Thursday, 30 June 2011

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

This morning & the phone rings:

Me: Inside Luxury Travel, this is Varun
Caller: Hi Varun, this is Sally from xxxx PR

Me: Hi Sally, how are you?
Sally: Great! Now the reason I was calling was to tell you about my new client. Can we schedule a meeting?

Me: Yes of course. I am filming for the next week but I have a couple of days after that before my next trip when I can meet up!
Sally: Actually can we meet this evening over a drink?

Me: Not really Sally, I have too much to do before I fly to Geneva ...
Sally: It will only take 30-minutes, it's a virtual meeting.

Me: Erm - excuse me?
Sally: Yes, I will send you a virtual glass of champagne and we can discuss the hotel group over Facebook ... and we may have a couple of other people in my office online too.

Me: (hesitation) Erm - actually can this wait until I am free to meet in person?
Sally: Darlin' - this virtual drinks thing is all the rage!

Me: Um - erm - is that the Postman at the door? Look Sally, I have to rush, I will speak to you later ...
Sally: OK - bye Varun

"virtual meeting over virtual drinks?" - cat pee!

Have a drink on me! Not the same is it?!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

One of those days - so much to do, so little time to do it all ... I am totally knackered.

We are filming in Geneva and Montreux from Saturday ... 9 days in Switzerland. It should be fun - especially as some of the features involve things I particularly love - cigars, cocktails and music! We are in Montreux during the Jazz Festival ... whoohoo!

Bad news for one Swissie today - Federer knocked out of Wimbledon - a shock indeed. I have not got into the tennis this year. I have joined my local club but haven't played ONCE this year ... Nadal need not worry then! Heehee!

OK - off to take pooch for a walk to clear the cobwebs from my head.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

I woke up this morning and marvelled at the fact that I was in lovely Mauritius just yesterday!

The flight home was 12 hours and 10 minutes of pure boredom and misery. Bloomin' Awful again! Grrrrrrrr ........

The drive home was fun - I am so pleased I have 12 speakers in my "tank" - I was blasting out all my favourite songs ...

The sun has been shining today although it's rather chilly. Fabulous cigar weather ...

This weekend I am off to Switzerland! I can't wait!
Life is a beach ...
Tim ... an anchor ...
Peter "Jimmy" Pan at twilight ...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Farewell Mauritius!

Had a superb dinner last night in Pebbles ... my favourite Indian dish - dosa ...

Up VERY early this morning - 0400 - not sure why ...

TWELVE hour flight home ... grrrrrrrr ...

What a fabulous two days I have had ... what a fabulous resort!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

I love the weather here in Mauritius. During the day - by the beach - the temperature is around 27 degrees ... and by night around 18. That is perfect for me! It's officially WINTER here! Awesome! This time next year I may be back here on holiday!

The Shanti Maurice ... fabulous! We have been here just one night ... with one night tonight ... and THEN we leave first thing in the morning! It;s been a 2-night/3-day trip ... and today we had great fun.

There are over SIXTY types of rum produced here on the island. Two types - the good stuff from pure sugar cane juice and the alright - firewater stuff - from the "by-product" molasses.

I had a rum tasting by the beach at 11 in the morning! They love to infuse their rum here with everything from saffron to oranges! Lovely ... but an acquired taste.

There are three restaurants here: signature Stars, casual Pebbles and the Fish n' Rum Shack on the beach ... there is also Grandma's Kitchen. Basically guests can go the home of a local family where the Grandma cooks you a home-prepared meal ... we did this and it was a unique cooking feature BUT such a lovely one. My Papa cooks GREAT India food ... and Mauritian cuisine, although based on Indian food has its own twists. Lovely, LOVELY food ...

Sunset was stupendous!

Home tomorrow ... ahhhh ... sad ... ahhh ... happy!

Mauritius the home of great shirts .....
I like this shirt! Do you?
With Tim by the beach
With Gopal Vikash - The Shanti Maurice rum master ... nice shirt Gopal!
Leo the Lion at the Kid's Club ... aka Les Petits Dodos
I am swerving past the red ... blue ... pink!
James working hard ...
Meeting Rimala and her Grandma - at the Govindaswamy household - 10 minutes from the resort
With all Grandma's guests - including the great resort General Manager Paul van Frank (front left) ... nice shirt Frank!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Greetings from Shanti Maurice in Mauritius!

It was a long, long, LONG flight that was - Blooming Awful. It was twelve hours of pain and little sleep ... AND most of it without any entertainment ... grrrrrr ...

ANYWAY - we are in wonderful Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean.

On landing, we were whisked off to the Shanti Maurice resort - at the very southern (untouched) part of the island (40 minutes away). There are 44 suites and 17 villas on offer here ... it was opened originally in 2006 and is now managed by Nira. It's a thoroughly fabulous resort and I would certainly come here on my own holiday ... in fact, I just may do that!

Lovely beaches, fitness centre, swimming pools ... AWESOME spa ... and delightful staff.

The weather has been good today ... sun in the day, rain at night ...

It is winter here ... 27 degrees ... WINTER???

More tomorrow - am SHATTERED!

 On the beach ... hmmmm
 On the beach ... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
 Shanti Villa
 Tim ... a hard working man!
 Rum and fish by the Ocean
 41 brands of local rum! yum!
 Our chaperone - Deeya
 A local dish - fish, chilli ... oh .. watch it on the show!
 Chef Willi
Sega dancing at sunset

Friday, 24 June 2011

Heathrow, Heathrow ... my second home ... I am here again ... off to Mauritius in a couple of hours.

Tim and James are on great form but are upset that the weather here (in the UK) this weekend is set to be better than that of Mauritius! Booooooo!

It's a long, long, long flight ... grrrrrrrrr ...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

HOLIDAY! Yes - today was a holiday ... well ... for me it was anyway.

I felt like a tourist wandering around London and it was wonderful.

You remember that earlier in the year I visited The Hutton in Nashville and met a lovely chap called Doug McHugh. He is the General Manager of St. Ermin's Hotel in Victoria; close to New Scotland Yard, St James Park Tube and indeed St James Park. The hotel used to be a grotty and not-so-Jolly hotel until it was taken over and refurbished ... total spend on purchase and works I would estimate at £100 million pounds.

There are 331 rooms & suites.

I can honestly say that - although a 4-star "deluxe" - it is far superior in service and look than at least 30% of the 5-Stars I have stayed in. I have slept in more than 600 5-star hotels in the past 10 years. Of course I could be accused of being biased - especially as I know Doug - but I do sit and "secret squirrel" the interaction between the staff (170+) and the guests and I have only seen happy, satisfied smiles all round. Bravo. I would have NO problem staying here again ... or advising friend and family to stay here too ...

So my day started bright & early ... a bit to early ... but hey - I am on holiday!

I popped up to The Mayfair Salon ... my favourite barber shop in the world. It is just behind Claridge's - near Bond Street. Until 8 weeks ago it was run by two old fellows who I nicknamed Waldorf & Stackler (the two old men from the Muppet Show). They were there for decades.

I was worried that the new owners would just not be the same. The surprise was that my barber, a young Turkish chap Emre, gave me THE best haircut of my life! He also used a flame to remove some stray hairs too! A first for me!

Lunch at the JW Marriott Steakhouse with some rather pretty PR ladies ...

A trip to Davidoff for a cigar was wonderful - as ever! Edward and Eddie are on top form ... AND almost finally ... I met up with Gary (South African Airways) and zoomed up to The Langham for a "Summer Cigar Party" where we sampled some new "La Flor de Cano" cigars!

FINALLY to the RAC Club on Pall Mall for a glass of water!

Tomorrow, I fly to Mauritius!

I love holidays! I just need more of them ...

 With Doug on the Terrace
 Fabulous barber shop
 The lovely Alison Wheatley from Jumeirah

 Royal Academy art exhibition
 "Bring on the dancing girls"
 Yes - US$320 per stick!
The wonderful Sahakians - Eddie and Edward - at Davidoff with a cigar roller from the Partagas factory in Havana

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Greetings from St Ermins ... a lovely hotel in Victoria, London!

The diary is VERY late tonight ... issues ... more on the hotel & the GM tomorrow ...

 Dining at Hertelendy Castle
 Did the putt drop ... or didn't it?
 Solage treatment
 Gavin the Goat
dear Oli

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I don't care much for politics and indeed politicians.

I do think the idea of spending £20 billion on the Olympics when 3.5 million people don't eat a square meal here in the UK every day is absurd, I also feel that Messrs Blair and Brown have not only ruined our economy but have sent boys to their deaths unnecessarily ("old men sending young men to die") ... NOT in my name ... 

Anyway, occasionally you come across a true hero and in my eyes, Brian Haw, who sadly passed away over the weekend was one.

In June 2001, he started to camp outside the House of Commons ... trying to prick the conscience of the fools inside. He was a nuisance and irritant to successive Prime Ministers and Mayors of London ... but (& maybe be because) he stood for "passive action".

I met him a few times when I used to walk to work with Moo. He was always polite and he always gave Moo a scruff ...

Gone but not forgotten.
To me (& Moo) - a hero.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Before going a wee lala, Mel Gibson starred in the highly successful but gradually ambiguous series of "Lethal Weapon" movies. The highlight for me was Danny Glover and his future epitaph "I'm too old for this sh*t"!

Well, Mr Glover, I feel your pain.

OK - I haven't had my toilet blown up by terrorists or been chased by a Triad gang armed with Uzis ... more like I spent yesterday drinking too much wine! It was all good ... a Wesmar Pinot Noir 2007 from Sonoma ... and an Opus One 2001 (!) ... but you know, however downright sumptuous these wines were, they have left me in a state of gaga today (and no I don't mean "Gaga"!) ...

Not good as I have editing these week and a two-night stay (plus two x 12 hour flights) in Mauritius in the next 7 days! Ugh!

So tonight, I will be in bed by 8 p.m. with a good book (Thomas Steinbeck's Down to a Soundless Sea), a hot drink ... and Moo ... who although didn't drink any wine yesterday is certainly too old for this sh*t!

I'm certainly NOT too old for this (travelling) sh*t ... !

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A grand weekend!

OK - so the sun IS now shining and the sky IS now blue -- but that's only 1 hour old and it's 8.15 pm! The rest of the weekend was rain! grrrr .....

In 2 days it will be the loooooongest day of the year - let's hope the sun is shining!

So - the weekend is over. I am editing for two days this week and then flying to Mauritius for just TWO ... 2 ... days ... 48 hours! Crazy as the flight IS 12 hours! Hey ho!

This is the first time that the ILT team of camera and editing have been together! Much bubbly stuff was consumed!
My dear friend Priscilla from The Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong literally popped in to say "hello" ... ahhhhh!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Not so much to write today as I have a gaggle of friends down for a weekend of "fine food, champagne, cigars and whisky" ... ha ... or should I say ... hic?

Weather terrible ... MUCH better tomorrow ... garden party ...

The lovely Gary and Julia ...

Friday, 17 June 2011

Friday - YAY!

Looking back at the week ... phew ...

Looking forward to the weekend ... phew ...

Weather STILL rubbish!
Shirley Heights
That told you ...
Cricketing legend and golfer .... and me!
A friend of James
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