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WINTER 2011Isea&iI33travelnewsRITZ PICKINGS Fancy an exclusive four-dayphotography workshopwith a National Geographicphotographer? Or a personalshopping trip with a fashionexpert at Neiman Marcus orBergdorf Goodman? If youhave been a loyal guest at Ritz-Carlton hotels you may well bein luck. The company hasrecently launched its much-anticipated Ritz-Carlton Rewards programme that recognises its most frequent guests byoffering them a broad selection of unique global travel experiences. The programme seesRitz-Carlton partner with leading names worldwide, with many more set to join them inthe future. Membership is complimentary and guests can enrol by visiting hotel front desksor register online atwww.ritzcarltonrewards.comWith the world becoming ever-more accessible,genuine exploration and dynamic travel canbecome a challenge, but Momentum Adventureis making it possible to experience the mostexhilarating of adventures. This unique travel company visits more than20 destinations worldwide and, staffed byseasoned expedition experts, has tailored threeincredible quest packages that are perfect foradrenaline junkies. Expeditions take place in both tropical and sub-zero climates and embrace mountainascents,state-of-the-art dune buggy drives across theVizcaino and Sonoran deserts, and snowmobiletrips across the Arctic. The hard-core only needapply. www.momentumadventure.com Gaining momentumLive like royaltyFollowing the first phase of its restoration, theFalaknuma Palace, Hyderabad in India, hasre-opened as a luxury palace hotel with 60rooms. Original features of the palace havebeen retained, including the Nizam's suite,the 101-seater dining room and the gardens. Along with its rich historical background,the Palace offers the finest service, and visitorscan experience what it is like to be a personalguest of the Nizam.www.tajhotels.comhAustin powers aheadIf you fancy an early Christmas present, treatyourself to a night at the newly launched WAustin, opening on 9 December. Luxuriatingon the vibrant Second Street in Austin, Texas,the hotel has a welcoming, spirited vibe andoffers guests a fitness centre, spa, outdoorpool, two restaurants, poolside dining and251 guest rooms and suites. Sold as a flirty,fun, fresh experience, the hotel is a colourfuladdition to this sizzling US city. www.starwoodhotels.comIn:spa gains a new property An 18th century monastery set in the peacefulunspoilt countryside of southern Spain is theideal location for the new in:spa healthretreat. This new institution offers endlesshiking and mountain biking opportunitieswith stunning scenery and warm sunshineamong the scenic Spanish hills near Gaucin. The monastery features stylish andspacious accommodation with periodfittings all combined with 21st centurycomforts. Guests can make use of theenormous swimming pool or enjoy alfrescodining in the courtyard gardens or on theterraces, where the freshest, healthiestcuisine is served.In keeping with the in:spa enterprise, anexpert team of specialists is on hand at alltimes, including yoga teachers, massagetherapists, personal trainers, nutritionistsand chefs. www.inspa.co.uk

51 BUCKINGHAM GATE RESIDENCESFive newly renovated suites are now available at the luxury residences of London's StJames. Following the £1.2 million investment, the residences will be the largest servicedsuites in the city with the conversion of two floors into an exclusive space with its own internalstaircase, which highlights one of the key benefits of the residences - privacy. Carefullyselected interior decor is combined with the finest modern amenities, presenting a freshand contemporary feel for every suite. A strong relationship with two of London's greateststores, Hamleys and Harrods, means that 51 Buckingham Gate also offers fantasticpackages, including personal shopping and privilege discount days for the family. www.51-buckinghamgate.comPalazzo HedonéThe latest addition to the portfolio of propertiesmanaged by Think Sicily is a converted boutiquehotel in Italy. Palazzo Hedoné has 11 roomsfurnished with antiques and modern designs. Allrooms are air conditioned and have solar-poweredunderfloor heating and top-of-the-range en-suitebathrooms. The swimming pool with underwatersound system and counter-current swimmingmachine also has a retractable glass roof.Up on the roof the fantastic panoramic views ofthe gardens and surrounding hills are trulybreathtaking. The hotel also has its own spa in anoriginal grotto carved into the rock, equipped withsauna, hammam and hot tub. www.thinksicily.com 34Isea&iIWINTER 2011FBiOrstR ENcEoOD iIvDeY rLeLsort in the MaldivesDivers keen on preserving the coral reefs ofthe world will be pleased to hear that theBaros Maldives has become the first EcoDiveCentre in this popular honeymoon location. Licensed Reef Check EcoDive instructorsare fully qualified to further educate visitorson ocean life in tropical coral reefs.Combining education with action ensuresvolunteers a unique first-hand experienceand role in conserving the world's reefs.Guests can also collect valuable coral reefdata using Underwater Reef Guides from theresort that help people recognise and recordwhat they have seen during their underwatersafari. www.baros.com Heston Blumenthal at London's Mandarin OrientalJanuary 2011 will see the arrival of HestonBlumenthal's first restaurant in London,overlooking Hyde Park at the MandarinOriental hotel. 'Dinner by HestonBlumenthal'will feature the chef's inimitablestyle of culinary alchemy with a menuheavily influenced by his ongoing researchand discovery of historic British gastronomy.Serving lunch, dinner and afternoon teaand headed by Ashley Palmer-Watts, whohas worked with Blumenthal at his UK-basedThe Fat Duck for nine years, the restaurant atthe Mandarin Oriental is set to be a hit.www.mandarinoriental.com