GLAMPING IN MOMOLAND

Think tent with a view, tasteful luxury and otherworldly, stunning natural beauty. That’s what ‘glamping’ at Chamba Camp Thiksey and Diskit is all about

LEADThere are those who yearn to ditch all the present-day luxuries and camp with the basics in God’s flawless setting – Leh-Ladakh. They are okay with roughing it, sleeping on the cold ground, using Mother Nature as lavatory and giving up on warm, comforting showers. Unadulterated air and picture-perfect views keep them happy. And then there are some who want it all – good wifi connectivity, Himalayan earl grey tea on call and a foam mattress for a good night’s sleep – without trading off nature and it’s rugged beauty. You can call them “glampers”. A fry cry from the string of typical white and maroon guest houses and hotels with distinct dragon motifs and wood carvings that dot Leh, glamping in the ‘Land of Lamas’ is all about unrivalled understated luxury.

BE THE LUXE NOMAD  LANDSCAPE OF LADAKH
Chamba Camp Thiksey and Diskit by TUTC are set up in mesmerising locations making the surroundings a photographer’s delight. Depart on a photo tour with a local guide or a like-minded outdoorsy-type wildlife enthusiast. They will help you unravel all the little hidden treasures you wouldn’t want to miss capturing in your camera!  Read more

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PAMPER YOUR MIND, BODY & SOUL AT HILTON SHILLIM ESTATE RETREAT & SPA

When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I said some peace and solitude. So, we opted for a three-day getaway to Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, near Pawana Lake, a 45-minute drive from Lonavala. Set amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Sahyadri mountain range in the Western Ghats, the 320 acre property offers undisturbed natural beauty, topped with complete seclusion and serenity.

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Since it was a warm summer’s day, it was nice being greeted with a cold, fragrant towel, a glass of fresh juice and some homemade energy bars that instantly helped us regain all the vitality we had lost during the five-hour road journey from Mumbai to Pawana Lake, courtesy the traffic jam at Mumbai-Pune expressway. Yes, our stomachs were growling with hunger and we headed straight for breakfast, obviously a healthy one.

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Post a hearty breakfast, we were escorted to our discreet King Spa Pool Villa – a 205 sq m villa, with a private pool and lawn area as the name suggests – and we were more than delighted to make it our home.

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Apart from offering breathtaking views of the valley from the private deck, the villa featured a sun bed to spend some relaxing time outdoors, a beautiful stone bathtub with candles to amp up the romance factor, outdoor and indoor shower with indulgent bath amenities and, not-to-forget, a royal four poster bed. Clean, contemporary and elegant. Read more

How to stay fit on a vacation

EXPLORE ON FOOT

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Ditch bus, train and taxi. Walk it instead. Walking is a great form of exercise, and above all, helps you save a lot of money when you are out sightseeing. While burning loads of calories, walking also helps you go deep into the local culture, people, food and music.

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GET HIGH ON HIGHLANDER LIFE

To describe Zakopane in three simple words, you can easily call it ‘heaven on earth’. Here’s more about the little country town – situated in the shadows of the Tatra mountains – in Southern Poland.

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Even before you reach this modest peasant resort town, you want time to slow down and gradually come to a standstill. The scenic road route from Krakow to Zakopane is enough to keep you up throughout the two-hour journey. What you see on both sides are little picturesque hills bespeckled with pine trees and country-like mustard-brown wooden chalets – topography that’s bright and yellow-green in summer and buried in purple-white snow during winter months. In front of you, the view of the towering Tatra mountains – that seem to come closer as you progress towards your destination – is spectacular. And once you’re there, all you wish to do is stand and stare at what lies in front of you and take deeper breaths to feel the unadulterated air.

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KEEMALA: WHERE LAVISHNESS MINGLES WITH RUSTIC NATURE

Being a frequent tripper, “a holiday in Phuket” – at first – didn’t really sound very exciting to me. Having been to Thailand a couple of times, I had already lived the sun, sand and the sea. But as soon as I browsed the website of Keemala, what I simply wanted to do was pack my bags and head right out of that door! The property looked unbelievably enchanting in pictures and I was curious to know if something like this really existed on the world map. A large part of travel often depends on where you stay, and my stay at Keemala gave me the finest experience of the paradisaical island.

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Keemala is exactly what dreams are made of. At some point in life, we all dream of living in a dimly-lit, swanky villa; sleeping like royalty on a beautifully-carved canopy bed; and swimming in our private pool while sipping on a glass of old, pricey wine. And this rainforest retreat fulfills all these fantasies and more, in the most understated manner possible.

VILLA WITH A PRIVATE POOL

So, when I finally arrived at Keemala and checked into my Tree Pool villa, I still thought I was living in my little bubble of bliss and that someone would burst it any moment.

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My pod-shaped Tree Pool Villa

The villas come in four different categories: hut-like Clay Pool Cottages apt for solo travellers; Tent Pool Houses with wildlife-inspired interiors, perfect for adventurous nomads; pod-shaped Tree Pool Houses with an upper, outdoor relaxation space, great for a family of four and opulent Bird’s Nest Pool Villas with giant terraces overlooking the Andaman Sea.
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AUTUMN IN ANTWERP, BELGIUM

Every season has its own charm but the beauty of Autumn somehow leaves me speechless. Trees look radiant as they shun the greenery of summer and adopt the hues of fire – yellows, reds, browns and burnt oranges. This November, Belgium treated me to the most stunning fall foliage on the planet. I decided to simply sit in silence on a small wooden bench at the park opposite Leopold Hotel, Quinten Matsijslei 25 and submerge in the beauty of nature. The weather being just ideal, neither too chilly nor too warm, I wish I could sit there for hours staring at the landscape in idleness…

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