Monday, 31 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Friday, 28 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Monday, 24 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Friday, 21 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Varun has gone into hibernation ... and will awake in early 2013 ...

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A day for quiet contemplation ...

I have decided that after 4 years, I am going to take a long break from the Diary and Facebook ... so this is the last entry for 2012 ... 

It's been an emotional roller-coaster this year both professionally & personally and I believe a few weeks to reflect, relax, recharge, release, renew, relive, reaccept, reapply, reawake, reacquaint, reabsorb, reconstruct, remember, rethink , recover, reinvent, redevelop, renest, and relove will help.

2013 is set to be a very, very busy year and I want to make sure that I am alive & kicking for it - in every sense of the term.

The series we have just finished filming will start airing internationally in February 2013.

The highlights of 2012 are many ... a few that spring to mind; driving my first safari, cuddling a lion cub, milking a camel, visiting Angkor Wat, catching a 75 kg yellow-fin tuna, walking around the top of CN Tower and walking with elephants ...

I have met some truly, truly wonderful people ... many who will be etched in memory for the rest of my life ... and that's why I love my job ... the people.

ILT isn't just me ... there's a team who work incredibly hard to make it all work ... and to them, I am just so, so grateful.

The show only gets produced because there's an audience ... THANK YOU ... it's all about sharing ... and as a favour to one of them: 

The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf & Hearing Children has teamed up with the British Paraorchestra and Team GB Paralympians on a new recording of True Colors.
Please watch, post, share, tweet and buy (especially from 17th December, when it'll help our bid to be Christmas No. 1!)

Wishing you all a very Happy Holidays ... and a very Happy & Peaceful New Year ...    ... Be well ... 

My Songs of the Year:

Bad Religion - Frank Ocean

Snow Patrol - Called Out In The Dark

Queen - Who Wants to Live Forever (Piano)

Che Gelida Manina (La Boheme)Puccini - Mario Lanza 1949 (beautiful)

Babyface and Eric Clapton - Change The World

My Films of the Year:

The Illusionist


My favourite photos of the Year:

 Proud Dada

Monday, 17 December 2012

The day could have been so good ... awoke to no rain or hangover, Moo actually enjoyed her bath, the shops were empty, the kittens didn't snack on any mice or birds, (anonymously) received a copy of "Frankie Says" - Frankie Goes to Hollywood 2012 remixes and found my misplaced Cambodian charm ... but then it all went wrong (!) as Tim the Cameraman decided to pop down for the night! 

Whisky, cider, beer, ketchup and fish n'chips ... I forsee a nightmare headache tonight (Tim) and tomorrow (whisky) ...

Song of the Day: Power of Love - Frankie

Film of the Day: BIG - Tom Hanks

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Life of V ... (huge apologies to Yann Martel) ...

If you haven't read the book (The Life of Pi) or indeed seen the film, then today's entry will mean nothing to you ... but hopefully ...

When I met Peanut and Pumpkin the baby orangutans ... in a zoo in Miami
Humphrey the hyena ... Kenya ... Masai Mara
A zebra ... in South Africa 
My first unforgettable tiger sighting in India ... a moment I will never forget ...
The boat ... (well, the 47 million Euro yacht - M/Y Roma) in Majorca
The Life of V

Song of the Day: I Want You - Elvis Costello

Film of the Day: Life of Pi

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Cold, bright ... and I acted as a "tour guide" today. London, as ever, didn't disappoint ...

I did wake up today with that "morning after the night before" feeling ... may have something to do with the copious amount of champagne & whisky that I consumed yesterday!


Green Park, St James' Palace, Davidoff, St James Street, Burlington Arcade, Bond Street (New & Old), Regent Street, Cafe Royal, Whitehall, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey ... all on foot.

Highlights - seeing dear Louis (General Manager) at his Cafe Royal hotel, The London Eye ... an watching 300 Santas frolic in Trafalgar Square!

Tonight - a quiet thoughtful movie methinks ... 

Song of the Day: Chicken Payback - The Bees

Film of the Day: Day of the Dead (George Romero - 1985)

With my dear friend Louis Sailer at Cafe Royal  
on The London Eye

Friday, 14 December 2012

 Today I met the "King of Cakes" ... Eric Lanlard ... we talked cakes - especially cup-cakes!

I once had a friend who baked me cup-cakes BAREFOOTED and I thought (at the time) it was quite cute but never appreciated how lovely cup-cakes are! I now ADORE cup-cakes!

Anyway - it was an action-packed day ... lunch with very, very dear friends at The Rib Room at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower (yum yum yum), breakfast at the Grosvenor House Apartments (yum), drinks at Boisdale's (one of my favourite cigar & whisky bars in the world - yum yum) and FINALLY dinner at Moti Mahal (yum yum yum yum) - THE finest Indian restaurant in England ... I feel positively happy and fat!!

I have a weekend of "fun" coming up ... photos to come!!!???

Song of the Day: Talk Talk - I Believe In You

Film of the Day: Ratatouille (cartoon!)

The King of Cup-cakes!
With lovely Doug - and gorgeous Katharyn - at St Ermin's Hotel
With dearest friend Paul and chef Ani at Moti Mahal
Paul takes control of dinner
My favourite shop in London ;) ... REALLY! 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

London life ... champagne & cigars ... well ... almost ...

Greetings from the "Grosvenor House Apartments - Park Lane by Jumeirah" ... where I am starting a few days of London life ...

Every year, before Xmas, I head to the London for a few days of shopping, eating, drinking, sleeping and "tourism".

It's been a cold but bright day ... and one full of lovely surprises ... 

Arrived at the hotel by lunchtime and headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. Now, you may think that with all the fabulous restaurants here in London, WHY did I lunch there? Well - the vegetarian burger with bacon & cheese (!) with a large flagon of ale (!) ... that's why ... YUM!

After that, straight to Davidoff to see dear Mr Sahakian and Eddie for a cigar ...

THEN off to St James Hotel & Club to see my new friend Kate for tea ...

And then I was on my way back to my hotel when I was seduced by the bright lights of the Four Seasons ... so I wandered in and unbelievably stumbled-in on a wine tasting that was being Twittered around the world ... 

I started with a Billecart Salmon Rose ... and was stuck there for at least 45 minutes before I finally succumbed to a wee glass of sweet Italian wine (moscato-ish) ...

Tonight ... pizza ... at my FAVOURITE in London!

Song of the Day: Separate Lives - Marilyn Martin & Phil Collins

Film of the day: Hotel (1967)

At Four Seasons, London with a fine glass of pink champagne
At Davidoff, with two incredible people and an incredible cigar or two
St James Hotel & Club with Kate
At the GHA - Park Lane 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

I - like many - did many things in my youth to make my parents proud of me. I only realised - much later - that I actually didn't need the praise I sought ... they (like most parents) were always proud of everything I achieved. 

There are just a couple of interviews that I conducted - when I worked as a news reporter - that I will never forget ... one was with Pandit Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka.

For those who don't know - Ravi Shankar was to the sitar, what Eric Clapton is to the guitar - pure perfection. He played with the Beatles, Phillip Glass, Yehudi Menuhin - he even played at Woodstock in 1969 ...

Sadly he passed away last night in California aged 92..

I met father & daughter in a hotel suite in London, drank some chai and they played for me ... when the cameras were rolling and when they were not. To top it off, they biked two front row tickets for my parents to see their sell-out concert in London for that evening ... an magical evening my parents never forgot.

It's been such a sad week ... Patrick Moore, Nanny and now Pandit Shankar ...

"Today I Choose To Live With Gratitude For The Love That Fills My Heart, The Peace That Rests Within My Spirit, And The Voice Of Hope That Says... All Things Are Possible"

Song of the Day:  Raga Anandi Kalyan - Ravi & Anoushka Shankar

Film of the Day: Pather Panchali (dir: Satyajit Ray)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Another London day … this time stuck in the editing equivalent of “Middle Earth” – Oli’s underground bunker/editing suite in Clapham.

Today we went through Mallorca, Dubai and Mauritius.

Has to be said, they all look quite lovely … but if I was being biased, Mauritius shines the most!

I left home this morning and it was minus 5 … my black car was white with frost … Moo was most reluctant to go into the garden for her doodles (although she has a nice winter coat) and the kittens would not leave the Aga.

London was chilly … but also miserable … most people looked like they had lost a lottery-winning ticket.

For the fourth night in a row I could not sleep so STUPIDLY watched a horror vampire movie … as it got darker today, the movie became more real. What a fool I am …

The rest of the week is hopefully (!) looking brighter …

Song of the Day: Che Gelida Manina (La Boheme)Puccini - Mario Lanza 1949 (beautiful)

Film of the Day: 30 Days of Night (grr .. as in vampire grr by the way)

 Um - this lion doesn't mind a pat ... grrr ... lion grr that is ... 
 This cub - Coco - LOVES to play
 Flo-riding in Mallorca
 on MY (!) Roma - yacht
 In the coffin of doom (Wild Wadi)
 A now $1650.00 champagne cocktail! Really?
With Frodo (Oli) and Gandalf (Ed) at Fraktiv

Monday, 10 December 2012

Today is the 1500th - unbroken - Daily Diary entry from me here at Inside Luxury Travel (there was a diary before that ... but I was not so fastidious about it).

Rather than being celebratory ... I actually feel reflection is in order.

During that time (just over 4 years) we have had a number of assistants: Tom, Phillip, Alex, most recently Jack and of course lovely James. We have had two producers: Helen (Series 1) and Emma. We have had just one cameraman: THE ONE AND ONLY Tim. We have had ( & still have!) three beautiful mascots: Maisy, Mittens & Moo... and finally ... there is ... me.

We have filmed in 258 luxury hotels, 100 episodes, 39 countries, Inside Luxury Travel, The Finest Collection and Culinary Travels ... we have taken hundreds of flights (helicopter, airplane and jet-fighter), interviewed hundreds of lovely people, worked with hundreds of wonderful PR, eaten countless pizzas & club sandwiches, written thousands of postcards and for me - the highlight - have made some truly stunning life-long friends. My biggest heartbreak is saying "goodbye" to these new friends ... and the biggest happiness is saying "hello" again down the track ...

I have lost so much over these years ... but have gained so much too ... 

2013 is just around the corner - new hopes, new dreams, new challenges and new shows ... and I can't wait.

This evening? A nice large glass of very old whisky ... a single malt, of course!

Thanks for reading and here's to tomorrow.

Song of the Day: Change The World - Eric Clapton & Babyface

Film of the Day: American Beauty

Here's looking for you, kid ... 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

No beach is a bad beach ...

Two weeks ago - Mauritius, 34 degrees, clear & hot - Last week - Cannes, 15 degrees, clear & tepid - Today - Dorset, 3 degrees, cloudy & cold ...

I still managed to spend much of the day on a pebble beach with a good cigar (maybe two!), a good book and my MP3 player - rich with classical music ... 

I am rereading the Life of Pi in anticipation of the movie coming out next week ... oh to be an Indian boy (me!) on a boat with a zebra, hyena and an orangutan ... and a tiger (is that me?). It's funny that I have seen all these animals in the wild ... hmm ... anyway so excited about the film ...

This week is set to be a busy one ... a lot of London ... a lot of editing, a lot of meetings and a lot of sake ...

Ending on a sad note ... one of my heroes passed away today. The astronomer Patrick Moore gave me my love of the stars ... space ... and the sky ... I met him a couple of times at the BBC and he was such a gentle fellow ... full of anecdotes and jokes ... 

After seeing the Aurora Borealis in Norway and the most amazing African sky in Kenya - this year - I am so pleased I have the habit of always looking up at night to see just what might be out there ... 

Song of the Day: Symphony No. 7 in A Major - Beethoven

Film of the Day: The Fall (Tarkem)

Cigar & flat-cap ...

For my dear friend in the UAE who has lovely smooth white sand on her beaches ... but still misses the crunch of fine pebbles underfoot from a Dorset beach
Love hearts are so much harder in shingle ... 
And get washed away so easily in the winter tide ... (welly socks rock)
But I still love it ... 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Well, finally this crazy week is drawing to a close.

It's been a roller-coaster I can tell you ... both emotionally and work-wise ...

Anyway tomorrow is Sunday ... offering a new dawn.

Today I have been watching first edits of the Mallorca and Dubai episodes ... and have been reliving the "Jumeirah Sceirah" moment ... arrgghhh ... I can feel every bit of the 8 second ride ... and it still makes me feel queasy. Also the M/Y Roma - the 47 million Euro yacht - experience in Mallorca looks quite swanky ...

Tomorrow it is set to be dry ... I am going to sit on a beach, listen to opera, smoke a cigar and read a nice book.

Song of the Day: La Wally - Ebben, ne andro lontana - Maria Callas (makes me sob every time!)

O from my mother's cheerful house
La Wally is about to go away from you, from you!
Quite far away, and perhaps to you,
And perhaps to you, will never more return,
Nor ever more see you again!
Never again, never again!

Film of the Day: Les Intouchables (I have watched it again and now "get it")

Outside St Martin's in Covent Garden ... a lovely concert venue ... 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Today has been a London-day ... cold ... bright ... work-related ... but I am finally home - looking forward to a weekend of nothingness and catching up with all the work from Cannes ...

I have got that love of London back ... multi-racial, harmonious ... I have a feeling it will be my permanent home again quite soon.

Song of the Day: Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday

Film of the Day: Mississippi Burning (Gene Hackman)

One of my favourite photos from Cannes ... me & Obi-Wan ...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Farewell ILTM 2012, Farewell Monaco, Farewell Cannes, Farewell Nice, Farewell France ... hello HOME!

Yes - except for a couple of hotel stays between now and January (to get over "Hell"), I am going back to cold, windy, snowy England for a few weeks AND I am going to LOVE it.

I am going to eat pizza, drink pink champagne, walk the dog, wear my Russian fur hat and even go to the gym ...

Monaco was cold & clear and very "fancy" ... I could not stay there more than a day or so ... 

Last night I met Miss Universe (from Italy) 2011 ... I was most disappointed ... it was at a hotel party at Salvatore Ferregamo on La Croisette in Cannes ... she was not very funny ... but the boutique was lovely.

I have been VERY disappointed by the champagne at this year's ILTM ... most quite cheap ... and very little pink. 

Hmmm - I seem to be filled with disappointment (all quite shallow - except HELL) ...

I think I am ranting now so I will prepare for my flight home. A bientot mes amis!

Song of the Day: You're my Best Friend - Queen

Film of the Day: An Affair to Remember (Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr)

Monaco ... with Monte-Carlo in the distance

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Farewell Cannes ... hello Monaco!

Yes - the last day of ILTM (for me) was filled with more walking, more champagne, more meetings with lovely travel people ... and I have been waiting for OVER a year, but I was finally granted an audience with (THE) Father Christmas ... who was definitely in a ho!ho!ho! mood ... came from Finland ... and promised me a 40 year old single malt, a black shiny new car and a partridge in a pear tree come 25th December!

So - Hell Part 3 - The Final Chapter saw my "Please do not disturb" sign being ignored, ANOTHER cut on my leg from the bed frame AND finding I had an ironing board ... without an iron!

Grand? Limited ... very!

The weather has been lovely here ... a wee chilly & a wee windy ... but sunglasses have been very necessary.

Idiot question of the day: 

To me: If you give me your lovely scarf ... I will give you three nights in my luxury hotel ... but you will have to pay for your flight and all food, internet and laundry ...

Reply to her: Really? No laundry? In that case, erm - thanks but no thanks ...

So - another year, another ILTM ...

My highlight of the show (exhibitor wise) was a chap who runs an adventure company in Iceland who is going to take me diving under a volcano in January ... erm ... I can't wait!

Song of the Day (dedicated to Tim the Cameraman) - Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye
Film of the Day: The Happiness of the Katakuris (Takahashi) 

Shouldn't he be in Lapland bottling my whisky? 
  With my lovely big sis, Julia Record of The Dorchester Collection
The face of US luxury travel blogging - Tiffany Dowd - waiting in line to meet Santa
The view ... lovely!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Today I walked a total of 13.8 kilometres! And my feet hurt.

OK - it was (almost) from one glass of champagne to another ... but my pedometer doesn't lie!

More lovely "meetings" today with friends from Australia, New York, Los Angeles, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, Peru, Colombia, Canada, Sweden, Germany and even London! How I love ILTM. It's quite cookie.

"Hell" is not improving. I like wearing bathroom slippers in hotels like these (grubby carpets)... and they have Grand-ly provided two pairs ... which would fit a baby chimp (just) ... not a grown man ... ugh.

Oh - "Hell" has a second home ... here in Cannes ... and my lunch at "Hell - The Next Chapter" was a fiasco ... a soup that looked like something watery from a baby's nappy (diaper) and half cooked/half frozen fish ... served with roast potatoes that could be used as mortar shells. I went hungry. 

I have taken many photos (some amusing) which I will use over the next few days.

A very dear feline friend from over the pond passes away today ... Lucy was 14 years old ... and such a sweet, sweet cat ... that always made a stranger (me) feel welcome ... she's in heaven now, playing with a lovely ball of string ... dear, sweet Lucy.

Song of the Day: For What It's Worth - The Cardigans

Film of the Day: To Catch a Thief - Cary Grant & Grace Kelly (1955)
Pretty blonde girl at ILTM to me: You are so gorgeous, so well dressed, so handsome ... such a pity you're gay or I would take you home.

Me to pretty blonde girl at ILTM: Erm, I'm not gay!

Pretty blonde girl at ILTM to me: Really? (blushes and makes sharp exit)

The Majestic Hotel Cannes was home to Grace Kelly and Cary Grant during filming of To Catch a Thief ... it's opposite the Palais - home to the film festival ...

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