Upscale Holidays

Mar 8th, 2003, 12:02 PM
  #1  
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Upscale Holidays

I am looking for an upscale luxury resort to spend either Christmas or New Years at. I need a resort that has some type of celebration or party. I will be travelling with family and close friends, ages ranging from 14 to 60, so the resort must be very family friends. I am really open to any ideas; I am primarily interested in resorts in Southeast Asia, but I'll take any place in the world that has a really huge holiday scene. Thanks.
Aman4Seasons is offline  
Mar 8th, 2003, 04:06 PM
  #2  
 
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Your requirements don't really narrow the field. All of the luxury resorts have lavish special dinners for both Christmas and New Years. So choose the area you are interested in and ask for suggestions.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 9th, 2003, 01:55 PM
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While I LOVE your preference in resort chains - Aman4Seasons - I'm afraid I've never traveled over Christmas so I can't speak for the holiday "parties". But I agree with the earlier poster that most luxury resorts offer holiday related activities. But what is it that you really want? Beach? Culture? City? Scenery? The more info you give us, the better we can help you.
Ericka is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 02:49 AM
  #4  
 
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What a fun dilemma! I lived in Hong Kong and Singapore for 10 years and spent many Christmases and New Year's in various spots. As you know, most Asians are not Christians, so you won't find what I would call a "huge" holiday scene in terms religious events (except the Philippines, where I would not recommend you travel at this time). Unless you go to Australia (which would be an option you might consider as the weather is great at that time), you won't find carollers in the streets, etc., although the large cities will be lit up in lights and the city hotels will be decorated. My experience is that the resort (meaning beach) hotels be decorated with lights and poinsettias, but not to the extent of the city hotels. All the hotels will have special dinners for Christmas and New Years. As described below, some hotels or cities may have fireworks on New Years.

My recommendation would be to spend Christmas in Hong Kong and then move to a resort area in Phuket or Bali for New Year's. In Hong Kong, all the skyscrapers and stores decorate with lights to a mind-numbing extent, it is something to see. One of the most fun things for me about Christmas in Hong Kong is going out Christmas Eve onto Salisbury Road and seeing the tens of thousands of people out just strolling and having fun. As it is not really a religious holiday for most Hong Kongers, people are not at home having family dinners or going to church. Christmas Day and the day after (Boxing Day) are public holidays so people are in a vacation mood. Also, you could have a turkey and trimmings dinner at most of the hotels. As it is winter there (about 65 degrees and sunny, best time of year) this may feel more "Christmassy" to you than having turkey in 80 degree heat on the beach. You can attend midnight mass at a number of churches and cathedrals. There are a myriad of excellent upscale hotels in Hong Kong, in order of my personal preference would be: Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental, Ritz-Carlton or the Marrott/Shangri-La/Conrard hotel complex at Pacific Place. Do a search on this site and read the Fodor's recommendations as well.

Singapore would be another place to consider as there are known for their over the top Christmas lighting along Orchard Road. They don't have the street scene on Christmas Eve like Hong Kong, and it is hotter there, so my first choice would be Hong Kong, but Singapore would not be a bad choice either.

Bangkok is a third, as Christmas is not really celebrated to the same extent, and the city is not decorated to like Hong Kong and Sinapore. It might be a good choice for New Years if you wanted to be in a city.


See next thread for beach recommendations....
Cicerone is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 02:49 AM
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For beaches, my recommendations would be Phuket or Bali. Many people are reluctant to travel to Bali at this time, so only you can decide. If you choose Bali, there are several excellent Aman resorts (beach and Ubud mountain area) as well as two excellent Four Seasons (beach and Ubud) and the Ritz-Carlton (beach). The Four Season Sayan (Ubud) would be a good choice if you don't need a beach, as they offer biking and walks which the kids may enjoy, and they can also do white water rafting near by. (Not dangerous and this 40-year old loved it!) I have not been to Bali for New Years, but my assumption is that the larger beach areas like Kuta or Nusa Dua may put on fireworks. You probably would not find this in the Ubud/mountain areas.

For Phuket, there is the Aman and The Bayan Tree for upscale. The Aman might not be as interesting to the younger people in your group, as it is quieter and there is only one pool. I would also put in a good word for the Sheraton and the JW Marriott. I stayed at the villas at the Sheraton last New Years and really enjoyed it. These are in a special part of the hotel and are 2 and 3 bedroom town houses with living room, small ground terrace and their own roof terrace, all looking out over a large lagoon. There is a restaurant there just for villa residents and you have your own check in and concierge, so you don't feel that you are part of the larger hotel. The Sheraton and the Bayan Tree are part of a 4./5-hotel complex on a very nice beach. You can use facilities at all the hotels and charge to your room, including the great spa at the Banyan. (The Sheraton also has a nice spa.) There is a nice shopping complex on the resort as well. There are fireworks on the beach on New Years, and each hotel has its own New Years dinner with band, etc. It was a great way to spend New Years.

The Marriott is brand-new and is on its own beach north of the airport. The drawback here is that it is a bit isolated as it is not near other hotels or restaurants. The good news is that it is very close to Blue Canyon, the best golf course on the island IMHO.

Another thing we did in Phuket was charter a crewed yacht for 3 days. This was a 2-cabin boat with cook and pilot. They took us to lots of small outlying islands. The company also offers larger boats. We loved this because we could plan our own itinerary and there is nothing like snorkelling all morning on a beautiful beach and then having lunch served to you in air-conditioned comfort in the cabin of the boat…true luxury! It was about the same price per night as the villa at the Sheraton and included all meals. If you are interested, write back on this thread and I will give you the contact details of the charger company we used.

As I mentioned, Australia would be a good choice for a great Christmas experience. It will be high summer there, and everyone goes to the beach for Christmas. Australians are extremely laid back and fun and if you can take the long flight, this would be a great choice. You will of course get a more religious Christmas experience if that is one of your priorities as well. If you do choose Australia, I would recommend Christmas in Sydney (Park Hyatt would be my choice), and then going to a beach resort in the Whitsunday's, barrier reef or other areas. Run a search here as well for options in Australia.

Cicerone is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 06:21 AM
  #6  
 
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Cicerone,

Please provide the charter crewed Yacht information. Do they have a web site?
Thank you.
sanda is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 06:52 AM
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Dear Sanda:

Here is the info on the charter company we used in Phuket, including their webiste:

Thai Marine Leisure
Yachtcharters & Yacht Brokerage
c/o Phuket Boat Lagoon
20/7-8, Moo 2, Tambon Koh Kaew
Amphur Muang
Phuket 83200, Thailand
Tel: 66-76-239 111, or 66-76 273 320 or or 66-76-273 321
Fax: (66-76) 238 974

e-mail: [email protected], or [email protected]

website: thaimarine.com

We chartered the Sea Wolf, which is a power boat, about 47 feet, which sleeps up to 6 people. (It had 3 bedrooms, not 2 as I mentioned in my earlier message.) It also had two full bathrooms a large cabin area, a outdoor (but covered) covered seating area above the main cabin and an open sun tan area on the foredeck. We were very happy with the whole experience and would definitely do it again. The food was marvelous. They have snorkel equipment on board plus a small dinghy to take you to shore. They can arrange to bring along scuba gear at an extra coast. The company also charters sailboats.
Cicerone is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 07:14 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi Cioerone,

Thank you so much. I looked at their web & can't tell which boat we should rent? Any suggestions. Only for my husband & I. Does food and excursion included with the per day price?
sanda is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 08:32 AM
  #9  
 
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I only saw the Sea Wolf, so I can't give you any first-hand recommendations of the other boats available. You first need to decide if you want a sailboat or a power boat. As there are only two of you, the smaller boats are probably the best choice in terms of cost. All your food is included, except beer, wine or liquor. You can bring your own or ask them to stock these for you. There aren't any "excursion" charges to speak of, as you will be visiting uninhabited islands or developed islands like Phi Phi or Krabi. It sounds like you may be used to a large cruise ship where they offer shore excursions. These trips don't work that way. You will be island hopping, snorkeling, etc on your own, there aren't any towns or other organized excursions. They will bring you to the beach on the rubber dinghy and pick you up at an agreed time. They can also use the dingy to take you to hidden lagoons, etc which can't be reached by the larger boat. You can also swim, dive or snorkel right from the boat.

I just looked at their website again now, and if you are considering sailboats, the Muscat looks like a good size and a nice boat from the description. The price of sailboats is going to be a bit better than power boats, as you don't have the same fuel costs. The cabins are probably going to be a little smaller, but if there are only 2 of you that probably doesn’t matter. The power boats all seem to be about the same price, so if you can get the Sea Wolf and don't mind paying for it all, I would recommend her. You might want to have some alternates in case one boat is not available.

My one recommendation is to pack light. You will not need anything much beyond a swimsuit, cover-up and shorts. Maybe a dress or slacks if you want to have dinner on Phi Phi or Krabi. If you are doing this as part of a longer trip, the charter company will gladly store your large suitcases, and you would only need to bring a sport bag or smaller suitcase on board. The cabins are a fine size, but they are not hotel rooms and it would be difficult to get a large suitcase in them and also be able to move around. Of course, you will probably have at least one extra cabin so you can put things in there as well.
Cicerone is offline  
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