Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Tuesday 16th September

You can tell the honour of a city by the way it treats its animals. I am pleased to say that - along with Istanbul - Athens passes my test.

The hotel has a pooch - Glykas ("sweet one") who I spent a few minutes with this morning and The Acropolis Museum has Eleanor the kitten AND both are looked after by anyone and everyone. They are revered and are treated with dignity and kindness. Thank you Athens!

So - today was about thunderstorms AND the AMAZING Acropolis Museum. Built in 2008, it houses 40,000 artefacts from the Acropolis/Parthenon.

I am NOT a political man BUT the so-called "Elgin Marbles" MUST be returned and also the panels & Caryatids that were looted. They do not belong to the British Museum, they belong in the Acropolis Museum and to the people of Greece. So there. Shame on you British Museum.

Anyway, I interviewed this wonderful chap, Professor Pandermalis who was the driving force behind the Acropolis Museum. He certainly knows his stuff ...

Song of the Day: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - UB40 & Robert Palmer

Monday, 15 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Monday 15th September

The Grand Bretagne, Athens opened in 1874. It as 320 rooms and suites - but only ONE Royal Suite. It's 400 sq metres in area. It has just one bedroom.
BUT it features: a piano, more antiques than you can imagine, oodles of gold, lashings of Blue Brazilian Marble, a Californian King Size Bed, an office, a massage table, a rain shower, a steam room, a sauna, an 18-seater dining table, humidor, wine cellar ... oh and a running machine. Its balcony looks over Constitution Square, the Parliament Building, The National Gardens, The Acropolis .. and the Stadium ..

Previous guests who have stayed in here include Sofia Loren and future guests include ... well, ask me on Thursday! Heehee

It is AN AMAZING suite - Euros 15,000 per night (+ tax) ... but somehow feels a wee too much for just me .. :(

Today I sampled some FABULOUS Greek wines and the best olive oil in the world. I know what gifts to buy and take home!

Oh - and the weather was STUNNING!

Right off for a wee swim before supper.

Song of the Day: Alex Clare - Addicted to Love

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Sunday 14th September

Kalimera from Athens!

Greetings from The Royal Suite at The Grande Bretagne Hotel - THE best hotel in Athens ... 

We are here to film for a week in the Greek capital and I am quite excited. Acropolis, Parthenon etc ... 

Just home from the Maldives for a few days and things have been chaotic ... but still managed to find time for tennis, cooking, riding and dancing lessons, a date (!) and I learnt how to iron a shirt! A fabulous lady in the local launderette gave me an hour of her time! I am so proud ... no excuses ever again!

SO - Shanghai and Maldives are done ... Athens this month and then ... India in October! 

We start filming in earnest tomorrow ... so todays entry is short & sweet.

Filia my friends, filia ...

Song of the Day: Maria Callas - Ebben! Ne Andro Lontana

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Inside Luxury Travel is planning a new advertising campaign ... with a little help from an elephant named Yuki ...

Monday, 8 September 2014

Song of the Day: How Deep Is The Ocean? - Eric Clapton

How much do I love you?
I'll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

How many times a day
Do I think of you?
How many roses
Are sprinkled with dew?

How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?

And if I ever lose you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

How many times a day
Do I think of you?
How many roses
Are sprinkled with dew?

How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?

And if I ever lose you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

How high is the sky?
And if I ever lose you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
 — at on my way home ... yay

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Sunday 7th September

Two iconic buildings in Dubai - BOTH visited ... one for dinner (last night, the fabulous Amal in The Armani Hotel in The Burj Khalifa) and of course, Burj Al Arab ...

It's SO hot here and SO humid. I do miss "the balmy ocean breezes of the Maldives".

So - the adventure is finally over and I can go home to sleep and prepare for another one.

Right ...

Song of the Day: End of the Line - Travelling Wilburys
 — at The Oberoi, Dubai

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Saturday 6th September

Greetings from Dubai!

I am here for a couple of days of meetings ... however ... I am so, so looking forward to getting home.

Ele and Neil are currently off to Canada via London! I know! What crazy lives, eh?

Last evening was a mixture of sadness and huge sadness. We sat on the beach ... under the stars, drank champagne and reminisced on Maldives and love.

OKAY - so it is VERY VERY VERY hot here ... I am not going out for the rest of the day BUT I have a lovely dinner planned tonight with an old friend in an amazing venue ... EXCITED!

Oh - I am staying at The Oberoi in "Downtown" ... there is a lot of building work going on around me ... and (my choice) NO beach!

Song of the Day: Missing - Everything But The Girl
 — at The Oberoi, Dubai

Friday, 5 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Friday 5th September

It's a very long time since I have been SO sad to leave a filming destination ... and I am quite miserable that I am leaving the Maldives early tomorrow.

However, I will be back soon ... ON HOLIDAY!

We have finished up here so it's time to pack. I have a couple of days in Dubai before I finally get home. Work - not pleasure:


1) "L"o"V"e on the beach ...
2)  My lovely Park Hyatt dive instructor - Madamoiselle Pauline a Paris
3) Le Grand Bleu
4) In my Park Water Villa - there are 50 villas here - 14 over water, 16 with no pool and 20 with pool ... of which
5) Mine is one ...
6) Tonight it's a farewell "champagne & canapes" on the Beach - wish YOU were here!
7) I love & miss all the "S"s in my life 

Why is sand so white and soft here in the Maldives? Because it's made of coral ...

Three bits of advice about the Maldives:

a) Don't come here alone
b) Prepare yourself to never want to leave
c) Be able to snorkel or dive

THANK YOU to everyone at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and the Park Hyatt Hadahaa 

Song of the Day: My Love is Your Love - Whitney Houston

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Thursday 4th September

Seven dives in a week and I am now totally pooped.

Today I saw: green turtles, Hawksbill turtles, jaguar shark (amazing), white tipped sharks, grey reef sharks, Napoleon fish, tuna, starfish, (happy) clowm fish, lobster ... AND some of the most amazing coral forests on Earth. The colours, the density, the accessibility ... simply amazing ...

Huge thanks to the Diving Team here which has captured the most amazing footage and photos.

Tomorrow is the last day here ... in Paradise.

Song of the Day: River - Joni Mitchell

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Wednesday 3rd September

I am tired. Don't get me wrong, I am still hugely enthusiastic BUT I am ... "tired".

Today I learnt about the 60 million year history of the Maldives. It's quite interesting.

I also went on my first ever "night dive". I have done 5 dives this week already ... it's funny ... I have found diving one of the most cathartic sports I have ever tried.

But now, all I do is think ... think think think ...

OK - sleep sleep sleep.

Two days to go then I start the journey home via Dubai for a couple of nights.

Song of the Day: Everybody Hurts - REM

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Tuesday 2nd September

Today is the last day of our "Four Seasonstastic" filming trip ... and we are moving islands ... BUT we still have a few more days left in Paradise!

I am always asked what makes a good hotel/resort great and the answer is always "the staff". Happy staff always deliver an incredible (service) experience.

Last night we had the honour of being invited to the staff party ... and what incredible fun we had. The staff here eat as heartily as the guests AND they party hard too! It was definitely one of my most memorable Four Seasons experiences! I will NEVER be able to listen to Michael Jackson's "Beat It" again without my mind being transported to last nights Maldivian beach party!

Time to pack and to move on ...

Adios amigos!

Song of the Day: Only Love Remains - Paul McCartney

Monday, 1 September 2014

Varun's Diary - Monday 1st September

Happy New Month!

I love September ... its a segue from Summer to Autumn ... hmmm ...

OKAY - today was about sports ... so Scuba (3 dives) and some golf ... Did I see any sharks? Did I actually hit a ball? Find out soon ...

Loving my Kuda Huraa (re)experience - so many lovely memories!

The sun has shone all day and has been particularly hot ... the sea has been fluctuating between "Tiffany" blue and cyan ... oh and a splash of turquoise.

I have been eating too much - diet when I get home I think! Ha!

What is the song of the day going to be??? Let me see ....

Song of the Day: Erase/Rewind - The Cardigans

Enjoy .... 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Varun's Diary - Sunday 31th August

Back in 2001 I was nursing a broken heart (not the first!) ... and my dear friend Victoria suggested I stayed at The Four Seasons at Kuda Huraa in the Maldives for a couple of weeks by myself to read books, eat pizza, drink whisky, smoke cigars and figure out the meaning of life. I did all but the last ...

Anyway, I am back here today - 13 years later!

I have swapped the Landaa Estate for the Royal Villa ... so no hardship there ... "but" only two bedrooms ... private pool AND a private jetty into the ocean. Oh ... and a heron called Bob.

I am DEFINITELY going back to Landaa in March 2015 - by the way - I have just booked my airline ticket! That place is just ... magical.

SO - flew 30 minutes from there to here - have settled in, had a mani & pedi, eaten Indian food but have to be up VERY early tomorrow for a dive ... as today we ran out of time ...

SO, GOODNIGHT and hopefully, plenty of cool/exciting photos tomorrow!

Song of the Day: I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Varun's Diary - Saturday 30th August

Conservation Saturday!

I spent most of today underwater in some shape or form.

First up, I joined the Manta Trust - a charity set in 2005 - that's looks after the welfare of Manta Rays around the world. I went out with its founder Guy Stevens ...

We sailed for 20 minutes to the Reethi Beach Reef where we "bumped" into the most amazing Manta Rays - up to 4 metres in length ... and very friendly!

I snorkelled for an hour (tiring) while the Mantas came to say "hi". There we upto 42 rays in a "flock". Yes - 4-2... !! Amazing!

A few months ago I was in Grand Cayman where the Sting Rays jump all over you as they are "tamed" by the locals ... here, the Mantas are free and come to say hello when they want ... lovely.

ALL the worlds coral reefs will be dead by 2050 if the rate of their destruction carries on. Global warming is raising the temperature of the oceans and the coral just dies. Coral is a symbiosis of animal and vegetal by the way .. it is "alive". Here at the resort, there is a program that lets guests "propogate" coral ... and its planted in the sea where it grows ... and becomes a "reef". I AM SO EXCITED that there is now an official "ILT" reef ... I will be back in two years to see "my reef"! Thank you Landaa marine scientist Thomas Le Berre!

What a day ... WHAT A DAY!!

Off for teppenyaki ... yum!

Song of the Day: We Used to Wait - Arcade Fire

Friday, 29 August 2014

Varun's Diary - Friday 29th August

Another Day in Paradise ...

Let me see, how many modes of transport have I used on this trip:
1) Car (home to airport)
2) Boeing A380 (ugh)
3) Seaplane (yay)
4) Boat (yaya)
5) Bicycle (yes, really!)
6) Feet (!)
7) X-jet pack

So the sun has been shining today except for one storm this afternoon ...

X-JET PACK???!! Oh yes - this - as the photo suggest is "flying using water as propulsion". It's not as easy as it looks BUT I did manage to "fly" ... just!

I am feeling MUCH better today - enough to go swimming at sunrise ... 

Just spotted a shark outside my Estate ... I wonder if I should offer it some chicken tikka masala? Hmm - maybe not - it will get a taste for Indian ... haha!

Oh - yes - I am SO SO happy here! Although I wish YOU were here :)

Song of the Day: Rocket Man - Kate Bush

(and whoever is enjoying "my" seats at the concert in London tonight - ENJOY!)

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Varun's Diary - Thursday 28th August

Hello & Welcome from Paradise ... the Maldives! Yes - I am here (with crew) to film an episode of ILT over the next 10 days.

The flight over from London was painless but the service on Emirates is quite desperately bad. Shame ....

ANYWAY - we are here at the first resort - The Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru ... and I am quite impressed ... actually, VERY impressed.

Landed at Male (capital) and took one of those cute small planes for 35 minutes to the Baa Atoll.

I am being rather ... um ... spoilt. I am staying in a 3-bedroom estate - 24 hour butler & private chef - 25 metre private pool - 80 metres PRIVATE beach ... and it's rather nice. I am feeling a wee sad that I am here all by myself. The estate costs US $20,000 a night ... and I am here for 4 nights ... ha! 

I have had a cold for two days which has meant no diving and lots of Advil ... which has made me quite wooey. Anyway, I feel much better now and after a good nights sleep I should be back to normal for tomorrow.

The sunrise is incredible and is only matched by the sunset ...

Heaven - Paradise --- yes, it's all here ....

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