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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An Unforgettable Hotel Experience in Bangkok

Confucius asserted, “Wheresoever you go – go with all your heart”. It is quite a thought and advise to take and while I actually went with all my heart to this property- I even came out with my heart filled with beautiful experiences and memories which are going to stay with me forever! In short, this was not just any visit or stay in a hotel- it was one where I felt cherished and cared for throughout!

The property I am referring to is a sister hotel to the award winning 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai, and is located on Sukhumvit Soi 39 in Bangkok called the 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok. It enjoys a wonderful location as it is situated only a short distance from the upscale and fashionable shopping district of Emquartier/Emporium.

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The architects for the property are Palmer and Turner from Bangkok, with Interiors by P49 Design and Landscape by Wabi Sabi Studio. 34 exquisitely appointed suites opened their doors earlier in April this year. And lucky me, just late May- I got the opportunity of experiencing the magic at their Sukhothai Suites.

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The check-in procedure was extremely smooth and exclusive as my suite check-in happened at the Leonowens Club where we were even treated to a refreshing and colour-packed welcome drink.

In no time, we were guided to our suite and I have to admit it that I had a jaw-dropping moment- the minute I stepped into my suite and what made it even more special was a welcome note and platter filled with goodies.

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As I looked around, I unravelled all about my home for the next two nights! Some of its features included a private butler service, maxi bars with wine cellars, user friendly mood lighting, high ceilings, large walk-in wardrobes and stunning marble en-suite bathrooms with chic circular baths complete with built in TV.

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They even reckon that the sleep experience is of the highest standard and the spacious balcony was the ultimate chill zone, complete with the traditional 137 Pillars House signature rocking chair and an over-sized day-bed for two, with superb view of the Bangkok skyline. The balcony was a true blessing for a person like me who loves to sometimes just disconnect and relax!

​137 Pillars Suites features the 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts signature Leonowens Club, the Jack Bain’s Bar and Cigar Divan, and the exquisite Nimitr specialty restaurant featuring Thai favourites with a molecular twist as well as Western delicacies created by their Group Executive Chef and Culinary Artist, Peter Marx from Sweden. A meal here is a must. We dined here once and not just enjoyed the true beauty of the restaurant but thoroughly loved every bit of our meal as well.  It was quite an experience I must say!

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Their Bangkok Trading Post Restaurant is an all-day dining bistro and deli appealing to local residents and guests, serving Western and Asian favourites as well as freshly baked breads, connoisseur coffee and specialty beverages. I was told that both the restaurants were designed and created by Bangkok’s chic design couple Sophie Beghin and Faun Israrena na Ayudhya of Santhaya Associates.

And this is not it, staying in the suite comes with even more added benefits. One need not use the common pool, instead I had an amazing time swimming in their rooftop infinity edged pool. Also, an exclusive gym facility is available for the suite guests! The 27th floor has chic late check-out and early check-in pods and separate shower facilities in the event that suites are fully booked.

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10 GYM for Suite Guest on Level 26

Trust me when I say that there wouldn’t be a dull moment when staying here. The NITRA spa and wellness center with a separate yoga and meditation sala offers activities including aerial flow yoga, tai chi, reiki and dance. Their Golf Studio seemed rather fun and interesting. Others services include 137 signature dining and picnics by design, a personal shopping service and guide, privately curated and customized tours, tennis and golf practice putting and chipping with personal trainers for both on request, kids’ corner and meeting space.

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In case you want to know how to get here, then here are the details… You could get to the Emquartier/Emporium shopping complex through the BTS Skytrain/MRT underground trains and then you could get a pick-up scheduled in their complimentary London Cab, affectionately known as Louie.

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Also, since the property name reflects residences, here is why- 137 Pillars Residences Bangkok houses 179 private residences offering bespoke facilities for leisure, business and long stay guests including the use of their stylish, customized London Cab.

Lastly, I can’t thank 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok enough for the most spectacular stay ever! The staff here was the most helpful, caring and accommodating… I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast each day and have to mention that one cannot afford to miss trying their waffles for breakfast at Leonowens Club!

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Wishing this property great success always as they deserve every bit of it!

Best,
Sonali

High on Hotels:Siam Kempinski Hotel, Bangkok

 

We absolutely love the hotel life… Think about it-don’t we all love to delve into the absolute luxury of comfort when on a holiday and the idea is to simply relax and be at ones comfortable best especially when you have had a busy day exploring the city. Or what about those work trips? Who doesn’t like coming back to a supremely well-kept room packed with all the essentials at your disposal even when you are away from home? We believe a good hotel pampers you even more than your own peeps back home. It is only fair to give such hotels who are redefining the guest experience their due. It is with this thought that we at Helipad on Heels are coming up with a special series where we will talk about some truly fine hotels from around the World.

This time around we are rather high on learning all about the very plush Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. We got talking with the hotel representatives and are now sharing all that you need to know about this super property.

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Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?

A: Because of our perfect and ideal location with prestige facilities and services. Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok is Bangkok’s only luxury hotel offering a “resort-like’ experience in the city centre. The hotel is located in the heart of Bangkok’s premier shopping and entertainment district and within an easy reach of the Skytrain (BTS) Siam Interchange Station. The only luxury hotel that provides a direct access to Siam Paragon through the sky bridge located on Floor 2 of the Royal Wing. Most rooms feature breathtaking views of the lush green garden and free-form swimming pool with 21 rooms offering a direct access. Therefore, the hotel is a perfect place for an ideal vacation.

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Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?

A: Here are the facilities available- 100% cotton over-sized bath towels, Cable television, Coffee and tea making facilities, Complimentary local daily newspapers, DVD player on request, Hair dryer, Hypoallergenic pillows on request, Individually controlled air-conditioning system, In-room safe, Iron and ironing board, Multi-line telephone(s) with voicemail, Laundry and dry-cleaning (in specific room categories), Personal safe, Refrigerated private bar, Twice-daily housekeeping service, Wired and Wi-Fi broadband Internet and Complimentary mini-bar replenished daily.

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?

A: Here are the details-

-Kids Club: The Kempinski Kids Club welcomes in-house children aged from 3 to 12. To keep your young ones entertained, it provides an educational and fun environment supervised by qualified staff.

-Fitness Centre: The 24 hours open fitness centre is fully equipped with TECHNOGYM CARDIOVASCULAR equipment. It also features an aerobics room with a selection of classes, such as step aerobics, body stretching, muscle relaxation and Muay Thai, which are complimentary for hotel guests. A private class with a professional trainer is available at an additional charge.

-Kempinski The Spa: Embark on the ultimate spa journey at Kempinski the Spa, which is inspired by the European cycle of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The signature treatments include the Seasonal Massage, which can be personalized according to the individual’s seasonal element.

-Business Centre: This comprehensive service centre can cater to all your business and secretarial needs and offers mobile telephone rental service, local pre-paid SIM cards, photocopying, printing and scanning, video conferencing, Internet computer stations and meeting rooms.

-Executive Lounge: Guests staying in the Executive Room and all suites can enjoy complimentary access to the Executive Lounge. Located on Floor 17 of the Royal Wing, the Executive Lounge offers personalised check-in and check-out as well as basic secretarial services. It is also equipped with small meeting rooms, allowing guests to hold business meetings or private discussions. Complimentary non-alcoholic and selected alcoholic beverages, including beer and house wines, are available throughout the day. Guests can exclusively enjoy breakfast, all-day snacks, afternoon tea and evening cocktails with a variety of freshly made sandwiches and canapés.

-Restaurants: Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, Niche, Brasserie Europa, Rotunda, Hanuman Bar and not to forget the in-room Dining.

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Q: Must try restaurant in the hotel and why?

A: “Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin” is hotel’s signature restaurant which is conceptualized by renowned chef Henrik Yde Anderson, whose Kiin Kiin restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark has been awarded one Michelin star since 2008 and is the only Thai restaurant in the world with this prestigious honour. Diners are offered a set menu of modern Thai dishes with a unique, contemporary twist which cannot be found elsewhere.

Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?

A: Here is what we feel is the USP-

-It is the only luxury urban hotel in the city which offers a resort-like atmosphere allowing guests to indulge and relax in the beautiful surroundings while shopping malls are located just steps away from the property. The hotel offers a 24 –hour buggy service within its neighborhood area.

– From a total number of 401 rooms and suites, the stay at either Cabana Room or Duplex Cabana offers a real getaway experience in the city without actually being a getaway with its direct pool access from a private terrace.

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– A  spacious residential style Kids’ Club (complimentary access for in-house guests) sized 275 square metres (2,960 square feet) features art and craft zone, game zone, playground, Karaoke room and the city’s first ever Kids’ Cooking School (located inside the Kids’ Club) where the Kempinski Junior Chef Programme has been introduced.

So, now that we have shared all that we found out, you too could consider tasting luxury the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok way when hitting the city next.

Pictures Courtesy: Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok