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Serenity in the Land of Serendipity

in Wellness by

With its gentle coastline, swaying coconut palms and serene rural interior flavoured by paddy fields, rainforest, melodious temples and hills, Sri Lanka is a superb destination to relax and unwind. Indeed, the word ‘serendipity’, meaning “to discover that you’re where you need to be”, comes from an ancient name for Sri Lanka (Serendib). Need we say more?

The island’s south coast is particularly tranquil, and historic Galle Fort, famed for its magnificently preserved 17th century Dutch fortress and surrounding sandy beaches, is a prime location for a serene Sri Lankan holiday. Stay at Ambassador’s House or No. 39 Galle Fort, two luxury private villas that lie within the fort itself, or choose peaceful Villa Pooja Kanda, which is set in rural environs well away from the tourist crowds.

Staying in your own private villa in Sri Lanka has many advantages, not least that you have such luxurious surrounds all to yourself. Wake early and practise yoga on your terrace as the sun rises, or curl up on your veranda with a book and enjoy a dawn chorus of birdsong. Arrange for an in-villa massage from a spa therapist, or a private lesson with a yoga teacher. Fitness instructors can also come to the villa for personal training sessions. Your villa stay is enhanced by a staff team, including a chef, leaving you free to focus all of your energy on the important things in life: socialising, resting, rejuvenating and relaxing.

The ancient Indian healing system of Ayurveda is practised widely in Sri Lanka. It is one of the world’s oldest forms of medical science, which works at balancing the energies of mind, body and spirit and strengthening the immune system. Many of the spas in and around Galle offer Ayurvedic treatments. Although single treatments, such as herbal steam baths,

Many of the spas in and around Galle offer Ayurvedic treatments. Although single treatments, such as herbal steam baths, abhyanga (massages) and shirodhana (flow of oil onto the forehead) are all possible, Ayurveda works best however if treatments are combined into a personalised plan. Both Amangalla, in the Fort, and Jetwing Lighthouse hotel, a two-kilometre drive north of Galle, have resident Ayurvedic doctors offering consultations, packages and complete facilities.

For more familiar international spa and beauty treatments you could head to the Galle Fort Spa (great value) or the Z Spa at The Fort Bazaar hotel. 

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Celebrate the Year of the Rooster Phuket-style

in Recreation by

Head to Phuket to welcome in the Lunar New Year and be refreshed and invigorated in a gorgeous tropical island setting.

Phuket has a long history of migrant arrivals to its shores hoping for a better life, and its large Chinese-Thai communities descended from those long-ago fortune seekers still honour the traditions of their ancestral home. Though Chinese New Year is not a public holiday in Thailand, it’s one of the country’s most vibrant and colourful festivals. This coming year marks the Year of the Rooster, with most events taking place on and around January 28. Together with Bangkok’s Chinatown, Phuket is one of the main centres for Lunar New Year celebrations, with about one-third of its local population of Chinese heritage.

Phuket Town is the heart of the island’s Chinese community, and the streets here come alive with processions, street markets and performances throughout the festival. The Old Town’s colourful Sino-Portuguese buildings are adorned with strings of red lanterns, and families gather to sweep the old year out of their homes, prepare feasts to honour their ancestors and encourage a more auspicious year ahead.

Many Chinese Taoist shrines around Phuket Town including the beautifully restored Sang Tham shrine and the large Jui Tui shrine will be bustling with merry-makers and Thalang, Dibuk and Romannee roads will be closed to traffic in the evenings and transformed into walking street markets.

To learn more about Phuket’s bonds with China, be sure to visit the Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road with its excellent displays and photos tracing the journey and traditions of its Chinese community from the island’s heady tin mining days of the 1800s to the present.

Chinese New Year festivities also provide a good opportunity to explore the town’s new street art, which covers the walls of several buildings. Throughout 2016, graffiti artists from Thailand and around the world, including the whimsical Alex Face of Bangkok, were invited to unleash their spray-painting talents at numerous locations around town, adding even more colour and eye-catching images to the pastel-toned historic streets.

wat-chalong-fairAnother highly anticipated event during Chinese New Year in Phuket is the annual Wat Chalong Fair, a pulsating ten-day festival with local food, open-air markets, music and games at the island’s largest Buddhist temple, about eight kilometres south of Phuket Town.

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Detox, Rejuvenate, Repeat

in Wellness by

For some, the start of a new year is synonymous with change. A healthier lifestyle (not surprisingly) is usually at the top of the New Year’s resolution list. Let’s be honest, there is no quick fix to cleanse your body of all those 2016 toxins.

What you need are few small steps which can be easily implemented in your life – immediately. If you plan to spend a luxurious summer holiday in one of our villas in Bali, what kind of lifestyle changes can you make while you continue to enjoy your vacation?

1. Eat more vegetables and fruits

Bali is blessed with plenty of tropical fruits all year round. Take a stroll to the traditional markets (pasar in Indonesian) or supermarkets and you will easily find piles of bananas, oranges or avocados. To incorporate more vegetables and fruits in your diet, try to drink a glass of mixed juice with breakfast or eat a variety of fruits as an afternoon snack. It is a lot easier than you thought.

2. Hire a private yoga and meditation instructor

Have you always wanted to try yoga or meditation but don’t know where to start? Why not hire a private instructor. Not only a one-to-one session is a brilliant way to familiarise yourself with the techniques, you also receive a personalised guidance and get to practice in the comfort of your surroundings.

3. Move more

We all know the importance of exercising regularly. If the thought of running on a treadmill or hitting balls on the private tennis court is not your thing, there is always another fabulous option – the swimming pool. Jump into the inviting pool, swim few laps or just walk (yes, walk) in the pool. You don’t even have to break a sweat. Promise.  

4. Get spa treatments

From relaxing Balinese massages to deep-tissue massages, our in-house specialists will help you drift to serenity, engage your senses and relax your body with a variety of spa treatments – gentle body scrubs, mani-pedis, facials – a session within the privacy of your villa is guaranteed to rejuvenate you.  

5. Repeat all the above steps.
Where to stay to detox in Bali.

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A Mini Guide on Exploring Galle Fort

in Tips by

The city of Galle, on Sri Lanka’s idyllic southern coast, is home to one of the island’s best-preserved colonial fortresses. It is also one of the best examples of a European-built fortified city in south and south east Asia.

Dating back to the 16th century, and washed on three sides by the Indian Ocean, Galle Fort is a hybrid of Portuguese, Dutch and British design.

The fort is ringed by a series of bastions and walls constructed from lime and coral, and within these walls are some of Sri Lanka’s most characterful homes.

Among these sought-after properties are the luxury private rental villas No. 39 Galle Fort, a spacious three-bedroom family home, and Ambassador’s House, a huge five-bedroom townhouse with lap pool.

Both of these Galle Fort villas are situated on historic Lighthouse Street, just a stroll away from colonial churches, cafés, boutiques and museums.

Explore on foot
You can now walk nearly all the way around the grass-tufted ramparts, admiring the views of the red-tiled rooftops of the fort on one side, and Indian Ocean vistas on the other. The best place to start your stroll is at the Galle Dutch Hospital (on the corner of the banyan-tree-shaded Law Court Square), a majestic building that’s now home to restaurants and shops. Heading south, the next landmark you approach is the fort’s British-era lighthouse, dating to 1938, which punctures the south-eastern corner of Galle Fort.

A little further along is Flag Rock, which is worth a pause to watch young kamikaze Sri Lankans dive acrobatically into the sea for a few hundred rupees. The western ramparts are great for sunset watching, and for joining an impromptu cricket game, while the three northern bastions (Sun, Moon and Star) face inland, forming the highest part of the ramparts and incorporating a tall clock tower. They offer superb views of the new town and international test cricket ground.

Where to eat and what to buy?
Galle Fort is increasingly cosmopolitan. Over the last five years the charming streets of this old town have mushroomed with little cafés, restaurants specialising in healthy fare, one-of-a-kind boutiques and design stores, and even a couple of delicious gelato outlets – we love Pedlars Inn Gelato on Pedlars Street.

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Literary Meets Luxury

in Destinations by

Ten years on since its initial start date, the 2017 Fairway Galle Literary Festival (FGLF) is back – bigger and better. The Literary Festival looks to showcase participants who inspire and are inspired. Taking place from January 11 – 15 2017, the 2017 FGLF features 110 events including their extremely popular MAS Children’s Programme. 

A variety of discussions, debates, literary awards, panels, tea and poetry readings, cookery demonstrations, gourmet events, performances and live music events for festival goers to enjoy. FGLF introduces for the first time, a complimentary Sinhala programming to highlight the diversity of the Sinhala Literary Arts through discussions, poetry readings, short films and writings in translations amongst others. For the little ones, an Outreach Children’s Programme in Jaffna on the 17th & 18th January 2017 with the aim to develop the literary arts in English in the North and bring the world to the children of Jaffna through some wonderful international children’s authors.

For those looking to be a part of the 2017 FGLF and other events in Galle Fort, there are two villas which should be on your radar. Choice accommodation.

Located right within the atmospheric Galle Fort (where the Literary Festival takes place), Ambassador’s House offers more than just a place to sleep and rest. The spacious historic house has five ensuite bedrooms and is fabulous for families and groups. Rich with illustrious past, Ambassador’s House is gloriously decadent and nostalgic – the luxury villa is bursting with Dutch colonial style, soaring ceilings, arched doorways, double-collonaded verandahs.

No.39 Galle Fort is also located within the walls of Galle Fort. The three-bedroom villa is stately yet cosy, nostalgic yet current. Once you step inside the villa, you will notice that the charm of the past blends beautifully with 21st-century comforts. Lavishly dressed beds and cushioned daybeds, mezzanine TV lounge and iPod dock delightfully complement this heritage home’s wide archway in the living room, a mix of antique and custom-made furniture and the soaring vaulted ceilings.

Staying so close to the heart of the action gives you the advantage to escape the hottest part of the day to relax in your breezy garden, take a quick cooling shower in between literary programmes and invite your new friends home for a cup of freshly-brewed Sri Lankan tea – prepared by your private butler.

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