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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Cruising my way to Norway !

I could not be more excited my upcoming trip to Norway with Celebrity Cruises in May ! I have never been to this part of the Europe and never been on a cruise either so it will be a double new experience.
Isn't she magnificent ?
The Celebrity Eclipse
We will be departing from Southampton at 4.30pm on Friday 3rd May 2013. The city has been operating luxury cruises since 1840 and therefore bursting with history so we will take a look around before “coming on board”. Our boat, the Celebrity Eclipse promises modern luxury, a wide variety of restaurants, bars and activities !
The cruise will take place over 8 days with days at sea and days with stops inland. We will be visiting :
  • Molde, the City of Roses
  • Alesund, one of the most important fishing harbour in Norway
  • Flam, the Father of Fjords
  • Bergen, a charming and historical city
  • Stavanger, the fourth largest city in Norway
Norwegian Fjords Cruiseitinary
Norwegian Fjords Cruise

Have you been to any of this cities in Norway ?
Do you have any advise or recommendation for me ?

Concierge class :Spacious accommodations complete with special privileges like priority check-in, personalized Concierge service, priority preferred seating in the main dining room and specialty restaurants, evening hors d'oeurves, plush Frette® bathrobes, and veranda with lounge seating.
Concierge class :
Spacious accommodations complete with special privileges like priority check-in, personalized Concierge service, priority preferred seating in the main dining room and specialty restaurants, evening hors d’oeurves, plush Frette® bathrobes, and veranda with lounge seating.
I will tell you all about it on my way back to London and keep you updated during my trip of course !
Discover Norway with Visit Norway or connect via twitter @VisitNorway .
Can't wait to experience Norway and its amazing landscape !
Can’t wait to experience Norway and its amazing landscape !
Although I hope to learn more words, here is some useful Norwegian words that I will happily practice during my time in land !!

Saying goodbye to the Summer Holidays

Summer Memories
I don’t know about you but this summer has gone like a blink of an eye ! I have been to France and to Austria and now back in London and ready to tackle the long Autumn / Winter ahead of us.
I had some incredible memories of my holidays this year… Let’s check out some of my favourite moments :
Ile de Bendor
Going to the Ile de Bendor is always a special moment, but this year even more… I met with Emily my wonderful wedding planner http://www.myplandetable.com at my wedding venue… do you like the view ?
I discovered the old town of Toulon one sunny morning with my Mum… time seems to have stopped and the architecture reflects the past of the city wonderfully.
St Paul
Having a glass of Champagne in front of St Paul could not have been surrealist ! Yes, London, you still surprises me after all those years !
Velden, Austria
The beauty of Velden, the Monte Carlo of Austria in Carinzia is a little gem…
Faaker see, austria
A little boat trip on a sunny day on the lake Faaker See in Austria. The colour of the water of this lake is just mind blowing !!
Luxury Chic Travel

Fiji, where happiness finds you…

Blessed with 333 beautiful tropical islands, and over 110 inhabited ones, Fiji is the destination to head to for a romantic holiday, honeymoon, wedding, weekend breakers visiting Australia and New Zealand, volunteer travellers, or sport junkies,… there is indeed, plenty of space and activities to fit all travellers needs and requirements.
Aquatic sport in the Fiji Islands
tropical islands fiji
The climate in Fiji is amazing from temperatures in the summer on average at 31C and 29C in winter…not really winter to me !
Fiji has its fair share of history which reflects in a very rich and interesting culture, food, traditions. Fijians are such warm and adorable people, seating around the kava, I listened to beautiful love songs and stories from the past… I watched with great interest the warrior dances and I emerged myself into the “Fiji Time” helped by the properties of Kava !!
Kava ceremony, Fiji island
The Fijian cuisine has been influenced by all the diverse community living on the islands : Fijians, Polynesians Indians, Europeans,… I was amazed to taste the best chicken curry of my life, Fijian style ! Coconut is of course being used a lot in the cooking and can be find in cakes, but curry and fresh sea food salad as well.
Fijian food
Fiji tropical islands
Check out the video that was filmed at the event I attended hosted by the High Commissioner of Fiji, the Tourism Fiji… Click on the link to access the video !
How to get there :
Air Pacific (soon to be Fiji Airways) is Fiji’s international carrier that has direct flights from Auckland, Christchurch, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. So if you’re travelling from the UK you will need to change over at one of these cities on the way.
To discover more about the Islands of Fiji, visit www.fijime.com and for your chance to win a fantastic trip to Fiji worth over £10,000 visit Tourism Fiji’s facebook page and take the happiness test to find out what kind of happy you are: http://bit.ly/Fiji_Happiness_Test_EU1 
The Fiji Happiness facebook test
A big thank you to the High Commission of Fiji for organising the event… Next time, see you in Fiji !

My first cruise on board of the Celebrity Cruise

Holidaying in a huge ship wasn’t exactly my idea of a vacation but when my other half said we were off to Norway on board of the Celebrity Cruise, I said why not, after all, it will be a holiday !
So here we were in Southampton on a sunny Friday afternoon queuing to check in to board this amazing Eclipse ship. The check in process was a very well organised and rather fast operation, held by friendly staff members.

Pretty impressive isn’t it ?
Celebrity Eclise safety boat
Now I know what you are doing… I counted them all as well !!
Arriving in our room, we were delighted with the size of it and the apparent comfort. The room included a large king size bed, storage, a wardrobe, large plasma screen TV, mini bar (refiled daily), a seating area. The bathroom compromised a sink, sufficient storage, toiletries (no branding) a walk in shower, bathrobes and lots of fluffy towels.
The balcony was large enough to incorporate two chairs and a table. If only the weather had been a bit warmer in Norway, we would have use it more. I could only imagine how lovely it must have been when touring the Mediterranean Sea.
Our Room on board Celebrity Cruise
Bathroom including a walking shower - Celebrity Cruise
Balcony on the Celebrity Cruise
Soon after getting familiar with our stateroom, we met our room Attendant Jimmy who introduce himself and made sure everything was in order for us. Jimmy has proved to be an amazing attendant and really cater to all our needs with discretion and attention to details.
The décor and the design on the boat was reflecting luxury, over 15 floors, the ship offered many restaurants & bars, disco, lounges, cafes, indoor & outdoor pools – obviously we did not try that one!! The gym was equipped with modern machines and had the most amazing view which made my daily run so much more enjoyable !
Inside pool & Jacuzzi on the Celebrity Eclipse.
Inside pool & Jacuzzi
Our evening dinner on the main dining restaurant was every day delicious and immaculately presented. Each night the Head Chef offered us a different menu with a wide selection of starters, Main including fish & meat and desserts. The service provided by the restaurant team was excellent – the best we ever had.
Dinner with a view !
Martini anyone ?
Martini any one ?
We tried the Spa which uses Elemis products and the experience was was truly amazing. The only down side was the service charge added later on to the bill. It is not something we are used to in the UK and Europe so we ended up paying much more than we anticipated.
Many activities were organised during our week on the Eclipse but being a “tiny bit” younger than the crowd Celebrity Cruise normally cater for, we did not participate to any of them. However, we attended to one of the evening show in the theatre which was fantastic, we felt like in a theatre in London. To add a touch of glamour we played a bit of $$ in the casino !!
Celebrity Eclipse Cruise
Theatre were shows and presentations were organised daily.
Celebrity Eclipse Cruise
Vegas time !!
Relaxation is taken to another level with the on-board…I think we have never been so relaxed in all our life ! Coming back to busy London was really tough ! The level of service offered by each team member is outstanding and could not recommend it enough.
Is this island available for rent ?
Views on board of the Eclipse
Open sea view…
The only negative points towards Celebrity Cruise was not to have paid enough attention when scheduling the cruise to Norway. The week organised fell during a bank holiday which meant most of the shops, restaurants, museums were closed and the streets empty when we were in land. For most of the older guests it was not a problem as they only went as far as the souvenir shops! but for those like us who wanted to discover the culture and the people of Norway, Celebrity Cruise really failed us.
The target audience. Don’t take me wrong, I have nothing against the older generation but being on a huge ship for a week with an average age of passenger closer to 90 years old was tough for a newly engaged couple.
After a week on the cruise, with its up and down, my sea sickness, the fight at the buffet (let me not get into details!!) would I come back… the answer is YES but…not before another good 30 years :-)

Exclusive travel by Haute Compass

To all Iphone fans and fellow travellers, there is a new travel app that you do not want to miss ! Haute Compass has now launched its new application and is available – for free – on the app store.
The Exclusive Travel by Haute Compass app can be found on the App store.
The Exclusive Travel by Haute Compass app can be found on the App store.
The work on the Exclusive travel app, as Haute Compass founder Malin Lundberg Müller explained to me started about a year ago. She is now completely satisfied with the final product and believes it will help out over travellers like her. Here is the interview I made with Malin…
When did the idea came to you to create this application ?
The idea has been growing slowly for about 1 year and a half, and no, I am no technical freak, my background is legal so you can imagine how much I have learned through the process !
How this application is different to the other travel application ?
One difference is the quantity. Over 1,000 personal recommendations in London, Berlin, Milan, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Dubai and the French Riviera are reviewed in the app and by using the same design users get the immediate “touch and feel” of my website Haute Compass.
The app also has a “near me” function which allows you to search for the recommended exclusive places that are close to your current position. But the biggest difference to other apps is that all recommended places can use the app as a channel for their news and promos with their own login which enables the user to get the latest directly from the source.
Exclusive Travel by Haute Compass
How can travellers use the application to help their travels ?
The traveller needs less planning since the app is always with you and up to date, you can for example be strolling around in a new city with a quick consultation of the app get invaluable knowledge about your surroundings. Is there maybe a trendy roof bar across the street, or a popular concept store?
By using the app Exclusive Travel by Haute Compass you get very much local knowledge and there is no need to carry around all those articles you previously have pulled out from in-flight magazines, FT weekend, and well all those great sources on exclusive travelling.

Introducing the new Preferred Hotels & Resorts

This week has been rather exciting watching Preferred Hotel Group introducing the brand new Preferred Hotels & Resorts on social media ! If you have missed it, look out for the #ThePreferredLife hashtag on twitter & instagram, so many hotels part of the chain have been participating to the launch, it was really great fun to discover the new and improve PHG. Preferred Hotels & Resorts websiteThis rebrand represents the company’s commitment to help travelers better identify the hotel that will provide them with a luxury experience in a fashion that meets their life and style preferences for each occasion. Travelers can now browse and book stays at any of the 650 hotels, resorts, and luxury residences represented within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio via a new brand website, www.PreferredHotels.com. preferred hotels & resorts Understanding that travelers have different objectives for each individual trip, each property within the new brand portfolio has been aligned with one of five collections — Legend, LVX, Lifestyle, Connect, and Preferred Residences. The exciting part now is for me to guess which categories my preferred (no joke) Preferred Hotels & Resorts are now branded under!

My experience with Thai Airways

Going to Thailand on holiday only meant we had to book with Thai Airways to experience the airline famous service. Of course, I could have booked with BA and get extra points or Qatar Airways but it made more sense to book the country pride and joy !
Our journey was London heathrow T2 to Bangkok, Bangkok to Phuket / and return. The checkin online was relatively easy to do and confirmation were sent within seconds to my inbox. We had the opportunity to check in 2 luggages of 30 kg each in economy so if you love bringing back souvenirs it will be ideal.
Arriving on board : we were nicely welcomed by the team and pointed out to our seats. Sadly, the flights were almost full when we booked our last minute trip so we ended up at the back of the aircraft…not ideal when you have to catch the connection to Phuket in less than 45min !
experience thai airways
I was meant to take pictures of the meals…sorry about that but I did not have the time to do so ! We really liked the food served on board…i can’t believe i am saying this but my husband only wants to fly Thai because of the food now ;-)
We flew Economy and there, i must say, it was difficult….12h is a long flight for a claustrophobic like me. The Width of the seat was a bit small for me…i know i am large from the bottom but when you spend that amount of hours next to a stranger it was hell. However, on the return flight the legroom was a fantastic surprise compared than the way in – when i had a panic attack when seating down due to the lack of space.
When arriving in Bangkok we had to go through immigration and security again which was really not practical as it was busy and we had the connection to Phuket waiting. Sadly, no one from Thai Airways was at the arrival to guide us so it was a bit of a struggle. The same happened on the way back…we arrived in Bangkok at C8 and our next flight was C6 but the airline made us go back all the way down to domestic arrival for us to walk back to international departure. Very stressful ! So remember to allow yourself a bit of extra time if you are connecting….
Economy class
The crew was extremely charming and elegant – i loved the uniforms. They kept the aircraft extremely clean – i was impressed to see them filling up on tissues, toilet paper and perfume during the flight ! We were offered drinks on a regular basis which i never experienced with British Airways… I really felt that the crew cared about the Economy Class well being.
Arriving in Phuket Airport around 7pm, we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make our way around and find the exit. The buzz, heat and humidity was a bit overwhelming after spending all that time on the aircrafts but loved Thailand from the moment we arrived…
Welcome to Phuket Airport !
Welcome to Phuket Airport !
So would I fly again with Thai Airways ? without a doubt yes… but i will try to book earlier if Economy Class to pick the 2 seats in the back – don’t like sharing with strangers on rows of 3 or 5 ! But of course, i will try to convince my husband to book Royal Silk Class ;-)

Wondering which category to book with Thai Airways ? The ailine offers 3 options :
* Economy :
Between 32 and 36″ seat pitch depending on the aircraft type, some of the most generous legroom amongst all airlines worldwide.
* Royal Silk Class – Business Class :
Angled shell design seats have 58-62″ of pitch and a width of 20-21.5″. Seats have lumbar massage and are equipped with 10 to 15″ AVOD screens. For flights four hours or more, a travel kit is presented, containing a selection of toiletries and cosmetic products, together with an eye shade, comfort socks and toothbrush set. On flights to Japan and Korea, slippers are offered as a substitute to socks. The exclusive Royal Silk Class toilets are generously equipped with leading brands of toiletries, such as eau de Cologne, eau de toilette, and moisturizing hand cream.
* Royal First Class – First Class :
Spacious semi-private suites nearly 8 feet long, seat width is a generous 23 inches on the new-model Boeing 747s and expansive 27 inches on the Airbus A380s. In-flight entertainment systems boast 23-inch flat screens with approximately 130 films, 300 television programmes, 500 music CDs and a huge variety of games and special features. Champagne on arrival, gourmet catering and lavishing caviar serving. 
Pictures by Luxury Chic Travel and Thai Airways.