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Thailand’s Sweet Indulgences

in Culture/Dining/News/Shops/Tips by
Chocolate

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”

– Katharine Hepburn

Thailand is world-renowned for its amazing street food, exotic tropical fruits, and delicious sweet desserts. But for those visiting Thailand who need their chocolate fix, there is one artisan chef in Phuket who is the go-to guy when it comes to anything dark, milky or white.

Thailand does not have a rich history of chocolate unlike some of its Southeast Asian neighbours such as Indonesia, which grew almost no cocoa before the early 1980s when production took off like a rocket. Now, Indonesia is the world’s third leading producer of cocoa beans. Cocoa production in Thailand fell out of favour decades ago for rubber, but lately there has been a resurgence with a small number of growers and producers emerging in northern and western Thailand.

Thai cocoa is finally getting the recognition it deserves, with two Thai chocolate producers placed high in the 2018 International Chocolate Awards show.

Paradai brand took silver for their Belize dark milk 63% bar in the ‘dark milk chocolate’ category and Kad Kokoa won bronze in the ‘plain dark chocolate bar’ category for their Chiang Mai single origin bar. They also opened Bangkok’s first bean-to-bar café in Sathorn earlier this year, offering all things chocolatey, from desserts and hot chocolate to cocoa butter soap.

English award-winning Pastry Chef Peter Webber trained at School Le Notre in Paris to study pastry and chocolate and started work at The Inn on The Park, London and The Savoy Hotel, where he gained his first Executive Pastry Chef position and was honoured by being sent to do promotions at The Okura Hotel in Tokyo and The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok. He was also involved in many special events and competitions in Europe.

Chef Peter moved to Asia to the famed Oriental Hotel, Bangkok as the Executive Pastry Chef where he would stay for more than a decade, even pleasing the taste buds of the Queen of England during official state visits at The Grand Palace.

Chef Peter now owns and creates chocolate masterpieces at his patisserie, Les Diables, inspiring and serving a loyal clientele with the utmost attention to taste and detail. They specialise in cakes for special occasions,

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Did You Know? Songkran Is All About Traditions

in Culture by

The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions.

Mornings begin with merry-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is a common practice. Water is poured on Buddha statues and the young and the elderly. This is a traditional ritual during Songrkan. It represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck.

As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved-ones and elders. Giving reverence to ancestors is also an important part of the Songkran tradition.

The Elite Havens Phuket office celebrated Songkran with Country Manager Femke Beekers and General Manager Andy Parkhouse being blessed by the office’s Chief Engineer, Jook. The entire Elite Havens Phuket 30-member team was blessed one by one, for about a minute each. 

Songkran is known for its water festival. Major streets are closed to traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. Traditional parades are held and in some venues a “Miss Songkran,” where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress, is crowned. 

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Luxury Weekends in Phuket and Koh Samui

in Destinations/Families by
  • Phuket-beach.jpg
    beach with coconut palm and sea
  • Tawantok-Beach-Villas-In-villa-breakfast.jpg
  • Waimarie-Dedicated-staff.jpg
  • Villa-Nandana-Villa-view.jpg
  • 1.-Villa-Nandana-A-tranquil-location-to-relax-2.jpg

Picture this: you’re hidden away in a breathtaking haven away from the rest of the world, sitting atop a plush cushion beside a monumental door opening onto a lush garden. A flute of champagne in hand and a gastronomic spread before you, you hear only birds and your four-year old singing a soft rhythm. Your husband is floating in the pool in this hushed oasis, on his torso an outlined shade of a large leaf fluttering with the breeze.

Settle In

Welcome to Thailand’s quintessential experience of relaxation and rest, where you can stay holed up in an enormous villa replete with sumptuous lines of coconut wood and padauk, or nara wood, a hardwood that’s sturdy and pleasing to the eye. The furniture is simple and sleek amidst the high ceilings and glass walls. The master bath contains a stone bathtub, the perfect complement to your call to respite. You’re surrounded by space, space everywhere, and there’s nothing to keep you from running through the rooms in excitement.

You came to relax and enjoy a long weekend break, but also for discovery and local culture. Nestled in an idyllic retreat between ivory sands and jungled gardens, this villa feels like the home you’ve imagined in musings of grandeur. Yet, there’s a calm, tranquil atmosphere.

Phuket
What To Do
Get Splashed

Rest is abated when you venture outside on 13th April, the first day of the Songkran Festival. Songkran, one of Thailand’s most famous festivals, is an important event on the Buddhist calendar. It is the beginning of the traditional Thai new year – and what’s known as the day of the biggest water fight. Large water guns and hoses leave you drenched because every road you pass has a splash station.

But there are many things you can do besides get wet, including asking your private villa chef to indulge your taste buds. Savor the sweet, spicy and sour all at once. The villa managers and staff cater to your every whim and even take care of your children for the day. A private yoga teacher can help you unwind and a massage therapist will slowly knead city-stress away. Home spa services are just a call away.

Sun and Games

The sand stretches for miles and miles in Phuket.

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Chef du Jour: Villa Baan Bon Khao

in Dining by
Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao

One of the highlights of staying at a private villa on your vacation is that you get to sample superb food prepared exclusively for you by skilled in-house chefs – many of whom have trained at internationally renowned restaurants. Elite Havens’ villa menus showcase an extensive range of Asian delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own particular specialties that shouldn’t be missed.
 
With much coaxing and cajoling, we’ve persuaded some of our chefs to spill the beans and share their favourite recipes. In the Baan Bon Khao kitchen, Chef Poo cooks up a classic and much-loved Thai dish, Pad Thai with Prawns in an Egg Parcel.
 

Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao 5

With spectacular sea and sunset views, Baan Bon Khao is an ideal getaway for families or groups.  Luxuriating on a hillside estate near Surin Beach, this four-bedroom villa features an infinity pool and stately living and dining pavilions.  Guests are well cared for by the villa manager, chef and personal driver.

Here’s an exclusive from the  Baan Bon Khao kitchen. 

Egg wrapped Pad Thai with Prawns Recipe
(Serves 2 – 4)

Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao ingredients

Ingredients :

The sauce

  • 35 grams palm sugar, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp water

Pad Thai

  • 4 ounces dry rice noodles (choose one that is about 2mm wide)
  • 6 – 8 prawns, or as many as you’d like, peeled and deveined.
  • 1 small head shallot, thinly sliced, about 3 tbsp
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp, chopped
  • 1-piece of pressed tofu, cut into small pieces
  • ½ tsp of chili flakes, or to taste
  • 4 eggs – 2 for Pad Thai, 2 beaten for egg parcel
  • 5 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cup garlic chives, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1 lime

Directions :

The Sauce: Mix all together and set aside.

Step 1: Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 1 hour, until the noodles turn from translucent to completely white and are very pliable.

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Songkran Festival in Phuket

in Culture/Destinations/Families/Recreation by
songkran waterfight

Songkran is Thailand’s most famous Festival and possibly the largest water fight in the world.

WHEN IS SONGKRAN?

Songkran Festival starts 13 April. In some areas of Thailand it only lasts for three days, the 13th, 14th and 15th, and in other areas it lasts for seven days.

Songkran is not only Thailand’s most famous festival but it’s also one of the most important events on the Buddhist calendar. The event marks the beginning of the traditional Thai new year.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF SONGKRAN?

The festival originated centuries ago as a purification rite, in both a physical and spiritual sense.  Temples, Buddha images, and houses where tidied and cleaned as a way to clear away negative influences. Traditional celebrations involved a gentle sprinkling of scented water.

HOW IS SONGKRAN CELEBRATED?

Over the years, Songkran like many other centuries-old festivals has become commercial. Water guns and bright-coloured Hawaiian shirts (more on these later) are on sale in shops weeks before the event and every marketing department scrambles to get their Songkran message heard through a downpour of advertising.

songran festival crowds

Songkran has become arguably the biggest water fight in the world. The throwing of water (er, mass water fights) have become a huge part of the celebration over the past two decades everywhere in Thailand, so don’t be surprised if you get splashed with icy cold water, well when we say splashed, we mean drenched in water, shot at you from every angle form a variety of colored water pistols, buckets and anything else that can hold water. You will also become covered in powder, which is… Well, even to this day after being in Thailand for eleven years, I have no idea what it is.

WHAT IS SONGKRAN LIKE IN PHUKET?

The whole of Phuket island stops on the 13th of April when families, friends and communities set up make-shift water splash stations on the side of every road. Think of a fun road stop checkpoint, with blaring music coming out of a 1980 speaker which has been blown out ten years ago, and everybody drenched in water and covered powder, dancing around in these bright Hawaiian shirts. Everyone from 3-year-olds to 87-year-olds is out having fun and of course,

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