Sri Lanka in Style

By Kirsty Hewitt

We started our journey on the new direct service with Sri Lankan Airlines.  On arrival into Colombo we were met by staff from The Silk Route Lounge for the VIP service and taken through customs.  We were taken to the lounge and given snacks and cups of tea.  Someone collected our bags for us and bought them to the lounge.  This service is about USD 50.00 per person. I changed some AUD money at the airport for Sri Lanka Rupees.

Our first night was at the Galle Face Hotel.  Beautiful old world hotel and I think the best breakfast I had in Sri Lanka.  They also have a small museum in the hotel with information about the hotels history and also who has stayed there over the years.  They even have Prince Philips little car he drove in Sri Lanka many years ago.

We then took a 7 – 8 hour drive from Colombo to Ceylon Tea Trails.  We did a lot of driving throughout our itinerary and I found this leg the longest.  I would highly suggest flying this sector as you can get a seaplane and it arrives just outside of the Tea Trails accommodation!  Amazing property.

“Admire workers in the tea fields and sample the fruits of their labours on an informative tea factory tour. Punt on a reservoir, have a dip in an ice-cold pool or savour High Tea atop manicured lawns before a languid game of croquet. At night, slumber under plush duvets and be awakened by a morning cup of bed tea or even earlier by the thought of an adrenaline-fuelled hike up nearby Adam’s Peak” – Divine Destinations

We then had 2 nights at the brand new West Coast Lodge, ‘Where the Indian Ocean meets the Jungle’.  Wild Coast Tented Lodge is adjacent to the world famous Yala National Park, renowned for its dense leopard population. This spectacular luxury tented camp is situated in a stunning location where the jungle meets a pristine beach, overlooking the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Again an amazing property and whilst at Yala we did 2 safaris.  It’s an early start getting up at 4.30am, but was worth it when we saw leopards, elephants, a bear, deer, snakes and much more.

Driving along from West Coast Tented Lodge to Weligama, you can notice the famous Stilt fishermen perched like curious- looking birds all the way towards the coast. We had a 2 night stay at Cape Weligama a stunning hotel on the coast only 2 hours from Colombo. Spacious rooms with views out to the ocean.  Even their smallest room is bigger than any other hotel in Weligama! A thirty-minute coastal drive leads to the massive granite ramparts of the 400-year-old Dutch colonial Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This amazing trip really was a once in a lifetime experience and something I will never forget.  And if you get the chance to visit this breathtaking country, you won’t regret it.

Travel Tips

  • Allow enough time at the airport for check-in.  Airlines open 3 hours prior to your flight, and by getting there early can save you time waiting in line
  • Get your Sri Lankan visa before departure
  • The Resplendent Ceylon Hotels in Sri Lanka are stunning

For more information on Kirsty’s trip to Sri Lanka, or to start planning your own holiday contact

Seabourn Encore Luxury Cruise

By Loretta and Vanessa

Vanessa and I enjoyed our ship inspection on Seabourn Encore while in Melbourne earlier this year.

Both of us were impressed with the lightness and decent size passageways throughout the ship. Seabourn have small ships and Seabourn Encore holds 600 passengers. Encore is one of the newest of the Seabourn family along with Seabourn Ovation.

Both ships offer 300 ultra-luxury all-verandah suites. All of the dining venues are complimentary, along with a range of entertainment and activities. There is also a self-service laundry on board.

Point of difference with this ship is ‘The Retreat’. The Retreat is centred around an elevated whirlpool surrounded by tables and chairs as well as comfortable sun loungers. Sixteen luxurious cabanas encircle the space.

These cabanas boast every comfort including artwork on the walls, a mini bar refrigerator and padded sun loungers. There’s even an enormous flat screen TV which you are able to watch with noise cancelling headphones so you won’t disturb your neighbours.

Guests gain access to Seabourn Encore ‘The Retreat’ by booking one of the cabanas. Included is all-day access, a selection of canapés and premium beverages and a plush Retreat bath robe – charges USD$249.00 on port days and US$349.00 on sea days.

Experience this and more on the luxurious all-suite Seabourn Encore. She offers the highest level of personalized service with nearly one staff member for each guest.

Loretta is a CLIA Ambassador Cruise Consultant. For more information on Seabourn or to book your next cruise holiday contact or



Joel – The Best of Chile with Atacama, Patagonia & Chiloé Island

Chile is a fascinating and picturesque country, stretching 4,290km from Peru to Patagonia.  Highlights of my trip include the extraordinary Atacama Desert, the Lakes District and the glaciers and national parks of Patagonia. My itinerary was designed by South America Tourism Office, and their planning was excellent. I visited many of the fully inclusive luxury lodges that offer guests the best of all worlds; delicious local food and wine, boutique lodges, set in some incredible landscapes, with private guides.  The overall experience was tailored to make it the trip of a lifetime.

Reviewed by Joel Webb

~Getting There~

I flew with Lan Chile, and the customer service was excellent on the Long Haul flight from Auckland to Santiago.  Seating was of a good standard for Economy, and I had great leg room on the exit row and bulk head. Awesome movie selection and the food of a high standard for airline food.

Santiago Airport was a great learning curve! I recommend allowing at least 2 and a half hours for connections from International to Domestic terminal. Signage to Domestic Terminal is tricky so here is a trip when going through the airport:

  • Once you clear customs you will turn left and walk along untill you enter the arrivals hall
  • Turn Right and walk through glass doors
  • Then turn left and enter elevator and head up to level 3
  • Arrive at the Domestic Departure hall

~  Atacama ~

I flew from Santiago to Calama Airport and then had a 2 hour drive through the Atacama Desert.  My long travel day was a distant memory when I reached the most breath taking resort I have been to. Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa is a boutique hotel on the edge of San Pedro de Atacama. There are  32 rooms of which  2 rooms are set up for a family (or more than 2 guests)

Tierra Atacama Room & Views

The Rooms are awash with nude and cocoa tones, with large canopy beds facing the mountain range which allows the most beautiful view to start and end the day. The sleek, ensuite bathrooms have cool slate floors and frosted glass with both inside and outside showers. With a luxurious spa service and a swimming pool with a view to die for…. just relaxing alone here would have satisfied most.

Tierra Atacama Pool & Excursions

Once unpacked I was met by the Excursion Director who planned my daily program so I could make the most of my time in one of Earth’s most beautiful locations. I loved Atacama, and it had so many varied excursions. From Salt Flats, Moon Valley by car or bike, Puritama Hot Springs or El Tatio Geyers and many other walking and riding excursions to meet everyone’s level of fitness.

Excursions from Tierra Atacama

I would suggest a stay anywhere from 4-7 days at Atacama. With the Resort sitting at 2400M above sea level it is important to visit towards the end of your holiday in Chile.  Most of the excursions are 3000M and above sea level and is best to work up to the higher levels so you don’t get altitude sickness.

I Loved this Resort and area! Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • Full board: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, open bar
  • 2 daily half-day guided excursions OR full-day excursion daily
  • Use of pools, sauna & Jacuzzi

~  Chiloé Island ~

It is important to note, allow and be prepared for extra time on travelling days as the distances are great between destinations.  After flights, car, and ferry….I arrived at Tierra Chiloé which is nestled in the magical landscape of the Chiloé archipelago. The resort has only 12 rooms all with a sea view.

Fire Pit lounge & Room at Tierra Chiloe

Superior rooms are made from Chiloé Island wood and give s warm inviting feel. The rooms have large comfortable beds that face wide windows with views of the inland Pacific Ocean. Enjoy a deep soak bathtubs at the end of the day, which I could even fit in and I’m 6″3! I had 2 baths in 3 nights…it was awesome.  I also loved the unique touches that come with a boutique hotel such as hand-knitted slippers which you can take home with you.

Excursions from Tierra Chiloe

There is a lovely living room, hotel Spa, Steam room and Dry Sauna. But I really enjoyed the fireplace outside where guests can sit and talk over a drink at the end of the day.

With excursions such as Dolphin Watching and Island visiting, visiting Castro town, Market shopping and hiking through the Chiloé National Park; make visiting Chiloé definitely worthwhile. The highlight for me was visiting a local house for lunch, as I enjoyed chatting with them and gaining an insight into their everyday life.

Having lunch with a local family was a highlight

Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • American breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Open Bar including mineral water, soft drink, juices, house wine and liquors.
  • Two half-day excursions or one full-day excursions daily in small groups with other guests
  • Use of Sauna & Jacuzzi

~ Patagonia ~

We flew into Punta Arenas and then had a 4 hour scenic drive to the resort. And it sure was worth the drive as when you arrive at Tierra Patagonia and then walk down the corridor…..there is the WOW factor!  You look through huge glass windows out to the Torres del Paine Peaks and Lake.

Room & Hot tub with a view!

The Resort has 40 rooms which all view the Torres Del Paine and Lake, and I started my day sitting in my room with a coffee in hand watching the sun beam across the mountains. The Superior Rooms feature large beds and incredible views. Deep-soak bathtubs again which I used each night (don’t usually fit in baths so it’s quite a novelty for me!)

Again like Atacama and Chiloé once I unpacked I met the Excursion Director who planned my daily program to make the most of the time in this incredible part of Chile. Each day the drive is 60 – 90 minutes from the hotel to the National Park for trekking and Excursions.

Excursions from Tierra Patagonia

Excursions include trekking through the National Park to waterfalls, Twin Peaks, Blue Lagoon and Glaciers followed by Bike riding.  There are either half day or full day tours and just to finish the experience you can ride a horse through the fields or streams. Incredible.

I loved Patagonia the change between here and Atacama is so diverse.

Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • American breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Open Bar including mineral water, soft drink, juices, house wine and liquors.
  • Two half-day excursions or one full-day excursions daily in small groups with other guests
  • Use of Swimming Pool, Sauna & Jacuzzi

~ Santiago ~

Arriving back into Santiago, I stayed at Cumbres Lastarria which is located in a modern lively area of Santiago. It is a nice 4 star resort with excellent service and provided live entertainment on a Thursday to Sunday night. If you love to people watch than this hotel is for you, as sitting at the bar around 8pm the street comes to life with locals.

I loved my 12 days in Chile,  and saw some of the most beautiful sites in the world.

Joels Tips

  1. Don’t rush, allow plenty of time to experience each destination
  2. Plan your stay in Atacama towards the end of your trip
  3. Use a travel agent as the itinerary can be complex, but becomes seamless with an experience of our wholesalers like South America Tourism Office
  4. A stay at one of the ‘Tierra’ Hotels is a must, as the views are incredible

About Joel

I’ve been in travel for over 13 years, and I have travelled to many diverse destinations. From family trips to Bali and Thailand, to camping in South Africa, to staying in 6 star resorts in Dubai and Oman. I have toured across Europe, stayed at B&Bs throughout the UK, cruised up to Alaska and down through the Caribbean. I have seen the West Coast of Canada and America by Train, Car and plane and much of Asia.

To find out more about South America, contact 

Janelle – The Strand Cruise Myanmar

I was very spoilt on this AMAZING trip to Myanmar. The Strand Cruise and the Strand Hotel Yangon are stunning!!

~ Getting there ~

Reviewed by Janelle King

We travelled with Thai Airways in Business Class on the way over and Economy Class on the way back.  The service was really good, and the food was great too.  It was the best way to start the journey with access to the THAI Business Class Lounge before stretching out in my luxurious seat.

In economy the seats were comfy and had a good selection of entertainment, along with the friendly THAI service.

The domestic flight in Myanmar was a new experience! At the check in for domestic flights they don’t use computers.  You are given colour coded stickers that relate to your flight!!  It was also my first time on a propeller aircraft.

~ The Strand Cruise ~

The Strand Cruise ~ WOW ~  We were met at the airport and transferred to the ship by The Strand, which was the beginning of an amazing experience.  As you board the ship you are given cold towels and they take your shoes which was a nice touch.  They do this every time you board and the ship stays immaculate!

My cabin (101) was a the back corner of the ship,  so was a bit larger than the others.  I would recommend it to anyone.   Inside the cabins the beds and pillows are heaven.  Big sliding doors to enjoy the view and scenery passing you by!

There are 26 cabins on board,  so usually around 50 passengers,  with just as many staff.  The staff are wonderful and all the leaders are French.

The Strand Cruise offers three or four night voyages on Myanmar’s the Ayeyarwady River between the ancient cities of Bagan and Mandalay, offering passengers an in-depth immersion into the wonders and sights of this wonderful country. The daily menu of on shore excursions provides a full and comprehensive tour in small groups with expert local guides that detail the history and significance of all sites visited

My Cabin onboard The Strand

The ship has a pool which is nice and refreshing,  a great way to relax after a day of sightseeing.  The upper deck is a lovely area of the ship and also the best place for wifi. There is a beautiful air-conditioned bar and restaurant and the food is amazing.  I wasn’t ever hungry and  basically went from one meal to another!! A true foodies heaven!

Modern style décor, except for the bar which was an English library décor old world charm.  There were only 16 guests on our ship with a range of demographics so we had a mum and 30ish daughter, a 40ish couple from Singapore, an English couple in their 70’s with a solo travelling friend and 3 French women in their late 40’s so quite a mix.

Cruising isn’t allowed at night,  so they anchor somewhere quiet every night.

Relaxing Poolside

~ Life onboard ~

Day trips from the ship include a horse and cart ride through the temples and monasteries.  Bagan is gorgeous, a real highlight for me.  When you see photos of Myanmar of hot air balloons over temples,  this is where it is.  I am not usually a temple person but you can’t help it find them beautiful. Sightseeing is included along with:

  • Three meals during full sailing days, breakfast on day of disembarkation
  • All sightseeing as stated in set itineraries
  • Soft drinks & local beer. House wine during meals
  • Wi-Fi

Swedagon Pagoda – Touring from The Strand – Yangon Sightseeing

~ Yangon ~

Yangon reminded me of Kuala Lumpur with lots of gardens and lakes.  We had a chance to walk around the colonial quarter which shows their French influence, and The Strand Hotel is here.

Strand Hotel Yangon just completed a massive renovation and it looks stunning.  Old world charm and just beautiful.  Large rooms with high ceilings.  Next to the Australian Embassy if anyone has any problems. You can walk out the door to markets.  Highly recommend.

The Strand, Yangon

~ Bangkok ~

I wasn’t a big fan before,  but it has really developed since I last visited.  We did a tour which consisted of a river cruise,  but then went up through the canals which was really interesting and unexpected.  Both wealthy and not wealthy living side by side.  Then we had a tuk tuk ride to a hotel on the river for lunch.  Bit of fun.

Bangkok Hotel ~ Anantara Siam

I had always preferred the river area,  but I really found the Siam area great.  You can walk to Central Shopping Centre, and it has a Sky Train stop out the front. It is a lovely hotel and the rooms large and luxurious.  They also provide a smart phone for everyone to use in Bangkok.  Pool was lush and tropical even in torrential downpours.  Aqua restaurant for breakfast has indoor or outdoor seating.  It is very popular for after dinner drinks with the locals and expats.  We had our last dinner in the Spice Market and they bought up a course from each of the restaurants in the hotel.  Food was excellent.  You wouldn’t even need to leave the hotel if you didn’t want to!

Bangkok Hotel ~ St Regis Bangkok

This was the bees knees for me.  Next door to the Anantara Siam.  Gorgeous.  The lobby smells so good.   They have their own scent which you can buy!!!  Rooms lovely like the Anantara next door,  but their added touch was the St Regis Butler Service which can be contacted via the WhatsApp.  They can be reached at anytime if you have a question.  If you are lost they can get you back to the hotel,  if you don’t know how much to pay for something,  take a photo and they will let you know.  Very cool.

The bar overlooks a golf course which is a very relaxing way of winding down at the end of the day.

Anantara Siam, Bangkok

Travel Tips

  • The visa for Myanmar is super easy.  USD50 and the link is: Upload a photo and they send a confirmation letter within 48 hours.
  • Book Early! The best hotels and cruises like The Strand sell out so it’s best to plan in advance

About Janelle

My love for travel developed from spending my childhood years growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore – my Dad was based there as a pilot. I’ve travelled extensively through Europe and more recently through Asia with my young family. A family highlight was America to include Disneyworld and New York. My favourite cities are New York, Prague & Paris. Aside from America, my most amazing trips have been on safari in Kenya and visiting the amazing palaces in Russia. My bucket list would be The Kimberley & Patagonia in Chile.

To find out more contact

Loretta – Singapore

Loretta Abernethy

Singapore is great for a holiday or a stopover destination.  There is something to keep everyone happy – from tours to adventures to culinary delights! Or unwind with a cool dip in your hotel pool.

I flew with Qantas on the A330.  They delivered good service in Economy.

We were met by Tour East on arrival, who provided our transfers from the airport to hotel.  I was impressed with how well they provided their transfer service with great personality and customer focus.

Day Tours with Qantas Holidays

  • Aquarium 
  • Universal Studios
  • Gardens on The Bay
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Cable Car to Sentosa Island

Day Tours

A highlight for me was Sentosa Island.  It has a lot to offer families, with a range of activities.  I even did a Segway tour around the island! The beaches were nice, and I enjoyed lunch at The Beach Bar.  You can stay on Sentosa Island to make the most of your time enjoying all that is on offer.  AJ Hackett has also just opened up a Bungee Jump for those who want an extreme adventure!

I stayed at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, which is a 5 star hotel in the heart of Orchard Road.  It’s very lush and green with very nice gardens.  And it is so close to all of the best shopping!  I highly recommend spoiling yourself next time you are in Singapore with a stay here.

Shangri-La’s Hotel Singapore

There are so many great places to eat! We went to Little India, China Town, Robinson Quay just to name a few.  But you can’t go past the signature Singapore seafood dish – Singapore Chilli Crab!  Delicious.

Out and about in Singapore

About Loretta

I started my travel career in 2004 after moving to Melbourne from Christchurch. I’ve travelled the globe and my favourite destinations include Europe and Asia. For more information on Singapore as a stopover or holiday destination contact 

Loretta – Viking Sun

Loretta Abernethy

I was lucky enough to join Viking Sun’s maiden voyage for an experience of a lifetime! The itinerary was a Trans-Atlantic cruise from Lisbon to Miami. Viking Sun was only a month old and it was lovely to experience a brand new ship.

This ship has something to offer everyone – with an infinity pool, snow room and a generous gym.  The theme around the ship is Nordic with lovely light spaces.  The bathroom in my Deluxe Verandah Stateroom on deck 4 was the most generous size I have seen. And came with heated flooring!

Deluxe Verandah Stateroom

Wi-Fi through the ship was amazing during the voyage.  Entertainment was still finding its feet, and am sure Viking were learning as the voyage went on. They added an additional show as there were too many guests to fit in the theatre in the evening. On my voyage there were 930 passengers with most being in their 70’s onwards and 90% American. This demographic was due most likely to it being a Trans-Atlantic voyage.

Dining Options

I enjoyed the guest lecturers and Resident Historian they had on board during the cruise.  It definitely helps you to connect to your destination in every possible way.

Highlights to mention on Viking Sun:

  • No children and no casinos
  • Wine & beer & soft drink is included at lunch and dinner
  • One shore excursion included in each port
  • Unlimited free Wi-Fi
  • Self-Service laundrettes
  • 24 Hour Specialty coffees, teas & bottled water

I would recommend adding in the drinks package.  We can assist you in signing up to My Viking Journey. Here you can book shore excursions, make bookings for the restaurants, add in drinks packages etc.

Life Onboard

Also highly recommend the Norwegian Spa Treatment this is where you experience the steam room & the snow room.



 Lisbon – Behotellisboa 

  • Right in the central square close to the river.  I also did the Hop on Hop off which I would recommend.  Lisbon I highly recommend as a city stay.

Miami – The Hotel of South Beach 

  • Art deco hotel right in the heart of South Beach.  Also did the hop on hop off bus & boat tour here.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time onboard Viking Sun. Its elegant design and focus on exceptional food and wine are outstanding.  I had a chance to look at other voyages for future holidays and am impressed by their port intensive itineraries. 

Shore Excursions

About Loretta

Cruising is my passion! I have ocean cruised through Asia & the South Pacific and also river cruised through many beautiful European cities and towns. I love to travel and experience different cultures. Next on my bucket list is a river cruise through France!

If you have any questions or would like assistance in choosing the right cruise for your next holiday, contact 

Sophie: Club Med Tomamu, Japan

Clubmed Tomamu Japan opened this year, and it is the perfect place for your next family ski holiday. The rooms and entertainment areas are spacious and modern. It is more than just your standard ski trip, as the GOs and ski instructors become your family and Club Med becomes your home.

I really want to congratulate Club Med on how well they do their Ski Program. The entire process is seamless. It is honestly the easiest ski holiday! Two lessons are scheduled per day, and they cater to all levels. I’ve snowboarded for 9 years, and I can’t believe how much I learnt over the last 4 days. The instructors are excellent, a solid 10/10.

The Terrain at Tomamu is perfect for Beginners to Intermediate. There were no lift lines when we were there so it felt we had the mountain to ourselves! It is a smaller mountain so expert riders just need to be aware of this.

It’s not all about the amazing Japanese powder. Off the slopes there is a range of resort activities, from daily yoga to a traditional onsen. The kids can make a splash Mina Mina beach wave pool, or even test their paddle boarding skills, while the adults can treat themselves to a much needed massage.

In the evening the bar is pumping, enjoy a drink with the gorgeous GOs and your Instructors while watching the nightly entertainment. Otherwise for a quiet night you can sneak off to the Nest Bar and indulge in premium whisky and sake tasting.

The facilities for Kids are second to none, brand new and all of the kids I came across were loving life! Not to mention the delicious food done in a buffet style, so there is always lots of choice for any fussy eaters!

What’s Included?

Clubmed knows how to do ski, being all inclusive there is no need to worry about putting your hand in your pocket every 5 minutes – and we all know how easy it is to spend up a storm at the snow!!

  • Ski passes and classes
  • Kids club 4-17
  • All meals and beverages
  • Day and night entertainment

Holiday Planning Tips

Add on some time in Tokyo to soak up some of the incredible Japanese culture before or after your Ski experience at Club Med.  Also Check out my interview with ski Instructor Pat for his tips on the best time to come! I would not hesitate to recommend this to families as it’s such a seamless holiday.

About Sophie

Sophie has previously lived and worked in the Canadian winters for over 2 Years. She has also been to Club Med Sahoro & Club Med Piessey Valandry in France, so if you have any more questions about what is the right ski holiday for you please contact




Sophie – Club Med Peisey Vallandry,

Club Med Peisey Vallandry,

Tucked away in the French Alps Club Med Peisey Vallandry sits at 1600 metres altitude and offers a vast range of Terrain for all ski/snowboard levels. From the moment you arrive you are greeted with open arms, the staff and GOs go out of their way to enhance your experience, nothing is too much trouble.  There is a great variety of food daily and being all inclusive it is completely hassle free. There’s nothing better than coming back from a long morning on the slopes and lunch is already served. The instructors are world class, they can teach an old dog new tricks or help a newbie find their snow feet. Either way by the end of the week you will surprise yourself how much you have learnt and how much terrain you have covered.

Club Med Peisey Vallandry is perfect for families.

I personally loved the entire experience and can’t wait get back there.sophie-image2sophie-image1

Holly: Culinary Tour Of California

This year I was lucky enough to join a culinary tour of California, which proceeded to unveil many hidden treasures in and around Los Angeles.

We started by flying with United Airlines, sampling their new Dream Liner and Economy Plus Seating – there is no need to fly economy again when the extra seat and leg room was such a minimal additional cost.

Downtown Los Angeles proved to be a real treasure, contemporary, clean, safe and very easy to navigate.  An absolute must is to dine at the Commissary, showing off the massive shift in LA toward the “farm to fork” style dining.  Then of course we only had to take the lift up to our rooms at The Line Hotel.  Waking up and looking out on the Hollywood sign was very cool experience, and the rooms were very funky.  The Line also had great coffee and cold pressed juices – who would have thought!

Many of us have walked the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, but have you dined where the famous did nearly 100 years ago?  The incredibly stylish Musso and Frank Grill, with its red leather booths and mahogany bar was a regular to the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Munro, serving up the best steak (and martini’s) in town.

Disneyland is an obvious choice for many travellers, but did you know you could experience fine dining in a theme park!  The beautiful, peaceful Carthay Circle was inspired by the theatre  where Walk Disney showcased Snow White.   The contemporary menu was amazing, and away from the crowds where you can enjoy the nightly parade go by, before of course joining in on the World Of Colour.

Enough action was had by now, so off to the pristine Temecula Valley we went.  Not only home to world class wineries and 6 top golf courses, it also boasts title of USA’s best Casino – Pachanga!!

We met the charming Bill Wilson whilst lunching at Wilsons Creek Winery, this place was beautiful and the food and wine were to die for – I particularly enjoyed the famous “Yes Dear” Chardonnay!

Temecula Valley was a real highlight, if you can spare a couple of days whilst transiting or visiting LA please try to fit this in.  Our accommodation at Temecula Creek Inn was outstanding, and the whole area was very picturesque and relaxing.  We noticed again that shift to “farm to fork” dining, with a major focus on home grown and sustainably raised meats in the award winning Cork Fire Kitchen.

Only an hour away from Temecula, we headed back to the coast, to San Diego – another wonderful surprise.  We explored farmers markets, the USS Midway, drove our own speedboats across the vast San Diego Harbour.  La Jolla proved to be another hidden treasure, we dined at Georgias Roof Top, overlooking the spectacular Pacific Ocean – it was truly breathtaking!

Our journey was coming to an end, but not before visiting Coronado, a small island off San Diego – I urge you all to google search The Del Coronado – words cannot describe how amazing this 18th century luxurious resort is.  Perched on one of the worlds’ most beautiful beaches, this resort was pure luxury, offering fine dining, private beach front cottages, and many activities including an ice skating rink set up in front of the beach to operate during their winter months.

My journey has certainly changed my perspective of visiting LA – there is just so much more to do than Santa Monica Pier and Anaheim, I urge you all to find a few extra days and see more of what Southern California has to offer.

 HOLLY.Commissary Restaurant at The Line Hotel                                                        The Commissary Restaurant at The Line Hotel

Sophie: Sabah

Sabah is an East Malaysian State on Borneo Island, and only a short 2 hour and 40 minute flight from Kuala Lumpur.  It is an amazing destination and boasts ancient rainforests, endless beaches and amazing wildlife. The Asian cuisine is sensational, and the shopping will keep you entertained for hours.

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Sabah last month. My journey started in the states capital, Kota Kinabalu.  Kota Kinabalu or as the locals call it KK is a modern city, the streets are clean and the people are welcoming. Kota Kinabalu has something to offer for all types of travellers, for the adventurous traveller there is the Tunku Abdul Rhman Park which is a cluster of islands only 20minutes from Kota Kinabalu. The islands offer brilliant scuba diving and snorkelling; you can even do your complete PADI course here! For families there is more than enough to do. Visit the Mari Mari cultural village and see how the Borneo tribes use to live, it is a very hands on and educational experience, brilliant for children!


sophie blowpipe hiunting

blowpipe hunting @ Mari Maru Cultural Village





sophie-cooking class sabah


Cooking class @ Mari Mari Cultural Village




The Shangri la Rasa Ria is a must for couples and families. This 5 star resort is exceptional, and in a league of its own. It is only a 45 minute drive from Kota Kinabalu, and located on the beautiful Pantai Dalit Beach.  Treat yourself to a sea view room and you wont be disappointed. The resorts facilities are outstanding; it even has its own 64acre Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre! Once you go to the Shangri la Rasa Ria you will never want to leave!

Sandakan was the next stop. Sandakan is only a short 40 minute flight from Kota Kinabalu, the city itself feels untouched by tourists compared to Kota Kinabalu. The city gives a great insight into the daily life of the local people. When staying in Sandakan you can’t go past the Four Points By Sheraton, this brand new hotel oozes class and is in Prime location. Located on the waterfront it is close to restaurants and markets.    sophie sabah aorangutanSandakan is a great base for seeing the Orang-utans in Sepilok and the Proboscis Monkeys at Labuk Bay. Seeing the Orang-utans is a surreal experience, all orang-utans are going through a rehabilitation process and at any point they have the freedom to fend for themselves. Given this it is never guaranteed how many you will get to see in one feeding session. So it is recommended to attend the morning feeding session at 10am as more Orang-utans come out to play for breakfast. You even have the opportunity to adopt one of the orang-utans and receive updates of their progress. The Proboscis Monkeys are also a must do, you get the opportunity to get right up and close to the monkeys. I could have watched them for hours while they frolicked around me.

sophie -gelison                                       



Gelison – My adopted Orang-utan







Monkey@ the ProboscisMonkey Sanctuary




Sabah is a great destination for any type of holiday or traveller. I really enjoyed my week there and would love to go back and explore some more!