Saturday, 30 June 2012

Rain stopped play ... a first for us ... this afternoon was a total wash-out! Awful ...

Most of the day was spent filming the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica ... and this afternoon we were all set to film a food segment when the heavens opened ... and it has not stopped raining since ... 4 hours later!!!! Thunder, lightning ... very, very frightening!

It will be lovely weather in the morning - I know it!

 Oh no - oh dear ... worms ... terrible, terrible rain ...
 A fabulous rocking chair at the spa - $280 + free P&P to the States and Canada! BARGAIN! I want!
 Tim ... with camera 7 ... his phone!
 Black sand ... love it ...
A dry moment ...

Friday, 29 June 2012

Greetings from the Four Seasons Resort, Papagayo ... Costa Rica!

Our dear producer has kept the Diary going while I have been in the jungle.

El Silencio - north west of San Jose - is all about escape ... and the fact I haven't had much internet access has been strangely uplifting.

I am exhausted already ... this is fast shaping up to be the most physical episode we have ever filmed.

We have taken oodles of photographs ... but I am going to spread them over the next few days so as not to overload!

Anyway, every evening I have been jotting down notes on the day ...

Tuesday 26th

Flew from London Heathrow to Atlanta, Georgia where we spent 3 entertaining hours eating pizza and drinking Mountain Dew. The flight was ten hours but felt like fifty. Ugh.

Good in-flight entertainment meant that I caught up on all the silly films that I have wanted to watch but have had no time to do so – including Safe House and … um … something else … it was THAT memorable!

It was then a 3 hours and 15 minute flight from Atlanta to San Jose, Costa Rica … where we cleared customs & immigration in just 30 minutes!  A record indeed.

We were met by the GM of El Silencio Lodge & Spa … Andrey Gomez … and driver Jimmy … and we drove through the rain for 65 minutes … climbing up to 2200 metres and finally settling at 1500 metres at the Lodge.

We arrived in pitch black ... but I felt hemmed in by jungle ... there's a "feeling" you get.

Wednesday 27th

Awoke at 0330 … and finished reading On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan – probably the most depressing book I have ever read. Truly awful in just so many tragic ways … READ WITH CAUTION!

Had breakfast at 0700 – I am 6 hours behind home here ... so it was almost lunch!

Then we filmed the Lodge. It was opened in 2008 – has just 16 suites … on a 500 acre private estate. My suite – 6 – is not huge – 64 metres squared – but is comfy and has stunning views of the rainforest. The sun shone this morning but at around 4 pm – the crazy storms started.

The food here is very nice indeed … beans, rice, nachos etc etc … yummy!

The Lodge has a Spa (I have just had a fabulous massage from Carolina) … a yoga deck … a mini-supermarket garden with eggs, fish, fruit & veggies that as guests you gather for dinner at Las Ventanas (restaurant).

The scenery IS stunning and tomorrow we are off to explore.

No television in the rooms, little telephone and no wi-fi … it’s a retreat here, not a place to work!

Thursday 28th

A simply stunning morning! Fresh air, sunshine, cool … delicious.

We headed 15 minutes drive to Catarata Del Toro (Toro is the river) to meet with Wil Buijze and Donais Alfaro. They run an adventure centre which revolves around the 100 metre waterfall which offers people the chance to abseil/rappel down.

I did a bit of rappelling in Marrakech … so I thought why not try this one! A 100 metre drop is MUCH, MUCH more difficult that a 10 metre one! The rappel took around 15 minutes, I got wet, hot and exhausted!

What a view … what fun!

If that wasn’t enough, we then headed around 60 kms away to Hacienda Pozo Azul which offered me the chance to do some white rafting! Along with the “boys” – Toni Rodriguez, James Matarita and Miguel Salas, we rafted down 7 kms of rapids … including "Superman" ... fast & tough!

I am now back at El Silencio – totally wiped out … but content! Hot shower, a small meal and sleep is in order!

Friday 29th 

We leave the lovely El Silencio and head off to the Four Seasons Papagayo …

The staff at El has been superb … and our time there was very happy. It is VERY different to where we usually film … and I so appreciate my jungleland surrounds.

Usually when I leave a property I sign a “guest book” … here, I planted a sapling. My energy will remain here in Costa Rica for many years to come and for that I feel truly honoured.

Song of the Day: Billy Idol - Sweet Sixteen

My tree!

 The view from Suite 6
 Tim eyes up a local
 My first cup of caffeinated coffee in a year ... WOW ... it HIT me!
 Rafting ... it IS fun!
Yep - that's me!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

I know what the guys are supposed to be filming today and as far as I know all is going well.  It's a bit action packed with horse-back ride into the rainforest to view some waterfalls, abseiling and white-water rafting.  Along these lines I have tried to second-guess the sort of images they are going to come back with.

Should be quite stunning and more than a bit exciting with Varun doing all that adrenalin filled stuff!
I think this is my last diary for now.  We are expecting the guys to be back in the heart of technology tomorrow evening .... let's see.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Yesterday I put an image of the National flag of Costa Rica onto the diary.  I was wondering what the detailed emblem was meant to signify, so I've looked it up. 

The three volcanoes represent the 3 mountain ranges
The two oceans represent the Atlantic and the Pacific
A merchant ship on each ocean represents cultural and commercial exchange world-wide
The rising sun signifies prosperity
Finally the seven stars represent the 7 provinces

And why in particular might they have chosen the three colours for the stripes?
According to Ancient and Heraldic traditions the symbolism associated with the colours is:-
  • White - peace and honesty
  • Red - bravery, strength and valour
  • Blue - vigilance, truth, perseverance, justice and loyalty
So first to spring to my mind are the United Kingdom's Union Jack, the United States of America's "Stars and Stripes", the French Tricolor (no messing about it is what it says it is!)....

And then the more I look, the more I am amazed at how many nations have chosen this trio of colour... Luxembourg, Netherlands, Thailand, Paraguay, North Korea - and many more.  I have to say that from my brief research it also seems that each nation interprets the meaning of the colours differently... oh so close... but a world apart!

See you tomorrow.
Varun, Tim and Jack are incommunicado on a flight to Costa Rica.  When they land in San Jose they will be whisked off to El Silencio Lodge and Spa, a retreat for the body and spirit - well detached from the INTERNET.............

National Flag of Costa Rica

When I hear the name Costa Rica, I immediately think of coffee.  Coffee was first planted in Costa Rica in the early 19th century, and was first shipped to Europe in 1843, soon becoming Costa Rica's first major export. Coffee production would remain Costa Rica's principal source of wealth well into the 20th century.

Inside Luxury Travel has not yet visited Central America so this is a real 1st for us! Step aside fine champagne, step aside single malt whisky ... I wonder if Varun will break his caffeine fast for a taste of the truly authentic local brew - a cup of Coffee!

Back tomorrow!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Amazon - I shake my fists at thee! I ordered 2 x 16Gb SD cards last Wednesday on a two-day guaranteed delivery ... as I need them tomorrow for Costa Rica ... and guess what ... they haven't turned up! WHAT IS THE POINT?

Sorry, it's just these little things make me grrrr ... (as do other things by the way).

From tomorrow, I will not have internet access until late Friday as the resort I am visiting - quite rightly - boasts a "calm and tranquil atmosphere" ... with "no internet access - except in emergencies" ... so that's me, lost in a Central American jungle with no means of communication. This means that I will have to talk to Tim and Jack ... may the Lord help them ...

First stop Atlanta, Georgia ... then San Jose ...

There have been many links on FB and Twitter today ...

1) Leica -

2) Four Seasons Marrakech -

Yes - me chewing a rubber dog-bone to keep me away from the whisky and cigars ...

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday ... and I thought all was lost as it was raining quite heavily when I awoke.

As the day went on however, there was a VAST improvement in fortunes! And now, bright sunshine is streaming into my little office ...

I also learnt something today ... 1 bottle of Pimms + 1 bottle of lemonade is not the right ratio and it has to be said that I am now feeling rather squiffy!

Song of the Day: Supertramp - It's Raining Again

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Saturday ... and I had so many big plans for the day but sadly loads of small things have prevented me from doing them!

The weather has been changeable ... one minute rain, then bright sunshine ... then rain again! Please make up your mind Summer!

It's a few years since I was in Central America and I am very much looking forward to next week and Costa Rica ... then there is just one more episode for this current series - Toronto ...

Was looking at some of the archives today - what fun we've had!

Bora Bora

Friday, 22 June 2012

Home - at last - again - but not for long!

Last night was a blast ... The Caribbean Ball at The Dorchester Hotel in London ... and I was on the "Cayman Islands" table ... tasty cuisine & champagne, fantastic company ... but no - I didn't dance! I did come home with a large rum cake though ... and renewed (& lovely) memories of my time on Grand Cayman!

The popular British celebrity (& host of "Strictly Come Dancing") Sir Bruce Forsyth was there with his wife - who is from Puerto Rico. They both love that Caribbean Island ... and the way they spoke about it, I think it deserves a visit ...

I foresee a long weekend ahead ... alas I am so tired already ...

Song of the Day: Prince - Cream - (great video!)

 The view on my walk to the Ball ... 
"Didn't he do well?"

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The world seems to be changing and for the better!

London today ... there's now wi-fi on the Underground, I noticed FOUR acts of kindness in the space of two hours and I saw - yes, really - people smiling despite the rain!

I have checked into St Ermin's Hotel for the night as I am off to the Caribbean Tourism Ball at The Dorchester as the guest of the Cayman Islands. I am not a regular "Ball go-er" ... as I am hardly around ... so I am hoping for a fun evening!

I picked up my "new" Leica cameras today ... just in time for Costa Rica - where we are filming next week! It looks like a rather energetic show ... loads of outdoors activities! Exciting ...

Song of the Day: Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now

I found this photo today ... from the Presidential Suite at the Hotel Gran Florida in Barcelona ... ! Ha!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

I love music ... just love it. OK - so my favourite genre is the 80s ... Simple Minds, Go West, Level 42, The Cure etc ... and both my BlackBerry (yes, I still refuse to have anything to do with Apple) and my Sony MP3 player is filled to the brim with the kind of music that is so old that it only appears on good old CD (with the odd bit of vinyl thrown in).

Today I did a lot of driving and I was overrun with Funboy Three (!) and Wham and Madness ... yes, the ultimate driving music. I pity the chap who parked next to me in the traffic jam known as the M3 who had to listen to my rendition of "Our House" sans Suggs ...

A couple of years ago, I stopped the "song of the day" ... but today it has risen from the ashes ...

SO - the song of the day is ....

Madness - Driving in my Car

(the video starts with the AWESOME "The Dark Knight Rises" trailer)

 Barcelona (no music in this car!)
Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Ah! One of those dreamy days ... the sun has been shining, the music has been happy, the cigar has been smooth & creamy, the whisky as soft as silk ...

Some production stills from the recent trip to Marrakech: 
Tim and Jack enjoy a local beer at the Four Seasons Marrakech
Tim up to his belly in cold water - does his best to make me look adventurous!
We share a joke ... probably at Jack's expense ...  in Dar si Said Museum
Jack loves the camera!
Tim's favourite shot of the show at La Mamounia

Monday, 18 June 2012

Home again ... yay!

Easy flight home - I slept!

Looking back to the Marrakesh filming-week ... it was simply fabulous.

I could have easily filmed the entire show in the two properties - La Mamounia and the Four Seasons Resort ... they are that good and have such great & interesting stories attached to them.

I did venture out - the Jardin Majorelle - superb, Dar si Said - fascinating, canyoning - fun & vigorous, golf - not my best round but acceptable and the hot air ballooning - cool ...

A HUGE thank you to La Mamounia and the Four Seasons ... to The Moroccan National Tourist Office ( and and all the lovely people that made the visit quite special!
And it's goodbye from him ... and it's goodbye from them!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Day 8 - Marrakesh, Morocco - Four Seasons Resort

I am exhausted!

Last night, our wonderful friends at the resort threw a farewell barbecue for us in my Villa. We ate, drank and made merry into the late hours ... before I suddenly remembered we had to be up at 0430 for the last feature of the episode!

Our driver - Cherif - and hot-air balloon pilot Hamid, from,  arrived at 0500 and whisked us out to near the Atlas Mountains ... around 20 kilometres away.

We jumped into a balloon - flew around for an hour and were back for a Four Seasons breakfast for 0900!

AND I then realised that we are flying back to the UK today not tomorrow! EEK!

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY ... my Pops is just ... wonderful ...

Wait for me!!
"Varun, you have control ... "
Burn, baby, burn ...
Wonderful food last night ...
The Dinner Party ... stepping out in my pool!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Day 7 - Marrakesh, Morocco - Four Seasons Resort

Today is a lazy diary. For one, I have to be up at 5 a.m. tomorrow and secondly, as a parting gift, the lovely Four Seasons people have arranged a barbecue in my garden for us and a few of the friends we have made this week at the Resort.
Relaxed ... before filming begins ... 
Last night, we had sunset drinks at the Bar ... with General Manager Jean Claude and the lovely PR - Nidal ... 

I do love pink champagne!
The view of the resort at sunset!
With Federico Colombo - the sommelier at the FSM - we tasted Moroccan wine - some great ... some ... um ..!
This afternoon at the "Cooking School" at the Kasbah Agafay ... a property 20 minutes from the city ... and where I stayed and filmed ... 10 years ago! I learnt how to make chicken tagine ... from Chef Aziz
The cooking school gang! Thank you!

blogger template powered by fraktiv