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Elite Talk with Country Manager Femke Beekers

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Elite Havens’ Country Manager for Thailand, Femke Beekers fell in love with the country while on vacation. So much so, that in 2000 she decided to move halfway across the world and build a life there. Fast forward to today, she has now been a resident for 19 years, the first 10 of which were spent in Koh Samui, working in the hospitality industry. New job opportunities brought her to Phuket, and for the past three years, Femke has been managing the Thailand operations of Elite Havens as Country Manager. In her free time, Femke likes to practise yoga, hang out at the beach with her family and friends, and experience all the fabulous things Phuket has to offer. We asked her about some of her favourite spots on the island she now calls home, Phuket.

Elite Havens: Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for Elite Havens.

FB: Ever since I finished school, I have been working in the travel and hospitality industry. Come to think of it, that amounts to more than 25 years. I worked with travel agencies in Europe and later, moved to Thailand to manage several luxury resorts in Samui and Phuket.

I am currently the Country Head of Thailand for Elite Havens, a position I have held for the past three years, developing our destinations and business in the region, with my colleagues Andy and Milos.

EH: How difficult was the transition from hotels to luxury villas? Was it very different from your previous role?

FB: The role itself is quite similar, overseeing the entire operation and the different teams, ensuring the processes run smoothly, which is what I do countrywide for Elite Havens now. However, when you are running a hotel, the rooms and facilities follow a common style, and are all contained within one location. With villas, each property and location is unique and caters to a different audience. Moreover, personalised service provided by Elite Concierge to the guests makes every single stay a unique experience.

EH: What do your daily duties as Thailand Country Head include? Do you deal a lot with the owners? With clients?

FB: Most of the day goes into day-to-day operations.

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Treat Professional Burnout and Recharge at Selofit

in Destinations/News/Recreation/Wellness by

Life is an endless loop of chasing the clock. Work, traffic, chores, to-do lists – one by one the stresses pile up and inevitably affect your mental framework and productivity levels. The only way to break the loop is to step out from the circle.

Reboot yourself by enrolling into Selofit, a Revitalisation Camp being held from 3-7 October 2019, at Selong Selo Resort & Residences, Lombok. The five-day camp has been especially designed for working professionals who need to recharge themselves and return with a renewed zest. Get back to the working world with a positive energy, and the ability to set new goals and achieve them with confidence.

Unlike a bootcamp or a yoga retreat, Selofit aims to instil a deep sense of well-being. The program has been built by Will Harvey, an experienced mind-body coach who likes to incorporate lifestyle changes and a change of mindset into your healthy living routine, to help you make a sustainable difference in your life. Expect an introduction to balanced nutrition, along with being taught empowering skills, all this supplemented with high intensity workouts.

“I played Australian football when I was younger,” shares Harvey. “That was my sport, I even represented Australia at the junior level. I’m an outdoorsy person and always wanted to help people get healthy and fit. As I evolved in the personal training business, I realised that fitness training alone wasn’t enough. You need a holistic approach. Your emotions affect your body, and thus your productivity. You can not just do one thing and ignore the other aspects, if you wish to optimise your health.”

Not your regular retreat, there’s plenty of fun and play at Selofit too. The package includes accommodation in a luxurious Selong Selo villa, which comes with your own private pool. Connect with nature as you gaze at the endless vistas, listening to the sound of crickets, a gentle tropical breeze blowing by. With a sense of being cut-off from the world, there couldn’t be a more befitting venue for this course.

Attendees of previously held Selofit Camps can’t stop talking about it. Nigel Hobler shares his experience, “The training and diet programme at Selofit were so well balanced. They were artfully combined with other activities, such as spearfishing and surfing.

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Journey to East Bali

in Culture/Destinations/Recreation by

Comedy genius Charlie Chaplin may have experienced a mystical and mysterious epiphany whilst in Bali, something which this island has been known to trigger among those seeking change. After his 1932 escape to Bali,the filmmaker transitioned from career crisis to his greatest era of movie making.

In the 1930’s the Hollywood legend was mired in anxiety about the arrival of ‘talkies’ – films that gave voice to previously silent movies. As the reigning king of silent movie comedy and pantomime, his place in the new world of filmmaking was all but assured.

After a European tour promoting his 1931 romantic comedy City Lights, he abandoned Hollywood and boarded a ship with his brother Sydney to ‘escape to Bali.’ Rare black and white footage of this trip captures a happy time with Chaplin exploring the unique island and her exotic performance art. Clearly fixed on dance, the brothers produced an intriguing film study of two girls performing the Legong Kupu Kupu Tarum (butterfly Legong dance) at Pura Samuan Tiga in Bedulu near Ubud.

Other footage of his escape to Bali shows a gleeful Chaplin engaging with the Balinese; dancing and mimicking movements to the high amusement of his new friends. Upbeat moments of feeding a monkey, sharing a joke and eating from a warung are caught in time.

in 2017, French documentary maker Raphaël Millet launched his exploration of the brothers’ visit in Chaplin in Bali, in which he uses Chaplin’s footage to tell the story of the actor and director’s self discovery in the island paradise. The historic archive is used to great effect and reveals first-hand Chaplin’s fascination with the complex and exceptional culture, exquisite dance and the arts of the island.

Importantly Millet suggests that Balinese orchestral sound and music helped to lead the artist to embrace the new technology that gave voice to films.

Four years after his trip to Bali, Chaplin went on to make his two most celebrated films; Modern Times – in which he sings a satirical song and then the controversial movie The Great Dictator.

While the impact that Bali had on Chaplin is considered to be profound,

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Enjoy Gastronomic Delights at Selong Selo

in Destinations/Dining by

Foodies and gastronomy aficionados are sure to have a great time at Selong Selo Resort & Residences in Lombok, which arguably has the best food on the island. The estate is built on the ethos of community-tourism and eco-friendly initiatives. It offers a slice of unadulterated paradise, and the chance to connect with oneself, amidst serenity and natural splendour, with a minimal eco-footprint.  

Selong Selo’s farm-to-table dining is an extension of this very ethos.  Seafood served here is freshly caught by local fishermen, and the local youth are offered food service training and career opportunities in the estate’s kitchen and restaurant. The founders of Selong Selo are keenly progressing in their vision and offering of a community food system.  This revolutionary approach allows the integration of production, processing, distribution and consumption as one, to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place.

The estate has a garden complete with its own chickens and its own organic farm, which grows vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, beans, kale, etc. They even have an herb garden with parsley, thyme and a wealth of other plants, herbs and spices. Because chemicals have been virtually eliminated from Selong Selo’s dining ethos, you can be assured of only the best produce and ingredients being used in the delicious food you are served. What’s more, your kids can also enjoy tours of the chicken and vegetable farms, to get close to nature and see how livestock and plants are grown.

If a gastronomic holiday with astounding sea views sounds like a great experience, you will love your stay at Selong Selo, where each private pool luxury villa comes with a fully equipped kitchen to create gourmet masterpieces. Don’t worry about ingredients. The butler is on-hand and can arrange for groceries to be delivered straight to your doorstep. Cooking made easy. 

There is a large variety of dining options in Selong Selo, so get going and enjoy the fresh, farm-to-table goodness.

Aura Lounge and Bar

The estate’s restaurant, Aura Lounge and Bar, which enjoys fabulous views from its hilltop location, serves delicious pizzas, sandwiches, pasta and main dishes. If you’re craving to try something more local, select one of the plates native to Lombok, like their sumptuous Nasi Goreng.

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Women’s International Tennis Singapore’s Charitable Initiatives

in News/People by

Women’s International Tennis Singapore (WITS) was founded in 2000 by Chris Clontz, to provide a daytime tennis league to ladies living in Singapore. They grew from an initial 150 players, to the 637 doubles and 63 singles players registered in Scoring 2019 Season.

 In 2017, WITS registered as a society in Singapore, with a constitution directing it to raise funds for chosen charities. WITS committee members are all volunteers, and donate their spare time and energy to various important causes.

For several years, WITS supported a children’s charity in Cambodia called Sunrise, and made it possible for the children to take tennis lessons and have access to rackets, balls and other tennis paraphernalia. In 2016, they decided to support charities in Singapore and chose Aidha, an organisation that helps empower expat women to manage their finances and start businesses in their home country.

As a registered society, WITS can only support one charity raffle per season. It now supports Aware as well. Aware helps women in Singapore through difficulties at home, by providing helplines, legal advice and support centres.

For the past few years, Elite Havens has supported WITS, offering a villa holiday, at a luxurious property that features tennis courts, for the end of season awards, held in June and November. This has enabled WITS to raise more money for their chosen charities, through raffle ticket sales for the villa prize. As teams have enjoyed the benefits of villa stays, many members are now loyal customers of Elite Havens, booking villas for their personal holidays as well.

In addition to the charity work, WITS is increasingly becoming more environment-friendly and has stopped production of paper waiver forms and rule books. They now only use the online version. WITS members are also trying to minimise usage of single-use plastics and plastic bags.

That is not all. Members are involved in a range of related philanthropic activities. Recently, Leighann Beevor – a key committee member in charge of the WITS Facebook page – initiated a large collection of used tennis balls, to ship to a children’s tennis academy in the Philippines. Another member, WITS committee registrar Tanja Tullberg, helps coach soundball students in Singapore. Soundball is tennis for the visually-impaired and Tullberg recently accompanied the Singapore team to Spain for the Soundball World Cup. 

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