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Category: Accomodation

The 240, Phnom Penh: A Break From The Countryside

The trip from Battambang to Phnom Penh is a long one. Five hours on a bumpy road passing by seemingly unchanging landscapes of paddy fields. The occasional houses dotted along…

The trip from Battambang to Phnom Penh is a long one. Five hours on a bumpy road passing by seemingly unchanging landscapes of paddy fields. The occasional houses dotted along the dusty highway and massive tractors and lorries zooming by breaks the mundane scene. To help ease the monotonous ride, our taxi was packed with five adults and three children.

There are no restrictions on number of passengers or the fact that children need to be car seats. In Cambodia, as long as you hang on tight and reach your destination, any vehicle works – this includes three-wheelers, tuk-tuks, motorbikes with wooden plank extensions as seats, open roof lorries and bullock carts. So we found ourselves (me, my hubby and toddler son) sharing the taxi with another couple, their toddler and a baby. We were entertained the whole way with baby gurgles and toddler chatter.

Countryside, Cambodia

Having spent two months living in Battambang’s countryside, arriving in Phnom Penh was a breath of fresh air. A sense of excitement bubbled at the sight of sky scrapers, a MacDonald’s delivery van and the red Illy coffee sign. I was relieved to be back in the city, albeit for a few days.

We checked into an artisty boutique hotel, The 240. Its entrance fresh and welcoming with colourful paintings of animated depictions of Cambodian life hung on the walls and the ceiling. The kind of small boutique hotels that take on the character and charm of the neighbourhood. Apparently, the 240 Street where the hotel is located, has developed into a hip and happening go to offering a selection of fine restaurants, dainty cafes, boutiques and quite a number of small hotels. Old shophouses have been refurbished into nice meeting places. Over the next few days, I spent my afternoons walking the street and making beelines into secondhand bookshops, fairtrade boutiques, jewelry shops and a really good bakery.

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The 240’s hotel room although a little small had all the necessary fittings including a small study table and a cozy balcony with deck chairs. The room opens out to a balcony curtained with plants making it a quiet recluse from the heavy Phnom Penh traffic.

The 240_Phnom Penh

Just below the hotel is the 240’s cafe, a healthy and wholesome restaurant serving organic delights. Fresh juices, salads and sandwiches. The cafe takes on the same fresh ambience with natural colours on the walls, planters of grass and fresh flowers as table decor, and furniture made with local rattan and wood. The cafe also carried a fine selection of organic goodies from baby food to handmade soaps. Constantly buzzing with customers, I got a sense that the cafe is a local favourite.

The 240 Cafe_Phnom PenhThe 240 Cafe_Phnom Penh_1

Although the hotel did not have a pool, we were given access to their sister hotel’s pools just a stones throw away. The Kabiki is a family friendly hotel set in a colonial building within a lush green compound. The pool is surrounded by native kabiki trees providing just enough shade for the comfy lounge chairs and cabanas. The Kabiki is situated just 250 metres from The 240 and we enjoyed a quick evening swim with our little one there.

Kabiki_Phnom Penh

I also visited The Pavilion after reading about it in the hotel’s compendium. Located near the Royal Palace and about 150 metres from The 240, this property is catered for the seasoned traveler looking for a bit of luxury. Its white walls provide recluse for the guests and one would easily walk pass the unassuming heavy wooden door leading into the compound.

A perfectly palm shaded walkway led me into an open courtyard with a beautiful aqua blue pool facing the entrance of what looks like a heritage building. The beautifully refurbished villa was reportedly the Cambodian royal family’s home in the mid-twenties. I was treated to a massage at the Pavilion’s Spa, a small intimate spa with signature massages. After the blissful massage, I lazed around in the daybed while enjoying a steaming hot cup of ginger tea while the sun rays danced on the pool.

The Pavillion_Phnom Penh

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Navutu Dream, Siem Reap: A Slice Of Serenity In The Kingdom Of Wonder

Cambodia, a Kingdom of Wonder where ancient ruins lay bare with legendary stories etched on its walls and aged tree roots form the foundations of fortified temples, a kingdom where…

Cambodia, a Kingdom of Wonder where ancient ruins lay bare with legendary stories etched on its walls and aged tree roots form the foundations of fortified temples, a kingdom where the sun announces a new day before the rooster ruffles its feathers and children cycle off at the break of dawn for another day at school.

For the traveler, Cambodia is a magical experience, especially when you arrive in Siem Reap and explore the notable Angkor Wat and the other surrounding temples. Walking on foot or cycling around the temple circuit can be extremely tiring and the sun rather unforgiving as the day unfolds. However, returning to a quiet haven after a day of exploring makes all the difference to the memorable experience.

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Located two kilometres from Siem Reap’s bustling town center is Navutu Dreams. Tucked in the corner, at the end of a dusty road, Navutu’s entrance opens up to a spacious and simple lobby decorated with delicate wooden furniture and handcrafted wooden sculptures. Friendly hotel staff play great host at welcoming you back to this amazing retreat.

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Behind the lobby is where the real relaxing begins. Surrounded by lush rice fields, Navutu’s 1.5 hectare land is perfectly manicured with palm trees and tropical flowers abloom. The resort has enough pools to satisfy sun-seekers, water babies and health enthusiasts. There is an 18-meter long freshwater lap pool and a salt water family pool and a private salt water lounge pool at the end of the property enclaved around palm trees.

Pool_Navutu Dreams (8)Navutu Dreams_Pool1

Hidden in nooks and corners of the compound are hammocks for a quiet snooze or a good read. The resort also has an open lounge with spacious day beds and a selection of excellent reads right next to the lounge pool. White-washed villas with flat open roofs polka-dot the compound. A glimpse of Santorini or that of Greek islands, with open cabanas draped with white-curtains dancing to the rhythm of the wind.

Navutu Dreams_Pool

My Grand Tour Room, one of three kinds of rooms offered at Navutu follows the same expansive concept. The large room incorporates seamless geometry in the smooth curved walls leading into the open closet and bathroom. Combining clever use of space and simplistic design, a capacious quarter-shaped bath tub is carved in the corner between the bedroom and toilet overlooking a small garden.

Navutu Dreams_Room

The smooth wood panelled floors distinguish the bedroom and living space, while cobbled stones and tiles form a pathway into the bathroom area. The minimalist décor in the room lends to the vastness of space. Unique wood carvings of native men and women used as wall pieces and table ornaments stand as a reminder of South East Asia’s rich art tapestry.

Navutu Dreams_Bathroom

At Navutu, it’s hard to resist a spa treatment. The resort offers wellness programs that include detox, acupuncture and ancient healing methods. The massage and spa menu is made up of a selection of the Asia’s best massage and beauty treatments including the traditional Khmer Massage, the invigorating Indian Head Massage, their signature Queen Bee Facial using local organic ingredients such as wild rice for exfoliation and wild honey as a mask and a range of body scrubs and wraps.

The therapist led me upstairs along the white-stoned stairs into an open air deck where my massage therapy started. I dipped my feet into a bowl of jasmine and lime speckled water and was given a sea-salt scrub along with a cup of cold ginger tea on a sunny afternoon. I was led into the massage room, the warm ray of sunshine beaming in from the round windows with wooden covers. Along one wall an array of bottled local herbs and ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, lemongrass and star anise are stacked on a wooden shelf and on the other, a basket of organic herbs together with the traditional Thai ‘Luk Pra Kob’, a muslin sack tightly packed with herbs and essential oils used for herb rituals. I remembered little of my massage as soon as it started. Lulled to sleep by the soothing deep and long massage strokes along my back, I was carried into dreamland before waking up later to be given an amazing shoulder and head massage.

Navutu Dreams_Spa

Amidst the busy exploration, I was glad to have stumbled on this tranquil retreat in the Kingdom of Wonder.

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Homestay In Kaikoura Run By A 75-Year Old

It’s a daunting thought for most of us to wake up every morning at 5:30am to cook breakfast for guests, but for Margaret Woodhill, it’s a joy and something she…

It’s a daunting thought for most of us to wake up every morning at 5:30am to cook breakfast for guests, but for Margaret Woodhill, it’s a joy and something she looks forward to.

Her modest home is perched atop a hill with sweeping views of Kaikoura’s rolling mountains that meets the grand sea. Kaikoura is a small town north of Christchurch made famous by its whale watching activity. Annually, the town welcomes enthusiastic wildlife lovers from all over the world. Before the big whale watching boom about 28 years back, Margaret together with her late husband, Bob first opened their home to travelers. At that time, their four children had all grown up and moved out leaving an empty nest. So, the most logical decision was to find a way to fill up empty rooms and that was how Bayview Homestay came about.

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Margaret recounts the first official advert that was published about Bayview Homestay. It was printed in the New Zealand Bed & Breakfast book together with 25 other operators. They welcomed their first six guests and since then, there have been thousands from around the world. Margaret has a poster of the world map stuck on the pantry wall and guests are encouraged to stick a pin on the country of their origin. The map is polka-dotted with many pins, too many to count.

Staying at Bayview felt like putting up a night at grandma’s, especially since I was traveled with my husband and baby son. Margaret treats everyone like family and her warm and infectious smile is the very thing that made me feel at home. The guests’ rooms are situated in a separate section of the family home with a small pantry, living space and a separate entry and exit. But despite the wall that separates us, Margaret never made us feel that we had to stay in the guest area. She welcomed us to roam freely and to join in conversations over a cup of tea at the breakfast table.

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Breakfast was a grand feast at Bayview. Margaret took painstaking effort to provide us with homemade food. Breakfast at Margaret’s is as good as having brunch and she takes pride in what she serves her guests. For two consecutive mornings, we had bacon, perfectly poached eggs fresh from Margaret’s chicken coup and homemade toasts. Atop that, we had a selection of other goodies to choose from; cereal, fresh rhubard and peach jams and yoghurt.

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There is a great sense of respect for the environment at Bayview. Margaret shared with me her passion of tending to her garden, the hours invested in caring for the land and some tips on creating good compost. In her one-acre garden she grows tomatoes, lettuce and other greens. She has a neat chicken coup only for eggs and a beautiful garden of blooming flowers. Despite the garden looking immaculate, Margaret remarks, “I wish I had more time to spend in the garden. If I have a spare minute in the day, you will see me in the garden.”

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Her green thumbs were cultivated over time and she credits her father for sharing tips on keeping the plants healthy. “You need good compost,” she said. “The trick to good compost is seaweed. Layers of grass, animal manure, grass, seaweed…” I listened intently as Margaret freely shared her garden secrets.

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Although Bayview Homestay is opened to guests, the home remains a family sanctuary. Margaret hosts her children and grandchildren when they come to visit from afar. The home is also a meeting place for special occasions such as Christmas. Having spent three days at Bayview, there is undoubtedly a family atmosphere in the place. I asked Margaret what is the best thing about living in Kaikoura. She beamed and told me two reasons, “This home. I’ve lived here so long there are so many memories here. The scenery – looking out the window at the breakfast table, I am reminded how fortunate I am to be living here. Especially when the guests’ go “Wow!” at the view.

Margaret had recently published a book about her life called “Life of Mar”. It is a beautiful recount of her life from childhood up until the birth of her first great grandchild. Precious personal memories and descriptions about Kaikoura were documented. Margaret wrote it as a personal memoir for her family to remember.

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She had lived in her Kaikoura since 1934 and back in the day, there were only 5 houses on the hill – now there are 66 houses. It gave me a sense that development has crept into this small little town, now made famous by the big ocean mammals. But even with the boom, Kaikoura has not lost its charm. The people are still as friendly and communities tightly knitted. Possibly, it is this community-type hospitality that keep tourists coming.

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Amazing Places To Stay In Christchurch And Why

There are numerous options to choose from when it comes to staying the night in Christchurch. If you’re looking for a hub that is central and within walking distance to…

There are numerous options to choose from when it comes to staying the night in Christchurch. If you’re looking for a hub that is central and within walking distance to the city’s main attractions, I think I’ve got a selection that just about fits any traveler. Whether you’re visiting Christchurch for business or traveling with a tight budget or looking for a quirky, unforgettable stay, the following selection should meet your requirements. At least it did for me and I enjoyed my snooze in each of them.

The Corporate-Green Hotel: The George 

Sleek and luxurious, The George, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World is a definite go to for a flawless, cozy stay. The subtle, smart and modern interiors of the hotel are dabbed with mesmerizing green, mustard and grey tones. The hotel has everything that a small luxury hotel should have; deep bathtubs, lavish beds, plush sofas and a highly applauded restaurant.

Yet, in offering these luxuries, The George holds great respect for the environment and does its share in keeping it alive. They call it the “Caring Luxury Statement”, a list seen in every room about measures the hotel takes to preserve Christchurch’s pristine environment. For example, the oil & fats from the kitchen and leftover soap from guests’ rooms are collected and converted into biofuel, laundry bags are made from biodegradable material and separate recycling bins are found in all guests’ rooms.

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Still the most distinct feature of the hotel is found in her people. The hotel arranged a bicycle for us free of charge so that my husband could cycle to the airport to collect our rented car, they were ever ready to supply us with umbrellas when the sky suddenly turned gloomy grey, we were welcomed with coffee and macaroons sent to the room and they gave Seth (my then, 8 month old baby) a take-home gift which he now snuggles in bed with, George the Bear.

The George

The Unforgettable Prison-Hotel: The Jailhouse 

Ever wondered what it is like to enter a prison cell, or better still, sleep in one? Now’s your chance! The Jailhouse is not creepy, gloomy or scary in anyway. I had the same apprehension, but the owners did a wonderful job in refurbishing the building. Built in 1874, the heritage prison was a women’s prison and military camp. In 2006 when the building was abandoned, a local couple, Kirsty and Grant bought it over and renovated it.

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Painted mostly in white and lit with bright fluorescent and warm lighting, the building adopts an open concept with an exposed hallway right through the building. The open space really helped to eliminate or minimize claustrophobia. The rooms are a tad tiny, but you also pay a smaller sum for a stay here. A popular choice for backpackers and even flashpackers, the Jailhouse is suitable for budget travelers.

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The original jail cells kept for display

The original jail cells kept for display

My “cell” had two single beds pushed against the wall, a tiny table and just enough room for two people to walk in and out. The original heavy steel doors have only a tiny square viewing hole that’s covered with paper for a bit of privacy. Thankfully all rooms have windows.

The Jailhouse also has common sharing facilities such as a kitchen, dining area, movie room, library and lots of space to just hang out. Located in Addington, the suburb is teeming with local eateries and a big supermarket nearby.

The Luxury-Boutique Stay: The Classic Villa

The iconic pink mansion on Worchester Boulevard is a beautifully refurbished and renovated Italian style historic home, called The Classic Villa. Location wise, it can’t get any better as it is mere minutes away from the Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum and surrounding attractions.

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Classic Villa (7)

Peter Morrison, the owner of the villa is a really friendly host. He takes time to chat with you and makes sure that all your travel needs are met – yes, including offering vitamins at the breakfast buffet table. The villa has 12 rooms with the front part of the building holding much of its heritage form seen in the heavy wooden flooring, stained glass doors, beautiful chandeliers and photos of the building’s history.

The lavender lined walkway leading up to the entrance makes for a gorgeous scented welcome and the tv and lounge area is a comfy recluse after a long day of exploring. Peter takes great pride in showcasing the best of Christchurch and this is displayed in his meticulous selection of what goes on the breakfast table. I had a wonderful breakfast array of grilled salmon, pastries and fresh bread, local cheese and preserves, a small but lovely selection of greens, yoghurt, fresh fruits and juices.

Classic Villa

When I tucked into bed at The Classic Villa, I couldn’t help but think – this feels exactly like home, with a touch of luxury. The rooms are tastefully decorated with lavish double beds clad in thick linen, exquisite furnishings, soft lighting and big skylight windows for natural light.

The Value For Money: YMCA

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Painted with a colourful mural of the late Nelson Mandela, the YMCA is known for its extensive range of low cost accommodation suited for independent travelers, couples, families and big groups. The rooms are basic and the facilities are shared. There are no frills and you get what you pay for. I like it that the YMCA doesn’t attract a rowdy crowd and security is tight in the building. So even though you pay a minimal amount, you are guaranteed a good peaceful night sleep. Plus, YMCA is located at the corner of Hereford Street and Rolleston Avenue directly opposite the Botanical Gardens and the Arts Centre. I also love that the Robert Harris café is adjoining to the hostel and makes a perfect go to for breakfast or a good cuppa.

YMCA Christchurch (1)

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QT Sydney: The Designer Statement Hotel

Very designer, definitely avant-garde, somewhat sexy and absolutely unforgettable. I stayed at QT Sydney, the talked about CBD hotel located in the historic Gowings department store and heritage-listed State Theatre…

Very designer, definitely avant-garde, somewhat sexy and absolutely unforgettable. I stayed at QT Sydney, the talked about CBD hotel located in the historic Gowings department store and heritage-listed State Theatre on the corner of Market and George streets. Location wise, QT Sydney nailed it, positioned central to the popular shopping strip and a nice stroll away from Sydney’s waterfront, the Harbour.

The restoration of both buildings and the curation of a new, bold and eclectic five-star hotel was no easy feat. The State Theatre is one of only two surviving theatres in Sydney and its interior mixes eclectic elements of Gothic, Italian and dramatic art décor while the Gowings department store is more plain in nature, with open and expansive space, big windows, high ceilings, open corridors and sandstone walls.

Photo courtesy of QT Sydney

Photo courtesy of QT Sydney

The acclaimed design team, Nic Graham & Associates was responsible for the curation of public areas and Indyk Architects designed the rooms. They spent months gathering art pieces from auctions, eBay, yard sales and op shops in order to achieve the classy vintage and quirky designer look. The aim was to marry heritage elements, such as the beautiful timber flooring, elaborate golden columns and ornate shop display cabinets with contemporary luxuries such as oversized bathtubs, designer bespoke furniture and cutting edge installations.

With 200 guest rooms and 12 unique designs, one will never be bored. I stayed in a room above the State Theatre building. The dimly lit hallway with glowing numbers above each room is a gentle theatrical prelude to the room itself. The room was spacious, with a short hallway leading up to a sprawling bathroom seamlessly overlooking a small study and an island bed facing a tall window. The lighting was different, somewhat dramatic casting shadows on art pieces and designer objects and playful bowler hat lamps hung from the ceiling – all as a reminder of the State Theatre’s former glory.

QT Sydney_RoomQT Sydney Room

The deep red and burgundy bold tones subtly dominate the room, as seen in the plush pillows, rug, hexagonal carpet and curtains. Every element in the room is intentional and specifically designed for the space – from the minimalist wall installation, to the old-style minibar, to the slick wardrobe and the red and orange-stained glass cabinets. Almost all the furniture is bespoke, the QT Collection as it’s called. I especially loved the cool wooden pill-shaped cot complete with bespoke bed lining, duvet and tiny pillows. While the room shouts contemporary, the original timber flooring gently subdues it and gives it a habitable feel.

QT Sydney RoomQT Sydney Room

The expansive bathroom is accentuated by an oversized, perfectly round bath tub and separate shower and toilet. The bathrobes are black instead of the usual white and the spotlights in the dark stone bathroom add to the suave mood. Standing at the sink, I noticed a quirky object, a black hand holding a small magnified-mirror – very avant-garde indeed. These display objects are spotted throughout the hotel such as mannequins decked in 1920’s styled dresses and miniature animal coat hooks – a fitting reminder of the old-school world of glamour.

QT Sydney BathroomQT Sydney BathroomQT Sydney Coffee Place

Outwardly the two buildings remain distinct and as is. QT’s lobby is understated and can be easily overlooked. Perhaps that is why the hotel has taken to a “look at me” approach when it comes to choosing front-line staff. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Market Street, you will not miss pretty girls dressed in presentable dark sexy outfits complete with the bold redhead look. They are given the title ‘Director of Chaos’, these pretty girls audition for the role and are accepted as ‘casts’. Not just your regular hospitality crew, the staff at QT is dramatic, over the top but every bit professional. They leave you with a lingering sense that you’ve just stepped into a show and about to live in a set.

Photo courtesy of QT Sydney

Photo courtesy of QT Sydney

The ‘drama’ continues, in the lift – intelligently fitted with a sensor to detect the number of people in the lift, the music in the lift changes according to the crowd. If you go solo, lonesome tunes like ‘All By Myself’ and ‘Are you Lonesome Tonight’ come on. Duos in the lift get more romantic and happy tunes such as ‘Just the Two of Us’ and ‘You’ve Got a Friend’. In the presence of three or more, groovy and upbeat tunes take over.

On entering the reception, the hall opens up to an array of beautifully handpicked and curated furniture. There is so much attention to detail from the unconventional yellow, magenta, blue colour palette chosen for the furniture to the circular coffee tables in different sizes to the featured wall of vintage luggage pieces.

QT Sydney Lobby QT Sydney Lobby QT Sydney Lobby QT Sydney Lobby QT Sydney Lobby QT Sydney Lobby

QT Sydney is a celebration of old and new. It has definitely succeeded in its attempt to stand out. The designers have not only done an immaculate job at transforming the space into a luxurious abode, it has created quite a ripple effect when it comes to story-telling. QT Sydney is one of those hotels that is talked about, years, and even decades to come.

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Two Adults, A Baby, Four Bags & An Address To Golden Grove B&B

It was late. Not midnight late, but late enough. The sun was no more and the neighbourhood silent. We arrived in MacDonaldtown station from the airport, after an 8-hour flight….

It was late. Not midnight late, but late enough. The sun was no more and the neighbourhood silent. We arrived in MacDonaldtown station from the airport, after an 8-hour flight. The place is dead quiet. With us are four bags, a baby in the pouch and an address to ‘No.30, Golden Grove Street, corner of Abercrombie Street.’

The train roared on leaving a thunderous echo on the tracks. We exited the station and decided to let our instincts lead us. Thankfully, our instincts weren’t put to the test (I fear, we would’ve been walked for ages!). We stopped a cyclist that was zooming by and he accessed his google maps to give us directions. Bless him!

Sydney_Macdonaldtown

We arrive at No.30, a prominent stair canopy rising up from the street and a glass door at its entrance with a Kookaburra image etched on it. We led ourselves in and Lloyd Suttor, who had been waiting up all night for us greeted us with a warm smile. He briefly showed us around and excused himself so that we can retire for the night.

The apartment is beautiful, tastefully decorated. It was warm and cosy and instrumental music piped in the background. It felt like home. Famished and a little disoriented, going out for dinner was not an option. Thankfully, Lloyd had stocked the kitchen with bacon, eggs, bread, yoghurt, juice, cereal, fruits and cans of soup.

Dinner satisfied our hunger and it warmed our soul to know that Lloyd planned ahead and anticipated our need. It’s one of those moments that you will remember a place for – like how you remember home. There’s always food, anytime.

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The spacious self-contained studio apartment is a split level unit with the bedroom and lounge rising up from the kitchen. The stylish modern décor is splashed with green, grey and white hues and refreshing floral elements. On the walls are intriguing art pieces by Tony Twigg, an Australian who draws inspiration from Asian cultures in Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia. The art pieces on display in the apartment are made up from recycled elements collected from these countries.

Golden Grove Tony Twigg

Golden Grove B&B was nothing close to stylish when Lloyd bought over the property in 2010. Previously, a dilapidated student accommodation providing shelter to nearby university students, the building was quite worn out. Lloyd took on this retirement project with gusto.

Hospitality was never on his portfolio, until now. Lloyd was more of a creative person, one with lots of ideas and ways to make magic happen. He was one of the brains and actors behind the well-known Flying Fruitfly Circus, the only Australian full-time circus academy for young people. His retirement project had one condition – it had to involve people. He enjoyed meeting new faces and sharing stories.

We sat around the breakfast table over morning tea as Lloyd told me more about how Golden Grove came to be. Right next to us beyond the glass shutters is a pretty roof top garden and a turbine spinning away. “Sustainability wasn’t quite on my list when I first started tearing this place down. It was Duncan Bond, my architect who introduced earth-friendly elements into the reconstruction,” said Lloyd.

Golden Grove

“I’m sure glad he did! Now the apartment is self-warming and cooling as a result of perfect ventilation. Hot water is powered by solar panels, the garden roof top provides cool to the apartment below and there is plenty of sunlight flowing in from the glass window.” Guests may even overlook these elements, but Lloyd made sure he made a mention in the apartment compendium as a way to educate guests.

Rooftop garden

Golden Grove has two studio units for short-term and long-term rental. “The units are often filled up with people working in Sydney for short stints, parents of students from the university and academics.” It is no surprise the B&B receives repeat guests, as it really feels somewhat, like home.

Located in lively Newtown, one of Sydney’s flourishing precincts, there is always something happening round the corner. Known for its shopping strip, vibrant coffee culture and creative spaces for contemplation and ideas, Newtown attracts both young and old, free-spirited artisans and young families. We had time to stop by Carriage Works, one of the many community galleries in Newtown. This former railway workshop was the hub for Australian-made carriages. Its external red bricked walls and clouded glass windows makes a for a perfect photo backdrop and its high ceiling interior is suitable for any kind of art installation.

We saw the installation by Christian Boltanski called “Chance”. A giant film reel filled with photos of babies whirling from one end to the other on a massive steel structure. Each photo represented a life. At the end of the steel structure was a giant LED board with numbers ticking by – in green are the number of births and red the number of deaths, at the current time. A reminder of the rhythms of life as it unfolds.

Carriage Works

A meaningful installation and a timely reminder to life live to its fullest. This was the chapter that kick started my one and a half months travel to Sydney and New Zealand. Thanks Lloyd for such a warm, welcoming stay.

More stories to follow…

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Philea Resort, Malacca: Log Cabins In The Tropics

The unusual and distinctive usually catches my attention. While I’m more incline to travel local and see, experience and do things that are connected to local cultures and heritage when…

The unusual and distinctive usually catches my attention. While I’m more incline to travel local and see, experience and do things that are connected to local cultures and heritage when I’m on a holiday, I also sometimes divert and try something different. So when I heard about the “First Log Resort” in tropical Malaysia, it piqued my curiosity to find out more. I drove to Melaka, south of Kuala Lumpur and exited at Ayer Keroh. The resort is located very close to the Ayer Keroh highway exit.

I entered the lobby, I noticed odd shaped furniture and bits and bobs of wooden wheels turned into benches, chairs and tables. I later found out that they were actually reclaimed parts from several shipwrecks off the Melaka shores. Observing other details such as the staircase and railings, I was told that 8000 pieces of disused railway sleepers for fencing and staircase were used in the resort.

I checked in and made my way to my suite, passing by an open courtyard with double storey log stacked chalets on my left and right. The chalet’s exteriors are not Malaysian kampung inspired, instead it looked more like chalets you will find on the Swiss Alps or holiday homes on snow-capped mountains. Very un-Malaysian, but I guess variety somehow attracts tourists. Philea_Ardent Traveler_5Philea_Ardent Traveler_3Philea_Ardent Traveler_2 I arrive at my suite, a single storey log cabin with an open patio at the front. Walking up the small steps leading to the heavy glass sliding doors, I heard calm showers coming from the pool, just a stones throw away. Waters from the streaming waterfall flowed into the pebble clad swimming pool that is within sight. Sun seekers were decked out on the beach chairs soaking in the glorious sun waves.

I arrive at my suite, a single storey log cabin with an open patio at the front. Walking up the small steps leading to the heavy glass sliding doors, I heard calm showers coming from the pool, just a stones throw away. Waters from the streaming waterfall flowed into the pebble clad swimming pool that is within sight. Sun seekers were decked out on the beach chairs soaking in the glorious sun waves.

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The suite is a single spacious room with a large double bed decorated with rose petals and swans twisted by towels. A large arm chair sits in one corner and a small study area on the other. The interior design takes on the local Malay inspiration with embroidered pillows, rich floral printed black out curtains and wallpaper. The room leads to a wooden sliding door and opened to an expansive bathroom with vintage shower heads, brass dials and a deep standalone bathtub. Philea Resort

I visited Philea with my husband and baby son and I found the resort very children and baby friendly. The pool is massive with cascading waterfalls and a children’s wading pool. The resort also has an indoor play area for kiddies and a butterfly and reptile park to keep young ones occupied.

The 15 acre land is well designed with plenty of shade and cover.Upon nightfall, the resort dazzled with tiny stringed lights and paper lanterns. For safety reasons, if you leave the hotel after sun down, a buggy will come and fetch you to and from your suite upon request.

Something For Everyone: Couples, Corporate Groups And Families

This Valentines, Philea is offering a getaway package for couples priced at RM2,999 nett for 3 nights at the Philea Suite. The package includes 2 dinners, including a candlelit dinner at the suite’s open patio, daily breakfast and an in-room massage for two. It comes with other fringe goodies such as sparkling juice, daily refill of the mini bar and return airport transfers to and from KLIA. It’s a great retreat that is easy to get to for KL folks or international travellers looking for a different stopover from busy KL.

For corporate companies, Philea’s 201 room capacity makes a great option for corporate events and large group functions. The resort also boasts a large pillar-less ballroom that’s really popular for weddings.

And for families looking for a different holiday option that’s not too far from KL, the Philea Villas (only two) is fantastic! The Villa has 3 rooms and sleeps up to 8 people. It has all the comforts you need including an indoor jacuzzi, coffee machine, microwave for warming food, a private outdoor plunge pool and a special in villa dining experience (upon request).

Get on their website for more information on up and coming offers: Philea Resort.

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