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Mutiara Johor Bahru

Text Lin Zixin

One of Johor Bahru’s premium business hotels, the newly refurbished Mutiara Johor Bahru is fuss-free and centrally located accommodation suitable for that short getaway from Singapore.

Rating: ★★★
Price: $$
Couple quota: ♥♥

Price guide
$ – Less than S$200 a night
$$ – S$201 – S$350 a night
$$$ – S$351 – S$500 a night
$$$$ – S$501 – S$600 a night
$$$$$ – More than $600

At a glance

Plus points
+ Prime location in the heart of Johor Bahru
+ Easy to get to
+ Comfortable and fuss-free

Minus points
– Interiors are run of the mill
– Little attractions nearby
– Views are mediocre

Sleep

Though rooms are comfortable but without surprises, we liked the Junior Club Suite that is especially family-friendly. On top of a double bed for the parents, the room also has a specially designed corner for children with double-decker beds, a PlayStation and other toys to guarantee a cosy and entertaining stay. Choose from Junior Club Suites with themes including Soccer Mania, My Secret Garden and Sweet Melody.

Eat

The hotel’s Meisan Szechuan Restaurant serves excellent Chinese cuisine while the Seri Mutiara Restaurant serves an equally palatable buffet of local and continental dishes. Check out the Polo Lounge as well for some late-night drinks and live music till 1am.

Sweat

There is a lack of outdoor activities nearby due to the hotel’s city location but you can sweat it out at the hotel’s gym and swimming pool.

Relax

Girls, listen up! Choose to beauty up your talons with manicure and pedicure services right next to the hotel or pamper yourself with a rejuvenating message at Manja Spa just across the road. Prices start at RM88 for 60 minutes of Javanese massage that is pure heaven for your work-weary bodies.

Buy

Mutiara Johor Bahru is just minutes away from the best of Johor Bahru’s shopping. In the area are The Holiday Plaza, Plaza Pelangi, City Plaza and so on.

In the area

A stone’s throw away from the hotel is Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman, the world’s first Hindu glass temple. Originally built in 1922, the temple was subsequently adorned with coloured glass in-lays and reopened in October 2009. Be dazzled by the shining spectacle that is reportedly 95 percent glass.

Getting There

Mutiara Johor Bahru is a breezy 15 minutes away from the Johor-Singapore Causeway and should not take more than an hour from Singapore if the traffic is smooth. If you don’t drive, public transport is convenient as well. Apart from the bus service 170, you can also take a direct taxi across the causeway from the taxi stand at Queen’s Street, just off Bugis. Prices are S$10 per head or S$40 per trip.

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L Hotel Seminyak

Quintessentially Chic and Luxuriously Elegant, L Hotel indulges you with a personalized Butler service and appeals to discerning, well-heeled travelers looking for a luxurious, intimate retreat.

Rating: ★★★★
Price: $$
Couple quota: ♥♥♥♥

Price guide
$ – Less than S$200 a night
$$ – S$201 – S$350 a night
$$$ – S$351 – S$500 a night
$$$$ – S$501 – S$600 a night
$$$$$ – More than $600

At a glance

Plus points
+ Immaculate service to attend to every whim and fancy
+ Central location to quintessential Seminyak dining spots & attractions
+ Waking up to such lovely staff

Minus points
– If you are looking for a Balinese style hotel, L Hotel is too modern in design

Sleep

Snuggle in lush duvet and be pampered by an extensive pillow menu for guests to tailor their preference. Ladies will be impressed with in-room Kiehl’s range of toiletries, with thoughtful extras such as a UV defense face block and a facial cleanser.

All 30 plush suites are furnished with sheer white marble walls and a bespoke handcrafted piece of Balinese ceiling ornament. Sexy mood lighting and luxurious trappings in each room set the mood for Love.

Eat

The dining experience is surprisingly good for a relatively small boutique hotel. The rooftop Luna Bar & Dining, serves up delectable Balinese cuisine with an impressive wine list amidst idyllic panoramic views. Lola restaurant & Bar on the mezzanine level impresses with a one-of-a-kind “Lovers Corner” – a private corner isolated from the main dining area, with a cascading water feature streaming down from your table on the side. Brilliant!

Do

The L Hotel Butlers’ motto is “Leave it to Us.”

Each guest has a dedicated butler providing 24/7 attention at the guests’ request. L’s team of butlers to guest ratio is 1:1, making it the essential unique feature of L Hotel. Your butler can help tailor your Bali experience by helping you get to the right places to be for sunset, spa treatments, golf, sightseeing and many more. The hottest restaurants and beach clubs in Seminyak are within walking distance as well.

Relax

L’Spa offers therapies and wellness experiences that are luxurious, organic and authentic. Enjoy a luxurious massage, a facial or manicure services as a perfect prelude to enjoying Seminyak’s vibrant nightlife!

Buy

Carga, located near the hotel, is a must-visit standalone Balinese house selling chic Balinese and Indonesian handcrafted items and home ware.

In the area

Hop around some of Bali’s most famous nightspots – Kudeta, Potato Head Beach Club, Mint Club, Cubana and Hu’u Bar and enjoy dining in one of the best restaurants in Bali – Metis restaurant.

Getting There

Enjoy a warm welcome by informing your personal butler to pick you up from the airport. Thereafter, it is a 40 minute trip to the hotel where you can enjoy planning out the perfect holiday in Bali and make necessary reservations with the help of your Butler.

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Park Hyatt Saigon

Magnificently classy, the Park Hyatt Saigon is a landmark hotel in the bustling capital of Vietnam. Both a business and recreational hotel, it offers the best of both worlds for every traveler.

Rating: ★★★★★
Price: $$
Couple quota: ♥♥♥

Price guide
$ – Less than S$200 a night
$$ – S$201 – S$350 a night
$$$ – S$351 – S$500 a night
$$$$ – S$501 – S$600 a night
$$$$$ – More than $600

At a glance

Plus points
+ Prime location to main tourist attractions
+ World-class restaurants
+ Friendly staff and service

Minus points
– – Business hotel setting may not be suitable for couples in search of a romantic ambience

Sleep

There are 6 room categories to choose from. Beginning with the Park Room, this colonial style 34 square metre room comes with wooden floors, a separate work area, high-speed Internet access, white marble bath with walk-in rain shower and one king bed or two twin beds with plush feather pillows and duvets. Each room offers a stunning or pool view.

Other room categories include those with a private terrace with direct pool access, outdoor terrace and easy access to the spa and the gym.

Eat

In this lap of luxury are world-class restaurants that set Park Hyatt apart from other popular hotels in the city. Many come here just for the lavish breakfast spread and the renowned afternoon tea of traditional scones with home-made jam and cream, delightful pastries and more.

The Vietnamese restaurant Square One, which overlooks Opera House, is also said to be one of the best dining experiences in Ho Chi Minh. And if you are hoping to bump into the who’s who of international stature, the 2 Lam Son martini bar is without a doubt the city’s top nightlife destination.

Do

There is no better way to explore and understand a culture than through its cuisine. In an effort to showcase the diversity of Vietnamese food, the culinary team at Park Hyatt Saigon offers guests a unique culinary experience in Ho Chi Minh City. Guests depart to the local market and buy ingredients to prepare traditional Vietnamese dishes, and experience the hustle and bustle of the city. Arrive back to the hotel and begin preparing traditional Vietnamese cuisine in Square One restaurant’s open kitchen.

Relax

Park Hyatt Saigon’s Xuan Spa offers 5-star amenities, a refreshing 20-metre outdoor swimming pool and deck, indoor whirlpool, steam room and a state-of-the-art fitness centre. Take a soothing dip, enjoy a workout, or pamper yourself with a rejuvenating massage or body treatment in this Ho Chi Minh spa.

Buy

Visit Dong Khoi Street for its famous embroidered tablecloths and napkins, exclusive custom-made silk garments, colourful shawls, purses, and exquisite silk scarves.

In the area

Minutes walk from main attractions like Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, Ben Thanh Market, and many other shopping and central business districts.

Getting There

40 minutes from Ho Chi Minh airport.

Reservations & enquiries: www.lightfoottravel.com/hotel/park-hyatt-saigon.

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One Eleven Bali

oneelevenbali

Planning your honeymoon or a romantic getaway ? Check out ROMANCE = I II at adults-only One Eleven in Seminyak, Bali!

ROMANCE = I II
3 Nights at USD 1,650

Price Includes:

  • Romantic Dinner for 2 in the romantic setting of your Villa or Omakase Set Dinner for 2 at Shiro Sushi / Sake Bar
    • Two Hour Spa Treatment for Two in Privacy of your own In Villa Spa Gazebo
    • Complimentary Bottle of Sparkling Wine at Shiro Sushi / Sake Bar
    • One Eleven Experience of Daily Romantic Treats

This promotion is available exclusively at www.111resorts.com. Book Direct and Romance with us.

Address:        #3 Pangkung Sari
Seminyak 80361
Reservations: +62 361 730594
Email:                reservations@111resorts.com

Terms and Conditions.

HIGH SEASON RATES APPLY:  15TH JULY TO 31ST AUGUST 2014 & 23ND DECEMBER 2014 TO 6TH JANUARY 2015.

2 NIGHTS: USD 1,290 & 3 NIGHTS USD 1,935

PROMOTIONAL OFFERS CANNOT BE COMBINED WITH OTHER PROMOTIONAL OFFERS.

Rate inclusive of:

  • Inclusive Airport Pick Up & Drop Off
    • Complimentary shuttle service to Seminyak area
    • Chilled towel upon arrival
    • Complimentary foot bath upon arrival
    • Complimentary One Eleven mocktail upon arrival
    • Daily in-villa breakfast for 2 persons
    • Full complimentary Nesspresso Coffee and tea selection
    • Extensive male & female amenities exclusively developed for One Eleven.
    • Complimentary daily mineral water service
    • Daily newspapers and magazine selection
    • Fresh fruits daily
    • Fresh flowers in villa
    • Complimentary turn down treats
    • Complimentary WIFI internet access
    • Butler on call 24 hours
    • Access to our reservation only Japanese sushi/sake bar Shiro.
    • 21% Government tax and service charge

– See more at: http://wedding-travel.com/one-eleven-bali.aspx#sthash.u9DfJ2PG.dpuf

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Romance of Spiritual Tranquility

Romance of Spiritual Tranquility
After my visit to the all-villa Amanjiwo in Borobudur, I came back feeling peaceful. There is little wonder I felt this way. Staying in Amanjiwo was a rest for the soul weavied by the hustle & bustle of the city.

text CINDY ONG / photography Colin Wee ❘ SPECIAL THANKS TO AMAN RESORTS

The Journey

We exited Yogyakarta International Airport and were received by Amanjiwo’s staff with cold scented towels and chilled mineral water. We then embarked on an approximately one-hour journey through throngs of vehicles in the city into the rural area. Roads gave way to narrow, meandering tracks, but the driver maneuvered with skill, sharing interesting facts along the way. Gradually, low-rise shop houses gave way to village huts. Farms passed us by, horses roaming freely and buffaloes with grazing leisurely. Chickens hurried across tracks and children cycled or trekked through farmlands to school.

After passing through the village, a picturesque sight emerged — Amanjiwo set amidst lush greenery with the rolling Menorah hills as its backdrop. When I stepped out of our van, an air of tranquility washed over me. We were greeted with petal showers and ushered to the lounge for refreshment — Amanjiwo’s deliciously sweet and cooling creation of pink ginger tea. The general manager personally received us like friends at his abode. After some casual chats, we were shown our villas.

The Villa

My villa had terrazzo flooring with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. The interiors featured sungkai wood screens, a daybed, coconut wood and rattan furniture, batik pillows in classic Yogyakarta style and traditional glass paintings. There was a sunken outdoor bathtub set in a walled garden. For those in the mood for painting, Amanjiwo had thoughtfully placed painting materials in the villa.

In the centre laid a four-pillar bed on a raised terrazzo platform that looked out to a private plunge pool and thatched-roof bale (pavilion) with a daybed for outdoor lounging and dining. The view ahead was a vast tobacco plantation dotted with white flowers and Borobudur with volcanic mountains in the background.

With such a luxurious villa and view, doing nothing was truly natural. However the visit would be incomplete without exploring the village, and visit to Borobudur was necessary. I set out before daybreak for a sunrise experience on Borobudur. After climbing 42m flights of stairs to its peak, all I could hear was my pounding heart and shallow breathing amidst the thick mist of silence. It was certainly a good morning exercise.

The guide left us to enjoy the serenity and soon, rays of orange light peaked through the morning fog. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the last of the morning chill as sunlight warmed my surroundings, bringing colours to life. The dark walls of the temple lit up, exposing relief panels with meticulous carvings relating the legend of Buddhism. Beneath me, the garden came alive as the sun rays gently stroked the plants awake. Far ahead, faint outlines of the volcanic mountains became visible.

My guide took me through the temple, sharing the tale of Buddhism using the relief panels. We ended the tour with breakfast and explored two other temples that were built coincidentally in a straight line with Borobudur. Apparently, pilgrims journey annually from these two temples, Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut before reaching Borobudur to meditate on Vesak Day.

The rest of the day included visiting a local traditional home where I drank and ate homemade tea, cane sugar and brinjal crackers, followed by a scenic ride around the village on a traditional horse cart.

I ended my day with a sunset experience 710m above sea level on Menorah Hills. It was only when I sat down in Amanjiwo’s thatched-roof bale at the peak of the hills that I discovered guests usually trek up from the resort. They arrive at a pavilion set up with cushions and floor mats and enjoy Amanjiwo’s sunset cocktail as a reward. As I had decided on this trip impromptu, I arrived in a car and trekked only the last ten minutes to the peak.

I had fresh sunset coconut juice and ate its flesh using a part of its husk — provided and taught by my guide in true Aman spirit. The guide also recommended that I trekked down.

As the sun set, I was escorted by a new guide who came all the way up just for me. Along the 30-minute descent, my guide impressed me with his knowledge of the forest and thoughtfulness for my well-being. By the time I returned to Amanjiwo, I was soaked in perspiration but was contented with such an original experience.

A Permanent Memory

When it came time to say goodbye, I was reluctant to leave. Not because of the luxury but the people who touched me with their spirit of providing a complete experience.

The hospitality of the resort was nothing short of memorable. My shoes were spoiled on the first day and Amanjiwo’s staff did their best to bring my shoes for repair. However, the shops were closed. So, they surprised me by sewing and placing them neatly beside the entrance of my villa.

They also prepared unchilled water for me when they observed I was nursing a cough. Nightly, they provided us with turndown services, left us sweet local treats and souvenirs. It was bookmark on one day and playing cards on another day.

Our guide who was with us from the first day sent us off at the airport. As I bade everyone goodbye, I was thinking, “See you again, my friend.” The rich experiences I had would be permanently imprinted in my mind.