Thai Luxury Wellness Resort – Amatara Phuket

Thai Luxury Wellness Resort – Amatara Phuket

We were drawn in by the award-winning wine cellar. In the end, we were intrigued by the wellness resort. That’s what happens when a couple of gluttons spend a long weekend at a Thai luxury wellness resort. We learned about Amatara Wellness Resort during our recent trip to Singapore. The pictures of the property looked amazing, but most luxury properties in Phuket do. Particularly for folks living in Bangkok. They offer a perfect break from the noise and congestion of the big city. And, with a flight to Phuket costing about $30 and only taking an hour, it is the easiest place for us to grab a beach break. What caught our eye about Amatara Phuket, though, was that they have an award-winning wine list. That is somewhat a rarity in Thailand, as it is hard to find good wine. And, yes, we enjoyed a luxury dining experience at The Grill, with perfect wine pairings off of their award-winning list. But, fine wine and dining were not the focus of this particular visit, even if it is the focus of so many of our trips. In this case, our focus was on relaxation and wellness. Eating Healthy at a Thai Luxury Wellness Resort Amatara Phuket is a top Thai luxury wellness resort, and wellness was indeed our goal. We ate most of our meals at The Retreat, a healthy eating venue that works in conjunction with the spa manager at Amatara to offer alternative dining. I will say, after being assaulted by vegan and raw cuisine during our time living in Bali, I was skeptical. The Retreat is a small and peaceful...
Where To Find the Best Food in Charleston

Where To Find the Best Food in Charleston

The last stop on our culinary road trip across the U.S. south landed us in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the American cities that was always on the top of my list of places I wanted to visit. I never thought that we would be ending such an amazing road trip in Charleston. And, I never thought we would do it by eating some of the best food in Charleston. Best Food in Charleston – Halls Chophouse Gospel Brunch We woke up early in Athens, Georgia and raced to Charleston. We had a deadline: to partake in a Charleston, low country tradition, Sunday Gospel Brunch at historic Halls Chophouse. Halls is a family-run restaurant, with a focus on service and hospitality. We saw it first hand when a member of the Hall family held the door open for us as we entered. Halls was hopping. Every table filled to max capacity. The Gospel choir sat just inside the front door. Just after we stepped in, they broke out into When The Saints Go Marching In. It doesn’t get more Gospel than that. Because we raced to Charleston, and the atmosphere inside Halls was electric, I felt a little on edge. That feeling quickly abated after I started in on one of their famous Bloody Mary’s, complete with pickled okra and a crisp, cool shrimp. Brunch was on. Halls Chophouse is not only known for steaks, and their Bloody Mary’s, but for classic low country cuisine. Low country cuisine is the phrase used for the dishes traditionally served in South Carolina, and along the Georgia coast. It is heavily influenced by...
5 Cruise Misconceptions Debunked!

5 Cruise Misconceptions Debunked!

Breaking Down 5 Cruise Misconceptions on a European River Cruise We’ve always prided ourselves on the fact that we’ve never been on a cruise. Technically, we can’t even make this claim due to a not so fab two night Yangtze River cruise we took in China back in 2009. But, I don’t think it counts. I mean a real cruise. One with a cruise director, buffet meals, and pre-arranged activities, on a boat with a bunch of other people. I’ve always stuck my nose up a bit at cruise goers, that was until our recent French river cruise experience. Yes, Viking River Cruises hosted us on this experience. And I’m glad they did. I never would have thought of doing this type of river cruise otherwise. We not only had a great experience, but it certainly dispelled some of the misconceptions I had about cruising in general. 1. Cruise Misconceptions: Cruise Ships are Crowded Close your eyes and say the words “cruise ship” and what images pop into your head? For me, it’s always been large cruise ships, the size of a small city, where it’s nearly impossible to find a lounge chair near the pool. Where I would be one of a thousand people clamoring for a server’s attention at dinner. I knew this wouldn’t be our experience on a European river cruise. First, the rivers can’t hold ships that big. There were less than a hundred staterooms on our Viking Buri longship. On our cruise, from Avignon to Lyon, I believe there were about 150 passengers on board. That meant there were always seats available at dinner,...
Chengdu Luxury Hotel – Niccolo Chengdu

Chengdu Luxury Hotel – Niccolo Chengdu

What to Expect From a Chengdu Luxury Hotel During our first trip to China in 2009, I was entirely overwhelmed by the experience of traveling in China. Despite our flashpacking budget back then, we stayed at Western chain hotels, just to have some sort of comfort and familiarity. For our recent visit to China, though, I wanted more. I wanted a great experience, great food, and a little bit of luxury. And, we found it at a relative new Chengdu luxury hotel. Through our recent luxury travel experiences, we’ve learned what to expect from a luxury hotel. A well appointed room, a decadent lobby, well trained staff. But, when traveling in China, I wasn’t sure if the same rules applied. Sure, we’ve stayed in luxury hotels in nearby Macau and Hong Kong. But, mainland China, well, that’s another story. Traveling in China is hard, so I expect a luxury hotel in Chengdu to eliminate the stress of China. And, Niccolo Hotel did just that. The hotel prides itself on incorporating some truly unique artwork from both local and international artists. After walking in through the glass enclosed tea lounge, artwork surrounded us. Niccolo touts its “contemporary urban chic” decor, but I don’t care what they call it. It’s impressive. The most notable artwork was “Beijing Girl” by Zhang Xiang Ming. Her deep, soulful eyes greeted us each time we walked through the lobby. Of course Niccolo Chengdu offered well appointed rooms, with luxury amenities and a comfortable bed. But, what really set the hotel apart was the service, and the food. Niccolo Chengdu helped to arrange our visit to see the pandas,...
Flying Emirates Business Class on the A380

Flying Emirates Business Class on the A380

Until this year, we had yet to experience flying Emirates business class, one of the “Middle East Three.” We’ve experienced Etihad business class, and Qatar business class, but for an AvGeek like me there was a constant nagging reminder that we had yet to fly Emirates. Suddenly, we found ourselves not only flying them twice within a few months, but experiencing Emirates A380 business class. Flying Emirates Business Class From Europe One of the best things about the Middle East airlines is that they are a perfect gateway between Asia and Europe. Normally, it means a layover in Doha or Dubai, but it also means being able to land in Europe in some second tier airports, which are often more convenient for us. On both of our recent trips from Europe back home to Bangkok, we ended our trips in the smaller cities of Bologna, Italy, and Lyon, France. Hardly major international hubs. But, Bologna in particular is a city where we are finding ourselves more and more as we eat our way through Emilia Romagna. Emirates likes to tout their unofficial goal of connecting every city on Earth to Dubai. Lucky for us, Emirates started to serve Bologna’s Guglielmo Marconi Airport. The airport is just 6 kilometers from the center of Bologna. Bologna is in the heart of Emilia Romagna. Getting to our favorite foodie destination in the world from our home base in Bangkok is now that much easier. It means two six hour flights and we are home. How to Book Emirates Business Class All of our first and business class travel has been booked on miles....
Where and What to Eat in Brno

Where and What to Eat in Brno

During our time in Prague, and for the most part in Mikulov as well, we focused on traditional Czech foods. We scratched our itch for hearty Czech meals of meat and potatoes, accompanied by a cold Czech beer. By the time we visited our last Czech city, though, it was all about luxury dining. If looking for a luxury meal in the Czech Republic, a stop to eat in Brno is a must. Where to Eat in Brno – Chef Jan’s Pavillon We met Chef Jan Kaplan a year before during our last visit to Prague. We shared a beer at a quiet beer garden in the old part of town. At the time, he was eager to have us visit his restaurant in Brno, Pavillon. We tried to squeeze it in, but we didn’t have enough time, or the energy, for a two and a half hour train ride to Brno, simply for a meal. Dining at Pavillon in Brno was one of the highlights of our Czech food tour. We don’t pay much attention to styles of architecture, at least not since my art history class during college. Pavillon is set inside a functionalist building, with wine open spaces, high ceilings, and contemporary furnishings. The original functionalist building was opened between the first and second world wars. It was white, with glass walls and red framed windows, which opened the restaurant up to a patio overlooking a park. It was “lost to the inhabitants of Brno” during the Communist reign, but now hosts one of the most elegant dining spots in Brno, complete with an entirely eccentric...
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