Villa on View.
Your weekly up-close view of those wow factor extras that make our villas outstanding. After all, attention to detail always makes a difference.
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.
Another 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Even the A-listers need a break, sometimes.
In case you didn’t know already, Bali welcomed Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan last month, and Elite Havens had the honour of looking after them during their stays.
Paris and her friend spent two nights at The Layar and another two nights at Villa Adasa, while Lindsay luxuriated at Seseh Beach Villas. They sure know where to enjoy an utmost privacy and sumptuous spaces to unwind in Bali.
The Layar’s cool design, hot location and five-star service are definitely for those with strong aesthetic principles seeking original experiences. The Layar features distinguished pitched roofs that slope dramatically to the ground, like the triangular rigging of traditional fishing boats – hence the naturally inspired name (Layar is Indonesian for sails). Each individual villa is set within a private landscaped garden with large swimming pool, and from 1 to 4 spacious bedroom suites. A short stroll is all it takes to be in the heart of Seminyak.
Insider tip: Ask for Paris’ Villa when you book.
Villa Adasa is a glamorous 3-bedroom villa in the middle of action in Seminyak. The influence of traditional Balinese architecture is obvious; take a look at the alang-alang roof, Palimanan stone walls, polished teakwood and open-sided vaulted living pavilion. The villa is perfect for a group of friends who want to be in the heart of action, yet families with children will love the freedom to walk down to the beach in minutes.
Insider tip: Ask the chef to prepare a seafood BBQ for dinner and get the butler to mix classic drinks at the poolside bar counter.
SESEH BEACH VILLAS
The contemporary-styled Seseh Beach Villas are a perfect base for guests to absorb the rural surroundings, either by cycling along country lanes or exploring the beach – imagine a perfect seaside escape and a holiday abode to experience rural Bali setting. A total of 11 bedrooms (which can sleep up to 20 adults and four children), two sizeable swimming pools, multiple living and dining areas and garden pavilions.
Insider tip: Seseh Beach Villa I enjoys undisturbed ocean views. The kids’ bunkroom is in Seseh Beach Villa II (perfect for families with young children).