Friday, 19 September 2014

Ashok Country Resort, Delhi Airport Hotel

Ashok Country Resort near Delhi Airport ©Solange Hando

This family run eco-friendly resort is set in a quiet location, just 4 km from Indira Ghandi International Airport and with easy access to the city centre.

It's a great place to relax before or after a flight, so conveniently located, but a world away from the hustle and bustle of Delhi.

Delhi Airport Hotel ©Solange Hando

Blending traditional elegance and modern facilities, this low rise building looks out to trees and lawns. Club or Luxury Premium, guest rooms are spacious and enjoy plenty of natural light.

Original art work and warm colours add a cosy feeling. TV, WiFi, air conditioning and tea and coffee making facilities are standard.

Ashok Country Resort ©Solange Hando

But the Ashok resort greatest asset are the lush grounds laced with mature palms, exotic flowers and manicured lawns leading to a small but welcoming swimming pool.

There is plenty of seating in the sun or in the shade and you can just while away the time reading your favourite book, watching the peacocks parading around or listening to the birds twittering in the trees.

Quiet Retreat at Ashok Country Resort ©Solange Hando

You can enjoy teas from all over India in the plush lounge bar and dine in style at the Picadilly where the menu is based on seasonal produce from the Ashok's organic farm (visits can be arranged).

The Mimasa Spa offers refreshing and energising rituals, including Ayurveda and scrubs and wraps using local ingredients, such as forest honey or sandalwood. Other facilities include free parking, travel desk, airport transfers and a small stylish boutique for last minute shopping.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Corfu 4 Star Louis Grand, Glyfada Beach

Glyfada Beach, Corfu ©Solange Hando

Glyfada beach is just 15 km from the airport and Corfu Town, a lovely location for the newly refurbished lti Louis Grand hotel tucked almost out of sight between the mountains and the sea.

The nearest village is 4 km up the hill but public buses and the hotel courtesy shuttle provide transfers into town, frequency according to season.

lti Louis Grand Hotel in Corfu ©Solange Hando

On this vast stretch of sand backed by greenery, the 6-floor Louis Grand fits neatly into the landscape with some 240 rooms, including family rooms, claiming mountain or full or partial sea views.
Rooms are finely furnished, light and spacious, with balcony or patio and all mod. con.

Interior courtyards and plush seating areas are scattered around the building, creating a cosy atmosphere where spotless marble floors add a touch of classic elegance.

Louis Grand Swimming Pool ©Solange Hando

The swimming pool overlooks the beach, next to the Pergola Bar serving exotic cocktails and Greek coffee. There's a full entertainment programme ranging from water sports or volley ball in the day to Corfiot folkore or quizzes in the evening.

Guests will also find a tennis court, gym, massage room and hair salon, plus internet services, a souvenir shop and car or bicycle hire.

Restaurant with a View at Louis Grand ©Solange Hando

The Figaretto restaurant and terrace offer fabulous buffets which include the best breakfast I've ever seen, four themed dinners every week and some spectacular sunsets.

Other dining options are the Asian restaurant, where it is wise to reserve, and the Sailors Beach for lunch and BBQ.

Louis Grand and its Beach ©Solange Hando

Enclosed by cliffs and accessed through the hotel pleasant gardens, the hotel beach is quiet though on a hot summer week-end, you may have to share the vast sweeping sands with the locals.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Discover Calligraphy in Taiwan Monastery

Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Taiwan ©Solange Hando

Isn't this a lovely place to discover the true meaning of calligraphy?

Tucked in lush greenery near Kaoshiung in southern Taiwan, Fo Guang Shan welcomes visitors with its own guesthouse and retreats and courses which include the ancient art of calligraphy.

Whether you opt for short or longer sessions, it's best to book early. The monastery attracts people from across the island and beyond, some just want to look around, others come in search of peace and uplifting vibes. 

Concentration, Key to Calligraphy ©Solange Hando

In Fo Guang Shan, there's far more to calligraphy than learning to draw characters. It's a spiritual experience and before entering the calligraphy hall, you will be asked to remove your shoes and lower your voice.

Sit quietly, body relaxed and balanced (that takes some practice) to allow the free flow of energy.
It isn't so much a physical activity but a journey into the soul, a kind of meditation when nothing matters but paper and brush and the page you are invited to copy.

Feel the Vibes, Taiwan ©Solange Hando

Meanwhile in the carefully tended grounds, hundreds of Buddha images glow in the midday sun and somehow you feel the vibes in the silence of this hall, as guided by nun or monk, you learn to breathe deeply, relax and go with the flow, left hand holding the paper down, right hand and wrist guiding the body and tip of the brush.

No need to worry about styles or strokes, just keep your eyes on the spot and forget everything else. Calligraphy isn't about what you do but how you do it, that's the most important lesson of all.

Fo Guang Shan Calligraphy ©Solange Hando

Adopt the right frame of mind and when you take home your carefully rolled up manuscript, it won't just be a souvenir but a lasting reminder of the peace you enjoyed in Fo Guang Shan.

All Taiwanese will tell you: creating characters is only the first step. To achieve a truly spiritual experience, each one must be transformed into a 'beautiful flower' and that can only come from the soul.

Calligraphy Hall in Fo Guang Shan ©Solange Hando

Did you know that in some quarters people shave a baby's hair to make a calligraphy brush? It brings good luck to everyone around.

You won't have to go that far in Fo Guang Shan but relax, respect and when you step out of this golden pagoda hall, you'll feel renewed and refreshed.