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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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Chef du jour: Villa Amarelo

in Culture/Dining/Families by

At Elite Havens, each villa’s menu showcases an extensive range of Asian and western delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own specialties that shouldn’t be missed. 

The stylish six-bedroom escape Villa Amarelo, part of the Sava Beach Villas estate, seamlessly melts into the white sands of Natai Beach, less than half an hour’s drive north of Phuket airport. Featuring a 25-metre pool, a garden gazebo, private chef and large indoor and outdoor living areas, Villa Amarelo makes for a memorable holiday and wedding destination on the shores of the Andaman Sea, the ideal spot for a family holiday, dream wedding or group soiree.

In the kitchen at Villa Amarelo, which has stunning views of the swimming pool and the beautiful Natai Beach, Chef Lek cooks up a traditional Thai starter Goong Sarong, ‘wrapped prawns’. It looks great and tastes even better.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Lek: I worked as a housekeeping attendant at Villa Saanti, but the villa didn’t provide a chef. Therefore, I needed to learn cooking to help out the owner. Later on, I worked as a comis chef at Akyra Hotel for a year and a half. There, I learnt how to cook many kinds of western dishes.

EH: What do you think makes a good cook?

CL: Ensuring that all the ingredients are fresh and of good quality. A good eye for detail and being able to adapt to different styles and requests from guests.

EH: What did you cook for us today?

CL: Goong Sarong, which is whole prawns wrapped in rice noodles.

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

CL: Thailand, especially the south, produces amazing fresh seafood, and the prawns are a must-try if you visit Phuket. Local prawns and local Phuket noodles together make a great-tasting and wonderful-looking dish.

EH: What is your specialty dish or the flavors you like to cook with?

CL: I love local Southern Thai food. It has such amazing flavors. I really love to cook Southern Thai Red Curry with beef.

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

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7 Things To Do in the Bukit Peninsula

in Culture/Destinations/Families/Recreation/Weddings by

The majestic clifftop Uluwatu Temple lies in the Bukit area of Bali, which is also home to the best beaches and surf spots on the island. The Bukit is actually a large limestone peninsula and would be a separate island if it weren’t for the small sliver of land south of the Bali airport. The ‘Bukit’, which means ‘hill’ in Indonesian, is – unlike the rest of the island – arid, stony and dry. The west coast is particularly popular, with accommodations perched above Balangan Beach offering stunning clifftop ocean views.

The best way to explore the Bukit Peninsula  and visit all of its gorgeous beaches is via motorized transport.  Many elite havens have a driver and vehicle available to guests.  Simply check with the Villa Manager on availability and special inside tips on local attractions.  Alternatively, you can hire transport via the dedicated EH Concierge service.

There are many exciting things to do in the area. Here are our top 7:

Visit the Famous Uluwatu Temple

Go to the famous Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s nine key temples and part of its spiritual legacy. ‘Ulu’ means the ‘top’ or the ‘tip’ and ‘watu’ means a ‘stone’ or a ‘rock’ in Balinese. The astounding temple has been sitting on the same spot – 70 metres above the ocean – for thousands of years. Two sages are credited with creating and enlarging it: Empu Kuturan in the 11th century and Dang Hyang Nirartha, who they say achieved moshka or samsara (liberation) here. Temple anniversary celebrations are held every six months according to the Balinese 210-day Pawukon cycle.

The forest by the temple is full of monkeys who grab items such as sunglasses and cameras, so be careful. They can be bribed with bananas and peanuts to get your items back. 

Watch A Kecak Fire Dance

A popular dance, the Kecak fire dance, is performed at the Uluwatu Temple every day at 6pm, around sunset. It is a spectacular sight to behold. The dance is famous for its use of voices in lieu of instruments, which lends a powerful accompaniment to its drama. You can also watch it in the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park.

See the 120-metre statue of Lord Vishnu and Garuda

The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park has a humongous statue of Lord Vishnu riding his mount Garuda,

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Elite Havens Wishes You A Happy Mother’s Day

in Culture/Families by

Who would we be without our mothers, our best friends and our beacons since childhood? Do we dare to ask, what would our mothers be without us, their children? We find out in part by asking mums from our Elite Havens offices, “What’s the best thing about being a mom?”

Elite Havens Bali

For me, being a mom of 2 girls is wonderful and colorful. Learning how to understand each kid’s character is a great experience.

Lia Restianadewi, Events Coordinator

I am proud of and blessed by many things in life but nothing beats being a mom.

Ambar Sari, Villa Specialist

Being a mom can literally change my personality to be a better person and a better example to my son, to better serve what my son needs.

Ari Setiani, Villa Specialist

The best thing is to be told by my kids, “Oh  Mom, you were right!” At least they’re listening and paying attention.

 Febri Hudiliyana, Villa Specialist

Elite Havens Phuket

I only have a short word to say how do I feel about being a mother: the power is in my warm embrace.

Bussara Chatchnakul, Villa Manager, Villa Jia

This quote reminds me of how I feel of being a mother: ‘Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of love.’ The quote is by Maureen Hawkins.

Puangpayom Liambang, Villa Manager, Villa Shanti

How do I feel about being a mother? My son is a precious thing that happened to me. He is my everything. When I feel low, he is the only one that can give strength to get up and fight for our future.  

Doungmanee  Nuprasit – Villa Manager, Villa Haleana

There is no explanation of how I feel about being a mother. Whatever I do is only for my daughter. It is unconditional love for my precious daughter.

Chuttiya  Phaiboon – Housekeeping, Villa Haleana

Elite Havens Koh Samui

The best thing about being a mom for me is I get to enjoy my life every single day seeing my little one growing up step by step.

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