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

Mammoth Fun in Exotic Phuket

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Phuket has long been known for its vibrant nightlife and unparalleled party-scene. But there is another side to the island that few take the time to discover. With lush rainforests climbing over mountains and spilling onto white-sand beaches, Phuket holds treasures just waiting to be discovered.

On your next trip here, why not leave aside the tickmarked must-do list and go beyond the obvious? Discover the Phuket that few know, a land that takes time to open up to strangers like a shy neighbour. But when it does, you will be enamoured by the experiences it holds.

“Phuket island offers so much more than stunning beaches, amazing sunrise and sunsets,” shares Femke Beekers, Elite Havens Country Head, Thailand. “Let us take you to a deserted island nearby to discover the mysterious underwater world, or allow us to showcase the different cultures on the island, visiting the amazing melt of our Buddhist, Chinese descent and Muslim tribes. Phuket has so much to offer, this merely scratches the surface.”

 

One of the most memorable things you can do on the island is plan a visit to Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. The first and only ethical elephant sanctuary in Paklok, Phuket, it is a haven for elephants who have done their time in the logging trade or as part of the elephant trekking industry. Take a peek into the tough lives that these gentle beasts have led, often mistreated and denied basic rights and care. It is an eye-opener, to be exposed to their side of the story. Majestic animals that belong in the jungle, and not in towns, treated as a prop or an attraction.

At Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, these retired and rescued elephants can live in their natural habitat and are treated with the utmost respect. It was founded as a partnership between Mr. Montri Todtane, ex-owner of an elephant camp in Phuket; world-renowned elephant rescuer and conservationist Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation; and Louise Rogerson, founder of EARS Asia.

Choose between the morning program or the afternoon program, where you can observe these grand animals from a respectful distance. Sit in the strategically placed observation salas and witness the elephants go about their natural daily routine –

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Verdant Landscapes, Rolling Hills and Rice Terraces in Bali’s Tabanan Region

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families/Recreation by

Verdant landscapes, rolling hills and endless rice terraces characterise Bali’s Tabanan region. This off-the-beaten-track area is nature-rich and rife with discoveries to be made. Ancient temples, towering mountains and even a UNESCO World Heritage Site are all part of this lush territory. Deserted beaches abound, offering fabulous surf, minus the jostling crowds.

The Tantalizing Tabanan Tour

Our Elite Concierge has curated a spectacular tour of Tabanan, offered gratis to guests staying in select villas in the region. Take a trip down the path less trodden, where adventure and the pleasure of seeking out the new take centre stage. We give you a guided tour through astounding greenery that will take your breath away. Drive all the way up steep hills to the highest peaks, to experience the best views and  the most wondrous sights. “Holiday time is precious as well as limited, so we want to ensure guests embarking on our curated tours really get to experience the best the region has to offer,” says Andy Grant, Elite Havens’ Head of Concierge.

Marvel at Batukaru Temple

A private vehicle with your own personal guide will pick you up from your villa and take you to the Batukaru Temple. Situated at the foot of Mount Batukaru, the temple also has a freshwater spring in the main courtyard that serves as a water source for prayers and ceremonies. As a special gesture from Elite Havens, you may experience a spiritual water blessing at the temple.

Since the 11th century, Balinese Hindus have considered the mysterious site sacred. Often misty due to its elevation, it has an altitude of 2,270m above sea level, the second highest peak in Bali after Mount Agung. It is surrounded by natural forests and is equally perfect for breathing in spirituality and blessings, as it is for Instagram-worthy photo ops. “With the most stunning scenery, for me the regency of Tabanan gives a true sense of authentic, rural Bali,” adds Andy.

Explore Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are one of the tour’s highlights. The paddies fall in a rush, down steep hills, and are surrounded by troughs of water. The area is a draw for the athletically-inclined,

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A Haven for Muslim Tourists: 8 Reasons Why Elite Havens Should Be Your Next Holiday Destination

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families/Recreation by

The world is a place filled with wonder for curious people. Despite the role played by the internet in exposing us to the diverse places and cultures of the world, there are gems that people still long to visit and experience for themselves; at least I know I do!

As a Muslim, it can sometimes be a struggle to find an ideal holiday destination, whether solo or with family. More often than not, there is search to be done and extra measures to be taken to ensure that everything goes well and within the traditions of Islam. It wouldn’t really spoil the holiday, but it sure can be tedious work a burden I’d like be relieved of, don’t you just agree? At Elite Havens, I found all my answers.

Serenity and Spirituality Define Elite Havens Villas

Reflecting on my stay at an Elite Haven, two main points come to mind: serenity and spirituality. Wherever you turn your head, you can find picturesque beaches, mountains and even rainforests. Imagine how divine and high-spirited it would be, to watch the sun rising from a clifftop or while strolling across the beach. I get goosebumps merely taking a stroll down those memories!

Why Elite Havens Has a Wide Selection of Destinations Catering to Muslim Travellers
Free of culture shock – Muslim staff members catering to your needs

Small details make a huge difference. We were particularly surprised and equally appreciative when the concierge demonstrated to us which way to face when praying. This tiny action may not seem significant, but it was actually very touching and made our day.

Nearby Mosques – Pray and explore the city

If you choose villas located in Indonesia or Thailand, you can pray in mosques, alongside the local people. Interacting with locals can be the highlight of your trip. They are the ones to best guide you on the wonders of the town.

Make yourself at home with complete privacy

You will find comfort in the privacy of your own personal villa. In any haven you choose to stay at, not only do you have a private pool, but also gorgeous views, be it the beach, a mountainous scene or even a rainforest. If you’re looking for some alone-time to reflect and breathe in the nature,

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Surf, Sand and Serenity in Undiscovered Lombok

in Destinations/Families/Recreation by

In a world cluttered with tourist spots and travellers zigzagging across the globe, ticking off dog-eared bucket lists, the inevitable crowds and chatter follow you wherever you go. Isn’t it wonderful, when unexpectedly you stumble upon a hidden paradise – a quiet haven overlooked by the zealous crowds.

Located right next to Bali, Lombok is nothing like its neighbour. Or should we say, it is nothing like what Bali is today. Lombok is the Bali of 40 years ago, a tale of pristine beaches, uncrowded waves and quaint rural villages.

Here’s a thought – for your next vacation, why not do something different? Leave behind the red hot tourist spots and head to undiscovered Lombok, a gorgeous island thankfully forgotten by the world at large. Find yourself in the lap of nature, with lush green hills, champagne sand beaches and surprisingly good food, a destination that doesn’t bother with pretences.

While searching for the perfect Elite Haven, you are spoilt for choice. Sira Beach House offers barefoot holiday bliss amongst coconut groves and white sands while The Anandita has tropical baths and a golf course next door. Perfect for large groups with children, Villa Sapi is contemporary and chic, with three swimming pools, a tennis court and a glass-roofed building (yes, you read that right). For a traditional touch, choose Villa Sepoi Sepoi with its thatched roofs and enticing spaces such as open-sided pavilions and a poolside cabana bar.

Whichever haven you pick for your island escape, our Elite Concierge is on-hand to offer advice and help make this a holiday to remember. “From setting up a sunset barbecue on the beach to a picnic by the gorgeous Sinang Gili Waterfall with gourmet hampers and sparkling wine, we go the extra mile to make each day during your holiday count,” promises Andy Grant, Head of Concierge. An early morning boat trip for snorkelling around the Gili Islands or a cooking class coupled with a market visit. No ask is too big for the Concierge team and it really is the culmination of these experiences that will make your Lombok escape a ‘dream holiday’.     

Book any of these luxurious villas for stay anytime from now until 14th December,

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Chef du jour: Villa Amarelo

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At Elite Havens, each villa’s menu showcases an extensive range of Asian and western delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own specialties that shouldn’t be missed. 

The stylish six-bedroom escape Villa Amarelo, part of the Sava Beach Villas estate, seamlessly melts into the white sands of Natai Beach, less than half an hour’s drive north of Phuket airport. Featuring a 25-metre pool, a garden gazebo, private chef and large indoor and outdoor living areas, Villa Amarelo makes for a memorable holiday and wedding destination on the shores of the Andaman Sea, the ideal spot for a family holiday, dream wedding or group soiree.

In the kitchen at Villa Amarelo, which has stunning views of the swimming pool and the beautiful Natai Beach, Chef Lek cooks up a traditional Thai starter Goong Sarong, ‘wrapped prawns’. It looks great and tastes even better.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Lek: I worked as a housekeeping attendant at Villa Saanti, but the villa didn’t provide a chef. Therefore, I needed to learn cooking to help out the owner. Later on, I worked as a comis chef at Akyra Hotel for a year and a half. There, I learnt how to cook many kinds of western dishes.

EH: What do you think makes a good cook?

CL: Ensuring that all the ingredients are fresh and of good quality. A good eye for detail and being able to adapt to different styles and requests from guests.

EH: What did you cook for us today?

CL: Goong Sarong, which is whole prawns wrapped in rice noodles.

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us?

CL: Thailand, especially the south, produces amazing fresh seafood, and the prawns are a must-try if you visit Phuket. Local prawns and local Phuket noodles together make a great-tasting and wonderful-looking dish.

EH: What is your specialty dish or the flavors you like to cook with?

CL: I love local Southern Thai food. It has such amazing flavors. I really love to cook Southern Thai Red Curry with beef.

EH: Can you tell us how your cooking adds to the villa?

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