Friday, March 22, 2013

Japan, an extraordinary destination

Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, is a beautiful and mysterious land of magical contrasts – from ancient to modern, tallest to the fastest, hottest to the coolest, east to west. Discover its rich heritage of thousands of years of history. Experience its beauty, adventure, beaches, temples, shopping, nightlife and so much more.

The most modern of countries, Japan retains its ancient traditions and the rich heritage of thousands of years of history. It is a country of impossibly-high modern buildings and ancient castles; of high-voltage energy and serene Buddhist temples.

Japan's archipelago of islands on the eastern edge of the Asian continent is home to awesome natural landscapes of misty mountains, verdant forests and shimmering lakes. Its oriental opulence is highlighted in the magnificent golden temples, secluded shrines and tranquil terraced gardens, while its futuristic cities illustrate the ultra-modernity of this fascinating land.
But nothing beats the immense scenic beauty of Japan during springtime when the delicate pink cherry blossoms bloom on the branches of cherry trees across its gardens, parks, hills and fields. During March to May, as the temperature rises the buds on the cherry trees unfurl and a dazzling ‘cherry blossom front’ sweeps across the archipelago. The blossoms hit Tokyo towards the end of March and then travel north through April and May and are visible in Hokkaido, the northernmost main island, even in June. 

Tokyo, one of the biggest and most dynamic cities in the world, has incredible life and energy. The city teems with fashionable people, modern malls, cutting-edge art galleries, intriguing museums, skyscrapers, temples, shrines, parks, expensive cars and gourmet food. At cherry blossom time, the parks are enlivened by revellers. Check out the Ueno Park, on the slopes overlooking the Imperial Palace moat at Chidorigafuchi, and on the spreading lawns Shinjuku Gyoen.

The iconic Mt. Fuji is another fascinating experience. Ride on the Hakone Ropeway to visit Owakudani, a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs, formed approximately 3000 years ago during the last eruption of the Hakone volcano. Taste the Kuro-tamago or Black Egg, a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs, which are supposed to increase longevity. Cruise on Lake Ashi, a crater lake that offers great views of Mt. Fuji.
Only Rome has more designated World Heritage Sites than the former Japanese capital of Kyoto
This city has a stunning array of temples and shrines, including the Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji temples, the Golden Pavilion, and the Ryoanji Zen garden. Home to the Emperor for over 1,000 years, the city is a repository of the best of Japanese art, culture, religion and philosophy. Walk around Old Kyoto, through alleys of traditional narrow wooden houses, to restaurant terraces along the River Kamo. Visit the geisha quarter's Gion Corner for a glimpse into traditional arts like puppetry and kyomai dance performances by apprentice geisha.

Nara, located 42 kms south of Kyoto, is the older capital of Japan, and was also a major cradle of Japan’s arts, crafts, literature and culture. It is home to the Deer Park, the Nara National Museum, the Kasuga Grand Shrine and the Todaiji Temple. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Todaiji Temple is a Buddhist temple complex and houses the Great Buddha Hall, the largest wooden building in the world and the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana.

Hokkaido, Japan’s romantic northern island, abounds in natural grandeur – mountains, highlands, rivers, lakes, sea and azure skies. Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is located at roughly the same latitude as Milan and Marseille and shares these European cities’ long hours of daylight in the spring and summer. Odori Park, at the centre of Sapporo city, looks magnificent with the pink cherry blossoms on cherry trees, soothing green lawns, fountains and flowerbeds. The city’s culinary choices are vast and the ingredients outstanding, especially as most of them come fresh to the dinner table from the surrounding countryside.
Japan, an extraordinary country of friendly and welcoming people, awaits you! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai

Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Unravel the mystery of The LostWorld.

Have you ever imagined exploring the mysterious ruins of Atlantis, lost for thousands of years deep beneath the sea?

A holiday in the magnificent Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai can be a truly extraordinary experience.
Negotiate the intricate passageways of The Lost Chambers, with 65,000 species of exotic marine life all around you.

Tuck into bed with a school of deadly piranha a whisper away, or under the watchful gaze of a fully-grown shark.

Embark on an underwater safari, or snorkel with sharks in the Shark Lagoon, at the Aquaventure Waterpark.

Brave The Rapids, tame the magnificent Ziggurat or stroll on a pristine, private beach. Rub noses with a friendly dolphin, swim or even scuba dive with them at Dolphin Bay.

Indulge in a sophisticated fine dine experience at the stylish Lebanese, Mediterranean or French restaurants.Choose from Leonard Paris, Roberto Cavalli and Ermenegildo Zegna, at fashionable boutiques in The Avenues, unwind with a sublime treatment at the serene ShuiQi Spa.

Mercury Travels will design for you a truly exhilarating family holiday in Dubai. It will be a whole new world.

Stay,play and Shop at Sheraton Macau

 Memorable shopping moments are better when shared

Discover the excitement of Macau. With its vibrant mix of Portuguese heritage and ancient Chinese roots, world-class shopping, dining and entertainment, and rich cultural attractions, there’s no place on earth like Macau.

Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central is located right at the heart of the glittering Cotai Strip, the energetic center of Macau’s lively nightlife, entertainment venues, designer shops and diverse restaurant scene.  As the largest hotel in Macau and Sheraton’s largest hotel worldwide, Sheraton Macao Hotel offers the perfect combination of modern facilities, first-class service and an ideal location right in the center of it all, so you’ll enjoy every minute of your Macau vacation.

Spread over two towers, Sheraton Macao Hotel features 3,896 well-appointed guestrooms and suites. This flagship Sheraton offers a signature Sheraton experience, including the state-of-the-art Link@Sheraton experienced with Microsoft® to keep you connected, and a new holistic approach to fitness with Sheraton Fitness Programmed by Core Performance®.

Experience our three signature restaurants, including Macau’s one of a kind hotpot and seafood restaurant, Xin, traditional Italian cuisine at Bene, and the freshest international fare at Feast. Enjoy all-day refreshments amidst a tropical setting at Palms lounge, plus poolside alfresco dining.

For families, thoughtfully appointed Family Suites feature bunk beds, a play area and kids’ books and games.   Two outdoor swimming pools dedicated to families with poolside cafes and private cabanas overlooking Cotai Strip offer you the ideal place to relax and reconnect. Our Kids Program features a wide variety of children’s activities along with a Comfyland Experience™ play area.

Pamper the mind, body and spirit at Shine Spa for Sheraton, with signature treatments inspired by the local culture and environment, and the five elements of Feng Shui – wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

Enjoy Macau’s impressive world-class theatrical shows. Unique to Macau, renowned director Franco Dragone’s breathtaking water-based show The House of Dancing Water is a must-see, along with upcoming special events and exhibitions. Join international audiences and be captivated by spectacular performances by global stars performing at the CotaiArena™ or take some quiet time and catch a 3D movie. Plus, Macau has a thriving arts scene, with dance, opera, theatre and cultural performances year-round.

Go on, treat yourself to the largest duty-free luxury shopping experience in Macau! Shoppes Cotai is Asia’s newest designer shopping precinct, with over 600 designer stores now under one roof thanks to Cotai Strip’s first interconnecting footbridge, linking Shoppes Cotai Central, Shoppes at Four Seasons and Shoppes Grand Canal. Shoppes Cotai Central offers refreshing ambiance featuring an abundance of natural light, rocky cliff sides and cascading waterfalls to create a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. From the catwalk to your carry bag, find all your favorite international designers’ latest collections, along with family shopping, luxury goods and much more, all at duty-free prices.

Whether you are seeking a vacation filled with culture, adventure, family fun, shopping or foodie delights, Macau is the ideal choice. Explore historic ruins, mystical temples, impressive fortresses, and the unique Sino-Portuguese architecture of Macau as you uncover its rich history and diverse cultural identity. Discover a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage sites, like the famous Ruins of St Paul’s, bustling Senado Square, with its mosaic-paving and impressive heritage buildings, colorful churches and quaint cobblestoned backstreets.

Those seeking an adventurous holiday certainly won’t be disappointed by the activities on offer in Macau, with two world-class 18-hole golf courses, the world’s highest bungee jump, mountain-biking, go-kart racing, and much more. Special events, such as the Macau International Fireworks Display and the Macau Grand Prix are also annual highlights.

Excitement of Cotai Strip awaits you with the Sheraton’s “Stay, Play & Shop” package. Book now for stay before 31 May and to enjoy accommodation in our Deluxe Room with sumptuous full buffet breakfast or lunch at Feast, Italian set lunch at Bene, return transfer from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau on CotaiWater Jet in Cotai Class, Shopping Dollars worth up to MOP600 and a limited edition Sheraton shopping bag.

For assistance in planning your Macau vacation, including sample itineraries for foodies, shopaholics, thrill-seekers and those looking for a cultural experience,  visit

Monday, March 18, 2013


Home to prehistoric rainforests and a melting pot of culture, Malaysia is an amazing country to discover. Here’s our pick of top 10 of what to see, do and experience in Malaysia.
1.    Luxurious underwater living – Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah
Named after Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, this cluster of five islands namely Gaya, Manukan, Mamutik, Sapi and Sulug is popular among divers and eco-tourists. The park’s relatively shallow waters, filled with an abundance of corals and aquatic species, is perfect for snorkelling and diving for beginners.

2.    World’s largest cave chamber – Mulu National Park, Sarawak
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mulu National Park is home to an impressive collection of natural treasures, including razor-sharp limestone spikes called The Pinnacles, and Sarawak Chamber, the world's largest cave chamber capable of accommodating 40 Boeing 747 aircraft. Meanwhile, the Deer Cave has the world's largest cave passage as well as a unique rock formation with a silhouette that resembles the side profile of Abraham Lincoln, America's 16th President.

3.    The gastronomic hunt – Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur
Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Alor offers an authentic street food experience. Enjoy a plate of char kuey teow or BBQ chicken wings while sitting at tables and chairs lined by the roadside amidst the sound of clanging woks and waiters shouting out orders.

4.  Heritage trails and hawker food – George Town, Penang
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, George Town, the lively capital of Penang has over 200 years of history and cultural heritage under its belt. Well-preserved colonial buildings and historical architecture draw in the art buffs, while its mouth-watering food attracts steady streams of foodies from around the world.

5.    Mystery, myth, legend – Langkawi, Kedah
Part of an archipelago of 99 tropical islands, Langkawi Island is as much shrouded in age-old myths and legends as it is filled with natural beauty. It was accorded the Global Geopark status by UNESCO in 2007 for its diverse geological heritage, which dates back to more than 500 million years.

6.    The living cultural museum – Sarawak Cultural Village, Sarawak
Situated at the foothills of the mythical Mount Santubong, this award-winning living museum showcases Sarawak's rich cultural heritage through its costumes, handicrafts, lifestyle, traditional dwellings and twice-daily cultural performance. The Sarawak Cultural Village is also the venue for exciting international events such as the Rainforest World Music Festival and the World Harvest Festival.

7.  A walk through prehistoric rainforests – Taman Negara, Pahang
Estimated to be over 150 million years old, Taman Negara is one of the world’s oldest rainforests and home to a vast diversity of flora and fauna, as well as amazing natural landscapes. Get an overhead view of the forest via the world’s longest canopy walkway, or enjoy the park’s varied activities and attractions.

8. The perfect beach life – Tioman Island, Pahang
The picturesque Tioman Island, with towering twin volcanic peaks, soft golden sands, cool mountain streams and refreshing waterfalls amidst a lush tropical rainforest, is hailed as one of the world's best beach getaways. The island’s waters are home to a diverse range of aquatic species, colourful corals and mesmerising dive sites.

9. Play time for all – LEGOLAND & Hello Kitty Town, Johor
If you're looking for fun and adventure for the whole family, LEGOLAND offers a first-class park experience with thrilling rides, interactive displays and themed areas. The park's main attraction is MINILAND, where miniature replicas of Asia's popular landmarks made with more than 30 million LEGO bricks can be seen. Hello Kitty Town, the first Hello Kitty theme park outside Japan, is a must for fans of this popular Sanrio character.

10.  Wreck diving – Redang Island, Terengganu
Pulau Redang is an enchanting island approximately 45km off the coast of Terengganu. Its clear waters contain hundreds of live coral species – ranked as some of the best in the world – and thousands of marine species including manta rays, stingrays and sharks. Part marine park, this island has 31 spectacular dive sites, which include two World War II historic shipwreck sites and a black coral garden.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Theres Nothing like Australia

10 things to see and do that must not be missed on your holiday to Australia include:


1.  Sydney Harbour, New South Wales

Applauded as one of the most exciting and innovative buildings of the modern era, the dramatic Sydney Opera House is Sydney’s premier venue for the performing arts. Climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to see the city from a different perspective.

2. Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The Great Ocean Road is considered one of Australia’s greatest road-trip destinations, with picturesque coastal towns and awe inspiring views at every turn. Located just two hours from Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is well-known for its most popular stop along the way - the world-famous Twelve Apostles - magnificent natural rock structures that are more than 20 million years old.

3.  Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Located just 112 km southwest of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is easily accessible by air and water and is known for its wildlife and pristine beaches. Discover the Remarkable Rocks, sculpted by the wind and wild seas over hundreds of millions of years. Sleep under the stars or spoil yourself at Southern Ocean Lodge, one of Australia’s most prestigious wilderness retreats.

4. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Considered one of the wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef is a rich tapestry of coral reefs, islands and cays. Described as the tropical rainforest of the ocean, this intricate living environment of extraordinary marine diversity is the world’s largest coral reef system, so large that it can be seen from space. One can explore the reef by taking a private helicopter or plane ride or indulging in water activities like diving, snorkeling etc.
5. Uluru, Northern Territory 

One of Australia's most iconic symbols of the outback environment is World Heritage-listed Uluru. A perfect way to wind down after an amazing day of discovery is the Sounds of Silence where you dine on an authentically Aussie BBQ under the sparkling stars of the desert night sky.

6. Gold Coast, Queensland

Choose from one of the many action-packed attractions on the Gold Coast that are suitable for children and adults of all ages. Favourites such as Dreamworld, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Warner Bros. Movie World and White Water World make for a fun day out. Visit the world- famous Surfers Paradise beach and try your hand at surfing with learn-to surf classes.

7. Wine Glass Bay, Tasmania

            Rugged pink granite mountains, dazzling white sand beaches and sapphire blue waters define the Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania’s east coast. Consistently rated among the top 10 beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay, shaped, as the name suggests, like a wineglass, is one of Tasmania’s most iconic destinations.

8. Food and Wine in Australia

Food in Australia has an influence of global flavors including Indigenous, Japanese, Thai, Greek, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese or French cuisine. Australia’s wine regions including Barossa Valley in South Australia, Hunter Valley in New South Wales and Yarra Valley in Melbourne are well known for their laidback atmosphere, world class wines, fresh produce and fine food.

9. Phillip Island, Victoria

Phillip Island is the home of one of Australia’s most popular natural wildlife attraction – the iconic Penguin Parade, along with the Koala Conservation Centre, A Maze’N Things, Panny’s Chocolate Factory and the International Motorcycle Grand Prix circuit. A wildlife cruise will put you right amongst the 16,000 or so fur seals that make their home at the appropriately named Seal Rocks. Clean safe beaches and native wildlife galore is what makes Phillip Island an Australian icon.

10. Cricket Arenas in Australia

Cricket is one of Australia’s best loved sporting pastimes. Ardent followers of the game can visit some of the most well known cricket arenas in the world including the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Melbourne Cricket Ground & National Sports Museum, both of which offer tours of the facilities for visitors. Another must visit for cricket fans is the International Cricket Hall of Fame in Bowral, Sir Donald Bradman’s home town, located less than ninety minutes away from Sydney.   

Click here to see a host of videos to whet your appetite for Australia.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

British Columbia, Canada. An exhilarating experience.

Few experiences are as memorable as soaking in Vancouver’s famous landmarks on a scenic harbour cruise.

Look down on a pristine river in an ancient rainforest from the cliffwalk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Get a whiff of history, and the scent of cedar, fir and the sea, as you make a grand entry on a regal horse-drawn carriage into the breathtaking Stanley Park in Vancouver.

Explore the sophisticated art galleries, studios and shops on the waterfront at Granville Island, sample the fare at its eclectic restaurants. Be mesmerized by the 360˚ view of the city from the fifty-storey high Lookout.

Take the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to the idyllic mountain village of Whistler. Get a taste of mountain life, and delicious ice cream, on a quaint Village Stroll. Explore an interesting hiking trail, admire the magnificent view on a thrilling PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola ride to Blackcomb mountain

Take in the stately homes and important national landmarks in Victoria. Meet the denizens of the Pacific Ocean at a unique underwater museum, lose yourself in a 120-year-old sunken garden, the famous Butchart Gardens.

Feed the seals at Oak Bay Marina, stand eye-to-eye with a family of Orcas, or Killer Whales.
Extend your stay in Canada visiting the magnificent Rocky Mountains, the legendary Niagara Falls, vibrant 

Toronto, the capital city Ottawa, and French-speaking Quebec, with its charming capital city, Montreal.

A holiday in British Columbia with Mercury Travels.
Truly picture-perfect.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Japan- A sublime mix of tradition and technology

Once an active volcano, the majestic Mt. Fuji has been dormant for over 300 years. But up close to Japan’s most sacred mountain, it’s only natural to be overwhelmed.
Admire the revered mountain from a pleasure boat on Lake Ashi. Take in the stunning views from the aerial cableway up Mount Komagatake, as you look down on Hakone National Park.
Stumble upon a slice of ancient Japan in the heart of modern Tokyo at the Imperial Palace. Be spellbound by the bird’s-eye view over the city and beyond from the famous Tokyo Tower.
Leave with blessings, and souvenirs, at Tokyo’s oldest temple, the Senso-ji Buddhist Temple in Asakusa.
Unwind with chilled sake at a traditional izakaya. Enjoy a fine dining experience at a classy Japanese restaurant.
Experience Tokyo’s famous nightlife at the dazzling nightspots of Ginza, Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku.
Go back centuries at the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Admire the glittering Kinkakuji Temple, spot a geisha melt away into the bylanes of Gion.
Get an overview of Japanese history at the Osaka Museum of History, visit the 3rd century Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine.
Explore Japan, a sublime mix of traditionand technology, with Mercury Travels. Why hold back.