Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Pampering Weekend Stay at Sands Macao


The luxurious Premium Suite

My recent stay at the Sands Macao was nothing short of luxury. Located in the heart of the Macau Peninsula, a glittering landmark in Macau, the Sands Macao Hotel is an elegant hotel with a collection of 289 exquisitely designed suites offering stunning views of the ocean and city. 

The best part of the hotel is that it is just a mere 5-minute drive from the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal and directly opposite Fishermen’s Wharf, the largest leisure and themed integrated complex with dining, shopping and entertainment facilities. 

Getting to the hotel was a breeze. There is a shuttle bus which takes guests from the ferry terminal right to the lobby of the hotel.

The lobby

The minute I arrived at the hotel, I was charmed by the majestic entrance. What really impressed me was the check-in process which was smooth and efficient and was completed in a jiffy. 


The living area

I was delighted to be upgraded to the Premium Suite which is priced at MOP$6000. I was escorted to my room by the bellman who shared with me more about the facilities of the hotel.

The bedroom

The lush room features contemporary furnishings, custom-made hand-woven carpets, premium lighting fixtures and excellent audio-visual equipment.


Sleek plasma TV

There were three plasma televisions in the room, one in the bedroom, one in the living area and one in the bathroom. 

The spacious bathroom

The bathroom is huge with marble flooring and a Jacuzzi tub for me to relax, soothe my muscles and rejuvenate my senses.  The white tea and rose bath amenities were great for me to pamper myself in the bath.

The wonderful bathroom amenities

The swimming pool

The outdoor swimming pool on level six is a heated which is great, the only setback is that it is  a little small. Perfect for a relaxing dip but not big enough to swim laps.

Relaxing by the pool

I was a little disappointed with the absence of a gym in the hotel as I have brought my exercise attire and was planning to work out. However, guests can luxuriate in the exclusive spa and sauna.

The Japanese station at 888 Buffet restaurant

There are six restaurants and a food court to whet the appetites of food lovers. I had dinner at the 888 Buffet Restaurant which offered an extensive selection but the food did not live up to expectations.

Assorted sushi

The sushi and sashimi at the Japanese section were pretty decent but the rest of the other food did not leave a memorable impression. I did not get a chance to try the food at the other restaurants such as the Copa steakhouse.

The shopping area

As gambling is not my cup of tea, I did not try my luck at the casino. It was quite an interesting experience to walk round the casinos and see gamblers at the poker table and the roulette machine. Shopping at Sands Shoppes also offers an amazing experience with 850 duty free outlets.

 Asian breakfast (room-service)

After a good night's sleep, savour a delightful breakfast in the privacy of your room. The Asian breakfast comprising abalone and chicken porridge, prawn dumplings and stir-fried egg noodles was delicious. I love the smooth, soothing porridge with generous servings of abalone. The prawn dumplings were succulent and simply bursting with flavour.

Indulging in yummy breakfast in the suite

Overall, I had a fantastic stay at Sands Macao. It was a pampering and indulgent experience from check-in all the way to check-out. Service was impeccable and the room was extremely comfortable. I will definitely be back again!

Sands Macao is located at Sands Macao Hotel, Largo de Monte Carlo, No.203, Macao SAR, P.R. China. For enquiries and reservations, please call +853 2888 3388 or
email inquiries@sands.com.mo.

Alternatively, please visit here.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Innovative Italian Delights at Jamie's Italian, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

The entrance on level 1

Jamie’s Italian opened its doors in Hong Kong in 2015 a few months after the branch in Singapore was launched. The restaurant is conceptualised by Celebrity Chef, Jamie Oliver who is renowned for his humour and cooking shows. The restaurant has mixed reviews following its opening, some hits and misses, however, it is still a popular hangout place for youths, business executives and families.

The bar area

Although Jamie is of British origin, the menu at Jamie’s Italian focuses on Italian cuisine. What draws people to the restaurant is its simplicity, convivial setting and reasonable prices. As Jamie candidly said, “the food we do is rustic, we don’t put bullshit on the plate.”

The interior

The outlet at Tang Lung Street at Causeway Bay was a walking distance from The Excelsior, Hong Kong which is usually where I stay whenever I am in Hong Kong. The street abounds with interesting restaurants and cafés, however Jamie’s Kitchen signage caught my eye. Therefore, I decided to give it a try.

Enjoying my pasta

Somehow, Jamie’s Italian at Causeway Bay seems to be smaller than Jamie’s Italian at Vivo City in Singapore. However, the setting is cosy, evoking a relaxed and informal vibe. The décor is rustic with some modern industrial elements, creating a look that is soothing and pleasing while dramatic at the same time. I love the juxtaposition of country-style wooden furniture with striking red leather seats. Service was amicable without being overly stuffy.

Crab and avocado bruschetta

For appetisers, I would recommend the crab and avocado bruschetta ($HK $88) which was served on a thin slice of sourdough topped with fresh white and brown, crunchy fennel, smashed avocado, yoghurt and chilli. I could not taste much of the crab, however, the combination of the other ingredients was well balanced, offering a mix of creamy, spicy, milky, sweet and tangy flavours.

Famous prawn linguine

A signature pasta is the famous prawn linguine (HK$188) which is accompanied with generous servings of garlicky prawns with plump tomatoes, fennel, saffron, fresh chilli and rocket. What made this pasta different is the addition of fennel and fresh chilli which gave it extra ‘omph’. A perfect dish for those who like an innovative twist to the usual prawn linguine.


Fresh crab linguine

The fresh crab linguine (HK$168) is tantalising with hints of chilli, garlic, parsley and lemon zest. However, it did not leave much of an impression.

Tiramisu

A good meal is never complete without desserts. Jamie’s rendition of the classic tiramisu (HK$78) is refreshing with tangy orange accents combined with smooth layers of mascarpone cheese and lady fingers dipped in chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder.

Jamie's Italian is located at 2/F Midtown Soundwill Plaza II. The restaurant is open from 11am to 11pm. For reservations, please call 3958 2222. For more information, please visit here.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Hearty Southern Italian Cuisine at Azzurro, Shenzhen



The bar area

The minute I stepped into Azzurro, I was greeted by the hospitable General Manager, Alessandro and the affable wait staff. Reminscent of a 1970s pizzeria, the restaurant’s décor is understated yet classic, with blue seating and wooden furniture. 

The interior

Located just beside the chic, snazzy grill and wine bar, Shark, Azzurro’s diners consist of mainly families and those who have a love for hearty Southern Italian cuisine. Although Azzurro restaurant is only about a year old, the restaurant is usually full, attesting to its popularity. 

Helmed by Executive Chef, Diego Di Costanzo from Ischia, a beautiful island in the province of Naples (Southern Italy), the restaurant specialises in fresh seafood and rustic Southern Italian fare prepared with wholesome ingredients. Every dish is artfully crafted and creatively assembled, making your dining experience a superb one. In Shenzhen, it is difficult to find an authentic Italian restaurant, however Azzurro surprises me with its genuine flavours and warm service. The food here reflects the personality of Chef Diego, simple, honest and down-to-earth.

Waiting to tuck into my food

Warm homemade bread

Before the meal is served, complimentary warm homemade bread is served comprising three different types of sauces including tomato purée, olive oil and a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

La caprese 

For a refreshing start, pique your palate with homemade la caprese (RMB 128), a simple Italian summer salad with sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese, seasoned with salt, black pepper and olive oil. The tomatoes are plump, sweet and juicy and the mozzarella cheese is clean, fresh and creamy, making the combination very pleasant. 

Vongole alla marinara

The vongole alla marinara (RMB 98) is a must-try for those who like clams. The clams are sautéed in a robust tomato purée and enhanced with white wine, parsley, salt and pepper. The preparation method is simple but the freshness and succulence of the clams coupled with the sweet, tangy flavours of the tomato purée brought a slice of heaven to my taste buds.

Minestrone soup

For vegetarians and those who desire healthier flavours, try the minestrone (RMB88) which abounds with a mix of various vegetables including carrots, celery, zucchini and potato and more. Packed with vitamins, this wholesome soup has a very tantalising, savoury taste.

Linguine frutti di mare

I am an avid fan of linguine frutti di mare (fruits of the sea in Italian – RMB $198 for two, RMB $138 for one), which is a classic Southern Italian dish. In fact, this dish is the main deciding factor of my return to a restaurant. Chef Diego’s linguine frutti di mare certainly lives up to its name, in fact, it has garnered a niche in my heart. Pasta is al dente, retaining a firm bite and is served with bountiful amounts of seafood. The sauce is hearty and flavourful with the tanginess of the fresh ripe tomatoes and the saltiness of the ocean. 

Delizia al limone



Desserts are a very important part to round off a good meal. If you want to try a quintessential dessert from Chef Diego's hometown, go for the delizia al limone (RMB 48), which is a delicious sponge cake filled with a lemon cream, brushed with Limoncello syrup and covered with a lemon and whipped cream glaze. 

Tiramisu

If you prefer to stick to something traditional, you can try the tiramisu (RMB 48) which is equally delightful. The tiramisu consists of espresso soaked ladyfingers delicately layered with a light, fluffy and airy filling made using mascarpone cheese, egg yolk and cream and dusted with cocoa powder on top.

The entrance

Azzurro is located at Shopping Park North, Zhongxin 2nd Road, Futian, Shenzhen. For reservations, please call 0755-83167994 or 180 2540 5270. For more information, please visit here.



Wednesday, 5 July 2017

W Hong Kong's Heatwave Pool Party - The Coolest Party in Town!

Entrance to the party

W Hong Kong’s Heatwave Pool Party on Saturday, 24 June was an eye-opener for me. This magnificent Vegas-themed pool party, held in conjunction with the launch of W Las Vegas brings a slice of Vegas to Hong Kong.  Held at the rooftop infinity pool, WET®, it is the perfect place to have a refreshing dip, and to see and be seen. With a splendid view of the Victoria Harbour set against an iconic mosaic wall, it depicts an explosion of fantasy, akin to being in a land of dreams, creativity and imagination. 


Lounging on the float

Sip your drink, lounge on the float, pose at the bar, jive to pulsating beats or just mingle with other attendees. Those who have purchased the WIP and VVIP tickets could help themselves to free flow booze from 8pm till 12am.

Amazing Four Fox Saké Display

Snippets of the Party

Enjoying my drink

I don’t think I have ever been to a pool party which is similar to the one at W Hong Kong. Held over a period of three months (June to August), W Hong Kong Summer Series Pool Parties are the coolest, hottest parties in town.

With the gorgeous showgirls

Upon arrival, I was greeted by 2 gorgeous showgirls clad in shimmering gold sequinned swimwear. At about 8.30pm, hunky men and gorgeous ladies started streaming in. Dressed to kill in sexy bikinis and cool beachwear, it was a sight to behold. 


The thrilling fire performance

Some of the other highlights to look out for include fascinating fire performances, Four Fox Saké Display and energetic dance performances In addition, you can also join the after-party from 11pm onwards at WOOBAR (located at level six of the hotel), where you can continue to drink to your heart's content. 

With the charming performer

For those who are keen to attend the next Heatwave Pool Party, there are three more sessions which are not to be missed (30 July, 13 August and 27 August). 

The hunks in the pool

Soaking in the jacuzzi

Posing by the pool

Pool Party Details : 

Time: 8pm till 12am 

Location: WET swimming pool (76/F W Hong Kong) 

Dates: June 4. June 25. July 30. August 13. August 27 


For tickets, please visit here.

Ticket Info: 

All ticket holders will have access to the 76th Floor WET pool party from 8pm to 12am and the 6th Floor WOOBAR party from 10pm to 4am. 

Single shot ticket (Early bird: HK$350 / At-the-door: HK$450) 

- Entry to the pool party and WOOBAR party 
- 1 complimentary standard drink at the pool. 

WIP Ticket (HK$888) 

- Free-flow standard drinks & Mumm Champagne at WET from 8pm - 12am 

- Entry to the pool party & access to the WOOBAR party 

WIP Table (HK$6000) 

-Maximum 6 people with a minimum spending (for more info please email Reservations) 




Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Weekend Retreat at The Excelsior Hong Kong


Harbour View Room (Night View)

If you are heading to Hong Kong for the weekend and in search of a place to stay, I would recommend The Excelsior Hotel, Hong Kong. The 848-room hotel is strategically located in the heart of Causeway Bay and is within walking distance to major shopping malls such as Sogo, World Trade Centre and Times Square and a stone’s throw away from Fashion Walk, a trendy shopping street with shops showcasing mid-priced European and Japanese brands. Central, Hong Kong’s premier business district is a 10-minute drive from the hotel. Restaurants and local eateries are all within close proximity. If fact, you don’t even need to travel out of this area, you can get practically everything here.

Harbour View Room (Day View)

The iconic hotel has a rich history. Launched in 1973, it is part of Hong Kong’s colonial past. The hotel which is under the Mandarin Oriental group was the favourite hangout of Hong Kong’s high society such as the late Sir Run Run Shaw, founder and former chairman of the city’s premier broadcast television network TVB.

I have stayed at The Excelsior, Hong Kong a total of five times over the past three months and have always been very satisfied with my stay.

The breathtaking view of the Victoria Harbour

 I was particularly impressed last week when the reception staff upgraded me to a harbour view room which offered a breathtaking view of the Victoria Harbour. The check-in process was smooth and efficient and service was impeccable.

The bathroom

Bathroom amenities

Although the hotel is not new, the rooms are very well maintained and the beds are very comfortable. The bathroom is clean with environmentally-friendly bathroom amenities.


Room amenities and safe

Bathrobes and bedroom slippers, a mini bar and safe are available in the room.

Mini bar

The gym

What I really like about the hotel is the modern gym which is spacious, modern and well-equipped. To get in, hotel guests will need an access card.

Resting area

There is also a resting area for you to browse magazines and relax after your workout.


Gym attire and skincare products

A selection of gym attire and skincare products are also available for sale at the gym.

Working out in the gym

During my stay, I had the opportunity to try a few of the dining outlets including EXpresso café located at the ground level, Cammino at the 1st level and ToTT’s and roof terrace on the 34th level. The best part is that the hotel offers a $100 dining voucher for house guests.

Irresistible egg tarts by Lord Stow

EXpresso specialises in Lord Stow’s original egg tarts from Macau, gourmet sandwiches, pies and other savoury light bites. It is the perfect place to grab a quick bite before your meeting.

The interior of Cammino Italian restaurant

Cammino is an intimate Italian restaurant which accommodates up to 50 diners. I love the truffle mash which was smooth, creamy and flavourful and the minestrone was tasty and filled with wholesome goodness.

Creamy and aromatic truffle fettuccine

The truffle fettucine was deftly executed with the delicate hints of truffle. The tiramisu (which means “lift me up” in Italian) was also excellent and the portion was very generous.

Decadent tiramisu

Skilfully prepared with lady fingers steeped in coffee, layered with a luscious mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese and topped with cocoa powder, it was fulfilling to the very last mouthful. What I really enjoyed about the whole dining experience was that the restaurant staff was not pushy, they recommended me their signature highlights but did not pressurise me to order.

Dining area facing the mesmerising view

My favourite restaurant is ToTT’s and roof terrace which provides a spectacular view of the stunning Victoria harbour. It is an ideal place to unwind, sip cocktails, nibble on light bites and marvel at the breathtaking view.

The lavish spread

On Sundays, the restaurant has a lavish Sunday Brunch which includes fresh seafood, salads, sushi, sashimi, assorted cold cuts and cheeses, oyster bar, made-to-order main courses and a rapturous repertoire of desserts. I really enjoyed the fresh prawns and crabs as well as the roasted red snapper, fennel and blood orange salad and the tomato and goat cheese risotto from the main course selection. The lovely plethora of desserts was also too good to resist. My favourites are the passion fruit cream and chocolate truffle tart, fruit crumble and bread and butter pudding. Of course, the Häagen-Dazs ice cream was of course another attraction.

Delicious Seafood Capellini delivered to my room

Other than the dining outlets, I also tried the room service. Food was served piping hot in about 20 minutes. The seafood capellini brimmed with fresh, succulent seafood such as prawns, scallops and mussels and I must stay that the portion was pretty substantial too.

The entrance of The Excelsior Hong Kong

Overall, my stay was a very relaxing and enjoyable one and the staff from the reception, Concierge, Housekeeping and F&B team took every effort to make me feel pampered throughout the entire stay. Even during check-out, the Concierge and the bell hop was extremely helpful and assisted to carry my luggage out to the taxi stand and waited for me to get into the taxi before bidding a fond farewell.

The Excelsior Hong Kong is located at 281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. For more information about the suites and rooms, please visit here.