Cloud 9 Living experience: Bubbly in Long Island NY

Cloud 9 Living is a provider of experience gifts – instead of providing the traditional physical gift, they organise experiences so that that wonderful memories can be made. They pride themselves on providing premium class customer service and I personally found that to be true. Founded in 2005, they have 1,700 experiences in 43 regions in the United States. When I was contacted by Aun about experiencing firsthand one of Cloud 9 Living’s experiences, I was ecstatic! There are several categories for me to choose from: food and wine, driving, fighter pilot for a day, golf, learn to fly, action and adventure and more! The experiences look amazing and are appropriate for birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gifts and more. I picked the private winery tour and picnic as I wanted to take the opportunity to go out to the Long Island wineries in a more intimate setting, enjoy the good weather while it lasted and spend some quality time with my sister. Continue Reading →

Capitol Hotel Tokyu, a fabulous city hotel

Choosing a hotel in a big city is always a tricky thing. Do you choose style over substance or substance over style. Do you choose convenience over cost? Do you choose a hotel with great F&B outlets or just something with a comfortable room, preferring to eat and drink elsewhere? If the city has multiple great neighbourhoods, how do you decide which one you want to stay in? All hard questions and for each traveler, what qualifies as the best hotel is entirely subjective. For me, right now, my favourite place to stay in Tokyo has to be the Capitol Hotel TokyuContinue Reading →

A quick chat with Hossan Leong

I’ve known Hossan Leong for quite a while now. I really admire his determination and his passion, both on and off stage/screen. When it was announced that he’d be directing a Dream Academy production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company, I was really thrilled. I’m a big musical theatre fan and Stephen Sondheim is my all-time favourite composer-lyricist. Company is opening here in Singapore on 1 November 2012 and will run until 11 November (please, please, please support Hossan and Dream Academy and buy tickets for this show). Hossan was kind enough to chat with me a bit about Company, Sondheim and French food.   Continue Reading →

One day itinerary for Arashiyama, Kyoto

During our most recent trip to Kyoto, my wife S and I had the pleasure of staying in a gorgeous resort in the Arashiyama region. But whether or not you stay overnight in this area, Arashiyama is well worth visiting. Its history as a popular destination stretches back to the Heian Period (794-1185). Today, its combination of stunning natural landscapes, Tenryuji Temple, postcard-worthy bamboo groves, and a treasure trove of small restaurants and shops make this far Western part of Kyoto (among domestic travellers) the second most visited tourist area in Kyoto.  Continue Reading →

Hotels We Love: HOSHINOYA Kyoto (part 2 of 2)

When you stay in a traditional ryokan in Japan, it’s almost always assumed that you’ll be having dinner on property. In many cases, the price of your dinner is automatically included as part of your room rate. And you simply don’t have the option of bowing out of the meal. At HOSHINOYA Kyoto, however, because the resort is both more modern and flexible in its packages and because it caters to guests that often stay for multiple days, guests can choose whether or not they wish to dine on premises. In my opinion though, if one stays at this gorgeous property, it would be a travesty not to have dinner in HOSHINOYA’s restaurant and to taste the truly exceptional cuisine of Chef Ichiro Kubota.   Continue Reading →

Hotels We Love: HOSHINOYA in Kyoto (part 1 of 2)

Ever since the HOSHINOYA resort opened in the scenic Arashiyama region of Kyoto in December 2009, I’ve been dying to check into this very special property. While Kyoto, one of my favourite cities in the world, is home to both modern (Western) hotels and ultra-pricey, ultra-exclusive traditional ryokans, HOSHINOYA is unique in that it offers the best of both worlds, in a resort setting unlike any other.  Continue Reading →

You Si, the Painter that Paints Without a Brush

I had the opportunity to meet with You Si in Shanghai, China at an art gallery event. I was talking in a group that kept expanding and suddenly I found myself talking to a lively Chinese man with an infectious smile and lots of stories to tell. We established early in the conversation that we both used to live in New York and then we bonded over shared memories of the “city that never sleeps.” As it turns out my new cocktail companion was You Si, a Chinese artist who had moved to New York and lived there for more than two decades but had in recent years moved back to China to live in Shanghai. When I asked, “is any of this work yours?”, he replied, “no, none of this is my work, I am a guest tonight just like you.” Continue Reading →

Style expert tells how to get the best from custom tailors in Asia

Have you been to one of the ubiquitous tailors in Asia, perhaps in Singapore, Hong Kong or Thailand, or even Vietnam and China? Have you ever left less than satisfied? I have. Until I met Anthony Moynihan. Anthony is a fashion stylist extraordinare based in Shanghai, China. He has worked for top Asian fashion magazines, styled music videos and ad campaigns, created his own line of couture sold in Japan, done custom designs for Japanese pop stars and has helped many a client and friend learn how to look their best. Continue Reading →

The Siam, Bangkok (part 2)

Fried egg, tomato and minced pork salad from The Siam

When my darling wife S and I choose a hotel to stay in, one of the most important factors (for us) is the food. While I realise that there are many that choose not to eat in the hotels they stay in, we tend to have at least one real meal (other than breakfast) if not more on property. To me, the food and beverage side of a hotel is as important as the room size, the service, and the architecture. When I choose to stay somewhere nice, I want to experience all that the hotel offers. And that means checking out their restaurants and bars (as well as their spa, gym, etc). When S and I checked into The Siam a few weeks back, knowing that the owners Kriss and Mel are real foodies, we were very much looking forward to exploring the hotel’s restaurants. Continue Reading →

The Siam, Bangkok (part 1)

The Siam hotel Bangkok

Over a decade ago, my next door neighbor, a stunning half Chinese, half British gal from Hong Kong met an equally handsome Thai rock star and fell in love. A number of years later, Kriss (the rock star, now also an actor) led S and me on a fun, rather amusing tour of his favourite old buildings in Bangkok, which culminated in us being chased out of the former Russian Embassy by security guards at two in the morning. Another couple of years later, Kriss showed us an amazing plot of land, on the river and in the old part of the city, that had been in his mother’s family for decades. He told us how he wanted to build a truly stunning, riverside, five-star urban resort there – something that would fit within his mother’s hotel company but that would also embrace his love of antiques, architecture, vintage glamour and luxury. That dream would eventually become The Siam, one of the most stunning hotels in Asia and easily the most significant new property to open in Thailand this year.  Continue Reading →