Posts Tagged: Luxury Travel


21
May 12

Best In-Flight Beauty Products

If you take to the air as often as I do, it’s really important to be prepared for the havoc that the in-flight environment can cause on your beauty routine. Between the hundreds of people you’re sharing the dried-up recycled air with and the onboard liquid restriction, it can be a tricky time for any beauty regime. With the right preparation and products though, it is still possible to arrive at your destination looking well-rested and refreshed. I actually quite enjoy the whole beauty ritual of settling into my seat and winding down with a glass of wine and some lovely products. Here’s some of my top picks.

CLEANSE

It goes without saying, that aircraft cabins have an extremely dehydrating effect on the skin. So the first part of your in-flight beauty regime should be to remove anytoxins or make-up and allow your skin to breathe. Cleansing wipes are the most practical way to go.

 

 

 

 

Elemis Fresh Skin Make-up Away Cleansing Wipes will remove every last trace of make-up while nourishing the skin with elderflower extract and chamomile.

 

 

 

 

 

Ideal for more sensitive types are these organic wipes from Beauty Works West which are extremely refreshing and contain aloe vera and pomegranate to sooth and detoxify the skin.

 

 

 

 

Halo Eye Make-up Remover Pads are really hard-working when it comes to shifting the likes of black mascara or the usually immovable Mac liner. And at just £1.99 from Superdrug they’re an in-flight beauty bargain too!

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort Zone‘s Everyday cleansing milk and hydrating softening toner are two of the products you’ll find in the Globe Trotters Travel Kit. All can be used in board and come in a handy security-ready bag. The products are some of the best I’ve come across for a long time, all are really luxurious but gentle. I’m an absolute convert.

 

 

 

 

Kahina Toning Mist is really gentle and can be used to tone skin or be spritzed throughout the flight to keep your complexion soft and dewy. Moroccan desert rose and argan oil work to reduce irritation – and smell lovely too. It also comes in a flight-friendly 50ml.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking of which, a hydrating spray is a great way to combat the drying effects of the aircraft cabin. Paul Mitchell’s multi-tasking Awapuhi Moisture Mist comes in a compact 100ml size and can be used to revive dry, tired skin as well as giving a boost to thirsty hair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOISTURISE

Keeping your skin moisturised is key if your hoping to disembarking with a glowing (as opposed to glowering) complexion. Drink lots and lots (and lots) of water and apply moisturiser regularly – more than you would normally on the ground.

 

 

 

Hydramemory Cream Gel 24h from Comfort Zone has the kind of deep lasting moisture that makes it perfect for in-flight. The cream plumps up skin and eliminates dry patches and can also be added as one of your Globe Trotter products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cell Dynamic Travel Set from cult- beauty brand Nubo contains three ultra-luxurious formulas to boost the skin’s moisture and radiance levels. There’s no need to pack any other moisturisers for you trip as this travel-trio is so rich it will easily last for a fortnight.

 

 

 

 

 

Another luxury offering comes from celebrity-favourite, Rodin. Devotees include Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and SJP. A divinely-scented blend of flowers and botanicals leave skin incredibly soft and supple. Slather it on as a moisturiser or use it on your hands, it can even be shared with your other half as a soothing aftershave.

 

 

 

EYES AND LIPS

A little bit of extra of attention will help you arrive at your destination bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Best to invest in a decent eye product to keep bags at bay, and a good lip balm to maintain a perfect pout.

 

 

 

Benefit’s It’s Potent Eye Cream helps reduce dark circles and brighten the eye area. It also contains apple extract to enhance hydration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angelica Eye Roller Gel from L’Occitane is wonderfully cooling and light. It couldn’t be easier to apply and makes for the perfect pick-me-up at the end of a long flight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another lovely flier-friendly product from L’Occitane is the Organic Shea Butter Lip Balm. Packed with super-softening ingredients which means a little goes a long way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you really want to indulge then Nubo’s Lip Perfection is the one for you. It is a super-luxurious cocktail of high-tech (yet chemical-free) cosmeceutical ingredients that not only nourishes and protects lips but also softens and plumps them. One for the wish list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAVEL SETS

Prefer to have everything all organised for you? Then along with the Comfort Zone Globe Trotters set, you might also like…

Suki Complete Care for Calm Skin is a great mini-travel pack that has everything you need to cleanse, tone and moisturise on-the-go. Particularly good for very dry and easily irritated skin. From www.thepureemporia.com

Elemis Travel Collection is bursting with the brand’s best-loved products including Pro-collagen Marine Cream and Exotic Cream Moisturising Mask – perfect for a post-flight treat.

Liz Earle’s Skin Savers-Kit contains four lovely little travel miniatures. Containing a moisturiser  packed with Vitamin E and other nourishing ingredients as well as a skin tonic spritz, hand cream and balm.


30
Apr 12

Magical Mauritius: Shanti Maurice

This week I’m exploring another peaceful celebrity hideaway in the Indian Ocean, the beautiful fantasy-land that is Mauritius. Famous faces seen on the island include royalty – Prince Harry and Princess Caroline, celebrities – Kylie Minogue, Russell Brand, Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes and Catherine Deneuve, and sports personalities Rafael Nadal, Michael Schumacher and Zinedine Zidane to name just a few. It’s not difficult to see why the A-list adore this island with its other-worldly beauty, spellbinding sense of spirituality and  stunning five-star hotels – it certainly didn’t take me long to fall head-over-heels in love with the place. Here’s a snapshot of my time at the wonderful Shanti Maurice. 

Quite possibly the prettiest swimming pool I have ever seen.

The Lowdown

The first thing that struck me on my arrival at Shanti Maurice was what a special place it was. Sitting in a plum position on the South coast with a travel brochure beautiful beach surrounded by 35 acres of colourful tropical gardens, it was impossible not to be immediately won over. The hotel originally started life as an Ayurvedic spa retreat and has evolved over the years to become a tres chic luxury boutique where the spa experience now comes with a delicious side order of sunshine and champagne. The 61 oceanfront villas and suites are dotted around the resort and are kitted out in cool, comfortable shades of cream with local hardwood furnishings and cavernous spa bathrooms. The 17 villas also come with their own private pools affording celebrity guests like Thandi Newton and Liz Hurley the utmost privacy.

Plenty of Wow-factor at the two-bedroom villas with private pool

Then there’s the rest of the hotel, which I have to say, had me swooning at every turn. At its centre is a shimmering slate infinity pool (where I found myself spending every spare moment swimming like a contented Koi carp around its pretty fish fountains and floating gardens). Fanning out from this focal point are a series of handsome thatched pavilions which house the reception and lounge area and two wonderful restaurants; Stars and Pebbles. There’s also a cracking kid’s club on site (although it’s tucked away so you never hear a peep) and,of course, the star of the show, the Nira Spa.

 

The Highlights

My experience of the Nira Spa went well beyond the usual holiday massage and without veering into dodgy “Eat, Pray, Love” territory, I really did find it to be a truly inspirational experience. The Nira Spa is the biggest (and arguably the best) spa in the Indian Ocean and takes the holistic approach to health and well-being to a whole new level. I eased myself in with my first ever Qi Gong class where  we performed a series of gentle movements in the spa gardens while the sun set over swaying fields of sugarcane and magical mountain vistas. Sheer bliss.

The Nira Spa Yoga Pavilion

 

After such a lovely start, I dedicated the next day to the full Shanti experience with a morning yoga class, steam, sauna and swim (there’s another beautiful serene pool within the spa grounds) followed by a healthy lunch. Physical needs attended to, it was now time to see to my spiritual side with a consultation with the the resident Ayurvedic doctor.

 

I didn’t know much Ayurvedic philosophies beforehand and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – and I certainly didn’t anticipate bursting into tears halfway through the appointment!  Cringe. Thankfully though this it turned out to be a perfectly normal and fairly common reaction. Ayurveda is all about treating the mind, body and soul and although my Glaswegian sensibilities initially rallied against it, after getting over my intense sense of embarrassment, it actually felt pretty amazing to get it all out and reflect on my seriously-neglected spiritual side. I left my consultation feeling intensely uplifted and by the time I had finished my sixty-minute Africology massage I had reached a Zen-like state of tranquillity. For a few days at least, life felt a little bit less complicated.

The relaxation pavilion at the Nira Spa which is surrounded by a pretty lily pond which is most probably filled with the tears of guests!

The wonderful thing about Shanti Maurice though is that you can dip in and out of the whole wellness thing as and when you like. Another not-to-be-missed, and slightly naughtier, option is the  the twice-weekly Fish and Rhum Shack, where a remote stretch of beach is transformed with tiki torches and driftwood furniture into a hedonistic sea-side hangout. On the menu is a selection of ridiculously large lobster, giant prawns and juicy organic meats, all of which can be washed down with a rum punch while the wild Indian Ocean crashes in the background and a squillion million stars shimmer above.

The Fish and Rhum Shack – Not to be missed

 

There are plenty of hotels around the world that have fabulous facilities, stunning views and sublime service but it’s a pretty rare thing to find one that has character to match, a hotel where you just can’t imagine being anywhere else. Luckily for me this was one of them.

 

Star Style

 

 

 

Long-haul flights, air-conditioning, blazing sunshine and ice-cold air-conditioning all conspire to reek havoc on my skin so to prevent dry patches, I like to use a super-moisturiser on top of my regular skincare products. Always in my in-flight bag (and Emma Watson’s apparently) is Comfort Zone’s Hydramemory 24h Cream Gel.

www.comfortzoneskincare.com

£30 50ml

 

 

 

 

Go There

Shanti Maurice, Mauritius:Tel: +230 603 7200; www.shantimaurice.com; Junior Suites start from €555, including breakfast and 15% VAT, per room per night. Air Mauritius flies non-stop from Heathrow to Mauritius 5 times per week. Call 0207-434-4375 for more information or visit www.airmauritius.com. HolidayExtras.com offers Meet and Greet car parking at London Heathrow from just £66.20 for 8 days. To book visit to www.holidayextras.com  or call 0800 1313 777.


5
Apr 12

The Maldives: Hollywood’s Favourite Hideaway

Next stop, the Maldives. After three non-stop days and nights in Dubai it was time to leave the Middle Eastern metropolis for the swaying palm trees and tranquillity of this most beautiful of island nations. I had been to the Maldives before with my husband to celebrate our first anniversary – the Maldives is of course one of the world’s most popular honeymoon destinations for A-list lovers – Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, and Fergie and Josh Duhamel have all jetted in Male before slinking off across the bright blue waters of the Indian Ocean to the seclusion of private islands, far from the prying eyes of the Paparazzi – but this time I’m here with my friend, Shelley so would these private isles turn out to be blissful or boring with only the bright blue sea and each other for company…

The Velassaru, Maldives

The Lowdown

The answer was no, it wasn’t boring in the least! Shades on, wind in our hair, turquoise seas twinkling all around us, our arrival at the Velassaru Resort on the back of a gleaming white speedboat couldn’t have been more glamorous. Just a four-hour flight down from Dubai and a thrilling twenty-five minute whirl across the Indian Ocean and we were setting foot on our own little slice of island paradise. Despite our adrenaline-filled arrival as soon as we stepped onto the chic sun-weathered pier and felt the warm afternoon sun on our back, it was time to relax. Cold towels and cocktails were on hand, as were warm smiles and friendly chat, and after a seamless check-in it was apparent that this little resort had more to offer than just being another romantic bolthole.

Beach Perfect

Swaying palm trees, shimmering silver-white sands and picture perfect coral reef cradled a sleek infinity pool, restaurants, bars, a library and spa. We had seven different room types to choose from; some on the beach, some with private gardens and some stilted over the sea. A Water Villa was our haven. As the name suggests, it’s built hovering over the sea, a wooden walkway curling across glimmering fish-filled water leading to the door. But that wasn’t the only means of entry, as soon as we set our bags down it was time for a Wonder Woman-style quick change into our bikinis and we were off down our private snorkel staircase for a quick dip before the sun went down.

Back in the room, the overall feel was spacious and simple with bright flashes of Missoni-esque brilliant orange and cobalt blue adding an edge to the decor. Under its cavernous thatched roof, there were comfy sofas, a vast bed, a dressing room and bar area so we never felt we were crowding each other. Sliding doors revealed a monster-big bathroom with a tub big enough for two (although we didn’t test that theory!) while a vast wall of window could be manoeuvred open to reveal a huge deck and the real star of the show – an uninterrupted view of the iridescent Indian Ocean.


14
Feb 12

Dubai’s Chicest Boutique Hotel: The Desert Palm

Well the snow has finally arrived (boo!), so it seems like the perfect time to chase away those winter blues with a visit to a warmer corner of the world. This week I’ve sought out some much needed sunshine with a girlie break to the sparkling city of Dubai. Along with Prague, Tom Cruise chose this Arabian Gulf city as one of the filming location for his latest flick, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is there plenty of opportunity to soak up the sun and shop till you drop, but there’s also a wealth of chic places to eat, cool spots for cocktails and some seriously super-luxe hotels. Eager to discover the best that the city had to offer I checked-in for some fabulous off-the-radar rest and relaxation at the city’s chicest boutique hotel, the Desert Palm.

At more than 160 stories, the Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world

The Lowdown

My stay at the oasis-like Desert Palm Dubai had me cooing with delight from the moment we were picked up from the airport by a chauffeur driven car decked-out with iced-towels, Voss water and deep leather seats. Even though I knew beforehand that the Desert Palm was home to a world-class polo club as well as an haute hotel, it still came as a something of a surprise to pull up to its frangipani-filled gardens and vast green fields peppered with show-ponies. Far from the madness of the metropolis, while still being close enough to be able to see the cityscape twinkling in the distance, it was obvious why camera-shy celebrities, royalty and visiting Emirati choose the Desert Palm for as their Dubai hideaway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hotel was not at all what I expected in this city of superlatives; Dubai boasts the world’s biggest shopping mall, the world’s tallest fountain, as well as the world’s highest bar, highest restaurant and highest swimming pool. All of these are housed in the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa which Tom Cruise was brave/mad enough to jump off in his recent flick and they can be reached via the world’s highest elevator. In a city that clearly likes to show-off, it wasn’t unreasonable for me to expect a lot of big city bling and over-the-top ostentation. Not so at the Desert Palm though, instead of showy affectations the hotel has opted for low-key luxe in the form of sleek creamy-coloured marble floors, shiny dark woods, and tactile furnishings which cleverly highlights its collection of perfectly-positioned artworks and equine sculpture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First impressions had left me suitably impressed but after a seven-hour night flight and a four-hour leap forward in time we were in dire need of a big bed and a wee sleep. Our room, a Palm Suite, was as swish as the rest of the hotel and surprisingly spacious – spacious enough in fact for two ladies with 50kg of luggage between them to not fight over wardrobe space. And we needn’t have worried about sharing a bed too as it was enormous enough for us both to sprawl out without ever risking waking the other. Along with these winning features, our room also had a stunning spa bathroom with monsoon shower and plenty of REN amenities, a baffling array of technology and view over the open-plan lobby and pretty green polo fields.

 

 

 

 

 

The Highlights

For a small hotel its highlights are many. Days can be spent lounging by the temperature controlled infinity pool – warmed in winter and chilled in summer for optimum swim conditions – walking or jogging around the perfectly manicured grounds, horsing around at the resident riding school or simply sitting on the terrace watching polo whilst indulging in a spot of cream tea. Tucked away on the lower level of the main building there’s also the wonderful LIME Spa which managed to lure us away from all ground-level activities for a whole afternoon with its wonderful massage treatments and hot and cold therapy rooms and showers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s when the sun goes down that the Desert Palm really comes into its own though. The hotel’s fantastic foodie credentials and buzzing bar pull in an eclectic crowd of trendy expats, in-the-know out of towners and local urban prince and princesses. We booked into Rare, which as the name suggests features a menu of rare meats and prized game, and despite our best efforts to show some restraint ended up nearly bursting out of our frocks after sampling some of the finest steaks we’d ever had the pleasure to try. Although our room was within waddling distance we couldn’t resist the warm ambiance and cool vibe of the terrace and ordered up some champagne and shisha at Red Bar. With the city glittering in the distance, the smell of fruity tobacco in the air, and the prospect of three more days at the Desert Palm ahead of us, we agreed that we were experiencing the dreamiest of Arabian adventures.

Outdoor dining at Rare

 

Champagne and Shisha on the Terra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Style

 

 

 

Make a confident and stylish entrance to any hotel lobby with this gorgeous trolley case. Luxury Italian luggage label Brics have teamed up with Missoni to create this limited edition travel candy which will make you the envy of all other guests. Available from www.caseluggage.com

 

 

 

 

Go There

Emirates Tours www.emiratestours.co.uk offers a 3 night package to Desert Palm, Dubai www.desertpalm.com from £695 per person. Based on two people staying 3 nights in a Palm Deluxe Room with breakfast daily. It includes return Emirates Economy Class flights from London Gatwick and return private car transfers. Valid for travel from 1st July to 15th September 2012.

 

 


2
Jan 12

New Year’s Eve at The Setai Miami

Well, we may tightening our belts and pinching our pennies over here in the UK but it seems that the shimmering beachside city of Miami may have missed the memo about the worldwide economic downturn. Over in South Beach, the limos are lined up and the champagne is chilling for the inevitable influx of super-celebrities ready to hit the famous New Year’s Eve party scene – Lady Gaga, P-Diddy, J-Zee and Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and Owen Wilson are amongst a huge list of stars that have chosen Miami as the place to “bring in the bells” over the last few years. And the hottest ticket for 2012? The Midnight in Marrakech Ball at The Setai.

The Lowdown

Even without a glamorous party on the go, The Setai is one seriously alluring place to be. The gorgeous, design-conscious hotel may have been open for six years now but it still has the heady buzz of a brand new opening so I was thrilled to make it my first stop on my pre-Christmas tour of Miami. Celebrity sightings at The Setai, where the enormous rooms can easily accommodate an extensive entourage, are too numerous to mention. Most recently the X-Factor USA judges, contestants and crew took over the hotel, laying down tracks in the Lenny Kravitz designed recording studio like Jay-Z and Chris Brown before them. Simon Cowell, of course, bagged the best room – in fact he won’t stay anywhere else in Miami – checking into the incredible four-bedroom Penthouse suite complete with rooftop lap pool, Jacuzzis-a-go-go, Baby Grand piano and a wine cellar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t afford to drop $30,000 a night from your Prada wallet then there are another 86 ultra-chic suites to choose from. All have spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows affording views of the city or beach (or both if you’re lucky) and come with designer beds and threads, deep black granite bathtubs, rain showers, Asprey amenities, 50” TVs, Bose sound systems and Illy coffee makers. And the little touches – I love the little touches – each guest is also provided with a gorgeous raffia beach bag, sandals and sarongs. Fabulous.

 

The Highlights

The Setai is a knock-out of a hotel. From the minute you walk through the splendid Art Deco exterior, of what was once the Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel, you’re met with an entirely different South Beach experience. There are no ice-cream colours and squidgy furnishings here, instead The Setai has opted for a cool Asian aesthetic and has totally nailed it. A soothing palette of polished woods, honey-coloured stone floors and perfectly positioned artworks are offset with flashes of oatmeal and orange – including a stunning display of 500 amber-like roses.

 

 

 

 

 

It says a lot about a hotel when you just don’t want to leave, even with a city as spectacular as Miami on your doorstep, but there was nothing else for it. After a morning spent meandering around the hotel’s tropical gardens and flitting between the three temperature-controlled swimming pools, it was time for a Mediterranean inspired lunch at The Setai Pool and Beach Bar. Thankfully the food lived up to my now incredibly high expectations (as did the cocktails) and come three o’clock I had to practically be wheeled to my spa appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spa at The Setai, which carries through the same serene South East Asian vibe, overlooks South Beach and is an intimate, peaceful and stylish space. I booked in for the Ila Kundalini Back Massage which involves working on the spine to unblock the build-up of negative energy caused by stress. Now, I’m not sure if my Chakras were cleansed or any other kind of inner magic replenished but I did fall asleep within five minutes and felt wonderful when I was gently awakened from my slumber an hour later. The perfect pick-up before a night on the town.

Star Style

 

 

The ladies of Miami take their swimwear very seriously indeed so, apart from needing that all important NYE party dress, you’ll be wanting some stylish swimwear. ReallyRee over on the Hello! blog, Attempts at a Stylish Life, put me on to a beautiful beachwear collection from Paolita. If you’ve got the body and the confidence, this gorgeous silver swimsuit from their Spring/Summer ’12 collection is sure to make an impact.

 

Luxur One Piece £140 Paolita.co.uk

 

 

 

 

GO THERE

The Setai; Tel (305) 520 6000; http://www.setai.com/; Rates from US$550


14
Nov 11

Vancouver’s Hautest Hotel: The Fairmont Pacific Rim

With the new movie from the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn, about to hit our screens and no doubt throw fans of the vampire series into frenzy, I thought that it would be a good time to pop over to the film set (and one of my favourite cities) – Vancouver.

 

 

I adore this town. Where else can you go whale-watching, skiing, cycling and shopping all in the same day? The nightlife is pretty good too! I’ve spent many happy days strolling around Stanley Park, shopping on Robson (I’ve spent more money in MAC than I care to admit), sipping cocktails at the city’s stunning rooftop bars, as well as exploring the surrounding countryside all the way from Seattle to Whistler. However, this time my dear friend (and gay boyfriend), accompanied me on a visit to Vancouver’s hottest hotel and celebrity hangout, the Fairmont Pacific Rim.

 

 

 

The Lowdown

Vancouver was already a seriously good-looking city when the 2010 Winter Olympics came along and gave it a dazzling new waterfront facelift. Staking a gold medal position in the heart of the action was the shiny Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel which, since its opening a little over 18 months ago, has attracted more than its fair share of celebrities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was obvious from the moment we entered the smart, marble-clad lobby, decorated with indoor waterfalls and beautiful people, that the Pacific Rim was all about ‘urban glam’. Impressive floor-to-ceiling windows allow light to flood in, while traditional touches like a fireplace and a grand piano warm the space. Upstairs, the alluring Oru Restaurant is sophisticated, polished and the kind of place that’s packed every night of the week with city slickers, super-skinny model types and, of course, celebrities. Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman have both been spotted spending time in the hotel. The boutique feel continues half-way up the building to the swish Willow Stream Spa and at the chic rooftop pool – the private cabanas made the perfect spot for some afternoon champagne sipping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a check-in as smooth and sweet as maple syrup, we’re shown to our room; one of the Signature rooms on the corner of the tenth floor. The minimalist, though opulent, design of the lobby (think tactile fabrics, chic chandeliers and contemporary artworks) carries through to the deluxe low-key lodgings. It’s spacious and packed with high-tech gadgetry, but all of these fantastic features slip into the background when we see what is far and away the hotel’s best selling point, the ah-mazing views!

 

The Highlights

The views are quite simply incredible and induced a fair amount of decibel-busting squeals from GBF and I as we took in the spectacular 270 degree panorama of the majestic North Shore Mountains, the Coal harbour coastline (complete with seaplanes dipping in and out of the water) and a glittering cityscape. And where was the best place to enjoy this stupendous view? From the bathtub of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the link to see the bathroom reveal! Fairmont Pacific Rim – View from the Bathroom

 

The next morning, following an exquisite sleep I awake to the sound of Matthew tinkering on his laptop. He sees me rise from my slumber and promptly presses a button to adjust the lighting, then presses another button to open the blinds, and rustles up some coffee on the Nespresso maching – clearly we’re in gadget heaven! After I indulged in an early morning bubble bath – I could have luxuriated there all day admiring that view –  it was off to Giovane for a fab deli-style lunch and a quick tour of the hotel.

As special as our room was – and it was very special – it paled in comparison to the all-out extravagance of the hotel’s unbelievably glamorous Speciality Suites. The show-stopping Chairman Suite, with its enormous master bedroom, two living rooms, a 500 square foot spa bathroom and a Balinese-style terrace, cascades over two floors showing off double-height views of the city and harbour. It’s clear why this suite is a favourite of flamboyant rock stars like U2 and Bon Jovi, it is certainly a superstar of a space. Lady Gaga, on the other hand, prefers the privacy of the penthouse Presidential Suite which is accessed by private elevator, sprawls over 2230 square feet, has an enormous marble spa bathroom with jacuzzi and, of course, a heavenly view.

 

 

 

 

 

We spend the rest of the day sunbathing at the rooftop pool and lounging around the fabulous Willow Stream Spa, where we drink champagne in the Jacuzzi till the sun goes down. We smugly agree that the Fairmont Pacific Rim is the perfect celebrity hot spot.

 

Star Style

 

 

 

A great pair of jeans will take you from day to night in Vancouver. I love these navy-blue babies from cool Canadian brand, Domino – Jessica Alba and Kirsten Dunst are just a couple of the celebrities that have been spotted wearing them.

Domino Candy Navy £90

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fairmont Pacific Rim: Tel 604-695-5300; http://www.fairmont.com/pacificrim; Rates from $229 CAD


21
Oct 11

Passport to the Stars: One Year On

It’s now been a year since I joined the Hello! blogging team with the Passport to the Stars blog and, oh my, what an exciting year it’s been. I kicked things off with a trip to the romantic Ritz-Carlton in Cancun and have closed my first twelve months with a trip to the stunning, star-filled La Residencia in Mallorca – look out for a super-glamorous post on this one soon! In between, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy celebrity-style stopovers everywhere from London to Hong Kong, to the Caribbean and the Cotswolds so, with so much to cover, I thought it would be fun to create a word cloud from Passport to the Stars’ entries to reflect the spirit of the blog one year on.

My word cloud was made using Wordle. It’s fab, isn’t it? I love the way it takes the text and turns the prominent words into a floaty, colourful visualisation of your work. I’ve picked some of the stand-outs to break down the best bits from the last year:

 

 

Hotel: Over the last year, Passport to the Stars has evolved to include a collection of luxe hotel reviews amongst the celebrity travel gossip. I’m regularly asked now which of these amazing hotels is my favourite and for me that’s as difficult as trying to pick your favourite child! I will always have a soft spot for The Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong though. I was brought up on the island and one of my favourite childhood days out involved popping on a pretty dress and  taking afternoon tea (and a milkshake) at the Clipper Lounge with my Mum. And many years on (I’m not telling you how many) it’s still one of my favourite things in the world to do.

 

Celebrity: Of course! It’s a celebrity travel blog, and this word was bound to have a prominent cloud position. All the lovely hotels I visited had plenty of celebrity callers, but it has to be The Dorchester with its eighty years of A-listers that wins for the highest and most prestigious star count.

Suites: My (made-up) award for best suite also goes to The Dorchester. During my visit I was upgraded to the beautiful Belgravia Suite and its elegant colonial decor and balcony overlooking Hyde Park had me positively swooning. This was also one of Elizabeth Taylor’s favourite hotels – and that lady knew how to travel in style, love it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spa: A visit to a luxury spa was once an occasional treat but has now become an integral part of my job – well, someone’s got to do it. I’ve become a real spa bunny and have to say that Britain has come up trumps with the most amazing new spa complexes. The light and lovely Spa at the Coworth Park (left) and the dark and decadent Blythswood Square Hotel Spa in Glasgow (right) both receive big shiny gold stars from me.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Romantic: The saying goes that “you’ve never lived until you’ve loved in Rome” and, having honeymooned at the Cavalieri, I can confirm that this is true. For its full-on romantic vibe and achingly beautiful view of the Eternal City, the Rome Cavalieri is my hotel of choice for starry-eyed lovers.

 

 

Beautiful: This is a tough one; Prague, Rome, Paris are all amazingly gorgeous destinations, and Barbados meets all the paradise island requirements but having just returned from the simply stunning La Residencia in Deia, Mallorca, I’m going to give them the prize for most scenic and serenely beautiful destination to this hillside haven of loveliness – just look at this view from my room!

 

 

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog so far. These lucky celebrities love to travel so there’s plenty more to come! Look out for the lowdown on Vancouver, otherwise known as Hollywood North, and the filming location for the Twilight films, as well as a visit to the Mandarin Oriental Prague to see where the Hollywood movie moguls have been staying during the shoot of the new Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol movie. There’ll also be some winter sun from favourite celeb destinations Thailand, Dubai and the Maldives. Also, if you spot any A-list lovelies on your travels don’t forget to leave your comments or send me a wee Tweet on @passporttostars. Thanks for following along!

 

 

 

 


23
Sep 11

The Cotswolds Celebrity Style: The Ellenborough Park

I’ve not long returned from a lovely stay in the stunning Cotswolds. It’s hard to believe that it was my first visit to this red-hot rural hotspot but as I’m from Scotland I usually take my staycations north of the border. The Cotswold’s didn’t disappoint though. The area has, of course, long been a favourite of celebrities; Kate Winslet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liz Hurley, Huge Grant, and Damien Hurst are just a few of the big names that own multi-million pound mansions in the area, but a little an extra bit of cool Britannia was added earlier this year when Kate Moss and Lily Allen tied their respective knots amidst the picture-perfect English countryside. So, I packed my designer Wellies and donned a deerstalker, for a visit to the area’s latest new-kid-on-the-Cotswold-stone-block, the five star, celeb-filled Ellenborough Park Hotel and Spa.

 

 

The Lowdown

This charming Cheltenham manor house has galloped ahead of the local competition picking up a mantelpiece full of ribbons and trophies since its opening earlier this year. There’s plenty on offer for luxe-loving, pleasure-seeking guests; within the walls of the impressive Grade II-listed Elizabethan building, grand fireplaces and oak-panelled walls have been well-dressed with rich wood furnishings and stylish scarlet and royal blue sofas and chairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interior design guru, Nina Campbell – who was behind the decoration of Princess Catherine’s pre-wedding suite at The Goring Hotel – took charge of the Ellenborough’s smart interiors and has perfectly combined olde-worlde elegance with modern country chic to create a truly stunning space. I absolutely adored this glittery gorgeous peacock wall lamp that illuminates the balcony area of the Great Hall – so covetable!

 

 

 

The hotel’s foodie credentials are fantastic too and are said to attract many a local celebrity round for lunch, dinner or drinks. Whether it was breakfast in bed – seriously delicious in so many ways – afternoon tea or something a bit more formal, you won’t be disappointed. Celebrated chef, David Kelman, oversees the country house cuisine at the Ellenborough Park and has done an excellent job of showcasing the wealth of local products the Cotswolds has to offer. In the Beaufort Dining Room, there’s a self-assured selection of classic gastronomic delights – think buttery Lobster Thermidor and perfectly prepared Chateaubriand. Or for something equally as delicious but not quite so formal try the comfortable surroundings of The Tudor Club Brasserie – the Pear and Apple Pie, made with fruit freshly-picked from the trees outside, was to die for.

 

The Highlights

The Ellenborough Park has a host of celebrity-style suites hidden away in the hotel’s many ancient towers and turrets. All overlook the pretty grounds and some have views of the adjacent Cheltenham Racecourse. The dramatic Istabraq Suite nestled in the eaves of the Great Hall, with its timbered ceiling, huge bed and beautiful open-plan bathroom is about as romantic as a hotel room can get. The Arkle Suite has its own private dining area, oak-clad walls and spa bathroom make it the perfect space to live out your amorous Elizabethan fantasies. I stayed in one of the luxury rooms (19). It was spacious and beautifully decked-out in a pretty palette of pale blues, greens and creams, with ivy-clad windows and a large bathroom with double sinks, a Victorian claw tub and a nice selection of Penhaligon’s amenities. Standard rooms were rather disappointing though; very small and lacking in the rich character that the rest of the hotel exudes, so my advice would be that if you are going to splash the cash spend a few pennies more and upgrade.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ellenborough Park’s splendid Oriental-themed spa is the perfect spot for an afternoon of posh pampering. The lush little space feels extremely private, featuring a sauna, star-lit steam room, sensation showers and hydrotherapy pool, along with seven treatment rooms and a special VIP area for couples in a Rapunzel-like tower. Treatments are luxe – the Spa Creation Facial is certain to go down well with spa aficionados, and pre and post-treatment guests can lounge about looking gorgeous in the serene magazine-filled relaxation room or chill and re-charge in the jewel-box-like Juice Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Style


Go country with a pair of Dubarry Galway Boots. Seen here in Walnut £299

And should you forget to pack suitable walking footwear check out the Ellenborough Park’s fabulous Boot Room where a selection of Dubarry boots and Hunter’s Wellingtons are available for guests to borrow.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ellenborough Park: Tel 01242 545454; http://www.ellenboroughpark.com/ Doubles from £240


5
Sep 11

The Oh-So-Cool Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

 

August turned out to be a really busy month for me! So busy, in fact, that I ended up visiting five cities, in four countries, in two weeks – phew! Jet lag aside, I had a fantastic time and I managed to fill up on loads of celebrity travel fuel for my blog. This week, it’s the latest from always-on-the-celebrity-circuit Sin City, Las Vegas, where the oh-so-cool Cosmopolitan Hotel was getting ready to add Grammy Award-winning songstress, Adele, to it’s rapidly growing celebrity guest list.

 

The Lowdown

Hot young things do well in Vegas and Sin City’s hotels are no exception. Strutting its stuff in the centre of the Strip this year’s latest looker is the brand-new achingly cool Cosmopolitan Hotel. The haute hotel started as it meant to go on with a crowd-pulling New Year’s Eve party drawing in those from the highest echelons of the celebrity galaxy. Jay-Z and Coldplay brought in the bells with a show-stopping performance at the Cosmopolitan Marquee Club, with superstar spouses Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow in attendance alongside Rihanna, Kirsten Dunst, Florence Welch, Blake Lively and Jennifer Love-Hewitt.

Cutting into the middle of the Las Vegas skyline, with views of the Strip, the Bellagio fountains and the Red Rock Mountains, the Cosmopolitan sits right in the centre of the action and has become a magnet for every big-time celebrity in town. VIPs can enter anonymously through a series of secret access ways and elevators but mere mortals shouldn’t feel aggrieved as the designed-within-an-inch-of-its-life hotel lobby has more than enough gloss and glamour to make you feel like an A-lister.  Entering the hotel, the brilliant sunshine of outside is replaced by the electric glow of enormous digital walls projecting avant-garde images and groovy patterns across the shiny coal-coloured floor. Glittering at the other end of the vast ground level is the world’s largest chandelier, containing more than two million sparklers, covering three floors and housing five cocktail bars within its giant crystal curtain, it was quite possibly the most ostentatious over-the-top hotel decoration I have ever seen in my life – I loved it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hotel also has no less than eleven restaurants including the wickedly popular Wicked Spoon and favourite of Jay-Z and Beyonce, Scarpetta – apparently the new-mum-to-be loves the exclusive restaurant’s authentic Tomato and Basil Pasta. Along with these well known celebrity haunts, there’s also a special discreet eatery, a nameless “secret pizza” joint hidden down an LP-lined corridor on the second floor where Justin Beiber recently managed to avoid the “fever” on a date with Selena Gomez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Highlights

Essentially all the rooms are suites here; designed as residential-style spaces each comes with a balcony – not easy to find in Vegas – drop-dead gorgeous designer bathrooms, kitchens and state-of-the-art electronic gadgetry. Studio, one, and two bedroom suites are available, as is the Bamboo Pool’s duplex party pad, The Lanai. Not advertised on the website though and reserved for only the highest of high-rollers and super-celebrities like Lady Gaga and Bono are the hotel’s high-flying flashy penthouse suites. These flamboyant accommodations include a multitude of magnificent rooms, as well as a private screening room, a fully-stocked and downright decadent wet bar, a pool table, spa bathrooms and a wraparound terrace for an incredible 360 degree view of the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following its grand opening on New Year’s Eve 2010, Marquee Nightclub at the Cosmopolitan has become Vegas’ most spectacular space. Boasting a fifty-foot ceiling, chandeliers (of course), a four-storey wall of screens and coliseum-style seating around the central dance floor this designer hotspot has attracted all the beautiful party people you would expect – Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton have both partied heartily here. Nicole Scherzinger chose to celebrate her 33rd birthday this year with an extravagant aqua-bash at the Marquee Nightclub’s Dayclub where lounging about in plush cabanas with private infinity pools, and dancing on the rooftop terraces of the triplex bungalows, was the order of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when all that partying, dancing, gambling, eating and drinking has taken its toll the hotel’s Sahra Spa and Hamman is on hand to restore your energy levels. Inspired by the desert landscape, this swanky spa is as glam as the rest of the hotel. Long dramatic hallways with double, and even triple-height ceilings, and chalky coral-coloured walls lead past glimmering pearl-studded waterfalls to cocoon-like treatment rooms where you can be buffed, rubbed, plucked, polished and pampered ready for your next Vegas night out.

 

STAR STYLE

 

 

Strut past the burly club bouncers and dance the night away in this fabulous pair of colour block suede stiletto pump from Vionnet by Zanotti

£579

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: Tel 702-698-7000; Cosmopolitanlasvegas.com. Doubles from $350

 


29
Jul 11

Glamorous Glasgow: The Blythswood Square Hotel

My lovely Dad phoned me a few weeks ago to give me some inside information for my blog – Brad Pitt is apparently on his way to our home town of Glasgow! As it’s not that unusual for my Dad to say something a bit mad I wasn’t sure at first whether he’d got his facts right but, sure enough, it turns out that this August the Hollywood superstar will indeed be visiting one of the finest cities in Britain (I’m not biased) to film his new zombie movie, World War Z. Glasgow has its fair share of fabulous places to stay but my money’s on Brad visiting Glasgow’s hottest new hotel, The Blythswood Square.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lowdown

The Blythswood Square Hotel has only been open just over a year but has already established itself as a major player on the Scottish hotel scene. P Diddy was the first of many celebrities to check in and has been followed a host of musical movers and shakers. As I checked in the T in The Park performers and their extensive entourages were exiting stage left and there were rumours that Beyonce herself had been admiring the cityscape from the terrace of the hotel’s privately accessed, three-bedroom Penthouse suite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located smack-bang in the centre of Glasgow’s central conservation area, the Blythswood Square is a magnificent city centre landmark. Once the former home of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club, and one of the starting points of the Monte-Carlo Rally, the hotel has retained all of its va-va-va-vroom in its 21st century incarnation. Downstairs, in the swish lobby area there is an excellent restaurant, serving zingy Scottish cuisine, and a smart yet unpretentious bar. Cross the marble floored reception to the spectacular three-storey chandelier and a grand staircase – one that calls out for a sweeping entrance in an evening gown – to access the first floor Salon, a separate area for afternoon tea and charismatic cocktails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rooms are furnished in cool comfortable slate grey shades with specially commission heather-coloured Harris Tweed covering everything from the lilac lampshades to the turquoise blue bolsters and buttoned headboard. Even celebrities expect wi-fi to be included – Katy Perry recently Tweeted that she wouldn’t stay in a hotel that didn’t have it – and the Blythswood ticks this box, as well as having an extensive range of free in-room movies on offer too. Marble peek-a-boo bathrooms and a selection of spicy Anne Semonin amenities make a flamboyant addition to the suites.

 

The Highlights

The Spa at the Blythswood Square is absolutely exceptional; in fact I would go as far as saying it is one of the best city-hotel spas in Britain. Hidden in the hotel’s enormous basement, the spa complex is a shadowy glamorous space where guests can unwind anonymously. Lighting is low. Nightclub low but rather than being annoying it adds to the spa’s relax-in-the-city vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spa’s USP (sorry I’ve been hooked on The Apprentice) is its exceptional “thermal experience”. A series of rooms and pools that take de-stressing to a galactic level; dip in a giant walk-in Jacuzzi, cleanse in the crystal steam room, invigorate in the vitality pool or lounge in the laconium. There’s also a series of saunas and the tranquil tepidarium with luxurious heated stone loungers to fall asleep on. The spa has also wisely steered away from the usual Asian-inspired theme and has instead fully embraced its Scottish heritage with unique treatments using aromatic indigenous ingredients. The beautifully scented oils, used during my Turus hot stone massage, were created by organic skincare specialists Ila and for sixty magical minutes evoked heather-heavy mountaintops and cedar-scented woods – bliss.

 

Star Style


 

The Blythswood Square Hotel was recently named as the official VIP hotel for this year’s MOBO Awards so channel your inner rock star with this little leather number from hot Scottish designer Christopher Kane

£2205

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blythswood Square Hotel: 0141 240 1666; www.blythswoodsquare.com. Doubles from £135

 

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