The Siam: A Boutique Luxury Hotel in Bangkok with a Tale to Tell

Choosing a hotel in Bangkok is like trying to find the prettiest wildflower in the field. There are just so many and they are all precious. But if you narrow that search to a boutique luxury hotel on the Chao Praya River – a few doors down from the home of Thailand’s crowned prince, you will find yourself at The Siam.

The Siam could be considered one of Thailand’s jewels in a shimmering city of gold. The 39-key property opened in June 2012 as a hideaway within Bangkok’s towering skyline. It’s right on the river, tucked into a corner of the Dusit neighborhood, a stones’ throw from the Chitralada Palace, and it hails from another era entirely.

Front view 07042012The Siam: A Look

The small, white two-story expanse seems more turn of the century colonial or 1920s expat hip than 2014 fashion forward chic. The Siam is a unique property with a capital “U” in Bangkok, if only for its efficient use of rare riverfront real estate and a commitment to keep things interesting for its discerning visitors.

A quick look around The Siam shows a petite Deco lobby area that flows into a library and game room that could have been the setting of a gothic coming of age novel: rare first edition books, new oversized art books, oddities from world travels, antiques that pop out of forgotten steamer trunks. No doubt a mysterious monkey doll is hidden in there somewhere.

TeaserThe library is part of the main building that offers a variety of rooms lined up along a comely atrium, all smartly themed in 1920s Art Deco. The rooms here are ambient and comfortable, easily evoking times past. Beyond the main building are the restaurants, patios and pool all facing the river and benefitting from its cooling breezes. The Chon Thai Restaurant and Cooking School anchors the F&B, which includes the Deco Bar, a pool bar and the outdoor, riverfront Café Cha. Chon is the signature here and a treat for the palate. Home-cooked Thai dishes are served in teakwood elegance amid spaces that once saw such socialites as Jackie Kennedy, John Rockefeller and Henry Ford mixing with Thai dignitaries.

pool-&-bathers-bar_1_57The Siam: The Story Behind It

That’s because The Siam has a back-story. Current owner Kamala Sukusol, a star singer and entertainer in Thailand (and the head of Sukusol Hotels and Resorts) bought the original property from the estate of Connie Mangskau, a notable Bangkok bon vivant who lived there through the years and threw legendary parties at this perch on the Chao Praya. The three-acre spread contains some Thai heritage houses sourced by silk tycoon Jim Thompson that Mangskau had moved from the ancient royal capital of Ayutthaya. Thompson, considered the god of textiles in these parts, revitalized the silk industry in Thailand but lived a life of mystery and adventure. A close friend of Mangskau the two were linked socially, but all that ended during a trip the two took together in 1967 to Malaysia where Thompson disappeared during a stroll from his bungalow in the jungle highlands, never to be seen again.

connie1_54The Siam: The Stay

The intriguing design of the Siam, at some $1.5 million per room, includes 16 Siam suites done up in Art Deco décor with interior verandahs for leisurely breakfasts and afternoon teas over the Main Residence atrium. A dozen spacious Mae Nim suites offer views of the river. Then there are the 10 villas that offer private gardens, dipping pools and open-air moon terraces. Upon request, personal butlers cater each suite. Complimentary wi-fi is available property-wide.

MainPampering is on the menu and the Opium Spa offers a hammam and full array of massage and body treatments, but puts focus on the Muay Thai ring in the gym adjacent to the spa. There, Muay Thai instructors provide spot lessons and offer weeklong lose weight/learn-to-box programs.

The property is a member of Small Luxury Hotels and a part of the Virtuoso collection. Nightly rates start at around $532 per night but plenty of packages, mix and match opportunities and suite deals are available through a quick check of offers on the website.

Opium Spa DenThe Siam: The Location

Getting there: Shared transfers to/from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), about 35 miles away, cost around $90 per vehicle each way, and The Siam can arrange. Taxis to/from BKK run around $20 each way.

The Siam, with a dock right on the river, offers options for breezy 15-minute longboat rides to and from top shopping spots and Skytrain depots, and easy tuk tuk to local temples and museums from the front entrance.

Poolvillariverview1_50The Siam

Thanon Khao, Vachirapayabal
(011 662) 247 0123

Chiva-Som Wellness Plus Until September 30th

Chiva-Som’s new Wellness Plus special is valid until September 30th and features bonus nights for all retreat programs until September 30. Guests who book a minimum of 5 nights in Double Occupancy will receive upgraded treatments equal to those of 7 nights stay.  Guests who book 7 nights get upgraded treatment equal to those of 10 nights and so on. All retreats include an Individual health and wellness consultation, all meals, physical analysis, daily spa treatment, daily fitness and leisure activities, and unlimited use of Water Therapy Suites.

 Upgraded Benefit (For all room types)

• 5 nights stay in double occupancy receive complimentary treatments of 7 nights

• 7 nights stay in double occupancy receive complimentary treatments of 10 nights

• 10 nights stay in double occupancy receive complimentary treatments of 14 nights

• 14 nights stay in double occupancy receive complimentary treatments of 21 nights

• Minimum 7 nights stay in single occupancy receive complimentary cash credit of THB 7,500++ plus Chiva-Som Healthy Gift Set

(Complimentary treatments not included)

Retreat Inclusions

• Individual health and wellness consultation (60 min)

• 3 spa cuisine meals per night (beginning with dinner)

• Complimentary physical analysis (30 min) and skin consultation are available if required

• A Daily Treatment per night stay, choose from Thai Massage (50 min), Chiva-Som Massage (50 min), Invigorating Massage (50 min), Relaxing

Foot Massage (50 min), Oriental Scalp Massage (25 min) or Chiva-Som Skin Haven Body Polish (25 min)

• Daily fitness and leisure activities (8 classes daily)

• Unlimited use of Water Therapy Suites (Steam, Sauna and Jacuzzi)


• Available for a minimum stay of 5 nights in double occupancy and 7 nights in single occupancy.

• This promotion cannot be used/claimed in conjunction or combined with any other promotions.

• Complimentary treatments, cash credit and give away gifts cannot be converted to cash or transferred to the other people or other stay.

• Complimentary cash credit can be redeemed with Chiva-Som’s treatments only.


To make your booking or for further information, please contact our reservations or your preferred travel agents and quote “Wellness Plus”

By Phone: +66 3253 6536 | By Email: | By Online Reservation:


Ultimate New Zealand 2014-15

Experience the very best New Zealand has to offer with a very special nine-night package.  Three nights at each Lodge – Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers, and Matakauri Lodge – each Lodge offering unique landscape and activities. A stay at these lodges always includes daily pre-dinner drinks and canapés, gourmet dinner, and full breakfast – but guests who book the Ultimate New Zealand package also enjoy a quintessential New Zealand adventure at each property (per couple), plus lunch daily. Options include spa treatments, excursions, kiwi discovery tour, cruises and more.  This package offers substantial savings and is a perfect itinerary to explore both the South and North Island. Click here for information and package rates through March 2015.



Texas Size Specials at The Inn at Dos Brisas

The Inn at Dos Brisas is offering two new summer packages – featuring 2014’s lowest rates, the Pitchfork to Pillow special includes in-room dining prepared by the Chef from their Forbes Travel Guide 5-Star Restaurant, a culinary experience to remember from pitchfork to pillow. Or, choose the Dos Brisas Adventure package where guests can customize their own experience, action-packed or an epicurean delight.

Pitchfork to Pillow

The ultimate culinary escape; join us for an evening of wine and fine cuisine within the comfort of your accommodations.Our Chef prepares a culinary experience to remember from pitchfork to pillow. Wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed. The Texas countryside never felt so good!  Offered in Haciendas and Casitas. Includes discounted room rate and in-room dining.


Sunday – Thursday: Casita $649 | Hacienda $1,169

Friday: Casita $809 | Hacienda $1,549

Saturday: Casita $949 | Hacienda: $1,869


Dos Brisas Adventure


Experience the life of a gentleman rancher at Dos Brisas. Whether you are a foodie or sports enthusiast, we have something for everyone. Create your own Dos Brisas Adventure with a one hour-long activity per day. Your next culinary adventure awaits filled with organic farm tours, cooking classes and wine classes or explore the property horseback riding, cycling, fishing or clay shooting.

Offered in Haciendas and Casitas. Includes chef’s choice hot breakfast. Pick one activity per person per day: cooking class, wine class, farm tour, horseback riding lesson, trail ride, carriage ride, clay shooting, fishing, cycling or one-hour couples massage.


Sunday – Thursday: Casita $969 | Hacienda $1,479

Friday: Casita $1,129 | Hacienda $1,859

Saturday: Casita $1,259 | Hacienda $2,179


To make reservations, contact us at 979.277.7750 or email us at



Special Packages at La Corte dei Papi, Tuscany

A historic family estate with modern-day stylings, La Corte dei Papi a tranquil Tuscan getaway for gourmands and those seeking a truly unique experience. La Corte dei Papi dates back to the 1700’s and The Papi family has taken great care over generations to preserve the history of the Relais. The hotel boasts just 15 suites including beautiful Spa Suites and an excellent restaurant housed in the estate’s original wine cellar.  Special packages include the following:

Romantic Weekend – Spend a romantic weekend of well-being and good food in the beautiful Tuscany

  • Accommodation for 3 nights in a comfortable and luxurious room
  • Strawberries, Champagne and a lovely bouquet of red roses in room upon arrival
  • Lavish Buffet Breakfast with a wide range of cheese, salami, fruit, home-made cakes and bread
  • Welcome gourmet dinner in the romantic atmosphere of our restaurant (drinks excluded)
  • Breakfast in room
  • Free wi-fi in room
  • Complimentary late check out

Price per person for all the package with accommodation in Double Room Deluxe € 440,00. Until January 10, 2016.


Living Beauty – Two nights of wellness and total relax on the border between Tuscany and Umbria

The estate’s Deluxe Spa Suites were created with relaxation and rejuvenation in mind. Two guests can savor a blissful experience in a private spa area, complete with a Turkish bath, a double Jacuzzi, a quiet sitting area and a multi-sensory shower – including aromatherapy, chromotherapy and music therapy. The Deluxe Suite Spa “La Terrazza” boasts a terrace with views of Cortona and the Tuscan countryside, a solarium and a flower-bedecked gazebo, perfect for romantic candlelight dinners.

  •  Two nights stay in our exclusive Deluxe Spa Suite (with a indoor private spa)
  • Very good bottle of Italian sparkling wine in room upon arrival
  • Buffet breakfast served in the privacy of your suite, with a wide selection of cheeses, cold meats, fruit, homemade cakes and freshly baked bread
  • Gourmet dinner in the romantic atmosphere of our restaurant (drinks excluding)
  • Body massage for 2 people in the total privacy of your Suite
  • Bathroom turkish with aroma, chromo and music therapy in Suite
  • Emotional shower with aroma, chromo and music therapy in Suite
  • Double Jacuzzi in Suite
  • Breakfast in Suite
  • Free wi-fi in suite
  • Late Check Out

Price per person with accommodation in a Deluxe Spa Suite € 730.00. Until January 10, 2016.


Honeymoon in Tuscany – Unique and unforgettable moments in the romantic atmosphere of the Tuscan countryside

  • Accommodation for 3 nights in a comfortable and luxurious room
  • Strawberries, Italian Spumante and a lovely bouquet of red roses in room upon arrival
  • Lavish Buffet Breakfast with a wide range of cheese, salami, fruit, home-made cakes and bread
  • Candlelight Gourmet Dinner with wine tasting of a selection of “Antinori” wines in the romantic atmosphere of our restaurant
  • breakfast in room
  • Free wi-fi in room
  • Complimentary late check out

Price per person starting from € 460.00 with accommodation in a Deluxe Double Room. Until January 10, 2016.


1-Day Val d’Orcia & Tuscany Maserati Tour

La Corte dei Papi and Red Travel offer a new travel concept; an innovative approach to the self-drive tour offering absolute luxury combined with the ultimate Gran Turismo experience. Red Travel Tours are unique journeys, individually created for you to fully experience the Italian Way of Life. Each journey is a sublime blend of art, fashion, architecture, gastronomy and spectacular scenery.Our guests will feel part of a real Maserati team, enjoying the opportunity to personally drive the very latest models. Travelling for kilometres, accelerating through the steep, winding roads of Tuscany, along the route of the legendary Mille Miglia race, putting their driving skills to the ultimate test.Behind the scenes, Red Travel staff take complete care of the cars. Every morning, our guests will find their car at the entrance of the hotel, clean and polished, refuelled and fully checked, ready to begin another day of exciting driving through further dazzling landscapes.

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2-Day “Umbria & Tuscany” Maserati Tour

Three hundred years ago Europe’s aristocracy travelled to Italy on a Grand Tour in search of personal inspiration. Today we will take you on a tour that encompasses all that is finest in Italian life. Red Travel Tours are unique journeys, individually created for you to fully experience the Italian Way of Life. Each journey is a blend of art, fashion, architecture, gastronomy and spectacular scenery, enriched by the use of a sublime car such as Maserati Quattroporte, able to combine luxury and elegance, style and performance.Red Travel offer you privileged entry into a most exclusive elite.You join the nobility of travellers who are welcomed to share sights that are achievable only by the most fortunate visitors.For we draw on all our vast experience and knowledge to find the special views…the hidden locations…the keys to closed doors. In short, the very essence of Italy. That is luxury travel of the highest orderRed Travel is glad to present a new luxurious way to discover Italy: Italia in Maserati, you may choose to self explore Italy at the wheel of a brand new Maserati, fully assisted by Red Travel staff with a concierge service at your disposal for 24hours/7 days, a detailed road-book to guide you through countryside roads dotted with villages of incomparable beauty, as well as the most attractive spots in world-renowned cities. Or you may decide to visit Italy in a complete relaxing way while a professional chauffeur drives you wherever you want, whenever you like!Your personal Tour Manager will chauffeur and guide you through every stage of your journey – unobtrusive until called on yet vastly experienced, knowledgeable and wise in the ways of making your days memorable.A level of personal service second to none, a holiday that’s as individual and unique as you are.

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More Specials

For more information contact



Undiscovered Nicaragua: Luxury Travelers Find Treasure in Mukul

Nicaragua may have been the playground of surfers, adventurers and backpackers over the last few years but the latest word on travel to Nicaragua is “luxury.” For luxury-minded travelers who want to veer ever so slightly off the beaten track Nicaragua offers a world of untainted, uncrowded and unexpected beauty. But it is an Eden that also comes with a high degree of opulence through a new hidden gem on the Emerald Coast called Mukul. A stay in Mukul, Nicaragua’s most lavish and pampering resort and spa, is packed with dazzling amenities. Better yet, luxury travelers to Nicaragua will find Mukul also sparkles with value.


Nicaragua is an easy four-hour flight from U.S. gateways but it maintains an identity and culture all its own. Granada, the oldest city in Central America (circa 1524) is one of the top treasures here with perfectly preserved Spanish colonial architecture seen in the churches, courtyards, parks, museums, boutique hotels, cafes and restaurants that fill this colorful city just outside Managua in Nicaragua’s Lake District.

Comely Coves, Hidden Treasures

And an easy 150-minute drive away (or 20-minute flight by helicopter) is the latest face of Nicaragua: a 37-room, $40 million luxury resort on the country’s Emerald Coast where butlers attend guests at all hours, a world class spa heals any lingering stress and private villas on the beach ensure guests get all the privacy and beauty they can handle.

Golf+Manzainllo+PanoramalNo longer isolated from a fast-paced, exotic-destination-hungry world, Nicaragua realized it had what many upscale travelers demand: mile after mile of untainted beachfront, hidden treasures in preserved, historic cities, sensational natural wonders, an assurance of safety, and an economy that ensured extreme value to anyone who would have a look. As Nicaragua opened up, Mukul walked in and created a bar-none resort experience aimed at the elite traveler but also in range to a variety of guests seeking an exceptional vacation.

 mukulOwned by one of the top business magnates in Nicaragua, Carlos Pellas put a plethora of creativity, acumen and sweat into building Mukul as part of a 1,670-acre project called Guacalito de la Isla (that will eventually contain 600 residences as well as another, larger hotel). When Mukul opened in February 2013, it opened a new era in the country’s development and put in the first luxury imprint with an 18-hole golf course designed by David McLay Kidd (Brandon Dunes, Queenwood Golf Club, TPC of San Francisco Bay at Stonebrae, St. Andrews Links Castle Course) and an entire vacation/resident resort model along a stunning beach on the Emerald Coast called Playa Manzanillo. The howler monkeys nesting in the surrounding trees was an unexpected extra.

Hiking at GuacalitoThe industrialist whose family championed successes in sugar, rum and banking through multiple generations, took his degrees from Stanford and returned to his homeland to change a few things. Marrying what Nicaragua offered in beauty and value with what international travelers were demanding spawned Mukul, where that added touch of personality provides in this offspring the perfect answer to searches for the brag-worthy upscale vacation.

1920x1080_golf_golferviewingoceanatdusk_Nicaragua’s “It” Place

And a new “it” spot it is: the darling of TripAdvisor fans, Mukul is consistently listed as the top resort in Nicaragua and it manages to maintain that spot by not taking chances. Service? The property runs its own hotel school and is able to give back to surrounding communities with economic infusions and amazing opportunities. It has built its own recycling center and practices ecological sustainability within its core missions.

Dining and accommodations aim to wow at Mukul. As Pellas’ showpiece and with a maximum of fewer than 80 guests, it is not hard for Mukul to overshoot expectations — seen immediately in individual beach villas, “bohios” (tree houses) and the palatial “casona.” Most accommodations overlook the Pacific Ocean and command their own private piece of paradise.

Mukul-Resort-VillasThe 12 beach villas and 23 hilltop bohios infuse native hard woods and artful colonial tile designs with a number of creative design concepts: repurposed driftwood, carved antique rum barrels, hand-thatched and vaulted ceilings. Private infinity plunge pools come with the panoply of offerings at Mukul. Beach villas bring expansive bathrooms (more like water temples), and exquisite outdoor shower gardens. Want to enjoy that morning sunrise with an assortment of cakes and aromatic Nicaraguan coffee? Just summon the 24-hour butler dedicated to the villa.

013-Mukul-Beach-BathStanding a notch above and perhaps in a class of its own is the Casona Don Carlos. There is only one and it presides like its own castle with 20,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor private space, four-story ceilings, six bedroom suites and a private pool meant for a party. The spread provides a perfect impression for meetings and weddings.

casonadoncarlosoverview1Sense of Place in Nicaragua

Guests at Mukul have their choice of activities but somewhere in the day they make time to sip mottled rum drinks by the resort pool and walk the quiet beach. Gorgeously tweaked Meso-American delights are on the menu and enjoyed after a day of sea kayaking, hiking, surf lessons, touring hidden volcanoes and checking out the rum choices at the Pallas family’s historic factory compound. Fishing, snorkeling, diving, kids club, golf, yoga, exploring local villages – it’s all a part of the Mukul promise.

Spa Mukul is an adventure in its own right with pampered explorations designed in six themes:

  • Secret Garden: Water is the theme here and guests float their way to bliss
  • Hammam: Moorish architecture brings a welcome homage to Turkish cleansing rituals
  • Rain Forest: Guests immerse and soak in a variety of waters
  • Crystal Temple: Quartz crystals and stones unloose their magic powers
  • Healing Hut: Asian and Ayurvedic treatments call up the wisdom of ages
  • Casita Mukul: Ancient indigenous healing practices and traditional Nicaraguan medicinal plants grown on property show their power

crystal templeStaying at Mukul

Mukul means “secret” in the language of the Mayans. But the secret is out. Rates start at $500 per room per night but pack in the value with packages, such as Unlimited Golf, which offers the following for two for rates starting at $755 per night (five-night minimum).

  • Luxury accommodations
  • Full breakfast and lunch for two at La Terraza
  • Domestic open bar until 5 pm
  • Unlimited green fees
  • Rental clubs included
  • A 60-minute massages per stay for two
  • Round trip Transportation to/from Managua Airport

Mukul also presents romance, spa and surfing packages and offers special family inclusions for children.


Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa
Guacalito, Nicaragua
(011 505) 25 63 71 00


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Pinterest.


KAA News Roundup

We have added three new properties to our portfolio to kick off summer: La Corte dei Papi in Italy, Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia, and to our wellness portfolio – Fivelements in Bali. If you are interested in more information, please contact us.

Mukul in Nicaragua is always giving back and UNICEF has recently joined forces with Mukul.  The Sociopreneur Initiative is using local social entrepreneurs to solve problems affecting children, while creating value for the tourism sector.  Mukul was also featured in The Robb Report’s 2014 Best of the Best and Brides Magazine named Mukul one of the “Top 10 Resorts in Central and South America.”  One more: A Forbes article entitled “A Hidden Gem on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast: Mukul” appeared on newsstands in their June 16th issue.

Fivelements on Bali is a wellness retreat in the hills of Bali located next to a flowing river. Both AFAR Mag and Travel to Wellness have written about the retreat recently. They have launched a new blog; check out their first post on eating well every day.

More wellness news from Mexico, where Rancho La Puerta was featured in the Los Angeles Times Article, “Mexico’s Holistic Health Resorts.”  This article from La Jolla Mom details their very special family week, and her 10 reasons to bring the kids to the iconic resort.

In Malibu, The Ranch at Live Oak was featured in Lonely Planet’s roundup of “The World’s Best Luxury Boot Camps.”  Brownell Travel’s President and CEO Troy Haas has detailed his visit to The Ranch on their blog here.

To India, where a review on Ananda Spa in the Himalayas was featured on New You’s blog here.

Our new client Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia is also very wellness oriented.  Read about the pristine archipelago and the unique resort on Queen of Retreats here.  Over to another island resort, Six Senses Laamu in The Maldives was named by Travel + Leisure as having one coolest bathtubs in the world here.

It is time to start thinking about booking some winter trips down to New Zealand!  Here is a lovely write up on The Farm at Cape Kidnappers from The New Zealand Herald. The Owner’s Cottage at sister property Kauri Cliffs received rave reviews from Conde Nast Traveler.

Read about Six Senses Zighy Bay in Savoir Flair and here in an interesting take from National Geographic.

Back in the USA it is almost time for 4th of July Celebrations.  The Lode & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is ready to celebrate, and their schedule of events is jammed packed with exciting activities for all ages. Read about The Ranch in Cowboys & Indians magazine in their article, “A Weekend at Brush Creek.”

For a Texas Ranch experience, read about The Inn at Dos Brisas in Hotel Scoop, “Texas Luxury Found at The Inn at Dos Brisas.”

Over in Vermont, Twin Farms made USA Today’s list here of “Foodie resorts: 10 tasty trips to try.”

North to Canada, where A Luxury Travel Blog included Fogo Island Inn in their roundup of “Canada’s Best Lodges.” A great article on this acclaimed new outpost from Nuvo Magazine begins, “Todd Saunders has made his mark by turning the middle of nowhere into somewhere.” Two accolades this month: awarded at the Le Miami show for Greatest Innovation/Disruption and making The Platinum List on Ocean Home Magazine.

News from Dubai, where The Address Montgomerie is offering special golf programs just for ladies. Hotelier Middle East interviewed Wolfgang Puck on the opening of CUT last month in The Address Downtown Dubai.  Read the interview here.

Congratulations to The Siam, a member of AFAR Magazines Hotel Collection.  See full list here.


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Pinterest.

Suite Temptation at the Armani Hotel Milano

armanimilanLive the unique style and philosophy of the Armani Hotel Milano, in line with the Armani promise of a “home-away-from-home” experience. Let yourself be tempted by the “Armani Suite Temptation Special”, a memorable experience of a stay in the luxury of an Armani/Executive Suite or an Armani/Ambassador Suite, the glam of a welcome Aperitivo served at the Armani/Bamboo Bar, with panoramic view on the skyline, a personalized voucher to be pampered in the sophisticated Armani/SPA and the comfort of a Linate or Malpensa airport transfer.

Ph. 0039 02 8883 8381

Email and mention the Temptation Special.


Milano is full of cultural, culinary, and active pursuits.  here is a list of some of our favorites:


A frenzy of flying buttresses, 135 spires and a staggering 3200 statues, Milan’s Gothic Duomo is the world’s largest of its kind, and third largest in any style in Europe. This vision of pink- tinged Candoglia marble was commissioned in 1386 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti (completed in 1812).  Crowning this Gothic splendour is a gilded copper statue of the Madonnina, the city’s traditional protector. Curiously, there is no bell tower.

Via Montenapoleone

Located in the city center of Milan, the “Golden quadrilateral” include Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Verri, Via Borgospesso and Via Manzoni. This area is considered one of the most important fashion districts in Europe.

Theater “La Scala”

The austere facade of Milan’s legendary opera house, Teatro alla Scala, seems at odds with its sumptuous interior, all chandeliers and scarlet- silk-lined private boxes. The disparity came about because at the time it was built in 1778, it was on a narrow street blocked by houses, making it impossible to admire the facade in any case. These have since been demolished to create the square out front, Piazza della Scala. Attending a performance is incredible. Otherwise, you can peek inside as part of a visit to the in-house Museo Teatrale alla Scala.

fuoriiiBrera District

Brera is one of the most exclusive and stylish districts in Milan. Narrow streets crowded with card readers and ethnic stalls. In the night the locals invade the streets with their tables and the whole area becomes a local open air.  Brera is really next to Corso Como where there are some of the best clubs in Milan attended also by VIP.

The “Sforzesco” Castle

The original construction began in the 14th century. The castle used to be the residence of the Dukes of Milan and is one of the biggest citadels in Europe. Today the Castello Sforzesco houses several art collections.

Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio

St Ambrose, Milan’s patron saint, is buried in the crypt of the mainly 11th-century Romanesque Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, which he founded in AD 379. It’s a fitting legacy, built and rebuilt with a purposeful simplicity that is truly uplifting: the seminal Lombard Romanesque basilica. Shimmering altar mosaics and a biographical AD 835 gilt altarpiece light up the shadowy vaulted interior. Along the south aisle, there is some precious 5th-century sparkle. Mosaics adorn the ‘’Sacello San Vittore in Ciel d’Oro’’, its ‘golden sky’ dome supported by winged monkeys and griffins.

Navigli – Ripa di Porta Ticinese

The old canal district in south- west Navigli is picturesquely filled with artists’ studios, eccentric boutiques, antique shops, bars and restaurants. A perfect place for a relaxing stroll or to mingle with the locals is the street Ripa di Porta Ticinese.

Fiera Milano

Fieramilano left its historic city Centre site in 2006 to move to the outskirts of Milan (Rho), to the new exhibition complex designed by Massimiliano Fuksas. It includes eight pavilions that make available a total of 345,000 square meters gross covered exhibition space and sixty outside. Fieramilano hosts the annual famous “Salone del Mobile”. The old Trade Fair, now called “FieramilanoCity” continues to host smaller exhibitions with more limited logistical requirements.

Stadium Meazza

The Stadium “Giuseppe Meazza”, commonly referred to as the San Siro because it is located in the San Siro district of Milan, is the home of both A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale Milano football teams. The stadium is named in honor of Giuseppe Meazza, the two- time World Cup winner (1934, 1938). It hosts the Museum of both clubs of Milan.

Lago di Como

Lake Como (55 km from Milan) has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times, and a very popular tourist attraction with many artistic and cultural gems. It has many villas and palaces (such as Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni and Villa Carlotta). Currently, many celebrities have or had homes on the shores of Lake Como. Lake Como is widely regarded as being one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy.

2012-4-11 Maggiore

Lake Maggiore (60 km from Milan) is the second largest lake of Italy and largest of southern Switzerland. The climate is mild in both summer and winter, producing Mediterranean vegetation, with beautiful gardens growing rare and exotic plants. Well-known gardens include those of the Isola Madre, Isola Bella and the Isole di Brissago, that of the Villa Taranto in Verbania, and the Alpinia botanical garden above Stresa.


The High City (50 km from Milan) is the ancient part of Bergamo, characterized by tiny winding streets filled with Renaissance palaces, medieval monuments and churches full of rich artistic treasure. Excellent restaurants and shops are housed in the city’s historic buildings.


Portofino (170 km from Milan) is a fantastic location, based in the Riviera Ligure, Italy, considered by many one of the world’s eight wonders. It is a small town of no more than 500 people, placed upon its bay. It is kind of a natural bowl which has become the world’s famous Piazzetta. Portofino with its Piazzetta is the perfect place to love, dream and relax.

view of Portofino - beautiful town of Ligurian coast, ItalyVenice

Venice (270 km from Milan) is the capital of the Veneto region. The city historically was the capital of the Republic of Venice. Venice has been known as the “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals”and it has also been described as being one of Europe’s most romantic cities. It is known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period, infact has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.

Italian Alpi

Younger than the Apennines and for that reason more pointed than other mountains, the Italian Alps are the largest mountain chains in Europe. This mountain chain is located between Italy, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia. The name comes from “Albus” (meaning white) that the Sabines pronounced “Alpus” and indicated the color of the chain top, which are always white because of snow, even during the summer season.

foto_gr_truffles_01Piemonte and Truffles

Italy is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of truffles. Throughout the Peninsula you can collect all kinds of truffles used in gastronomy. The most important areas for the production of white truffles are: Piemonte (Alba in particular), south-east Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna. Traditionally, the collection was accomplished using pigs. Nowadays, we only use trained dogs.


Tips on Meditation from Fivelements

Fivelements-wellnessThe following tips are from Lahra Tatriele, Co-founder & Vision Director, Fivelements, Bali. These tips are inspired by spiritual teachers from India and Bali.

1. Before you start, put in your mind, “Meditation is attainable for me.” It is not difficult.

a. Meditation is about training the mind, eg. When you want to ride a bicycle, you keep trying and after practicing awhile, you can do it, then it becomes easier and easier.

2. Sit in a relaxed position for your body – on the floor or on a chair.

3. Choose an object of focus that makes you feel good, e.g.: breathing, a mandala painting or a photo/image, etc.

a. Use this as a tool to bring harmony and love to your mind.

b. Use it as a way to bring about concentration and mindfulness.

4. Turn your vision inward and observe your breathing.

a. By observing your breathing, you will calm your mind naturally.

b. Observe the fickle-mindedness of your mind coming in and fading away, bringing about a steady concentration.

c. Allow your concentration to turn into contemplation and slowly, you will forget about both yourself and any form, effortlessly blossoming into meditation.

5. Become a source of love and light.

a. Once your calm mind is steady, let love permeate within you and around you like a radiant light.

6. For healing, gently direct your thoughts to make your body healthy, alleviate your mind of stress, send your love to someone in suffering, etc.

a. Bring inner wisdom to your mind so that it becomes increasingly harmonious, and use this for healing the body, trauma or others in your life.

7. Let go and let spirit in.

a. The practice of meditation will train your mind to become good, full of love – enough to heal yourself and others.

b. Ultimately, there will be no Form, only Atma or soul in union with the Divine.


Nestled on the banks of the Ayung River in Bali, Fivelements is an award-winning eco-conscious wellness retreat deeply rooted in the ancient traditions of Bali. Healing is inspired by the Balinese way of life, which nurtures harmony with spirit, the environment and with one another. Holistic Balinese inspired therapies include a combination of yoga, meditation, water therapies, deep massage therapies and prana therapy. This special retreat features just nine spacious accommodations, bamboo mandala pavilions, personalized wellness experiences, vegan cuisine, and a variety of wellness retreats and authentic experiences. Fivelements is a center for healing and a place for Learning to Love and Respect Life.


Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa
BanjarBaturning, Mambal
Bali 80352
Telephone:  +62 361 469 206

Pikaia Lodge: New Luxury Resort in the Galapagos offers Elevated Spin on Eco-Travel

Mixing a luxury resort vacation with the pure and primeval world of the Galapagos Islands is now possible with the opening of Pikaia Lodge, a rarefied, sumptuous eco-stay opening this summer on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos.

The Lodge in the center of the Galapagos Archipelago is perched on a small plateau atop two extinct volcanic craters. And while everything about this lodge upholds the truths of reuse, recycling and reverence of natural surroundings, the lodge is a work of genius when it comes to comfort and luxury.


Eco-Travel at its Finest

A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) collection, the 14-room resort keeps its footprint small amid the reserve it shares with giant tortoises and rare avian life. Sweeping views of the Galapagos Islands and the Pacific Ocean open from every public space, guestroom and suite. A leader in LEED certified industriousness in these parts, Pikaia builds from recyclable steel, glass and natural stone and adorns with sustainably cultivated Ecuadorian teak wood furniture and bamboo wood floors, all without the use of harmful oils and chemicals. Accommodations pare into standard, deluxe, suite, and pool suite options.


Pikaia Lodge Galapagos-Suite (4)What the guest experiences is spacious accommodations using spare Zen design concepts and letting the views from the outside become the focus, all enjoyed in soft comforts. Although the landscape that surrounds may reach back to pre-Cambrian times the conveniences of the modern world are within reach: flat screen TVs and DVD players in the room, along with iPod audio docks, minibars, coffee and tea appliances, pillow menus, robes and slippers, even post cards and stamps. Few, if any details are overlooked at Pikaia. The owners of this luxury lodge in the center of the Galapagos spent 15 years bringing this concept to fruition right down to the rainwater collected and stored and rigorous standards used in construction, fuel and land imprints. The target of this effort is appeal to the upscale traveler who cares about the earth and wants to practice this care in the choices of places traveled. But eco-travel is not without its rewards. Pikaia makes a showcase of what luxury is possible within the rules of sustainable travel.


What to do in the Galapagos at Pikaia Lodge

There is surprisingly much to do in this land that time forgot. While contemplating life and evolution may be among them, guests are not without a menu of activities to consider each day. On the grounds atop the island plateau is an infinity pool overlooking the ocean for soaking in the rays of the equatorial sun. On the island are scattered habitats of breeding giant tortoises, local villages (from where many of the lodge’s foods are sourced). Guests have unlimited use of mountain bikes to visit island hotspots, including volcanic craters, lava tunnels, organic coffee farms and cattle ranches. Garrapatero Beach, a pleasant 10-km bike ride from the lodge, is a favorite destination, affording a variety of environments and stunning views en route and a beautiful white sandy beach at the end.


What will differentiate a Pikaia Lodge from any other intensely immersive Galapagos vacation, however, are the sea-centered experiences that complement the land stay – making travel to Pikaia Lodge one of the only ways to truly engage in an in-depth land and sea exploration of this sublime environment.

With three private vessels: the M/V Pikaia I, Pikaia II, and Galapagos Aggressor I, guests at Pikaia can have their pick of sea-focused tours and experiences, from traditional Galapagos cruise packages, fishing excursions, sea life encounters, divine snorkeling, and scuba diving adventures. The Galapagos Islands’ protected Marine Reserve is considered one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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And these day tours offer enlivening moments both in and on the waters. The Pikaia yachts are nothing short of extraordinary with plenty of space to move around amid several decks that present exquisite detailing in the woods used and mélange of Balinese-themed décor chosen. There are air-conditioned private rooms with en-suite bathrooms (including fresh water showers), open and shaded sundecks, hot tubs, entertainment consoles and spacious dining and salon areas to relax in while moving through the islands.

Pikaia Lodge Galapagos-MV10

Land & Sea Safari through the Galapagos

In fact, Pikaia Lodge offers an amazing 11-day combination package that immerses guests in a complete land and sea experience. Called “The Ultimate Land & Sea Safari,” it’s an all-inclusive time that brings a five-day land vacation at the Lodge followed by seven days aboard the M/Y Galapagos Aggressor III for close encounters with the “Big seven” – (whale, hammerhead and Galapagos sharks, dolphins, the rare Mola-Molas, giant manta rays and sea-lions). It’s a perfect answer for Padi-certified guests who want to reap the ultimate rewards in diving. Encounters with sea turtles, tuna, penguins, marine iguanas, barracudas, moray eels, myriad schools of rare endemic fish and coral species found nowhere else are also guaranteed. Divers need to bring their own gear for this but can expect to be pampered in every other manner. Rates start at $8,750 per person, double, inclusive of nearly everything but alcohol and spa services.

Beyond diving, swimming, exploring and lounging there is … dining and dining at Pikaia could be considered another adventure, if gourmet culinary moments are on the bucket list.

Pikaia’s “Evolution” Restaurant on the edge of a volcanic crater provides unrivalled views of the pristine Galapagos National Park and celebrates these surroundings with candlelit dinners and barbeques “alfresco” under the stars. The menu brings dishes inspired by a fusion of international cuisine options and tasty Ecuadorian and Peruvian dishes. Selections often incorporate organic Galapagos beef, suckling pig, chicken, catch-of-the-day fish, lobster and legendary Ecuadorian jumbo shrimp, served with a variety of vegetables, rice, imported Italian pastas, and herbs and spices. Dishes pair with a curated collection of fine wines from a cellar stocked with top choices from Argentina and Chile.

A seven-night all-inclusive Exploration Package is available for rates starting at $7,500 per person, double. The Monday to Sunday land and sea experience includes transfers from Baltra Island Airport on a 7-minute ferry to Santa Cruz Island, followed by a 40-minute scenic drive to Pikaia Lodge. International guests fly into Quito and then transfer to a flight to Guayaquil (40 minutes) and then onto another small flight to the islands (100 minutes). A special opening offer is also available July – September. Helpful calendar details the separate seasons and when to see certain wildlife.



(011 593) 4268 1952 ext. 510


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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