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Did You Know? Songkran Is All About Traditions

in Culture by

The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions.

Mornings begin with merry-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is a common practice. Water is poured on Buddha statues and the young and the elderly. This is a traditional ritual during Songrkan. It represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck.

As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved-ones and elders. Giving reverence to ancestors is also an important part of the Songkran tradition.

The Elite Havens Phuket office celebrated Songkran with Country Manager Femke Beekers and General Manager Andy Parkhouse being blessed by the office’s Chief Engineer, Jook. The entire Elite Havens Phuket 30-member team was blessed one by one, for about a minute each. 

Songkran is known for its water festival. Major streets are closed to traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. Traditional parades are held and in some venues a “Miss Songkran,” where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress, is crowned. 

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Chef du Jour: Villa 1880

in Dining by

Entering Villa 1880, you are transported back in time. Set on a lot in Bali surrounded by palm trees large enough to cover its 8-foot high surrounding fence, Villa 1880 is reminiscent of a colonial plantation. Owned by an interior designer and a vintage store owner, the tastefully decorated villa includes among its decor a large boulder on sand, a giant stuffed peacock, and china from a shipwreck. Other modern touches are seen in upholstery from Hermès and clusters of modern hanging lamps. Whimsical and unique, Villa 1880 is full of little details.

You may not want to leave the 5-bedroom  (including an 8-kids-bunk-bedroom) villa, what with its impeccable service and design. But if you feel like taking a stroll, Batu Belig Beach is only 500 metres away. The villa is also a close drive to Seminyak and Canggu. This is Bali at its best, with food that lives up to expectations.

We interviewed Chef Adi Sutrisna, who shared with us his recipe for Lemon Butter Salmon with Couscous. Simple but flavorful, the dish was made with fresh vegetables and salmon. The couscous was freely dribbled with lemon butter sauce and vegetable stock. It had just the right mix of gritiness and mushiness.

Why do you like this dish? Why do you make this dish?

I like everything. I like making this dish because there are many Asian flavors and I like them all.

Ah, the different flavors. Why do you like them?

I think all food is essentially the same. There is no good food or bad food. Italian, Asian, they are all good.

Do your guests at the villa agree?

In the villa, we have guests from all over the world. They all like my flavours because I use all kinds, especially Asian.

What’s your main dish usually made of? Beef, pork, seafood?

I like salmon. Salmon is a nice fish.

How long have you been cooking?

I studied hospitality decades ago and I’ve been cooking since 2000.

What’s your favorite thing about being a chef?

I like to experiment with flavors. Western with Asian.

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Chef du Jour: Villa Pangi Gita

in Dining by

Villa Pangi Gita sits in the heart of Canggu but might as well be nestled in the middle of the jungle. That’s what it feels like in the verdant areas filled with little houses designed to look like Balinese huts.

Each space – including the open-sided living room, the study and the bedrooms – is topped by iron-wood shingle roofs. In tandem with water features scattered throughout, you feel the traditional Bali vibe.

The food in this 3-bedroom villa complements its decor and architecture. Scrumptious with a clean flavor, it’s cooked up by Chef Gus, who’s skilled in Asian and European cuisine.

Chef, please tell me your name and what you do in the villa.

My name is Ida Bagus Adhi Kusuma. People call me Gus. I’ve been working in Pangi Gita since 2012. I started around 2005. 

What do you cook? Did you study cooking before?

Actually, I graduated from a tourism hospitality university. Diploma 1.  And then I worked in a big hotel.  

What is Diploma 1?

Diploma 1 is the one year program to go in University after senior year of high school. So I took a one-year program in the hospitality industry in food and beverage products. Then I worked in one of the biggest hotels in Bali. And then in the airport, in a catering company, and then some other villas. The latest is here. I’ve been here for about 9 years.

What kind of cuisine do you make?

I am able to cook Balinese food, Indonesian food and even European food. I can also make cakes. I used to work as a pastry chef in a hotel. We had a special request for carrot cake for one of our retreat guests and I made a special one.

How would you describe what you cook?

Cooking is an art. Cooking is also an hobby.  So if you have patience in cooking, you’ll able to deliver an excellent dish to your guests.

What are you making us tonight? What are you cooking tonight?

For starters, we will serve a salad, the prawn tuna salad.

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Through The Keyhole: Villa Sepoi Sepoi

in Destinations by

If you are seeking a truly unique and quintessentially tropical backdrop for a special event, be it a destination wedding, significant birthday or large family reunion, Villa Sepoi Sepoi situated on Sira Beach in Lombok is the perfect venue.  Nestled between coconut plantations and sleepy villages this villa offers size coupled with a charming warmth. 

The lush green lawns meet a private white sandy beach, providing picture perfect views of Mount Rinjani, the Gili Islands and Bali’s Mount Agung.  Active guests can access a wide range of water or lawn sports provided in the villa or play a round at the immaculately maintained golf course located a short distance away.  Day trips to Gili Islands and local land attractions are personally curated by the Villa Manager providing guests with insider knowledge and truly special holiday memories.

Villa Sepoi Sepoi reflects traditional Indonesian architecture, paying homage to local Lombok culture and design, while maintaining an air of sophistication. Designed around a central courtyard, Villa Sepoi Sepoi includes 3 garden bedrooms and an expansive living pavilion all overlooking a magnificent in-ground pool. The villa has its own orchard which grows many of the ingredients used by the Villa Chef. 

We interviewed Villa Sepoi Sepoi Villa Manager Akmal Tubagus to find out what else makes the place unique.

 
Hi, Akmal. What can you tell us about Villa Sepoi Sepoi?

Villa Sepoi Sepoi is quite large.  With 6 bedrooms, it can accommodate from 12 -16 people. With Sira Beach House, just next door a large group of up to 28 people can be housed. It’s right on the beach and you can see the Gili Islands and also Agung mountain in Bali. That is the view of our villa. There is always a very beautiful sunset. Our difference is because we face the Gilis, we can see the sunset in front of us, not like the other villas. We have lots of gardens, coconut trees. Our villa is exclusive and far from the normal crowds.

Can you tell us more about the villas in Lombok?

Every villa is unique. The villa staff love to take selfies here. Also you can see comments from our guests. Their comments about Lombok are excellent. Good food, good staff, good ambiance. 

Can you tell us more about yourself?

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Through The Keyhole: The Anandita

in Destinations by
Anandita-Aerial-13

The entrance to this elegant villa cleverly fuels an overall sense of anticipation and excitement for the first-time visitor. Visual delights unfold at each step across the white stone steps traversing the Koi pond, through majestic wooden double doors into a quiet and reassuringly cool foyer dominated by an intricately carved sandstone screen. This commanding piece offers snippets of the truly spectacular garden that stretches beyond the entertainment deck, sparkling pool complete with a cosy grotto, through the expansive coconut grove, over a private beach right to the water’s edge. All you hear is the sound of water gurgling in the Koi ponds, waves gently rolling onto the beach, the wind rustling coconut palms and the occasional calls of tropical birds. Welcome to The Anandita, your new ‘happy place’.

This villa is located in Lombok, a destination that is often described as the Bali of twenty years past, before urban sprawl pervaded the serenity of rainforest, rice paddies and clear ocean views. With far less traffic on the wide-open roads tracking through verdant green landscapes, Lombok feels more open, peaceful and fresh. A feeling that is encapsulated in The Anandita.

Designed by Australian architect John Lincoln, renowned for his work on the Four Seasons resort Hotel Jimbaran, the Westin Hotel Nusa Dua, and other five star venues in Bali. The priority in this space are nature’s offerings and comforts. Anandita sits on 1.5 acres of ocean front. Its owner Francois Vandenheste built the villa as a haven from the outside world, a retreat to be one with the land and the beach.

Anandita is located in Sira, a piece of of land bordered by a beach with magnificent views of the coastline, the mountains and the neighbouring Gili Islands.

 
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My wife and I are entrepreneurs living in Hong Kong. My wife, of Indian origin, came to Hong Kong from Burma when she was six, while I left France and made Hong Kong my home 30 years ago. We both love Asia, and in particular Indonesia, where we spend a lot of our holidays with our three kids and friends.

Why did you build The Anandita?

The Anandita was designed as a family retreat from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong,

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