Trips and Cruises

Johana BaldellaApril 13, 2017






In the second of Somerset’s Secret Sea Walks we will be revealing the hidden gems to be found on a walk from Doniford to East Quantoxhead.

Called #secretseawalks, the ten-week campaign will publish a different secret sea walk every week on the Visit Somerset website do/england-coast-path- challenging and inspiring walkers to enjoy a walk at the weekend.

The campaign – which launched last week with a look at the full 58-mile stretch from Minehead to Brean – will also ask walkers to contribute their favourite ‘secret’ from their walks via social media using the hashtag #seawalks.


Secret Sea Walk Two – what to expect:

This stretch of the coast path from Doniford to East Quantoxhead has everything from quintessential English villages to historic churches, wonderful wild flowers to geological marvels and is a great walk for families, keen walkers and nature lovers.

Things to look out for include stunning geological wonders like the limestone pavements, red rock formations and amazing coastal views.

The walk takes in the foothills of the Quantocks – the first place in England to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and walkers are in with the chance of spotting rare flowers like Pyramid and Bee Orchids and birds including Oyster Catchers, Dunlin and Peregrine Falcons.

The ten walks range from the longer, more difficult stretches to easy and flat for the little ones. The newly opened up Somerset section of the England Coast Path includes a new footbridge over the River Swill and several new sections of path between Watchet and East Quantoxhead, with spectacular new views over the Bristol Channel. 

* The series will continue with eight other walks, each offering another unique experience, aimed at families, rest and relaxation seekers and keen walkers. Some walks will be circular, others linear and each will offer directions, amenities and what to look out for.

This project is funded by Natural England and the Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership made up of EDF Energy, Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, West Somerset Council, Visit Somerset, Exmoor National Park Authority and Visit Exmoor.


Johana BaldellaApril 12, 2017



  • Parliament and Big Ben as seen from Westminster Bridge tops poll of London views that bring Brits infinite pleasure
  • Ancient and modern British sights celebrated in nationwide study, as Brits found to take over 1,000 pictures each year, many of which are scenic views
  • Views of St Paul’s, Tower Bridge and deer in Richmond Park all feature in top ten
  • Study commissioned by Samsung to launch new Galaxy S8, alongside photography project with Landscape Photographer of the Year capturing incredible views nominated
  • Giant 7x 3 metre phone installed at London’s Coin Street Observation point to frame city view

The view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from Westminster Bridge is London’s most iconic sight, according to a new study that celebrates the most incredible views, both ancient and modern, in the capital today.

More than 2,500 people took part in the study which asked respondents to vote from a longlist of incredible views which was created by a panel of leading travel experts from publications including Rough Guides, Mr and Mrs Smith, Wanderlust and Good Housekeeping.

The study was specially commissioned to mark the forthcoming launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone which boasts an innovative ‘Infinity Display’ screen and premium best-in-class camera which has been used to capture a series of stunning photographs of many of the views listed.

Topping the list of the greatest London views, all of which are from ‘ground-level’, is the sight of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from Westminster Bridge, which is followed by an eclectic mix of stunning sights across the capital, from skylines to buildings to complete the top ten.

The full list of the 10 greatest London views is:

  1. Parliament and Big Ben, viewed from Westminster Bridge
  2. Tower Bridge, from the Southbank
  3. St Paul’s, viewed from Millennium Bridge
  4. Richmond Park, deer in the morning mist
  5. Buckingham Palace as viewed from down The Mall
  6. St James’ Park, beyond the lake with the London Eye in the background
  7. London skyline from Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath
  8. Little Venice, barges on the canal
  9. Canary Wharf from Greenwich Park
  10. Portobello Road, multi-coloured terraced houses

Just missing out on the top ten London views were the sights of The Thames Flood Barrier in Woolwich and Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney.

The study also pinpointed the five key factors that make up a quintessentially British view, with rolling countryside coming top (42%), followed by rugged coastlines (21%), country villages (20%), historical landmarks (15%) and spires, cathedrals and architecture (15%). 

Samsung has celebrated the greatest British views by commissioning a new photography project from Matthew Cattell – Britain’s reigning Landscape Photographer of the Year which will be shot entirely on a Galaxy S8.  Matthew is travelling the length of the UK in March and April to capture a series of stunning shots at locations which were named in the study, including the London skyline, the Lake District and St Ives Bay.

 Selected views named in the study are also being framed by the giant Infinity Display on a 7x3m scale model of the Galaxy S8, which Samsung are taking on tour throughout April to locations which featured in the top 20, including St Ives, London and Stonehenge.  The giant S8 phone will be positioned at London’s Coin Street Observation point from Monday 10th April.

Sam Grant, Marketing Director at Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland said: “We wanted to mark the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S8, with its unique and groundbreaking Infinity Display, by celebrating the beautiful views in our country of mountains, highlands, beaches and urban skylines that are best enjoyed unconfined.” 

Landscape Photographer of the Year, Matthew Cattell said: “The Galaxy S8 has the most evolved smartphone camera in the world today creating impressively sharp pictures, even in low light conditions – which is just as well as we encountered a fair few spring showers and grey days whilst shooting the project! I hope people enjoy the results and are encouraged to get out and shoot the amazing views closest to them.”


The findings shine a spotlight on some of the most photographed sites in the UK revealing that the average British adult takes in excess of 1,000 pictures each year, predominantly on smartphones – the majority of which focus on landscapes and city views which was cited by 66% of those surveyed as their favoured photographic subject matter.

The study also revealed the subjects which are most likely to make pals envious when they were posted on social media sites.  Topping the list were awesome views (48%), followed by pictures of friends and family (10%), food and drink (6%) and selfies (5%). In addition to provoking jealousy, pictures of beautiful locations were also inspiration, with half of us (50%) admitting we are more likely to visit a place having seen a posted picture.

The Samsung S8 is available for pre-order until 19th April and launches in the UK on 28th April, and will be available from selected retailers as well as the Samsung e-store – for more information and stockist details visit


Jordan KensingtonNovember 3, 2016


Mauritius or as the French will call it Maurice is an island steeped in tradition. Located in the Indian Ocean about 2000 kilometres off the south-East coast of the African continent. Translated, it is basically Africa at it’s finest…The island of Mauritius was visited during the middle ages by the Arabs, then by the Portuguese who named it Dina Arobi and Cirne, respectively. The island was uninhabited until the Dutch Republic established a colony in 1638, with the Dutch naming the island after Prince Maurice van Nassau. Those clever Dutch are not only known for their wacky cakes in Amsterdam… pause…. Because I think there was some wacky cake interference as the Dutch colony was abandoned in 1710, and five years later, the island became a French colony and was named Isle de France.

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The French got very excited due to its strategic position and referred to Mauritius as the “star and key” of the Indian Ocean.Well, as you might or might not know, we covered Mauritius for the Luxury Show a few years ago and you can join millions of viewers to relive the experience on our VooVix channel here. So, we decided to go back for the second time to make sure Mauritius could live up to our first journey to the Island several years ago. Our team on this trip included the perfect cast, Joanna Blyth, Laura French,Deborah Cicurel and obviously I was on hand to teach the girls swimming lessons.

A few minutes drive from the airport, we found ourselves opening the gates to paradise as we swooned into the Heritage Le Telfair. This luxurious, ocean front golf resort is a 4-minute walk from the Heritage Golf Club, 9 km from La Vallée Des Couleurs Nature Park and 16 km from the vibrant sand dunes at Seven Coloured Earth. Airy, refined rooms have balconies or terraces with garden, river or sea views, along with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and room service. Suites add butler service, sitting and dining areas, claw-foot tubs and 4-poster beds; some have outdoor showers. Breakfast and golf are free. There’s an outdoor pool, a gym and a spa, as well as 12 restaurants and bars. Diving and horse riding are offered; a kids’ club and babysitting services are available.

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As we settled down for lunch at Le Palmier hosted by Guillaume Lefebure we were joined by Catriona Stewart who completed the team. With jokes flying from one side of the table to the other and the perfect sea breeze emanating from the nearby beach. We kept pinching ourselves wondering what we deserved to have such difficult jobs. Sipping cocktails by the beach to the sound of waves can only be described as a terribly challenging task for a Friday afternoon. I feel your empathy!





Later that evening, after some well needed rest, we all assembled together as the ‘Made in Mauritius’ cast and made our way to Le Château de Bel Ombre . We were welcomed by Jacques Charles – Chief Operations Officer of Heritage Resorts. Now, the ‘Château’ in ‘Le Château de Bel Ombre is not simply used as a ploy to create a nostalgic ambiance. The restaurant itself is a historic mansion with a dated past as a thriving sugar plantation. Apart from the interior décor, the traditional charm, and elegance of the building. The main ‘’pierce de resistance’ is off course, the delicious menu and in the words of Jacques Charles “Le Château de Bel Ombre relies on fresh, local ingredients and puts new spins on traditional Mauritian dishes”.

Image result for Heritage Le Telfair. Château de Bel Ombre

We retired back to the resort and despite myself and Laura French teaming up to encourage the Made in Mauritius cast to go out for a brief exploration of the Mauritius nightlife scene. Leader of the pack, Joanna Blyth took the sensible decision by offering us two options which made us choose the option she wanted in the first place. Reverse psychology at it’s best. Myself and French were left dumb founded wondering how she got us to agree and proceed to our villas like well behaved kids at a nursery. Blyth, you should be a politician – (move over Theresa May)… !

The next morning, we enjoyed wonderful breakfast at Annabella’s followed by a golf buggy drive to lunch at the Heritage Golf Club. The Heritage Golf Club is quite impressive to say the least and as a secret golf connoisseur like ‘moi’. I was excited to play the field a few years back and i was hoping for a repeat performance. The Heritage Golf Club, was designed by Peter Matkovich and opened for business in 2004.The golf complex which was designed by Peter Matkovich and opened in 2004, comprises an 18 hole championship golf course, a 9 hole Par 3 course, exceptional practice facilities, golf academy, clubhouse, restaurant and golf shop. With 5 teeing options on each hole, golfers of all levels are catered for. Now, I am no Tiger woods but with statistics like that, pulling off your ‘first tee’ is guaranteed to be a walk in the park. Unfortunately, due to the heavens shedding tears of joy to celebrate our happiness we had to abandon the pull cart for dry shelter at the Club house.

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Wondering what our next plan of action was? Well, there was only one feasible option after spending the whole day playing hard to get with the rain. We were escorted to the Seven Colours Spa for a 90 mins Coco Spa Ritual. To put it quite simply, words can’t describe how relaxed we all felt after what seemed like an intense spiritual massage which was obviously geared towards cleansing your mind, body and soul.We concluded our evening with dinner at Anabellas.

Image result for seven colours spa heritage

The next morning, I chose to explore the surroundings and take a tour to meet the locals who make Mauritius one of the most sought after destinations in the world. The Island is a blend of cultures, with a mix of Indian, African, French and Chinese heritage. Later that evening we had an Aperitif and dinner at Gin’ja, hosted by Khurshid Vayid – Communication Executive. Khurshid Vayid is what I call the ‘game changer’.  She studied in London and is well versed on the London scene and she definitely knew where the party in Mauritius was taking place. She promised to introduce us to the real Made in Maurice cast (their version of Made in Chelsea….coming to a TV screen near you in the future). The first venue we  went to was ‘Big Willies’ which both Joanna and Laura found hilarious… I wonder why! I mean this is not a strange occurrence. Is it?? Perfectly normal. #OnlyinMauritius.



After a few drinks and watching an unknown British singer rock her adoring audience. We had paid our dues and moved on to the real after party at the Lakaz Cascavelle . All I can say is that the Mauritians certainly know how to party and the Brits were definitely giving them a run for their money. By, the time I was ready to bring out the killer moves from my memory collection of classic moves… I heard the famous last words…. Taxi…!!!

The most sensible word you can hear on a night out… The driver said, “you will thank me later” and the next morning I understood why.I got up to find myself in a very deep state of meditation… it was so deep that I missed the next activity of the day.image-1 The girls however, took one for the team and enjoyed the Sea Kart Experience organised by MTPA (Mauritius Tourism Authority). In hindsight, when I saw pictures of how much fun was had by my fellow cast members. I put this on my to do list for next time.


Later that evening we were joined again by Guillaume Lefebure for dinner at Zafarani . As we enjoyed, the good food, great conversation and candid moments. Guillaume found himself agreeing to join the cast of Made in Mauritius. His job, was to weekly relay to us how the week was going via Skype to our live studio in London. Call it fantasy, we call it reality and we are sticking to it! By the time we reached our last day, everyone was well and truly addicted to this Paradise Island and the thought of boarding a plane back to Blighty was not at the top of our agendas.

Image result for Zafarani , mauritius

We strolled to the C Beach Club to join the Kite Surf training. Expert kite surfers the world over are well aware that the big surf and steady winds off the reef here make it one of the best spots on the planet to enjoy their sport. Alas, we were neither experts nor semi-professionals at the craft but we gave it a good go! As you do… We were later invited to play tennis with protective helmets… Tennis legends, Serena and Venus Williams apparently invented this style of playing tennis although I should say allegedly because for some reason I think this was a joke taken way out of proportion (Pause)…. We decided to press play and return back to the C Beach Club and we were right bang in the middle of a wedding taking place at the beach front. You could have felt the romance in the air from the bride, groom and attendees. It was like watching your own fly on the wall documentary of the best beach wedding with you literally being the fly on the beach.

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As the pastor asked if anyone on this beach had any reason why this couple should not be engaged in holy matrimony. I felt like shouting…. “Me… yes… me, because this is a perfect location and we are jealous in a good way…obviously. Now, you can continue” but I let it play out in my mind because Love conquers all and there was no need to make the front pages of the local Mauritius Gazette especially on our last few hours on the island… On that note, we departed Heritage Le Telfair for a short drive to the airport feeling like, we had just left our loved one sipping cocktails in the middle of the Indian ocean. Yes, because when you come to Mauritius you wouldn’t want to leave this paradise island. As we got to the airport, a gentleman who worked for the airlines literally helped upgrade us to more leg room (not quite… first class but its the gesture that counts) as if we weren’t impressed with the people of Mauritius. This was the icing on the cake to what had been a mission in relaxation and self discovery! On a serious note, with a plethora of stunning beaches, diverse culture, exciting activities and rich cuisine. If you are reading this and you are thinking of your next adventure. I am sure at this stage one sentence should spring to your mind.. “Say no more” and my response is check our fact box below for the much needed recommendations.

Thinking of travelling to Mauritius? Here is what Chelsea Monthly recommends:


A deluxe room at Heritage Le Telfair starts from £260 per night (2 sharing) on a B&B basis

For further information call +230-266-9777 or visit


British airways has flights from London Gatwick to Mauritius from £855 return, including taxes.

Tourist Information

For further information and to discover attractions on the island visit

Sea Karting

The one hour Sea-karting experience costs MUR 5500 (approx. £100) This is per sea kart, which can fit two adults and one child between 6 and 12

For more information and to book visit: 


Electro-bike excursion from £38.09pp for a 3 hour tour; £53.97pp for the 7 hour tour of the south.

For more information and to book visit


Jordan KensingtonNovember 1, 2016


Ibiza is one of the Balearic islands, an archipelago of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s well known for the lively nightlife in Ibiza Town and San Antonio, where major European nightclubs have summer outposts. It’s also home to quiet villages, yoga retreats and beaches, from Platja d’en Bossa, lined with hotels, bars and shops, to quieter sandy coves backed by pine-clad hills found all around the coast. So, when we decided to take the challenge to spend 48 hours in Ibiza, it was mainly because this mission actually reminded us of our  version of Hangover in Vegas but this time we were headed to the beautiful white isle right here in Europe..Just when the season was winding down. We landed in Ibiza ready to kick off the action… yes, because when everyone goes left. It’s always great timing to take the right turn, especially when it comes to celebrating the launch of the Island’s newest openings.We ended up checking into the five-star, 117-room hotel  OD Talamanca  which was fully refurbished for 2016, in a unique and modern style. This hotel offers luxurious accommodation in a fantastic location. The hotel is overlooking the picturesque bay of Talamanca and Ibiza Town giving spectacular views of the sunsets and sunrises on the horizon. The beach with its fine golden sands and clear blue waters is only a few metres away. Before we could settle to take in the Ibiza atmosphere we had drivers outside ready to whisk us off to lunch at Ocean Beach Club.

Opened in June 2012, Ocean Beach Ibiza was instantly popular, successfully filling a gap in the market for San Antonio outdoor party venues. From day to night-time fiestas, fine dining, fashion shows, acrobatics, live performances, massages and private events. This was our first break into what was to come in the evening. Great lunch, fantastic cocktails and even better company with the sunshine shining down on us whilst the DJ’s played an eclectic mix of house music. Now that’s what I called ‘Balearic vibes’.  After we had exhausted our fist pumps and hands in the airs, there was no need for putting any airs and graces to the occasion as we were led barely sober back to the OD Talamanca to prepare for part 2 of our mission ’48 hours in Ibiza’ .

As the clock hit 7.00pm, we were chauffeured to what was our next location, STK Ibiza which was a short ride away from Talamanca in the exclusive Marina Botafoch complex  opened its doors in July. The restaurant/nightclub brings you an up to date  modern take on the American steakhouse in the heart of Ibiza town. STK is known worldwide for its excellent food and a guaranteed feel good experience .

STK Ibiza bills itself as “not your usual steakhouse” and so there’s a ‘raw bar’ with a great selection of the finest seafood, serving up ceviches, oysters and a raw tuna tartare.

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There is an excellent selection of delicious starters and salads such as the soft shell crab slider, lobster fish fingers, stuffed courgette flowers or heirloom tomato salad with creamy burrata cheese. Desserts are a mix of classics and local dishes such as churro milkshake with dulce de leche ice cream, passion fruit crème brulèe and fairground candy floss. You can choose from an excellent selection of drinks with cocktails made by award-winning mixologists. Do try their signature drinks, such as the Lemon Stiletto, and a Martini flavoured with rose petals.

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STK Ibiza offers a stylish and contemporary venue that blends a modern steakhouse backed with sparkling entertainment, including live acts and guest DJs. As well as the main restaurant lounge, there is a pretty outside terrace with ocean views and two private dining rooms for special occasions. On the night, we attended we were serenaded by performers, circus acts, dancers and much more.. This was way before the party had started and come dessert, It is  fair to say that the whole club erupted into the biggest party.. call it ‘natural progression’.

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From excellent waiters, to delicious food. STK Ibiza may have nailed it in terms of creating a playground to do Ibiza like a grown up!!  Not, that partying it up with your hands in the air is out of style but there is huge demand for the more mature options and STK actually caters for both but with an addition of slick style to add into the mix. In their own words “If there’s one thing we know how to do at STK, it’s throw a party. We’re about reinventing the traditional and putting our playful twist on everything” and if that’s not enough for you to explore for yourself then don’t blame us for missing out on all the fun!

STK Ibiza is located at:
C. Illa Plana S/N Ibiza
Marina Botafoch

For more info on STK Ibiza see:

For more info on OD Talamanca  see

For more info on Ocean  Beach Ibiza see

Jeff ArmstrongAugust 18, 2016


When we think about Mexico, we usually imagine white sand beaches, margaritas and a fun-filled vacation in the sun. But what if you are done with imagining yourself in Mexico on vacation that always ends too soon, and decide to make it your permanent reality – your home?



It is estimated that around 1 million American citizens live in Mexico, and the number keeps increasing every year. The Riviera Maya, a region on the Mexican Caribbean coast, has been especially popular among retirees and families. Each family has different reasons to move to Mexico, but those who move to the Riviera Maya, and especially Tulum, often do so to run away from their daily stress and to immerse themselves in the relaxing, easy-going atmosphere of the Caribbean. Many also choose Tulum because it offers the fastest-growing real estate market in the world.

Here is some basic advice to everyone who is planning to relocate to Mexico.

  1. Buying property in Mexico as a foreigner

There are simple procedures that all foreigners have to follow when they buy property in Mexico, especially in the coastal regions. A foreigner buying land in Mexico within 32 miles (50 km) from the coastline has to use a bank trust (fideicomiso) or establish a Mexican corporation to complete the purchase.  You can choose your bank – HSBC, Scotia bank, Banamex (Citigroup), etc – that will act as your trustee, with you maintaining full control over the trust: you will be able to lease, sell or pass the property on to your heirs. Make sure you choose a trustworthy local real estate agency that will take care of all the steps of buying your property.

  1. Becoming a resident in Mexico

If you are coming to Mexico as a tourist, you don¹t need any visa – you will simply get entry permit as a visitor at the border, usually for 180 days, with no permission to work. In order to apply for Mexican residency, you must do so before going to Mexico at the Mexican embassy or consulate.

Temporary resident visa is issued for up to 4 years, and is meant for those who wish to spend more than 180 days in Mexico per year – it¹s perfect if you own a second home in Mexico. You would need to show monthly income of at least $1,553 per person and at least $520 per month per dependent. You can also get temporary resident¹s visa by showing a bank statement with a balance of about $25,880. There is also a way to get your temporary status by proving you own property in Mexico that has the value of $207,046 or more. When temporary residence card expires, you have to either leave the country or apply for permanent residency.

If you decide you are moving to Mexico permanently, you can apply for permanent residency immediately. The process will be similar as applying for temporary status, but you will have to show higher levels of income: investments with approximate monthly balance of around $103,523 over 12 months or monthly income of $2,588 per person over 6 months.


  1. Cost of living


The cost of living in Tulum and the Riviera Maya depends strictly on your lifestyle. For example, the cost of renting a property on the beach can be a few times higher than a few blocks inland, while still being a few minutes away from the beach. Also, Tulum is full of expensive gourmet restaurants – but also has plentiful local markets that are very affordable. So it¹s completely a choice of each family how to spend their budget. Similarly, you can spend $2,000 for a fancy penthouse condo in Playa del Carmen or $500 for a lovely one-bedroom in Tulum. Utilities – not cheap in Mexico – would come down to about $300 per month, groceries would cost around $400, and a maid would come down to about $60 (once per week). Thus it¹s safe to say that $2,000 budget per couple per month would be sufficient to lead a comfortable life in Tulum


  1. Safety

Is Mexico safe? That¹s a thought that often crosses the mind of many would-be retirees in Mexico. Mexico, in fact, is considered to be one of the best countries for expats in the world. InterNations, which is a popular expat website, named Mexico as a top place to move to because of quality of life, ease of settling in, work opportunities, family life, personal finance and general satisfaction with life. Certainly, every foreigner in Mexico should exercise common sense and caution, as anywhere in the world. Touristy regions as the Riviera Maya are completely safe, but such violent states as Guerrero, that includes Acapulco, the once-glamorous beach town, are not recommended at all.

  1. Healthcare

Mexico offers great and affordable universal healthcare, and its private healthcare is amongst the most affordable in the Western hemisphere. Locally, there are a few smaller hospitals in Tulum and modern healthcare centers in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.


Annie PalmerNovember 28, 2014


Another strong month for Fraser Yachts with the sale of three superyachts in October and the
addition of eight new yachts to their sales fleet.

Leading brokerage company Fraser Yachts is pleased to announce another successful sales month for 2014. October saw the sale of three superyachts: M/Y NAMASTE, M/Y LATIKO, S/Y GARUDA, whilst eight new yachts have been added to their central agency sales listings: M/Y CALLIXE, M/Y ANNAEVA, M/Y BLUE ICE, M/Y ALEXANDRA V, M/Y MANGUSTA 80HT, M/Y SILVIA M, M/Y MARIA TERESA and M/Y ABRI.
On the market for the first time in 20 years, M/Y CALLIXE is a 57.30m classic Feadship for sale. Designed by DeVoogt, with a Terence Disdale interior, she is considered to be the most iconic superyacht ever delivered from this renowned Dutch shipyard. Built in 1986, the yacht underwent a full refit in 2003 and can sleep ten guests in five staterooms. M/Y CALLIXE boasts modern water access, a helipad and generous outdoor entertaining spaces and is for sale for $15,900,000. M/Y ANNAEVA is a 56m superyacht from Italy’s famous Benetti shipyard. Built in 2007, she has remained a private yacht since her launch and is in immaculate condition. Features include an oversized Jacuzzi, a large garage for tenders and toys, and spacious deck areas for al fresco dining and sunbathing. She can accommodate 12 guests in six staterooms and her impressive split level owner’s suite on the main deck offers panoramic views. M/Y ANNAEVA is on the market for €27,900,000.

Jordan KensingtonJune 26, 2014


That’s what I said to Lucy Coleman, our Editor when she left a post-it note in my office. As I called her office line to ask why she otherwise ruined my coffee break with such a ghastly suggestion. She sought to explain to me how important it was to stay open minded about the unknown. Now, anyone who has met Coleman knows how much of a charmer this lady is… so after a little lecture. I obliged and with a smile on my face I trolled the internet for every piece of video about Benidorm. I mean, there has got to be something great about this place online. One thing that came up was the TV series self-titled, Benidorm produced by Tiger Aspect for ITV.  It all made sense because I remember watching this crazy series and actually uttering the words “Never, Never, Ever”. Now, I was about to eat my own words as I was on a Monarch Airline plane on my way to Alicante to visit Benidorm. As I checked in early to avoid massive queues, I boarded the plane and was introduced to my companions for the trip.

With an all-woman team this time.. It suddenly dawned on me that I’ll be the only man on the trip. Fantastic!  So as I took a power nap pondering how I’ll cope with conversations about make-up, fashion, you know typical girly stuff… I was awakened at Alicante to the fact that I was in fact in the midst of the right group of women… I mean, with our first conversation starting with ‘I didn’t really like the sausage on the plane”… oh no, not that kind of sausage”…. coupled with candid advice from a fellow passenger… telling us not to board back to London unless we were ‘Benidoomed’…. (apparently, a euphemism for getting cream crackered) and with a generous response received from my new all girls team. I suddenly knew, that things will be just fine or as the brilliant comedian Mickey Flanagan will put it…. We will definitely enjoy, going out, out… Why?  Come on, you know that a team that thinks on the same page (i.e. having a sense of humour) …. Stays together. So, it was great to be around confident, self-assured, intelligent and independent ladies who don’t take themselves too seriously… My kind of people!

Anyway, back to Benidorm. We were picked up from the airport by the lovely Yolanda Picket-Fernandez from the tourist board and after a short drive to the Hotel Costablanca. We saw a picturesque site, typical of the TV series Benidorm and lots of old aged pensioners driving senseless on  their respective mobility scooters or just walking around with bright t-shirts and the customary group of  lads doing what they do best….  bar crawling… I thought, wow…. This is going to be interesting! So, as I checked into my standard two bedroom hotel suite wondering whether I should have just assigned this trip to one of the other travel journalists in the office.  I decided to get ready as we were about to go for dinner. A quick pop downstairs to the reception and we were introduced to Carola  Valls who I later re-named the #QueenofBenidorm for her ability to get into everywhere and anywhere. Carola  Valls is an Argentinian /Spanish PR Executive from the Tourist board who came to Benidorm a few years ago for personal reasons but fell in love with the beautiful place. Her mission is to make everyone around the world find out how much of a beautiful place Benidorm is… Call it Mission impossible, but Carola was about to show us another side to Benidorm that often gets ignored. To be honest, she was to become the game changer!

She began to explain the history of Benidorm.  Benidorm is located in Alicante which is at the heart of Costa Blanca with five beaches, crystal clear water a beautiful temperature all year round. There is no wonder tourist in the ‘know’ have flocked to the island in the past. Poniente Beach is clean, quiet and has a full range of leisure facilities. Levante Beach, has 2km of golden sand and a wide variety of services are available from walkways, sunbeds, playgrounds and safety equipment guaranteeing you maximum comfort and fun.  Benidorm attraction parks also include; Europe’s largest wooden roller coaster ‘Ave Fenix’ with a 60 metre free fall.

That night we were escorted to a gastro pub restaurant. The food was a mixture of fresh vegetables, prawns, fish and homemade desserts.  A great start to a quiet evening as we all dispersed back to the Hotel to get some shut eye. Funny enough for a young team walking back to our hotel… I could see the oldies looking at us in laughter…. There was a mixture of shock and laughter…It was the funniest thing to take notice of…. The oldies were dancing off to old 60’s songs whilst the young ones were yawning back to bed… Unbelievable!  Anyway, day 2 was an early start and after breakfast we go for a short walk to Marco Polo. Marco Polo I am told was launched by a guy whose name was Mark but preferred the coolness of Marco Polo… They deal with hiring out bicycle, all-terrain vehicles, cars, quads, 50cc & 125 scooters, sailing & speed boats and off course mobility scooters. The company also puts on a list of activities including; Jeep Safaris, Bicycle trios, Paintball, Nordic Walking, Jet Ski tours, scuba diving and more. We were booked for a jeep safari including a deep sea dive at a beautiful waterfall.


By this time everyone started to admit that Benidorm was actually one of the coolest places in Spain, they just suffered from lack of the correct kind of publicity so we all agreed to change it with an echo of appreciation for my chosen word throughout the trip ‘Fantastic’….   We are picked up by Dennis Raus …. A Dutch ex-banker who left the Netherlands in search of adventure and ended up at Marco Polo.  “This is the job of my life and as you can see it is a really hard job” he said with a big smile whilst driving crazily into the forest and landscapes of Benidorm like an F1 driver en-route to qualify for a champagne bath. We arrive at the Algar Waterfalls which was 15km from Benidorm in Callosa d’en Sarria.  The walk through the river bank boasted amazing views and its natural pools as well as indigenous flora and fauna added to the ambience.  I decided to take up the duties of official photographer whilst the girls bravely did their excellent dive into the waterfall. I mean, I would have gone in… (Cough, cough)… but someone had to take pictures eh???  Dennis drives us out back to town not long before I told him about my appreciation for the Dutch culture after ending up in a restaurant in Amsterdam at one time eating cakes which apparently turned out to be special cakes. The first time I went to Amsterdam, I coined the phrase… ‘Don’t beat around the bush, be more Dutch’ and any beer company wishing to buyout the licence to use it… Speak to my agent. It could be arranged!!!  We say our goodbye to Dennis and ‘gracias’ to the Marco Polo team before making our way to Poniente beach for some tapas at La Taperia de Aurrera in Santo Domingo. The self-styled man behind the brand of Tapas restaurants even popped in to introduce himself to the team.  Tapas is an informal, traditional Spanish way of eating. ‘Tapear’ is defined as a great way to meet up with friends for lunch or dinner. Benidorm has a great range of bars, pubs and local tapas to compliment fine Spanish wine.

benidorm- palace
benidorm-more segway
benidorm-girl dive
benidorm-asia hotel2
benidorm-asia hotel lunch
benidorm-beach shot

After lunch we get picked up by the driver and after a quick ‘Ola’ to the driver, we were off to the second phase of our Benidorm adventure. We arrived for the Segway tour courtesy of Costablanca tour. The Segway is easy and apt for practically all age groups from the age of 14 and after a quick lesson, we were armed with confidence and proceeded to explore the town of Benidorm from the Town Hall, the Bull Ring, The Castle and the Ricon de Loix. All of this was with minimum effort until I decided to have a beer in one of our designated stops. Big mistake….!!!  Back on the Segway, fully charged up with a pint of beer in my system, I decided it would be a great idea to play paparazzi and take a picture of the team whilst continuing to ride with my back turned… I mean, common sense is not common after a pint of beer but the outcome was inevitable as I fell down like a kungfu student at a boxing convention. Luckily, my Bruce lee mind set kicked into action 5 seconds before I hit the ground and i managed to avoid what could have been a serious incident. I bounced back, brushed the dirt of my shoulder told everyone to calm down with the words “Let’s not make a big song and dance about it” and I was back on the Segway like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in bed after an argument. Brave face and humbled by the fall, we finished our two hours of what was a sensational ride. Did I love it? Off course… I did. The opportunity to get to know Benidorm via the Segway was an unforgettable experience. The tour guide spoke in perfect English and through his wireless radio equipment which we had access to via our headpieces we got to learn more about the town in a much more exciting way than your usual tour guides. I think other tourist boards can take some notes here….! Very creative.  Next up, a visit to Mundomar, a complete marine and exotic animal park. Flamingos, parrots, dolphins combined with spectacular performances, restaurants, picnic areas and fabulous viewing point for unforgettable experiences. We were welcomed by the beautiful Naomi from MundoMar Benidorm.  Naomi is a slim build beautiful and intelligent blonde whose family hail originally from Southampton in the UK but she has never lived in the UK. She comes for short breaks to see her family but she was born in Benidorm. “I love it here, I was born here. The reason why I speak English is because every time I tried to speak Spanish with my mum, she will be like… leave it out…. Speak to me in English, so I guess that helped strengthen my English” and yes she was fully bilingual in every sense.  She then escorted us through one of the best marine and exotic animal parks I had personally ever been too. The staff are highly trained, friendly and it felt like being in a different world all together.  Naomi, gets us all our swimming gear making us look like the Olympics Aquatic team gearing up to represent Great Britain. We wait a few seconds with all the excitement in the world and then we are led to the private swimming pool to see some of the smartest creatures of the sea. Dolphins are often regarded as one of earth’s most intelligent animals, though it is hard to say just how intelligent. Comparing species’ relative intelligence is complicated by differences in sensory apparatus, response modes, and nature of cognition but this dolphins were experienced and you could feel the empathy and connection they had with humans.

Mr. Dolphin (a name the girls seem to have given him) was the headmaster of all the dolphins and an energetic member of the team who seemed to have mastered the art of communicating with dolphins. He commanded the dolphins to do some unbelievable tricks… and the pierce de resistance was getting the dolphin to lock in for a passionate kiss.  Amazing!!   Naomi added “It’s all about the experience, customers come in and we are not just interested in turning over their money but more importantly what they feel when they leave and sometimes you have to use common sense in certain scenarios to help your customers” and this was proven in full effect when Naomi had to help a Russian tourist and his two daughters who had missed their session with the Dolphin. She accommodated the nervous family in style and I am sure they had a Happy Ending by way of the precious kiss with the dolphin.

We left the dolphin enclosure and as we waited for the driver… Carola turns up with pictures of us with our Dolphin. It turns out that, whilst we were with the Dolphins enjoying our experience. There was a dedicated photographer on hand to capture the key moments. The pictures are printed on the spot and offered to you on departure. Now, if that doesn’t spell ‘first class service’… I don’t know what will.

Later that evening, we were all dressed up and we left the hotel on our way to the Benidorm Palace for some dinner and ‘the show’.  The Benidorm Palace is a great venue which is reminiscent of a Vegas type space with chandeliers, and a table service to match. Unfortunately, as the performance started and after a few polite claps… I started to feel like this would be a very long night. I mean there was a man singing with a band and a blonde girl holding a mic swinging from left to right without singing. She finally sang, and yes she had a voice of an angel but as soon as I had given up hope of ever being entertained at the Benidorm Palace. Carola whispered “This is not the show, the show is about to begin” and the show definitely kicked off… As the curtains opened you knew this was no amateur movement. This was a Vegas style show capable of working in Vegas or in the heart of any London theatre. From the dancers, actors, actresses, pyrotechnics, visuals, showmanship. The last time I saw a show this great was in Vegas…..I had to pinch myself… Benidorm finally got to the #NextLevelShhh… Those who read my travel pieces often know that I coined the phrase #NextLevelShhh over 14 years ago and although I was having the time of my life (excuse the pun…) but there are levels to  #NLS and it takes a lot to achieve the status of NLS. I digress, a visit to the Benidorm Palace should be a must for anyone planning to go to Benidorm especially if you are looking for a good quality night out featuring an array of music, colour and international artists. The show has won awards throughout Europe and I can certainly see why!

It’s Friday, and Day 3 in Benidorm. We are picked up by an excited Carola and walk through the beach to get to the local Jet Ski Company. After a quick James Bond style demonstration by our instructor, we were ready to go. My partner in our Jet Ski/ James Bond movie, was Becky King who funnily gave me motivational words of wisdom. “Jordan, I have first aid knowledge… Don’t worry, you are in good hands”. Not, that I was worried at all… as I am a qualified first class swimmer… Off course I am.  Obviously not, but I must say I was impressed and as I throttled right into the ocean going through waves that will make any full grown man reach out for a bottle of  whisky. It gave me pleasure to complete the ride fully in charge and passing on the steering to Becky who certainly did the King family proud by powering that Jet Ski like Angelina Jolie in Mr & Mrs Smith. After the heavy excitement, I decided to do what any grown man will do, calm it all down with a glass of whisky whilst the girls decided to go for some more excitement in the form of a ski ride through the sea. When you get to the ripe young age of 33, you have to balance your levels of excitement sometimes… you know?  One risk per day and all that!!  Anyway, a mistake in the time on my Zuricom phone meant that I was late to meet the girls and the driver. Oh, you could cut the tension in the air… The Queen of Benidorm wasn’t very happy at all. Well, I learnt my lesson, never to keep girls waiting, you will pay for it in an atmosphere of tension. I apologised as any gentleman would do.  Anyway, the tension didn’t last very long as we got to the Crème de la Crème of the whole Benidorm trip; the five star Asia Gardens Hotel and Thai Spa owned by the Barcelo group.  This space is a slice of heaven in the heart of Benidorm located at the Rotonda del Fuego. The Asia Hotel offers ensuite first class rooms with several swimming pools, restaurants and a Thai Spa created specifically to bring together the ancient traditions of Thai philosophy of calm, harmony and peace. As you walk into the hotel, the soothing music that plays instantly relaxes you.  I am told all the massage therapists are fully trained from Wat Po Temple in Bangkok, where the first traditional Thai massage techniques were originally taught. In addition, the spa has a pool with outdoor swimming area and a Turkish steam bath and the lush garden has views across the mountains and the sea. The place is pure luxury and one of Benidorm’s best kept secrets and as we had lunch with representatives from Asia Gardens Hotel.  I could clearly confirm the food here was the best fine dining I had experienced in Benidorm so far! It was absolutely fantastic…. We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the swimming pool  and by 6pm our driver was ready to get us back to the Hotel Costablanca for what was to be our last night in Benidorm.  Later that evening, as we got ready  for the last night in town. I get a knock on my door from Sarah Darling…. “Darling I have invited everyone to my balcony for some champagne before we all head out. Do you want to join us”?  Off course, I said… What a star? We drank and reminisced about what was a truly fantastic trip and as we met Carola downstairs to head to our last night out, out. We ended up with cocktail and drinks at the VIP KU lounge in Levante beach and danced the night away. As we emerged the next day, our last day. It was clear that no one wanted to leave Benidorm. Contrary to popular belief, the town had proven to be a successful secret   escape capable of satisfying the needs of a diverse target audience. Young, Old, Luxury or middle of the road, if you are looking for a secret escape… This is one town definitely worth a visit!!!


Fancy going to Benidorm? Check out are  handy tips below:

-Benidorm offers a wide range of sports & leisure activities, events, fiestas & festivals throughout the year, including a number of summer music festivals and gastronomy events. See (in English) for more information, booking suggestions and  brochure downloads.

-Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates year round flights to Alicante from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton, East Midlands and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, from £34.99 one way (£85.94 return) (lead fares for winter 14).  For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit

-We stayed at the 4* Melia Hotel Sol Costablanca on Levante Beachfront.  The 185-room hotel offers doubles  on B&B basis in July from approx £109 per night (min 4 nights stay during high season)

-We visited the 5* Barcelo Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa.  Room rates from  €240 with choice of spa & golf packages 

Other useful details: 

Benidorm Palace,Avenida Severo Ochoa 13,

Escorted jeep safari

Specialist operator offering a wide range of sport & activities and tours.  Escorted jeep safaris in 8 seater vehicles full day from €59 (Under 12 yrs €48) including entrance to Algar waterfalls, lunch & hotel pickup.  Self-drive jeeps are also available. Cycle hire from 10€ per day

Le Sol –  gastrobar lounge restaurant .  Tasting menus around €25.

Barranco Playa restaurant, Calle Vicente Llorca Alos 14, www.barranco

Other restaurants visited included Ulia, Solotula.  Nightlife: Ku Lounge Beach Club, Fanconi Beach Club, Moon Beach Club

Water sports: Jet ski, cable ski, diving, snorkelling

Jetski – Aquatic Fun, Levante Beach

-Segway in Sierra Gelada National Park from 30 euros for 2 hour. Guided tour @

Scuba 5* PADI diving centre offering Beginners Diving Course at Benidorm Island from €70, which includes all tuition, equipment, boat transport etc with qualified trainers.  Experienced dives from €30.

-Theme Parks

Some parks offer combined tickets (Mundomar & Aqualandia; Terra Natura and Aqua Natura).  Top tip:  all offer discounted fares for afternoon visits (Mundomar from €10)

Mundomar dolphin & sealion shows, animals, conservation & play areas. Swimming with the dolphins experience

Have you been to Benidorm?  Want to write your review. Scroll down and write your review below via the comments form!!

Jeff ArmstrongJanuary 10, 2014


Sunborn International is pioneering a unique approach to the development of exclusive accommodation in the form of super yacht hotels. Launching two new hotels in March 2014, Sunborn London will be operated by ISS Hotel Division London and Sunborn Gibraltar will operate under Sunborn International.
Super yachts have become the world’s ultimate symbol of wealth and exclusivity and Sunborn’s unique concept combines the privacy of a super yacht with all the amenities of a luxury hotel. Sunborn has invested over €200 million in the two new super yacht hotels and both have been designed to the highest specification, offering exquisite accommodation, facilities and exceptional service.
Sunborn London will be located in the prestigious Royal Victoria docks, next to ExCeL London. Originally serving as Sunborn Princess at the renowned Naantali Spa in Finland, Sunborn London has undergone a complete refurbishment of the exterior and interiors and will be brought to London in time for its opening in March.
The 120 metre length, Sunborn London will offer 138 spacious yacht bedrooms and suites over 5 floors with entertaining space, including a fine dining restaurant, bar, auditorium and conference rooms, state of the art gym and vast outside decks and private terraces.
The recent regeneration of East London and the Newham Borough makes this an ideal location for Sunborn London. The hotel will primarily attract corporate clients, with its close proximity to ExCeL, which alone expects to welcome four million visitors during 2014, London City Airport and Canary Wharf. However the hotel’s luxury accommodation and facilities will also provide the ideal base from which to enjoy the local attractions, including the O2, Greenwich and the Emirates Airline.
Sunborn Gibraltar will be located in the new Ocean Village Marina, offering guest’s uninterrupted views across the Gibraltar Straits and to the tip of Africa. This super yacht hotel will offer the first official 5 star hotel accommodation to visitors of the rock, with 18,500²m of floor space the hotel will have 189 rooms and suites over 7 floors.
Sunborn International invested €150 million to create this spectacular 142 meter super yacht hotel. Guests will have the feeling that they are residing on their very own super yacht whilst enjoying the facilities of a luxury hotel. Taking advantage of the breath-taking views was key to the overall design and every room features floor to ceiling, sliding windows and a private sundeck to further enhance the feeling of exclusivity and to take in the iconic scenery.
Similarly to London, Sunborn Gibraltar will target the corporate market with their extensive on board event facilities and vast conference rooms. For the leisure guest there are a variety of fine dining restaurants, cocktail bars, a large pool and sundeck, a spa, gym and casino, as well as a grand ballroom which can cater for any event from weddings to product launches. A focal point will be the top deck restaurant, which features a retractable roof allowing guests to enjoy alfresco dining all year round.

Commenting on the new Sunborn Yacht Hotels, Hans Niemi, executive director of Sunborn, says “Our goal is to expand the Sunborn Yacht Hotel concept to well-known locations around the world. The new hotel in London, currently the world’s most important city – together with a dynamic Mediterranean location in Gibraltar, gives us a an important platform for the Sunborn brand and business concept, Our yacht hotels are hotel properties which deliver significant benefits”.

Ann FooOctober 18, 2013


So as Ibiza’s parties came to an end last weekend, with Nikki Beach’s Red Party, and closing parties at Booom, Ushuaia, Pacha, Space and others, we look at what’s been the best of the island this season.


For a solid, new dance-all-night event, there wasn’t much beating Solomun on Sundays at Pacha, with an added bonus of a free after party ‘til the silly hours at new Resort Destino – if you were lucky enough to bag a wristband.


The sell-out Music On at Amnesia on Fridays remained a favourite though, with one of the finest laser light shows, and Carl Cox and Marco Carola filling the main room and terrace with banging beats.


The best new opening of the year was the Ibiza outpost of the famous Nikki Beach, in Santa Eulalia del Rio. With its ocean views, sexy staff and top-draw cocktails – it proved the perfect palace for people watching.

Also new on the scene was the lesser known Hidden at Cala San Vicente. Although perhaps a little tricky to find, this retro-style, family run bar and restaurant had a surprise at every corner, even boasting mini golf and outdoor ten-pin bowling, along with stellar cocktails from one of London’s finest mixologists.

And if you really wanted to ramp up the pace, day party ANTS at Ushuaia was on form all season, with trippy man-size insects running free, giant ants in the pool and up the walls, and a show-stopping finale, complete with trapeze artists and fireworks. Andrea Oliva tore up the crowd – I’ll be joining the colony next year again for sure.


Newbie shake shack Dunes in Playa D’En Bossa offered a great burger selection, and some quality down-time, post-day party. With a US-feel, reasonable prices and friendly staff, I’ll be going back.

Or for something finer, the institution that is La Masia in Sant Miquel was a pleasure to visit – with its grape-strewn courtyard, fairy lights, a delightful maitre d’ and giant portions, (where we found there was so much food, two could easily share starters and mains).

Deco at the art deco-inspired Hotel Es Vive remained a gorgeous place to dine. Overseen by the charming Jason Bull of Sands fame, the stunning black and white dining room proffered a classic brasserie menu together with an extensive cocktail list. We grabbed a copy of the new Hotel Es Vive 3 CD album on our way out, to remind us of this chic hangout back in the UK.

And forever breath-taking was the spectacular Hacienda Na Xamena. This luxury resort set in the hills of the north, offered both great platters for the day in its Eden Lounge, and a sumptuous gourmet restaurant Sueño de Estrellas –perfect for those special occasions.

Fly to Ibiza for the start of next year’s season, searching for fares on travel search site momondo. Return flights to Ibiza from London next May 2014 start from £133.

(Price true as of date published – terms and conditions apply.)


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