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The Corliss Group Travel: Hong Kong's best restaurants, by Ken Hom

The Corliss Group Travel: Hong Kong's best restaurants, by Ken Hom | The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency |
Ken Hom, the celebrity chef, recommends the best places to eat in Hong Kong in five courses
Thaddeus Brewington's insight:
Ken Hom, the celebrity chef, recommends the best places to eat in Hong Kong in five courses A typical brunch At Din Tai Fung I had one of the best xiaolongbao – little soup dumplings filled with broth and served in a bamboo steamer – that I have ever had. There are lots of things from Taiwan and it’s popular because it’s cheap. You have to queue because they don’t take reservations, but it’s worth it. Go with friends, so you can try a nice assortment of dishes. The restaurant is part of the Din Tai Fung group, whose outlets have maintained great consistency. This one is on the Hong Kong Island side. Din Tai Fung, Shop G3-11, 68 Yee Woo Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong (00852 3160 8998, Three courses £12-£15, without drinks. Lunch A really nice place to go for dim sum is Island Tang. It’s decorated in the old Hong Kong style of 30 years ago, so it has atmosphere. Lots of Chinese in the know go there. It’s the usual cast of characters – barbecued pork buns, steamed dumplings, stuffed peppers – but presented in an unusual way. There’s also Nha Trang, which does Vietnamese food but in the spirit of Cantonese: very light, full of flavour, fresh. The pho noodles and the Vietnamese spring rolls are especially good. Finally I would go to Yung Kee, an old restaurant that’s still very good and famous for its roast goose. They also make wind-dried pork and liver sausages which are slightly fatty and made with wine, so they’re very rich. All the fat goes into the rice, making it taste unbelievable. Island Tang, Shop 222, The Galleria, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Central (2526 8798; Dim sum lunch £23-£39. £ Nha Trang, 88-90 Wellington Street, Central (2581 9992; Three courses £15-£27. Yung Kee, 32-40 Wellington Street, Central (2522 1624; Set menus, all including roast goose, £29-£49; à la carte, takeaway and “deluxe” set meals (seven to 11 lavish courses) also available . Fine dining My favourite place is Yan Toh Heen, which has a Michelin star. You get an incredible view of the harbour, all the fittings are jade, and the chef, Lau [Yiu Fai], deserves two stars for the refinement of his cooking. I had Peking duck with pears and grapefruit. The pears were slightly sweet so you didn’t need a sauce; the grapefruit was acidic, which cut through the richness of the duck skin. Genius. Yan Toh Heen, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon (2313 2323; Three courses £22-£229; signature menus £162-£255. Amber, The Landmark Oriental Hong Kong, 15 Queen’s Rd Central (2132 0066; Tasting menus £146-£224; three courses £101-£181. An aperitif The most popular place in the city is the Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental hotel, which has a panoramic view of Hong Kong island. It’s all glass, so people just sit and stare. Sometimes you don’t even talk to the people you’re there with because you’re gog-eyed, especially at night. The Chinese like it because it has good feng shui; I like to go for a dry gin Martini or a glass of champagne. Lobby Lounge, InterContinental Hong Kong (details above). Cocktails £11. Dinner What I like about Kin’s Kitchen is that the owner is a food critic who opened a restaurant – and it’s good. He’s taken traditional, home-cooked Cantonese recipes which I haven’t seen in 30 years and made them popular again. The crispy chicken is the best you’ll eat. At the last minute they ladle hot oil over it, so the skin is super-crispy, the meat is moist and melting, and you dip it in a Szechuan pepper and salt mix. Kin’s Kitchen, 5/F, W Square, 314-324 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai (2571 0913; Dim sum £1.90-£3.70 each; three courses £17-£34; set menus £49 and £99 for two and four people. Wu Kong, Basement, Alpha House, 27 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (2366 7244; hk). Three courses about £12, four-course hairy crab meal £31.
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Corliss Group Travel: The Best Souvenirs from a Lifetime Travelling Europe

Corliss Group Travel: The Best Souvenirs from a Lifetime Travelling Europe | The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency |

With each trip I take, I make it a point to bring home cultural souvenirs — gold nuggets of experiences I’ll remember all my life. Whether it's sitting and talking with a Muslim at the Great Mosque of Granada in Spain, waving a flag at an Irish hurling match, or getting naked with Germans at a spa in Baden-Baden, it's experiences like these that give each trip that extra sparkle.


Whenever I'm in Turkey, I make it a point to see a whirling dervish. This is not a performance, but rather, a religious ritual done by the Mevlevi, followers of a 13th-century Muslim mystic named Rumi. Dervishes whirl while praying in a meditative trance. A dervish once explained to me: “As I spin around, my hand above receives the love from our Creator, and my hand below showers it onto all of his creation. “


One night, while walking through Istanbul, I came upon a big patio filled with tourists, enjoying a single dervish whirling on an elevated platform. My immediate reaction was negative, as I have a bad attitude about dervishes doing their whirl for tourists, who have no idea what’s going on. I prefer seeing the real deal at a place like the Galata Dervish Monastery or the Foundation of Universal Lovers of Mevlana. But on that night, I buried my bad attitude and simply enjoyed the beauty of his performance there in the Istanbul night.


In Barcelona, it’s a joy to join in the sardana dances to celebrate Catalan culture. Locals of all ages seem to spontaneously appear in the cathedral square. Everyone is welcome. Participants form a circle, hold hands, then raise their arms-slow-motion, Zorba the Greek-style — as they hop and sway gracefully to the music of the band. The rest of Spain mocks this lazy circle dance, but for me, it is a stirring display of the Catalan region’s pride and patriotism.


Good things come to those who participate. All of my Protestant life I’ve watched hardscrabble pilgrims and frail nuns climb Rome’s Scala Santa Holy Stairs on their knees. Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, had these stairs brought from the Holy Land because they’re thought to be the stairs that Jesus climbed on his way to being condemned by Pontius Pilate. I had always observed the stair-climbing pilgrims as though they were in a parallel universe. But one day, on a whim, I decided to enter that universe. I picked up the little pilgrim’s primer explaining what holy thoughts to ponder on each step, knelt down, and — one by one — began climbing. Knees on stone, I experienced each step. In my pain, the art that engulfed the staircase snapped into action. And, while my knees would never agree, the experience was beautiful.


For 30 years, I've been going to see Malcolm Miller, resident guide and scholar at the great cathedral at Chartres, near Paris. Approaching the cathedral from a distance, my heart leaps at the sight of its spires rising above the fields, just like the hearts of approaching pilgrims must have done centuries ago. I go to Chartres on a kind of pilgrimage of my own — to be a student again, to be inspired. On most days, Malcolm sits down with curious travelers on pews in front of his stained-glass “window of the day” and, as if opening a book, tells the story that window was created to tell. There, in Europe’s most magnificently decorated Gothic cathedral, Malcolm gives voice to otherwise silent masterpieces of that age.


Of course, not every experience has to be spiritual. Some are just plain fun. Whenever I'm in the British countryside, I enjoy getting a taste of farm culture. And for me, nothing beats a good sheepdog show. I recently saw my favorite ever, at Leault Working Sheepdogs in the Scottish Highlands.


As I stepped onto the farm, a dozen eager border collies scampered to greet the group of us who’d arrived for the demonstration. Then came the shepherd, whom the dogs clearly loved and followed like a messiah. He proceeded to sit us down in a natural little amphitheater in the turf and explain all about his work. With shouts and whistles, each dog followed individual commands and showed an impressive mastery over the sheep. Then, with good, old-fashioned shears, we each got our chance to shear a sheep — who took it calmly, as if at a beauty salon.


I'm often asked about the difference between a tourist and a traveler. To me, a tourist visits all the big sights, sees spectacles on stage, and returns home unchanged, with a suitcase full of knickknacks. A traveler becomes a temporary local, engages with the culture, and comes home enriched, with a vivid collection of experiences and a broader perspective.

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The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency: Avoiding Scams and Thieves

The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency: Avoiding Scams and Thieves | The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency |


Avoiding Scams And Thieves While Traveling Abroad


My wife and I had just left the Musee D'Orsay when a young woman came running up to us clutching a ring.


The pretty brunette spoke in halting English, saying she saw it drop to the ground as we walked by. After a quick scan of our fingers, we told her we weren't missing any rings, but she placed the ring in my hand and insisted we take it for friendship. Before my heart could swell with the joy of international love and brotherhood, she then asked for money for a cup of coffee. At that point, I realized it was a scam and handed her back the ring, which she no doubt tried to foist onto another hapless tourist couple.


While our stay in Paris was overall a wonderful experience, criminals threatened to put a damper on our trip. Before our flight out of Charles de Gaulle Airport, we would be accosted by other scam artists several more times, and my wife was pick-pocketed on the Paris Metro. Luckily the hipster shorts I bought in a Parisian boutique were so tight, I could barely get my fingers into my pockets, let alone a common thief do the same.


Unfortunately, theft and scams are all too prevalent in most major metropolitan areas. Staff members at the Louvre actually went on strike for a day earlier this year, protesting the unsafe working conditions caused by thieves and scam artists. Bob Arno, co-author of Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Crime While Traveling, estimates about 70 percent of Barcelona tourists will be approached by a street criminal; of those incidents, about 33 percent result in the loss of valuables.


According to the US government, Paris, Barcelona, London, Rome, Amsterdam and Naples have the highest number of scam artists looking to take advantage of naïve or distracted tourists.


Travel expert Rick Steves recently noted some of the most common international travel scams and ways tourists can avoid them. Other advice to consider:

Forgo purses or strapped bags in favor of body wallets or buttoned pockets.Leave fancy jewelry or expensive watches at home. Don't flash expensive electronic equipment –- particularly iPhones, thieves love them –- around. Have the number for the local police department saved in your phone.Keep your passport and other important documents in the hotel safe, after you've scanned or photographed them and saved them in a file-sharing app or program like Evernote or Dropbox.Stay alert. While you might be tempted to buy that second bottle of wine after dinner, realize drunk tourists are easy targets.


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Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong Launches Afternoon Tea for Gentlemen, Corliss Group Travel

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong Launches Afternoon Tea for Gentlemen, Corliss Group Travel | The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency |
Thaddeus Brewington's insight: - The afternoon tea ritual with delicate sandwiches and warm scones is one that is normally preserved for women, an experience that Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is famed for in both Clipper Lounge and Café Causette.


This March, however, the hotel will launch a series of special afternoon teas for gentlemen to enjoy in the famed Captain’s Bar and The Chinnery.


The Chinnery and Captain’s Bar are both known and loved for their gentlemen's club-like surroundings, with leather booths and dark-wood furniture, and now men will be able to meet and relax, or secure business deals over two different afternoon tea’s the Gentlemen’s Power Snack and Gentlemen’s Power Afternoon Tea, which have been created especially for them. Both of these sets will include a chilled draft beer of their choice served in the famed silver tankards.


The Gentlemen’s Power Snack will feature a mini pulled pork burger, a truffle croque-monsieur, an English pie and a chocolate cigar. It costs HK$238 per person.


On the other hand, the Gentlemen’s Power Afternoon Tea will include roast beef with mini Yorkshire pudding, pork pie, smoked salmon bagel, Welsh rarebit and truffle croquet Monsieur, along with an array of sweet treats from The Mandarin Cake Shop such as a chocolate brownie, apple pie and, naturally, the chocolate cigar at HK$328


The beer can be changed to a 12-year Macallan whisky for an additional HK$40.


“Afternoon tea can now be enjoyed by everyone,” said Director of Food and Beverage, Nicolas Dubort. “Whilst ladies and children can enjoy delicate finger sandwiches, cakes, scones with clotted cream and our famed rose petal jam in the elegance of the Clipper Lounge and Café Causette, gentlemen can now retreat to the masculine setting of Captain’s Bar or The Chinnery to enjoy a tea experience that we have created especially for them.”

The Gentlemen’s Power Snack and the Gentlemen’s Power Afternoon Tea will be available between 2.30pm and 5pm Monday to Saturday in the Captain’s Bar and between 2.30pm and 5pm Monday to Friday in The Chinnery.


To celebrate the launch of these gentlemen’s afternoon teas, The Mandarin Barber will also launch a tailor-made Gentlemen’s Retreat package. This will allow gentlemen to enjoy not only the Gentlemen’s Power Afternoon Tea, but also a 30-minute reflexology in The Mandarin Barber. The cost of this special package is HK$488.

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8 tips to ease winter travel woes

8 tips to ease winter travel woes | The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency |
Blizzard conditions in the Northeast and winter weather across much of the United States mean a whole lot of waiting for people itching to be on the move.
Thaddeus Brewington's insight:

(CNN) -- The arctic weather just keeps pounding people on the move.

Here are some tips to ease the trip home, but above all else, patience -- and caution -- will be key.

Rebook your flight for free. Airlines rolled out their customary winter weather waivers this week, so most passengers traveling to, from or through affected areas can make one itinerary change without paying a change fee. Delta, American, US Airways, United, Southwest/AirTran and JetBlue have all posted weather policies on their websites.

Act quickly. Rebook your itinerary as soon as possible. Other passengers are snapping up open seats as you mull over a new itinerary. Be sure that your airline has your e-mail address and phone number, advises Rick Seaney, CEO of airfare tracker If you didn't provide this information when you purchased the ticket, go online and add it.

Follow your airline and airport on social media. Many airlines and airports post the speediest updates to their Twitter feeds, so start following them now. Sign up for airline alerts to get flight updates e-mailed to your smartphone.

If you're stranded, multitask. Get online, get on the phone and get in the ticketing line (if you're already at the airport). With thousands of flights delayed or canceled, competition will be fierce for seats when operations start humming again. Get airline apps for your phone and try to contact your airline on Twitter, Seaney suggests.

Elite fliers should use their loyalty program hot lines and head to frequent flier lounges for better access to airline reps. "This might be the time to spring for a lounge day-pass just to gain access to these folks," Seaney wrote in an e-mail.

Use the Next Flight app and type in your city pair to get the next flights for the major airlines, suggests Benet J. Wilson, Aviation Queen travel blogger. Then, call the airline on your cell phone and give them your preferred options.

Charge your devices. Hopefully, you're not among those travelers stranded at the airport, where jockeying for electrical outlets is inevitable. Charge up before you head out, and keep a car charger and a power pack or a few battery chargers for your portable electronic devices handy.

Check your flight, no matter where you're going. Think you don't have to worry about bad weather because you're flying from sunny California to sunny Florida? Not so fast.

"Because airlines operate networks, a storm affects not only flights in its immediate location but even those in far-removed locations not affected by the storm," said Cynthia Barnhart, an MIT engineering professor who teaches airline schedule planning.

Check your aircraft's journey on your airline website or with an app like Flight view.

Don't be a jerk. "The airline representatives did not make it snow," Seaney reminds travelers. "We've heard many anecdotal stories over the years from airline representatives who tell us it's a lot easier to find a good flight for a pleasant passenger than for one who is screaming at you."

Use common sense: Don't drive into a storm. It's treacherous out there. Monitor your local and regional forecasts, and don't drive if you don't have to.

AAA advises motorists to check tire pressure and make sure car batteries, cooling systems and antifreeze levels are in order. Keep gas tanks close to full, the automobile association advises, so that you'll be able to run the engine for heat in case you get stranded.

AAA suggests keeping the following items in your car: a shovel and a bag of sand, a snowbrush and ice scraper, jumper cables, a spare tire, windshield wiper fluid, a cell phone and car charger and blankets, gloves, hats and food, water and essential medication.

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Planning a trip? Ask the crowd

Planning a trip? Ask the crowd | The Corliss Group Luxury Travel Agency |



It's a familiar ritual among backpackers: ripping a chapter out of a thick Lonely Planet travel book as they move to a new destination, leaving the tattered pages at a hostel to lighten their load.


But as more travelers turn to friends, Facebook and other online communities to plan their trips, the Lonely Planet paper trail has begun to shrink. In its place is a new crop of high-tech startup sites that use online crowdsourcing to offer real-time travel information and personalized recommendations.


"There's no way I'm going to carry around a big thick book (about) China or Europe," said Shanti Christensen, a world traveler who calls San Francisco home. She wants to know what her friends are doing in those places, "because we all have similar traveling habits."


Startups from Silicon Valley to India are building online portals where travelers can find ideas for their next destination, tips on the best places to eat and sleep, build itineraries and share their adventures. Crowdsourcing -- soliciting contributions from a large group of people -- has turned the average traveler into a travel adviser.


"We look at what our friends say and we change our plans accordingly," said Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst at Hudson Crossing, a financial advisory firm in New York. "It boils down to two words: trust and credibility. If you know the person, if their perspective on how to travel is similar to yours, you'll give their insights more weight."


Until recently, there were few options to quickly find timely recommendations from trustworthy and like-minded travelers, say travel experts. Many tourism bureaus don't have the technology resources, and a Google (GOOG) search of "best restaurants in Bangkok" will dredge up about 16 million results. Recommendations in Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are often at least a year old by the time they land in the bookstores.


Travelers also have complained about the number of anonymous, outdated and fake reviews on leading travel site TripAdvisor. The company says it screens all reviews and removes any that are fake or offensive, and recently started a crackdown on fraudulent reviews after discovering thousands of bogus hotel reviews.


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