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queenstown favourites

April 18, 2017 |Comments

Queenstown sits on the shore of the South Island’s crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps, and is one of New Zealand’s premier holiday destinations. It is a fabulous base to explore the region’s historic mining towns and vineyards, and for all you adventure seekers, a great place to go bungee jumping and skydiving (that I haven’t found the courage to do).
And since everyone was asking, I’ve rounded off my favourite spots around Queenstown, including my stay at The Spire Hotel. If you like this expansive view of Lake Wakatipu (below) as much as I do, you’ll be happy to know it is literally a few steps away from the hotel.

 

Quite frankly, my place of stay at The Spire Hotel was so luxurious yet cosy that I struggled to leave my room every morning. It comes as no surprise then, that the hotel offers award winning luxury Queenstown accommodation where genuine hospitality, serenity and style uniquely combine. With just 10 suites and a characterful cocktail bar, it’s the destination of choice for those with an eye for detail and an appreciation of stellar service. To top it off, the hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of Queenstown’s vibrant cultural scene, including shops, cafes, nightlife and four season lake and mountain resort activities.

Most of all, we had great views of the church spire that gives the hotel its name, while king-size beds, luxe linens, stone-clad fireplaces, design classics and large private balconies feature in all suites. And the service is as inviting and welcoming as the room upon arrival: already lit fireplace, free bottle of champagne and chocolates, warm rug to snuggle up with a book, and there’s even a bath so big it soaks up all my aches. Do note though, the hotel might take a bit of finding as it is up a pedestrian lane, but valet parking is included so drop it off at the nearby loading zone and let reception know (they will grab your luggages and park the car for you promptly).

If you want to explore thrill-seeking tours or a family day trip, The Spire Hotel will even plan it for you. In fact the general manager, James, tried hard to push for a helicopter ride during our stay except the weather was almost unforgiving, but an organised lunch at The Grille by Eichardt’s made up for it. Serving sincerely memorable experiences mere footsteps from The Spire Hotel and the shores of Lake Wakatipu, this outstanding dining hub warmly welcomes both locals and visitors alike, where home-grown, free-range, and locally sourced produce is at the forefront of an authentic dining experience in Queenstown’s premier lakefront restaurant.

Pictured above: Seasonal bluff oysters, homemade parpadelle with special-of-the-day prawns and Eichardt’s wagyu cheeseburger. 

 

The lookout from Bennett’s Bluff (above) is one to catch at sunrise, as we did, but bring lots of warm layers as it can get quite chilly at six in the morning. How to: less than half hour drive from The Spire Hotel.

The highest highway in New Zealand, the Crown Range Road connects Wanaka and Queenstown. As above, the view from Crown Range summit lookout is one not to be missed. These were taken during sunset and we were lucky enough to catch a dreamy stream of light in a passing moment. How to: less than half hour drive from The Spire Hotel.

 

We rode up Skyline Queenstown Gondola, the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, to the top of Bob’s Peak – a must-do in Queenstown. Marvel at the incredible view (above) from 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. How to: less than ten minutes walk from The Spire Hotel.
Lastly, Coronet Peak (below) may be well received during winter months when snow activities are available, but the view during autumn isn’t much to complain about too. How to: less than half hour drive from The Spire Hotel.

 

 

city getaway

September 9, 2016 |Comments

From afar, Milan’s huge landmarks and gothic structures are certainly overwhelmingly magnificent and spell-binding. Take Duomo di Milano for example, there is always some sort of enchantment that comes with its overall beauty, but as you inch closer to scrutinise the finer details, you understand why the grand cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete.

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An ancient city centre with soaring buildings and palazzos, it is no wonder Milan is a magnetic point for designers, photographers and artists. In my previous post, I mentioned that our hotel was conveniently located within the city’s fashion and shopping district, and it should come as no surprise that it was none other than the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Milano that is also within five minutes walk of the Duomo, Teatro alla Scala and the business and financial district. The guest rooms and dining venues are all framed by an unforgettable 15th-century cloistered and landscaped courtyard, and being situated in one of the city’s most historic quarters clearly has its perks – the streets are all photoshoot-worthy at any time of day.

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La Veranda Restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel Milano

Besides breakfast every morning, we also had lunch at La Veranda that is an all-day dining room occupying a wide conservatory area overlooking the courtyard garden. The restaurant offers innovative Mediterranean and local cuisine, as well as relaxing summer outdoor seating: all enriched with the flavours of the exquisite dishes of Executive Chef Vito Mollica and Marco Veneruso, the Restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine. My favourite dishes being: scallop carpaccio, culatello, salt codfish and the decadent apricot-stuffed quail.

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Apricot-stuffed quail with foie gras and celeriac cream

As they say, a dip a day is always the way, and the hotel’s spa is a warm, welcoming and tranquil space designed in the true Four Seasons spirit by world renowned Spanish designer and architect Patricia Urquiola. We spent a bit of our evenings in the pool and only wished we had allocated more time securing the Spa Suite Room for a special couple treatment and then relaxing by the fireplace.

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Apart from their luscious dining and spa, the rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Milano are designed around the original 15th century architecture, blending historic details with timeless Italian design. And the best part? Their Carrera marble bathrooms include heated floors and back-heated, steam-resistant mirrors. We also had a peek at their various suites, including a fashion one that imparted the air of a cosy city apartment, and it’s safe to say that each room’s contemporary art complemented the opulent furnishings just as well.
In truth, Milan was a brief getaway but an unforgettable one at that, especially when boutiques, design stores and galleries are all within a stone’s throw. There are countless things to do in Milan. Wander the charming streets of the Navigli district. Explore the remarkable gothic majesty of the Duomo. Share a gelato. Sip an aperitivo. Take in a breathtaking performance at Teatro alla Scala. Sleep beautifully and wake up refreshed.

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oasis in the city

July 28, 2016 |Comments

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In collaboration with Four Seasons Hotel Singapore

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There are a few places in the world close to my heart, some of them significant because of the close friends I’ve made, and others are far etched in my memory by the intimate flavours of a very, very wonderful meal. Four Seasons Hotel Singapore is one of them, mainly for the reasons that many unexpected friendships have been formed within the building, and that their award-winning restaurants serve up an excellent meal while their fine serene spa boasts a mighty first-class massage, tried and true.

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The principle of enjoyment and happiness at award-winning fine-dining restaurant Jiang-Nan Chun.
享乐主义

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Signature Peking Duck
Duck is roasted in a customised wood-fired oven, imbuing succulence to the meat and reducing fat beneath the aromatic crispy skin. The xiang le touch extends also to the service as the chef personally carves the duck in front of guests with an exquisite final touch – caviar is served on the side, for an intimate blend with the traditional flavours of the duck.
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Even their dim sums showcase the laborious and delectable attention to detail by the chefs. For one, the crispy flaky pastry with black pepper meat takes many hours to make, with seventeen symmetrical layers alternated between water-based and oil-based skin to form a crispy textured pastry that wraps the wood-fired meat within. And perhaps one of my favourites, the steamed barbequed pork bun uses kurobuta pork that is glazed and cooked in the wood-fired oven, and then finally topped with the tangy sweetness of green chilli. To say it was exquisite is an understatement.

Words and Photos: Pale Division and Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
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