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Everything we love about our exclusive luxury holiday rentals

Chef du jour: Villa Ban Suriya

in Destinations/Dining by

A huge wooden deck nestling a lavish swimming pool and spilling out onto the palm-shaded garden is the focal point of the absolute beachfront Villa Ban Suriya, located along Lipa Noi Beach in Koh Samui. Each of the six elegant bedrooms has large glass doors, leading onto the pool deck or lawned gardens. The villa features lavish living spaces, both within the air-conditioned pavilions and outdoors, surrounded by tropical beauty.

Guests at Villa Ban Suriya are spoilt for choice, with their own gym, a spa room, an astonishing sunken library which allows underwater views into the large infinity-edge pool, and an outdoor projector screen for movie nights. It’s the perfect villa for swimming the day away and counting the stars in the evening–making for a luxurious and relaxing  vacation in paradise.

We sat down with the villa’s Chef Max, who told us a bit about his culinary journey.

Elite Havens: Hi Chef Max, do you helm the kitchen here at Ban Suriya?

Chef Max: We have five chefs who rotate between nine villas, so I have to move around.

EH: What do you like to cook?

CM: I like cooking Thai food. But many chefs here specialise in Thai food, so I try to be different. If you really ask me what I like to make—it would be sushi, which also happens to be one of my favourite foods.  I used to work in a Thai restaurant, but they offered sushi on their menu.

EH: For how long did you work there?

CM: I worked in the restaurant for five years, but I was the one in charge of sushi for three years.

EH: Tell us about your culinary journey before you joined the restaurant.

CM: My journey is unique as I was a private chef with a Russian family and lived around the world.

EH: Where did you stay?

CM: They have homes in Cypress, Austria, Moscow, and they also have a villa in Thailand. So, I would follow them around and got to stay in so many countries around the world.

EH: That sounds intriguing. What did they like to eat?

CM: My sushi was their absolute favourite thing to eat.

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Keep Fit with Elite Havens’ In-villa Personal Trainers

in Destinations/Wellness by

Do you wish you could have it all: great food, binge nights, and none of the weight gain? When you indulge in a fantastic holiday at one of our elite havens in Bali, we can assure that you leave your villa without any extra pounds. Just arrange for one of our in-villa personal trainers and work off those vacation calories. Say hello to a few of our best trainers on the island, highly recommended by our expert Concierge team.

ELITE HAVENS TRAINERS
FIKRY

Firky is your man when you want to keep up your fitness routine while on holiday. It goes without saying that overeating, drinking and all-round indulgence can take a toll on your waistline.

Fikry, our in-house personal trainer, will come to you so there is no need to leave your luxury villa. He is a qualified Muay Thai coach and offers a variety of different training options including boxing, bootcamp, TRX and circuit-style along with specialised and bespoke weight loss programs. He’ll bring all necessary equipment with him and if you have the advantage of staying in one of our villas which has an onsite gym, he can plan your personalised routine basis the equipment available.

KOMANG

Our internationally qualified yoga and healing practitioner, Komang is highly skilled and has taught around the world. She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table and specialises in combining spiritual healing techniques with physical fitness.

Komang teaches a range of classes- vinyasa flow, hatha, chakra, power yin and yang, as well as aqua yoga, for all skill levels. She also offers alternative healing sessions such as chakra balancing and Balinese blessing and cleansing ceremonies.

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Chef du jour: Villa Minh

in Destinations/Dining by

Designed by Paris-based architect Arte Charpentier, Villa Minh is a six-bedroom villa with breathtaking ocean views. Many of Phuket’s sights are within easy reach, just between the Kamala and Patong beaches. Perched on a hillside, Minh has been built to preserve its gorgeous coastal setting.

The bedrooms are magnificently decorated and connected both by stairs and a lift. The villa’s lavish living areas are accentuated by art and antiques. The 17.5 metre pool with built-in jacuzzi is illuminated by the beautiful night sky. You’ll want to restore your senses in the spa room and luxuriate in the wonderful living pavilions. 

Villa Minh is perfect for entertaining, whether for a casual barbecue or a formal dinner. We sat down with Chef Thietan to get a glimpse into what goes on in the kitchen.

Elite Havens:  Hi, Chef, can you tell me what you’re currently making?

Chef El: Spicy Pomelo Salad. We will also make Panang Curry. Chili paste is very important for Panang Curry and we make chili paste too. 

EH: Please tell me about yourself.

CE: I am El and I am the chef of Villa Minh.

EH: How long have you been cooking?

CE: For 15 years.

EH: How did you start cooking?

CE: At first, I was not a chef.  I used to help the chef in food preparation and presentation and that’s how I learned to cook.

EH: And how did you become the chef here?

CE: A friend recommended me.

EH: And what do you love to cook? Is there a particular dish that you love to cook?

CE: Pad Thai. I’ve received a lot of compliments from my guests. They say my Pad Thai is not too spicy and it is unique.

EH: Ok. And what else do you like to cook?

CE: Pineapple fried rice. I like to put in a lot of ingredients so there’s a combination of sour, sweet and spicy flavors. That is a typical traditional Thai flavor combination. Some of the other chefs adjust the taste for foreigners. I like to stick to the authentic taste. But I can adjust the spice level for our foreign guests.

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Thai Food, A Fabulous Fusion of Flavours

in Culture/Destinations/Dining by

Food is so central to Thai culture that in Thailand you’re more likely to be greeted with this phrase, which means “Have you eaten yet?” than with a “How are you today?”

In fact, Gin Khao Yung? literally translates to ‘Have you eaten rice yet?’ In Thai cuisine, as in many Asian countries, rice is considered to be such an important part of the diet that it is a synonym for food generally.

Aromatic, full of variety and always beautifully presented, Thai cuisine appeals to all tastes with its harmonious balance of the four fundamental flavours: salty, sweet, sour and spicy. Each region of Thailand has its own food specialties and style, influenced by the country it borders – so northern Thai food will share similarities with Laos and Myanmar, while the rich coconut-flavoured curries of the south borrow from Malaysian dishes. Add to this the culinary heritage of the Chinese, Indian and European settlers who have had their own influences over the centuries, and modern-day Thai cuisine is a true melting pot of flavour and deliciousness.

True Phuket cuisine – which can be hard to seek out among the better-known dishes such as Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles) and Som Tam (green papaya salad) – is possibly one of the most extreme examples of this fusion of styles. Heavily influenced by Chinese Hokkien, Malaysian and Indonesian foods, as well as Khmer cuisine from Cambodia, flavours are rich, complex and fiery, but also light, elegant and restrained.

This curious mix of flavours can take a bit of getting used to, but are certainly worth investigating. In essence, the further south you go, the more predominant ‘spicy’ becomes. In the South, a dish that isn’t spicy will be considered bland ‘Deeruang‘. South Thailand cuisine also has a strong emphasis on seafood with its proximity to the Gulf of Siam and the Andaman Sea.

In Thailand, sharing food is a reason to celebrate. Eating together is incorporated into many social and religious occasions. Indeed, many Thais believe that eating alone is bad luck. And by the end of a meal every last grain of rice should be eaten, as throwing away food is also considered bad luck, likely to enrage Mae Phosop, the Thai Goddess of rice.

Meals in Thailand are generally eaten family-style,

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Thai Massage in Phuket: Reviving the Body and Soul

in Destinations/Wellness by
Thai massage at Villa Amanzi in Phuket

Phuket is known for its hedonistic holiday pleasures – beach club parties, sunset cocktails, luxury yacht cruises, seafood feasts and the like. Alongside these carefree pursuits there are a growing number of places for self-care, where travellers can heal their bodies and revive their souls while on a Phuket holiday. Yoga studios, intensive martial arts training, detox/diet centres, fitness boot camps and meditation retreats are just some of the restorative activities on offer. None is as prevalent in Phuket as the age-old healing art of traditional Thai massage. 

Traditional Thai massage

Thai massage (also called assisted yoga massage) is a vigorous treatment by which your body is moved and manipulated in a series of bends, stretches, lifts and acupressure compressions to stimulate energy flow and restore balance.

WHAT TO EXPECT: During a Thai massage, no massage oils or lotions are used. Loose-fitting clothing is worn during the treatment, which was traditionally carried out on a low bed or mattress on the floor. These days, however, massage atop a massage table, spa bed or sun lounger is more common throughout Thailand.

TECHNIQUES: Experienced therapists have incredibly strong hands, and they also use their elbows and knees to apply pressure at various points along your body. A Thai massage session can also include cracking of the joints and neck and pulling the limbs.

BENEFITS: By the end of a one- or two-hour treatment, you’ll feel completely invigorated from head to toe. Given that some of the techniques can be rather forceful, be sure to talk with the therapist first, especially if you have any injuries or chronic pains that need to be handled with extra care.

Villa Napalai Surin - Massage Room

The principle behind Thai massage is that life is sustained by a vital force, ‘lom’, that is circulated through the body along invisible pathways called ‘sen’. When these pathways are blocked it leads to illness, fatigue and imbalance. Thai massage is believed to help unblock the pathways and stimulate the flow of lom, thus restoring the body back to health and vitality.

Thai massage is an integral part of traditional Thai medicine, with techniques that have been passed down through the generations for more than 2,000 years.

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