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Everything we love about our exclusive luxury holiday rentals

Chef du jour: Villa Jia at Jivana Villas

in Destinations/Dining by

Villa Jia, part of the exclusive Jivana Beach Villas estate, is a luxurious fully staffed beachfront villa located on the pristine white sands of Natai Beach in rural Phang Nga, just 25 minutes from Phuket International Airport. With six ensuite bedrooms strewn across vast lawns, coupled with sweeping views of the Andaman Sea, Villa Jia is the perfect escape for those who appreciate aesthetic design paired with stunning natural beauty.

In Villa Jia’s impressive kitchen at Jivana Beach Villas, Chef Koong cooks up a simple but super tasty Thai-style wonton or เกี๊ยวทอด, Kiao Tod in Thai.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Koong: My cooking knowledge comes from on-the-job experience and I have learnt an array of new techniques from other chefs that I have worked with. I didn’t go to cooking school but I’ve learnt from my work experience and through trainings at the workplace.

EH: What do you think makes a good chef/cook?

CK: Fresh ingredients, hygiene and the most important factor would be the taste of food. A good chef must be fascinated with the art of cooking, always seeking to improve, using new techniques.

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us today?

CK: Villa guests always remark that they are the best wontons they’ve ever had.

EH: Can you tell us how your cooking adds to the villa?

CK: Guests who are impressed with our food, will spread the word to their friends and family. My goal is for guests to feel compelled to come back and stay with us at the villa, allured by the flavours of my food.

EH: What should guests expect from you when you cook for them?

CK: Taste, great presentation, and food served on time.

Chef Koong’s Fried Wontons with Chicken

Only takes 20 mins to make, including wrapping. Super crispy and yummy.

Makes 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • 500g ground chicken
  • ½ tsp Sesame oil
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Wonton wrappers
  • 3 Pandan leaves cut into thin strips
  • Water for sealing
  • Oil for frying
  • Thai Sweet chili sauce

Directions

Step 1: In a bowl,

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Through The Keyhole: Villa Pangi Gita’s Villa Manager

in Destinations/Dining by

A beautiful traditional Balinese resort in the middle of Canggu, Villa Pangi Gita is a feast for the eyes. A large garden winds through each spacious ironw00d-shingled hut which are reminiscent of traditional Balinese huts. One feels enveloped in local culture with traditional Indonesian decor and a private, jungle-like refuge by the pool. Best of all are the wonderful staff and delightful food, all adding to 24-hours of pure professional service and absolute getaway bliss.

We interviewed the villa manager, Wayan Gede Adinata, to find out what else makes Villa Pangi Gita so special.

Elite Havens: Wonderful day, Gede! What do you think makes Villa Pangi Gita unique?

Gede Adinata: The style, architecture and the atmosphere. We even have a client, a retreat group, that comes back twice a year, such is the pull of the villa. 

EH: Can you tell us about the spirit tree and its significance? 

GA: The huge banyan tree in front of Villa Pangi Gita is the owners’ favourite tree. They call it ‘The King Tree’. Balinese Hindu believe that the banyan tree is most sacred tree of all. We believe that the tree is the place where God manifests. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, “Of all the trees, I am the Banyan Tree.” The tree is also the reflection of the spiritual world. You will find one dressed in chequered cloth, in most temples in Bali. At Villa Pangi Gita, we trim it once a year to keep it looking tidy – the owners call the treatment ‘an annual hair cut’.

EH: What should guests expect when they stay here – outside the norm of other villa experiences?

GA: A quiet and comfortable place, very close to the heartline of Canggu and Batu Bolong. The best food on the island is right here at Villa Pangi Gita.

EH: What can you tell me about your team here?  What makes them special?

GA: We are a family, they work together and enjoy each other’s company.

EH: Gede, what’s your philosophy in life? 

GA: As a Balinese, my philosophy in life is Tri Hita Karana– this means three causes of prosperity, which is Pawongan (relationship among people), Palemahan (relationship of person with nature or environment) and Parahayangan (relationship of person with God).

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Surf, Sand and Serenity in Undiscovered Lombok

in Destinations/Families/Recreation by

In a world cluttered with tourist spots and travellers zigzagging across the globe, ticking off dog-eared bucket lists, the inevitable crowds and chatter follow you wherever you go. Isn’t it wonderful, when unexpectedly you stumble upon a hidden paradise – a quiet haven overlooked by the zealous crowds.

Located right next to Bali, Lombok is nothing like its neighbour. Or should we say, it is nothing like what Bali is today. Lombok is the Bali of 40 years ago, a tale of pristine beaches, uncrowded waves and quaint rural villages.

Here’s a thought – for your next vacation, why not do something different? Leave behind the red hot tourist spots and head to undiscovered Lombok, a gorgeous island thankfully forgotten by the world at large. Find yourself in the lap of nature, with lush green hills, champagne sand beaches and surprisingly good food, a destination that doesn’t bother with pretences.

While searching for the perfect Elite Haven, you are spoilt for choice. Sira Beach House offers barefoot holiday bliss amongst coconut groves and white sands while The Anandita has tropical baths and a golf course next door. Perfect for large groups with children, Villa Sapi is contemporary and chic, with three swimming pools, a tennis court and a glass-roofed building (yes, you read that right). For a traditional touch, choose Villa Sepoi Sepoi with its thatched roofs and enticing spaces such as open-sided pavilions and a poolside cabana bar.

Whichever haven you pick for your island escape, our Elite Concierge is on-hand to offer advice and help make this a holiday to remember. “From setting up a sunset barbecue on the beach to a picnic by the gorgeous Sinang Gili Waterfall with gourmet hampers and sparkling wine, we go the extra mile to make each day during your holiday count,” promises Andy Grant, Head of Concierge. An early morning boat trip for snorkelling around the Gili Islands or a cooking class coupled with a market visit. No ask is too big for the Concierge team and it really is the culmination of these experiences that will make your Lombok escape a ‘dream holiday’.     

Book any of these luxurious villas for stay anytime from now until 25th December,

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Pangi Gita

in Destinations/Dining by

Villa Pangi Gita is a breathtaking space in the middle of Canggu, Bali. The villa exudes a peaceful, almost spiritual and comforting warmth. Entering through ornately carved doors into a completely private and cool tropical garden, all you can hear is the tinkle of water and the birds high in the bordering rainforest canopy. Ironwood-shingled roofs and traditional local decor contribute to the quintessential Balinese vibe, which is found in every imaginable touch – from the charming hospitality of the villa staff to the amazing food presented by a dedicated Chef.

We sat down with Elisa Herup, one of its owners, for a unique insider’s perspective of the wondrous space.

Elite Havens: Hi, Elisa. What makes your villa unique?

Elisa Herup: The amazing, exotic, large garden, nature’s sound of stillness (the flowing river, chirping birds, crickets, etc.), the warm staff and the villa’s beautiful authentic Balinese design.

EH: What should guests expect when they stay here – outside the norm of other villa experiences?

Elisa: That they actually do not want to leave the villa!

EH: What can you tell me about your team here?  What makes them special?

Elisa: They are family. They have all been here for many years – many of them since the beginning. We also have the best and kindest chef.

EH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Elisa: We are three Danish families – one of the families lives in Switzerland – who own the villa and share a common love for Bali, the Balinese people and Villa Pangi Gita.

EH: Why did you build this luxury villa? 

Elisa: We fell in love with Bali and everything Balinese, many moons ago, and wanted to build a house in the rice paddies out of respect for the local community. The house is designed by the same architect who also designed the Four Seasons Hotel in Bali. He wanted to build a 6-star villa-resort, which resembles Balinese family tradition of having several houses/bungalows within a compound, for all members of the family.

EH: How long did the process of building it take?

Elisa: Planning the design and garden layout took two years and building the house another two years,

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Phuket Old Town: A Colourful, Cultural Melting Pot

in Culture/Destinations/Dining by

With its rainbow of colours, elegantly arched windows, shade-giving covered walkways and ornate facades, the architecture of Phuket Old Town is unique in Thailand. Strolling these bustling streets, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the colonial-influenced trading centres of the Straits settlements of Malacca, Penang or even Singapore.

So how did these candy-coloured shop houses of Phuket Old Town come about? Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Phuket was a hub for the tin-mining industry and the wealth that this brought attracted the attention of both Chinese and Portuguese merchants. Phuket Town grew around the protected natural harbour used by traders from east and west. To house their families and their businesses, buildings were constructed by immigrant workers from China, incorporating elaborate Chinese plaster and paintwork, but designed in a Western architectural style favoured by the Europeans. Thus, the Sino-Portuguese style was born.

As well as building grand mansions for the wealthiest merchant families, many shop houses (so-called because of their dual function as a workplace and a home) were built in long terraces, with a very narrow frontage but often extending up to fifty metres back from the road. The front part of these buildings were used for trading, while the shopkeeper or trader lived with his family in the remaining ground-floor space and on the upper floors.

Exploring these fascinating streets is to step back into Phuket’s rich, multi-cultured past, but extensive restoration work has brought Phuket Old Town back to life in recent years. The spaghetti-like jumble of black cables have been hidden below ground on several of the roads now, and the ornate facades have been brought back to their original vibrancy.

We suggest starting your walking tour in Thalang Road, Phuket Old Town’s main historical artery. Don’t miss two important landmarks near the Phuket City Market: the beautifully renovated Sino-Portugese mansion that now houses the Thai Airways office (not opened to the public), and Jui Tui shrine, a Chinese temple that plays an important role during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, celebrated every year during October.

Make a stop at the unique Lor Rong market to sample some typical Phuket food and sweet treats and then,

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