World’s Top Paradise Gets a Rubbishing


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Rubbishing “Paradise”

boracay-beach2Los Angeles Times Travel Editor, Catharine Hamm, has trashed a travel destination – Boracay in the Philippines – which has been listed for yonks by just about any travel gold list, best of the best, World’s Top Ten lists, etc or by anybody that’s anybody, as the world’s best beach. Hamm gives it a good “hamm”ering – and a pummelling–then rubs a liberal dose of salt into the bloodied wound just for good measure.

Basically Hamm couldn’t wait to get out of there. So is she just touchy? bitchy? A fussy traveler? A spoilt travel editor who’s seen so many gorgeous luxury destinations she’s jaded? Or is this just one lone travel editor giving a rarely seen dose of truth in travel?

OK, well boracay5she’s honest. This piece could possibly win a bravery award for travel writing. What do you think? Read on then leave a comment below.

Hamm starts out by asking,

“Can a million and a half people be wrong? That’s how


many vacationers are expected to visit Boracay Island this year.

“Can Travel & Leisure be wrong? That’s the magazine that crowned Boracay the best island in the world.

“Can TripAdvisor be wrong? That’s the website that dubbed Boracay a Travelers’ Choice 2013 Winner.

“After my visit … to this island 250 miles southeast of Manila, I decided that, yes, they could be wrong. Or misguided. Or I could be”.

What Hamm didn’t find was the “hoped-for piece of paradise” that would shoot to the top of her favorite sun and sand destinations.

“If Boracay had been a first date,” she bites, “there wouldn’t have been a second. We just weren’t right for each other. I should have known that almost from the minute I arrived at the hotel.

Hamm goes on to say she stayed at a hotel that Travel & Leisure had voted the fourth best hotel in the world. “Never the optimist, I felt certain — although I don’t know why — I’d find my peeps and my place in the sun”.

But no, sadly that was not to be.

boracay 1

“No number of spa treatments was going to change my impression of Boracay, a place for partyers or rich people, of which I am neither.

“This wasn’t a love match — not for me. Maybe 30 years ago when Boracay and I were less overdeveloped.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to Manila, where the smog and traffic and heat and humidity welcomed us with open, sweaty arms. It was good to be back.


Read more of the blow by blow details at:,0,236631.story


Some of the material quoted in this piece is Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

World’s most expensive cities

Oslo view. jpeg

Norwegian capital Oslo is now the most expensive for a night out on the town, according to a cost comparison of the world’s top cities.

Sydney, costing $445.64 for a night out, ranked No 6 and New York No 4 among an otherwise European-dominated list of the world’s priciest places to stay and for a night out. Zurich ranked No 2, Stockholm 3, Paris 5, London 7 and Copenhagen 8.

The TripAdvisor TripIndex Cities is based on the cost of a couple staying one night in a four-star hotel, cocktails, a two-course dinner with a bottle of wine, and a return taxi fare.

South-East Asia, as one would expect, had three cities in the 10 least expensive destinations – Hanoi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, but Eastern Europe also ranked on the list of “el cheapo” destinations with Sofia in Bulgaria the cheapest city overall, closely followed by Warsaw and Budapest.

Sofia also had the cheapest hotel rooms av. $93.05 a night while New York was the most expensive at $366.46 a night.


10 most expensive cities

1.     Oslo, Norway      $561.26

2.     Zurich, Switzerland      $506.45

3.      Stockholm, Sweden      $504.30

4.      New York City, US     $498.58

5.      Paris, France      $494.96

6.     Sydney, Australia     $445.64

7.      London, Britain      $437.40

8.      Copenhagen, Denmark      $429.55

Read more:

China’s new breed of luxury traveller


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Robert Upe writing in The Sydney Morning Herald says rich Chinese tourists are likely to own three cars and four watches and their leisure preferences, after travelling, include reading, tea-tasting, driving and spending time with family – in that order. They also like karaoke and foot massages.

The interesting statistics he quotes come from the  latest research from luxury publishing group, Hurun Report, released at Shanghai’s annual International Luxury Travel Market this week.

The Hurun profile of wealthy Chinese travellers says there are 600 billionaires in China and 2.8 million millionaires, measured in US dollars.Upe says their favourite hotel chain is the Shangri-La and when they shop – which is often – they clamour for high-end French brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, and Cartier – possibly why France is at the top of their list of preferred overseas luxury destinations.

They are helping drive the top end of the tourist market which last year hit an overall 83 million outbound trips from China. That figure is projected to rise to a staggering 94 million this year, the most travel of any country.

The China Daily recently reported that Chinese travellers spent $US85 billion ($89.6 billion) while overseas last year, double the annual revenue of multinational oil and gas corporation Exxon Mobil.

France, the US, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and Italy are their favorite destinations.  Australia has dropped from third to seventh place.

The Hurun Report was released at Shanghai’s annual International Luxury Travel Market where 500 of the world’s best resorts, hotels and travel experience operators, mostly rated five-star or better, have gathered for the luxury travel trade event.

Profile of rich Chinese traveller who spends more than $US10,000 per trip

Likes to go to: France, US

Stays at: Shangri-La, Hilton, Peninsula

Travels because of: Shopping, culture, cuisine, business potential

Travels in: First class (13 per cent), business class (62 per cent), economy (25 per cent)

Goes for: 7.4 days

Goes with: 1 to 2 people (16 per cent), 3 to 10 people (68 per cent), more than 11 people (16 per cent).

He wants: Louis Vuitton, Apple, Hermes

She wants: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier

Smoke: 50 per cent

Favourite sports: Swimming, golf, mountaineering, yoga, badminton

Source: Hurun Report

Read more:–and-where-theyre-going-to-get-it-20130606-2nryx.html#ixzz2VtgPOlKP

Luxury Fiji

LLR_Pool_40LLR_Overwaters_170I’m excited to be heading off tomorrow to Fiji to try out one of the world’s best resorts,  the newly re-opened Liku Liku Resort.

Likuliku Lagoon Resort reopened on April 22, after being closed for repairs following damage from Cyclone Evan at the end of 2012. 

Liku Liku has Fiji’s first and only only overwater bungalows, something normally associated with the Maldives or Tahiti.

It was recently named Best Overseas Resort in Luxury Travel’s Gold List (for the fourth year in a row) and was also named in the top 10 “Best Luxury Hotels in the South Pacific” in the annual Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2012. Island Magazine lists it amongst the top 20 places in world.

The food is apparently top notch and considered the best in Fiji so I’ll be trying it out and talking to chef.

It’s an upmarket couples resort, no kids allowed. Expensive, but not too expensive, like Tahiti. 

But first, I’ll be staying at the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa and trying out its WAI ZONE.

The  “Wai Experience” is a whole range of water treatments in the WAI ZONE.

The Wai Zone features water in its three states – gas – the steam room; liquid – the hydrotherapy pool; rain forest shower and solid ice – in the ice room. So you get everything from hot water to ice cold water. Ooh, hope it’s not lijke in Slovakia, where i got blasted with ice cold water out of a high pressure hose at a European style health spa. Not that it would matter in Fiji where it’s nic and warm. 

But more on that tomorrow……

Liku LIku's overwater bungalows

Liku Liku’s overwater bungalows

Luxury Kyoto


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I was lucky enough to be invited to visit Kyoto recently thanks to Kyoto Luxury Tours, part of the Kyoto Tourism Council that offers luxury tours of the City of Kyoto. While Tokyo represents the modern face of Japan, a fast-paced industrialised city, Kyoto is slower-paced the place to see and experience traditional Japanese culture. Omotenashi, the Japanese tradition of hospitality is alive and well here.

Over 2,000 shrines and temples are dotted around the city, and as Kyoto was spared the destruction that other cities suffered during the Second World War, it remains home to around 20% of Japan’s national treasures, as well as a wealth of world heritage.

In my next few blogs I’m going to cover what I did while in Kyoto. Amongst other things I’ll be covering: Where to eat kaiseki cuisine, otherwise known as Kyoto cuisine; where to stay in a ryokan or a traditional Kyoto house; the gentle reflective art of tea making and all the different styles of tea; the art of flower arranging Japanese style; where to see Ando dolls being made; visiting Zen temples, meeting a Zen monk and where to try temple food; where to to find peace, solitude and reflection in a Japanese Zen garden; where to meet and see Maiko dancers (the junior version of geisha girls) and why Maiko is becoming more popular; and lots more…..

What are my top places to stay in Australia?

That’s hard. There are so many great places, why don’t we start with my pick of the top resorts in Australia.

  1. Qualia
  2. Great Southern Ocean Lodge
  3. Saffire
  4. Longitude 101
  5. Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef
  6. Bamurru Plains
  7. Emirates Wolgan Valley

What do you think of my list? Do have an opinion? If you think any of these shouldn’t be on the list or if you have your own suggestions for additions, comment here. Knock yourself out! As I said in an earlier post everyone has a different idea of what luxury is.

What defines luxury?

Everyone has a different idea of what luxury is. For some it’s over the top glam or chic, …for others it’s about the location, the views, or even the exclusivity or privacy of a particular spot. And for still others it’s about the authenticity and rarity of the experience itself.

What one person loves, will turn the next person off. What do you like when you travel. tell us here. Do you want a private butler and a gated enclave or do you want to go swimming with dolphins on one of the world’s most pristine reefs in a safari camp for six privileged guests?

What do you look for?

Who is The Luxe Traveller?

I’ve been visiting luxury resorts and destinations for nearly 15 years – firstly as a magazine editor, later as a newspaper reporter and editor and, more recently, as a freelance travel writer. I’ve written for some of the major newspapers in Australia and magazines and inflights around the world.  And what I’ve come to realise is that most people just want to know where the best places to stay are. Most of us no longer want to do it tough or backpack or even count our pennies. We want to stay in style, eat good food, relax and and have a great experience. We don’t want to read backpacking tips or find out how to save money, we want a guide to the best luxury places to stay – the stylish, avant garde, the sensational, the gobsmackingly beautiful…the places that make us go wow and vow to return. Sure, we want to explore the local culture, but in comfort, thank you very much.

Where in the world to go?

So many people ask me where they should go. Mostly they earn plenty of money but are time poor. Quite often they’ve spent a fortune staying somewhere on the advice of a travel agent but have been disappointed or tried booking themselves online and just become confused by vast range of options. Everything looks good on the net but it can be a different story when you turn up and are terribly disappointed with the reality. This website is designed to shortcut the process and make it easy for you. I’ve already done the hard yards – I’ve road tested them for you. So this blog is designed to give you a complete overview of the best places to stay around the globe. You can search by continent or by country, by theme, category or even by name.  What you’ll find is a complete rundown on each resort – a description, a review and then feedback comments and ratings by both The Luxe Traveller and by other travellers – our readers. All you have to do then is decide where you want to go!

Why did I create this blog?

Welcome to theluxetraveller blog. I’ll be letting you know about the best places in the world to stay.  For those of you who get confused by all the information and ads out there this is a tell it how it is kind of blog. I’ll only be writing about places I recommend. If they don’t make the grade, they don’t make the page! To find out more about me visit my website which will soon be up and running or the website I write for currently,