Sent by N. Watson
Based in Al Barsha
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Let’s face it…we all live for our holidays. Whether it’s a long weekend away or a trip of a lifetime, it’s these experiences that allow us to explore new parts of the globe, regroup, de-stress or spend quality time with friends and family. I am so happy to be able to facilitate these experiences through Travel Counsellors.
Travel has been one of my passions since I was a young girl. I was fortunate enough to live around the world, which has allowed me to travel extensively. Before I went to university, I took a year off to travel Europe and Australia and have spent my annual leave at work exploring new destinations across the globe. I love discovering new places and sharing my experiences with family and friends.
It’s this passion that has inspired me to leave my marketing career behind and dedicate my time to creating bespoke, personalized trips for my clients. I want you to discover the joy of travelling and create ever-lasting memories with your loved ones, whether it be watching the sunrise from a hot air balloon, diving amongst the coral reefs or discovering the unique local tastes, sounds and characters as you wander through the streets.
Let me free up your time and take the stress and hassle out of researching your getaway. I promise to find your dream holiday, within your budget. Having a great holiday means coming back to a clean and safe environment, not having to worry about dodgy transfers or being ripped off at local tourist attractions. As an independent agent, I can offer impartial views and a flexible approach to booking every aspect of your holiday. I have award-winning technology at my fingertips, that accesses a wealth of airlines, hotels, and tour operators I can mix and match to tailor make your getaway. My attention to detail, industry knowledge and genuine advice will save you time and effort, whilst delivering results based on your individual requirements.
What are you waiting for? Get in touch now so we can start to plan your next adventure!
Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
01 March 2023
A honeymoon is probably one of the most expensive trips you will ever take and it is important to get it right! Here are some questions to consider when deciding what type of honeymoon is best for you: 1. What are your interests? Do you prefer adventure activities, relaxing on the beach, or exploring new cultures and cities? 2. What is your budget? Do you have a set budget for your honeymoon, or are you open to splurging on a luxurious experience? 3. How much time do you have? Do you have a short amount of time for your honeymoon or can you take an extended trip? 4. What is your preferred travel style? Do you prefer all-inclusive resorts, backpacking, or something in between? 5. What is the climate and time of year in the destinations you're considering? Do you prefer warmer or cooler weather, and what activities are available during that time of year? 6. How important is privacy and seclusion to you? Do you want a honeymoon that's private and secluded, or are you comfortable being around other people? By considering these questions, you can start to get an idea of what type of honeymoon is best for you. It's also a good idea to talk with your partner about your preferences and come up with a plan together that suits both of your interests and preferences. If you're looking for honeymoon inspiration, here are some ideas to consider: Adventure honeymoon - If you're an adventurous couple, consider a honeymoon that involves activities such as hiking, kayaking, or skiing. Destinations such as New Zealand, Costa Rica, or Switzerland could be great options. Beach honeymoon - A classic honeymoon option is a beach getaway, with destinations such as the Maldives, Fiji, or Hawaii offering stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. Cultural honeymoon - If you love history and culture, consider a honeymoon that involves visiting museums, art galleries, and historic landmarks. Destinations such as Paris, Rome, or Kyoto could be great options. Food and wine honeymoon - If you're a foodie couple, consider a honeymoon that involves indulging in local cuisine and wine. Destinations such as Tuscany, Bordeaux, or Napa Valley could be great options. City honeymoon - If you love the hustle and bustle of the city, consider a honeymoon in a vibrant city such as New York, Tokyo, or Barcelona. Eco-friendly honeymoon - If you're environmentally conscious, consider a honeymoon that involves sustainable and eco-friendly activities such as wildlife safaris, beach cleanups, or conservation volunteering. Destinations such as Costa Rica, Tanzania, or the Galapagos Islands could be great options. Luxury honeymoon - If you're looking for a luxurious honeymoon experience, consider a destination that offers high-end amenities and services such as private villas, butlers, or Michelin-starred restaurants. Destinations such as the Maldives, Bali, or Santorini could be great options. Whatever your preference, please get in touch. Honeymoons are my favourite!
14 February 2023
When you think of Mauritius, images of palm-fringed white-sand beaches may spring to mind. The beaches here are almost entirely encircled by coral reefs and offer sanctuary for those who want to spend days lounging on the beach, but the nation’s crystal-clear waters are perfect for diving, snorkelling, swimming, and kayaking too. There is much more to Mauritius than you may originally think though. Whether it’s skydiving out of a plane, hiking through the mountains and National Parks or soaking up the culture, this is truly a destination with something for everyone. Here are 5 of my favourite resorts 1. Lux* Grand Baie LUX* Grand Baie is a new-generation boutique-style hotel and the first of its kind in the Indian Ocean. Located on the beach, the hotel provides state-of-the-art luxury in a serene setting. Every element at the hotel is carefully orchestrated for the guests to melt into the interiors. Each area of the hotel has an individual, international feel to it, although with a strong sense of flow and community. 2. One & Only Le Saint Geran One&Only Le Saint Géran nestles peacefully in the soft sands of its own private peninsula. Its stately gates welcome guests into a Mauritian garden paradise of friendly calm and easy luxury. Located between a beautiful sheltered lagoon and the warm Indian Ocean, it is surrounded by fabulous coral reefs and clear waters. The rooms are spectacular with continuous indoor/ outdoor flooring, and island-inspired colour palettes that call to the natural beauty just beyond the glass. Every room and suite feature enhanced outdoor space, furnished with elegant yet comfortable lounges facing stunning ocean, beach or lagoon views. 3. Four Seasons Resort at Anahita. On the east coast of Mauritius, lapped by turquoise waters perfect for water sports, this relaxing resort is filled with lush greenery and dramatic views everywhere you turn – from vibrant, tropical gardens to the exclusive Four Seasons Beach on Ile aux Cerfs. Each stylish villa and residence features its own private garden and pool. After a day exploring the Indian Ocean or playing golf on the Ernie Els–designed course or Bernhard Langer signature course, unwind at their award-winning Spa and raise a glass at one of the exciting dining venues. 5. The Oberoi Beach Resort Located on the pristine white beach of Turtle Bay, a natural marine park and spread over 80,937 square metres of lush, sub-tropical gardens, The Oberoi offers views of breathtaking sunsets and night skies bursting with stars. The accommodation is stunning, all with traditional thatched roofs. The restaurants are unique, serving authentic Creole and international cuisines. And there is a daily programme of cultural and mindfulness activities. 6. Heritage Le Telfair This hotel is nestled respectfully amidst nature and history in the tranquillity of the Bel Ombre sanctuary. Named after Charles Telfair, the acclaimed Northern Irish botanist who lived in the area in the early 19th century, and characterised by the refined grandeur of the French plantation estate architecture of that time; a combination that seamlessly blends understated luxury and comfort with the delights of fine dining and culinary experiences - the enjoyment of exclusive spa facilities, and award-winning golf course, with authentic encounters amongst the diversity and richness of local culture and heritage.
16 December 2022
Experience the best of this California from the air, land and sea in utmost luxury. Highlights include seeing majestic landscapes from a helicopter, tasting some of the world’s finest wines, feasting in Michelin-starred restaurants, spotting wildlife including whales and dolphins, horse-riding on a deserted beach and touring film stars’ homes. Below is a sample itinerary we could use as a base to tailor-make your perfect itinerary. Your epic journey will take you from San Francisco to Los Angeles, with stops en route including the Napa Valley with its globally revered vineyards, Big Sur for hiking amidst canyons and waterfalls, and the coastal hot spots of Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and Malibu. Along the way you’ll sail under the Golden Gate bridge on a private, former America's Cup yacht, dine in a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, go on an eco-rafting ocean safari, see seal colonies on a secluded beach, take a breathtaking horseback ride along the sands followed by a picnic lunch, soar over Universal Studios, the Hollywood sign and various celebrity homes in Beverly Hills and Bel Air in a helicopter, and walk the red carpet at a movie premier followed by a chic after-party. Where you’ll stay Accommodation along your route is as thrilling as the itinerary. First up is two nights in the St Regis San Francisco with its indoor infinity pool, lush spa and even its own African diaspora museum. From here you’ll head to the Auberge du Soleil in the wine-lovers paradise of the Napa Valley. This Mediterranean-inspired, adult-only boutique hotel has glorious vineyard views, an outdoor pool, private soaking tubs for two, cosy fireplaces and one of the most highly rated spas in the UK, modelled on a centuries-old monastery. Next come two blissful nights at the revered, super-exclusive Post Ranch Inn, where Jacuzzi tubs seem to hang from the clifftop, offering heart-stirring views of the glittering Pacific Ocean below. Also adult-only, it has an exquisite, award-winning restaurant, spa treatments, yoga classes, guided hikes and stargazing. Your next two nights are spent at the enchanting Belmond El Encanto, which exudes romance and glamour from its hilltop position overlooking Santa Barbara. Retaining original features from its construction in the 1920s, it boasts a lavish infinity pool within its stunning landscaped gardens. You’ll finish up with three nights in the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel that’s a Los Angeles landmark, having drawn in celebrities, royalty and politicians since it opened in 1928. Located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, in the very heart of Beverly Hills, it’s perfect for exploring the city as well as for designer shopping, but the Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurants and world-class spa will lure you to stay on site. To start building your perfect California road trip, please send me an email at Lisa.Foley@travelcounsellors.ae.
16 December 2022
With golden beaches, rising waves, misty mountains, grand history, and friendly smiles, Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for your next trip. There's plenty of activities packed into a small island, so travellers can be surfing the waves in the sunrise and enjoying the green carpeted mountains by sunset. Below is a sample itinerary we could use as a base to tailor make your perfect itinerary. Day 1: Makandura Touch down in Sri Lanka, where you’ll be greeted by your chauffeur and escorted to your boutique hotel. Day 2: Makandura - Kandy - Doluwa Take in ancient Kandy City, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, and the lush Perendiya Botanical Garden before checking into your hotel in Doluwa. Day 3: Doluwa - Kondagala - Doluwa Trek through Loolecondera tea estate to Kondagala peak for majestic 360° mountain views. Day 4: Doluwa - Galoya Head to Galoya for a special visit to one of the last remaining communities of the Veddha - the forest-dwelling indigenous people of Sri Lanka - to experience a slice of tribal life. Day 5: Galoya Spot Sri Lanka’s wildlife from the water while exploring the national park on a boat safari before heading back to your luxury eco lodge. Day 6: Galoya Visit little Adam’s peak in Ella and take in the impressive colonial-era Nine Arch Bridge (also know as the ‘Bridge in the Sky’), then head to your eco-friendly boutique hotel. Day 7: Ella - Galle Explore Galle, a prominent seaport shaped over centuries by the Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays and Indians, which has now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Day 8: Galle - BIA Enjoy breakfast before you are picked up by your chauffeur and accompanied to Bandaraneike International Airport ready for your onward travel. Hotels can be added that suit you budget, along with flights and additional excursions that are in line with your interests and hobbies. To start building your perfect itinerary for Sri Lanka, please send me an email Lisa.Foley@travelcounsellors.ae.
16 December 2022
With a unique cultural tapestry, rich history and diverse landscapes, your visit to India will be the adventure of a lifetime. The Golden Triangle is by far the most famous introduction to India and in my option, the best place to start! Below is a sample itinerary we could use as a base to tailor make your perfect itinerary. Day 1: Arrive in Delhi Arrive in Delhi where you will be greeted by your driver and escorted to your hotel. Have the day to yourself to relax and recover from the flight. Day 2: Delhi Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before delving into India’s rich heritage on a tour of Old Delhi. Spend the afternoon taking in the sights of Delhi, including India Gate, the Parliament Building and the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s residence). Day 3: Delhi - Agra Arrive in Agra and explore the palaces and grand mosques of the Red Fort of Agra before watching the sunset over the iconic domes of the Taj Mahal. Day 4: Agra - Jaipur Discover the terracotta buildings, lavish palaces and ancient temples of India’s ‘Pink City’, Jaipur, stopping at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Fatepur Sikri. Day 5: Jaipur Pass by the Palace of Winds before reaching the ancient Amer Fort by jeep. Spend the afternoon enjoying the sights of Jaipur, including Jaipur City Palace and the Jai Singh Observatory. Day 6: Jaipur - Delhi You will be chauffeured to Delhi, where the rest of the day can be spent exploring the city or enjoying your hotel’s dining and leisure facilities. Day 7: Depart Delhi After breakfast you will be escorted by one of our representatives to the airport to board your flight home. Hotels can be added that suit you budget, along with flights and additional excursions that are in line with your interests and hobbies. To start building your perfect itinerary for India, please send me an email Lisa.Foley@travelcounsellors.ae.
16 December 2022
From the most remote corners of the Amazon rainforest to the vibrant metropolis and golden beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a diverse country full of contradictions. Below is a sample itinerary we could use as a base to tailor make your perfect itinerary. Day 1: Into the Amazon Cruise along the Amazon to the famous Meeting of the Waters, passing local villages and spotting wildlife on the banks of the river. Head to your lodge for a relaxing lunch and to find out which exciting activities are on offer for the afternoon. Day 2: Exploring the Amazon Eat breakfast to the soundtrack of the rainforest before a guided wildlife trek. Head out on canoes for some Piranha fishing, keeping an eye out for river dolphins. After dinner, jump back into a twilight trip on the water to spot caimans and alligators. Your guide may even let you hold one! Day 3: Meet the locals and travel to Rio de Janeiro Meet with some local families to learn about village life before heading back Manaus for your flight to Rio. Once there, you can enjoy the sunset on the city’s famous beaches before heading to dinner on the promenade. You could even dance the night away at a local samba bar… Day 4: Rio de Janeiro Tour the city’s sights with a local, making the most of their insider tips for your time in Rio. Travel through Tijuca National Park (the world’s largest urban forest) to stand at the base of the Statue of Christ the Redeemer before taking the cable car to the summit of Sugarloaf mountain for a stunning 360° views of the city. Day 5: Rio de Janeiro to Igauzu Falls Fly to Foz do Iguaçu’s Airport. On arrival, dive straight into a private tour of the Brazilian side of the falls for a panoramic view of the spectacular natural wonder. Day 6: Argentinian side of Iguazu Follow your guide to secluded viewpoints of the Argentinian side of the natural park, crossing the wooden walkways which take you above the jungle floor. Stop at the Devil’s Throat, the biggest waterfall in Iguazu, before crossing back over the border to Foz do Iguacu. Day 7: Departure from Iguazu Enjoy breakfast in the hotel before your private transfer takes you to the airport, ready to head home or continue your Brazilian adventure…. Hotels can be added that suit you budget, along with flights and additional excursions that are in line with your interests and hobbies. To start building your perfect itinerary for Brazil, please send me an email Lisa.Foley@travelcounsellors.ae.
25 November 2022
Japan is open and trending for 2023! So what should you include on your next trip to Japan? 1. Kyoto - for culture Situated on the island of Honshu, Kyoto, Japan’s former capital is a must-see for its imperial palaces, Shinto shrines, classical Buddhist temples, old wooden houses and gardens. Geisha are often to be found in the Gion district, while another local tradition is kaiseki – formal meals of several courses of precise dishes. 2. Hokkaido – for skiing This is the most northerly of Japan’s main islands, home to Mount Yotei and to the popular ski resorts of Rusutsu, Furano and Niseko. The landscape is simply sublime: a mix of volcanoes, onsen geothermal hot springs and caldera lakes. 3. Osaka - for street food Also on Honshu, this port city is known for its 16th-century castle, its modern architecture, its Sumiyoshi-taisha Shinto shrine (among Japan’s oldest) and its nightlife, but most of all for its hearty street food including grilled octopus and pancake-like okonomiyaki – especially in the Dotonbori district. 4. Hiroshima – for history The tragedy-laden city of Honshu is now a place for reflection and remembrance, in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where you can see the ruined Genbaku Dome, one of the rare buildings left standing after the atomic bomb. Hiroshima Castle and Shukkei-en Japanese garden are worth a visit too. If these sound interesting, give me a call and we can get planning.
25 October 2022
1. Santani Wellness Named for the Sanskrit word meaning “in harmony with,” Santani is the epitome of being in balance with nature in terms of their surroundings as well as their wellness offerings. The hotel is designed according to the highest sustainability and eco-standards and their wellness programmes in Ayurveda, detox, yoga and spa combine on-site pampering and rejuvenation with enlightened learning for healthy living. The site is a 48-acre former tea plantation within a pristine forest. It is completely accessible yet blissfully secluded. The rooms are built for natural ventilation and are air-condition free – stylish and utterly comfortable, the interiors too are deliberately minimal. These private retreats invite you to rest, relax or meditate while inhaling the pure fresh air and taking in the pristine, truly inspiring scenery around you. 2. Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort Sri Lanka is a luxurious five-star resort hidden on a rocky outcrop along a secluded stretch of Sri Lanka’s southernmost coastline. Set amidst a coconut plantation and golden crescent shores with glorious Indian Ocean views, the resort offers a naturally exclusive hideaway for exotic beach life in a tranquil world of your own. Complementing such a beautiful destination, resort facilities are designed with relaxation and luxurious indulgence in mind, and culinary journeys are crafted with a focus on mouthwatering diversity and impeccable tastes. 3. Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton Ceylon Tea Trails comprises five restored historic tea planter residences, called bungalows, perched at an altitude of 1250 metres in Sri Lanka’s panoramic Ceylon tea region. Complete with period furnishings, gracious butler service, and gourmet cuisine, the non-hotel ambience has made Tea Trails the gold standard for luxury in Sri Lanka. A stay at Ceylon Tea Trails would not be complete without a walk along the nature trails encompassing lush tea landscapes, local settlements and rich cultural heritage. Along these trails lie the hidden gems of flora and fauna, and if you’re lucky enough, a leopard pugmark or some fresh scat. 4. Anantara Kalutara Uniquely secluded between the Indian Ocean and Kalu Ganga River, Anantara Kalutara Resort is naturally exclusive. Admire two views of paradise from a haven of elegant simplicity and great craftsmanship, inspired by the late Geoffrey Bawa - Sri Lanka’s most famous architect. Practice yoga and meditation in coastal quiet. Tropical swimming pools soothe. Water sports thrills invigorate. Kids’ and teens’ clubs keep youngsters creatively engaged, while you indulge at Sri Lanka’s most luxurious spa. 5. Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala Adjacent to the Yala National Park, a spectacular beachfront safari lodge awaits. The unique design – which mirrors the boulders scattered across the golden beach beyond - sees it blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, whilst a clever layout in the shape of a leopard’s paw alludes to the area's most famous resident. Teeming with incredible biodiversity, the Yala National Park offers exceptional wildlife experiences. Besides being home to the largest population of leopards in Sri Lanka, Yala is also home to elephants, sloth bears, mugger crocodiles and a kaleidoscopic array of birdlife. The rangers are passionate, educated and highly skilled, with an eye for detail. Going on a safari or nature walk is not only about the facts, as they also offer a deep respect for the wild. Watch them interpret signs of wildlife to deliver a fascinating narrative, making each of the outdoor drives and walks a distinct experience.
28 September 2022
Gosh how has it been 3 years since I wrote a blog post?? Hands up, I apologise, I’ve been slack! My mid 2022 year resolution is to write more blogs. The pandemic is over – as I sit writing this, it is the first day in the UAE where masks are not compulsory. FINALLY! It feels good to be getting back to ‘normal life’. Travel is booming and my business is flourishing. Although pricing is up 16%, you guys (as am I) are desperate to travel. I’m getting a lot of requests for destinations further afield such as the Caribbean, Canada, Fiji and the US. You guys are ready to start ticking things off your bucket list and I am delighted to be here to help. I’m seeing a trend in sabbaticals and ‘workcations’ where clients are using the opportunity to travel and work remotely. There’s a surge in sustainable travel and wider families travelling together for some much needed family time to celebrate life’s important moments. And finally, my personal favourite, all the honeymoons that were postponed from 2020 and 2021. Now that the world is open and life is getting back to some semblance of normal, let’s get planning! I look forward to hearing from you.
24 June 2019
As I’m writing this blog, I am sat on a flight from Jaipur to Dubai after spending the last 5 days in India with Oberoi hotels. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in this trip to learn more about the Oberoi brand and experience some of their hotels in the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra & Jaipur). I’ve always loved the Oberoi brand so naturally, I jumped at the chance to attend. My first experience of Oberoi was actually in Agra 3 years ago. At the time, it was a trip of a lifetime as we were ticking off the Taj Mahal from my mother’s bucket list. We were blown away by the quality of the hotel and the service from the staff. It was one of the best hotel experiences I’ve ever had. Since then, I’ve stayed in the Oberoi Al Zorah in Ajman, where I was equally impressed and visited the Oberoi in Bali (beautiful!). Needless to stay, expectations were high for this trip! From the moment we arrived in Delhi, expectations were met and exceeded. The first stop was Oberoi Gurgaon. This is a business hotel in the main business district of Delhi. One thing that struck me was the greenery and resort feel of the hotel – I can imagine coming back here after a day in the office and being able to completely switch off. We arrived at sunrise to an extremely warm greeting from the hotel staff. At each Oberoi, you get a traditional Indian welcome where they greet you with a tikka (similar to a bindi, made from sandalwood). The rooms are a good size with king size beds, sofa & desk area as well as a great bathroom with free standing bath and shower. Oberoi is all about the personal touches and I was greeted with a welcome sign in flower petals and some hand made chocolates in the room. The hotel is full of natural light and is 100% solar powered – I love it when hotels are making inroads to a more sustainable and responsible future. The next stop was Oberoi New Delhi where, again, we were warmly greeted by the staff. The rooms here are also a great size with free standing baths, sofa area and work station. The views are overlooking the green city of Delhi (I was really surprised at how green the city is!) This hotel has recently undergone a massive upgrade and the technology is amazing. Each room has its own ipad where everything in the room can be controlled from opening the door to the lighting system. Delhi is known for its pollution and one of the most impressive things about this hotel is the fact that they purify the air in the hotel so the air quality is guaranteed. For example, when we arrived, the air quality in the city of Delhi was 47 and in the rooms it was 2! They have a monitor in the lobby so you can clearly see the difference. On the second day, we drove to Agra to the stunning Oberoi Amarvilas. If you are going to see the Taj Mahal and you want a WOW experience, you need to stay at Amarvillas. When we arrived, all of the staff were lined up across the property to greet us. This is one of the traditions in India – when someone comes to your home, everyone in the household comes out to greet you. We were showered with flower petals and greeted with the tikka. It really is a very special feeling. As we approach the lobby, a glass of sparkling wine was waiting for us along with a stunning view of the Taj Mahal. It is really spectacular and a moment you won’t forget! This was my second visit to this hotel and I immediately felt like I was home when I arrived. It is a very special place. Each room has a view of the Taj Mahal, some with balconies, some without. Again, as with all Oberoi’s personal touches are key – homemade chocolate on arrival in the rooms, a porcelain Taj Mahal ornament, screen cleaner for your laptops – the housekeeping staff are amazing and really put their guests first. Our final stop was at Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur. Of the 4 hotels we visited, this one is the most ‘resorty’. It is situated on acres and acres of land with roaming peacocks and plenty of birdlife. There are on site tennis courts and a croquet lawn. The rooms are fab (as to be expected) but the bathrooms sold it for me – a sunken bathtub with a private garden view. This was the perfect way to relax and unwind after a long drive from Agra. I had my reservations about visiting and selling India in June but honestly, the weather was fine. We had a few spats of rain but if anything, it cleared the air and was refreshing. It was hot, but not unbearable, especially for those visiting from Dubai and used to the heat. As long as you keep hydrated and are sensible, you will be fine. The rates are much lower in the summer so for those looking to have a luxurious trip to India but without the 5* price tag, I would recommend to visit in summer. This trip has only cemented my love for the Oberoi brand. I look forward to experiencing more of their properties and most importantly, recommending them to my clients. If you are looking for a wow experience or you want to see the more luxurious side of India – Oberoi is the way forward! I would be more than happy to curate this for you so please get in touch to learn more. For full videos of the rooms and property tours, please check out my highlights on Instagram @lisakingtravelcounsellors.
09 June 2019
On the 6th day, we had our final breakfast at the stunning Bush Rover camp and headed off to Oldupai Gorge. Oldupai Gorge is the historical place discovered by Dr Leakey where they have fossils from what was believed to be the first human being in the world. Not my usual cup of tea (I’m not a history buff) but we had an interesting talk by a guide on evolution and the first human fossils found here. The museum hosted lots of artifacts and fossils throughout the ages and for anyone who is interested in evolution, it is a must see! After we finished up at Oldupai Gorge, we headed to the jeep to continue on to the Ngorongoro conservation area. We had a little panic when the jeep wouldn’t start but luckily a few of the other guides from other tour companies, chipped in (a bit of ‘bush engineering’ aka hitting it with a rock!) and we were soon on our way. This is one thing I love about the Tanzanian’s – they are all so friendly and will never leave someone stranded. There is a strong, unspoken code, amongst all the guides and drivers. There is no element of competition – everyone chips in to make sure the guests have the best possible experience. Ngorongoro is an enormous volcanic crater which provides one of the most stunning backdrops for viewing a huge number of wildlife. You can choose to stay here but we found it very crowded so opted to view it from the rim and then drive on to Karatu where we stayed for the night. The next afternoon, we flew over to Zanzibar from Arusha airport. Once we landed we were met by our driver and taken to our first stop on North of the island – Zanzibari boutique hotel. If you are a honeymooner, you get an upgrade to the Frangipane suite – what a little beauty. It’s got it’s own private pool, beach, and 2 bedrooms – one of which is half open air and just beautiful (full video on my Instagram highlights!) We relaxed here for 3 nights, enjoying the low tide (you can easily walk up to Nungwi to cafes and bars), sunbathe on the beautiful sand banks, spending time at our private pool and enjoying some lovely massages on the beach. Our final 3 nights were spent on the south of the island, at The Residence. This property is stunning and has wild monkeys and lots of birdlife. We were frequently woken by monkeys jumping on the roof or messing around with the outdoor furniture. We quickly learned not to leave anything outside! A honeymoon is supposed to be one of the best holidays of your life and I can honestly say that both of us would do this all again in a heartbeat! We loved the variety of the adventure in the Serengeti mixed with the beach & relaxation time in Zanzibar. We don’t often choose to go to the same place twice but I can definitely tell you that we will be back to Tanzania!
27 March 2019
Step 2 – where the real safari begins! The longest day of the trip started off with a hearty breakfast. One thing that I can’t fault about safari is the abundance of food. Daily breakfasts consisted of a fruit plate, eggs any style with various accompaniments, toast, tea, coffee, juices – all freshly prepared by the chef on camp. There’s no heating up a tin of beans over the campfire!! After breakfast, we jumped in the jeep and headed over to the entrance of the Serengeti. Whilst the paperwork was being filled out, we enjoyed a bit of wifi. After a few days without wifi (bliss), we were eager to share some of our photos and stories with friends and family. Wifi is available at the camps but you must request it. At all the camps, we just chose to enjoy the environment and switch off completely - highly recommend this. Within 5 minutes of entering the camp, we were in awe of the wildlife. Honestly, it was amazing that you could see everything so quickly. We were enthralled and were constantly asking the driver to stop so we could take photos, videos and just sit and watch all the animals in their natural habitat. The drive to the Bush Camp took about 9 hours in total but to be honest, you stop so many times, you barely feel the time pass. We had a lovely picnic lunch en route and there were plenty of toilet stops. The roads are bumpy so be prepared for your ‘African Massage’. We drove through the Western Corridor, central Seronera, and South to the remove Kusini area, where the wildebeest were migrating. As the sun was setting, we drove into our home for the next two nights – the mighty ‘Bush Rover’ camp. The camp moves every few months, alongside the migration. The camp is made up of 5 working Land Rovers that have been converted into suites. Yes, you read right, Land Rovers! The finish on these is amazing. Our Land Rover had a 14x16ft bedroom with a double bed, wardrobe and balcony (amazing for sunset views). The bedroom is built on top of the Land Rover. The Land Rover itself is converted into the bathroom – the boot has a fully functioning bath & sink. There is a solar powered shower around the side of the jeep and the passenger seat has been converted into a flushable toilet. It is one of the most unique places I have slept and definitely one for your bucket list. After a tour around our suite, we headed back down to the campfire area to enjoy the last of the sunset and our evening meal. Every night, the chef prepares a 3 course meal for the campmates. The food is plentiful and delicious. All dietary requirements can be catered for. The next morning, we had an early morning game drive to explore the wildlife rich area around the camp. The area we were staying is known for cheetahs and we were lucky enough to spot some. One of the highlights for me was seeing a lion eating a zebra – just fascinating. I could have sat there all morning watching him – the noises, the looks he was giving us…amazing! One tip for the early morning drives – it is chilly so bring layers. I wasn’t prepared for how cold it would be so I was grateful for the blanket provided by the guide. After the morning game drive, we returned for breakfast and had some time to relax at the camp. We opted to sit on the balcony and enjoy the wildlife from on high. From the Bush Rover suite, we could see giraffe and zebras grazing. In the late afternoon, we headed out again on another game drive before returning for an evening under the stars. I was sad to be heading off the next day as I wanted just one more day to enjoy the serenity and beauty of the Bush Rover camp. To be continued… For more photos and videos, please check the highlights on my Instagram @lisakingtravelcounsellors
27 February 2019
I'll be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about doing a safari for my honeymoon. It was never a holiday that appealed to me, until I started working at Travel Counsellors. Hearing the feedback from clients who visited and seeing their amazing photos and videos had me hooked! So, at the beginning of Feb, we put our brave faces on and headed on an adventure of a lifetime. Located 2 hours from Mwanza, on the edge of the western gate of the Serengeti is Little Okavango Camp. With the Serengeti on your right, you turn off the main road, down some dirt tracks into the bush. Suddenly you arrive at the small and intimate camp (just 5 rooms) and you are in a little bit of heaven. The camp is so serene and the most impressive birdlife. First impressions of the lodge were great - a four poster king sized bed, plenty of space for luggage and a fully operational bathroom. I was immediately impressed. I thought living in the bush was going to be hard ;) After a lovely lunch, we headed out on a ‘mtumbwe’ (a local canoe) and we were rowed down the nearby narrow water channels that lead out to Lake Victoria. The boat ride was beautiful – tall papyrus grasses, prolific birdlife and just so peaceful. When we headed back to camp, dinner was set up by the campfire and we enjoyed a beautiful 3 course meal by candlelight. Once dinner was finished, we indulged in a bit of ‘Bush TV’ by the campfire, stargazing and enjoying the sounds of the wildlife. It was an early morning start the next morning as we headed off to a local fishing village to learn about the local Sukuma tribe. The men go to out fish on Lake Victoria and the women sell the fish at the local market. It’s fascinating to see them barter and humbling to see how Lake Victoria is such a lifeline to the local villages – both in terms of commerce but also drinking water and sanitation. We enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Victoria (the size of Ireland!!) and slowly made our way back to camp. We had a surprise stop at the viewing tower, where breakfast was served , with a stunning view over the Serengeti and Lake Victoria. What an experience! In the late afternoon, once the temperature had cooled down, we headed out on bikes to explore the local villages and we even ended up at the edge of the Serengeti, where we saw wildebeest, zebras and giraffe. We were so excited to get stuck into the safari the next morning. To be continued… For more photos and videos, please check the highlights on my Instagram @lisakingtravelcounsellors
20 November 2018
If you are looking for a spot of 18th century opulence and elegance, look no further than the Emerald Palace by Kempinski on the Palm Dubai. Opening on November 29th, 2018, I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview. One word...WOW! From the moment you enter the lobby, you will be stunned by the sheer elegance and opulence of this hotel. No detail has been spared and the materials are of the highest quality. Carpets you sink into, plush seating areas and a chandelier with 28,000 Swarovski crystals. The entry level rooms have massive balconies over looking the sea, oh so inviting beds and giant bathtubs. I can't even begin to describe the suites - you have to see it to believe it! There are 8 dining options to choose from, including Dubai's only 3 star Michelin restaurant, MIX by Alain Ducasse. For more detail, check out the highlight on my Instagram stories.
01 November 2018
I spent the last weekend enjoying the 1st anniversary of Intercontinental Fujairah. I hadn’t been to Fujairah in a few years, so it was great to see a new property and enjoy seeing mountains again! The Intercontinental is placed conveniently next to the Miramar & Meridien Al Aqah, with easy access to Snoopy Island for snorkeling and diving. My first impressions of the room were corporate, maybe lacking a bit of warmth but the hotel soon won me over with excellent service and facilities. I would highly recommend booking the Executive Club Rooms as they come with excellent amenities such as a private pool, complimentary afternoon tea. The Executive Club lounge is an ideal place to enjoy a few drinks in the evening over a game of pool. The spa is run by L’Occitane and smells divine. The hotel has an excellent beach club and 2 pools, one is more family orientated and the other slightly quieter. There is a constant stream of daily activities and food offerings to keep everyone entertained throughout the course of their stay. For more information and to book your stay, please get in touch or check out my Instagram for a video of the room @lisakingtravelcounsellors.
30 September 2018
Over the past couple of years, I've had the pleasure of organizing lots of amazing honeymoons for my clients. Each one, unique to the couple and filled with special touches to ensure memories that lasted a life time. This year, I've had to plan my own honeymoon and I started to realise how overwhelming the choices are and how easy it is to get carried away. Stay tuned for my top tips! 1. First things first, BUDGET! You need to have a ball park figure of how much you want to spend. Just as you have a budget for your wedding, think about setting aside a pot of cash for your honeymoon. If you can't afford to go away straight after your wedding, consider a night or two away locally, and push back the honeymoon until you've had a chance to save. 2. Book early! I can't stress this enough for my clients, the earlier you book, the more chance you have of early bird discounts and you can pay in installments to spread the cost over a number of months. 3. Don't copy anyone else. Just as you've put personal touches into your wedding day, you should view your honeymoon as an extension of this. A honeymoon should be one of the most magical (and memorable) trips you ever take...take time to speak to your travel agent about what you both love so they can incorporate that into your trip. There is no magic formula for a honeymoon - it's all about what you guys love to do! Life is short and the world is wide - consider ticking off some of those things on your bucket list. 4. Use a travel agent - you have enough stress planning the wedding. Spend some time with your travel agent discussing your likes/dislikes and ultimately what you want from a honeymoon. Let the experts come up with some suggestions that best suit the time of year you want to travel, your budget and most of all, create something that is tailor made to you! 5. Don't get overwhelmed! There is so much to think about so take the time to discuss with your partner what you both want to get out of a honeymoon. Do you want to go on a big adventure? Do you want to fly and flop? Do you want to get off the beaten track and have an experience like no other? Having a clear outcome will really help your travel agent propose the best solutions for you. Let us do all the hard work so you guys can sit back and enjoy the dream honeymoon! Get in touch to start planning your dream honeymoon.
07 August 2018
The Hard Rock hotel is THE family hotel in Kuta. If you are looking for somewhere, where you kids will be entertained 24/7, this is the place for you. Starting with the rooms, everything is designed with the little ones in mind. There is a separate kids room with bunk beds, child friendly décor and lots of options for interconnecting rooms. Their bathroom is filled with items such as bucket and spade, along with child appropriate toiletries. The kids facilities are great – they can have guitars and decks delivered to their room, record a song in the recording studio, watch a movie in the private cinema or just hang out in the kids club. The pool is also child friendly with a couple of slides, foam parties, volleyball, etc. This hotel is not for the faint hearted, the music is loud (they have a live band in their bar every evening which can be heard from a lot of the rooms) and there is a lot going on. For those who want more of the quieter life, there is a chill pool but it’s not adults only. The beach is straight across the road and there are lots of restaurants, cafes, bars & shops less than 5 min walk away. The team at Hard Rock make sure their clients have a ‘rockin’ time and are extremely friendly and chatty. When you arrive, you have a complimentary photoshoot in the grounds with 1 free print to take home as your souvenir of your time at The Hard Rock. They seem to have an extremely loyal group of customers…if you are a fan of this style of hotel, I’m sure you will come back year on year.
07 August 2018
Being Irish, it’s not often I take the time to travel around Ireland and experience some of our amazing landscape and hotels. I met Lough Eske Castle at a luxury travel conference in Cannes at the end of 2017. From the moment I heard their presentation, I was hooked and knew I had to make time to visit them. Roll on summer 2018 and I’m spending a night in Donegal at the stunning Lough Eske Castle. From the moment you drive up to the castle, you are impressed. The staff are SO welcoming and are full off chat whether you are just off a tour bus, a long drive or have come for a nosey. The rooms are a very generous size and a mixture of contemporary with the historic. If you can, splash out on a suite in the original castle – you won’t regret it. Four poster beds and stunning views of the manicured lawns, you can’t go wrong. Dine at Cedar’s Grill (make sure you book in advance) to enjoy the best of local produce and treat yourself to a massage or facial. In summer, take a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way and visit some of Ireland’s finest beaches and lush green scenery. In winter, snuggle up by the log fires in Lough Eske and enjoy a good book and a hot toddy. To create your bespoke holiday to Ireland, please get in touch.
21 November 2017
One of my most frequently asked questions is "where is good to go within a 4 hour flight from Dubai?" Look no further! 1 hour Oman – known for it’s majestic desert, the Sultanate also offers fjords, beaches and a host of cultural activities. 2 hours Iran - nature-lovers have the opportunity of exploring great deserts, forests, mountains and seas and those who are enthusiastic about history and culture can visit one the most ancient countries in the world. Iran, the country of four seasons and seven climates, is one of the most scenic countries in the Middle-East with formidable mountain ranges, vast deserts, silky meadows, roaring cascades, and sky-blue lakes and flowing rivers. Salalah, Oman - Salalah is the capital city of southern Oman's Dhofar province. It's known for its banana plantations, Arabian Sea beaches and waters teeming with sea life. The Khareef, an annual monsoon, transforms the desert terrain into a lush, green landscape and creates seasonal waterfalls. 3 hours Jordan – a trip to Jordan is not complete without visiting Amman, Petra and the Dead Sea. Ideal for a weekend getaway. India – fly to Delhi in 3 hours and spend 5 nights visiting the Golden Triangle. The trips usually start in Delhi, moving south to the site of Taj Mahal at Agra, then west, to the desert landscapes of Rajasthan. The Golden Triangle is now a well traveled route providing a good spectrum of the country's different landscapes. The circuit is about 720 km by road. Each leg is about 4 to 6 hours of drive. Baku - At its heart, the Unesco-listed Old City lies within an exotically crenelated arc of fortress wall. Around this are gracefully illuminated stone mansions and pedestrianised tree-lined streets filled with exclusive boutiques. Some of the finest new builds are jaw-dropping masterpieces. Meanwhile romantic couples canoodle their way around wooded parks and hold hands on the Caspian-front bulvar (promenade), where greens and opal blues make a mockery of Baku’s desert-ringed location. Beirut - Beirut was once the self-proclaimed "Paris of the Middle East". It still has an outdoor cafe culture, and European architecture can be found everywhere. Uzbekistan - If you’re intrigued by the ancient Silk Road but don’t have the time to travel its length from China to Turkey, you’ll find three of the route’s most important cities in Uzbekistan. Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand were key stop-offs for traders, and have all been painstakingly restored to their former glory – think glittering minarets, voluptuous domes and hypnotic mosaics. With a little planning you can squeeze them all into a week. Armenia - This is a destination where you will be intrigued by history, awed by monuments, amazed by the landscape and charmed by down-to-earth locals. 4 hours Ethiopia - Ethiopia is like nowhere else on the planet, a beautiful country blessed with a peerless history, fabulous wildlife and some of Africa's most soulful peoples. Georgia - From its green valleys spread with vineyards to its old churches and watchtowers perched in fantastic mountain scenery, Georgia is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and a marvellous canvas for walkers, horse riders, cyclists, skiers, rafters and travellers of every kind. Cyprus - Known for beaches, it also has a rugged interior with wine regions. Coastal Paphos is famed for its archaeological sites relating to the cult of Aphrodite, including ruins of palaces, tombs and mosaic-tiled villas. Nepal - Wedged between the high Himalaya and the steamy Indian plains, Nepal is a land of snow peaks and Sherpas, yaks and yetis, monasteries and mantras.
14 June 2017
1.Goa Fly: direct with Air India (3h10m) Stay: W hotel Top pick: Patnem Beach 2.Baku Fly direct with Fly Dubai (2h55m) Stay: Four Seasons Top pick: Nizami street 3.Tbilisi Fly direct with Fly Dubai (3.5h) Stay: Rooms Hotel Top pick: Wine Tour in Kakheti Region 4.Amman Fly direct with Fly Dubai or Emirates (3.5h) Stay: Intercontinental Aqaba Red Sea Top pick: Petra & The Read Sea 5.Beirut Fly direct with Emirates (3h50m) Stay: Le Gray Top pick: Byblos, Jeita Grotto and Harissa Day Trip
07 August 2018
Since I started working as a Travel Counsellor, I cannot tell you the amount of times I have heard people rave about Zanzibar. Across the last 5 months, my intrigue grew and I knew Zanzibar had to be my first proper holiday this year. Although it was technically rainy season, I decided to take my chances and hopped on the Fly Dubai flight (5h50m). I have to say, the night time flight was not my best experience with Fly Dubai. The lights were on for most of the journey, so it was very difficult to get to sleep. I highly recommend upgrading to Business (much more peaceful) or bringing along a pillow, ear plugs and an eye mask! Visas are relatively straight forward and you pay for them upon arrival. There are 2 forms to fill out and the cost is $50. It can take a while as there are only a few counters and everything is done by hand so patience is essential. Once your visas are done, your bags will be out and you can proceed to your transfer. I would recommend organizing a transfer in advance as it’s a bit chaotic trying to find and haggle with a taxi driver (especially after a long journey with little sleep!) I stayed at Dream of Zanzibar. The hotel was lovely but not your 5* super luxe hotel (standard is excellent but you need to remember you are in Africa, especially if you are coming from the spoilt world of Dubai!) The staff were amazing and it was wonderful to be able to check into our room at 7am and enjoy breakfast straight away. The food choices are this hotel are amazing (10 small restaurants) and all bar one are available when you are half board or all inclusive. The menu in each restaurant is pretty much a set menu every night but they also host themed gala dinners 3 times a week. Whilst I stayed there, I enjoyed an African night on the beach with a seafood buffet and an Arabic themed night. These nights have a good atmosphere as they get local performers in and you get to experience a bit of their culture. The pool and the beach at the hotel are lovely. Stunning views and plenty of loungers. The beach area is semi private. There is an area to sunbathe, but if you want to go into the sea, you need to go onto the public beach. There are lots of beach boys selling items along the beach which is a bit intrusive when you are trying to relax, but they are harmless. The hotel is quite isolated – there are no restaurants and very few shops close by (only a little supermarket). If you are staying at the hotel, I would recommend you arrange some outings so you have the chance to explore more of Zanzibar. I stayed for 5 nights and did 3 tours and a trip to The Rock restaurant. This was the perfect balance for me as I got to relax for a couple of days, but also got out and about to see the island. The first trip I did was Safari Blue – highly recommend. Please book this if you are going to Zanzibar! It’s a full day boat trip and they take you to a secluded lagoon where you can swim in crystal clear shallow water, a deserted sand bank where you can snorkel and enjoy fresh fruits and coconuts, and a little island for a seafood buffet lunch where they barbeque fresh lobster and prawns, whilst the locals entertain you with music. Finally, you raise the sails and sail back to the mainland. Honestly, it was an amazing day – so relaxing, stunning views and lovely people. Next up, I went to Jozani National Park to see the Red Colobus monkeys which are extremely rare and found in Zanzibar. You can find them along the side of the road, and you get so close, you can almost touch them! We also explored the Mangroves, which was really beautiful and peaceful. Unfortunately, as it was rainy season, we couldn’t get up to the high part of the forest as it was flooded. Next time! The third trip was a tour of Stone Town – famous for its spice and slave trade. Parts of the town are quite dilapidated but there are nooks and crannies that shine through and are really quite beautiful. The architecture is a mix of Persian, Arab, Indian and European with the East African culture and for this reason, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. There seem to be lots of little boutique hotels where you could stay for a night either at the start or end of your trip. On the final day, I took a trip to The Rock restaurant on Michanwi Pingwe beach. Words cannot describe how breathtaking it is. It’s a little restaurant in the middle of the sea – you get a row boat out to it and by the time you are finished, the tide will have gone out and you can walk back to shore. Utterly stunning, lovely food and highly worth a visit! It was the perfect end to the trip (although it did make me wonder why I was going home…I wanted to stay there forever!)
23 March 2017
I left my heart amongst a maze of cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards in the city of Prague. Having visited twice, once in the depth of winter, surrounded by snow, I can confidently say, Prague is a paradise for the aimless wanderer. If wandering isn’t your cup of tea, here are my top 10 things to do in Prague. 1. Walk across the Charles Bridge 2. Take a cruise along the Vlatava River 4. Czech beer tasting 5. Visit the romantic Vyšehrad Castle 6. Go on a Ghost walking tour 7. Day trip to Cesky Krumlov 8. Theresienstadt Concentration Camp 9. Visit the spa city of Karlovy Vary 10. Six Course meal at Svatá Klára Restaurant
22 March 2017
The baggage restrictions are set to be imposed as early as 25th March, however in the case for UK flights, the UK Government has advised that they have left this in the hands of the airlines to decide on when they should impose. Current reports indicate that any electronic device larger than a smartphone will not be permitted in hand luggage. Such items include but not limited to, tablets and laptops and other devices larger than 16cm x 9.3cm. The ban affects most flights to the US or UK from certain countries in the Middle East, North Africa and also Turkey. A current list of airlines and airports affected for direct travel to the US or UK can be seen below: USA bound Flights Any direct USA bound flight from any of the below will likely be affected by the ban: 1. Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco 2. Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey 3. Cairo International Airport, Egypt 4. Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan 5. King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 6. King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 7. Kuwait International Airport 8. Hamad International, Doha, Qatar 9. Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates 10. Dubai International, United Arab Emirates There are nine airlines which will currently be affected by the above: - Royal Jordanian - EgyptAir - Turkish Airlines - Saudi Arabian Airlines - Kuwait Airways - Royal Air Maroc - Qatar Airways - Emirates - Etihad Airways UK Bound Flights I understand that this will affect all airports in the following areas: - Turkey - Lebanon - Jordan - Egypt - Tunisia - Saudi Arabia There are fourteen airlines which will currently be affected by the above: - British Airways - Easyjet - Jet2 - Monarch - Thomas Cook - Thomson - Turkish Airlines - Pegasus Airways - Atlas-Global Airlines - Middle East Airlines - Egyptair - Royal Jordanian - Tunis Air - Saudia As it is likely that more airlines, cruise companies and suppliers may also impose such restrictions, my advice is that regardless of the destination or method of travel, all passengers should check luggage restrictions accordingly.
01 February 2017
I am so glad I discovered Alila Jabal Akhdar last year. Whilst searching on Instagram, I came across a stunning picture of their infinity pool. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to find out more. After looking at pictures and details of the hotel…I was hooked! This stunning hotel is nestled amongst the Al Hajar mountains, 2000m above sea level. It is a little piece of heaven on earth. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wanting to escape the heat of Dubai, anyone who loves being outdoors in nature or even for adventure travelers. We opted for the half board option and we weren’t disappointed. The food and service was impeccable. Every evening, a 3 course meal was on offer. The menu varied by day and was always made of fresh ingredients that didn’t disappoint! The setting is breathtaking. Surrounding the hotel are lots of hiking paths for beginners right up to experts. The concierge are very helpful and offer everything from cultural experiences to cooking lessons. Or if relaxation is what you are after, you can indulge in some treatments in their spa. Jabal Akhdar is definitely on my list to escape the heat this summer….I just need to decide if I am returning to Alila or if I will venture to the newly opened Anantara. Tough decisions!
18 January 2017
In October, I had the pleasure of taking a 5* tour of the Golden Triangle. We flew from Dubai to Dehli on Emirates and were greeted at the airport by our guide and driver. They took us on a short drive to our hotel – The Claridges. Upon entering the hotel, here was the most divine smell of jasmine. I cannot describe how exquisite it was and immediately we knew we were in for a treat. Our guide swiftly checked us in and we were soon escorted to our room. The hotel style is very colonial and the rooms were perfect. The first evening we had to ourselves so we enjoyed a glass of champagne on the lawn while the sun set and then headed into Delhi to enjoy some local food. The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, we hopped in our private car and commenced our tour. Both the driver and tour guide were very knowledgeable and had perfect English. We saw all the sights of Imperial Delhi, including Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India, Humayun’s Tomb, built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun, India Gate, the Parliament building and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s residence. After the drive around Delhi, we set off for Agra (approx. 4 hours). In Agra, we stayed at the Oberoi Amarvilas. Oh my god…what an amazing hotel. Having stayed all over the world, I can hands down say, this was the best hotel I have ever stayed in. It is set opposite the Taj Mahal so you have a spectacular view from your room. The stay was flawless, the staff had the most amazing attention to detail and we were constantly showered with little treats and gifts. 100% blow your budget on this hotel, you won’t regret it! We stayed in Agra for 2 nights. The first morning, we had a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal. Words cannot even describe how spectacular it is! I would definitely recommend getting up early to beat the crowds. After a few hours spent meandering and taking in the beauty of the Taj, we went back to our hotel for a late breakfast. Late morning, we headed off to the Red Fort (Agra Fort) for a bit of exploring before heading back to our hotel for a lazy afternoon by the pool and an evening of fine food. The next morning, we were up early to start our 5 hour car journey to Jaipur. En route, we stopped at Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city, where we enjoyed an elephant ride to the top of the ruins. The views over the city are beautiful. Early evening, we arrived at The Oberoi Rajvilas. Again, service was impeccable. As we had stayed in The Oberoi in Agra, the hotel staff already had all our details and preferences so there was no need to formally check in. We were very relieved to be escorted promptly to our stunning room. The following day, we proceeded to discover the highlights of ‘the pink city.’ As it was a national holiday, the streets were filled with colourful parades and swarms of people. It was amazing to see everything unfold. Our tour included the Amber Fort, ‘The Palace of Winds’, City Palace, and the Astronomical Observatory. We spent one final evening in the sanctuary of The Oberoi Rajvilas before an early start to return to Delhi and fly back to Dubai. I can’t recommend this tour highly enough for those who want to experience the Golden Triangle in a relatively short space of time. Staying in the higher end hotels, meant we didn’t need to worry about Delhi belly. However, I am itching to go back to experience India by train and take in more of the street food, sights and smells. Until next time…
18 January 2017
Let’s face it, the summers in Dubai can be unbearable at times and we all like to escape the heat every now and again. One of my favourite places to visit is Salalah in Oman. It is so peaceful and during Khareef season (late June to early September) the land is a luscious green and the temperatures vary between 23 and 27 degrees. I spent 2 nights at Fanar Hotel & Residences at the end of August. The hotel was quite new and looked a bit unfinished (some parts were still under construction). This didn’t impact the quality of our stay. The rooms were generous, the restaurants were adequate and the pool overlooked the beach with a beautiful silhouette of palm trees. The hotel is a short walk (or buggy ride) from The Island and the Juweira and Rotana hotels. One evening we ate at the Rotana and had a few drinks at The Island (small bar/restaurant on the marina that is buzzing with expats in the evenings). It was nice to get out of the hotel and speak to some expats who live in Salalah. The next afternoon, I organized a day trip for us to see the sights. We had a private driver take us to Taqah, Sumhuram, Khor Rori creek, Wadi Darbat, Mirbat and Ain Razat. We saw white sandy beaches, overlooked by cliffs, ancient forts, the UNESCO archeological site at Sumhuram, wadi’s, waterfalls and natural springs. It is amazing to see so much greenery (coming from Dubai in summer). It reminded me of country drives back in Ireland. After a quick massage in the newly opened spa, it was back to sizzling Dubai!
United Kingdom 08/01/2020
Devon, UK 19/11/2018