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Elite Havens Expands Into Niseko, Japan

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Elite Havens is thrilled to announce it has expanded its luxury villa portfolio by acquiring the 17 beautiful properties of Niseko Boutiques, located in the picturesque wintery wonderland of Japan’s most famous ski resort. A firm favourite with the international skiing/snowboarding community, Niseko is renowned for its spectacular scenery, scenic ski runs with guaranteed fresh snow, and après skiing.

Elite Havens has built a sterling reputation for its 200+ rental villas in exotic tropical beach destinations from Bali to Phuket, Koh Samui, Lombok, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Niseko makes a dream holiday destination of a different kind, a veritable paradise for powder skiing.

Villa under snow

Known as the powder capital of Japan, winds blowing down from Siberia blend with moisture rising from the Sea of Japan to create a fresh blanket of snow nearly every day of the ski season (December to April.), Niseko lures snow riders of all levels, including extreme adventurers lured to exhilarating tree runs and off trail heli-skiing. It’s four interlinking resorts also cater well to international families, with plenty of fun activities for all ages, including ski lessons.

Elite Havens will be managing, maintaining and marketing all villas in the newly acquired Niseko portfolio which includes luxury lodges, traditional ski chalets and chic modern apartments. All come with a renowned concierge service and are perfectly situated to enjoy the enchanting scenery and magnificent views over picturesque Mount Yotei.

Mount Yotei view from home

All properties are set in the buzzing village of Hirafu, renowned for its cosy cafes, gourmet restaurants and vibrant nightlife. The acquisition also includes Niseko Gourmet which means private chefs on call providing fabulous in-villa meals. To make your dream holiday escape as smooth as possible Elite Havens Concierge Service can arrange everything you need from ski lessons, to restaurant bookings, in-villa gourmet dining and direct transfers from New Chitose Airport, a trip of around 2 hours.

“We are delighted to add Niseko Boutiques to our luxury villa portfolio, and to offer a new range of exceptional experiences and activities for our guests.  From white powdery sand beaches of south east Asia, to the outstanding fresh powdery snow of northern Japan, it is our aim to provide the best private luxury accommodation across the region,” says Jon Stonham, CEO of Elite Havens.

While perfect skiing conditions are the major draw card,

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Rebuilding Lombok Campaign

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Lombok Donations

As many of you will have heard Lombok was hit by an earthquake in early August. The north of the island was damaged with many villages and locals affected. The south, including the infrastructure around from the airport, was not affected. Our villas had superficial damage and will all be up and running in a matter of weeks.

We are now looking to help rebuild the areas which were impacted and get the island back on its feet. The people of Lombok rely on tourism and international visitors for their livelihood and it’s important that we assist in ensuring the island is up and functioning as quickly as possible which will give these beautiful people back their jobs and dignity. Having assessed the situation over the last few weeks and supplied numerous trucks of emergency aide, we are now looking at longer term rebuilding projects. Many locals in the north, including members of our staff families, have sustained damage to their homes.

Of course the implementation of these necessary plans comes at a cost and the financial burden is significant. We have opened a donation page here in the knowledge that many of you have visited Lombok and may even know first-hand the families involved and would like to help. We know the staff and their families in Lombok will welcome any contribution, however big or small, as a sign of your solidarity in the face of this hardship. Elite Havens and the staff of our regional offices have all donated so we have a good starting base.

Finally it is important that we get the island back to being self-sufficient. I would urge you to consider revisiting the island of Lombok as soon as you can to help the tourism industry to function again. Your international dollars go a long way.

Jon Stonham
CEO, Director 
Elite Havens

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Noku Beach House – Seminyak’s Only Private Beachfront Villa

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Noku Beach House - Stunning beachfront view

There was a time when affluent travellers seeking the ultimate island paradise would slip into a holiday resort – then came luxury villas. Bali has again raised the bar for lavish travel with the launch of Noku Beach House. This game changing retreat is perfectly perched on the Seminyak beachfront – a rare place of privilege and a privately held gem on Bali’s exclusive oceanfront.

The six-suite mansion is oriented toward the sea with a long azure swimming pool, multiple dining areas and alcoves amid curated tropical gardens and pristine lawns. A full-size portable tennis court – in Noku camouflage colours – rolls out when time for play. Deep inside the villa flanking the massive entrance is an exclusive spa which boasts as its centrepiece an oasis pool adorned with hand-made decorative tiles. Here a glass window also converts into an outdoor cinema.

Noku Beach House is opulent six-star luxury dedicated to the mores of the new jet set and those who appreciate rarefied grace and élan. An exclusive and highly skilled army of staff, including a private chef, operates discreetly to service whims around the clock. Leading international luxury villa marketing and management company; Elite Havens, exclusively operates the estate and in doing so they have delivered a lux villa experience that transcends all others.

Elite Havens secured the creative skills of award-winning interior designer Alex Zabotto-Bentley to bring to life this outstanding refurbishment on an essential part of Bali’s famous Seminyak beach landscape. Zabotto-Bentley has created a Zen-style space with a soothing colour palette of light turquoise and blue, which is paired with Moroccan accents. He has commissioned custom furnishings and an art collection of bespoke outsized tribal bead work, antique Indonesian artefacts from across this amazing archipelago and some of nature’s most exquisite designs. Everything from plates to teapots has been artisanal crafted in tiny Balinese villages. The outside poolside dining and rooftop terrace are built from a 100-year-old pier from Borneo.

Guests will revel in the luxury within the flowing spaces of the estate dotted with deep sofas and multiple living zones and endless vistas of ocean and sky. Six contemporary and elegant bedrooms with beautiful bathrooms have every comfort from soft linens to cloud-like beds. Balconies embrace the views – water or lush gardens.

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Thai King’s New Baht Banknote

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New Baht Thailand Currency

For travel in Thailand, money basics are a need to know. The Thai Baht (pronounced /bɑːt/ and abbreviated to THB, or ฿) is the official currency of Thailand. Thai Bhat is a common misspelling! In Thai, it is written: บาท and subdivided into 100 satang. Coins come in denominations of: 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht, as well as 25 and 50 satang. Banknotes come in denominations of: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht.

A Fresh New Look

What you may not know is that in April 2018 the Bank of Thailand (BOT) began circulating a brand new family of banknotes, ‘Series 17’, the first ever to feature a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, whose revered father, the late King Bhumipol Adulyadej passed away in 2016, ending a world record-breaking seven-decade reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX, has appeared on baht banknotes for the past 70 years.

The main colours and sizes of the notes haven’t changed, with the back designs featuring images of the Kings of Thailand from past to present. The 20, 50 and 100 baht banknotes were released on Chakri Memorial Day, April 6, 2018. The final two denominations of 500 and 1,000 baht will be issued on the new king’s birthday on July 28, 2018.

Current (left) V. New (right)
Banknotes (Photos via Bank of Thailand)

The Bank of Thailand will issue a new ‘Series 17’ set of banknotes on July 28 featuring a portrait of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun in the Royal Thai Air Force uniform, to mark the 66th birthday of the King. Current ‘Series 16’ banknotes of the late king will remain in circulation. 

Creative Design & Functionality

Unlike some countries in South East Asia the banking sector in Thailand has, over the years, proven to be a major stabilising force for the Thai economy. Lessons learnt from the industry collapse over 20 years ago have seen Thai banks showing fresh resilience today, due in no small part to the regulation of financial institutions.

Once approved by the Minister of Finance, the BOT is responsible for the design, print, issuing, and management of banknotes. Although no longer hand drawn, banknote designers must be able to combine visual artistry and technical expertise with cultural identity and counterfeit deterrence features.

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Songkran Festival in Phuket

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songkran waterfight

Songkran is Thailand’s most famous Festival and possibly the largest water fight in the world.

WHEN IS SONGKRAN?

Songkran Festival starts 13 April 2018. In some areas of Thailand it only lasts for three days, the 13th, 14th and 15th, and in other areas it lasts for seven days.

Songkran is not only Thailand’s most famous festival but it’s also one of the most important events on the Buddhist calendar. The event marks the beginning of the traditional Thai new year.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF SONGRKRAN?

The festival originated centuries ago as a purification rite, in both a physical and spiritual sense.  Temples, Buddha images, and houses where tidied and cleaned as a way to clear away negative influences. Traditional celebrations involved a gentle sprinkling of scented water.

HOW IS SONGKRAN CELEBRATED?

Over the years, Songkran like many other centuries-old festivals has become commercial. Water guns and bright-coloured Hawaiian shirts (more on these later) are on sale in shops weeks before the event and every marketing department scrambles to get their Songkran message heard through a downpour of advertising.

songran festival crowds

Songkran has become arguably the biggest water fight in the world. The throwing of water (er, mass water fights) have become a huge part of the celebration over the past two decades everywhere in Thailand, so don’t be surprised if you get splashed with icy cold water, well when we say splashed, we mean drenched in water, shot at you from every angle form a variety of colored water pistols, buckets and anything else that can hold water. You will also become covered in powder, which is… Well, even to this day after being in Thailand for eleven years, I have no idea what it is.

WHAT IS SONGKRAN LIKE IN PHUKET?

The whole of Phuket island stops on the 13th of April when families, friends and communities set up make-shift water splash stations on the side of every road. Think of a fun road stop checkpoint, with blaring music coming out of a 1980 speaker which has been blown out ten years ago, and everybody drenched in water and covered powder, dancing around in these bright Hawaiian shirts.

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