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Hidden Hills Villas – A True Hidden Gem, in the Heart of Uluwatu

A Personal Review by Joanna Macdonald – Events Manager

In December of 2017, I met Max Loong, Owner and Founder of Hidden Hills Villas, at our Hotel Awards event in St. Moritz. On this night, he invited me for a stay if ever I am “in the area”, to see what they do and how they do it. I never knew that this invitation would extend to 7 years later, or that I would ever, actually, even make it to Bali!

I am glad he is a man of his word…

In April 2024 while conducting a site inspection at our gala ceremony host property, Max held true on his word and we were afforded a 3-night stay, in what I call “the paradise-on-earth villa” – the Seychelles Villa!

It’s one thing to say Bali is hot, until you actually experience it with 100% humidity! On arrival, there were cold towels, face spritzers and cocktails being served at their Hidden Gem Restaurant which overlooks Uluwatu from the top of the hill, down to the seemingly never-ending horizon of blue. Max was there to personally greet us, give us some information on Bali, advice on where and more importantly, where NOT to eat and update us via a brief tour on the upgrades and renovations to the property.

I’ve always said, “the true heart of a hotel, and what makes your stay memorable, is the hospitality of the staff that surround you.”, and that echoes truth at Hidden Hills Villas. The small things counted more than even the absolute blissful and luxurious setting we found ourselves in. Arriving in 34 degree weather with 100% humidity, the first thing I noticed when taken to our villa was the swimming pool filled with floaties and loungers, even one to hold your drinks – that tells me personally, friends are coming! Let’s make this memorable!

To speak about service excellence and not reference Hidden Hillas Villas for the rest of my life would not make sense… every single member of their team has a warm, charming and most hospitable way of helping you with anything that you need. From the start of the reservation until the moment we left, we felt like we were at a home away from home. We wanted and waited for nothing, and all this while sitting in the lap of luxury in one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.  

Speaking of which, Hidden Hills Villas – being so centrally located, is a stone’s-throw from the bustling and beautiful nightlife that the famous Uluwatu boasts. It takes no time to take a transfer down to “the strip” where more than enough options of shops, clubs, pubs, restaurants and bars are available to choose from, for whatever you may be feeling for the night. Uluwatu Beach, Bingin Beach and Padang Padang Beach are also within a 10-minute drive and the shopping options are vibrant!

The World Luxury Hotel Awards would like to thank every member of staff for everything you offered in smiles, kindness and hospitality during our stay with you.

We would also like to give a very special mention and thank you to Tara for all your wonderful planning assistance and opportunities granted for us to experience Bali and Uluwatu in all her glory. The sites and visits you recommended will not be forgotten. Also, to Putu, the resident driver and tour guide while there, for your beautiful hospitality and time taken to explain everything Balinese to us as we spent, sometimes, hours in the car with you. You never made us feel like all our questions were too much.  

Max, you and your family have built something magical and full of heart, a haven that one just does not often find in their lives.

The only part about Hidden Hills Villas that I would not recommend, is leaving!

Reviewed by Joanna Macdonald – Events Manager for the World Luxury Awards.

To book your stay at Hidden Hills Villas, visit their website: www.hiddenhillsvillas.com

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Pondoro Game Lodge – A luxury bush holiday with excellent hospitality

Pondoro Game Lodge is set on the banks of the Olifants River in Balule Private Game Reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park.

The lodge is family-owned by Lize and Robbie and offers only 8 rooms, ensuring exclusivity and personalized service for every guest.

They provide exceptional service, delicious food, and breathtaking natural surroundings. It Is the best way to experience the African bush.

The lodge really felt intimate, and the staff made me feel at home as soon as I arrived. The staff had genuine smiles that lit up the whole room.

I stayed in the “Buffalo” Suite, and it was nothing short of spectacular. The suite had a thatched roof, beautiful décor, and best of all, sweeping views of the Olifant’s River and surrounding wild. The owners perfectly blended African furnishings and modern amenities to create a comfortable and memorable stay.

The suite did not have any fencing, so you are completely in nature. We were offered handmade bracelets as a welcome gift, they were made by their housekeeper Sindile (what a sweet touch). We were also gifted a lovely bottle of red wine upon arrival. The suite was spacious, and the king bed had the perfect view. The bathroom had a big open shower and a bathtub which also boasted views of the outdoors. On the outside deck there was a shower, and the main feature, the rock bathtub overlooking the river.

The deck was the perfect place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding nature. Every day I saw elephants bathing in the river, and monkeys swinging from the trees. The hippos also made sure I knew they were there with their loud noises coming from the river.

The meals were brilliant, offering international cuisine with a South African touch. The lodge’s extensive wine list has won international awards, and their staff will recommend the best wines for each meal. I particularly liked the Stellenzicht Shiraz.

For breakfast each morning, I had their signature iced coffee, some seasonal fruit and the eggs benedict. The breakfast is a la carte and has a great variety of hot and cold dishes.

For lunch they offered a set menu which changed daily, and in addition to that, they offered a ‘high tea’ station with drinks and snacks to enjoy after the main lunch meal.

For our first night we had dinner on the riverbank, with sounds of hippos in the background. It was quite a scary experience, but the staff made it so much fun. They performed an African dance and sang a few songs for us to start the evening. The ostrich fillet was tasty and of course it was paired with a lovely Pinotage wine.

My favourite meal was our last dinner which was a beef fillet steak with a to-die-for mustard sauce. Another special meal was the venison potjie which was served in such a unique way and tasted fantastic. The intimate setting of the dining area added to the overall charm of the lodge.

The staff went over and above for my partner’s 30th birthday. They provided a special dinner table decorated with balloons and baked him a delicious chocolate cake.

A special thank you to Yvonne and Patricia for your generous hospitality, and Percy in the kitchen for the wonderful food that you prepared for us.

The romantic picnic at their treehouse hide was one of the highlights of our trip. The staff arranged a picnic lunch on the day of my partner’s birthday. Our guide drove us to this unique spot, which overlooked a watering hole, and we were left on our own to enjoy our special meal. A herd of elephants were enjoying the dam water to cool off on the hot summer day. The picnic feast was truly delightful.

The lodge offered daily morning and evening game drives with their experienced and passionate tracker and guide. On each drive we saw something different. We saw a pride of roaring lions which was thrilling. The best sighting was watching a leopard and its two cubs. The female leopard was eating its recent kill, and the babies were playing nearby under a tree. We watched them for hours, it was fascinating. We also saw a black rhino which is very rare. During our 3-night stay, we saw the entire Big Five, some Hyenas and Wild Dogs, and of course many Giraffes and Zebras. Every game drive offered a chance to witness the incredible diversity of South Africa’s wildlife.

Rul the guide and Shedrick the tracker are super knowledgeable and I thank them for giving us the best authentic safari experience.

The lodge has an in-house spa offering massage treatments to rejuvenate you after a morning game drive. You can also take a dip in their infinity pool which is tucked in between trees and surrounded by sounds of birds. You also could participate in a guided bush walk nearby the lodge if you are interested in tracking animals and gaining information from the experienced tracker.

I would recommend this lodge for a honeymoon, a romantic getaway or anyone wanting to experience a luxury safari.

My stay was nothing short of remarkable, offering an unparalleled safari experience that exceeded all expectations.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Kayla Lourens

To book your stay at Pondoro Game Lodge, visit their website: www.pondoro.co.za

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Athens Flair – A Gem in the Heart of Athens

We recently had the pleasure of staying at Athens Flair during our visit to Athens, Greece, while attending the 17th Annual World Luxury Awards Gala Ceremony, and we can confidently say it exceeded all our expectations. From the moment we walked through the door, the hotel’s commitment to excellence was evident.

Nestled in the heart of historic Athens, Athens Flair is a true gem that combines modern luxury with a touch of Greek charm.

The hotel’s unparalleled location offers convenient access to some of Athens’ most iconic landmarks. The Acropolis, Plaka, and Syntagma Square are all within walking distance, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history and vibrant culture.

Upon entering the hotel, there is a beautiful spiralling staircase which leads you to the reception area. Thankfully the friendly staff assisted us with our luggage and was very accommodating throughout our entire stay. Their genuine warmth and professionalism added a personal touch that made us feel like valued guests.

Our room at Athens Flair was a sanctuary of comfort and style. Spacious, elegantly furnished, and impeccably clean, with amazing views of the city. I particularly appreciated the attention to detail, from the luxurious bedding to the well-appointed bathroom stocked with premium amenities.

The hotel’s breakfast was equally impressive, featuring a variety of fresh and delicious options to suit every palate. We opted to eat in our room, however, you may also enjoy your breakfast on the rooftop terrace. The terrace has the most amazing panoramic views of the city.

In conclusion, Athens Flair is a true gem in the heart of Athens, offering a perfect blend of luxury, convenience, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re a leisure traveler or in town for business, this hotel is a top-notch choice. We left Athens with fond memories, and much of that credit goes to the exceptional experience provided by Athens Flair.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Jana Stoman

To book your stay at Athens Flair, visit their website: athensflair.com

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Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa

A sanctuary in the city of Johannesburg

This unique property is located in Sandton which is a popular shopping and culinary destination.

It is the perfect place for a weekend staycation, it’s great for romantic getaways and ideal for international travellers visiting Johannesburg.

I had the pleasure of staying at Fairlawns for three nights and I must say it’s a hidden gem in Johannesburg. The hotel exceeded all my expectations, and I would absolutely recommend this property to anyone visiting Johannesburg.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the warm and friendly staff members who made me feel at home from the moment I stepped into the elegant reception. Check in was easy and after being offered a welcome drink, the porter assisted us to our suite.

You don’t feel like you are in Johannesburg when you are at Fairlawns. Clearly the hotel has put a lot of effort into the upkeep of the property. The hotel’s grounds provide a serene backdrop for a leisurely stroll through the property.

My suite was located on the first floor in a manor house style building and had a view of the surrounding landscaped gardens. The entire area just made me feel at peace and totally relaxed.

The room was generously spacious and exuded luxury and elegance. The attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the design, from the plush bedding to the tastefully chosen décor.

The bathroom had a big bathtub and a comfortable double vanity with all the necessary amenities. The housekeeping staff ensured that the room was spotlessly clean and offered us Wedgewood nougat as part of their turndown service every night. We also received a Wedgewood nougat gift upon arrival which was a lovely touch.

The spring weather was such a pleasure in Johannesburg, we opened our large bedroom windows in the morning for a fresh morning breeze and the sun shining in. Birds chirping and the sound of nature is the best way to wake up.

One can stroll around the property which has multiple seating areas and different gardens. The property has so many Instagram-worthy spots and is ideal for photoshoots.

The main hotel pool is located in the centre of the property and is the perfect place to relax in summer.

One of the highlights of my stay was the dining experience at Fairlawns Hotel’s on-site restaurant called Amuse-Bouche. The menu had a variety of tantalizing dishes with both local and international flavours. Each meal was a masterpiece, visually pleasing and with the taste to match. The restaurant also has a wine list which pairs brilliantly with the menu. The waiter offered us some of his recommendations and was enthusiastic and had great knowledge of the menu. The Beef Bourguignon Soup was my favorite dish.

Breakfast at Fairlawns was a lavish affair. They offer a buffet-style breakfast inside with a variety of fruits, cold cuts, pastries, and juices. You can also order a hot breakfast from their a la carte menu. During my stay we had amazing weather so each morning we sat outside at a table overlooking the grounds.

The setup has such a welcoming atmosphere and it’s the perfect way to start your day. I had the eggs benedict, which was done perfectly, and my friend had the avocado toast as a smaller option. The F&B manager Brenden checked in on us each morning and was so friendly and helpful.

I fell in love with the spa at Fairlawns. This is arguably one of the best spas in Johannesburg in my opinion. The spa has been designed with a Balinese style creating a tranquil ambience and makes you feel like you are in a tropical paradise. I would definitely recommend a spa day to anyone who is in Johannesburg and wanting a treat.

Before my treatment, the therapist assisted me to the spa facilities and offered me a drink and snack from their refreshments table in the reception area. The spa pool and jacuzzi was a great place to relax before a treatment. They also have a steam room, relaxation room and outdoor seating areas.

I indulged in a 60-minute aroma oil massage and Mpho, the spa therapist, left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.

Throughout my stay, the staff went above and beyond to ensure my comfort. They always had a smile on their faces and made me feel like a valued guest.

Whether you’re visiting for a romantic getaway, a business trip, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa is the perfect choice. I can’t wait to return!

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Kayla Lourens

To book your stay at Fairlawns, visit their website: fairlawns.co.za

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La Petite Ferme

Nestled in the picturesque Franschhoek valley, La Petite Ferme offers an enchanting retreat that marries luxurious comfort with breathtaking natural beauty.

From the moment we arrived, the warm and welcoming atmosphere embraced us, setting the stage for an unforgettable stay.

Our stay at La Petite Ferme was nothing short of exceptional. The accommodation seamlessly blended rustic charm with modern amenities. The spacious and well-appointed suite provided stunning views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains. The attention to detail, from the plush bedding to the thoughtful decor, made us feel right at home.

The on-site restaurant was a culinary journey that showcased the finest local ingredients. Each dish was a work of art, perfectly presented and bursting with flavor.

The staff at La Petite Ferme exhibited a level of hospitality that went beyond mere professionalism. Their genuine friendliness and willingness to accommodate our requests truly made us feel valued and appreciated. Whether it was the reception staff or the waitstaff in the restaurant, everyone ensured that our every need was met with a smile.

La Petite Ferme’s location is its crown jewel. Set against the backdrop of rolling vineyards and majestic mountains, the views are nothing short of breathtaking. Its proximity to the charming town of Franschhoek allowed for easy exploration of local boutiques, galleries, and other attractions.

Our stay at La Petite Ferme was an enchanting journey into luxury, relaxation, and culinary excellence. From the idyllic setting to the impeccable service, every aspect of our experience exceeded our expectations.

If you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a serene retreat, or simply a taste of South African paradise, La Petite Ferme is a must-visit destination.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Jana Stoman

To book this hotel, visit their website: lapetiteferme.co.za

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Grand Hotel Bristol Resort & Spa

On a recent trip to Italy, I had the immense pleasure of visiting Grand Hotel Bristol Resort & Spa, located in the beautiful town of Rapallo.

Upon arrival the front-of-house manager gave us a tour of the hotel and provided us with all the needed information for our stay. We were booked into the Riviera Suite with panoramic seafront views and let me tell you, the views were spectacular.

We were welcomed with a bottle of champagne and fruit. We enjoyed our drinks while taking in the amazing views of the Portofino Promontory.

Our suite was spacious, had a walk-in closet and a large round whirlpool. It had everything one may need while traveling. 

We visited in April; therefore, the weather did not allow for a dip in the pool, but I imagine during summer months many guests relax at the pool while sipping on an Aperol Spritz. 

The hotel has three amazing restaurants, the gourmet restaurant Le Cupole led by Chef Graziano Duca, La Veranda a charming bistrot located on the panoramic terrace, and a new restaurant, The Flamingo pool bar&pizza gourmet.

The Erre Spa Bristol covers 2.000 m² and offers a 360-degree service, from wellness journeys to a wide range of body and face treatments, as well as varied and personalized programs proposed by the Spa manager.

A pleasant sea walk leads to the center of Rapallo, from there you can also take a ferry to Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino for site seeing.

Everyone with a love for travel should visit the Portofino coast in their lifetime. It is truly the definition of living la dolce vita. I am already dreaming of going back.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Jana Stoman

To book this hotel, visit their website: www.grandhotelbristol.it

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Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa

A five-star luxury resort located on Sentosa Island, Singapore

The moment you walk into Sofitel Singapore Sentosa you feel instantly relaxed. It is a haven of tranquility and peace. The design, the décor, the ambience, it all represents luxury and opulence.

The staff are extremely welcoming and are happy to attend to your every need and desire.

The resort is located on the Southernmost tip of Sentosa island and has access to Tanjung Beach. The resort is perched on a cliff and is surrounded by lush greenery; a tropical ambience and the décor perfectly blends Singapore and France’s heritage.

The resort is the perfect place to relax and unwind, and it also offers many activities for those who want an active vacation.

Sentosa Island is home to the famous Universal Studios, as well as multiple scenic beaches and international restaurants. Sofitel Singapore Sentosa is the perfect place from which to explore the island. The beach and adjacent establishments can be easily accessed via the resort’s staircase, which also boasts a stunning view of the South China Sea.

They also offer a complimentary shuttle service to and from the Resort every half hour, which stops at the Harbourfront MRT station on the mainland, from which one can venture into the city.

The front desk staff made check-in a breeze, and also provided me with their shuttle schedule, weekly activities, and dining options. The Marketing manager showed me to my suite, which was in their tranquility wing. On the way to the suite, she explained some of the resort’s décor pieces and significant design touches. I really appreciated the warm and personalized welcome. The resort definitely had a Balinese feel to it, and the architecture was incredibly impressive.

I booked their Junior suite which had a comfortable king sized bed, a spacious lounge area, and beautiful décor. It is an open-concept suite with a lavish bathroom complimented by Balmain amenities.

The housekeeping staff go out of their way to make your stay special, and even left me a handwritten card on my bed.  

The room was thoughtfully put together with clear French touches, making it feel very classy.

The bed linen was plush, and the sheets were smooth; I slept very well throughout my stay. Next to the bed, there are multiple different power sockets, which was very convenient.

A QR code is visible at the desk, which allows you access to their online platform including their room service menu. The entire resort also offers high speed Wi-Fi.

This was the perfect place to escape the city life and have a luxury staycation where I enjoyed both French and local influences.

As you wander around the resort, enjoy the refreshing breeze and views of the ocean and beyond. While walking around be sure to look out for the resort’s resident peacocks.

The recreational facilities at the resort make it the perfect place for a weekend getaway. This resort is suitable for leisure travellers, business travellers, and even those with pets!

The resort has a new herb garden which is very well maintained and is part of the resort’s sustainability efforts. The herbs and vegetables such as basil, tomatoes, and lemons, are used in the hotel kitchen. Sofitel Singapore Sentosa has multiple sustainability efforts, in line with the Singapore government’s green plan for 2030.

The resort gym is located in the middle of the property and is well equipped for any type of workout.

The SO/Spa was one of the highlights of my trip. The spa is luxurious and has multiple pools and spa facilities. The spa has a lap pool with sun loungers, and they have indoor hot and cold jacuzzis, as well as a Turkish steam room. If you are on a couple’s holiday, be sure to book their romantic package and have your treatments in their couple’s room which features a private jacuzzi bath.

Their pool is an instagram-worthy spot, with a waterfall feature and surrounding greenery. Their therapeutic body wrap experience is a must-try, where you lather on a special mud masque all over your body and leave it on for a few minutes, then enter the mud pool to soak it off, leaving your skin soft and smooth.

What’s better than a staycation? A staycation with your pets. Sofitel Singapore Sentosa is pet-friendly and has a special “FurKid” package for those who want to bring their pets. They even offer special dog food menus at the restaurant. I spotted a Pomeranian at breakfast, and it made my day.

The resort is also an ideal destination for MICE events, meetings, and weddings. They have a grand ballroom and multiple meeting rooms. It is a stunning location for weddings, with multiple outdoor and indoor venues and great photo spots!

The hotel’s main pool is the place to be during the day. They offer single lounge beds as well as comfortable double lounge beds. Relax around the pool whilst enjoying the sounds of the birds and palm trees around you.

A rare and surprising feature of the resort is their fish spa, located next to Le Bar. The pond is filled with “Dr. Fish”, a special fish breed that nibbles on your feet, getting rid of your dead skin. The kids completely love this feature, and it adds to the many reasons why this property is one-of-a-kind.

Le Bar, located in the heart of the resort, offers a daily 1-for-1 cocktail happy hour and is a great place to enjoy an afternoon or evening drink. The bar lights up at night and has lively music playing.

Kwee Zeen is the resort’s all day dining outlet and offers delectable local cuisine and international favourites. For dinner, I had the beef cheeseburger and French fries, which had to be one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I went to bed with a very full and satisfied stomach.

Start your day the right way with the buffet breakfast at Kwee Zeen, which features a made-to-order egg station, an Indian cuisine station, cold meats, and more. You can choose to sit inside with air conditioning or outside with the ocean breeze (and view). The breakfast offers multiple hot and cold dishes and a great selection of fresh pastries. The bread-and-butter pudding was so tasty.

Their other dining outlet is The Cliff, a restaurant with a delectable Italian menu. Pasta and Tiramisu, the perfect dinner combination.

I felt very cared for during my stay, the staff were attentive and their hospitality was of superior quality.

The Sofitel brand has French flair, and this resort lives up to the Sofitel name. It’s definitely an exceptional experience in Singapore.

The resort has multiple water features and fountains, which makes for a peaceful experience whilst wandering around the resort grounds.

On the one side of the fountains there is a lion statue, which resembles Singapore’s heritage, and on the other side there is a horse statue, which symbolizes French heritage. These special design details add to why the resort is so unique.

The resort staff were attentive, polite, and always had a smile on their faces. They also gave me great recommendations for shopping and nearby attractions.

I would consider Sofitel Sentosa a hidden gem in Singapore, and an absolute must-visit. It is the ultimate accommodation on Sentosa Island.

Thank you to all the staff at Sofitel Sentosa who made my stay out of this world. I look forward to visiting again.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Kayla Lourens

To book this resort, visit their website: www.sofitel-singapore-sentosa.com

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The Kuta Beach Heritage Hotel Bali Managed by Accor

A Boutique hotel located on the beachfront of the famous Kuta Beach

The Kuta Beach Heritage Hotel is conveniently situated right by Kuta Beach, a 5-minute stroll from Kuta Square and the Kuta Art Market. The hotel blends contemporary design with fishing village-themed interiors and is the ideal destination for business and leisure travelers.

The hotel has a prime location and is a 5-minute walk from the Kuta Beachwalk shopping center which has great outlets and dining options. The airport is about a 15-minute car ride from the hotel. Right next to the hotel entrance is a convenience store, wine shop and transportation services.

From the hotel, you can go for a leisurely stroll on the beach and take in the beautiful sea views. Kuta beach is known for surfing, so I would recommend doing a surfing lesson during your stay.

My spacious room had a full view of the Kuta Beach and the bustling street below.

Many of the rooms have an ocean view and balcony, and some have direct pool access to a plunge pool.

My room was spacious and had a separate living area and study with a flat-screen TV, minibar and a balcony overlooking Kuta Beach. They also provided complimentary coffee and tea in the room daily. In-room dining is available 24 hours a day and the menu features international classics as well as local Indonesian dishes to try.

The bathroom had a luxurious bathtub and they offered bath salts as an extra amenity. The shower and toilet were private, and the double vanity featured quality amenities such as body lotion, scented hand soap and more.

The hotel also provides luggage storage in case you have a late flight and still want to explore Kuta. If you haven’t already booked sightseeing tours online, the hotel has a tour desk who can assist you with making bookings. I would absolutely recommend doing the Ubud full day tour.

The hotel’s rooftop infinity pool is the highlight of the hotel and is the perfect place to watch the sunset. Spend your day around the pool on one of the comfortable lounge chairs and relax with music playing in the background. The pool also has a bar with a variety of cocktails, you should definitely try a whole coconut.

The hotel features a spa, and I would like to mention that they offer a Traditional Balinese massage which is a must-do when in Bali. For fitness lovers, the hotel has a fully equipped gym.

Riva Bar & Restaurant has breathtaking ocean views and offers international cuisine as well as some local dishes. This is also a great spot for sunset.

The buffet breakfast is amazing, as you enter the breakfast area there are two Balinese performers playing a special instrument to add to the ambience of the hotel. The buffet offers a variety of food, including a vegetarian section, Indonesian section, sushi station and a made-to-order egg station.

The set up included traditional Balinese dishes and the staff were at your service and happy to explain the dishes to you. They also have a station that serves special juice that has Indonesian spices and herbs in, which is worth a try. Don’t forget to try their freshly made French toast with chocolate sauce. The perfect way to start your day in Bali.

The staff welcomed me with a smile every morning and made sure I was comfortable. You can also sit on one of the lounge chairs around the pool with a coffee and enjoy the view of Kuta Beach. 

The staff members are highly attentive and sincerely dedicated to ensuring your experience is exceptional. Whether it’s the buffet staff, security personnel, receptionists, or cleaning services, everyone is always eager to go the extra mile to accommodate your needs.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards Representative, Kayla Lourens

To book this hotel, visit their website: all.accor.com/hotel/8151/index.en.shtml

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Avista Grande Phuket Karon – MGallery

Located on Karon Beach, it is the perfect choice for families and couples.

Upon arrival at the hotel, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist who offered me their Ceylon tea welcome drink and a special banana leaf candy. The check in process was quick and all the staff members greeted me with big smiles, I instantly felt at home.

The hotel has a warm welcoming ambience, and all the areas are spotlessly clean. Karon Beach is just a 2-minute walk from the hotel as well as multiple shopping options and food markets. This prime location makes Avista Grande the top choice for a luxury stay in Karon. From the hotel, you can easily explore Kata Beach, the area’s nightlife, Big Buddha and the known surfing spots.

The receptionist showed me to my Deluxe Mountain View room and advised me about breakfast times and facilities etc. My room was modern and spacious and had a beautiful mountain view from the balcony. The King Size bed felt like a fluffy cloud and was so cozy. The bathroom was also spacious and had a double vanity with a big bathtub.

Breakfast at Portosino is a lavish affair. The perfect way to start your day. The buffet was extensive and had top quality food items from various cuisines. There was a juice station where the staff prepare your juice fresh as you wait. Around the corner was their pastries and breads, a must-try are the croissants. The chefs at the egg counter can prepare your eggs just the way you like it. I tried a few dishes from the Indian corner which was packed with so much flavour (and chilli). The breakfast buffet also featured a special dish known to Thailand, and it was a different dish each morning. The breakfast staff were attentive and helpful.

The pool was the highlight of the hotel, it had a beautiful waterfall feature, sunbeds positioned all around the pool area, and a swim-up bar. You could easily spend the whole day around the pool. They played music during the day which gave the pool area a fun and hip ambience. The lunch pool menu featured classics like a Caesar salad, and delicious pizzas. The swim-up bar “Lido” has a wide range of cocktails and drinks, as well as a daily happy hour which I certainly enjoyed. I would recommend the Pina Colada cocktail.

The property has a Sino-Portuguese design and there are multiple Instagram-worthy spots around the hotel. Adding on top-class hospitality and staff who go the extra mile to make your stay memorable. The hotel has multiple restaurants available for dinner: Portosino, which is their all-day dining outlet, The Dim Sum, which is their rooftop bar, and Sizzle On Water, which is a unique dine-on-water steakhouse restaurant where you can have dinner with your feet in the water. If you are on a couples holiday, then be sure to book a dinner at this romantic restaurant.

The hotel has an award-winning spa, I would recommend you have the Thai massage, it is a must-do when in Phuket.

I had an absolutely fantastic time here and would highly recommend. Thank you to the entire Avista team.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Kayla Lourens.

To book your stay at Avista Grande Phuket Karon – MGallery, visit their website: all.accor.com/hotel/A224/index.en.shtml?

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The Racha – An eco-luxury resort on the island of Racha Yai, Thailand

The Racha is located on Racha Yai island which is about a 30-minute speedboat ride from Chalong Pier in Phuket. The island has the most beautiful natural scenery and breathtaking sunsets, it is also a well-known spot for diving and snorkeling.

The meeting point is at The Racha Chalong Lounge at Chalong Pier which is about an hour’s drive from the Phuket International Airport. At the lounge, they offer Wi-Fi as well as complimentary snacks and drinks. It is advised to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled boat trip.

Upon arrival at the lounge, we were offered a choice of different scents for our room on the island.

We decided upon lemongrass as the staff explained that is repels mosquitos, as well as having a natural tropical smell.

We took a shuttle bus from the lounge directly to the boat and the staff assisted with our luggage. The speedboat ride was a fun experience, and the weather was perfect.

Upon arriving at The Racha, you are welcomed by crystal blue water and powdery white sands.  

We were escorted to the welcome area at the resort and offered a scented cold towel and a special purple drink. The front office staff assisted us to our room and explained the services and facilities on the way.

We checked into a Grand Deluxe Villa for three nights, and it was just what we needed. A comfortable bed, indoor and outdoor showers, bathtub, luxurious amenities, and a terrace with sea views.

We arrived at the resort around 2pm in the afternoon, so we headed to the pool for lunch and a dip.

The adults-only infinity pool is the heart of the resort, it has the best view of the island and is the perfect place for a day of relaxing and sun tanning.

There are complimentary water bottles available around the pool and you can order drinks and food during the day.

The beach is another option for relaxing and sunbathing, there are lounger chairs and hammocks on the grass in front of the resort and beach towels available. The palm trees all around the resort make it such a relaxing atmosphere. The weather was perfect and every day we swam in the ocean and the pools.

The resort has a very laid-back ambience and is a great option for couples and even families who just want to relax.

There are numerous activities available on the island, including complimentary watersports such as kayak and snorkeling. This island offers some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in Phuket. I would encourage everyone to try the water sports, the staff are knowledgeable and will assist with everything.

You can also explore the island by foot, there are a few beaches a short distance away from the main beach, which is more secluded. The reception will give you a map and are happy to help with directions.

They also offer chargeable activities such as island hopping, sunset cruises, ATV’s and guided hikes, which can all be booked via their mobile app. You can also ask any questions via the live chat on their app which is really convenient.

The resort also has a PADI certified diving center for those interested in learning to dive.

For those just wanting to relax, you can opt for a treatment at the Anumba Spa. The Spa also offers daily complimentary yoga sessions, which is also suitable for beginners. I would definitely recommend anyone to try yoga, the instructor is so friendly and its just a fun experience to try something new. 

Sunsets at The Racha are magical. Six thirty until seven thirty at night is the best time of day for me. We made sure to book the best table at the restaurant which has a perfect view of the ocean and the sunset. Enjoy a fresh coconut or a cocktail as the sun sets.

The main restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, we sat outside all three nights because of the stunning views. Just ensure you spray mosquito repellant when sitting outside at night.

The restaurant menu is extensive, they offer international favorites as well as Thai specialties. I suggest you try a Thai dish at least once, for example the Pineapple fried rice, such a flavorful dish. I also had the mango Crème Brûlée which was 10/10.

If you are on a romantic holiday, you can book the private dining area which is set up right in front of the resort with unobstructed views of the bay.

The breakfast buffet has a great variety including an egg station where the chefs prepare eggs benedict or omelettes for you. They also offered complimentary sparking wine at breakfast for those wanting to make a mimosa.

The resort also has a gelato shop which is open during the day and is the perfect place for an afternoon scoop to cool down. Next to the resort entrance, there are a few small local stores which sell all kinds of snacks, and even swimwear and accessories.

I had a wonderful holiday, there is so much to do on the island, but it also is just so relaxing to do nothing if you want.

The staff were friendly and attentive, and the whole team delivered beyond my expectation.

Overall, I had a fabulous time at The Racha, thank you to all the staff who made my stay memorable, I will be back in a heartbeat.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Kayla Lourens

To book your stay at The Racha, visit their website: www.theracha.com