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.

 

#travel #hospitality #TravelJunkie #TravelTheWorld #wanderlust #globalista #wanderer #explore #discover #traveladdict #destinations #adventure #GoingPlaces #ShereenShabnam #Tourist #LuxuryTravel #TravellingIslander #TravelDiary #Fijian #AmazingPlaces #TravellingFijian #Globetrotter #SeeTheWorld #flight #Traveller#OffTheBeatenTrack #Shereen_Shabnam

 

Miami Magic – Memorable experiences in Florida

front daytime

There is no place like Miami when it comes to looking for a haven that lets you relax by the day and party by the night both are done in gusto and with equal measure. The calm and serenity that I feel in the coastal parts of Miami, the creative inspiration I feel in the Art Deco areas and the diverse cuisine, sights and sounds that offer a fascinating blend of urban chic and old world rustic charm is what makes me go back again and again.

Miami has great year-round weather, the best beaches and is a cosmopolitan metropolis with an enviable arts and cultural landscape in the back drop blue skies, cotton candy clouds that makes ‘The Simpsons’ sky paler in comparison and cool breezy evenings perfect for beach walks and outdoor sports.

My first stop in Miami is of course the car museum to see the Dezer Collection being a obsessed motoring aficionado and despite taking a hundred pictures, I still discover more unique pieces during each visit. This is followed by a visit to the Everglades National Park, a 1.5 million-acre eco-system of subtropical jungle and the warm waters of Florida Bay so I get a good dose of greenery into my system.  Being a Pisces, I also love the Biscayne National Park that hosts’ lots of marine life and plants, living coral reefs as well as the longest stretch of mangrove forest.

During every visit to Miami, I have stayed in different hotels as the city, the South beach and many more areas have an inspiring collection of hotels, from casual and chic boutiques to the world’s leading luxury properties. My favourites so far include the W Hotel, St Regis Bal Harbour and recently I stayed at the Grand Beach Hotel.

The best drive is getting to South Beach and seeing the Port of Miami which clearly is the Cruise Capital of the World. Last year I went the maiden journey of the largest cruise ship in the world, ‘Harmony of the Seas’. The Port is dotted with sparkling white megaships carrying travelers to the Caribbean and back for more quality time in Miami.

During this drive I also stopped at the Jungle Island that has great wildlife shows, monkeys and exotic birds. I had a private encounter with the lemurs that initially was daunting and I was squeamish but they soon won me over with their cute antics. I wanted to stop at the Miami Children’s Museum, which is hosted in a gorgeous building designed by the award-winning Miami architectural firm, Arquitectonica, but ran out of time.

A visit to Miami is not complete unless you go to the Art deco area, which has a collection of more than 800 architecturally protected buildings from the 1930s and 1940s. If you love art, take ample time to spend here and my only regret is not charging up my camera in full when I visited. It is a photographers dream.

Being a woman, I headed to the very trendy Lincoln Road for uninterrupted retail therapy as this area is pedestrian friendly and has lots of spots to have coffee breaks and watch the locals. Not far from here is the World Symphony Centre with world-class performing arts. During my stay in Bal Harbour, I discovered the famous Bal Harbour Shops across the road which had the best designer boutiques that included Gucci, Fendi, Roberto Cavalli and lovely coffee shops.

Downtown Miami is similar to Dubai and is a hub for international business and finance with tall office towers and condominiums lining Brickell Avenue.  It also has Florida’s largest performing arts center with the Grand Opera, the Miami City Ballet and of course there is the Design District that hosts the top designers.

Close to the Design District is Wynwood that has close to a hundred galleries including contemporary urban murals and relaxation areas. Other new Miami attractions to look out for when you visit are include the Miami Science Museum, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the new Miami Art Museum.

One of my favourite parts of Miami is Little Havana where I discovered ‘Cassava or Tapioca’ during lunch one day. It is a root crop I love and is a staple we eat in Fiji. The vibrant area makes you feel happy naturally and one could spend a entire day exploring the cuisine, watching how one hand-rolls cigars, with the backdrop of songs that make you want to start salsa and merengue lessons right away. Another great place is the Coconut Grove with lush and tropical greenery and has lovely cafés, art galleries, retail shops and markets.

Miami has great suburbs such as Coral Gables with beautiful Mediterranean-style homes and winding waterways. The Key Biscayne area is good for hiking and biking trails, boating and sports facilities. North of Miami has great Moorish architecture, good golf courses and large Aventura Mall where I ended up spending a full day. South of Miami is great for Everglades National Park, a World Heritage site and numerous tourist destinations.

Throughout this region, and up near the urban areas to the north, you can take advantage of a wide Miami-Dade Parks EcoAdventures — a wide variety of exciting naturalist-guided excursions for nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts that combine adventure, recreation, and natural history. Discover South Florida’s natural treasures as you kayak, snorkel, bike, or hike in this remarkable sub-tropical environment. Going on nature trails is also great to admire the natural beauty of Miami.

Hence, Miami Beach offers far beyond sun and sand, with world-famous nightlife and world-renowned art galleries, first-class hotels superb dining, designer retail and unique architecture that makes it one of the world’s most visually distinctive regions.

Exquisite Athenian Riviera – Grand Resort Lagonissi

Kohylia Deck 01

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.

spa d1

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.

#travel #TravelJunkie #TravelTheWorld #wanderlust #globalista #wanderer #explore #discover #traveladdict #destinations  #adventure #GoingPlaces #holiday #ShereenShabnam #OutAndAbout #Tourist #LuxuryTravel #ShereenOnTheRoad #TravellingIslander #TravelDiary #Beautiful  #AmazingPlaces #TravellingFijian  #Globetrotter #SeeTheWorld #Traveller#OffTheBeatenTrack @Shereen_Shabnam

Blending Heritage With Modernity – The Widder Hotel Zurich

WIDDER_neu_2015-2.jpg

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.

#travel #TravelJunkie #TravelTheWorld #wanderlust #globalista #wanderer #explore #discover #traveladdict #destinations  #adventure #GoingPlaces #holiday #ShereenShabnam #OutAndAbout #Tourist #LuxuryTravel #ShereenOnTheRoad #TravellingIslander #TravelDiary #Beautiful  #AmazingPlaces #TravellingFijian  #Globetrotter #SeeTheWorld #Traveller#OffTheBeatenTrack @Shereen_Shabnam

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.

Gulf Arabic Suite (5).jpg

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.

MALAYSIA – TRULY ASIA

shutterstock_416400376.jpg

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.

shutterstock_231245983.jpg

  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.

 

 

‘Fragrant Nature’

Fragrant Nature Kollam.jpg

Fragrant Nature, the creator of premium lifestyle hospitality experiences in Kerala recently showcased three exceptional hotels and resorts in Kerala at the Arabian Travel Market. The award-winning hospitality operator has also strengthened its new ‘Kerala Golden Trio’ package, especially for visitors from the GCC region, promising them three authentic lifestyle experiences just in time for summer.

Fragrant Nature has three resorts in Kerala in Fort Kochi, Munnar and Kollam. Each resort has a unique architecture and an unmatched choice of lifestyle amenities.

Fragrant Nature Backwater Resort & Ayurveda Spa in Paravur, Kollam, stands out for its location by the pristine backwaters of Kerala. Fragrant Nature Fort Kochi is for the culturally discerning tourists, who also want to experience the exotic location of the town, tucked a little away from Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala. Fragrant Nature Munnar, located in Pothamedu, offers scenic vistas at its best.

I met with Anne Sajeev, Managing Director of Fragrant Nature Hotels & Resorts who mentioned that the ‘Kerala Golden Trio Package’ has been specially created for visitors from the region, who want to experience the diversity of Kerala’s natural beauty and also have memorable and authentic hospitality choices.”

Below are some insights we spoke on with Anne Sajeev, Managing Director of Fragrant Nature Hotels & Resorts:

Anne Sajeev.jpgHow has the visitor response been to Fragrant Nature from the Gulf markets?

The Gulf region is increasingly becoming one of our top source markets with visitors especially from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. That is why we have now launched the ‘Kerala Golden Trio’ package, especially for visitors from the Gulf region – not only Arabs but also expatriates – so that they can experience three diverse lifestyle experiences in Kerala in one visit. Typically, we have seen that guests from the region are hurried through tourism packages, and they often do not have the opportunity to savour the true flavours of the state and its diversity.

With Fragrant Nature, we are offering three hotel and resorts experiences in three vibrant tourism hotspots – Munnar, Fort Kochi and Kollam. Each of these properties are set in unique locations that visitors from the region admire. Over the past year, we have a seen an increase in visitor numbers from the Gulf region by about 30 per cent. That is why we are focusing on ATM to reach out further to visitors from the Gulf.

Tell us more about Kerala gaining ground as tourist destination for visitors from the Gulf.

We are seeing stronger interest from visitors in the Gulf for Kerala as a summer destination. The effortless connectivity – Kerala being less than four hours flying distance away – is one factor. Secondly, visitors have a culturally enriching experience in the state. What excites us is that Fragrant Nature is being increasingly called on by family visitors from the Gulf region – and we have tailored our properties to meet the needs of families with large spacious rooms and interconnecting rooms. Further, we understand the aspirations and needs of visitors from the Gulf – because I personally am based in Dubai. I interact a lot with our guests and ensure that they have a positive and memorable experience during their stay with us.

What has it been like bringing the Fragrant Nature brand to the UAE?

We are exploring the potential to launch our Fragrant Nature brand in the UAE and other high-growth markets in the Gulf region. In fact, we have been in discussions with some developers and hotel owners for management contracts. Our focus on wellness of guests – such as by providing pesticide-free food, yoga and Ayurveda treatments – have been a big draw among them. We will announce the plans once they are finalised.

What makes the Fragrant Nature properties in Kerala special?

Each of our properties has a distinct value proposition.

Fragrant Nature Munnar, located in Pothamedu, offers scenic vistas at its best. The only five-star hotel now in the renowned hill station, its architectural elements are drawn from the surroundings. Reminiscent of planters’ bungalows, it has cosy fireplaces, specialty restaurants serving the choicest grills and a spa offering Ayurvedic and modern therapies. Private balconies open to the mist-laden hills.

Fragrant Nature Fort Kochi is for the culturally discerning tourists, who also want to experience the exotic location of the town, tucked a little away from Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala. Set in the same locale as the erstwhile office of East India Company, the hotel is also a landmark, featuring the first clock tower in Fort Kochi. The biggest five-star hotel in Fort Kochi, it houses a period Trompe-l’œil art work in the lobby by two popular artists from England. A state-of-the-art spa rejuvenates guests while organic food, sourced locally, is cooked afresh at the hotel’s signature dining outlet.

Fragrant Nature Backwater Resort & Ayurveda Spa in Paravur, Kollam, stands out for its location by the pristine backwaters of Kerala. Set by the Mala lake, the four-star classified resort is nestled amidst coconut groves in live acres of landscape gardens. The serenity of the resort, with its rich yoga, Ayurveda and wellness therapies, soothes the soul and body.

What is your expectations from ATM 2017?

We are very upbeat about our participation at ATM 2017. In fact, we had showcased our projects earlier at the World Travel Market too, and the response has been extremely positive. We saw a strong increase from European travellers, and we are confident that ATM will drive further visitor arrivals from the Gulf region. The Kerala Tourism department is doing a wonderful job in promoting the destination and we are happy to support them in all ways.

How is it like being being a female entrepreneur?

I think the best part of being in Dubai – and being a woman entrepreneur in the hospitality industry is that I can understand the needs of family visitors. I integrate that in every property of ours – and that is why we have repeat guests from the GCC, especially family tourists. I am very passionate about wellness and at every property we ensure that our guests have a delightful experience.

Fragrant Nature Kollam 2.jpgFragrant Nature Munnar 2.jpg