Hotel Belleza, Miami Beach

Bella, Belleza, Beautiful – a perfect description of this 3-star delightful property, located in a safe part of Miami Beach. I had the pleasure of recently staying on-site and found this hotel clean and comfortable, from the lobby space to the guest rooms. The front-of-house staff were extremely professional and accommodating in every way!

Upon the check-in formality, Natalia extended every courtesy during registration at the front desk. Even the general manager, Yurian,  was on-hand with a friendly smile and bi-lingual greeting of ‘hello/hola” – so necessary in this part of ‘latino’ USA! Many guests and tourists checking in and out!

The room was indeed cozy, the bed, comfortable and the amenities, well stocked. The kitchenette had every utensil and basic requirement. There was a microwave, toaster-oven and fridge. The bathroom had an adequate shower size and a flat-screen TV! Free WiFi on-site.

What I most enjoyed was the feeling of safety and assurance when walking near and adjacent to the hotel: just a brisk ten to fifteen minute stroll on Washington Avenue, past the convention center to Lincoln Road, I found many restaurants and coffee shops, small bodegas, boutiques and department stores. Night life – Bars and clubs, also in that area, bustling with locals and tourists alike! Weather a huge plus at 30c/86f and needless to say, plenty of sunshine and balmy nights to explore Miami, including a must visit to Espanola Way – more restaurants to select!

Close by was the famous Versace mansion on Ocean Drive, now a 10 bedroom hotel and five star restaurant.  Well worth a look inside and out. (reservations required)

The only transportation i insisted on was Uber from the airport to and from the hotel. Otherwise, there’s a free trolley covering a few blocks along Washington Avenue and adjacent streets, Uber again for longer distances and a good pair of shoes to walk and explore.

This group of hotels has four more. Next time, I must try one of the others.

*information : Hotel Belleza is located at 2115 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Tel +(1)305-740-1430 – Bellezahotel.com

Michael Reubens

New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Britain’s RSC at BAM

Recently I had the pleasure of seeing the (RSC), Royal Shakespeare Company, in-house production of King Lear starring Antony Sher as Lear. He and the company gave stunning performances at the SRO limited season at the Harvey stage in Brooklyn.

King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays: a tale of treachery , deception, murder, betrayal, love and lust, corruption and politics…in short, something for everyone! A dark play for dark times, indeed!

We see Lear about to abdicate and thereby  divide his kingdom among the three daughters, Goneril (Nia Gwynne), Regan (Kelly Williams), and Cordelia (Mimi Ndiweni).

Edgar , son of Gloucester (Oliver Johnstone) and Gloucester (David Troughton), subsequently is blinded in a betrayal by the Duke of Cornwall (James Clyde), assisted by Gloucester’s illegitimate son, Edmund (Paapa Essiedu).

The plot does indeed thicken!

Suffice to say this brilliant production – showed its true colors – is by no means, color conscious. By that I mean “color neutral”. A fine representation of a multi ethnic cast – fifty per cent, Black and White.

Gregory Doran, the play’s Director, had immense vision and fight arrangements choreography by Bret Yount brought on-stage realism, the like not seen in the US for some time.

Michael Reubens

Iworldtravel

New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Myanmar in 5 Days Yangan, Bagan & Lake Yangan

5 Day Myanmar Sampler

(Yangon-Bagan-Inle lake-Yangon)

As the name implies, this 5 Day tour is a sample of the major highlights of Myanmar. On this fascinating tour you’ll explore the Myanmar iconic Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the ancient temples of Bagan and picturesque Inle Lake.

  1. Tour Code: VC02A
  2. Destination: Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake
  3. Duration: 5 Days
  4. Tour type: private tour -can be customized

Tour Highlight

  • Day (1) Yangon
  • Day (2) Yangon ✈ Bagan
  • Day (3) Bagan ✈ Inle
  • Day (4) Inle ✈ Yangon
  • Day (5) Yangon

Trip Itinerary

DAY (1)           Arrival & Sightseeing around Yangon                                          

Mingalar Bar, you will be welcomed by our guide at airport and transferred to hotel.

In the afternoon, start your sightseeing with a visit to the massive reclining Buddha at Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda.Then proceeds to the Kandawgyi Park, a green oasis of Yangon. Photo stop at the royal floating barge named Karaweik Palace. In the evening, visit to the World famous golden stupa, Shwedagon Pagoda – the golden dome rises 98 meters above its base and is cover with 60 tons of pure gold. At the pagoda, you can observe local pilgrims offering their devotions. Enjoy the amazing sunset view from the vantage point of Pagoda.

Overnight stay in Yangon.

    1. Included Activities: Arrival; Touring in Yangon
    2. Journey time: Yangon Airport to Yangon city centre ~ 1hr (Car)
    3. Meal: Dinner

DAY (2)           Yangon-Bagan/ Sightseeing in Bagan                              

This morning fly to Bagan for this comprehensive tour of beautiful city, one of Myanmar’s premier historical and cultural centres, home to more than 2,000 temples and pagodas ! Our tour includes shrines such as Ananda, Htilominlo, Thatbyinnyu, Dhammayangyi, Sulamani, and Shwezigon Pagoda, plus secular sights such as Nyaung U market and traditional workshops.

Overnight stay in Bagan.

  1. Included Activities: Fly to Bagan; Bagan temple tour ; sunset at temple
  2. Journey time: Yangon to Bagan ~ 1hr (Flight)
  3. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY (3)           Bagan – Heho/Inle Lake Sightseeing                                

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Heho. Upon arrival at Heho, drive to Inle Lake.

Full-day tour of beautiful Inle Lake which is referred as the Venice of Asia, featuring stilt houses and villages, floating gardens, fishermen using ancient techniques such as leg-rowing, and, on the shores, workshops of traditional artisans, e.g. weavers and cigar-makers. Also included are visits to sanctuaries such as Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and Nga Phe Chaung Monastery.

Stay overnight on Inle Lake.

  1. Included Activities: Boat trip on the Inle Lake
  2. Journey time: Bagan to Heho ~ 1hr (Flight)
  3. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY (4)           Inle (Indein) – Yangon

Today visit the morning market and explore around Inle Lake offers a good opportunity to meet many different local tribes. (Note: market is daily except on dark moon day and full moon day). Continue your exploration to the western banks of the lake and travel down a small canal to Indein – a Pa-Oh village which is known for its stupa-covered hill with 1,054 stupas which were mostly constructed between the 17th and the 18th centuries. Spend time exploring Indein on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school and making your way to the top of the hill where you can wander amid the weather-beaten stupas and enjoy magnificent views of the lake below.

In the late afternoon transfer to Heho for your onward flight to Yangon.

Stay overnight in Yangon.

  1. Included Activities: Fly to Yangon
  2. Journey time: Heho to Yangon ~ 1 hr (Flight)
  3. Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY (5)           Departure

This morning is at leisure with a car and guide available for further exploration or last minute shopping. In the afternoon transfer to Yangon Airport for your onward flight . Goodbye Myanmar and we hope to serve you next time.

  1. Included Activities                               : Departure
  2. Meal                                                    : Breakfast

*Kindly note that trip itinerary can be differing a little depending on local traffic and weather conditions*

Tariff in USD ($) from 01 April to 30 September 2018
Tour Category 2 Pax 3     Pax 4 to 5 Pax 6 to 9 Pax 10 to 14 15 & above Single Supplement
Comfort  $840 $794 $736 $708 $667 $645 $100
Selected $915 $874 $817 $788 $748 $725 $175
Luxury $1047  $1007 $949 $915h $874 $851 $292
Tariff in USD ($) from 01 October to 31 March 2019
Tour Category 2   Pax 3     Pax 4 to 5 Pax 6 to 9 Pax 10 to 14 15 & above Single Supplement
Comfort $858 $805 $811 $771 $731 $713 $155
Selected $978 $938 $880 $851 $811 $788 $226
Luxury $1159 $1110 $1053 $978 $972 $955 $396

 

Tour Category Comfort Selected
Hotel 3 Star 4 Star
Yangon Hotel Grand United Best Western Green Hill
Bagan Bagan Star Hotel Amazing Bagan Resort
Inle 81 Central Hotel Amata Garden Resort
  or Similar

 Inclusions

    • 04 night hotel accommodation
    • 04 Breakfast, 03 Lunch, 04 Dinner
    • Private transport in air-conditioned vehicles
    • 03 domestic flights
    • English language speaking guide
    • Drinking water and refreshing towels on touring days
    • Entrance fees for visits mentioned in program
    • Private Boat fee in Inle Lake

Exclusions

    • International flights to/from Yangon
    • Supplement cost for Vietnamese Speaking guide
    • Travel insurance
    • Visa stamp fees
    • Early check-in & late check-out surcharge
    • Personal expenses
    • Meals & Drinks not mentioned
    • Tour Options (quoted separately)
    • Tips & gratuities for guide and driver

 Remark

Child Policy (1-12 years old, not over 4 feet in height)

  • 85% charge for a child with extra bed
  • 70% charge for a child without extra bed

BOOKING TERMS & CONDITIONS

Booking cancellation fees applicable period starting from 31 days prior to arrival.

RESERVATIONS

All reservations will be on request; you will not receive an immediate online confirmation.

COMFIRMATION OF SERVICES

You will receive a confirmation by e-mail as soon as all services (hotels, Transports etc.) included in the selected package tour are confirmed. The confirmation will be sent to you between 24- 48 hours after the reservation has been made (Monday-Friday).

PAYMENT

For credit card payments a supplement of 4.5% will be charged. Payment Options are as following:

DEPOSIT

Due to the increasing demand and shortage of supply in Myanmar most hotels and other local suppliers request deposits upon confirmation of the tour to guarantee the booked services. These deposits are non-refundable and supersede our cancellation policy. Therefore, a deposit of 20% is required from the client to secure the booking and is due upon confirmation of the tour.

FINAL PAYMENT

The balance will need to be paid at least 31 days before the arrival date. If the full amount has not been received by this time, we reserve the right to cancel all bookings. Bookings made within 31 days of the arrival date must be paid for in full at the time of booking.

LAST MINUTE BOOKINGS

Bookings made less than 31 days prior to travel must be paid in full as soon as you receive our written confirmation.

Our day tours can be booked online until 12:00 am the day before tour departure. Full amount needs to be paid. Immediately after booking online you will receive a confirmation email with all relevant information.

Our day tours can also be booked directly through us.

FAILURE TO COMPLETE PAYMENT

If full payment has not been received by the specified date, we reserve the right to cancel all bookings.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

The travel documents (Tour Vouchers) will be sent to you by e-mail after we have received your final payment.

CANCELLATION POLICY

  • Cancellation more than 31 days prior to the group arrival: No cancellation fees. Non-refundable paid deposits will not be reimbursed to client.
  • Cancellation between the 30th and 16th day prior to the group arrival: 30% of the total tour price less deposit paid.
  • Cancellation between the 15th and 09th day prior to the group arrival: 50% of the total tour price less deposit paid.
  • Cancellation between the 08th and 02nd day prior to the group arrival: 75% of the total tour price less deposit paid.
  • Less than 48 hours before arrival date: 80% of the total tour price less deposit paid.
  • In case the tour participant shortens or interrupts the tour on his own account there will be no reimbursements.
  • The cancellations fees could be reimbursed by the insurance company if you are insured in the event of justified cancellation (especially illness, accident, death, etc.).
  • If the handler is forced to cancel the departure due to unforeseeable reasons, the participants will be fully reimbursed without intention to claim for any indemnities.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

The handler reserves the right to change these cancellation conditions depending on airlines, hotels and cruises’ cancellation policies. We will inform you in writing in case the above conditions need to be modified.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

PASSPORT & VISA

Please provide passport details at time of booking with name as per passport, as these are essential for booking services on this trip.

Most nationalities require a tourist visa in advance to visit Myanmar. E-Visas are available for most nationalities via the Government.

Website:  http://evisa.moip.gov.mm

MONEY MATTER

The currency in Myanmar is MMK or Myanmar Kyat. Please check the website of the central bank of Myanmar for an up to date exchange rate. Kyat notes are available in denominations of 1000, 5000 and 10,000.

You can use Master/Visa cards in Myanmar. Most local banks and their branches around the country have installed ATM machines and you can withdraw the cash in local currency for an equivalent amount of USD 300 per one time allowing 3 times a day to withdraw. Also most hotels (not many restaurants) have credit cards facilities with maximum 4% surcharge.

TIME ZONE

Myanmar is 6.5 hours ahead of GMT. Yes, your read that right – Myanmar is one of 15 countries worldwide that has a half hour time difference, to allow for the sun to be more precisely directly up at noon.

MEDICAL & HEALTH

All travelers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel.

The following vaccinations are recommended before traveling to Myanmar:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever

Please consult with your doctor and get their recommendation as well.

CLIMATE

The best time to visit Myanmar is from the October to End of March. April is the hottest month in Myanmar and May to September is regarded as monsoon. But it has her own beauty especially while visiting central part of Myanmar such as Bagan and Mandalay as the weather around this time is perfectly fine to visit with no rain and no sunshine.

ALTERNATION TO ITINERARIES

Itineraries and tours featured on our website and operated by the company are a recommended as a suggestion only. Although it is unlikely that changes will be made to travel plans of a tour, due to unforeseen circumstances, the handler reserves the right to alter or change a travel itinerary at any time. Most changes made by the company are minor, and the company will endeavor to inform the client at the earliest possible time. If a major change is necessary, alternate travel arrangements will be sent to the client’s last known address, detailing the proposed changes. If changes to an itinerary are known prior to the date of departure, the client will have the choice:

  1. Accepting the proposed changes
  2. Taking another choice of tour with the handler (of equal or lesser value)
  3. Cancelling the tour and receiving a refund from the deposit paid. Non-refundable deposits paid cannot be reimbursed.

For changes to travel itineraries after departure, the company reserves the right to alter or change travel plans without payment of compensation or a refund if it is in the client’s best interest to do so. Compensation, full or partial refund will not be offered if the company is forced to cancel any tour due to major force (such as war, civil strife, political unrest, industrial dispute, terrorist activity, natural disaster, fire, adverse weather and/or material or external circumstances before the company’s control).

SPECIAL REQUESTS

Clients with special requests (e.g. non-smoking room, etc.) should contact the handler in writing at the time of booking. The company will aim to fulfill all reasonable requests, but special requests cannot be guaranteed and do not form part of the contract. The handler will not be held liable for failing to comply with any special requests.

HOTEL RATING SYSTEM

The Myanmar Ministry of Tourism’s rating system is based on a different set of standards and regulations from most travel associations. Therefore we have provided our ratings as well which we feel are more in-line with international systems.

STANDARD: These are the hotels offered in Myanmar at quite low costs. They are oriented towards budget-minded travelers. The rooms will be clean and able to provide you with a good night’s sleep. However there will be no special amenities.

COMFORT: Superior class hotels usually have a great price/value ratio comparable to an average 3-star accommodation. Don’t expect luxury but basic functions such as air conditioning, TV, restaurants, etc.

SELECTED: First Class hotels are overall comparable to an internationally 3 to 4-star hotel service. They are run very well and offer an array of premium services. You simply can’t go wrong!

LUXURY: These are the very best hotels available in Myanmar; while they are very nice they are not comparable to 5-star luxury chains in other countries. Some hotels may be classified as luxury not due solely to the amenities but also for their historical significance as well (an example would be a colonial hotel).

MEALS

The food in Myanmar is described as more mild and oily than its neighboring countries. We will try and give you a taste of traditional cuisine in each region, and the blend of influences including Chinese, Mon and Indian.  Many dishes in Myanmar contain peanuts, or are made with peanut oil. Please let your guide know if you have any allergies.

TIPPING

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and Burma is no exception. Carrying small notes of local currency will make tipping easier.

FLIGHT CANCELLATION & DELAYS

The handler takes no responsibility for travel arrangements as a result of flight cancelation, delay or postponement for any reason. In such an event, the company will always try to assist as much as possible.

INTERNAL FLIGHT LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE

Checked luggage allowance is a maximum 20kg, with up to 5kg carry-on luggage. Any excess luggage charges can be paid directly to the airline at check-in. If your trip is beginning and ending at the same location, excess luggage can usually be stored at your arrival/departure hotel and can be collected after your trip.

INSURANCE

The handler strongly recommends that all clients find a comprehensive travel insurance policy that offers a high level of cover for the full duration of the tour. Travel insurance is advised to cover personal injury, medical expenses, costs associated with repatriation to home country, compensation for loss of luggage, and expenses associated with the cancellation, postponement, or delay of a tour. The client acknowledges that in the event of injury or illness, all doctors’ fees, hospital costs, and repatriation expenses are the responsibility of the client and the company will in no way be responsible or liable for the refund of the tour cost. It is the responsibility of the client to ensure they are receiving an adequate level of insurance cover and to read the full terms and conditions of their travel insurance prior to travel.

Hot Springs in Taiwan

…are a wonderful, relaxing, purifying and an “authentic” experience.

I got dropped off up the stairs from the river and was told “all of those are hot springs hotels, just choose one”.  And down the stairs I went.

The first spot to the right looked empty and according to the picture they had only one pool, so I turned left and went that way.  No one spoke English anywhere and it seemed like a slow day.  I went into a second one and the spa itself was closed but using hand gestures they said “number 3” ok so off I go… I walk about a block up the hill (to the left of the staircase) and I see a big sign “1, 2, 3” so the puzzle is piecing together.

I walk inside.  There are 2 women at the entrance gate.  They don’t speak English but they are very friendly.  They show me how much to pay by entering the number on a calculator.  I hold out money and they take what they need.  One of the ladies walks me inside the spa to the back.

Now, this part I am familiar with.  I love spas and partake as much as I can.  But, I don’t know this spa and etiquettes might vary so I really appreciate this woman’s directions and the fact that neither of us understand each other is fantastic and hysterical.

I am led to the bathhouse.  She points to the shoe rack, I comply by removing my shoes and placing them on the rack (this is standard in Asian spas).  She leads me to a locker into which I had to insert some monopoly coin, I held out coins and she took one.  They also had towels for rent (it was the size of a hand towel, but it did the job).

She then passed me off to another lady who was just enjoying the spa (they were all very helpful it was such a delightful surprise).  Again, standard procedure, you shower before heading to the baths and saunas.  This spa is nude and only women allowed.

The spa is comprised of 7 outdoor hot sulfur pools of varying degrees (and they were all divine), plus a steam room/little hut, sauna and a treatment room/little hut for scrubs, etc.  The whole outdoor area is covered by a large material that blocks from peepers and sun (a la Seville style).  Six pools were hot and 1 cold to lower your temperature.  The process is hot, then cold, hot then cold, repeat until you pass out.  One pool has the hydrotherapy massage nozzles.  The women loved putting me into the positions that would hit the most painful yet beneficial spots (they found it hilarious as I writhed in pain).

Everywhere I looked were smiles and friendliness and this experience was, to me, exactly what I travel for– authentic, local experiences and connections with people that don’t even have to include words, just sharing moments and experiences.

I really loved it.  But, I openly acknowledge that this is not for everyone.  It is a local standard spa, not shishi.  This is all about the hot sulfur waters and their healing properties.  Sauna and steam were available too and they offered the scrub for a very reasonable price (compared to my local spot in NJ).  It looks no-frills, but to me it was perfection.

P.S. As I was leaving I realized that there were 2 other buildings numbered “2” and “3”.  I was told that those are prospectively the men’s spa and the coed spa with a restaurant in the coed one.

P.P.S The pictures are “borrowed” from the web as I couldn’t snap shots in a nude spa for obvious reasons.

Tips:

  • Bring a towel from your hotel if you like a more substantial towel
  • Bring coins for the locker and entrance
  • Bring clean undies
  • Don’t forget your toiletries (they have some stuff there too for you tho)
  • If you want a more shishi experience you can go to hotels on the river and rent rooms or cabanas for the day
  • You can take the metro to Beitou
  • Be open minded

Links:

  • Nice hotel with spa amenities  http://www.tyq.com.tw/en/ hotel
  • Another nice hotel on the river  http://www.hotelroyal.com.tw/beitou/EN/
  • Tapei Hot Springs Association site (please note, English is not native language) http://www.104net.net/taipeisprings/english/index/index.htm
  • Yitsun Hotel is a Japanese style springs hotel no direct site (I want to go here!) http://www.104net.net/taipeisprings/english/hotel/yitsunhotel.htm

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