‘Travel and Tourism needs to do more’
Four Seasons Thailand Grand Tour
When you have no medical insurance …
Another award for Bandara Samui
Mandarin Oriental adds Wellness Package
Intelligent Spas still sees promise for spa industry in Asia Pacific
Double honors for Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Two new promotions from Bandara
12th annual World Gourmet Festival in Bangkok
Expect the unexpected at elephant polo competition

‘Travel and Tourism needs to do more’

CONSIDER THIS: Tourism does do much good for sustainability. If it weren’t for tourism, most of the fantastic reserves in South Africa or Nambia would be mines or farms. The land would go to waste. It would be stripped of lumber. Animals would be killed or eaten.

The thing we can do as individuals is to try to make tourism sustainable. Six Senses has a voice within the travel and tourism industry and we want to use our voice to encourage every level of the industry to be more sustainable in its choices. The travel and tourism industry needs to do more. We want our findings to reach the heart of the industry, going right back to investment and development stages.

The comment comes from Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and chairman of Six Senses, talking about the third SLOWLIFE Symposium, where he will be one of the featured speakers. Six Senses will be host to the symposium, to be held at Soneva Fushi, Maldives, Oct. 6-9.

The symposium will be attracting world-leading thinkers, policy makers and business leaders as well as government ministers. They will be confronting the principal challenges facing the travel and tourism industry, including low-carbon infrastructure, transportation, resort management and threatened biodiversity.

Attendees will also be discussing ways that the tourism industry, small islands and tropical states can join forces to mutually secure prosperous and sustainable economic futures.

Adds Jonathon Porritt, founder and director, Forum for the Future, SLOWLIFE Symposium: “I suspect we all believe the very idea of a sustainable future for mankind may well depend on this industry than on any other.”

Other speakers include: David de Rothschild, adventurer and environmentalist; President Nasheed of the Maldives; Jean Ballandras, secretary-general for the Reunion Islands: Tim Smit, co-founder and CEO, Eden Project; Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau and founder of Plant A Fish; Chris Gorrell-Barnes of Blue Foundation; and Mark Lynas, author and climate change adviser to President Nasheed.

Sonu Shivdasani has a number of other goals for the next decade. These include: Recognition of Six Senses properties as the top 10 best places to work worldwide and creating the Six Senses Foundation to manage the group;s philanthropic endeavors.

One developing community was recently given a wind turbine to reduce dependence on traditional power sources. Six Senses also has strong community programs in every location in which it operates.

You can join the symposium online at www.slowlifesymposium.com (live from early September) or via Twitter @SLOWLIFEsym.

Four Seasons Thailand Grand Tour

Four Seasons Hotels Thailand has its own version of the Grand Tour – once a rite of passage for European gentility – that enables guests to discover the sights and sounds and the culture and history of Thailand.

The tour starts at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok and the hustle and bustle of one of Asia’s most dynamic cities and from there to the serenity of the green rice fields, rich Lanna culture and Buddhist temples with a stay at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. Then south, to the island paradise in the shade of coconut palms at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, before heading north again where guests can learn the elephant-driving skills of a mahout at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.

Each tour of Thailand package includes a US$300 Four Seasons gift card that can be used during your tour or at any other stay at a Four Seasons hotel or resort around the world.

On the tour, guests can use the gift card towards learning the secrets of Thai cuisine at the Cooking School at Four Seasons Chiang Mai; a homemade Samui coconut scrub at the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui; Bangkok’s most popular brunch at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok; or a day trip from Sour Seasons Tented Camp across the border into neighboring Burma to see a different way of life.


When you have no medical insurance …

Dr Michael Moreton graduated from the Liverpool Medical School and trained as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Montreal, Canada. He is the International Medical Co-ordinator at Bangkok Hospital, Bangkok. Moreton@bgh.co.th

British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand travelers are more casual about purchasing travel type of insurance than are Americans or Europeans.

Their government health plans, with all their faults, are always there for them, and many people rarely think about private health insurance. This is spite of the fact their coverage is of no help when you are out of the country.

The concept of the “uninsured patient” is not part of the British, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand experience. Neither is the phenomenon of patients being turned away from hospitals if they have no insurance or cannot document their coverage.

But if you are taken ill or injured in a foreign country and don’t have travel insurance, you are an uninsured patient and may have trouble getting care.

Robert Jackson was looking forward to his visit to South East Asia, spening several months planning his trip, reading the history of the countries he would visit and creating a demanding schedule for himself.

He was planning to travel to the less visited areas in Northern Thailand and visit as many of the holy sites as he could cram into his schedule. He had not had any serious illness for several years and his Family Doctor and the local hospital had taken care of all his minor Health problems. He did not obtain any travel insurance.

He had many plans and certainly wasn’t planning on visiting the Intensive Care Unit of the Bangkok Hospital, or spending over 48 hours unconscious, or having multiple surgeries. Nor planning on intensive rehabilitation but that’s what he got.

In spite of the fact that he was not too agile and had never ridden a motor-bike in over 10 years, he decided to rent a motorbike and ride around the back roads in Thailand. A truck that he was following too closely suddenly braked. Robert flew through the air and landed on his face in the road.

Fortunately he was transported into the city quickly and brought to the Bangkok Hospital Medical Center, a tertiary care JCI Accredited facility. As he was unconscious, he was admitted to the Neurological Intensive Care unit.

His family was contacted and consent for treatment obtained.

They were not aware if Robert had any private health insurance and were reluctant to guarantee payment for the care. In spite of this, he received excellent care and is now on his way to full recovery – after multiple surgeries for his facial fractures and skin grafting to other wounds.

He was obliged to take out a considerable bank loan to cover his care.

Melanie Albert was working as a volunteer in a children’s care home in Cambodia. After eating a very spicy dinner one evening, she started to have abdominal pain. Thinking it was indigestion, she initially ignored the pain but by the following morning realized that this might be something more serious than an upset stomach.

She had not obtained any insurance when she left Canada and naively thought that the province would cover her medical expenses while out of the country.

After been seen in the clinic she was flown to Bangkok. A diagnosis of Appendicitis was made and she had an operation on the same day. Her family came out from Canada and were able to have funds transferred to cover the cost of her care.

She was particularly fortunate as she was able to get to Bangkok on a commercial flight. If she had needed to have a special air-ambulance the cost would have been enormous. One of the features that’s always included in travel insurance is evacuation insurance, which covers the cost of being transported to a good medical centre close to your accident or where you were taken ill.

Recently another British patient needed to be transported back home after surgery and intensive care treatment for a collapsed lung, which happened quite spontaneously and without warning.

He needed a nurse and a doctor to travel with him as he was taking anti-coagulants and there was the possibility that he might need extra oxygen on the flight. He was flown from Bangkok to London; he traveled business class with his two attendants. Luckily he had good coverage for this very expensive journey.

These three patients, by the way, were all fit, young people with no previous medical illnesses who had no reason to believe that they would need hospital care during their vacation

Another award for Bandara Samui

Bandara Resort and Spa, Koh Samui, has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor in recognition of the resort’s on-going excellence in performance and service.

Bandara Samui received 134 “excellent” or “5-Star” ratings from paying guests.

“The tripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence program gives exceptional businesses in a variety of industries around the world the recognition they deserve,” said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for business, in making the presentation.

The award also signifies that Bandara Samui has joined an elite group of businesses who have achieved this standard of excellence, she said.

Mandarin Oriental adds Wellness Package

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and one of Bangkok’s premier executive health clinics have teamed up to offer a Wellness Retreat Relaxation package.

The package includes luxury accommodation at Mandarin Oriental (a superior riverside room or at different rates, an authors’ suite); return limousine transfers with fast track arrival assistance; daily limousine transfer to and from the selected executive health clinic; daily breakfast for two at Riverside Terrace; a customized dietary dinner for two at the Sala Rim Naam Thai restaurant; and one signature spa treatment for two.

All medical screening programs are conducted in selected leading hospitals in Bangkok – with the involvement of European centres of excellence, and, in conjunction with the Centre of Cardiovascular Prevention at Ferrara, Italy.

For further details – www.ceo.health.com/oriental/oriental.html.

Intelligent Spas still sees promise for spa industry in Asia Pacific

Intelligent Spas’ latest report on Asia Pacific shows plenty of promise for the industry in the region.

It also highlights the importance of the spa industry to tourism, including Thailand, where it brings in US$200 million a year. This does not include revenues from local Thai tourists.

“The report acknowledges the significant number of professional spas already in existence,” says Andrew Jacka, president of the Thai Spa Association and chairman of the Asia Pacific Spa and Wellness Coalition, “and shows that a number of countries have yet to establish their first spa.”

Adds Julie Garrow, managing director of Intelligent Spas, an independent Australian-based research company:

“Following the global recession, the world experienced in recent years, this research is timely for stakeholders to recognize the changes in each market, adapt their business strategies, identify new business opportunities and maximize over-all performance.”

What impact the current turmoil in the world’s financial markets will have on the industry is another matter. More about this in coming weeks.

Key findings of Inteligent Spas’ report:

There are about 3,500 spas operating in the region, generating some US$2 billion in annual revenues and employing more than 50,000.

More than 60% of the 42 countries in the region are considered emerging or potential spa markets, “suggesting there are plenty of development and business opportunities across the region”.

The full Regional Spa Industry Repiort Asia Pacific 2011 provides a brief snapshot of each market – “a useful tool to short list potential markets, where companies may wish to do business”.

For more information: www.intelligentspas.com

Double honors for Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

The hotel also recorded second highest score of all city hotels in the world with 94.49 points. It now ranks 23rd best hotel in the world overall, up from 57th in 2010.

Its spa – The oriental Spa – was voted No. 8 in the world and No. 2 in Asia.

Bangkok also kept its first place spot as the world’s best city in 2011.

“There is an increasing amount of quality competition in Asia – so we are delighted to be once again awarded Asia’s best spa,” says Jan D. Goessing, general manager.

Also in Thailand, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, was voted 7th best hotel in the world overall and second best resort hotel in Asia in 2011 – up from No. 9 spot a year ago.

Two new promotions from Bandara

The first is a limited-time “super saver”, good from now until Oct. 1, 2011 at Bandara Suites Silom in Bangkok. The promotion offers guests a special price for two persons of 2,170 baht a night for super room accommodation; and 2,450 baht a night for deluxe room accommodation. Breakfast is included for both.

The second is a Villa Special promotion, in effect until Dec. 21, 2011 at Bandara Resort and Spa, Koh Samui. The special price for villa accommodation starts from 6,600 baht a night. The price also includes breakfast for two.

12th annual World Gourmet Festival in Bangkok

Eight internationally known master chefs have signed up for the 12th annual World Gourmet Festival at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok. The festival runs from Sept. 5-11, 2011.

Gourmet festivals exist throughout the world but only Four Seasons Bangkok, said a Four Seasons spokesperson, brings award-winning master chefs under one roof for a week-long celebration of outstanding food and great wines.

The event is co-ordinated and overseen by Executive Chef Nicholas Schneeler along with Shintaro Chef Satoshi Sawada and Biscotti Chef Daniele Casin, all of Four Seasons Bangkok.

Each guest chef will be host to two evenings in one of the hotel’s restaurants. The popular World Gourmet lunch will be featured daily from Sept. 5-8, with cooking demonstrations from one of the guest chefs of the day, live cooking stations and a chance to sample some of their creations. The World Gourmet brunch will be held on Sunday, Sept. 11.

This year’s festival will also include two exclusive wine-tasting events by two well known winemakers as well as a tea-paring event by world class master tea blenders Dilmah.

Master chefs confirmed for this year’s festival:

Ivo Adam, Seven, Ascona, Switzerland; Adriano Cavagmini, Amaranto, London; Anthony Demetre, Wild Honey, London; Guido Haverkock, Espacio, I Portici, Balogna; Dolli Irigoyen, Espacio Dolli, Buenos Aires; David Lee, Nota Bene, Toronto; Hari Nayak, Orissa, New York; and Kazumi Sawada, Hoku, Guangzhou, China.

Also again this year, a portion of every ticket price, as well as proceeds from an auction, will be donated to HRH Princess Soamsawali’s Save-A-Child’s Life from AIDS project under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society.

The hotel is also offering a festival package that includes overnight accommodation for two, complimentary breakfast and a featured dinner.

For more information: Call 66 (0) 2 126 8866 or email: reservations.Thailand@fourseasons.com Individual dinner tickets can also be booked through wgf.bangkok@fourseasons.com

Expect the unexpected at elephant polo competition

If you’re going to Asia this September, think about heading to Hua Hin in Thailand for the 10th annual King’s Cup Elephant Tournament from Sept. 4-11, 2011.

You never quite know what to expect or what will happen. It’s full of surprises – even for tournament organizers.

Take what happened during the 2004 championship: The umpire elephant (the elephant the umpire sits on) – named Plai Kampaeng, took a liking for the star striker, Pang Dodo, and decided to make his interest known. Dodo wasn’t having any of it and took off, followed by Plai Kampaeng in hot pursuit. In case you’re wondering, that’s why umpiring is now done on foot.

The tournament will be held on the grounds adjacent to Anantara Resort and Spa in Hua Hin, a two-hour-plus drive from Bangkok.

A 3,000-seat stadium is nearing completion. Visitors will be able to watch the matches for free. The competition has drawn 55 players from four continents, including the famous All Black Rugby Players, German Princesses and Olympic Gold Medalists.

This year’s event will be bigger than ever. New additions include Chang Noi Children’s Day, an opening parade with army bands, Thailand’s last elephant spirit men and traditional dancers. Fifteen local and international celebrities have been invited to paint and decorate an elephant replica, which will be auctioned off for charity at the final gala dinner.

The tournament has raised more than US$300,000 for the National Elephant Institute, which provides medical care, sustenance, employment and mahout training to Thailand’s elephant population. The world’s first elephant-assisted therapy clinic for autistic children was sponsored by the King’s Cup Elephant Tournaments in 2009 and 2010.

For further information: anantaraelephantpolo.com

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