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An Ideal Stay in Koh Samui with Kids

in Destinations/Families by
Children are fabulously celebrated and doted on by the Thai people, which makes it a seriously sensational destination for a family holiday. The stunning island of Koh Samui is trending hard among ‘in-the-know’ families. Velvet-soft, sandy beaches are perfect for sandcastle construction (and parents lazing around) while the glittering azure shallows are safe for swimming and snorkelling.
Koh Samui is just off the south-east coast of Thailand’s Surat Thani. Its a tranquil corner of an energized nation. Blessed with extraordinary natural beauty, it has a wealth of fun adventures that will be certain to create memories.

Family-friendly villas

The first concern for most families is where to stay. Hotels and resorts may pitch themselves as family friendly, but the prying eyes of other guests can be vexing. Massive resorts offer little in terms of space and privacy and certainly don’t give you access to your own private chef.
 
The support of a stellar team of professional staff in a luxury private villa caters to the broad demands of family life. Daily housekeeping discreetly happens everyday, everything is pristine and random glasses are whisked away. Meals are a stunning affair with a private chef creating beautiful dishes – from exotic delicacies, western favourites, barbeques, kids’ choices and even special meals. Add to this an easily secured in-villa nanny and the load of parenting is lightened even further. 
 
Imagine a private swimming pool with floating toys; imagine board games and table tennis and pool tables. Staff are quick to help with the kids, so you can enjoy the bliss away from other guests who may not love junior’s joyful squeals and noisy pool games. Secure walls deliver safe spaces for little ones to wander and explore under the watchful eyes of a nanny. Many villas are also big enough to house a few families turning a gorgeous estate into a sensational tribal ground with friends and cousins roaming in packs. 
 
A stream of homemade snacks will be prepared by the cooks and guests also have open access to the
kitchen which is worth its weight in gold for families with toddlers and babies – and jetlag. 

Enjoy Koh Samui with Family

Villa managers are a mine of local intelligence and know where to find the fun far and beyond snorkeling and kayaking in the crystal-clear waters and mysterious coves of the Ang Thong Marine National Park.

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Samira

in Destinations/People by

It’s all about the views at stylish Villa Samira, set along Phuket’s ‘Millionaires’ Mile’. This six-bedroom holiday home boasts superb sea and sunset views from all its living spaces, including a 17-metre infinity pool and an unbelievable outdoor sea view jacuzzi. Modern interiors mix with traditional Thai design here. Whether savouring the sun at the expansive outdoor living areas, playing a game of pool in the game room or gathering for a movie in the media room, Samira’s lavish indoor and outdoor areas are a treat.

Samira, which means ‘cool breeze’ in Sanskrit, includes a custom-built spa for the perfect holiday escape. Enhancing your experience at this tropical haven is the finest staff team, including an English-speaking Villa Manager whom we interviewed.

Elite Havens: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Villa Manager Samyot: My name is Samyot and I’m 45 years old. I have been the Villa Manager of Villa Samira for a little over one year. I have more than twenty years of experience in the hotel industry. Along with my previous job at a hotel, I also worked part-time as a Villa Manager elsewhere, before I started working at Elite Havens.

EH: What do you like about your job?

VMS: I love taking care of guests. It’s a thrill to be there when they arrive and see the villa for the first time. They are so happy to discover the beauty of this holiday home, and I try to ensure that their happiness extends throughout the visit.

EH: Great, so you enjoy looking after the guests for their entire stay. And do you have any interesting stories about some of your guests?

VMS: A group stayed with us once for two weeks. One day, they asked me to play pool with them.      They said that if I lost, they would throw me in the pool. And then, I won! But they all picked me up in good humour and threw me in the pool nevertheless. It was a wonderful day, such great memories. The guests were incredibly warm.

EH: What are some places that people can visit nearby?

VMS: Some of our guests love to go to Cafe del Mar. Patong is also popular for its beach,

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Muay Thai, Thailand’s National Sport

in Destinations/Recreation/Wellness by

Dating back hundreds of years, Thai Boxing or Muay Thai- The Art of Eight Limbs, is a close-combat, self-defense martial art incorporating the eight ‘weapons’ of the human body: fists, knees, elbows and feet.

Over the past 20 years, Muay Thai has swept across the world, not only as a professional fighting style but also as part of many fitness programmes. The popularity of martial arts has been one of the driving factors in Muay Thai’s appeal, besides the influence of cinema, especially  internationally successful films such as ‘Kickboxer’ starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Rituals

All Muay Thai fights start with the ‘Wai Kru’ and ‘Ram Muay’, very important parts of the sport. Wai Kru is a ritual performed before each fight during which a fighter will circle the ring three times and then bow down in the middle of the ring to ask protection for him or herself and the other fighter, and for an honorable fight. The fighters will then perform the Ram Muay, which is a personal ritual, in which each fighter demonstrates his or her prowess to the audience and the opponent.

Music is another essential part of a Muay Thai fight, with drums, flutes and cymbals all adding to the excitement, drama and spectacle of the fight.

Before padded gloves and boxing rings came into the sport, Muay Thai fighters would wrap their hands in cotton or rope and fights would take place on the ground, with a rope laid out in a circle to mark the ring’s boundaries.

Training

Muay Thai fighters are accomplished athletes, following a training programme that has not really changed over the years. That said, today’s competitors are more likely to practice their kicks on a heavy bag rather than a banana tree trunk (although there are some Muay Thai gyms that still use the old training methods). 

Fighters’ training is brutal. They start at 6am every morning with a run of between four and eight kilometres. Then it’s back to the gym for the morning session, which mainly consists of cardio and shadow boxing. That’s followed by breakfast and rest before the late morning session of jump rope, more shadow boxing, pad work with the trainer, heavy bag work, 5 – 10 rounds of sparring and then abdominal work.

Most fighters will rest during the afternoon in preparation for the evening training session,

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A Day to Remember in Phuket

in Destinations/Tips/Weddings by

With its vivid blue sea, white sand beaches and fiery tropical sunsets, Phuket is amongst the world’s most favoured wedding destinations. Aside from its breathtaking natural beauty, this Thai island is home to a rich and friendly culture, incredible cuisine and some outstanding villa venues offering expert hospitality and exquisite locales for saying, “I do”.

You’ve found true love and you’re ready to commit to each other. What better way to celebrate the start of this grand adventure than with a Phuket wedding? For couples bound by love tinged with wanderlust, tying the knot in a tropical paradise offers an enticingly exotic way to launch into a journey of wedded bliss.

Malaiwana’s Villa Haleana

With its modern design and elegant furnishings, Villa Haleana is an ideal wedding villa for the stylish set. Enjoy magical sea views from its hillside setting, with Nai Thon Beach just below, perfect for taking in the sunset or going for a stroll. Located within the secure Malaiwana Estate, Villa Haleana is perfect for weddings and large celebrations, with the option of accommodating the entire wedding party in neighbouring and equally luxurious villas and residences. Found along the lesser-travelled northwest Phuket coast, between the airport and the touristy part of town, it is situated along a quiet stretch, yet walking distance from restaurants, local stores and bars. 

Absolute heaven awaits with an 18-metre pool, large pool terrace, lavish spa room, gym, and multiple areas to dine, relax and entertain. Effortlessly elegant, yet warmly welcoming, all six bedrooms offer stunning sea views. Villa Haleana can host up to 80 guests for an event.

First-hand account of a Villa Haleana bride:

On April 16, 2019, we hosted an amazing wedding in Phuket, with our beloved friends and families. It took eight months of preparation, with a lot of ups and downs leading up to the wedding day. Mother Nature added an element of fun, as it started raining during our outdoor wedding. But The Bridal Planner Team consistently supported and helped us throughout the planning process. What could have been a disaster, turned into one of the most memorable weddings ever! Our friends and family loved every moment of the indoor entertainment.

-Debbie Lee

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Inside Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival

in Culture/Destinations by

Festivals provide an interesting peek into the local culture, and Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival is no exception. Also known as Nine Emperor God Festival or Jia Chai, it falls in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Thailand and exoticism go hand-in-hand, and this Taoist festival is celebrated with a unique zeal here. Each shrine is extensively cleaned, in anticipation of the festival and giant Go Teng poles are raised on the first day (to be lowered after the last) symbolically to allow the Jade Emperor and other Nine Emperors to come down from the heavens and walk the earth again. 

Rules of the Festival

The name may have you believing that it is a food festival showcasing vegetarian delights. Though the streets are lined on both sides with hawkers selling vegetarian fare, it is not the highlight of the festival. Instead, it marks a period where devotees are expected to follow ten strict rules, and observe abstainance from meat, alcohol, sex, and other stimulants. The locals believe that following these rules allows them to achieve a greater level of spirituality, and is a way of honouring the Gods.

Processions

However, the festival is not celebrated behind closed doors. Like many things Thai, this too is a boisterous public celebration, and one not for the faint-hearted. The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket involves processions wherein devotees perform self mutilation and all other kinds of torture on themselves to shift ill-luck and evil from other worshipers onto themselves. They believe that by doing so, they can bring good luck to the community.

Expect vibrant and chaotic processions, with firecrackers being thrown around, lion dances, and coal-walking. You may find people with their cheeks pierced with spears, knives and other paraphernalia.

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