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Crowd-pleasing villa rentals and wisdom for worry-free holidays with kids

An Amazing Thai Christmas For You and Your Whole Family

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families/Recreation by

How do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year? Imagine idyllic beaches, gentle sea breeze, swaying palm trees, and gourmet dining. Add to that, a touch of culture with traditional Thai dances and stunning views that reach for the horizon. A stress-free holiday where you can laze in bed until noon and lounge under the sun all day. Beach volleyball, a swim in the pool and sunset cocktails to end the day. Do we have your attention? You can have all this, and more, if you head to an elite haven in Thailand this Christmas.

 No more sweating it out in the kitchen to prepare a Christmas meal. Sit back as your villa chef arranges the most exquisite feast. Wine and dine with your nearest and dearest, and say cheers to ending the year on a high note. You’ll want for nothing in Thailand.

Phuket

If you decide to go to Phuket for the holidays, Baan Paa Talee is a magnificent and modern estate set on top of a cliff. The villa can fit up to 20 guests and there is a wealth of activities you can do nearby, including exploring the Andaman Sea aboard a luxury yacht charter, scuba diving or snorkelling to explore the enchanting underwater world. The beautiful sights of Phang Nga Bay, Raya Islands, Similan Islands, Koh Phi Phi and more are all within a day’s sail. You can delve into Phuket’s decadent brunches, DJ dance parties and romantic sunset dinners or discover the rich history and get a glimpse of local life on a cultural tour of Phuket Old Town.

Or if you prefer, you can simply stay in the villa and enjoy the dining room which can accommodate up to 20 guests, play a game on the pool table in the games area, have a karaoke party and or just lounge at the bar by the pool deck. Events with up to 80 guests can be arranged, so get your Christmas party-planning on. Make it a trip to remember.

If you’re looking for a cosy villa by the ocean for your Christmas holiday, try Villa Malee Sai. Discover the true meaning of Christmas as you spend time with your family or friends in this private and charming villa.

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Have an Unforgettable Christmas in Bali

in Destinations/Dining/Families/Recreation by

It’s that time of the year again: contemplating where to spend the year-end holidays, vaguely thinking about your list of presents, wondering what kind of Christmas gathering you’ll have. Do you repeat everything on the menu from last year? What decor should you have this year? Aren’t you just bored with doing the same old thing? Thinking of where to have Christmas dinner – where it isn’t booked solid? Sound familiar? Wouldn’t you rather be somewhere where all these errands could be taken care of, leaving you free to enjoy quality time with your loved ones? A villa vacation in Bali is your best bet, and we have handpicked incredible elite havens for you to choose from.

It’s time to party

Spending Christmas with friends? With personal plunge pools, world-class entertainment systems, private chefs to set up a delicious Christmas barbecue and staff to mix exotic cocktails, these villas promise an unforgettable party for you and your group.

At Villa Asada, away from the crowds of Bali, you are ushered into a well-kept secret that will amaze you. The large four-bedroom villa overlooks calm blue waters, with sea views that will make you swoon. The villa provides you with nothing but the very best, including an 18-metre pool, a gym to work off those holiday calories, a bar for sipping cocktails and the option to dine alfresco under frangipanis. If you want to dress up and don your favourite little black dress, you can opt for a more formal soiree in the dining hall. The choice is yours. Best of all, Western, Asian and vegetarian dishes as well as kids’ meals are available throughout your stay. Ask your personal chef to create a Christmas feast like none other, and he will be only too happy to oblige.

Kaba Kaba Estate welcomes you into its grand, open living room, which has a wall adorned with precious objects d’art and antiques that look towards a humongous swimming pool with dark gray tiles. The main entrance is filled with cabinets and curiosities from around the world, including a giant female Buddha, a welcoming bench and a staircase leading upstairs. The estate is large enough to accommodate up to 14 adults and four children, so don’t hold back those invitations. An added bonus is the large garden,

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Paradise on Natai Beach

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Natai Beach is a quiet and peaceful 10-kilometre stretch of white sand with an attractive blend of unspoilt nature and stunning luxury villas. Situated in Phang Nga province, only 25 minutes away from Phuket Airport, Natai Beach is the perfect place to escape the crowds and discover the soft sand and lush landscapes of the less-traveled Andaman coast.

There are only a few facilities to be found on Natai Beach – it is not your normal tourist beach. There are no wandering peddlers, no beach chairs or umbrellas – only a random beach massage cabana and some long tailboats. There is nothing except the sun, sea, and sand – and these are the reasons why this destination is perfect for a stay in a beachfront villa.

There are also some fantastic activities and attractions that are within a short distance of Natai Beach if you are willing to put your cocktail down and head out of your villa.

Phang Nga Bay Viewpoint

The sunsets from Natai Beach are great, but the sunrise over the limestone casts of Phang Nga Bay are spectacular. The recently discovered Samet Nangshe viewpoint is 25 minutes away from and it’s well worth an early start to watch the sunrise. It’s not as popular as many of the viewpoints in Phuket so it isn’t crowded. It is becoming a popular place for photographers who want to capture the perfect sunrise. The clear night skies with millions of stars are not too bad either.

Sarasin Bridge

Sarasin Bridge connects the mainland of Phuket and Phang Nga and is known as one of the most beautiful bridges in Thailand. It has a very interesting history: it is named after Pote Sarasin, former Prime Minister of Thailand, but it is best known for an unforgettable tragedy. In 1973, two young lovers, one from a wealthy family and one from a poor family, jumped off the bridge and took their own lives. The story is this: the family of K. Gew, a girl from a wealthy family, forbade her from seeing K.Dam, a local bus driver. They tied themselves together and jumped. A Thai movie about the lovers, The Bridge of Love, was released in 1987.

Views from the bridge are beautiful,

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Fabulous Fun on Father’s Day

in Destinations/Families/Recreation by

He’s the one who took you to the doctor when you fell off your bike; and the one who taught you how to ride it in the first place. He hugged you tight whether or not you got As, and didn’t mind the mess in your room. He picked you up from your first dance party and opined that nobody was good enough for you. Through it all, you counted on him for the best advise and unwavering support. He will always be special, and gifts or words in praise will never be enough.

But there’s something you can do to bring a smile to his face. Surprise him with an unforgettable trip, a holiday of a lifetime. A vacation for the family, away from daily life, where you all can sit around in the evening, chatting up a storm or where he can relax and relive his youth playing with grown-up toys.

We have curated a handpicked list of vacation homes ideal for a Father’s Day getaway, or even just a trip to treat him to the one thing he values the most – quality time with family.

Bali

Pool fun is on the cards at Villa Malaathina, where a large swimming pool sits in the centre of the spacious grounds. Flat-roofed designs accentuate the villa’s special features: a bale by the pool which contains a dining area, a teppanyaki pavilion and a sunset terrace on which three large chairs shaped like giant chocolate Kisses rest. Dad will love the barbecue area and the ready-to-go Bose and Sonos sound systems. Villa Malaathina is in the Umalas region – a blissful rural area in Bali. But Seminyak is only 15 minutes away, where you will find fabulous restaurants, bars and spas.

Nearby, also in the Umalas region, Villa Umah Daun sits overlooking some rice terraces. Indonesian for ‘leaf house’, Villa Umah Daun has five large bedroom suites, a series of pavilions and gorgeous bowed roofs. The living pavilions, containing the dining area and living room, curve around the swimming pool in a charming fashion. Dad will love the relaxed vibe, the villa’s modern design and family appeal. There’s also a tree house, games room, kids’ wading pool and jacuzzi for unlimited fun. Best of all is the climate-controlled wine room;

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A Delicious Tale of Cooking, Learning and Feasting in Koh Samui

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families by

It was a dinner to end all dinners – the perfect introduction to authentic Thai food, served with panache.

It began when our professional dinner host, Joe Sambataro , an American by way of Argentina, taught us how to make cocktails that would keep us happy for the rest of the evening. We started off by grinding limes using a muddler, a contraption resembling a mortar and pestle. “So, we just push and twist and get the juice out. But don’t push too hard because if you do that, you’ll break the skin and that will make your lime juice bitter. So think about something that makes you mad but not too mad, haha,” quipped Joe. We each got to choose our drinks; mine had rum and mango and tasted like a sunny day at the beach.

Joe then asked us how spicy we wanted our dishes to be. “Can I get a show of hands, who likes spicy food? Who likes mildly spicy food? Who doesn’t like spicy food at all?” he asked. “Do you know the best way to communicate your preferences to the staff at a restaurant? I’m going to help you out here. I’m going to teach you some very important phrases that will come in handy. If you don’t like spicy food, you should order your food ‘mai phet’ which means not spicy. Don’t forget to copy my rising intonation! That’s very important!

And if you are okay with a little bit of spice, you can say ‘phet nit noy’ which means mildly spicy. If you want your food medium spicy, you can say ‘kon kaang phet’. And if you like your food very, very spicy, you can order your food ‘phet maak maak’ which loosely translates as spicy very very.” He also cautioned us when we were making our own sauce, “With Thai chilies, take it easy. If you don’t like spice, don’t add spice. If you like a little bit of spice, start with two pieces and try it first. If you like mild, go with four. If you like a whole lot, add as much as you want, but just remember today it’s all fun, but tomorrow, ring of fire!” he added cheekily.

The dinner commenced with three starters, based on traditional Thai recipes.

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