The Datai Wows With Fresh New Look

The Datai Langkawi - Rainforest Pool Villa
The Datai Langkawi - Rainforest Pool Villa

The Datai Langkawi, located on the tropical island of Langkawi in Malaysia, has revealed its newly refurbished interiors and facilities following an extensive, 12-month refurbishment

After 25 years in an expansive site of more than 46 acres, The Datai Langkawi has revealed its newly refurbished interiors and facilities after a 12-month makeover.

Openings its doors for the first time in 1993, The Datai Langkawi’s main building is situated on a forest ridge 40 metres above sea level and 300 metres away from the ocean in the heart of a 10-million-year-old rainforest. The resort was designed by famed Australian architect Kerry Hill, who wanted to integrate The Datai’s footprint into its surroundings  instead of overpowering the natural landscape.

Hill was assisted by interior designer Didier Lefort, who was rehired for the recent renovation project to ensure Hill’s original vision was translated through the updated design. “It was important to maintain a deep connection to the original vision of a luxurious retreat seamlessly integrated into the 10-million-year-old virgin rainforest,” said Lefort. “The approach married simplicity, modernity, and creativity with inspirations from the local environment, culture, and materials.”

The refreshed resort will offer guests nature-based and culture-based experiences, promote Malaysian hospitality to the world, and reaffirm The Datai Langkawi as an unparalleled luxury in Langkawi thanks to its refreshed collection of 121 Canopy, Rainforest and Beach rooms, suites and villas. All accommodations boast views of the lush tropical rainforest as well as the breath-taking vista of the Andaman Sea with Tarutao Island on the horizon.

The brand new Datai Estate Villa goes all out on luxury spanning 3,500 square metres and featuring five bedrooms, living rooms, game rooms, two 20-metre connected pools, 24-hour butler service, as well as a private chef. The exclusive space’s interior showcases neutral tones with modern furnishings.

Conservation was a major focus during The Datai’s renovation. The resort now produces its own water from the newly-introduced water bottling plant, and has introduced a newly-built Nature Centre as part of its new lease on life. Led by renowned naturalist and author Irshad Mobarak, the new Nature Centre encompasses mini laboratories that allow guests, young and old, to discover more about the marine and rainforest environment that surrounds them. Guests will have the opportunity to discover the unique flora and fauna of Teluk Datai through fun, educational nature walks—including the new Rimba Trail—and other activities led by Datai’s Nature Centre team, while learning more about conservation.

A new spa has also been introduced at The Datai Langkawi, situated along a small winding stream surrounded by the peaceful sounds and subtle aromatic scent of the rainforest. Focusing on aligning wellness with nature, The Spa has five treatment villas and one studio, while the The Health Club features a range of the latest indoor and outdoor sports equipment so guests can work up a sweat while enjoying magnificent views of the Andaman Sea.

Official starting rates differ from season to season, with low season tariffs starting at AUD $870 a night.

www.thedatai.com

This Tour Company Has Launched Women-Only Trips

Wilderness Scotland

Wilderness Scotland aims to inspire women to participate in outdoor exploration and develop skills and knowledge of the natural world

Adventure tour operator Wilderness Scotland has unveiled an assortment of women-only guided tours taking place throughout 2019. This will be the first time the tour operator has offered the gendered trips, which have “been devised to be even more inclusive to women who want to adventure in the wilderness,” according to the company’s website.

The small-group tours will include activities like sea kayaking among the Summer Isles and hiking the West Highland Way, all with expert guiding, cosy accommodation and exciting itineraries designed to encourage more women to enjoy the outdoors alongside like-minded female adventurers.

Travellers don’t need any experience or background in the outdoors to enjoy the tours, with the operator inviting all women who love hiking, cycling, kayaking, and other recreational activities to express their interest.

The women-only tours on offer include:

 

Sea Kayaking – Introduction Course

Participants will develop their kayaking skills on this breathtaking five-day adventure in the North West Highlands. With the guidance of a highly-qualified kayak instructor, they’ll paddle their way through the gorgeous Upper Loch Torridon before experiencing sea kayaking in the Applecross Peninsula.

 

Wilderness Walking – Wilds of Assynt

This week-long hiking trip takes adventurers up the Scottish mountains (including a rare hike on Ben Mor Coigach), and down to the coast of The Old Man of Stoer for a well-rounded trip of Assynt. It also includes a cruise through the Summer Isles where they’ll have the chance to relax or spot aquatic life beneath the turquoise waters.

 

Mountain Biking – Coast to Coast

Awarded Trips of the Year by Outside Magazine, this coast to coast adventure is for the more experienced mountain bikers. It is a week-long ride starting from Aberdeen and ending in Ardnamurchan.

For more information on Women Only Departures and other available excursions visit wildernessscotland.com.

Regent Seven Seas Announces Third Explorer-Class Ship

Compass Rose, Dining Room, Regent Seven Seas Explorer

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced an order with Italy’s Fincantieri S.p.A. to build another luxury cruise ship, with delivery scheduled in late 2023. The new vessel will accommodate up to 750 guests and will be a sister ship to the award-winning Seven Seas Explorer, “The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built” and Seven Seas Splendor. The cruise liner will be Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ sixth all-suite vessel.

Frank J. Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said the new ship would further strengthen the company’s “robust yet measured growth profile”, expanding its presence globally in a time when cruising is booming. The intimate new ship will accommodate up to 750 guests and will be Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ sixth all-suite vessel.

“We are excited to build on the spectacular success of Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Splendor as we embark on bringing to life a new vessel that will set an even higher benchmark for elegance, luxury, and style,” he said.

The announcement comes after a $125 million upgrade to Regent Seven Seas’ fleet, and a number of enhancements to itineraries and shore excursions. “Over the past 12 months Regent Seven Seas Cruises has completed a remodelling of our fleet, started construction on Seven Seas Splendor, unveiled our 2020-2021 Voyage Collection with 167 itineraries and new ports, introduced new relaxed outdoor evening dining venues on our ships, debuted the most immersive luxury Cuban voyage itineraries, revealed Go Local Tours and Regent Choice small group shore excursions, and now we announce one more category-defining luxury cruise ship. These are exciting times for everyone associated with Regent Seven Seas Cruises and we can’t wait to show you what’s next,” said Jason Montague, president and chief executive officer of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Fincantieri is currently building Seven Seas Splendor at its Ancona, Italy shipyard, with relentless focus on perfecting every detail during construction so the ship’s inspired design truly dazzles guests as a work of art.

Details about Seven Seas Splendor’s new sister ship’s itineraries, suites, restaurants, amenities and onboard experiences will be revealed leading up to her 2023 debut, with voyages for the ship’s inaugural season going on sale in 2021.

www.rssc.com

These Are Australians’ Favourite Holiday Destinations

And the winners are…

Booking.com has unveiled Australia’s top booked destinations both domestically and internationally from 2018, and the results show that Australian travellers are still smitten with South East Asia.

Singapore has come out on top as the most popular destination when Aussies travel internationally, for the second year in a row. London, UK has also held its position as the second most popular international destination for Aussies overall. Tokyo and New Zealand have swapped placed with Tokyo being bumped to fourth place and closer to home Auckland, New Zealand moving its way up the ladder to third place.

New Zealand proved to be particularly popular among Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and New South Wales residents with Auckland, Otago and Christchurch all making their top booked international destinations.

Meanwhile, despite the distance, European holidays remained popular amongst Aussies in 2018. Classic city hubs London and Rome both made the top ten booked destinations internationally across each individual state, with the capital of romance, Paris, coming in third due to its popularity across New South Wales and Tasmania.

When it comes to domestic travel, Aussies have kept close to home with travellers across every state most likely to travel to their own capital city for a holiday, with the exception of Australian Capital Territory who preferred Sydney and Tasmania who preferred Melbourne. However, the fastest growing domestic destinations steer away from the capital city and closer to the sunshine coast with Mackay, Rockhampton and Airlie Beach coming in as the top three on the list.

Luke Wilson, Booking.com Area Manager for Australia said, “[Last] year was an interesting year for travel as we saw holidaymakers re-visit their favourite places both domestically and further afield. The adventurous nature of New Zealand also lured in more Australian travellers so we’re seeing a shift in the kind of holidays people are looking for.

“There is also a shift in the kind of accommodation people desire to suit their travel choices. With the variety of holiday rental properties and unique stays continuing to grow… we’re seeing a higher demand for properties such as ApartHotels, guest houses and lodges.”

Top 10 Most Booked Overseas Destinations

  1. Singapore, Singapore
  2. London, United Kingdom
  3. Tokyo, Japan
  4. Auckland, New Zealand
  5. Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
  6. Bangkok, Thailand
  7. Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
  8. Rome, Italy
  9. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  10. Paris, France

Top 10 Fastest Growing Australian Destinations

  1. Mackay, Queensland
  2. Rockhampton, Queensland
  3. Airlie Beach, Queensland
  4. Tamworth, New South Wales
  5. Toowoomba, Queensland
  6. Mooloolaba, Queensland
  7. Newcastle, New South Wales
  8. Bendigo, Adelaide
  9. Byron Bay, New South Wales
  10. Melbourne, Victoria

Marriott Announces Rebranded Loyalty Program

Fitz Roy in Patagonia
Bonvoy loyalty rewards will be available on excursions such as hiking into glacial Patagonia

The reimagined loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, replaces the hotel group’s current loyalty brands, including Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

Marriott International has unveiled Marriott Bonvoy, the new brand replacing Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), as one single loyalty portfolio. Marriott announced it would be uniting its three legacy loyalty brands in August last year.

On February 13 Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments will officially become Marriott Bonvoy Moments, with the combined program completing its integration under its new name. On this date Marriott will release a new, “simple, bold and modern” logo, rolling out Marriott Bonvoy branding across all consumer touch-points, including on property, marketing and sales channels, digital, mobile and co-brand credit cards in what is a multi-million-dollar global media campaign.

“Marriott Bonvoy marks an evolution in travel because it represents more than a loyalty program,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. “Marriott Bonvoy is a travel program designed to bring to life our extraordinary portfolio of global brands in 129 countries and territories, while also providing endless inspiration for members to keep travelling and pursuing their passions.”

With Marriott Bonvoy, members will have access to Marriott’s portfolio of diverse brands including the largest collection of lifestyle and luxury properties around the world, and approximately 120,000 experiences in 1,000 destinations available for purchase or by redeeming points. These include excursions such as hiking into glacial Patagonia, desert treks on camelback in Morocco or cruising to Vietnam’s timeless floating villages; or indulging in once-in-a-lifetime experiences like cooking alongside renowned chefs Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert, or honing football skills in a master class with Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Members will earn on average 20 percent more points per dollar spent under the new program, with two new names for previous Elite status tiers also being launched. Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite will replace Platinum Premier Elite for members who surpass 75 nights, and Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite will replace Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador. This top Elite status tier recognises members who surpass 100 nights and more than USD$20,000 (approx. AUD$27,770) in spend annually. These members enjoy the highest level of personalisation with a dedicated ambassador to help plan their travel and cater to their needs one-on-one

Throughout 2019, Marriott will bring Marriott Bonvoy to life with a series of experiential events for members taking advantage of the company’s marketing partnerships with iconic brands including the NCAA and the FIA Formula One World Champions, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, as well as through sponsorships such as the Oscars, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Dubai Jazz Festival, The Hong Kong Sevens and The PGA Tour World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.

Marriott Bonvoy will also usher in a new mobile experience. Members using either the SPG or The Ritz-Carlton Rewards apps are encouraged to download the current Marriott app now which will automatically update to become the Marriott Bonvoy app on February 13. The SPG and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards apps will be deactivated on that date.

Members can learn more about Marriott Bonvoy at MeetMarriottBonvoy.marriott.com

Fine Dining and Vintage Luxury on the Royal Livingstone Express

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls

Dig into a five-course fine dining feast while voyaging through Zambia’s spectacular landscape on this historic, luxury locomotive

Like trains? Like fine dining? Then you’ll want to add this experience to your must-dos for 2019. The luxury steam locomotive, will now offer the premium service and gastronomy of the Royal Livingstone Hotel by Anantara in Zambia on a nostalgic journey through Zambia. With its romantic interior reminiscent of the roaring 20s, passengers will get to enjoy incredible cruising in an environment reminiscent of a bygone, all while taking in Zambia’s jaw-dropping scenery.

Departing in the late afternoon, guests will relax in the steam locomotive’s lovingly restored Pullman-style coaches with sparkling wine or a cocktail accompanied by canapés on a journey towards the Victoria Falls Bridge. Leaving the outskirts of Livingstone and into The Victoria Falls World Heritage Site, guests can spot game such as elephant and antelope en route to the first stop on the voyage: one of the world’s most spectacular border posts, on the Victoria Falls Bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe above the Zambezi River. There, guests can disembark the train and enjoy the sunset besides the world’s largest waterfall.

Continuing through Zambia’s dramatic landscapes, an impeccable five-course dinner by Anantara chefs is served with wines, beers and soft drinks. Think: gazpacho, Zambian cucumber soup, beetroot carpaccio, and butternut crème brulee, for starters, followed by braised lamb shoulder for main and a dessert of champagne and mixed berry jelly with a white chocolate and yoghurt soup, as well as petit fours to finish.

For those wanting a change of scenery, The Royal Livingstone Express offers the Mulobezi Run journey in addition to The Victoria Falls Bridge Run. The Mulobezi Line Run sets off through Dambwa Township and continues along the Mulobezi Line, running parallel to the Zambezi River and through the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Game Park and on to Sinde Siding, before the return journey to Livingstone.

With five carriages comprise two dining cars, a kitchen car, lounge car and observation car, the carriages are pulled by Steam Locomotives 10th Class 156 and 12th Class 204, built by Northern British Locomotive works in the 1930s. Locomotive 156 was renovated by the famous wildlife artist David Sheppard and donated to Zambia National Heritage in 1971 and restored again by Bushtracks in 2005. The beautiful Wembley dining car was built by the Birmingham Railway Carriages and went on display in London at the British Empire Exhibition held at Wembley in 1924.  It was shipped to the Union and entered service on 19 May 1926.

The Royal Livingstone Express accommodates up to 92 guests and can also be reserved for private hire for a minimum of 50 guests.

For reservations and more information, contact victoriafalls@bushtracksafrica.com or reservations.africa@minorhotels.com

Australia’s Most Sustainable Luxury Resort Opens in Whitsundays

Elysian Retreat, Whitsundays
Elysian Retreat, Whitsundays

The all-inclusive Elysian Retreat is completely off-grid, accommodates just 20 people and is being called ‘the most secluded island retreat in the Whitsundays’

What was formerly Paradise Bay Eco Resort in the Great Barrier Reef has reopened as luxury eco resort Elysian Retreat, after an almost year-long renovation by The Sojourn Retreats Group. Located on the southern tip of Long Island in the Whitsundays, the award-winning Paradise Bay Eco Resort was damaged by Cyclone Marcia in 2015 and then Cyclone Debbie in 2017, rendering the property non-operational for over three years.

The new Elysian Retreat claims to be the most secluded island retreat in the Whitsundays, located on a three-hectare private cove surrounded by rainforest in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. The resort takes a more luxurious approach than its former iteration as an all-inclusive, adults-only retreat catering to a maximum 20 guests.

Included in the nightly rate is:

  • Three gourmet meals daily, including three course dinners matched with Australian or New Zealand wine
  • Complimentary hot drinks, soft drinks and water all day
  • Sunset cocktail with canapés
  • Unlimited use of all water sports equipment: Snorkelling gear, stand up paddleboards and glass-bottom kayaks
  • Use of the magnesium resort pool
  • Use of dedicated resort vessel, Lotus, for trips to Whitehaven Beach, secluded beach picnics or to join other existing Whitsunday tour departure points

The resort will operate off the grid, being fully solar powered and minimising its environmental footprint by reducing waste, saving and improving usage of water, power, fuel and emissions. The retreat will also make use of organic and earth-friendly products, with fresh produce sourced locally for use in the restaurant. As a result of this commitment to environmental sustainability at Elysian Retreat, The Sojourn Retreats Group has been awarded Australia’s highest ecotourism certificate. This follows on from the group’s win at the World Boutique Hotel Awards in London of Australia’s Most Sustainable Hotel for their property Pumpkin Island Retreat, located in the Keppel Islands.

Bookings are open for Elysian Retreat at elysianretreat.com.au

Captain’s Choice Launches European Adventure for Art Lovers

Venice Biennale, Italy
Venice Biennale, Italy

The tour operator’s newest journey will take guests on an exclusive, insider’s tour of some of Europe’s most famous art hotspots

Captain’s Choice has announced the launch of a new 16-day cultural adventure, ‘The Art Journey’. Part of the new Dimensions of Travel Portfolio by Captain’s Choice –a selection of luxury journeys meticulously curated to singular themes – ‘The Art Journey’ will take 50 travellers to the centre of the art world and give them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the unique and extraordinary, avoiding the usual pedestrian tourist trails.

Departing on 14 September, 2019, ‘The Art Journey’ will begin in Paris, where guests will experience an immersion in the arts scene before moving to Italy for an insider’s view of the Venice Biennale, and finishing in Milan with a tour of the city’s private collections and fashion shows.

The specialist host throughout the journey will be respected curator Jason Smith, director of the Geelong Art Gallery who has previously served as head of Australian Art at the Queensland Art Gallery and director of Heidi Museum of Modern Art.

The Parisian leg of the journey will feature an exclusive tour of the Frank Gehry-designed Foundation Louis Vuitton, and a rare private viewing and dinner at the Picasso museum hosted by its fabled director Laurent Le Bon.

Transferring to Italy on board the luxurious Venice Simplon-Orient Express, guests will gain a true insider’s perspective of the Venice Biennale with an exclusive meeting with Australia’s Biennale representative, artist Angelica Mesiti, and have private viewings of iconic collections such as the Pinault Collection at Palazzo Grassi and the Victoria Miro Gallery.

Time in Venice will culminate in a private masquerade ball in the breathtaking Salone Marco Polo at the Hotel Danieli In Milan – a converted 14th century palazzo that has played host to such luminaries as Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, Peggy Guggenheim and Stephen Spielberg. Guests will also get to enjoy a private viewing of the Prada Foundation as well as take a seat at numerous shows during Milan Fashion Week.

Accommodation throughout the intimate ‘The Art Journey’ is suitably high-end, from the historic and beautiful Hotel Danieli and the iconic Le Royal Monceau-Raffles in Paris – which has been totally transformed by French designer Philippe Starck – to the Milan Mandarin Oriental, a charming 18th century luxury hotel located in the Quadrilatero fashion district.

 

For information on Captains’ Choice ‘The Art Journey’ and other Captain’s Choice journeys, visit: captainschoice.com.au.

This is the Ultimate Valentine’s Day Escape

EKHO Lake House Polonnaruwa. Photo by credit Devaka Seneviratne
EKHO Lake House Polonnaruwa. Photo by credit Devaka Seneviratne

Iconic Sri Lankan hotel Galle Face Hotel Colombo has partnered with luxury travel concierge Quintessentially to create the ultimate Valentines Day excursion designed for the ultra-luxury traveller  

If you’re the type who likes to plan ahead and you’re pondering an experiential gift for you other half for Valentines Day this year, your search could be over because we’ve found a once-in-a-lifetime romantic escape that will be hard to top.

Galle Face Hotel Colombo has partnered with luxury concierge group Quintessentially to offer the ‘Wild at Heart Quintessentially Sri Lankan Valentine’s Safari’ – a three-day experience that has been specially tailored for travellers seeking an uber-luxury experience incorporating unique wildlife encounters, gourmet cuisine and royal history.

It doesn’t come cheap, with prices starting from USD $99000 per couple, but just take a look at what’s on the itinerary…

 

Day One

Beginning with a private jet that will pick the lucky couple up from any part of the world and fly them to the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, guests will then meet the cognoscenti in Colombo as Quintessentially’s lifestyle and travel connoisseurs iron out the details to create a seamless safari into adventure, fine dining, culture, history and romance.

Arriving refreshed at Bandaranayaka International Airport, couples will be fast-tracked to Asia’s grand old dame and the oldest luxury hotel east of the Suez in a Cadillac marque once used by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.

A butler will then escort the couple to The Empress Suite where Prince Edward Earl of Wessex and Sophie Countess of Wessex stayed in February 2018, where freshly-shucked oysters and Champagne will be waiting. After being outfitted in Sri Lankan sarongs by local designer LOVI Ceylon, guests will be served a gourmet sunset dinner on the terrace of the Empress Suite, created by the hotel’s Executive Chef Saman Jayawardena.

 

Day Two

The next morning the couple will enjoy a blissful 90-minute couple’s Wild at Heart Signature Spa treatment before getting the chance to add their signatures to the cavalcade of the rich and famous in the hotel’s historic guest book.

And then the adventure begins. A private helicopter will take the guests above the majestic ruins of Polonnaruwa, seat of ancient kings, and the enchanting Angammedilla National Park, home to leopards, elephants, monkeys and more. On arrival to the EKHO Lake House Polonnaruwa, they will board a safari on the lake before checking in to the Queen’s Suite, where HM Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh once stayed.

 

Day Three

After a Wild at Heart tropical breakfast, the couple will say goodbye to the leopards and hello to the Jaguar F-PACE, 2017’s Car of the Year. A helicopter will then whisk them back to Bandaranayaka International Airport, where a private jet will be waiting to whisk the guests back home.

Starting from USD$99000 (AU$135330) per couple, the Wild at Heart Quintessentially Sri Lankan Valentine’s Safari might cost you a pretty penny, but you can’t put a price on love, right?

 

This once-in-a-lifetime experience is only available this Valentine’s Day, 14-16 February 2019, in partnership with Quintessentially, whose travel experts will organise all the logistical arrangements. To express your interest, call +94 112 541 010 or email romance@gallefacehotel.net