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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Anantara Si Kao: The Andaman’s Best Kept Secret

Thailand is always top of my travel wish list: it ticks every box for any sort of getaway with its incredible beaches, varied activities, delicious food and lovely local people. On a recent trip to Krabi, I headed further south and off the beaten track to discover the Anantara Si Kao Resort. Admittedly, I was a little hesitant to venture away from my favourite spots on Railay Beach but, after four days of utterly blissful relaxation, I was won over by this serene hideaway – ideal for couples or families – in the mood for total tranquility.
Situated on the coastline of Trang, this retreat stands alone on 15km of pristine beach – perfect for a morning jog or afternoon strolls to burn off those holiday treats! The hotel is surrounded by lush greenery, enhancing the ethereal elements of the resort and setting it apart from the thronged tourist traps of Thailand.

Anantara Terrace and BeachAccommodation
The hotel holds 140 rooms and suites – for something extra special, you can splurge on a pool suite, complete with a private terrace and infinity pool. While the property does look a little tired in places, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in a sea-facing room which was large, clean and comfortable – complete with a small balcony for evening sundowners.
Most notably, the staff were so pleasant and helpful and truly cared about the individual experience of each guest. I really appreciated the extra touches of afternoon deliveries of Thai sweets and handwritten notes from the Housekeeping Team, as well as a full pillow menu to ensure a sound night’s sleep. I think – with just a few minor tweaks – the Anantara Si Kao could be a supremely luxurious resort and I look forward to seeing it’s development over the next couple of years.
Anantara Thailand Risotto


There are plenty of Thai and western options available at the resort’s two restaurants and pool bars. Every morning started at the Anantara Si Kao with an enormous buffet breakfast; brimming with an extensive assortment of pastries, cooked food, juices, teas and coffees. The hotel accommodated dietary requirements well and catered for all sorts of tastes and restrictions, offering both healthy and indulgent options.
For lunch and dinner, my absolute favourite foodie find was The Beach House restaurant which served up authentic Thai fare – the beef Masaman curry and fresh fish were absolutely outstanding. For a more romantic affair, we headed upstairs to sample the Italian fine dining offerings at Acqua, perched stunningly on the terrace of the hotel, overlooking the water. The Tom Yum Risotto is a must-try, trust me!

Anantara Beach Club

Leisure and Activities

The resort is over an hour’s drive from Krabi airport and is quite isolated. However, there were plenty of activities and excursions on offer that kept us entertained. Guests can avail of complimentary yoga, Thai boxing, water aerobics, basketball and tennis facilities and a kid’s club. For something slightly less strenuous, you can relax in the spa or, lounge by one of the two pools on site. There is a separate shaded pool for children under 12 which is a fantastic option for families and leaves the other pool peaceful for couples and singles.
There is a daily boat shuttle to the Anantara Si Koa’s private beach club, built on the powdery white sands of Koh Kraden, just about 20 minutes away from the mainland. Koh Kraden is total tropical island paradise and we spent the day snorkelling and swimming in balmy waters before a long, leisurely lunch. The hotel provided a huge range of excursions to Trang town to sample local dim sum and to various outlying islands and caves, as well as cooking classes and entertainment options. We also took kayaks into the nearby mangroves and paddled around for hours in search of the wonderful wildlife that inhabits the area.
The Anantara Si Kao is certainly not Party Central but, it’s not trying to be. If you’re in the mood to escape the madness and switch off for a couple of days – cocktail in hand –  this is a stellar option. For the stunning surroundings, super service and wealth of facilities, the rates are reasonable, in my opinion. The location would also be a fantastic space to host a team building event or off site, and the hotel regularly caters for such corporate events. With the short, direct flight from HK to Krabi, it’s easier than ever to explore the hidden gem of The Andaman Sea.


Room rates vary according to seasonal demand but presently, a standard deluxe double including breakfast will set you back approximately $1400 per room, per night. There are numerous deals available on the hotel’s website too.
Anantara Si Kao, 198-199 Moo5, Had Pak Meng – Changlang Road, Changlang Beach, Maifad, Sikao, Trang, 92150, Thailand, +66 75 205 888,

Original article appeared on Sassy Hong Kong. All images courtesy of Taking Hong Kong. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Intercontinental's #852TAILS Menu is Dynamic and Distinctive

Review: InterContinental's #852TAILS Menu is Dynamic and Distinctive

The Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental is 'the' place for cocktails, where every mover and shaker can be seen sipping effortlessly on something fabulous. Set against the iconic backdrop of Victoria Harbour and that skyline, this Hong Kong classic has got a whole lot of wow factor. 
To compliment the splendour of the surroundings, the InterContinental has just launched an extensive new cocktail and appetiser menu in the Lobby Lounge that is reflective of the dynamic and compelling energy of HK itself. Despite the fact that the hotel is situated in busy TST, the Lobby Lounge still manages to retain an ambience of chic, old Hollywood glamour that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the city.
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With seven alcoholic cocktails and five non-alcoholic varieties, there is something for everyone on this long list of creations. While I do love an old reliable, I often find drink menus repetitive, and it can be difficult to discover innovative mixology. Rest assured that the curators at the Lobby Lounge have blended these beverages with a great splash of creative thought – there's not a cosmo or mai tai in sight! The elements of each drink – from the name to the ingredients – are intrinsically linked to aspects of local history and culture, taking the diner through a snapshot of storytelling with every sip. 
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One of my favourites was the New Territories, a refreshing blend of gin, tonic, citrus, cucumber and bitter melon – a contemporary interpretation of a standard G and T. This would be ideal for cooling off during the summer season or as a light aperitif before dinner. On that note, Tea Time, inspired by the bo lo bao (pineapple bun), also had a tropical tang of buttered rum, pineapple, local honey and citrus. I was apprehensive that this could be a little too sickly, but it turned out to be the perfect sweet treat. For a different flavour, I loved the spicy, heady notes in From Condiment to Confection, a mix of bourbon, citrus, local honey, ginger and bitters; this is a great winter warmer for the colder snap. 
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The appetisers that accompany these indulgent cocktails are a combination of festive features for the Lunar New Year (say hello to the best turnip cake ever) and firm favourites like the breadcrumbed fish and chips and the scrumptious Wagyu beef balls. It was the chilli plate that – quite literally – tickled my taste buds, though, as the snack selection ranged from one to five on the spice-ometer. For those a little shy of spice, the chilli cheese nuggets and stuffed jalapeƱos pack just the right amount of punch. If you're feeling like a bit more fire, the crispy octopus with piri-piri mayo and king prawns with chorizo are unforgettable. 
The Lobby Lounge features live entertainment nightly from 6pm–12:30am, with one of Asia's leading jazz singers, Jennifer Parlor, performing every Thursday from 9:45–11:45pm. With this sublime soundtrack, this is the only place to marvel at the harbour light show or simply enjoy an #852TAIL with a view. 
Lobby, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 2721 1211

All images courtesy of The Intercontinental 

Friday, 3 February 2017

How to Beat Jet Lag

We’re so lucky to live in Hong Kong where travel is often cheap, accessible and beautiful destinations are just a hop, step and a leap away. And with so many public holidays to take advantage of, I am perpetually planning our next adventure, while also trying to squeeze in long-haul trips to Ireland and the UK to keep the families happy! On top of all the fun stuff; work commitments mean that we’re expected to travel mid-week – sometimes at short notice – while still staying on our A-Game in the office.
While it may seem like a ‘First World Problem’; with the constant cycle of jet setting, comes the dreaded travel hangover that is jet lag. It affects me differently each time I transit through time zones and can linger for days or weeks as I welcome 3am, staring at the ceiling, ready to raid the fridge for pasta.
While it’s not realistic to completely avoid the pitfalls of jet lag, I have put together my top tips to minimise the strain on your mind and body, and make the whole experience of globetrotting much more bearable!
1. Readjust Your Body Clock
If your trip is planned well in advance, it’s always an advantage to gradually introduce your body to the new time zone. Shifting your daily regimes by a few hours can really help you to sync with your destination. As soon as you board the flight, set your watch and electronics to the local destination time. Many of us let our tummies dictate our eating habits when we arrive at a far flung place (show of hands for anyone who has ever dug into a tub of ice cream in the middle of the night on vaycay?). However, jet lag interferes with bodily processes and sunlight, and sleeping and eating at the right time for your environment stimulates them to function orderly again. Squeezing in some gentle exercise during daylight hours should also help to tire you out and have you ready to hit the pillow at a regular time.

2. During the Flight 
Have a nutritious, filling meal pre-flight and eat lightly during air time – arriving hungry will encourage you to get into the rhythm of the local journeys-end and this will also aid digestion which can become sluggish mid-air.
Try to resist overdoing it on the wine or champagne and remember the golden rule: one on the ground is worth two in the air! A glass or two is a lovely treat and should be enough to help you nod off on a night time flight but limit it to that unless you want to wake up with jet lag and a hangover. So not a good look. Drinking at least two litres of water in flight will keep you hydrated and help you to feel fresh on arrival.

3. In Flight Essentials 

You don’t have to be in business class to spoil yourself mid-air. Even if you’re squeezed into a tiny seat on a budget airline, travelling with a collection of your favourite products sets you up to look and feel fantastic as soon as you step out onto the tarmac. I make sure to have a little bag of mini products ready at all times that I can chuck into my carry case and rest assured that I will be fresh throughout the journey and feel the benefit on arrival.
Hydration is key – I advise to go sans slap for any flight over five hours – and make sure to pack comfy clothes to maximise relaxation. Remember to carry a nourishing face wash to use on board, or when you reach your destination, to kick-start the day or prime your skin for a good night’s sleep.
If you are lucky enough to travel business class with Virgin Atlantic, we highly recommend sleeping in the sky with their bespoke aromatherapy package, full of gorgeous “de Mamiel” and “This Works” beauty products. Each passenger will be gifted with a variety of perfectly blended oils and a selection relaxation techniques to aid sleep and banish jetlag. The packages are tailored for day and evening flights and my personal winner is the divine Deep Sleep Pillow Spray from “This Works” – a couple of spritzes of this lavender and camomile blend had me sleeping soundly after drifting off to a range of on board mindfulness films designed by ‘Headspace”.

4. Try A Holistic Therapy
Trust me, I’m all for nipping into one of the many massage spots for a cheap and cheerful foot rub, but after indulging in the utter opulence of the Four Seasons Spa, I am completely converted to their signature treatments and incomparable client care. After reading about their jet lag solution massage package, I was intrigued to see if it could ease the impact of frequent travel or relieve some of the stresses that come with living in a frenetic city like Hong Kong!
After a consultation process, guests are led to a warm footbath where camomile and red wine (yep, you read that right!) are used to cleanse your feet and prepare your skin for massage. The therapy is split into two ninety-minute parts: awakening in the morning with a mint and Tahitian sand scrub and an invigorating massage and returning in the evening to unwind with a tension-melting massage performed with a rich chamomile cream and a snug heated body wrap. Each and every detail at the Four Seasons is absolutely on point: from the expansive facilities that clients can avail of, to the magnificent surroundings of the massage rooms, to the personalised attention from the expert staff.
My body and mind had a profoundly positive reaction immediately after each session; emerging energised and reinvigorated after the awakening treatment and strolling home blissfully tranquil after the evening massage. I would readily recommend this for frequent fliers, overloaded girl bosses or anyone on the market for a few hours of sublime self-care. It is certainly one way to get your sleep back on track with lavish luxury.
With these tips in mind, I urge you to go forth and book another break to try them out for yourself – ya, like you needed an excuse!

Original article appeared on Sassy Hong Kong 

All images courtesy of Sassy Hong Kong and Taking Hong Kong