Recreation - page 2

Must-see places and can’t miss things to do from Malé to Bali

Concierge Recommends: Seminyak

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While you are cocooned in luxury, cared for by attentive staff and reveling in your own private pool, decadent restaurants, classy cocktail bars and shopping boutiques are right outside your doorstep. Welcome to chic Seminyak, where you will find the choicest of swinging cafés, designer shops and spas. Relax in your designer villa, and when the itch to go out wins, take a leisurely stroll towards Seminyak’s beaches, stopping on the way for a tropical cocktail at one of the many beach clubs in the area. If you like to be in the thick of action, it doesn’t get more central than this. 

We asked our Elite Concierge to pick the best of the best in Seminyak for each category. Here’s the exclusive hand-picked list, with insider tips and information, just for you.

Beach Club

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Iconic is an understatement. #KUDETA

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Ku De Ta. This iconic establishment is known world over and it continues to serve sensational food and cocktails in an outstanding beachfront location, walking distance from many of our Seminyak villas. The music is always peppy, and it has an unmistakable vibe of people having a good time. Ku De Ta’s legendary events and parties never fail to disappoint and our guests can take advantage of Ku Cards – an exclusive privilege offered to Elite Havens.

Cocktail Bar

El Nacional.  Tucked away discreetly, this all-time favourite bar is accessed by walking through a ramen noodle restaurant. Up a flight of stairs and you’re transported to a Cuban-style rum bar serving sensational cocktails served by mixologists who are truly passionate about their craft. Catch groovy tunes mixed by great DJs and look out for Latin Nights coming up on the calendar very soon.

Coffee Shop or Café

Revolver. Indonesians take their coffee very seriously,

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Muay Thai, Thailand’s National Sport

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Dating back hundreds of years, Thai Boxing or Muay Thai- The Art of Eight Limbs, is a close-combat, self-defense martial art incorporating the eight ‘weapons’ of the human body: fists, knees, elbows and feet.

Over the past 20 years, Muay Thai has swept across the world, not only as a professional fighting style but also as part of many fitness programmes. The popularity of martial arts has been one of the driving factors in Muay Thai’s appeal, besides the influence of cinema, especially  internationally successful films such as ‘Kickboxer’ starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Rituals

All Muay Thai fights start with the ‘Wai Kru’ and ‘Ram Muay’, very important parts of the sport. Wai Kru is a ritual performed before each fight during which a fighter will circle the ring three times and then bow down in the middle of the ring to ask protection for him or herself and the other fighter, and for an honorable fight. The fighters will then perform the Ram Muay, which is a personal ritual, in which each fighter demonstrates his or her prowess to the audience and the opponent.

Music is another essential part of a Muay Thai fight, with drums, flutes and cymbals all adding to the excitement, drama and spectacle of the fight.

Before padded gloves and boxing rings came into the sport, Muay Thai fighters would wrap their hands in cotton or rope and fights would take place on the ground, with a rope laid out in a circle to mark the ring’s boundaries.

Training

Muay Thai fighters are accomplished athletes, following a training programme that has not really changed over the years. That said, today’s competitors are more likely to practice their kicks on a heavy bag rather than a banana tree trunk (although there are some Muay Thai gyms that still use the old training methods). 

Fighters’ training is brutal. They start at 6am every morning with a run of between four and eight kilometres. Then it’s back to the gym for the morning session, which mainly consists of cardio and shadow boxing. That’s followed by breakfast and rest before the late morning session of jump rope, more shadow boxing, pad work with the trainer, heavy bag work, 5 – 10 rounds of sparring and then abdominal work.

Most fighters will rest during the afternoon in preparation for the evening training session,

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In Phuket and Koh Samui, Where Elephants Can Just Be Themselves

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Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, Elephant Whisperer and founder of the Save Elephant Foundation has devoted her life to rescuing and rehabilitating working elephants. Having launched the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai to international acclaim in 1996, Lek has now co-founded similar parks in Phuket and Koh Samui. These ethical elephant sanctuaries make a fascinating and educational day out.

The mission of the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary and Samui Elephant Sanctuary is to meet the highest standards in animal welfare and educate elephant camp owners and tourists on how to treat and respect the majestic elephant – Thailand’s national symbol.

Visitors to these sanctuaries won’t be invited to ride on the elephants’ backs, watch them do tricks, hug or bathe them – all activities that are damaging and stressful for the animals. Rather, visitors will be encouraged to simply observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat where they can just be themselves. Observation platforms overlook natural pools where visitors can watch the elephants splashing each other and covering themselves in cooling mud; open fields and jungle-covered hillsides provide plenty of space for elephant play and socializing.  

Both sanctuaries offer morning and afternoon programmes that start with video presentations to inform visitors about what to expect from their elephant encounters and explain a little about the elephants’ stories and why they so badly need protection. You will get up close and personal with the magnificent residents during their breakfast and dinner times, when you can help feed them a healthy diet of fresh fruit. In between, there’s plenty of time just to watch the elephants at play and marvel at their intelligence and grace. Both half-day sessions include a tasty Thai buffet and transfers to and from the sanctuaries. It is important to book your session in advance as neither of the sanctuaries accepts visitors outside the set programme times or who arrive without prior bookings.

 

Introducing the elephants

At Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, where the elephants can roam freely over 30 acres, you’ll make friends with Richy, Tong Kwaw, Baan Yen, Jan Jao, Gaew Ta, Madee, Kannika and Dok Gaew. All of these extraordinary elephants more than deserve their peaceful retirement – some are more than 70 years old!

At Samui Elephant Sanctuary,

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Escape the Crowds, Head to Sanur

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Escape the crowds and head to Sanur for your next Balinese vacation. A beautiful seaside town in southeast Bali, Sanur is peaceful and laidback, unlike the congested parts of the island. It is favoured by the sophisticated crowd, especially families seeking a peaceful sojourn. Expect a slower pace of life here, with traditional fishing boats dotting the gorgeous coastline and restaurants with tables on the sand.

Home to long-term expats who moved here in the 1930s, the area retains a bohemian vibe lent to it by its artistic residents. Pick from the choicest of elite havens located here, a task tougher than it seems. Villa Batujimbar, for example, is the very same nine-bedroom ravishing beachfront villa where Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall tied the knot, and Princess Diana retreated from public glare.

On the other hand, Villa Cemara was designed by acclaimed Balinese architect Popo Danes, and is distinctive with its cluster of alang-alang thatched pavilions and absolute beachfront location. While the villas on the west coast scramble for a pinch of beachfront land, sprawling Villa Puri Nirwana is all about palatial living and intimate beach weddings, with ample accommodation for up to 20 guests.

If Sanur’s restained peacefulness wasn’t enough, here are other compelling reasons why you should choose Sanur when vacationing in Bali:

Golden sands

Sanur Beach is a long stretch of golden coastline, perfect for leisurely sunrise walks and getting that enviable tan. The seemingly never-ending, breezy beach promenade lures joggers, while the relatively gentle ocean swell offers the opportunity for a swim in the sea. The soft sands of Sanur Beach are pale gold, shimmering and pure. We love Cemara Beach and Sindhu Beach for their relaxed atmosphere and wide sand beds, and Mertasari Beach remains popular with locals for Sunday picnics.

Gourmet paradise

There’s nothing like being pampered with delicious fare in the comfort of your villa. While staying at an elite haven, all your gourmet needs are taken care of by the villa chef and the villa staff. However, for a change of scene, you can always head out for a sundowner at Maya Tree Bar or Artotel Beach Club, an exciting art-inspired playground for adults.

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Get Ready to Be Wowed at Cape Yamu, Phuket

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If you are seeking tranquillity, seclusion and endless sea views, consider planning your next holiday at Cape Yamu, Phuket. This remote peninsula is located on the eastern side of the island, overlooking the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. Cape Yamu is both topographically and metaphorically a cut above other popular tourist spots in Phuket. While it has evolved from a predominantly fishing and farming community, Cape Yamu remains set against a breathtaking and diverse natural environment peppered with traditional villages enclosed within rubber, coconut and cashew plantations. It is now considered an exclusive holiday destination unashamedly preferred by those seeking a unique and luxurious holiday experience.  

Cape Yamu is home to a variety of elite havens, and each luxurious holiday home boasts sensational sea views, attentive staff and finely appointed amenities. Whichever haven you choose, you are assured of the very highest level of service, and exclusive access to the Elite Concierge, to organise day trips, excursions, transport and everything in between.

Here are top three reasons you should pick Cape Yamu for your next Thailand holiday:

World-Class Dining

When you stay at an elite haven, you have access to personal chefs who have been trained in some of the best professional kitchens in the country. Your villa chef will be happy to stir up a delicious meal for your entire group. From Thai specialities to International favourites, each dish will have you craving for more. However, if you wish for a change of scene, you are spoilt for choice too. Catering to globe-trotting travellers, the east coast has a classy dining scene.  Nahmyaa Thai Restaurant, at COMO Point Yamu Resort, boasts of localised favourites with a healthy twist. Seafood lovers will love everything on the menu at Laem Hin Seafood, which offers flavourful Thai dishes, to be enjoyed against the backdrop of sea views that extend till Coconut Island. If you want to be adventurous, hop aboard a long-tail boat and dine at one of the floating restaurants just offshore.

Yachting Adventures

Ask the Elite Concierge to organise a yacht or speedboat for your group and head out into the deep blue. Phang Nga Bay, often featured in movies and shows, is famous for little limestone cliff islands, mangrove forests and floating villages.

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