Spinnaker Tower – England

Spinnaker Tower – England

Spinnaker Tower is a 170-metre (560 ft)–high landmark tower in Portsmouth, England. It is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. Its shape was chosen by Portsmouth residents from a selection of concepts. The tower, designed by local firm HGP Architects and the engineering consultants Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, reflects Portsmouth’s maritime history by being modelled after a sail. After several years of delays and cost overruns, it was opened on 18 October 2005.


The tower, at a height of 170 m above sea level, is 2 1?2 times as high as Nelson’s Column, making it the tallest accessible structure in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower is visible for miles around Portsmouth, changing the horizon of the area. It can be seen from the Isle of Wight, and even the Manhood Peninsula.

The tower represents sails billowing in the wind, a design accomplished using two large, white, sweeping steel arcs, which give the tower its spinnaker sail design. The steelwork was fabricated by Butterley Engineering. At the top is a triple observation deck, providing a 350° view of the city of Portsmouth, the Langstone and Portsmouth harbours, and a viewing distance of 37 kilometres (23 mi). The highest of the three observation platforms, the crow’s nest, has a wire mesh roof, allowing visitors to be in the elements. Windows extend to above head height, so it is not possible to get a view unobstructed by glass. The glass floor is the largest in Europe. The tower has a design lifetime of 80 years.
The design is similar to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, whose structure is a little less than twice as tall at 323 metres (1,060 ft).

Source: Wikipedia

The top 10 US travel destinations for 2012

The United States is a big place with a lot of ground to cover. So what is buzzing for travellers in the coming year? Here are our top 10 picks for US destinations that should be on your radar in 2012.

US Virgin Islands
In a year when travellers are likely to still be watching their wallets, the US Virgin Islands are our number one choice for an American tropical getaway. The US territory is eternally warm,  rimmed with white-sand beaches on turquoise water, and each of the islands has their own identity. If you want a break from the resorts, St John is nearly two-thirds lush national park, with tent cabins amid trees and hikes to secluded beaches. This sadly may be the last year for the Maho Bay Camps, a long-standing eco-resort that is the place to stay if you are watching your budget; or try the St John Inn which offers great value rooms with kitchenettes. For more action, the previously inaccessible Hassel Island, now part of Virgin Islands National Park on St Thomas, can be explored by snorkel or kayak, and the Captain Morgan Rum Distillery on St Croix will open its new visitor centre in the spring.

Hudson River Valley, New York

Any visitor to New York City should spend a day or two in the Hudson River Valley, a slice of rural Americana just north of the city. Its leafy drives, wineries and farm-to-table food options draw even spoiled-for-choice Manhattanites. A favourite spot to stay is former B-52s singer Kate Pierson’s Lazy Meadow, a renovated 1950s cabin complex near Woodstock.

5 weekend getaways from Singapore to pamper you.

This article is written by Shivya Nath. Shivya is an India-based writer who loves to seek out offbeat travel destinations that few have been to and fewer have written about.

Close to each weekend, I desperately resort to Google to find offbeat ideas for weekend getaways from Singapore. In the midst of my travel research, I came across these 5 weekend getaways in Malaysia and Indonesia that will pamper your senses and indulge you.

1) Tempat Senang, Indonesia

An hour’s ferry-ride away from Singapore, in the neighborhood of Batam Island (Indonesia), lies this exotic little gem. It’s a boutique resort, with under 10 suites, each designed, decorated and modeled after an Asian country. Besides the likes of Bali room, Indian room and Japanese room, there’s a Tree Room with a bed suspended in mid air. It’s also home to a traditional Balinese spa with a wide range of rejuvenating massages, and a pampering staff.

2) Nikoi Island, Indonesia

Close your eyes and imagine you are sprawling on a beach chair on white sands, in the company of crystal blue waters, sipping a drink. Just across the shores of Singapore, Nikoi Island affords you that luxury. Many describe this private island & its ecotourism resort as magical. Of course, a picture speaks a thousand words.

3) Lake Kenyir, Malaysia

Most spas have an artificial waterfall in the background, to soothe your senses with the effect of trickling water. Imagine looking into a lake instead while being pampered, reflecting upon life in its vastness. That’s the Lake Kenyir ecotourism resort & spa for you, in Terengganu, Malaysia.

4) Tanjong Jara, Malaysia

Tanjong Jara replicates the magnificent palaces and the pampering luxury of Malay kings in Terengganu, Malaysia. On the coast of turquoise seas, this traditional resort swept away Time‘s editors too. After all, you must live life king size, at least once!

5) Pangkor Laut, Malaysia

You have probably heard of Pangkor Island on Malaysia’s west coast, but Pangkor Laut, a private island resort, is a world in itself. Think crystal blue waters, white sands, chalets on stilts. Think indulgence.

Which of these 5 getaways have you already pampered yourself at? Do you know of any other secret pampering getaways?

Shivya Nath

22 Dec 2011



Tiny countries that pack a big punch

Size isn’t everything. Here are ten of the smallest countries in the world. Some of them are rarely visited, except by travellers collecting visa stamps. Most are islands, often far flung. Their wealth varies, from nearly the highest per capita GDP to nearly the lowest, but all still manage to delight or enlighten the most world-weary of travellers.


If you want posh then you’ve come to the right principality. Monaco was established in 1297 when François Grimaldi seized the fortress that still dominates the area from a rival Italian faction. The 195- hectare independent state, which lies on an exceptionally picturesque, narrow coastal strip, has long been a tax refuge for the spectacularly rich and famous. Actress Grace Kelly, who married Monaco’s Prince Rainier, is buried in the cathedral in the heart of the wonderfully preserved Monaco-Ville old town. Exploration on foot is facilitated by public lifts and escalators to help overcome steep hills. Dress smart if you don’t want to stand out.


This oval landmass, known as the Spice Isle because it produces vast quantities of mace and nutmeg, contains some of the Caribbean’s most spectacular natural vistas. From a narrow coastal plain, volcanic cliffs rise majestically through luscious rainforest to form Grenada’s mountainous backbone, now under the protection of the Grand Etang National Park. Grand Etang itself is a water-filled crater that, legend has it, is bottomless; few have the nerve to swim in the eerily tranquil waters. Spectacular interior hiking trails lead to wonders such as Concord Falls, while beachcombers should head for the Levera National Park.

Spontaneous Summer Destinations

This article is written by Meenakshi Shankar.

When Summer’s drawing to an end..throw caution to the wind …head off to exotic  getaways, surprise your beloved or simply treat your senses to an virgin island or a rain forest; head out to discover a man made wonder – it’s a whole new world of Wandering.

If you still haven’t been able to get away, here are some destinations that don’t take too much planning (because the visa is on arrival).

1.  Fiji beckons both the thrill seeker and romantic traveler.

The reefs and cobalt blue waters  of the island created a surreal backdrop for Tom Hanks’ Cast Away and Brooke Shields’ The Blue Lagoon.

Must do:
The World-class windsurfing
Lazing around long languid beaches
Idyllic kayaking in a pocket-sized paradise

2. Cambodia’s Angkor Wat  attracts many Wanderers to the  Buddhist land of smile.

Must do:
Revel in the mystical glory of Angkor Wat
Relax in the sleepy seaside town of Kampot
Trek to the nearby Bokor National Park
Take an elephant ride in the jungles of Mondulkiri Province
Ogle the Mekong dolphins at Kratie

3. Laos: Head out to the country if you are seeking for a refreshingly simple and relaxed sort of languid riverfront life.

The country beckons the Wanderer who is seeking for a bit of nature and adventure.

Must do:
Head out to the sleepy river archipelago with rare dolphins & mighty Mekong rapids.

For the thrill seekers: Kayaking, rafting, rock-climbing and biking are available.

Top 10 destinations Indians are travelling to

Hotel.com’s latest survey lists out the top ten destinations Indians have been travelling to. Have YOU been to these places yet?

A recent Hotel.com survey has shed light on travelling habits of Indians.

The survey revealed that more Indians chose to travel around their neighbourhood for work and pleasure rather than travel to Europe and America. Five out of the top ten destinations in the list are South East Asian.

According to the survey Hong Kong slipped to the fourth position while Singapore topped the chart largely because of the new luxury hotel offerings like the Marina Bay Sands, followed by Bangkok.

Take a look at where Indians have been travelling.

One of the three destinations in the US that Indians chose to travel to was San Francisco. Known best perhaps for its Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco also boasts of great Victorian architecture a liberal and culturally diverse community and scenic beauty.

While in San Francisco take the famous cable cars that run up and down its hills and offer a great experience for many of us who miss the good old tram days in our metros.

Also visit the Coit Tower — the city’s ‘proud civic phallus’ as Time.com puts it — that is dedicated to San Francisco’s fire fighters and gives great views of the city.

Thailand’s resort town, about 150 km from Bangkok, Pattaya is more famous for its bars and adult entertainment.

It is said to have Asia’s largest gay scene and is also known for cabaret shows where transsexuals and transvestites perform

Even though the thriving sex industry is a major source of income, the city it also does attract its shares of families.

Pattaya is said to cater to at least 5 million visitors annually and boasts of some interesting beaches, temples, museums and galleries and a variety of options to eat as well as things to do.

Sin City and the Entertainment Capital of the World are two nicknames that describe Las Vegas the best.

With its huge casino hotels, gambling and getting sloshed are pretty much the only things you can do. Unless of course you’re Danny Ocean, in which case you’d probably be trying to break into the Bellagio.

Vegas is also said to be wedding capital of the world. For less than $100 you get a licence from the wedding bureau that’s open more hours than it is closed — even on holidays — without any blood test or waiting period and get married by anyone authorised to perform weddings in the area.

From being a sleepy tin-mining village, Kuala Lumpur (literally translated as ‘muddy estuary’ in Malay) has become one of the most popular destinations for tourists from across the world.

Today the city is home to the Petronas Towers — the tallest twin towers in the world and also the retail and fashion hub for Malaysia.

Tourism is one of the most important sources of income and is largely driven because of the city’s diversity, the endless options to stay and eat as well as the relatively low costs to experience all of them

Besides the Petronas Towers, KL’s tourist destinations include the House of Parliament, the Merdeka Square, the Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur Tower and the National Palace among others.

As a tourist destination, Dubai perhaps has the greatest advantage than any other city in this list.

Barely hours from Europe as well as India, Dubai is fast becoming a popular weekend getaway not just for the rich and famous but also the affluent middle class.

With the largest immigrant population in the world, Dubai offers water sport opportunities along its beaches, great hospitality services as well as shopping options and even relatively lesser-known entertainment options like camel racing, desert safari and dune bashing among others.

Dubai also has a snow skiing centre that is located inside the Mall of the Emirates.

Often said to be the greatest city in the world, New York has had a record of 48.7 million tourists that visited it in 2010.

Among the many destinations that tourists frequent the most popular are (not necessarily in this order), the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park and Times Square among others.

The former British colony that is now one of the two special administrative regions of China (Macau is the other), Hong Kong has become a very popular travel destination for work as well as pleasure.

Even though Hong Kong can be very crowded, the truth is that its country and marine parks offer some breathtaking landscapes.

It’s kinda difficult not to have London in a list of Indians’ favourite tourist destinations, right?

One of the great ‘world cities’ London attracts more than 14 million international visitors each year. According to visitlondon.com, the most-visited attractions in London included the British Museum, National Gallery, London Eye, Science Museum, Tower of London and Madame Tussauds among others.

One of the world’s most happening tourist hotspots, Bangkok is as well known for its historical venues, temples, palaces, markets, high-rise buildings and traffic as it is for its wild nightlife.

While go-go bars are very common in Bangkok and rather popular with tourists most of them shut by 1pm, as part of the crackdowns. Some others though continue to stay open up until the wee hours of the night and even others close around sunrise.

Sex tourism isn’t restricted just to heterosexual couples as Thais are said to be accepting of homosexuality.

While Bangkok does have an active gay scene, the lesbian scene isn’t as happening.

Visiting Bangkok right away though may not be such a good idea considering it’s been hit by floods.

The British trading colony of the 19th century, Singapore has today gone on to become one of the busiest ports in the world and the most popular destination of choice by Indians.

With over 10 million annual visitors, Singapore has also legalised gambling and is promoting itself as a medical tourism hub.

Moreover, Singapore is also a hub for education with at least 20 per cent of students in Singaporean universities being foreigners.

Thanks partly to its new luxury properties such as Marina Bay Sands and also perhaps due to the enthusiastic Indian agents arranging the ever-popular Singapore-Bangkok-Pattaya type package tours, this city-state has topped the hotels.com list of the most popular destinations amongst Indians.

16 Nov 2011


World’s top 25 travel destinations

This article is written by Shifra Menezes , a student and a travel writer based in Mumbai

Here’s a look at the top 25 destinations around the world that includes cultural capitals, architectural havens, beach paradises and some unconventional picks as well.

1. Cape Town, South Africa

The mere mention of most destinations in Africa immediately conjures up images of lion safaris and yellow wilderness as far as the eye can see. While these are enough to keep the intrepid traveller quite happy and offer the experience of a lifetime, there is more to Africa than just that and Cape Town is where it’s all at.

From cultural and historical attractions to wildlife and adventure sports, Cape Town has something for everyone.

A handful of the popular tourist attractions in Cape Town:

  • The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront a popular haunt for dining and shopping, offering up a wide variety of cuisine and wares.
  • The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden with its tranquil surrounds and exotic plants, is the ideal picnic spot for nature-lovers and trekkers alike.
  • The beaches in and around Cape Town are famous for their soft white sand and crystal-clear waters. Some of the popular ones are Blouberg, Dolphin Beach and Boulder.
  • If you’re an animal lover with a penchant for big cats, drop in at the Drakenstein Lion Park, dedicated to rehabilitating the beautiful animals in their natural surrounds.
  • For history buffs, a boat ride to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, is a must-visit.

2. Sydney, Australia

Often mistaken as the capital city, Sydney is the country’s largest city and arguably its cultural capital.

The unmistakable waterfront of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge is just one of the many tourist attractions in the city.

Your visit to the harbour city should include:

  • Bondi Beach, one of the most famous in the world for its massive swells (for the surfers out there), is a great place to start. If you’re looking for a lazy day at the beach however, there are plenty to choose from such as Coogee, Manly and Balmoral among many, many others.
  • Nature enthusiasts won’t be disappointed with a visit to Taronga Zoo, Oceanworld and the Royal Botanical Gardens.
  • For those more culturally inclined, there’s the Sydney Festival (free indoor and outdoor performances), the Big Day Out (a travelling rock festival) and a number of film festivals.
  • Check out breathtaking views from the AMP Tower observatory, the highest structure in Sydney, and the Powerhouse Museum of science, technology and design.

3. Machu Picchu, Peru

Tucked away in the Amazon forests, perched atop an Andean plateau, this ancient city is an architectural marvel. Often referred to as the ‘Lost city of the Incas’, it has been recognised as a World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Built around 1450, at the height of the Inca empire, the entire city has been constructed using polished dry stone and has survived the centuries remarkably well.

One of the three primary constructions within the city is the Intihuatana, a pillar built using stones that point to the sun. At noon on March 21 and September 21, the sun is almost directly above the pillar, and casts no shadow. It is believed that the Incas used this as a clock or calendar based on the sun’s path.

So for the traveller who enjoys a little history lesson along the way, Machu Picchu does just that.

4. Paris, France

Nothing says romance quite like Paris. But there is a lot more to this beautiful city than just the Eiffel Tower and romantic walks along the Siene.

The French capital offers a host of attractions including The Louvre, which is home to some of the world’s most valuable paintings and sculptures.

Food lovers can relish the French cuisine in the many bistros and cafes that dot the streets and culture vultures can take in the rich history and architecture on offer.

Some popular tourist spots include:

  • The Notre Dame cathedral, the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees and the Pantheon church (the final resting place of Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie) are some of the most recognised landmarks, as is the Eiffel Tower.
  • The Montmartre and Montparnasse areas, known for their artistic history is worth a visit for music halls and cafes.
  • Known as the world’s fashion capital, drop in at the Avenue Montaigne and Faubourg Saint-Honore for a peek of the highest of high fashion. And if splashing out on designer labels isn’t your thing, don’t fret. Paris has a lot more shopping than just designer labels. Les Halles and the Champs Elysees have plenty to choose from.
  • The picturesque Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens are lovely for a stroll of picnic. A great way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.

5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Movies and music have had a long-standing love affair with this beautiful city, and deservedly so. The spirit of Rio makes it a must-visit.

Another draw is the fact that the resort city will play host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final and the 2016 Olympic Games and you can bet it’ll be an explosion of colour and dance two elements that simply capture what the city is all about.

So when you fly down, make sure your travel itinerary includes:

  • The Copacabana and Ipanema beaches have been immortalised in song and well deserve a drop-by thanks to their many dining spots, pubs and discos.
  • The Corcovado mountains with the statue of Christ the Redeemer are a major tourist draw being one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, and atop the peak, offer breath-taking views of the Brazilian landscape.
  • The annual Carnival (during February and March) is an experience like no other. Massive parades along the streets with opulent floats and tens of thousands of revellers simply have to be seen to be believed.

6. New York City, USA

The city has been written about and sung about, movies have been shot around its iconic landmarks and its unmistakable skyline and yet it loses nothing in terms of sheer fascination for the millions of visitors and tourists who throng its streets every year.

So if you too plan to drop by the Big Apple, make sure to visit:

  • Manhattan for its fantastic skyline and a glimpse of the Empire State Building, Rockerfeller Centre and Times Square.
  • Ellis Island for the Statue of Liberty, and while you’re at it the Staten Island Ferry.
  • Madison and Fifth avenue for the shopping.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Broadway for some cultural stimulation

On the move: Best places to travel for a vacation

Vertical limit

Sitting at a vertigo-inducing altitude of 1588 feet, the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong literally touches new heights in hospitality

There are rooms with a view, and then there are rooms that induce a heady sense of being on top of the world. Any guest checking into the newly opened Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will get an eyeful of the latter- panoramic vistas of Victoria Harbour and a steel-and-glass HK skyline. As the world’s highest hotel, the record-breaking property occupies floors 102 to 118 of the International Commerce Center, with 312 rooms in all. These come packed with state-of-the-art amenities including wi fi, iPod docking stations, Bluray DVD players, and supersized flat screen TVs.

Those who like the feeling of floating on the lip of a precipice and have no vertigo can visit the hotel’s top-floor gym and infinity pool that promise to offer what may well be an unnerving experience.

The hotel boasts of a steady stream of design and architechture geniuses – the sumptuous interiors are designed by Singapore’s LTW Designworks (the team that designed the Four Seasons Langkawi, Malaysia, and the Mandarin Oriental Sanya Hainan, China), a spa designed by ESPA, and restaurants (Cantonese and Italian) by Japan’s Spin Design Studio and Wonderwall. There’s even a chocolate library, a pool with an adjacent 23 x 92 feet LED screen, a bar with crystal fire pits, and an outdoor terrace lounge-also the highest in the world-on the 118th floor. It’s like going to a hill station, at a salubrious height of 1588 feet. Guaranteed to get your head reeling.

Escape to Kerala

Rain Country Resort’s allwood Kerala illams (homes) stand tall amidst the lush foliage of Wayanad. The stark minimalism of this 23-acre property, high up a hill, is more austere than understated. Like all plantation stays, it’s far away from any lights but its own. Short treks are organised by the management; there is a small freshwater lake where guests can have a dip (lifejackets are provided). The resort can arrange for in-room massages, campfires, and candlelit dinners, upon request, should you wish to make use of the quiet nights. There are no phones or TVs, only raw and unbound nature all around. Located 11 km from Vythiri, at Lakkidi, the resort has nine cottages and tariffs range from Rs 3,000-Rs 4,800 on double occupancy. There is an additional 15 per cent luxury tax.

Vienna on foot

Whether it’s a generous dose of culture, an indulgent escape, or simply good old-fashioned sightseeing, your search for that perfect summer vacation ends with Austria. Consider Vienna, the capital city steeped in history, art and culture. Much of Vienna can be explored by foot-as you admire its majestic architechture while strolling through the bylanes. Relax over coffee and cake, explore museums and art galleries, swing high above on the Prater Wheel, and as dusk falls, enjoy a glass of local wine by the Danube. The coffee house tradition in Vienna dates back some 300 years. Take a break from sightseeing at one of the many Viennese coffee houses. Enjoy coffee served on a silver platter and watch the world go by. Sample some of the delectable local wines grown in the neighbouring areas as the sun sets.

Art and Amsterdam

Tired of the long queues at the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum when hopping around Amsterdam? Consider these alternatives to the heavyweights: housed in a magnificent 17th-century former home for the elderly, the Hermitage Amsterdam (http://www.hermitage.nl/en/) brings treasures from the main St Petersburg museum to Amsterdam. Since its opening here in June 2009, the Hermitage has staged a series of blockbuster exhibits, the latest of which, running till September 16, 2011, is Splendour and Glory: Art of the Russian Orthodox Church. Also look out for the work of 19th-century photographers George Breitner and Jacob Olie, intermittently the subject of exhibitions around town. Or check out Foam photography gallery (www.foam.org) for shows as well as exhibitions by big names such as Mario Testino, Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz.

Summer splendour at Devi Garh

Located in the picturesque hills of Aravallis, Devi Garh, the 39-suite boutique hotel, set in a 18th century Rajput fort-palace, is chic minimalism at its best. The property’s finest asset is the level of privacy and customised care it offers its guests. The imposing grandeur of the palace resort is a delightful combination of ethnic charm and contemporary comforts. The unconventional usage of space and colour complements and enhances the mood of this private haven.The stylish pure-white restaurant serves both local and international gastronimical delights. For a relaxing weekend, unwind with yoga on the ramparts of the palace at sunrise followed by a treatment in the Serena Spa. Summer would be a good time to visit the spectacular resort as the property is offering a ‘Joyful Getaway’ package priced at Rs 25,000, for two nights/ three days that includes accommodation in a Garden Suite on a double occupancy basis, breakfast and lunch or dinner, usage of gym and the internet, and complimentary stay for two children up to the age of 12. The package was valid till October 15, 2011.

12 June 2011