Destination Asia wins Belmond Award


Destination Asia was recently awarded with a prestigious Top Producers award from Belmond luxury trains, hotels and river cruises. The awards ceremony was held on Thursday 15 January at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok and representing Destination Asia were:

Victoria Sertic – Group Business Development Director
Philip Wigglesworth – Business Development Director Thailand

The Belmond Group has a strong presence in Asia with properties in various Destination Asia countries including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia; while also operating river cruises in Myanmar. To be acknowledged by such a reputable organization is an honor for Destination Asia and testament to their commitment in providing the pinnacle in destination management services.

e: sales@destination-asia.com

Image: Victoria Sertic, Group Business Development Director of Destination Asia receives the award from Belmond executives.

Vintage Rail Ride from Bagan to Mount Popa

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Bagan offers travelers a cultural encounter like no other. Its fabled temples and dramatic landscape stir emotions while the local Burmese smile and invite you to explore their home. One of the most popular methods of travel while in Bagan is to hop on a bike and pedal along the relatively flat plains, another is to take a traditional horse and cart. Of course there is also the Irrawaddy River providing various cruise options. A new addition to the transport circuit is a vintage steam train, running from Bagan to Kyauk Padaung near Mount Popa. The train was manufactured in England in 1947 and was used on Myanmar’s railway system for 55 years between 1950 and 2005 before retiring. It has now been brought back into service and provides a unique experience, gently trundling along the plains at 10mph, allowing passengers plenty of time to photograph the surrounding golden landscape.

The train has just three carriages carrying a maximum of 120 passengers. The ride provides a glimpse into rural life with historic associations stretching back to mid-20th Century and is a wonderful experience for any traveler.

e: myanmar@destination-asia.com

Indochine Luxury in Luang Prabang

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Beauty in simplicity epitomizes the Sunset Villa by Burasari in Luang Prabang. A collection of five stately Lao-colonial style villas are nestled along the banks of the Mekong River, each with private terraces and swimming pools boasting unhindered views of the surrounding mountains and jungle. Twelve well-furnished suites offer relaxed Indochina comforts with a homely atmosphere away from the bustle of city life. These are truly idyllic vacation residences in a sanctuary just 1.5km from the quaint and cultural center of Luang Prabang.

Complementing the outdoor verandas and spacious rooms of each villa is a 25km swimming pool, enclosed by ornate gardens with plenty of space to admire the surrounding views. For the longer vacation there are numerous attractions nearby to sample. The National Museum and Night Market are very popular while nature trails through the forest never fail to excite. Luang Prabang is also revered for its delicious Lao Cuisine served by a number of fine dining eateries; all within walking distance of the villas.

e: laos@destination-asia.com

New Flight Connects Kunming to Europe

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Southwest China’s Yunnan province is celebrated for its dramatic natural landscapes containing the most extraordinary sights and fascinating cultural traditions. Many of the country’s ethnic groups reside here, allowing travelers a rare and privileged glimpse into China’s spellbinding civilization. The province has traditionally been difficult to access, with no direct flights from Europe and internal flights or lengthy overland excursions required to reach this stunning region. Now a direct route between Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, and Paris has been launched by China Eastern Airlines. The new route and first intercontinental direct offering for travelers will significantly help to boost tourism in the region.

Destination Asia China offers an enticing selection of programs revealing landmarks such as the Stone Forest and impressive Golden Temple. Eroded by the elements over hundreds of millions of years, the limestone karst formations of the Stone Forest rise up out of the ground like trees of stone to create one of the world’s most impressive sceneries.

e: china@destination-asia.com

Boutique Cruises Between Cambodia and Vietnam

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Destination Asia Cambodia, along with the cruising proficiency of Aqua Expeditions are now offering alluring river cruise experiences between Cambodia and Vietnam in Southeast Asia. Journeying along the iconic Mekong River, travelers enter into a beautiful world of historic fables, esoteric cultures, ancient traditions and unfathomable tales. Here they learn about Cambodia’s monolithic ruins and colonial charms while relaxing in their luxurious vessel with exemplary service on hand to ensure every desire is satisfied.

This luxury cruise opens the door to two wondrous countries in the heart of Indochina. The Mekong River is an eternal connection between Cambodia and Vietnam, yet the cultures and livelihoods that embody the river are uncommon. Whether a seasoned traveler returning to the country they love or a first timer – these splendid cruises provide just the right amount of luxurious adventure to create unforgettable memories of the world’s most fascinating continent.

e: cambodia@destination-asia.com

Hotel Gracery Open Tokyo Flagship Property

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The Hotel Gracery Shinjuku is preparing itself for a grand opening on April 24th 2015 and is already accepting reservations. Located in the lively entertainment district of Kabukicho, the 970 room hotel will be Gracery’s brand new flagship property, occupying the 8th through 30th floors of Shinjuku Toho Building. Its central location and close proximity to Shinjuku Station will make it a favorable residence among business travelers. The hotel is also just a three minute walk from Seibu Shinjuku Station. Its spacious rooms are well appointed with modern facilities and in-ceiling air-conditioning generators.

Hotel Gracery operates three properties in Sapporo and Tokyo, each offering stylish, modern comforts and conveniences with personal services targeting leisure travelers. The opening of Hotel Gracery Shinjuku is part of an expansion that includes new openings in Okinawa in 2015 and Kyoto in 2016.

e: japan@destination-asia.com

The Secrets Behind Traditional Thai Cooking

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Discovering new flavors is an essential part of travelling today. It also guarantees you will savor the rewards from traveling to a foreign land. Being able to learn how to prepare key dishes from your chosen destination and recreating that sensation back home is one of the greatest souvenirs a traveler can buy. We have selected five very different Thai cooking schools in Bangkok that will inspire everyone to learn the secrets behind preparing authentic Thai cuisine.

Thai Cooking School – Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Created in 1986 by the late Charlie Amatyakul, the flamboyant Thai culinary guru, this superb school is located on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River to the main hotel building and offers a six day morning course.

The Blue Elephant Cooking School
Classes start with a visit to the morning market where students are introduced to Thai ingredients and taught what to look for when buying. The guests then return to the school and learn how to cook the four dishes they will eat for lunch. They have a similar school in Phuket.

Bo.lan Cooking Classes
Duangporn Songivsava (Bo) and Dylan Thomas met while working in London with legendary David Thompson. Their Bangkok based classes are small and intimate with no more than 10 students. Turn-pro class is available on the first Friday and their novice class the first Thursday of the month.

Naj Thai Cooking School
On arrival students meet Naj’s executive chef at the herb garden where they discuss the uniqueness of Thai food and its healthy ingredients. Then during a 30 minute theory class they receive a booklet of Naj’s home recipes and learn the secrets behind preparing each dish. Discussions and demonstration are followed by hands on cooking.

Bai Pai Cooking School
An authentic homestyle learning environment whereby guests can enjoy half day courses either in the morning or afternoon. Professional chefs guide students in hands on fun-filled sessions. They learn traditional and practical techniques as well as the substitution of Thai ingredients with acceptable alternatives found back home.

Contact Destination Asia Thailand for rates on each of these cooking schools.

e: thailand@destination-asia.com

Crowne Plaza Plan New Development at Changi Airport

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The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport was recently signed by Intercontinental Hotels Group with plans for a new 243 room extension. A 10 storey wing will be constructed next to the existing 320 room Crowne Plaza and is due to open in 2016, presenting a total of 563 rooms with accompanying facilities for meetings and events and a 24 hour business centre. The hotel is already hailed as one of the best airport hotels in the world, owing to its ultra-modern architectural appearance, landscaped gardens and cutting-edge air conditioned link-bridge connecting to Changi Airport Terminal 3.

The new development will complement a series of improvements and expansion plans set to take place in the local area, including the completion of Terminal 4 and Jewel Changi Airport complex. The hotel is also a convenient 10 minutes from Changi Business Park, Singapore Expo and 25 minutes from the city centre by taxi or MRT.

e: singapore@destination-asia.com

Connecting Singapore to Bali’s Cultural Wonders

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The legendary Island of the Gods now has greater connections with Singapore following an announcement that SilkAir, the regional affiliate of Singapore Airlines will commence five daily flights between Singapore and Bali. The new route takes approximately 2h 25mins from Changi Airport to Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar.

On arriving in Bali, the options for immersive cultural encounters are seemingly endless as our Destination Asia Indonesia office in Bali has compiled the very best experiential programs possible. One of our most recent is ‘Hills to the Sea’, taking travelers on a splendid 7 days / 6 nights encounter starting in the cultural center of Ubud. During the program we visit local farms to learn about rice farming, peruse monolithic temples, white water raft along the Ayung River, enjoy a cruise on an 87-foot yacht and take part in a traditional Kecak dance. Our exploration of Bali uncovers the splendid cultural qualities that make the island a beloved treasure, perfect for families, couples and the independent traveler.

e: indonesia@destination-asia.com

All Encompassing Swiss-Garden Opens in Malacca

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The majestic and visually impressive Swiss-Garden Hotel & Residences Malacca is a new addition to the Malacca skyline. It is excellently located in the prime central business district just 15 minute walk from the eclectic Jonker Street and its famous historical sites. Consisting of two separate towers, the 32 and 42 storey buildings are comprised of 306 hotel rooms and 484 serviced apartments respectively. The hotel is positioned in a bend on the meandering Malacca River with impressive views over this historical UNESCO World Heritage center. Guests can explore the surrounding areas by foot or take a covered boat from the comfort of the hotel. Rooms start at a very spacious 32 square meters, reaching 95 in the hotel’s family suite and 129 within the residences.

The buildings also provide three floors of shopping and a staggering 265 retail outlets. A glass enclosed gymnasium overlooks a 500 square meter children’s water playground complete with fun filled water features – making the Swiss-Garden Hotel & Residences Malacca the ideal place for families.

e: malaysia@destination-asia.com

An Adventurous Cave Encounter in Vietnam

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Those visiting Vietnam who has a sense of adventure can now test themselves with the moderate-to-hard Tu Lan expedition. This 4 day / 3 nights experience includes sleeping at remote jungle camps and swimming in large caverns. It is not one for the faint hearted but those who do give it a go will be amply rewarded with some of the most staggering sights. Pitched as one of the most adventurous Tu Lan experiences available, the mini-expedition is led by a caving expert from the British Cave Research Association, along with a skilled adventure guide and porter team.

The 35km jungle and cave trek includes some dark cave abseiling, bouldering, climbing and swimming through the caves. The adventure takes place in and around Hang Tien Cave, one of the largest in the region. All essential equipment is provided and the expedition is suitable for anyone who considers themselves physically fit with previous trekking experience. It is not suitable for those under 16.

e: vietnam@destination-asia.com

48sqm LED Lights up Intercontinental Hong Kong

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AHong Kong is certainly a leader when it comes to delivering supreme event spaces and luxurious hotels with some of the world’s most inspirational views. The five-star Ritz Carlton hotel in Kowloon towers above its neighbors and presents the world’s highest bar, Ozone, located on the 118th floor. The nearby Intercontinental has made a recent addition to its Ballroom, helping it stand out from the compact crowd with the launch of the city’s largest hotel LED wall.

The already prestigious event venue – and one of the city’s largest pillar-less ballrooms is a favored destination for large groups. This new technological addition provides a stunning visual for meetings and events, gala dinners and wedding receptions. The high definition LED wall measures 12 meters by 4 meters with the ability to live stream images of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island, providing an impressive visual encounter and further reinforcing its connection to the surrounding environment.

e: hongkong@destination-asia.com

Image: Intercontinental Hong Kong Hotel Lobby

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