Famed for prolific white powder snow, fabulous accommodation and apres-ski scene, Niseko lures winter sports enthusiasts from around… Keep Reading
Your weekly up-close view of those wow factor extras that make our villas outstanding. After all, attention to detail always makes a difference.
One of the great expect of staying in a luxury private villa is the superb food prepared exclusively for you by skilled in-house chefs – many of whom have trained in internationally renowned restaurants. Villa menus comprise of an extensive range of Asian delights and cater to every guests’ tastes, however every chef has his or her very own ‘special’ recipe that proudly reflects their culinary expertise. After a little arm twisting we have managed to prise the standout recipes from a few of our chefs.
Chef Aoy is the outstanding creator of food at Villa Ananda, (one of the stunning beachfront Jivana Beach Villas on Natai Beach) and has kindly offered her version of the all time classic – Pad Thai with prawns.
This is equally popular street food as it is on every menu in Thai restaurants, hotels and cafes and is arguably the National Dish of Thailand.
It can be with made with prawns, chicken, crispy pork or just tofu.
Prawn Pad Thai Recipe
Top tip: Prepare your ingredients beforehand and have them nearby. Timing is of utmost importance. Making Pad Thai isn’t hard; it does, however, require a fairly high level of concentration.
Step 1. Soak the thin noodles for 5 minutes in water before cooking to soften.
Step 2. Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a pan, fry the garlic and shallot, then add the thin noodles and sprinkle with water until the noodles are soft.
Step 3. Add fish sauce, palm sugar, red pepper flakes and tamarind juice.
If you’ve visited Bali before, you might have taken a day trip to Kintamani to take in the stunning views across Lake Batur towards the mountains. And the experience will have stopped there. But beyond the lake and the steep mountains is a side of Bali so far off the tourism trail that few have had the chance to visit — unless they have joined the exclusive and award-winning Muntigunung Trek. Seduced by the promise of breath-taking vistas and heart-warming encounters in the once-forgotten villages of Muntigunung, we eagerly signed up and set our alarm clock for the pre-dawn start.
After driving northwards for two hours in the company of Pica, our principle guide, we stopped on the crest of the caldera to marvel at the sun rising behind the mountains beyond the lake — an early Instagram-worthy moment. “That’s where you will be trekking”, he pointed. The drive itself was part of the experience; we drove past amazing rice terraces and rural vistas, then dropped down into the caldera weaving across lava fields from Gunung Batur’s 1968 eruption and along the lake to Songan.
Ready for jaw-dropping vistas?
Time to lace up your boots, lavish on the sunscreen, have selfie-stick at the ready, select a sturdy bamboo walking stick, and then take to the trail with Pica and the local guides as they lead their way up the steep mountainside. The views are spectacular — at one stage the trail follows the top of a ridge and the expanse of ocean shimmers towards the horizon on one side while, down a vertiginous drop far below, Lake Batur sparkles towards Kintamani perched on the far rim of the caldera.
It is unimaginable to think that this mountain trail was once the only route the women and children of the Munti villages could take to secure water for their families – a perilous five-hour round trip every day. It was also the start of their journey to go begging with their children in Ubud and on Bali’s main beach resort streets — then their only source of income.
Making a difference, step by step
But that’s one of the joys of completing the trek; with every step, you’re making a positive contribution to the livelihood and wellbeing of the island’s poorest, most neglected communities. For the trek is just one of the extraordinary initiatives that have transformed their lives,
Thailand’s leisure island of Koh Samui holds a priority position on the bucket list of every chic traveller. With Mick Jagger, Richard Branson and the Beckhams drawn to the divine destination, the island’s enviable reputation for barefoot luxury is set in stone.
Powder soft white sandy beaches dotted with swaying palm trees and glittering turquoise shallows gently lap the shores and set the spectacular scene.
Private coves and hidden beaches abound and are easily discovered through local fisher folk who will happily transport you to these dreamy destinations – or if exquisite coral reefs for a spot of snorkeling are more your style then for a few dollars you can be transported there.
Exclusive holiday villas are always the preferred style of accommodation among the rich and discerning, and many already own a private property on the island, however the well-versed traveller knows the joys of simply renting a private luxury villa to experience the ultimate holiday.
Then there is the food for which the entire Thai Kingdom is rightly honoured…
Chefs attached to these luxury villas are unique professionals with a vast repertoire of dishes fulfilling all dining moments – snacks, kids’ choices, a broad western menu, specific diets and five-star flavours.
Order a stunning poolside seafood barbeque, a formal degustation feast for 12 people or an intimate dinner for two at a perfectly set table on the beach at sunset. It is all fabulously possible and seamlessly executed.
Chefs adore to showcase their regional specialties and to dazzle guests with their culinary magic. Start the day with a trip to the local markets, which is always a cultural immersion, and launch into a crash course in Thai cooking.
Learn to identify and select fresh ingredients to be pounded into the paste that you will turn into a creamy and lush coconut curry. Or as the afternoon heat sets in climb into a comfy hammock with a cool signature cocktail and have a chat with the villa manager about possible trips to one of the pretty waterfalls in the hinterland, a traditional sea gypsy village or a visit to one of many Buddhist temples whilst your personal chef surprises you with yet another Thai masterpiece.
Dining in any one of our luxury Koh Samui villas is a gourmand’s dream come true,
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.
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.
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,