Asia: The Prestigious Macau

macau_1500000 By Cathie Guo

With slots ringing, lights beaming and fountains flowing, Macau is no doubt a hedonistic getaway in Asia that people describe as overflowing with excess. But even when all the five-star hotels are fully booked and the hoards of pedestrians spoil your good mood, there’s still The Waterside, a hidden gem where you can sit back and make yourself at home. Located in Macau’s most prestigious residential area, The Waterside is an exclusive building with 59 apartments occupying the entire Tower Six of One Central Residences, just a few steps away from the Mandarin Oriental, Macau.

In contrast to the shocking 40-square-foot apartments in Hong Kong, a newly-furnished 4,400 square foot apartment (HKD 200,000 a month) seems like nothing but paradise. Applying authentically Asian aesthetics, this four-bedroom space is brought to life with opulent, contemporary design incorporating rich colour choices and bold focal detailing. From the masterpieces by well-known Chinese and Vietnamese artists lining the space to the entirely mirrored floor-to-ceiling wall in the dining room, you can hardly find a better way to pamper yourself than this – not to mention the 24-hour private clubhouse, where you can enjoy an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, gym, spa, yoga, theatre and more. Of course, a day in Macau wouldn’t be complete without a good meal.

The city is famous for its authentic Portuguese cuisine; however, when you wander off the Rua do Cunha in Taipa, you’ll come across Casa de Tapas, one of the city’s finest restaurants. Led by Chef Alfredo M. Pérez-Dobón Batlles, Casa de Tapas offers contemporary Spanish creations. Their signature lamb skewers are a must-try – the pink, tender, cumin-scented lamb sirloin delighted us all. Finish the day off with a visit to the famed House of Dancing Water, the world’s largest water extravaganza produced by Franco Dragone, the creative mastermind behind Cirque du Soleil. Enjoy the theatrical thrill ride with spectacular performances from over 80 gymnasts, dancers, divers and motorcyclists around a record-breaking 3.7 million gallons of water in the central stage pool.

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Shelle Classica: A Must Have

RN-Image-1“Bridging the gap between technology and fashion, the boardroom and the ballroom…”  

Thanks to Rosalina Nacken and her multi-purpose luxury leather handbag, Shelle Classica, the cosmopolitan woman can now effortlessly do such. Rosalina explains: “The luxurious leather Shelle is elegant and practical, serving as a handbag, clutch bag and tablet case “in-one” that’s ideal for the cosmopolitan woman who’s always on the move.”

Handmade in a small village near Venice, the Shelle is a world first; a genuinely elegant solution for carrying around an iPad, Android tablet or 11-inch laptop, as well as an adapter, purse, mobile phone and make up essentials. With the Shelle, Rosalina has shown that style and practicality don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

But what inspired its creation? Rosalina explains: “I’m inspired by women who strive to be successful in their career, drawing on their strengths without ever losing sight of their femininity. As I see it, they pave their own way to freedom and, in essence, move their life. The Shelle is my gift to all the women who believe in themselves, who have the courage to dream and who dare to take the path that leads to greatness.”

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Made from soft, high-quality Italian leather – that is both scratch-resistant and water-repellent – the Shelle Classica also features a tablet case that can be transformed into a chic evening clutch: Shelle Futura. Allowing women to move with style between looks, the Shelle looks set to become this year’s must-have accessory for the cosmopolitan woman.

Alongside smart components and Jacquard lining finishes to protect devices, the Shelle Classica includes two genuine gold-coated chains with leather handles, easily clipped on and off to transform the bag six different ways. With one chain much longer than the other you can convert the Shelle Classica and Futura from a chic daytime shoulder bag to a stylish evening one. Remove the handle or shorten it and both Classica and Futura can be respectively held, carried or suspended, as a sophisticated clutch bag. With such an impressive luxury leather handbag, Rosalina Nacken is clearly a designer to keep your eye on.

Hong Kong: Bastien Pedicure

why-do-me-men-want-bastien-gonzalez-pedicures-L-HVoSXt The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel is one of the finest in Hong Kong, but now there’s another reason to go. Bastien Gonzalez who tends to the toes of celebrities and supermodels brought his pedicure studio to town. Here’s a first hand account of her experience by Gillian Rhys.

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Opting for the famous pedi (there’s also a manicure available) I arrive at the serene reception on the fifth floor of the hotel and I’m handed some paperwork. Questions about foot or posture pains are the first clue that this is no ordinary beauty treatment. Albin, an immaculately turned out and charming Frenchman, leads me through to the treatment room. Although Gonzalez is not working in Hong Kong, he has a specially trained team in place clearly chosen for being as personable as himself. A very comfortable reclining chair and a plate of peeled and sliced fruit suggest this will be the customary Oriental Spa experience, but then I notice an alarming array of tools set out – not unlike those at the dentist.

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Following my gaze Albin reassures me that the pedicure won’t hurt. Like all Gonzalez’s staff, Albin is a podiatrist so his priority is the health of the feet and nails, rather than painting your toes the latest cult colour. He sets to work with what look like scalpels and drills using the lightest of touches to remove hard skin but not the cuticles, which he says are essential to nail health. Next he buffs the nails to a shine so they look a natural, pretty pink. A signature of the Bastien pedicure is not using nail varnish as it’s healthier for the nail.

After a firm but not painful massage, with a deliciously scented cream my lower legs and feet feel lighter and a niggling pain in my big toe has disappeared. My toe nails now have a healthy shine and since I always opt for a neutral pink laquer, there’s little difference in the colour, although Albin does offer varnish for those who prefer it. I’m enamored with my beautiful feet and am certain to be heading back next month.

 

 

Shangri-La Paris

SLPR-Heroshot-02It has been said that if Napoleon and Confucius had a love child; it would a beautiful baby in the form of the five-star hotel, Shangri-La Paris. Situated in the elegant 16th arrondissement of Paris, its elegant façade brings to mind its legacy as the former home of Prince Roland Bonaparte – Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew. And given its name, Little Versaille, it’s easy to see the reason behind such a selection. The grand staircase sweeps up to an affluent grand salon decorated with an almost obscene amount of gold leaf and marble, as well as an abundance of Napoleonic bees.

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This object continues to the hotel’s haute-cuisine restaurant, L’Abeille, which serves up sumptuous French fare. Amongst all of this French grandeur is a sense of eastern exoticism, with oriental vases and décor permeating the premises and the Shang Palace restaurant serving up Chinese delicacies. The hybridism of the hotel is seductive, like an Asian courtesan transported to the Valois court.

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However, the most enticing part of all is the view. Set on the slope of Seine, opposite the Eiffel Tower, the view from the suites extends all the way down the river. Stand on the balcony and spot the Sacré Coeur, the Grand Palais and Notre Dame. Sight-seeing without even leaving your suite. So now that we have your hunger sated and your spirit invigorated, it’s time to immerse yourself in the City of Lights and enjoy an extraordinary experience.

Terre Blanche: The Ideal Haven

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Is your daily life hectic and all you’re craving is a form of escape? Do you wish to travel with your family in jet style? We have the perfect suggestion for the family-oriented jetsetter desirous of a platinum experience… the Terre Blanche Hotel and Spa Golf Resort, Provence.

Imagine the sun is shining, your swimsuit is on and you’re relaxing in an infinity pool looking at the most breath-taking view of the Provencal landscape with a much needed cocktail in hand. Nestled amongst the hills of Provence and with superb hilltop views, it mixes clean lines of modern design with a liberal sprinkling rustic charm – exposed stone walls co-exist perfectly with sleek furnishings.

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Thus, within a matter of seconds, you will be feeling absolutely stress-free because this incredible getaway provides total relaxation like no other. But, there is more than meets the eye here – rather, there is literally something for everyone.  While you are enjoying some alone time, the little ones will also be well entertained. With the Kid’s Club having its own private pool, along with an endless list of activities; they will be in true kiddy heaven.

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If you’re a lover of golf by nature, there is also something for you! With a choice of two 18-hole championship courses and a golf academy, swing away like Tiger Woods. And if your aim is to enhance your game, feel free to practice your serve at the Tennis Academy. If you’re looking for something slightly slower paced, then maybe their world leading spa may well tickle your fancy. The ‘TERRE BLANCHE Treatment by CARITA’ – a 2 hour enchanting and relaxing massage, hair-treatment and facial, resulting in ultimate relaxation and visible results – is highly recommended.

So for the ultimate lifestyle experience, we implore you to visit Terre Blanche, relax, have fun and create memories to treasure endlessly.

The British Affair

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Will you be in great company this weekend and wish to explore new cocktail options? We, at Platinum Services Limited, know this could be challenging especially after a lengthy week but we wish to introduce you to a friend… Meet the British Affair! Created by Giovanni Cassino – Bar Manager at The Donovan Bar, Brown’s Hotel – The British Affair is a refreshing and elegant cocktail which is easy to make at home and perfect for the spring and summer seasons. Sounds exciting? Here are the ingredients and method compliments the Quinessentially Insider team.

The British Affair’s Ingredients:

40 ml Quintessentially Vodka, 10 ml fresh lime juice, 20 ml passion fruit juice, 2 fresh strawberries, 1 tea spoon rose syrup Topped up with Ruinart Brut Champagne

Method:

1) Muddle ingredients, then shake together in a cocktail shake, 2) Top up with Champagne, 3) Garnish with half a passion fruit and two halves of a strawberry.

Quintessentially Vodka redefines luxury spirits with sleek design and a liquid of such discerning quality that is quite simply perfection on ice.

 

 

Debrett’s & Jodie Kidd’s Travel Wallet Collection

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Luxury lifestyle and etiquette experts Debrett’s and Jodie Kidd, one of Britain’s most cherished models and socialites, recently fused their love and experience for travel and high fashion to launch their Chic New Travel Wallet Collection.

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Described as stylish, sophisticated and immensely practical, the travel wallet is cleverly designed to allow quick and easy access to travel documents. Inspired by Jodie’s love for the Caribbean, namely Barbados, the trendy and stunning colours range from “Plantation Pink” and “Hibiscus Orange” to ‘Lotus Blue”.

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 Made from the finest Italian leather, the inside has specific compartments for two mobile phones, an iPad or Kindle and even has room for a MacBook Air and charger. Designed for the serious traveler, the spacious clutch can be used as a bag or a working portfolio.

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 The large wallet has the added feature of a back strap to slip neatly over a wheeled suitcase handle, ensuring ease of access and visibility when security is important but hands are full and distractions are abound.

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Commenting on the launch of the collection, our Platinum star, Jodie, said: “The whole creative process has been a lot of fun. Debrett’s brought bonafide British style and exemplary design credentials to the table, and I came with plenty of fashion and travel experience, and lots of ideas. Together we’ve created a range of stylish accessories that are both beautiful and practical.”

Stop ‘n Sip!

WHILE BARBADOS IS IDIOSYNCRATIC for its rum and beers, with Mount Gay Rum being the most highly favoured, our non-alcoholic beverages are sure to satisfy your taste buds and help you beat the heat on any hot tropical day. Here are some of the more popular ones that have irrefutably stood the test of time.

Coconut Water

barbados-girl Climbing a coconut tree in Barbados is a well-mastered art to say the least! For the sight of a young gentleman leaping up the tree trunk while trying to maintain his grip and balance on a relatively smooth surface is no child’s play. And if the wind direction happens to change while he leaps, he must be braced for the tree’s unpredictable sways. All in all, this young lad knows the reward of his risk… the “refreshing, down-to-earth and equally wholesome” coconut water. Generally obtained by hacking the green fibrous outer husk, a hole is later punched in the brownish shell to release the slightly sweet yet quite briny juice.

Where can you buy coconut water?

Conveniently located on the majority of our highways are coconut vendors who brave the warm tropical temperatures to ply their trade. With a friendly and upbeat approach, they quickly serve each customer and sometimes give an awe-inspiring demonstration of how they obtain the coconut water for the shell. But the best way to consume the water is by drinking it with a straw directly from the shell.

Sorrel Drink

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Christmas in Barbados wouldn’t be completely traditional without Sorrel! Although it can be consumed throughout the year, it is usually reserved to add zest to the yuletide festivities. Made from the dried petals of the sorrel flower, sorrel makes a vibrant deep-red fruity-fragrant tea or infused drink. Known for its naturally cooling and healing properties, sorrel contains rich antioxidants and Vitamin C and has been used as a health tonic for centuries. Some parts of the sorrel plant are also rich in calcium, magnesium and beta-carotene. An added benefit is its caffeine-free properties. Special note must also be taken of the health benefits associated with sorrel as it was revealed that it could kill certain types of cancer cells.

 Recipe for traditional Sorrel Punch:

1 cup sorrel petals (dried), 1 litre boiling water, Orange or lime peel, 1 tablespoon cloves, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon ground pimento, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 25 g brown sugar, Dark rum (if desired)

Method:

Pour boiling water over sorrel in a glass jar or jug. Leave overnight or up to 24 hours. Strain off liquid, add sugar and rum (if desired) to taste. Chill and serve.

Ginger Beer

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First introduced as an alcoholic beverage, ginger beer later became available in the form of a soft drink. Originally, ginger beer consisted of sugar, water and ginger to which the ginger beer is added. The mixture turns to ginger beer after a few days of fermentation. Today, it is primarily flavoured with ginger and sweetened with sugar or artificial flavors. Ginger beer is quite similar to ginger ale however the beer has a stronger spice-like ginger taste. It can be consumed chilled over ice or diluted with chilled water.

Recipe for Ginger Beer:

3/4 cup grated ginger root, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 12 cups water, 2 1/4 oz packages active dry yeast, 2 cups sugar

Method:

In a large bowl, combine and stir grated ginger root, lime juice, and cream of tartar. In a large pot, bring 12 cups water to a boil over high heat. Pour hot water over ginger mixture and set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir to make a smooth paste. When ginger mixture is warm, add yeast mixture and stir well. Cover bowl and refrigerate from 3-5 days. Pour ginger mixture through a strainer with another large bowl underneath to catch the liquid. Add remaining sugar to ginger beer and stir well.

Mauby Drink

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Classically refreshing! This sums up any description one could put forth about Barbados’ beloved Mauby Drink. With the ability to complement any local dish, this tall glass of goodness has a unique liquorice flavor guaranteed to also cool you down. Available in the form of syrup at local supermarkets and gas stations, simply add water according to the desired number of servings and your beverage is ready for consumption. But if you’re on the creative side, simply source the “bark” and you can make the invigorating beverage from scratch.

Recipe for Mauby Drink:

4 cups water, 10 mauby barks, 2 cinnamon sticks (small), 2 (4 inch) pieces of orange peel (dried), nutmeg (see note below), 3-4 cloves

Method:

In a deep saucepan place all the ingredients and on a med/high heat, bring it to a boil. Allow it to go for 5 minutes at a rolling boil, and then turn off the stove, cover the pot and let it to steep for about 5 hours. For the best results, allow it to steep over night. For every cup of concentrate add 2 cups of water, then sweeten to your liking. For the perfect glass of mauby, sweeten with cane sugar and add a couple drops of Angostura bitters top with crushed ice and a slice of lime or lemon!

Sno – Cones

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In and around Bridgetown is a haven for “peddlers” who are literally vendors on cart-topped bicycles found at strategic points. They offer a Bajan delicacy to locals and visitors alike in the form of shaved ice in a small cup with added sugar syrup in an assortment of colours and flavours. Locals would advise that the best way to consume it is with condensed milk added on top for an extra delicious drink. Within recent times, sno cones inclusive of alcoholic beverages have been available at certain local events. If you’re able to source one, this will cap off your holiday trip to Barbados.

Spice Up Your Life

BARBADOS IS RENOWNED FOR tropical sunsets, lazy days on the beach and rum punches. But most importantly, our bold flavours make our cuisine such an opulent experience! When preparing meals, Barbadians use an exotic combination of herbs and spices together with love to create spiced-up dishes that will tickle your palette. Here is an insight to the most common spices that we use:-

Nutmeg

shutterstock_71052928Nutmeg

About 25mm long and 18mm wide, this roughly egg-shaped spice can be bought whole or ground for flavouring both savoury and sweet preparations. Ranked as one of the top five spices used in Caribbean cuisine, nutmeg adds a zesty finishing touch to eggnog, puddings, sweet sauces and peanut punch. Use in moderation, as too much of this spice will leave you with a bitter taste.

Yummy fact: The Island’s prestigious Mount Gay rum punch is served with nutmeg sprinkled on top.

Ginger 

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Once referred to as radix zingiberis Barbadensis, this warm root plays with the cool freshness of pineapple in Barbadian dishes like candied sweet potatoes and pineapple chicken, or meat stews. Although it’s best known for its use in making non-alcoholic, ginger beer, the powerful ginger root is traditionally used in making sorrel during the Christmas season.

Useful fact: the root is used to brew a tea that’s effective in calming or soothing upset stomach, indigestion, nausea and warding off colds.

Cinnamon

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Tied rolls of cinnamon bark referred to as “spice” in Barbados add hints of flavor to any pudding, drink or dish, with the more popular being Barbados Spiced Rum. This aged molasses rum contains real herbs and other spices like nutmeg, clove-studded oranges and vanilla. It’s aged in casks for two years and is dry to the palate.

Yummy fact: Cinnamon is added to cornmeal porridge and dumplings, which can be found in chicken soup and stew.

Clove

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This dried unopened flower bud resembling the shape of a nail is commonly used during the yuletide season. Locals insert a few to several cloves in their ham, with other ingredients, before baking.

Extra, extra: Baking with cloves creates a pleasing aroma.

Thyme

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Pungent in flavor, this popular culinary herb bridges the gap between milder spices and stronger seasonings. It’s a key ingredient in the traditional Barbadian rice and peas dish and our distinct Bajan seasoning.

Interesting fact: Thyme’s flavor increases as it dries.

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

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Called scotch bonnets for their wrinkled crowns, these peppers are considered the hottest in the world and are mainly used in our few jerk dishes and Bajan pepper sauce. With their distinctive aroma and fruit pulp, the little peppers look like walnut-sized lanterns and come in various colours.

Caution: Don’t be fooled by their size when handling this chili pepper, it is best to wear gloves and avoid touching your skin or eyes to avoid possible burning.

 

Apes Hill Club

2_Golf_at_Apes_Hill Is it your desire to witness the spectacle of international polo matches against a stunning back drop of the Caribbean Sea? Or would you like to sharpen your handicap under the tutelage of a resident coach?

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If you’ve answered yes, the award-winning Apes Hill Polo Club is ideal. Located in the parish of St. James, Barbados, Apes Hill has an 18-hole championship and is situated on an old sugar plantation, 1,000 feet above the Caribbean Sea. Opened in December 2009, the conspicuously picturesque golf course, visited by Prince Harry, is easily one of the top on the island and by extension, the world. Nestled on 470 acres of land, the copious property, owned and developed by local construction magnate Sir Charles Williams, is a certified Audubon Sanctuary. While the admirable in-house architecture is the commendable work of Chris Cole and Jeff Potts who designed the golf course for Landmark Land Co.

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Visitors to the Club often gloat about the splendid views from every hole, the lush tropical landscape showcasing striking old coral stoned quarries and the large practice facility. As for the ambience, you can bask in the glory of lush vegetation, rolling terrain, wooded ravines and sparkling lakes. Also noteworthy are the most challenging and spell-bounding holes: – 12, 13, 14, 15. The most photographed par threes according to Apes Hill is the 5th hole, a 185-yard hole, where the green is cut into the side of the old coral stone cliff. Ben Hatch, Apes Hill Club’s Manager and PGA Head Golf Professional, personal favourite hole is no. 13, a very challenging hole that has dramatic scenery, a huge “risk-reward” gamble and a good test for any skilled player.

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On the flip side, Apes Hill is also the setting for some of the most impressive real estate in the Caribbean. Each of the three-bedroom Garden Wall Villas, located on the golf course, comes with a private infinity-edge pool. While the three-bedroom Polo Villas, located close to the Polo Club, feature large en suite bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens, spacious living and dining areas, a small plunge pool and access to a larger communal infinity edge pool.

Photos Compliments: Apes Hill Club