LETTER FROM OVERSEAS EDITOR

kitty

To commemorate Executive Edge’s 10th anniversary, this last issue of Getaway fittingly takes you on journeys of a lifetime. Our expert insider consultants, the most well-traveled in Australia, have chosen their place of a lifetime trip and recounted their stories – the most unforgettable escapes in the world from Marrakech to the Castles along the Rhine to hot air ballooning over Turkey to trekking Machu Picchu to the Maldives to the Atacama Desert to Zanzibar Island off Tanzania to the Great Wall of China. Our compiled list below is nothing less than extraordinary.

What makes a holiday of a lifetime? A wonderland so magical that your dreams can hardly conceive such beauty and mystique. My fiance and I just visited St. Kitts, an soulful Eastern Caribbean isle of the West Indies’ Leeward Islands. Kiawah Development Properties are currently in the planning stages of creating a world-class marina, Tom Fazio golf course, real estate complex and private club on a 2,500 acre curved point of pristine land on St. Kitts’ southern tip flanked on one side by quiet Caribbean waters and on the other side bordered by the wild Atlantic Ocean. The name to be – Christophe Harbour. However, for now, the place remains undiscovered and untouched. Only a tiny beach house restaurant and four Balinese style villas directly on the sand exist dubbed Turtle Bungalows to entertain prospective clients – total seclusion, a white crescent beach all to ourselves and Nevis rising in the distance. Our own mini paradise found. Definitely a place of a lifetime.

Featured in this special 10th anniversary issue, our talented graphics designer Steve Coates, the Production Manager from Go4 Multimedia, has written a travel diary from his recent trip to Paris – certainly another city of a lifetime topping most lists. Also be sure to check out Edge Check In featuring Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali. A property so exquisite, it’s a contender for my own wedding.

With the holidays quickly approaching and time to say goodbye to 2010, we acknowledge what a whirlwind year it’s been. From the entire team at Executive Edge Travel & Events, we wish you and your families all things beautiful in 2011 and a plethora of one-of-a-kind travel experiences on your horizon. As Editor of Getaway, I bid you farewell and leave you with one final thought this year: don’t waste another moment to plan your own trip of a lifetime. Make your travel dreams a reality today…

Sincerely, Kimberly Rosbe
Editor

FEATURE

Places of a Lifetime

marrakech

Marrakech, Morocco
by Yvonne Verstandig

There are valid reasons why Marrakech is one of the current “hot spots” for travel – it is a mystical city full of intrigue and history, yet it also has sophisticated hotels and restaurants as a result of the notable French influence over the years. Any discerning traveler will find this ancient city bewitching and uncover endless surprises beyond its famed medina and babouches.

I have been lucky enough to visit Marrakech twice recently and what I love most is the exoticism of this northern African city. The medina is, of course, the pulsating centre of the “pink city” where streets are a maze of tiny alleyways where one could easily get lost. Often the riad where you stay is a quaint old house that has been lovingly restored into a beautiful medieval oasis only to be found behind a heavy metal-studded door down the end of a hidden lane where no vehicle can access.

marrakechThe medina might be the epicenter of Marrakech but there is so much more to offer visitors here. At the edge of town is a completely different district, the Palmeraie, which has an abundance of ultra-luxurious hotels and a number of world-class golf courses – perfect for travelers who like a bit of peace and quiet away from the heart of the “madness” yet accessible within 20 minutes drive. The Atlas mountain range is an energetic day trip of trekking and Essaouira (a beautiful whitewashed seaside town) is another fabulous day trip nearby Marrakech. Another bonus for Marrakech is its temperate climate during the cold winter months of mainland Europe making it a perfect side trip to any European winter vacation.

In Marrakech my favourite time of day is between 5-5:30pm when I find refuge in the hammam of my riad or hotel or sitting up high on a terrace of one of the many tea houses overlooking the main square. I sip sweet peppermint tea watching the AMAZING Djemaa el Fna Square come to life with snake charmers, Arabic men trying to sell you their wares and all the interesting food vendors setting up shop for the night – all while the sun sinks over the mountains and the Koutoubia Mosque staged as a magnificent backdrop to this vibrant square. Even in retrospect, I can’t contain my excitement nor goose bumps as I recall the magic surrealism of this ancient city in the desert.

bora-bora

Bora Bora, French Polynesia
by Rita Anastasas

Bora Bora could easily be the heart of the romantic universe. Pora Pora, its ancient name meaning “first born,” came from legends describing this heavenly place as the first island to rise when Taaroa/the Supreme God fished it out of the waters after the mythical creation of Havai’i, now known as Raiatea. Since the first letter “B” does not exist in the Tahitian language, when Captain Cook first heard the name he mistook the softened sound of the Tahitian “P” for “B” and called the island Bora Bora. Perfect white sand beaches give way to emerald waters where coloured fish animate the coral gardens as they greet giant manta rays. Bora Bora’s lagoon is its most treasured feature and allows the traveler many opportunities to experience it in a variety of ways – windsurf, jet ski, scuba dive, snorkel, swim, bask in its warmth… the list goes on and on.

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Hot Air Ballooning over Turkey
by Anthony Brownrigg

After a long but interesting bus ride through Nevsehir Provence the day prior, it was not easy lifting my weary head from the pillow at 4am to ensure I was ready for an early morning pick up. But I did and it was completely worth it. I was about to go on my first ever hot air balloon ride, not above the Melbourne skyline or vineyards of the Yarra Valley, but instead high above the Central Anatolian Plateau, smack bang in the centre of Turkey. I had no idea what a wondrous treat I was in for. I don’t consider myself to be acrophobic, however I did have a few ‘butterfly flutters’ in my tummy before takeoff. But they soon disappeared once I was in the giant basket with two dozen other passengers in varying states of nervousness. What an amazing sight and feeling to be lifting above the earth with great gushes of hot air spewing into the massive nylon construction above. Then how incredibly tranquil it is to simply float above the million-year-old unique volcanic rock formations below – it’s the closest thing to a moonscape I will ever see.

chile

Atacama Desert, Chile
by Linda Burstin

After only four nights in Atacama, the driest desert in the world, I’m convinced this area may be the most unusual place on the planet. We stayed at Awasi, an exclusive luxury resort in San Pedro with only eight spacious cottages architecturally designed to organically blend with the character of Atacama. The small hotel provided impeccable service and attention to detail. Everything from the guides to the food and everything in between, all was perfectly planned and executed including tailor-made excursion itineraries.

Some of the highlights of our many excursions were: traveling through the salt range to see Moon Valley and taking a dip in the salt flat ponds, horseback riding through the town and then out into the middle of the desert, visiting the flamingos, bathing in the Puritama Hot Springs, watching the sunrise at the Geyser and touring various excavation sites. Just being amongst the beautiful landscape of the Andean Mountain ranges was exquisite. The landscape is so varied and the ubiquitous flora and wildlife surrounding us made everyday an experience of unchartered discovery.

alaska

Cruising Glacier Bay, Alaska
by Shirley Borden

One of the most memorable sights of my life was gliding into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska by boat – one of the most dramatic and wild coastlines in the world. As you enter the park, the colours of the water change from brown to emerald green to an amazing turquoise blue. Ahead you are confronted with a huge glacier while pieces of icebergs that have broken from the main glacier float around the ship – very Titantic. Then the ship comes to a halt. All engines are turned off and the National Park Service ranger informs all the guests about the history of glacier formation and the surrounding environment. If you are lucky (as we were), ahead of you there is a huge cracking sound and a portion of the glacier breaks and starts floating towards you. An absolutely awesome sight to behold.

What also is wonderful and unexpected is the multitude of wildlife living in this environment – humpback whales, eagles and other birds abound. As you travel further north along the coast of Alaska and come to the small townships of Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka and finish in Seward (the port of Anchorage), you gain further insight by taking advantage of the excursions on land, whether by foot, canoe, by helicopter or walking on a glacier itself.

Great Wall of China
by Sandra Reig

chinaDeparting at 8 am it was only one hour drive from our hotel in Beijing to the site where The Great Wall was located but I could hardly sleep all night in anticipation. The drive itself was very scenic and the Chinese expressways well-designed so we breezed right there. Mountains began appearing within thirty minutes then when we were approximately fifteen minutes from The Great Wall, I could see a thin line winding up towards the mountains. As we approached the foothills the view became increasing spectacular. We bought our entry tickets then started walking the stone steps of The Great Wall to reach the next stopping point. The view was indescribable. I must say, it was absolutely freezing cold as we were there in February but nonetheless it was a beautiful clear day so we could see for miles. After spending hours of climbing step after step we were exhausted. I learned the Wall in its entirety stretches almost 9,000 km. I sat in awe contemplating the thousands of men and multiple dynasties which toiled to create this wonder of the world – their sacrifices, the history, the meaning. Finally, my dream to see The Great Wall came true and it was even more profound than I could have imagined.

Panarea, Italy
by Ginette Peterfreund

italyA friend’s 25th wedding anniversary led us to the idyllic Aeolian Island of Panarea to discover views only the angels could have invented. An island only 3.5 km squared contains so much beauty and so much history. Its civilization dates back 5,000 years with a prehistoric village from the Bronze Age only one hour’s walk from the town centre. Sail boats, cruisers, ferries, fishing boats and luxury liners ply the azure seas decorating the island’s ocean outlook from the balcony’s of white houses clustered beneath olive trees and dripping bougainvillea and hibiscus. No cars allowed, a remote quaintness prevails. Beyond smoke plumes and hot lava steam from the active peak of Stromboli volcano seen in the distance plunging into the sea.

Just a few hours by ferry from Sicily, Panarea provides the ultimate Italian relaxation experience. Walking the streets of Contrada San Pietro is like strolling a film set. Boutiques parade exquisite homewares and fashion. Restaurants serve local seafood and endless culinary delicacies. Saunter down to the coast for dinner by the sea lit by a full moon and caressed by a soft breeze. An evening in Panarea is nothing less than magical.

tanzania

Tanzania and Zanzibar Island
by Sally Bird

It’s cliché but if you want to put yourself in the middle of a National Geographic documentary then visit Tanzania. We had two incredible days at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge where the ground is tinged pink by the countless flamingos. Followed by two more incredible days at Ngorongoro Crater, one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on the globe and also home to the nomadic Masai. Topped only by two more unforgettable days at Grumeti River where Tanzania was totally wild and free and we were fortunate enough to witness a wildebeest bought down by a pride of lions in the middle of the Serengeti. Nature at its most raw.

If you find that silence can make you uneasy, then I am certain an experience like this will change your mind forever. Or if you feel like the years between you and your elders will never be closed, then take a trip like this as it brings generations together – no matter what your age this spectacle is just as exhilarating and will be talked about for years to come. After a memorable week of witnessing what I always hoped Africa would be, we took a few days to reflect on Tanzania’s divine beaches of Zanzibar. Tanzania and Zanzibar, no question, a places of a lifetime.

sabah

Sabah, Malaysia
by Jenny Micklethwait

Only a hop, skip and a jump from Kuala Lumpur, Sabah offers white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, beautiful coral islands, lush rain forests, amazing wildlife and Mount Kinabalu all within a couple of hours drive. I found the highlight of all of the attractions the Orang Utans Sanctuary. It was truly fantastic to see the work the people are doing and the babies are just gorgeous. I stayed at both Shangri-La properties which were both great for different reasons. Shangri-La Rasa Ria had its own 18-hole golf course and its own Orangutan conservation reserve. Shangri-La Tanjung Aru is close to the city and airport and has great facilities for relaxing. There is something for everyone in Sabah.

greece

Santorini, Greece
by Debra Cowley

Two weeks of heaven is how I would describe my Santorini holiday. My husband and I stayed in the township of Oia – generally considered one of the best places to watch the sunset in the world. We stayed in a traditional cave villa perched right on the cliff side overlooking the blue water and caldera. Our days were spent weaving around the labyrinth of art galleries, cafes, tavernas and jewelry shops. Evenings were spent enjoying a glass of wine and dining out. You can’t help but immerse yourself in this otherworldly sublime setting.

cuba

Cuba
by Pina Azzaro

One of my ultimate destinations is Cuba, the largest and most populated island in the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean which boasts spectacular sceneries, rich cultural heritage and some of the world’s best beaches. Admittedly, the Caribbean beaches are renowned across the globe as the finest in that hemisphere with kilometers of soft white sands surrounded by clear warm turquoise waters. Steeped in the history of Spanish colonialism, Cuba is alive today with an exotic diversity of culture, magnificent mountain ranges, plains of tobacco and coffee, and friendly people. So buy one of those legendary Cuban cigars and listen to tales of Castro on the crumbling yet alluring streets of Havana and dance your nights away to sexy Cuban rhythms…

continued →

EDGE DEALS

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Please click on the links below for more details on our current specials:

Morocco

Castles of the Rhine

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

Awasi Resort, Atacama Desert, Chile

Cuba

Alaska

Tanzania

Special Airfares

EDGE CHECK IN

Vamizi

Alila Villas Uluwatu
Bali, Indonesia

Perched on a cliff top plateau on the southern coast of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, postmodern cool meets tropical Singaporean sexy. Described as a marriage of intimacy, classicism and funk where sea and sky unite, the new Alila Villas Uluwatu overlook the ocean organically yet in the most awesome fashion conceivable. The Singapore design partnership WOHA responsible for the 84 villa complex remains eco-conscious throughout with features like flat insulated roofs with local volcanic rock and water from washing machines and baths filtered for garden use. Rooms have hardwood recycled from retired Indonesian railway sleeper cars and ceilings of local bamboo. The resort boasts ubiquitous stunning touches including the infinity pool, Indian Ocean view dining and local spa therapists. But perhaps topping the list is its private banquet room with 2,500 glittering copper batik stamps. Wedding ceremonies here would be magic – eloquent and intimate yet exotic. Alila caters for small affairs with spectacular ocean venue settings to choose from including their signature venue the Cliff Edge Sunset Cabana, an overhanging cliffside platform with dramatic panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Can you think of a better place to say “I do?”

EDGE VIEW

Rhine Castle
© Backroads/Hotel Romerbad

Castles of the Rhine

I have a distinct memory of my first Rhine River castle sighting when I was ten with the flu. I was so unwell that I kept dosing off in the backseat while my parents drove along the riverside roads through Germany. I remember popping my head up when we came to the next medieval fortress or grand palace dominating vineyard-covered cliffs above the river. Those days felt like a dream as what I saw each time I rose from a deep sleep was tantamount to stepping back in time to the land of Camelot. In fact, most of these legendary castles were built in the High Middle Ages between the 12th and 14th centuries. Today the Rhine River remains a critical shipping waterway in Germany but the Rhine Valley is the heartland of the old Holy Empire with the greatest density of medieval military buildings and window into the age of chivalry. Some castles are in ruins, but many have survived the ravages of war, neglect, fire and most of all, time. The highlight of a Rhine River castle tour will likely be Neuschwanstein, reclusive mad King Ludwig II’s palace and fairy tale inspiration for the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty. Its perch would give even an eagle vertigo. In fact, I recall a man on our tour after reaching the top literally had a heart attack and a helicopter had to fly in to save him! Anyway, certainly these Rhine castles command a trip to see, hence this month’s Edge View, as even the most creative movie set designer couldn’t envision this.

EDGE DIARIES

Paris

Paris
by Steve Coates, Go4 Multimedia

Although it’s only early October, it’s cold on our first day in Paris. We wander down to the bustling Bastille Market on Boulevard Richard Lenoir and discover we’re able to stock up on scarves and gloves as well as delicious cheese and olives. We pass on the fresh rabbit and pigeon though.

One of the great things about staying in Paris is that you can cover much of it on foot. We stay in the charming Marais neighbourhood and early each morning leave our 11 and 14-year-old daughters to sleep in while we explore different parts of the city. On our way back we stop at one of the excellent boulangeries that are everywhere in Paris and pick up some fresh croissants or baguettes which successfully tempts the girls out of bed for breakfast.

On the sunniest morning of our week in Paris we take the Metro to Pére Lachaise, said to be the most famous cemetery in the world and certainly the most beautiful one I’ve ever visited. After purchasing a map at the gate showing who’s buried where, we are able to plan our wanderings: let’s go down past Chopin, around to Jim Morrison and across to Oscar Wilde…

From Pére Lachaise we continue to Montmartre, dodging the touts to climb Montmartre Hill to visit the exquisite Sacré Cœur basilica and take in the views over Paris. Later that afternoon we stop for excellent coffee and hot chocolate at Café des Deux Moulins, the setting for Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amélie, a family favourite.

photo copyright Steve Coates 2010

An hour outside of Paris we visit the mind-blowing opulence of the Versailles estate, Marie Antoinette’s former home. The enormous Château de Versailles and two other palaces are set amongst 800 hectares of formal gardens, lakes and fountains. My daughters loved Versailles, especially Marie Antoinette’s estate and Hameau de la Reine, the stylised rustic farm and village built on the estate for her amusement. One long day feels like just enough to get an overview of Versailles so we sleep soundly that night (even the adults sleep in the next morning).

On our last afternoon in Paris we go for a walk with what feels like half of Paris’s residents, discovering that many of the streets in the city are closed to cars on Sundays and that, just like us, Parisians enjoy wandering the streets of their beautiful city too.

EDGE PHOTO COMPETITION

Photo Competition

Edge Around the World

For the last photo contest winner of the year, the prize goes to Neville Samuels. Your photo taken underwater with only the Executive Edge folder and hand visible made us all laugh hysterically, so the comic value award belongs to you hands down, pun intended. Congrats! You are the last winner of the 2010 calendar year. Please see Yvonne Verstandig to accept your travel prize.

Thank you to all of our well-traveled clients who participated in the Edge Around the World photo contest over the last year. We have thoroughly enjoyed glimpsing your worldly adventures. Everyone’s photos were unique and incredible slices of life. Stay tuned for 2011’s upcoming contests…..

Photo Competition

FEATURE

Places of a Lifetime cont…

new-york

Manhattan, New York
by Debra Eustice

“Its up to you – New York, New York!” Well, it is up to each and every traveler, but in my opinion, New York is the most amazing and exciting city in the world. A city that caters to everyone and never sleeps, as the saying goes. There are so many choices of things to see and do and every single time you visit you are able to experience something new. Where do I begin? Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Centre, 5th Avenue, Broadway, Central Park, Times Square, Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, Radio City Music Hall, The Guggenheim, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera, Soho, Greenwich, Meat Packing District, Grand Central Station, Ground Zero, Tiffanys, Plaza Hotel, Russian Tea Room, Yankee Stadium, United Nations – all accessible by the subway or put on your trainers, start walking and enjoy this fabulous city. I can assure you one visit will never be enough.

maldives

Maldives
by Amy Wasbutzki

I have had the good fortune of traveling to the Maldives a few times and I can report with confidence that it is the most decadent place on earth. Overwater villas with my own private pool and looking out every day to clear crystal water was my idea of a fantasy holiday. It is a fantastic location for relaxing and indulgence. Snorkeling amongst the coral, sun baking in my villa and on the beach, eating beautiful food and enjoying the spa facilities is how we spent our days and nights languidly. With 26 atolls covering over 90,000 square kilometres and 22 inhabited islands, select your island paradise and come enjoy…

peru

Machu Picchu, Peru
by Athina Morfis

From the moment I first read anything about Peru, about the Inca Empire or Machu Picchu, the area has intrigued me. For me, it was the history and conquests of the Incas in Peru that was most compelling. My ten year aspiration of reaching the archaeological site of Machu Picchu on foot was finally realized in October. Climbing the endless steep steps towering among the Andes mountains and arriving at my first high point, I felt I was on top of the world – literally and figuratively. Photos simply do not do it justice. With the clouds moving to cover and then uncover the ruins I felt a calming sense of spirituality there. Machu Picchu lived up to my every expectation and more.

sa

South Africa and Zambia
by Sue Sallmann

Ironically, South Africa and Zambia were not at the top of my wish list – wow, how wrong can you be! The trip ended up being the single most amazing experience I’ve had traveling in my lifetime. Watching rhino graze literally right next to you, finding a leopard trying to hide her kill before the hyenas arrive, witnessing a giraffe mating, being so close to such a variety of WILD animals in their natural environment, visiting a Zambian school to comprehend just how lucky our children really have it. And to top it all off, an amazing helicopter flight over Victoria Falls. There are no other words WOW!