Turkey Looks to Gulf Nations to Support Tourism

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Salih Ozer

In the lead up to the public holidays marking Eid Al Adha in September, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism is looking to visitors from Gulf countries to offset the recent slump in the nation’s tourist numbers.

Tourism is a critical source of Turkey’s GDP – the sector generated USD 35.1 billion in revenues in 2015 – but recent events have taken a toll on the sector. The ministry is therefore turning to visitors from the Gulf region for support, in particular visitors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, which have in the past represented the highest volume of visitors to the nation.

“In spite of recent events, there are no security concerns in tourist destinations in Turkey. These facilities are, and will continue to be, completely safe. Hospitality services remain undisrupted and the comfort of foreign citizens visiting the nation continues to be a priority to us,” notes Salih Ozer, Attaché of Culture and Information from Turkey to the UAE.

In recent years, the influx of tourists from the Gulf region into Turkey has surged; visitors from the region are estimated to contribute as much as six per cent to the Turkey’s average annual tourism revenue. In fact, an impressive 582,698 Gulf tourists visited Turkey in 2014. As per the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism created 580,000 jobs directly in 2014 in Turkey, which translates to 2.2 per cent of the nation’s total employment.

Premium Location Premier Inn – Waterloo London

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Exploring London can be a challenge especially when visiting popular attractions so it makes sense to get a hotel in a central location, next to the train station and walking distance to popular attractions.

Adventurers and travellers who prefer to spend on popular attractions and shows and want a comfortable and affordable place to rest their heads after daily excursions will find the Premier Inn in Waterloo London a gem of a find.

The Premier Inn London Waterloo is a 3-star property next to London Bridge, Houses of Parliament and The London Dungeon and a 10 minute walk to the London Eye and Westminster Abbey.

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The new luxury kingsize** Hypnos bed is the stuff of dreams. Guests can drift off on an ultra-comfy, pillow-top mattress supported by over a thousand pocket springs for the soundest sleep ever.

Thyme, their in-house restaurant has a new contemporary British menu you’ll love. From gourmet burgers and steaks to our salads and delicious desserts, dishes are freshly prepared for you by chefs using quality ingredients from hand-picked suppliers. There’s a tasty kid’s menu too for little ones too.

Premier Inn was named the UK’s top-rated travel brand 2016. With over 700 budget hotels and more than 60,000 rooms across the UK and Ireland, our guests are never far from a great night’s sleep for fantastic value. The hotels are in more locations than any other UK hotel brand for the ease and convenience of families, couples and business travellers alike.

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This year (2015-2016), almost 90% of Premier Inn hotels achieved a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. Furthermore, Premier Inn has also been awarded the Best UK Family Hotel Award in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.

I love supporting brands that value CSR initiatives. Premier Inn is Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity’s biggest corporate supporter and we have already raised over £6.5million of our £7.5million fundraising target with work already underway on a brand new Premier Inn Clinical Building at the hospital. The funds raised go towards supporting the care of some of the sickest children across the globe.

Genuine Healthcare Interview with Markus Giebel – CEO and Co-owner, Eternity Clinics

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There is nothing as valuable as having good health. Last month we met with Markus Giebel, CEO and co-owner of Eternity who was previously the CEO of Deyaar, a publically traded company, and Vice President of Corning, a Fortune 500 technology company in the US.

Markus is the brain behind Eternity clinic, which specialises in predictive and preventative healthcare. Rather than wait until we get sick before we start to cure late-stage diseases, Eternity has created specialised health screening software called SAM, or Software for Age Management which was fully developed with a team in Dubai.

Working from Dubai, Markus Giebel recognised early that predictive and preventive healthcare, or age management, is fast developing into a multi-billion Dollar global market.

 

Markus tells us over coffee how the screening enables a very exact diagnosis of each patient’s health status. The system then recommends treatments including supplements, hormones, nutritional or lifestyle changes and creates a very easy to understand client health report.

 

According to Markus, the software and the system behind it has already won several awards and is gathering significant international interest, as it is shifting the paradigm from sick-care to genuine healthcare.

 

His vision was, with the correct screening and intervention, people need no longer wait to get sick before late-stage diseases were treated and cured. Within the next ten years, he said, annual health screening would be as commonplace as regular inspections are for your car today.

 

Eternity in Dubai Marina has attracted world-leading physicians. The centre is equipped with the most advanced diagnostic technology and features a fully licensed polyclinic, radiology and plastic surgery departments.

Ultimate Spa Destination Interview with Thomas Fehlbier – General Manager Banana Island Resort Doha

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Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, the luxury brand’s first resort in Qatar, developed by Al Rayyan Hospitality is the only and most talked about Balance Wellness Centre in a resort in the Middle East.

We speak with Mr. Thomas Fehlbier, the General Manager who before joining Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, served as General Manager of Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa in Thailand.

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With a wealth of experience within the luxury hospitality business and over 25 years of experience in managing leisure resorts and global hotel chains across Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Thomas is an industry expert who hopes to make the Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara a must visit destination for wellness in the region.

Can you tell us more about the spa facilities in Banana Island?

Set in stunning surroundings offering a wide range of services designed to complement the grandeur of the island, our center offers 14 dedicated treatment rooms, designated relaxation areas for men and women, Detox, Fitness, Weight Management, Yoga and Alternative Therapy and consultation.

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A wide range of motivational fitness classes and activities, as well as delicious nutritious and healthy cuisine at the resorts organic café Zest completes the experience.  Plus an elevated indoor tranquil botanical Zen Garden offers guests an idyllic haven. Spanning more than 342 sqm for both male and female sections, we offer guests a collection of unique treatments and personalized services in state of the art facilities.

How do you think you contribute to the bigger Spa sector in Qatar?

We take wellbeing to a whole new level with expert guidance and offer the ultimate sanctuary to escape the hectic pace of everyday life. With a tailored holistic approach, which assesses lifestyle factors as well as guests’ physical, mental and emotional state, our fully qualified team devise a results driven programme that is personally prescribed to meet individual goals

What are your main target markets locally, regionally and internationally? Where do you see a potential?

We are delighted to have regular local clients but are now attracting numerous regional and international guests experiencing our award-winning signature products and services that makes their stay with us even more special.

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What makes Banana Island a must visit destination in Qatar?

We are excited to be the first resort in the Middle East to manage the unique Balance Wellness Centre. The Centre’s unique concept and tailored treatments offer the very best in health and wellness treatments perfected by experts from across the globe – an experience that is only available on the island.

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To add further value to the unique wellness journey, the resort offers a “first-of-its-kind’ advanced equipment to support the Wellness offer. The InfraRed Sauna machine, a cabin large enough for two adults, helps Detoxification, Relaxation, Pain Relief, Weight Loss, Improved Circulation, as well as Skin Purification.

In the Wellness Center, the Floatation Therapy, promises to alleviate stress, with deep relaxation, speeds rehabilitation and recovery, improves circulation of oxygen and nutrients, in addition to stimulating left/right brain synchronization.

The journey is not complete if guests did not try the special Aemotio machine, which offers specialized slimming & toning treatments as well as anti-cellulite, draining, exfoliating, and anti-stress packages.

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Where is the spa located?

Banana Island Resort Doha is only a 25 minute journey by luxury ferry from Al Shyoukh Terminal located in the city’s downtown area or a 10 minute helicopter ride directly from the airport with bird’s eye views of the spectacular coastline.

Argentina Excursions

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Attracted by the vibrant colors of South America, I massaged my travel funds and ventured last month with a travel aficionado into Argentina, a destination rich in contrasts in landscapes, weather and culture and covered three different destinations, Iguazu, Buenos Aires and El Calafate, each place every different from another.

From the abundance of wild life, flora and water at the Iguazú Falls and Jungle in the Northeast, to the vibrant feel of Buenos Aires as a city and breathtaking views of the Glaciers and marine life of Patagonia, Argentina thrills visitors of all temperaments.

We enjoyed the exuberance of tango in Buenos Aires and indulged for a few hours in Argentina’s capital city. We visited the glamorous neighborhoods of Recoleta, its most famous cemetery, Palermo, May Square, the Pink House, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Puerto Madero Area and many other emblematic buildings and palaces of unique architectural, historical and cultural value.

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After enjoying the sights of the first settlements of the city of Buenos Aires, the picturesque neighborhood of San Telmo, we had some retail therapy in a local mall and the renowned antiques market.

If you’re looking for an authentic Tango cultural experience in the splendour of a decadent yet refined ambience, look no further than Tango Rojo at the cabaret of the Faena Hotel. This Tango show is the best you’ll find in the city and we enjoyed the white tuxedoed musicians, sultry vocalists and exquisitely skilled dancers in beautiful period costumes.

After Buenos Aires, we flew to Iguazu Falls and spent the night in Mercure Iguazu surrounded by nature. The next day we spent the day at the Iguazu National Park which is a total of 55,500 hectares. Surrounded by a lush subtropical rainforest, we enjoyed the majestic Iguazú Waterfalls, the most important and spectacular waterfalls in the world.

Via different footbridges, we visited the heart of the waterfalls, appreciating them from different angles and refreshed ourselves with the waterfall drizzle at the bottom. On the upper circuit, we enjoyed the different viewpoints until we reached the balcony at Garganta del Diablo (Devil”s Throat). Without doubt, this is the most amazing of all falls where water falls down from 80 meters.

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We then flew to El Calafate via Buenos Aires for the best two days of navigation on Marpatang’s ‘Sprit of the Glaciers’ enjoying the sight of the Upsala, Mayo, and Spegazzini glaciers, and of course, the Perito Moreno.

We stayed on board a double cabin with private bathrooms and outdoor view. On the following day, after breakfast, we disembarked in the area of Puesto de Vacas for a short walk. Later, we continued towards the Spegazzini Glacier and saw it in all its splendor, the sun shining bright over its tall ice walls.

After a sumptuous lunch the ship set sail towards the massive Upsala Glacier. This glacier is one of the greatest and biggest ones in the National Park rising to a height of 7 km (4.35 mi). Afterwards, the vessel cruised along the Seno Mayo, where we had dinner and overnight in Toro Bay.

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We then headed to Buenos Aires for an indulgent stay at the Alvear Palace, fit for royalty. The hotel, in the heart of Buenos Aires is elegant and a delight to be in.

No visit to Argentina is complete without a visit to a polo ranch and academy so on the way to the airport, we had the most enjoyable and memorable day at the lovely Estancia Villa Maria ranch with the most lovely summer lunch and a dose of polo.

Argentina clearly has something for everyone and you need more than ten days to really appreciate what the different places have to offer. We were able to travel on the best itinerary prepared by Condor Travel in Dubai that gave us a taste of all the best parts of Argentina in a week. You can call Condor Travel on 04 2827274/  0507641835 or condorgcc@gmail.com.

 

Explore Shakespeare’s Country

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A tour of the UK is not complete unless you spend a few days in Shakespeare country and nearby attractions. This Midlands area and its surroundings are a fascinating blend of history and myth, industry and culture.

Naturally I loved Stratford-upon-Avon, the historic market town and birthplace of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare. After doing some extensive tours of Shakespeare’s birthplace and indulging in plays both at the Royal Shakespeare theatre and outdoor performances in the park, I chose to stay for a few days at the Macdonald Ansty Hall.

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Macdonald Ansty Hall is without doubt one of the finest 4-star hotels in Warwickshire. Set in the heart of Shakespeare Country offering the best of breathtaking scenery and facilities.

Close to Cadbury’s World, Warwick Castle and the beautiful town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the hotel is a popular choice for family holidays, business and weddings.

The hotel is a perfect venue for celebrations, events and conferences with superb hotel accommodation, stylish meeting and function rooms and breathtaking views over the eight acres of landscaped gardens.

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Highly recommended is a visit to the AA Rosette awarded Shilton Restaurant, followed by a nightcap in The Warwick Bar and Lounge.

Car lovers should make a beeline for the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, which is a 65 acres housing the largest collection of British-made cars in the world.

If you are into aviation like me, head to the Midland Air Museum at Coventry airport. It reflects the genius of local engineer Sir Frank Whittle, designer of the first jet engine.

Stratford Upon Avon and Warwickshire in general is a must see for visitors touring the UK and staying in hotels like the Ansty Hall makes it a memorable experience.

A dose of Culture ME London

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London has always been a great city break destination for shopping, culture, sightseeing and so much more but finding a strategic place to stay for both work and play is not easy. My second home in the city is the ME London, a design-led, lifestyle hotel located at the centre of the capital’s diverse art and culture district and the Melia Whitehouse, an iconic London hotel that is walking distance to some of the city’s main attractions.

The ME London is situated in Marconi House, the original London home of BBC radio.  The property has rooms with sumptuous bedding, bathrooms with spa-like rain showers and premium amenities, as well as access to the hotel’s integrated digital media hub, which my family fully appreciated.

Exceptional dining is located within the hotel including Radio roof top bar, offering a stunning panoramic view of London; STK steakhouse and grill who are celebrated for their lively vibe; Cucina Asellina for a contemporary take on rustic Italian food and the Marconi Lounge, an ideal meeting place.

After a tough day in business meetings, enjoy a walk to the theatre across the road to see shows and the luxury of being able to walk to some of the key attractions nearby. ME London is superbly located on the Strand on the southern tip of Covent Garden, just a few moments from the River Thames and Trafalgar Square, and is in the company of some of the city’s best art galleries, museums, restaurants, bars, shopping and nightlife.

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The triangular site of ME London on the corner of Aldwych, in the heart of London’s Theatre-Land, is steeped in a rich, cultural history. The hotel also has an on-site fitness centre and offers in room relaxation and spa treatments. ME by Meliá is for cultured, fashionable guests who are driven by new experiences and opportunities.  The brand has been built on first-rate service, and ME London will be no exception.

The hotel offers a variety of room types and layouts, from rooms with private terraces on the upper two levels, to individual suites with large, separate marble bathrooms. Suspended from the white leather walls of each room, there is a black lacquered cabinet, which incorporates a television and entertainment system, back-lit onyx shelves and the mini bar.

On the top floor, the hotel’s rooftop terraces are an urban oasis, with a sky bar and gardens with spectacular views of the river and Westminster skyline. The light, white interior of the bar creates a relaxed environment and draws the focus outside, while onyx wall detailing and a bold black counter continue the hotel’s interior themes.

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I particularly love the APIVITA amenities which are natural products enriched with infusions from Greek flora, bee derivatives and organic essential oils to create and maintain physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Located on the 10th floor, accessible via a dedicated express lift, Radio is the only rooftop bar, lounge & terrace in the Strand & Aldwych area to be open throughout the day till late. With the cloud skimming views spanning from the heights of the City, Tower Bridge, Shard London Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Somerset House, Southbank, London Eye, Houses of Parliament, and the theatre district of Covent Garden, the rooftop bar at ME London brings lounging and social indulgence to a new height. 

ME London can stage an event with the precise degree of grandeur or intimacy with 7 flexible meetings rooms including one large function space with state-of-the-art technology so the lobby is always bustling. Being in the UK is a delight whenever I stay at ME London.