EXCEPTIONAL HOSPITALITY AND FAMILY TRADITIONS – WHITE STALLION RANCH

By Shereen Shabnam

As the world gets more accessible to travellers, destinations sought are no longer just limited to beaches and cities. Highlands, cruises, ranches are becoming more popular and our current favourite is the White Stallion Ranch.

The personal touch and hospitality of this traditional dude ranch is carefully blended with the service and amenities of a fine resort where guests can reconnect with nature, family, friends and serenity. Adventure seekers can ride through the unspoiled desert and the rugged mountains.

With a warm, welcoming atmosphere, the ranch has been the Hollywood filmmakers for years as a backdrop in Western feature films and later, as the location for the television series High Chaparral.

The guest rooms at the ranch and The Hacienda, a lovely and private four-bedroom, three-bathroom home are spacious and charming, perfect for larger families or small groups. Every guest room has a private patio with views of the cactus gardens, mountains, or corrals.  Amenities include eco-friendly soaps, shampoos and lotions, hair dryers, mini-refrigerators and personal safes in all rooms.

A premium advantage of a vacation at White Stallion Ranch is that all the cooking is done for guests with a variety of meal options using the freshest, quality ingredients in home-style recipes.

The breakfast includes a cooked-to-order menu as well as an extensive continental buffet. Lunch and dinner buffets are also available with snacks all day including fresh fruit, chips and salsa, peanuts and a homemade trail mix.  For drinks, guests can have coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, hot and cold teas and lemonade through the day.

Among activities at the ranch, the riding program is one of the focal points, with a large herd of hand picked horses and knowledgeable wranglers to guide the riding adventures.

Guests can also enjoy guided rock climbing, hiking, tennis, basketball, the game room, movie theater, swimming pool, hot tub, gift shop, spa, exercise room or just relaxing on one of the many charming patios with mountain views.

White Stallion Ranch was originally built in the 1900’s and began as a cattle ranch. The original property was constructed of Mexican adobe brick made of mud and straw. During renovation, wire and horseshoes were found in the walls. A small part of the original adobe is on display in the dining room, the original building on the ranch.

As a sought after destination that is also an attraction, the White Stallion Ranch has won many accolades and is recognised for service excellence and value. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and recognised among the fifteen best hotels in Tucson in 2017 by US News and World Report and holds the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence since 2015 to this year.

The current owners maintain the traditions of the West with many of the original buildings still in use. They have added sunken tennis courts, a movie theater, a new pool and hot tub area with a serenity patio, lighted sport courts a spa area and fitness center. They have also established one of the largest privately owned herds of horses in Arizona and a large herd of cattle.

New ranch holiday seekers should start with the best and the White Stallion Ranch is the perfect venue to get a glimpse into the ranch lifestyle.

 

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Exquisite Athenian Riviera – Grand Resort Lagonissi

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Helios Hotels and Resorts have devoted more than three decades to refining the perfect blend of elegance, personal service and exclusivity in their properties, with the gorgeous natural beauty of the Greek landscape as their constant inspiration. The exquisite Grand Resort Lagonissi is one of their most beautiful properties for holidays that offer sun, sea and sand with exceptional service and a wide range of rest and relaxation venues and activities.

In a simply glorious setting on a private peninsula, dotted with private sandy coves, in Attica on the Athenian Riviera, the impressive Grand Resort Lagonissi offers a high level of service, a wealth of facilities and an exquisite choice of award winning restaurants.

The Helios Hotels and Resorts Group has rightfully won the title of one of the most important hotel chains, not only in Greece but also internationally, as it boasts hotels of unique aesthetics and luxury, distinguished by the top quality they offer both in terms of accommodation and service.

Among their portfolio is the Grand Resort Lagonissi, which stands on a verdant peninsula, just a few miles from Athens and a few minutes from the International Airport. The resort, which is a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’, combines luxurious ambience and exceptional service in a true sun and sea world.

The Grand Resort Lagonissi represents the consummate in luxury in terms of location, design, facilities and service. The highest level of pampering, relaxation, leisure and recreation are values offered to the discerning visitor who wants covert this experience. The resort is located on the south side of the Athens area, amid lush greenery.

The resort provides endless choices of luxurious accommodations in standard rooms and suites, the private Mediterranean bungalows and in the lavish villas and suites, which have their own private swimming pools. All bedrooms offer access to sandy beaches and boast a steam bath and a Jacuzzi bathtub.

A range of restaurants and bars situated on the waterfront serve an imaginative selection of local and international  cuisine in a breath-taking natural setting. The dining facilities suit every occasion and palate, from buffets to a la carte specialty restaurants serving a range of world cuisines, each with its own style and ambience. Most of the resort’s restaurants hold Five Star Diamond Awards from the American Academy of Hospitality Science.

Recreational facilities include a host of land and water based sports, outdoor pool, a children’s club, open air cinema, plus a state of the art spa where highly skilled therapists offer rejuvenating holistic treatments for mind, body and soul. The state-of-the-art Thala Spa Chenot Spa offers holistic rejuvenation in a tranquil setting. Guests may also benefit from the special balanced-diet menus.

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The water sports activities on the magnificent Mediterranean Searange from sailing and windsurfing, to waterskiing and scuba diving. Rental of yachts and Lear jets is available on request for guests keen to enjoy the clear blue seas on their own. Private sandy coves surround the hotel for those who want a day alone on the beach.

The Grand Resort Lagonissi is an ideal choice for leisure visitors and business travelers, providing a vast choice of lodging and conference facilities. It offers its guests an exclusive private ambience and an atmosphere that makes you feel truly at home without making any compromises in the style or quality of its services.

Located around a 30-minute from Athens City Centre, the Grand Resort Lagonissi certainly sets a benchmark in first-class service and facilities for business and leisure trips. It’s unique peninsula location, in south Athens, offers a peaceful Mediterranean setting and easy access to cultural attractions.

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Blending Heritage With Modernity – The Widder Hotel Zurich

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Strategically located in the historic district of the financial metropolis Zurich, the Five-Star Widder Hotel, is a glamorous location for social events and important conferences. Through its unique art collection and architecture, the Widder Hotel is also a meeting place for creative people who appreciate the exceptional personal ambience of this individually designed hotel.

The Widder Hotel is in the heart of Zurich’s old city and known for its exceptional architecture: The nine private residences from the middle Ages have been meticulously restored and renovated into one modern luxury hotel. Discerning leisure and business travelers always note that the Widder Hotel is a member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels, White Line Hotels, and the Leading Hotels of the World. Since 2010, Mr. Jan E. Brucker as the manager of the hotel took on the honorary position of President of Swiss Deluxe Hotels (SDH).

The association was founded in 1934 and includes 39 of the best, independently managed Five Star Hotels in Switzerland. Many of the historical traces, that distinguish the Widder Hotel, are found in the guestrooms. The visitor will need to come several times to experience all architectural and artistic features of the hotel. Each guestroom has its individual layout, structure and color scheme and shines with a distinct design and furnishing.

According to Mr. Brucker, the Widder Hotel attaches great importance to real values. It does not mean to be trendy, but rather stands for the true values of the arts, history and heritage and in fact the main attraction of the Widder is the preserved historical, complemented by permanent values.

The nine meticulously restored historical residences in which the Widder Hotel unfolds are unique, as each house is underlined by a subtle guide of orientation with the colour of each house also applied to the inside gangways and corridors. Moreover each house features its own wood species and stone.

Each one of the 34 guest rooms and 15 suites, the banqueting room, meeting rooms, restaurant and bar are individually styled The fusion of historical architecture and innovative modern design creates a relaxed ambience with real character. It’s the perfect setting for an unforgettable stay, private party or exclusive business event.

The hotel has been built, acquired, occupied, changed and decorated by descendants of noble families, guild masters, artisans and merchants. And their life took place in little parlours and offices just the same as in opulent salons. The room decors of these late Middle Age houses with rich murals and stucco is an expression of the owners’ social class, who made their wealth and fortune through trade and commerce. The “Rennweg”, where the main entrance of the Widder Hotel is located, was Zurich’s most prestigious street from the 17th to the 19th century.

Every room is furnished with a sophisticated lighting system by the Austrian Zumtobel Group and has two telephone lines as well as fax- and WLAN-connections. The audio system is by Bang & Olufsen. Satellite TV, a personal safe and a cooling/heating system as well as mini bar and Nespresso coffee maker are also standard facilities in each room.

Guests occupying a suite have an iPad available free of charge during their stay. Each suite is equipped with an Apple Docking-station, allowing further options for use such as playing music or listening to audio books.

A team of preservationists, archaeologists, architects and designers, through the years were involved in the reformation of this historical building ensemble. During the 18 months of archaeological excavation the scientists even found relics from the Roman Ages, among them a fire place as well as cooking utensils and domestic ceramics. In the Widder Hotel all of the ancient and antique is genuine, all new elements are state-of-the-art.

In the raised upper floor of the Steinhaus there is the light and airy breakfast room with its retractable glass ceiling. The library is located on the ground floor of the Steinhaus. The antiques and works by renowned artists, in particular from contemporary times, lend the hotel its own distinctive character. Robert Rauschenberg has designed and created a picture especially for the stairway in the Penthouse Suite.

A wealth of paintings, sculptures and artworks adorn the lobby, restaurants, conference facilities and all guest rooms from famous artists such as Augusto Giacometti, Serge Poliakoff, Max Bill, Andy Warhol.

The Widder Garden is Zurich’s most loved open-air-hideaway when the weather is good for alfresco dining. Located in the heart of the historic district, enjoy a light lunch or cappuccino-break after shopping and sightseeing, to an afterwork dinner in the evening in one of the hotel’s restaurants serving world-class cuisine.

The Widder Hotel lies in the heart of the Augustiner quarter, which offers all benefits of a central location within the historic section of the town and offers Maserati limousine transfers to and from the airport.

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Life is Magnifique at Sofitel

World Class Hotels & French Elegance

Copyright Phototèque ACCOR.Photo Gilles TRILLARD.

Sofitel is the only French luxury hotel brand with a presence on five continents with 120 addresses, in almost 40 countries (more than 30 000 rooms). Sofitel offers contemporary hotels and resorts adapted to today’s more demanding and more versatile consumers who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. I enjoyed my one night stay at Sofitel Dubai so much that I wanted to try another Sofitel to see if all their properties are really as magnifique as my first experience

Whether situated in the heart of a major city like Paris, London, New York, Shanghai or Beijing, or nestled away in a country landscape in Morocco, Egypt, French Polynesia or Thailand, each Sofitel property offers a genuine experience of the French “ art de vivre”.

One thing I noticed in both the Dubai and Bahrain property is the biggest asset that makes Sofitel such a huge success in this region is that every staff member, right from the GM to the waiter have unbelievably vibrant, pleasant and helpful personalities.

In Dubai, it was awesome to look out the patio onto the ocean and the vibrant atmosphere of JBR where people went on from their coffee sessions to walks on the beach. I was so happy with the hotel’s recreation areas like the inviting pool area that going out of the hotel was not on. In the evening we enjoyed an amazing fine dining experience as well as a wonderful coffee session near garden area.

At The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, guests are greeted with the Kingdom’s legendary hospitality, enhanced by a touch of the French savoir-faire cherished by Sofitel hotels world-wide. Situated on the west coast of Bahrain, the hotel is located close to a nature reserve, in a protected area with crystal-clear turquoise waters. It truly is a luxurious establishment offering guests a paradise setting in which to enjoy an idyllic stay.

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The exclusive lounge area on the 6th Floor had the friendliest staff and my best experience was that no matter which part of the hotel I was in, there was Internet access. I strongly believe that in this day and age, hotels lose out with their exorbitant costs for internet excess and Sofitel scores full marks as I was able to relax and have peace of mind knowing that I could at a pinch attend to any urgent emails that came from home or office.

The Hotel is offering a wide variety of cuisines and delicious dishes from all over the world presented in the 5 restaurants and 4 bars. Guests may enjoy an authentic South East Asian fare, or dive into an overwhelming seafood collection. The Italian specialties are to die for and the Tapas bar offers a wide selection of unique mouth- watering bites.

The irresistible Lebanese Mezza and local delights in the Regional Specialty restaurant are warmed up with the most popular oriental tunes and belly dance beats in Pashawat. I was particularly overwhelmed by the Friday brunch, which I am told, is the best in Bahrain and it was certainly the best I have had in a long time.

Each restaurant in the hotel left me impressed and I believe that La Mer is by far the best seafood restaurant I have tried in Bahrain during my weekly visits. And getting to the hotel is so easy and once you get there, the tranquil environment sets the mood for an awesome time no matter what the reasons are for your visit.

Copyright Phototèque ACCOR.Photo Gilles TRILLARD.

One thing I was looking forward to most was the fact that The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa is the first hotel within the GCC to offer thalasso-therapy and I couldn’t wait to try it. I was not disappointed as the extensive Thalassa sea & spa complex covers 2,000 square meters on 2 levels and is designed with the utmost care to ensure privacy and tranquility for every guest. The complex features 14 treatment rooms, utilizing sea products, massages and Wellness programs.

I was also impressed by the fact that The Thalassa Sea & Spa also features a seawater hydrotherapy pool, a freshwater pool, saunas, steam rooms, hairdresser for men and beauty salon for women, as well as a yoga studio and a meditation area. A specialized dietitian is dedicated to advise general body condition; body mass index, and tailor-made fitness programmes.

Then there is the La Plage Beach Club is an elegant and modern facility, where you may enjoy a relaxing day on the beach or by the pool, also, you can pick from a wide range of water sports to enhance you day on the beach.

The Beach Club’s 2 floodlit tennis courts promise enlivening play, while the 2 air-conditioned glass- backed squash courts offer a cooler choice. So FIT gym is part of La Plage Beach Club, it is the latest facility of its kind in Bahrain, and offers state-of-the-art equipment, certified trainers and fitness assessment counselors to help guests get the most out of their workout.

There is also a safe and nurturing environment, where children from all ages are provided with opportunities to develop their social, emotional and physical skills. The space is designed to suit different age groups with a wide range of indoor activities such as Play station3, WII, movies, events, library, board games, computers, and toys for all ages.

I certainly am looking forward to my next visit to the restaurants and the spa at Sofitel hotels now that I have had the taste of their Dubai and Bahrain properties.

Breathtaking Views: Hassler Roma

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One of the most insightful encounters I had recently was with the team from Hassler Roma. Set atop the Spanish Steps and featuring a panoramic view of the entire city, the Hassler Roma is owned by President and Managing Director Roberto E. Wirth, fifth generation of a famous Swiss hotelier dynasty.

Hospitality is in the DNA of the owners. For more than a century, the Hassler Roma continues its legacy as Rome’s five-star lodging of choice for the world’s elite and discerning travelers. Its rooms and suites, its terraces and its 1 starred Michelin panoramic restaurant offer the most breathtaking view over Rome’s city center skyline.

The hotel has 93 rooms, 13 of which are suites, individually designed with an elegant combination of classic and contemporary touches and with panoramic suites. Located on the Hassler’s 8th floor, the 400 sqm Hassler Penthouse Suite offers the most breathtaking view over Rome’s city center skyline, including the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna with its Barcaccia fountain by Bernini and the famed Via Condotti, Rome’s most exclusive shopping street.

Speaking passionately of the contemporary elements that enhance the ambience of the property, the representatives from Hassler rave how the elegant, contemporary décor blends seamlessly with a state-of-the-art music and lighting system. The elevator provides direct access to the suite, which features two panoramic terraces in Travertine marble, a grand piano and fully-stocked cocktail bar area in the spacious and elegantly-decorated living room.

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The suites feature a dining area, two beautiful large King bedded rooms and a single room, Wi Fi, a kitchen with custom-designed fine bone china tableware, and of course the incomparable views of the city, which may be admired from every room, including the spacious bathrooms, complete with chromotherapy-enhanced rain showers.

Located on the 7th floor, the Penthouse Suite Villa Medici has a breathtaking view from its private 150 sq. mt. terrace. It is a magical space offering a unique location where to relax and enjoy the view of the city with a late afternoon cocktail, a private dinner or for private events. Upon entering the suite

Also on offer is the Presidential suite San Pietro, located on the 6th floor, is named to celebrate the view over St. Peter’s Basilica. The exclusive terrace running along the entire apartment is equipped with chaise-longues, tables and chairs ideal for an outdoor drink or simply to enjoy the spectacular view of the city and the Spanish Steps..

Located on the 5th floor, Presidential Suite Trinità dei Monti, overlooks the Spanish Steps. The bright, airy corner suite features large floor-to-ceiling windows with balconies which offer an unforgettable view of Rome The suite has black and white marble floors, as well as black/ white carpeting and the living room is decorated with original paintings and classically-styled furniture with a modern accent.

There are also the Grand Deluxe Suite Forum, the Grand Deluxe Suite Hassler and the Executive suites should you prefer even more options.

For dining and relaxation, visit the Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant, Imàgo, the Salone Eva and Palm Court restaurant and the Hassler Bar, as well as the neighboring, Hassler-owned Il Palazzetto: a hotel, wine bar and special event space.

Given its unique position, elegance, style, luxury, quality service and discretion, the Hassler Roma is the very symbol of international hospitality and the ideal location for an unforgettable and one-of-a kind stay in the Eternal City.

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Transforming Modern Indian Hospitality

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Amruda Nair, Joint Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

AIANA Hotels and Resorts L.L.C

Recently I ventured into a trendy Cafe at Al Serkal Avenue to meet with the young and charismatic Amruda Nair, the Joint Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AIANA Hotels & Resorts.

AIANA Hotels & Resorts is a global hotel management company with an Indian service ethos aiming to be a leading operator of hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in the Middle East, Indian Sub-Continent and South East Asia. It is a hospitality brand of upper upscale hotels that offers fresh and relevant product design, facilities customized for the new generation of savvy travellers with an innate service ethic based on traditional Indian hospitality values.

Amruda has hotels and hospitality in her DNA. From her grandfather, the late Captain C.P. Krishnan Nair, founder of The Leela Group, she inherited a maverick streak and an eye for trailblazing business opportunities. We speak to her about the brand awareness, new ventures and her connection to the Middle East.

What does AIANA mean?

AIANA means ‘eternal blossom’ in the ancient language of Sanskrit and offers a unique vision of contemporary living, modern design and immersive enriching experiences.

What does your role entail at AIANA?

I get involved in different areas but primarily I am responsible for designing the brand’s signature programming as well as spearheading the company’s overall business development to create a unique proposition that will define the next wave of smart hospitality.

How is AIANA connected to hospitality in Qatar?

AIANA Hotels and Resorts LLC is the result of a focused and proactive strategy, which combines the strength of its two principals – H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani and myself. We bring the best of business excellence and Indian service ethos and see Qatar as a base for our expansion in the region.

Which projects are you currently working on?

We have announced our flagship property called Aiana Residences and Suites in mid-2017 in Doha (180 rooms) along with Aiana Makkah (594 rooms). The other major deal-signing announcements include – a management agreement with Moonriver Resorts to operate Aiana Munnar – A Moonriver Resort in Munnar (33 villas), Kerala; an agreement with Ferns Estates and Developers to manage and operate four resorts in Karnataka over the next five years, with the first resort AIANA Hassan currently under development on 45 acres of verdant, hilly coffee plantation land in the district of Sakleshpur and scheduled to open in 2019 (75 villas) plus an agreement to build a 150 room AIANA Agra within walking distance of the historic monument Taj Mahal in India. And of course we would like to be in the UAE, and perhaps in Oman and Kuwait at a later stage.

Were you always keen to enter the hospitality industry and did you study accordingly?

Given my family background Hospitality was always around me but I am an Economics graduate with a degree in Hospitality Management from CHN University in The Netherlands and a master’s from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, New York.

Tell us a bit about your journey since you began working?

After working briefly with Mandarin Oriental New York, I moved to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels (JLLH) in Singapore as a full-time analyst on the hospitality brokerage team and was involved in investment sales mandates across the region including Indonesia, Japan, China, India and Thailand. Afterwards, I joined the corporate advisory division of JLLH where my role involved pre-opening budget reviews, management contract negotiations and mystery guest audits for properties. Then I moved to India.

Have you worked in India and is that where the passion for Indian hospitality comes from?

After moving to India, I was the Head of Asset Management for The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts during a period of major growth. In this role, conducted financial reviews for the group’s eight operating properties, reviewing pre-opening budgets for upcoming projects and annual business plans.

When I book a hotel, I check if there is a spa first before making a decision and often reject hotels without spas. Would wellness be a strong component in your projects?

 Our spas operate on basic fundamentals based on five elements and sense and include mapping of the guests needs and matching the services accordingly. Hence every treatment is custom made.

You recently introduced the concept of fractional ownership in hospitality – can you elaborate on this?

We tested this for Aiana Munnar, a villa resort in Kerala and it received a positive response. With fractional ownership, multiple people can own a single asset. An investor can either own an entire villa as a holiday home or a fraction of it to earn earn revenue.

We understand you are also involved in CSR programmes with AIANA – can you elaborate on that?

I am an associate committee member of Sahachari Foundation, an NGO which stands for ‘women who walk together’ in support of societal responsibility and empowerment and the Vice President of Apne Aap Women’s Collective, an anti-trafficking organisation that serves women and children in Mumbai’s red light district. We hope our involvement helps make a change in these communities.

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MALAYSIA – TRULY ASIA

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One of the many reasons why I keep going back to Malaysia after living there for nearly ten years is for the mouth-watering food, diverse cultures, the lush green nature, enchanting islands, the beaches and the retail therapy.

It is now an accepted fact that if you want to visit Asia, all you have to do is visit Malaysia. Apart from its geographical location, right smack in the centre of Asia, strong economic base and stable political situation, Malaysia is an attraction for the tourist who wants to taste Asia but do not have the luxury of time and money.

Below are the top 10 reasons why Malaysia is truly Asia.

  1. THE PEOPLE:

Asian people or the term Asiatic people has multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia’s population. And quite a number of them are found in Malaysia. The most common are the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Punjabis and the Dayak tribes or the aboriginals.

  1. THE CULTURE:

Having a multiple mixed races in Malaysia makes for an interesting potpourri of culture. The Malays will have their colourful weddings and celebrations full of refinement, the Chinese have exciting festivals that are steeped in tradition, the Indians have classical presentations that are as colourful as their sarees, while the aboroginal tribes will have their natural heritage largely encircling their practice of paying tribute to nature. These are all endemic to most Asian countries, with just some slight variations.

  1. THE MANY RELIGIONS:

I learnt more about religious practices in Malaysia in 9 yeras than in my entire lifetime. The main religions in Asia, ie Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism play a major part in shaping the beliefs of Asians and are found in Malaysia as well.

  1. THE FOOD:

Food is what makes Asia, and definitely Malaysia, so delectable. Once you have tasted the food of Malaysia, you have tasted most Asian cuisine. There is something to suit all tastes and for the Muslims, halal cuisine available everywhere.

  1. THE CLOTHES:

The standard traditional garb among the main cultures is the Malay baju, Chinese cheongsam and Indian saree. Occasionally you see the Vietnamese ao dai or the Korean hanbok as Malaysians do wear similar outfits during special events.

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  1. THE LANGUAGE:

Malay is the most common of all languages in Asia as it is spoken in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and even Cambodia while Chinese and Tamil are equally well-spoken in certain Asian countries. In Malaysia, English is spoken vastly and I never had any problems in even the remote destinations in the country.

  1. THE CLIMATE:

Like most countries in Asia, there are only two seasons in Malaysia: rainy and sunny. You either carry an umbrella or wear your sun-shades, depending on the weather.

  1. THE HISTORY:

The history of the Asian countries is intertwined with Malaysia’s history, thanks in great part to the traders of days of yore. As such you can read about Asian history in the annals of Malaysian history.

  1. THE FESTIVALS:

There are lots of common festivals between most Asian countries and those found in Malaysia and makes for an interesting feast for the senses. It was a delight to sometimes have up to three festivals for different cultures in one week.

  1. THE TRADITIONAL PASTIMES:

The best things in life are free, like sunshine, fresh air and love, and these are prevalent in the hobbies of Malaysians, as it is with Asians. People enjoy going to the parks, movies, exploring shopping malls, indulging in sporting activities and in my case, I just enjoyed people watching in the local teahouses and coffee shops.

With such common denominators, Malaysia can rightfully claim to be truly Asia and a good reason to visit the country.