Elbkaehne. By the by, in German, the word Elbkaehne has become a nick name for a very big shoe size!
If you wish to spend the night in Dresden, why not live it up in the marvelous Swissotel am Schloss. Located near the Residenzschloss in the heart of Dresden’s Old Town, the highlight is the Puerovel Spa in a historical stone cellar with massages, spa and other treatments.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. I have not been paid anything either by Pfund or by Swissotel.