Travel & Me…

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Well, I don’t know what really intrigued me to write this piece but I am still going to go ahead and pour my feelings and emotions about my magical and intense relationship with Travel!

As far as I can remember, I have always loved to travel. No matter what age I was- I was excited each time around mom or dad would announce details of our next holiday. As kids, I’d say our holidays mostly (not all) were to safe and well known places. In the sense, the kind of holidays you usually expect families to take so that minimum risk is involved with going wrong.

A place now not necessarily on one’s “Places to Travel List”- Mussoorie, the “Queen of Hills” as it’s been referred to, made for a constant holiday for us every summer break. To be honest, at times we would detest the monotony. But in today’s times of rampant change- I am glad we as a family had some sense of tradition which got followed and now we do have this treasured trunk of memories. I am not saying monotony was essential but maybe simplicity was. I am thrilled that we tasted the simple things in life as now luxury is more available with growing up.

I mean going pretty much packed in a family car with limited leg room, stocking up everyone’s favourite munchies to share on the way, then heading to modest yet long standing restaurants for their specialties such as Chole Bhature at The Green Vegetarian Restaurant, Steamed Momos at The Rice Bowl, Omellete at the Lovely Omellete Centre or even the Maggie at Char Dukan. All this only added much more flavour to one’s holiday. Best part was that there was little to no “Me Time” and there was a lot of “OUR TIME”. There were little to no selfies but a lot more memories etched in one’s heart.

To be honest, this isn’t a critique of times today necessarily but just a little jiggle for each one of us to be able to enjoy our holidays or family time more. Also, what I didn’t realize then- I wish I am fortunate enough to gift my kids some sense of legacy- in the sense, I visited Mussoorie 24 years in a row straight and that’s not it, this is something which was started during my father’s childhood.  I mean there is no such thing as lack of options but today, I feel blessed to talk about something rather unique even amidst that monotony.

And not to say we just made it to the “Queen of Hills” as a family, we went to the beaches, we went to some really nice heritage properties, we went to some more hills and we also made several road trips. My first flight as well as first foreign trip didn’t come so early but I am glad it didn’t else maybe I would have been devoid of the simple pleasures. For instance, having my father wait as I wrote my final exam to quickly rush to the train station to catch our overnight train to Goa wherein the whole family occupied close to ten beds. Not sure if I’ll do it now but I am glad we did it then as I wouldn’t swap that for anything else!

Today, my job and passion to travel has taken me to several places and I must confess that each place has been ultra-special for me-maybe because there were a lot of firsts attached to them and also for the sheer pleasure of touring on one’s own earnings.

I have to say that my love for travel was triggered during my childhood days and I am glad and grateful to parents and family for ensuring we traveled enough. I pretty much convinced myself of being a travel writer but though that plan didn’t materialize fully (no regrets) – I pretty much got my wings on in my early 20’s and so intensified my relationship with travel.

Here are few snippets of some really special experiences at some really special places-

  1. Thailand, 2012- This one was extremely special as my father let me go by self for the first time to visit friends in Bangkok and Pattaya. I was pleasantly surprised with his decision. And what an empowering feeling- I suddenly felt more responsible and just loved life a little bit more. And not to miss adding- visiting Phuket a year later to indulge in water sports like never before- I feel several fears got conquered at that very instance. Also, Bangkok continues to be special as I have experienced some of the top quality properties, thanks to my blog!
  2. Japan, 2014- I learnt the sense of gratitude and compassion from the most wonderful people I encountered in Tokyo. And in general, the build up to the trip inculcated much faith in self as well as courage and confidence…On a side note, I learnt how to spend 12 hours at the airport if you have a connecting flight 😉
  3. Sri Lanka, 2015- Witnessing the tea gardens of Nuwara Eliya was like my mini encounter with Switzerland!
  4. Bangkok, 2016- This was with family and our special toddler (my nephew), the joy of gifting a holiday to my mom- priceless!
  5. Europe, 2016- What do I say about this one? The trip comprised of my solo visit to Istanbul- sounds fancy but did require much preparation within and out to take it on! But really there was an entire sense of self-discovery during those two days. Then came Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin with my best friend- of course we had some wonderful experiences and ticking off a few things from my wish-list including watching a tennis grand slam live but what it truly made me realize was the richness of a bond that had been nurtured. The way my best friend took care of me, the giggles we shared, the confessions we made- wow, I can see us doing that even at 80!

I must reiterate that I haven’t kicked aside the simple pleasures from my trip, this year itself I thoroughly cherished my trip to Udaipur with my cousin where the simple satisfaction of visiting a temple or being on a boat to absorb the surroundings were truly memorable.

And there is so much more… I can’t thank my job enough for letting me taste immaculate food of Kolkata, treating my eyes to the skyline of Dubai, refreshing my senses in Nepal, indulging in Ayurvedic massages in Kovalam and exploring other cities and their unique offerings such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai amongst others!

 

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Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathmandu

Lastly, as the quote goes, “Not all those who wander are lost”- I love to wander every now and then, but trust me- mostly my travels have great purpose as they usually do add more purpose to my life!

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Here’s to my endless wanderlust!!!
-Sonali

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HIGH ON HOTELS: THE DYLAN

Amsterdam… what more do we say that we have not said in admiration of this city? Well, continuing with our public display of affection (P.D.A. you see) for this city, next in our High on Hotel series- we getting chatting with the representatives of another extremely credible and worthwhile hotel- The Dylan, so sit back and enjoy!

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: The Dylan consist of 40 rooms and suites. All the rooms are individually designed in different styles. The Dylan Amsterdam is located in the heart of the city center and in “de negen straatjes” district. In “de negen straatjes” you can discover different galleries, boutiques, bars and eateries. Personal attention and high-quality service isn’t something we have to explain to our staff –at the Dylan it comes naturally.  Our guests are always our priority. The guests can have a perfectly crafted coffee or one of our signature cocktails at Bar Brasserie OCCO, an exquisite dinner at our Michelin Star restaurant Vinkeles or they can relax in our lounge by the fireplace.

All in one, The Dylan offers a refined, modern decor along with unparalleled, personalized service and a five-star product.
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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: We have the following comfort in the rooms: Air-conditioning, Bose sound system with Bluetooth iPod connection, safe, minibar, telephone, television, work desk (incl. USA adapter), “Frette” bathrobes, linens and slippers, James Heeley bath amenities and a magnifying mirror. Also, there are tea and coffee facilities, free Wi-Fi and 24 hours room service.

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam has different facilities. Bar brasserie OCCO, Michelin restaurant Vinkeles, fitness room, a cozy lounge, garden, massages, bicycles, concierge service and free Wi-Fi.

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: We have two must try restaurants in The Dylan. One of them is Restaurant Vinkeles. The intimate and historic setting offers the perfect mood to enjoy the cooking of Chef Dennis Kuipers and his team. His modern French cuisine with its international twist, often described as “exciting, modest and refined”, has been awarded a Michelin star in 2009.

Bar Brasserie OCCO is a distinct cosmopolitan eatery with menus highlighting handcrafted cocktails and creative cuisine drawn from local Dutch influences and producers. A perfect, more casual alternative to Restaurant Vinkeles.

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Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: One of the unique selling points of The Dylan Amsterdam is the location. The rooms have a view over the canals or our garden. The Dylan offers refined and modern décor along with personalized service. Another unique selling point is our the Michelin star restaurant and our beautiful secluded garden.
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Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is perfectly reachable with public transportation. The tram station at the Keizersgracht or Elandsgracht is within walking distance (5 minutes).

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: The easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport is with a taxi but the hotel is easily reachable by public transportation.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is located in “de negen straatjes” (The nine streets).  These streets are the connection between the four main canals. Vintages stores, alternative fashion and specialized theme stores can be found there. The nine streets is also an excellent location for a good cup of coffee and to escape from the busier streets in Amsterdam.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: There are many things that you can eat when you get back to the hotel at 2 am. For example, for a big appetite-we offer pizza, roasted steak with fries, different kinds of wraps and more. Next to this, we have different options for a late night snack. Think of veal “bitterballen” or Dutch shrimp croquettes.

Pictures Curtesy: The Dylan Amsterdam

HIGH ON HOTELS: Swissôtel Amsterdam

It is not an unknown fact that we absolutely love and adore Amsterdam. The place has a fun and cozy vibe which is very inviting and we just cannot wait for our next visit there. Today, in our High on Hotels series, we are throwing light on a boutique hotel situated in our favourite-Amsterdam which looks extremely impressive and comfortable. So, sit back and enjoy this beauty of a property as we get chatting with its representative…

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Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers outstanding, personalized service- making guests feel comfortable and at home. The staff goes above and beyond for their guests and has a lot of knowledge regarding the city and its activities and is always there to help and inform guests. Furthermore, the location of Swissôtel Amsterdam gives guests direct access to shopping, public transport and the main tourist attractions. A few minutes away you will also find the famous Body Worlds, Madame Tussauds and Royal Palace.

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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A:
Every room has a Nespresso machine and tea- free of charge and a mini bar at an additional charge. Furthermore, guests can enjoy complimentary wireless access and every room has a pillow menu, where people can find different pillow types that can be requested at reception.

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Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: All guests have free access to the Swissôtel Amsterdam Fitness featuring state-of-the-art TechnoGym equipment and to the business centre which offers complimentary internet access and light snacks.

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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam does not have its own, in-house restaurant. However, right next to Swissôtel Amsterdam- you can find the restaurant ROYAL98, which offers seats with a view on the famous Dam Square. ROYAL98 opened up last year and offers delicious, fresh wood oven pizzas and pastas as well as more international dishes such as sandwiches, cakes, burgers and Dutch Bitterballen. And don’t forget to try the typical Dutch dessert-Trio of Stroopwafel. Hotel guests can also enjoy the buffet breakfast or A la carte breakfast for an additional charge.

Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: The prime location on the Dam Square and personalized service would be our USP.

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Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: There is a tram stop right in front of the hotel, which is connected to the most important stops in the city. Furthermore, the metro and train stations are situated on a 7 minutes’ walk, connecting to the other areas of Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport.

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: By train, you arrive at Amsterdam Central Station within 30 minutes, then it is a 7 minutes’ walk to the hotel. Swissôtel Amsterdam can also arrange a taxi to pick guests up from the airport at an additional charge.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: Next to the hotel- the famous warehouse ‘De Bijenkorf’ can be found, other warehouses ‘Magna Plaza’ and ‘Hudson’s Bay’ are on a 5 minutes’ walk and the main shopping street is right behind the hotel with stores of all the popular brands such as Pull&Bear and Forever21.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers 24/7 room service, with offerings such as pizza, pasta, sandwiches and ice cream.

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Pictures Courtesy: Swissôtel Amsterdam

 

Bright & Beautiful Birthday at Blo Bar

Can only begin by expressing gratitude to all those who made my birthday super special and beautiful. While the celebrations went on for days, sharing a little about the party I had hosted for my girlies at the newly opened Blo Bar in Defence Colony Market.

The minute I came across the fun concept of this place, I just knew it that I wanted to host a party here and what’s better is that the birthday was not very far off. Blobar is India’s first blow-dry bar only. They strongly believe in the transformative power of a simple blowout.

Here is taking you through the journey of planning and executing this very simple yet supremely fun party. As a birthday girl, I can talk for myself for sure with confidence that I had a ball of a time.

  1. Invitation- Being an event planner, I was certain to go into details. Hence, this invite for my close group of friends and sisters. The theme had to have an essence of celebrating “US”- so, I thought of Bright and Beautiful. And I love making invites on www.greetingsisland.com so the birthday invite too had to be from here!
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  2. Venue- Girls, believe me when I say this that I made the best decision to host my party at Blo Bar. It was something so different and unique that everyone thoroughly enjoyed and so many reached out to me to ask more about this entire concept. The package I opted for included shampoo/conditioning and hair styling with drinks from their side such as Champagne, Sangria and Vodka which translates to the fact that each guest got 2-3 glasses of alcohol. Yes, you read it right, the owner-Sargam is ever so sweet and did pop a Champagne as well. In addition, they provided some munchies such as Cheese Crackers, Nachos & Salsa and Puffs. What’s better is that they are ever so flexible and hence, let me add more food to the table. 
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  3. Food- Since the talk on the food just got started thought I’d enlighten you a bit on what all I added. There was Vegetarian Quiche from Defence Bakery, Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Kathi Rolls and Yummy Sandwiches, courtesy mother.
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  4. Games- Yes, we had to play some fun games as the girls took turns to get their hair shampooed and conditioned and then styled. They have a lovely hair styling menu for one to pick and choose! And each one loved their hair styles and flashed a big smile! The games included- What’s on your phone- the girl with the maximum score won, then-Who knows the Birthday Girl the Best and lastly, I got everyone to write their most Special Memory with Me!
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  5. Cake- Well, this element too had to be different so I ditched cutting the usual cake and instead ordered Passion Fruit, Mixed Fruit, Lemon and Chocolate Tarts from The Bombakery! And believe you me, their tarts are absolutely divine!
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  6. Photos, please- The entire venue is so so pretty but there is one particular wall against which you gotta click enough pictures! And Blo Bar was kind enough to arrange some amazing photo props as well!
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  7. Decor- The place requires very little add-ons. They arranged for some beautiful hangings and I too added a few cut-outs of flowers, pink buntings, purple tissues, polka plates, pink glasses and the like! The place is very bright and beautiful!
  8. Music- I had shared my preferred list and they played them all! In the end, you gotta a shake a leg or two!
  9. Return Gifts- I just wanted to do this! As a very small gesture to express tremendous gratitude to each one of them for adding so much brightness to my life- I gave each one a Face Mask from The Face Shop with a Thank you Card!

    Hope you enjoyed going through my party in brief!!! And THANK YOU Blo Bar for making this Birthday truly memorable and extra special!

    Love,
    Sonali

HIGH ON HOTELS:Canaves Oia

Hey, so first up today is Happy Anniversary to us!!! And we couldn’t have thought of a better post than this one to celebrate the occasion…A place with which we are head over heels in love without even visiting it in person is Santorini, Greece… For it houses such gorgeous and jaw-dropping properties that our love for it only increases by the day.

So, today in our High on Hotels series we throw some light on Canaves Oia. The property strongly believes in turning moments into fond memories for all their guests! And talking about guests, it has been the preferred choice for celebrities like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Gerrard Butler, Angelina Jolie, Chiara Ferragni, Lucy Mecklenburgh, Laila Monteiro, Tata Werneck and Layla Monteiro.

We have learnt that Canaves Oia Luxury Resorts and Villas is located on the southern tip of Oia in Santorini, comprising of four properties: Canaves Oia Hotel, Canaves Oia Suites, Canaves Oia Villa and Canaves Oia Sunday Suites. Each property delivers a boutique, luxury and private experience to all guests.

The Canaves Oia brand began with the launch of the hotel, which led to the property’s “boutique” concept. 18 uniquely designed suites are complemented by uninterrupted caldera views and a pristine pool with hanging chandelier, among other assets.

With the success of Canaves Oia Hotel, Canaves Oia Suites soon followed. Featuring a similar concept to the hotel with an extra touch of sophistication, each of the 29 suites includes either a plunge or infinity pool and an unrivaled level of comfort and service.

Canaves Oia Villa is right next door. This impressive property follows the minimalist style of its neighbours with whitewashed walls and splashes of colourful art. It features three en-suite king-sized bedrooms, spacious living areas, a fully equipped kitchen, private dining experiences and easy access to Canaves Oia Suites’ holistic spa.

Canaves Oia Sunday Suites launched in 2017 with an alternative luxe style. White sculpted donkeys line the outdoor infinity pool while a nautical décor adds elegance to each of the eight independently designed suites.Here, a new level of privacy is provided to guests during their Canaves Oia experience.

Wow, are already dreaming holidaying here with our loved ones 🙂  And this time we shall talk less and let the place absolutely overwhelm you!

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Binging time at Canaves Oia Hotel

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Grand Suite at Canaves Oia Hotel

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Honeymoon Suite at Canaves Oia Hotel

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Stunning capture of Canaves Oia Hotel

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Dining time at Canaves Oia Suites

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A beautiful capture of Canaves Oia Suites

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How about some pool time at Canaves Oia Suites?

Spa with a stunning view at Canaves Oia Suites

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Meal time at Canaves Oia Sunday Suites

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A capture of Canaves Oia Sunday Suites

Few other important details to note about the properties is that you could reach here from the airport either in a private transfer or shuttle transfer. Also, reference the connectivity with public transport, these are situated about 50 meters away from the bus station. And, their last order on room service is 10.45 pm!

Finally, closing with a quote of Kylie Bax with which we can surely agree, “Greece is the most magical place on Earth.”

Pictures Courtesy: Canaves Oia

Here’s to Girl Power: Happy Women’s Day

Seldom do we both get this candid at a personal level and pour our heart out… So, here’s a brief one on being women and being inspired by other women!!!

 

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Sonali says-

“I love being a woman and I love being feminine.” Charlize Theron

Well, I truly and deeply believe and live by this quote… The most beautiful gift has been of being a woman!!! Of course the life of a woman is so colourful for we have more variety of clothes at a store or for that matter- there are endless shades for our lips, nails and eyes and yes, we love our heels as well!!! But not taking away from any of these fancies, I feel I would still love being a woman… For my mother with or without make-up instills great hope in me on days I see none, for my mother can bind us together with or without getting us materialistic stuff and for her hug is the best thing in the world….

I feel a woman does just so much for a lot gets seen and most remains unseen… And they are much stronger than we really feel they are!!!

Today, I would once again like to thank all the women in my life for making my life even more beautiful…

I have to mention my mother who inspires me the most- I don’t say it enough but how much and what all she does in a day and still has a smile on her face is just so amazing! Today, if I get complimented for how I look, how I dress and the like- I feel I have just inherited it all from her… Most importantly, she has demonstrated true character and substance in the harshest of times- that for me has been the biggest learning for life!!! For the value system instilled in me and my siblings- deep down we thank you each day for this!

I love you mom- for being my best friend, support and so much more…

And I have to thank all my friends and sisters… Girls you are the ones who have helped me savour the true joy of friendship…a relationship whose importance I have only learned over time… But today, I value you all just way too much…You all have contributed in helping me become a better individual and it is because of you all that I feel rather wealthy 🙂  Here’s to many more memories and experiences of a lifetime!

Wishing each and every woman – Happy Women’s Day! More power to us today and everyday!

Shagun says-

Women’s Day always makes me introspect on who I am as a woman and also think about women who have inspired me. There are so many of them but today I want to share a little about three of my special ones.
-As cliched as it might sound, my mom to begin with inspires me each day with her positivity and strength; the elegance which she has dealt every single problem in her life with. And when I say problem, there have been plenty. The depth to soak her pain upon realizing the loss of her husband and not shedding a single tear just for the sake of her children is one moment that gives me chills till date and inspires me to hold tight no matter how testing the time may get.

“A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

– I have also been lucky to have two very special friends in life who inspire me to no limits. Sonali on one hand is the most patient, calm and understanding woman I have ever met. She can love someone all her life without expecting anything at all in return. She has the unique potential to see positivity in the darkest of times. She loves a lot but never at the cost of her self respect. I have seen her make the wisest of decisions which most of us fail to at the hands of getting emotional. She inspires me to love, love a lot but also hold your ground for what is right. I don’t have enough words to describe her but she is the kind of woman who can make you feel blessed for her presence. I do!

“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story–I will.” —Amy Schumer

-Another beautiful friend of mine, Varsha has inspired me in ways that I bet she does not even know. From being a younger sister who I always watched out for to getting on the cover of VOGUE, she has not just inspired me but many. Her go-getter attitude is intimidating and shaking. She gets what she wants because she wants it bad. She wants it so bad that she will put all her love, sweat, time and most importantly her faith in it and then sit back and wait till things come around. Until then she won’t quit. She has come out a winner but she is still the younger sister I watched out for. Her laughter is still as loud and hysterical as it always was. That innocent naiveness combined with sheer fierceness is what inspires me.

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” ―Madonna

Saluting all the women out there…

Love,
Shagun & Sonali

 

 

HIGH ON HOTELS:KC Beach Club & Pool Villas

Okay then, having issues beating the Monday morning blues?  Breathe a sigh of relief, as we are all set to virtually take you to a true paradise called the KC Beach Club & Pool Villas at one of the most gorgeous places on Earth- Koh Samui… Hence, sit back and enjoy this latest post in our series on- High on Hotels where we get talking with their representative!

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: Our chic retreat is located in the heart of Chaweng Beach which is known to be the best party place on Koh Samui. This amazing beach has soft, white sand, a shallow turquoise sea and a big variety of leisure and sports programs.
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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: This new stylish Beach Club Hotel has a total of 42 units: each room has a king-size bed and sofa, bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and rain shower. The rooms are equipped with in-room technology such as 42” LCD Satellite and Cable TV. Each room also disposes of air condition, in-room safe, minibar, complimentary tea and coffee facilities, bathrobes, hair dryer and complimentary Wi-Fi.
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KC Beach Club located on central Chaweng beach, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: In our resort, guests can experience two swimming pools, NEO Restaurant, Pool Bar or massage at beachfront sala. There is free shuttle bus to our sister 5 star resort where guests can utilize local spa and fitness center. Not to forget mentioning about the Saturday Pool Party with professional DJ, hostesses to serve delicious cocktails, plus excellent entertainment from saxophone players, drummers and dancers, also there is an international buffet prepared by our Chef.
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Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Savour the delectable flavours of fine cuisine at Neo Restaurant, Koh Samui’s most fashionable dining venue located at KC Beach Club & Pool Villas. Feel the sea breeze from the open air dining terrace and gaze in awe at the panoramic views of Chaweng Beach as you browse through the mouthwatering menu of carefully selected dishes. Our experienced chef creates classic flavors with the freshest local ingredients including seafood, herbs, chilies and more and presents them in a way that looks almost too good to eat.
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Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: If you are looking for a prime location, fashionable beach club, great music club, entertainment, bar and restaurant, modern accommodation, friendly staff and guests from all over the world-KC Beach Club & Pool Villas is the best choice for a perfect vacation!

Q: What is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: The easiest way to get to KC Beach is to book airport transfer provided by hotel or take outside taxi. We are located just 10 minutes away from the Koh Samui airport.

 Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: The closest shopping mall “Central Festival Samui” is situated in the heart of Chaweng and it is only 5 minutes from our resort. This mall describes itself as “the most complete and largest lifestyle shopping complex in Samui”.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: Our resort take last order at 22:30, however around us you can find many restaurants and small shops, which you can reach within walking distance.

 

Pictures Courtesy: KC Beach Club & Pool Villas