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How Bali’s Legendary Mulia Spa Is Embracing Affordable Luxury

The Mulia's famed Oasis Pool.

Some places are easier to get to than others. Then, there’s Bali. For me, the journey took a 15-hour flight from New York to Hong Kong, a four-hour layover, and another five-hour flight. Needless to say, I landed at the Denpasar Airport in pretty grimy shape.

But once I stepped into the elegant, open-air lobby (think gleaming marbling floors, crisp white and beige palette, and local accents like oversized, wall-hanging abacuses) of The Mulia, an award-winning resort in Nasa Dua, my self-consciousness melted away. (The calming tones of traditional Balinese instruments, easygoing staff, and refreshing welcome drink surely helped). And it didn’t take long for me to realize why Bali has been such a longstanding, popular destination for well, most everyone: outdoor enthusiasts, spiritual seekers, honeymooners, and spa fanatics.

The Mulia offers three distinct categories of accommodations: The Mulia (all suites), Mulia Resort, and Mulia Villas (pictured).

The Mulia offers three distinct categories of accommodations: The Mulia (all suites), Mulia Resort, and Mulia Villas (pictured).

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

As for me? I fall squarely into the last category. But I wouldn’t categorize myself as the typical spa-goer. With a professional background in beauty and retail – I owned a Brooklyn apothecary with an in-house aesthetician for ten years – I’ve always held the belief that spa treatments are about far more than pampering and vanity. I also know that a breathlessly expensive, big brand name experience doesn’t necessarily correlate to quality, either.

This is when Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package enters the picture. As the name implies, the comprehensive, mind-and-body experience takes course over an entire day, from early morning through dinner. Yes, it’s definitely indulgent – Mulia Spa is widely and consistently recognized as one of the region’s best for good reason – but as I mentioned before, what makes this treatment a real standout is how it ticks off all the boxes (including one many travelers won’t typically discuss). Below, four reasons why Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package shouldn’t be missed.

The dazzling entrance to Mulia Spa.

The dazzling entrance to Mulia Spa.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

Relatively speaking, it’s a bargain.

It’s funny how many travel writers are loathe to comment on pricing. Because guess what? Everybody, regardless of income level, loves getting more bang for their hard-earned buck. Mulia Spa’s Full Day Spa Wellness Package costs around $787 – which includes tax, along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and spans approximately six hours. And if you break down the price per hour, it comes down to about $131. (Just for quick comparison: a basic, hourlong Swedish massage at a no-frills spot in my Brooklyn neighborhood is $130.) So, for the same amount of dollars, you’re receiving world-class facilities and service (and not to mention, the breathtakingly Bali backdrop) at Mulia Spa. 

Alternate between the warm and cold hydrotherapy pools before your treatments.

Alternate between the warm and cold hydrotherapy pools before your treatments.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

It’s not just about pampering – which there’s plenty of.

Make no mistake: you’ll be thoroughly scrubbed, rubbed, and treated like royalty during most of the Full Day Spa Wellness Package. But you’ll begin the experience bright and early at 7:00 a.m. with your choice of fitness activity. While most guests opt for yoga – which makes sense, given that Bali is also a destination for yogis – I went on my own with a five-mile run. Commencing with physical activity not just helps you connect with yourself, but sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. And the spa’s famed Wellness Suite, comprised of hydrotherapy pools, steam room, sauna, and Asia Pacific’s only ice room – where you can sit in a 30-degrees Fahrenheit, and massage crushed ice all over your skin – just adds to the good vibes already set in motion.

Cool yourself off (and boost circulation) in Asia Pacific's only ice room.

Cool yourself off (and boost circulation) in Asia Pacific’s only ice room.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

Customization is key.

We’ve all tried out spa packages where the treatments are fixed beforehand. While they’re fine, Mulia Spa goes above and beyond by letting you create a truly bespoke experience for yourself. To that end, you’ll have a consultation at the spa the day before your appointment. After refreshing yourself with an oshibori and pink ginger drink, you’ll fill out a form detailing your specific needs and concerns. In addition to selecting a massage, facial, body scrub, and salon experience, you also get to pick what you’d like to eat for your meals throughout the day.

You'll enjoy a spacious, dedicated suite for most of the day.

You’ll enjoy a spacious, dedicated suite for most of the day.

The Mulia & Mulia Villas

This isn’t your standard spa food.

I usually cringe when I hear the words spa food. Why? Because it almost always sacrifices flavor and creativity for low-calorie nutrition. But when I glanced at Mulia Spa’s menu, which was filled with a wide range of tantalizing options (including soups, small plates, juices, and entrees), I shelved my doubts. Everything I ordered was generously portioned, balanced, and nutritionally sound. My lunch of miso black cod, dashi spinach with eggplant, and steamed quinoa, for example, left me feeling completely satisfied for hours, without the least bit weighed down.

I cover travel – like hip hotels, a destination’s can’t-miss dining, and products that make the journey easier.

Source: How Bali’s Legendary Mulia Spa Is Embracing Affordable Luxury

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10 Best Things To See and Do in delightful Bruges, Belgium

When I look back on the past decade of our travels, all I see are little city breaks scattered throughout the years. Instead of burning all the vacation days on one big, proper trip, we favoured spontaneous voyages around Europe and Ireland.

One thing I was surprised to discover- I found real satisfaction in planning all the trips and loved the anticipation of what might happen. Actually, when I think about it, I enjoyed organising weekend getaways and staycations even more than remembering them after.

I got so hooked that I needed this happy feeling in my life repeated as often as possible. I started planning prospective road trips and crazy adventures. Over the years I plotted pretty much everything I could, from a two-week Pacific Northwest adventures to The Great Ocean Road trip and even several Around The World Trips.

Some of the journeys and routes that I have planned are still bookmarked for later and some of them we had a chance to experience several times.

When it comes to pretty European getaways, Brugge is one place I always wanted to go. It was one of the first trips that I personally planned with great enthusiasm. Was I seduced by chocolate fountains that never dry out or inspired by long exposure pictures of the medieval city at night with silky smooth waters on my Instagram feed?

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Pretty cobbled streets in Bruges, Belgium.

 

All I know is that since we had to cancel long weekend in Belgium a few years ago, because of Valters work circumstances, urge to go surfaced from time to time in my head.

The purpose of our visit to Bruges, that was founded in the 9th century by the Vikings,  was to see its beautiful squares, hear folkloric tales and to climb 366 steps to the very top of the Belfry.

And even though we arrived in Bruges hearing rain pound on the train window and even though we never made it to the medieval bell tower, we were swept away by its laid-back ambience and delectable foods.

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You gonna love Bruges!

10 best things to see and do in delightful Bruges, Belgium

For those world wanderers who want to discover the best things to see and do in this city, we put together a list of some of the most beautiful places you’ll find in Bruges. If you ask me, there’s no denying that with the quirky houses, incredible Christmas markets, and the cobbled streets, Bruges is one of the Europes most beautiful cities.

It’s so beautifully unique and full of history that in fact, the centre of it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

After spending a full day in Bruges, we can recommend this medieval town to everyone. Bruges is a very walkable place, and you can fit all the major attractions in a day. So, bring your walking shoes and explore this place.

#1. Eat all the Belgian chocolate you can

On a quest to find the best sweets in town? You have come to the right place. White and dark chocolate, macaroons, pralines, truffles, strawberry ganache, waffles – whatever you fancy! Bruges is cheerfully dripping in sweets. For the most amazing chocolates in the World, go to The Chocolate Line.  Lavender and the Cuban cigar flavour, anyone?

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Pure deliciousness.

#2. Find the 18th-century windmills

The Koeleweimolen and Sint-Janshuismolen mills are located on the outskirts of town and are worth a visit. Out of four remaining windmills, these two are still used today to grind the grain. Each of the houses a small museum and if you are in luck, you’ll see the sails in motion.

#3. Look out for In Bruges filming locations

Before our trip I scrolled through the Netflix archives, looking for a black comedy starring Collin Farrel and Brendon Gleeson, In Bruges.  Not only this movie was hilarious; it also revealed beautiful Gothic architecture, old bridges and lots of tourist attractions.

Most of the filming locations are freely accessible, and you can see Minnewater Bridge, The Groeningemuseum, the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, The Huidenvettersplein, The Jan Van Eyckplein and many more. Bring your camera, get the map of all the filming locations at the tourist information bureau and have fun finding them.

#4. Go for a Boat Ride

The canal boat ride was the very first thing we enjoyed in Bruges. The price of the ticket is around 8 euro, it takes 30 minutes for a round trip, and this trip allowed us to see the town from a different angle. Jumping into the boat with other travellers was a perfect way to see the city and our tour guide was quite the character, telling jokes and interesting facts about everything we saw along the way.

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Bruges, Belgium.

#5. Go for a walk

When you go for a walk around Bruges, the evidence why this place never needs to fight for visitors attention, unlike Ghent or Antwerp, is on every corner. Strolling through unfamiliar streets and squares filled with small cafes and shops, we stopped many times to gaze into the beautifully decorated shop windows, tried to imagine what the rooms look like behind those pink painted window frames, admired the unique architecture and tried to absorb its energetic vibe.

#6. Explore Bruges on bike

Bruges is a land of bicycles. ROour advice, rent the bikes, ditch the mid-day crowds and go for a ride. You can use the pedestrian/bike path that circles nearly all the way around town. If you enjoy hopping on two wheels and like to see the countryside too then go all the way to Damme, situated north-east of Bruges.

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Bruges, Belgium.

#7.  Find cute door knobs

As we wandered from one cobbled street to the next one, we found many beautifully detailed doors often with symmetrical designs. One thing to look out for in Bruges is door knobs that come in all shape and sizes. We spotted everything from flowers and animals to beautiful ornaments. Knocking on the doors in this town sure is fun.

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Cute, isn’t it?

 

#8.  See the impressive Town Hall

Located in Burg Square Bruges Town Hall is strikingly remarkable inside and out. Interior of this place is decorated with a golden ceiling and valuable paintings. 19th-century murals adorn the Ghotic Hall and may original documents can be found in the historic chamber.

#9. Go on a tour  with a horse-drawn carriage

While walking around medieval town, we quickly learned that that Bruges was in a class of its own.  Another fun way how to enjoy the sights and listen to the stories told by the coachman is to go for a half-hour carriage ride along beautiful streets. It is definitely one of the priciest things to do in this city, but its good fun!

#10. Send some love

Last thing before we left – postcards. I send one home to Latvia and to my friends from every place we visit. I love this old fashion way of keeping in touch as it’s an effective way to show you care. Who doesn’t want to receive a hand-picked card with a personal note from the other side of the world?

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Sending postcards from Bruges.

How to get to Bruges

Typically for most visitors, the first stop in Belgium is Brussels city. From here, you can take a train ride to Bruges with Belgian Railway.  To make the most of your trip, especially if you are going on a day trip, you need to get an early start. It takes around an hour to make it to Bruges from Brussels by train, and it’s possible to purchase the ticket in advance. To do so, use the Belgian train online page.

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Bruges, Belgium.

Now, over to you!

Have you been to Bruges? Let us know in the comments below!

Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Bruges and have travel related questions!

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Source: 10 Best Things To See and Do in delightful Bruges, Belgium

U.S. Travelers Are Benefiting From The Lowest Domestic Airfares In At Least 9 Years – Dan Reed

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With only one month left in 2018 it now appears almost certain that the average inflation-adjusted domestic round-trip air fare in America this year will be the lowest it has been in at least nine years.

Based on data and analysis from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Airlines for America, the major carriers’ trade association, the average domestic round-trip fare paid during the first of 2018 was $338, excluding ancillary fees, and $360 including those fees.

That’s 15.1% lower than the $398 that travelers paid, on average, in 2014 excluding ancillary fees, and 14.9% lower than the $423 they paid, on average in that same year when fees for ancillary services are included. The year 2014 turned out to be the costliest, on average, for domestic air travel year out of the last nine years.

Average U.S. domestic round-trip airfares since 2010Airlines for America/ U.S. DOT

The cheapest year for domestic air travel, on average, out of the previous eight years was 2017, when the average domestic round-trip fare, excluding ancillary fees was $347, and $370 with those fees. Those figures were  both about 3% higher than the average domestic round-trip fare in the first half of this year.

All dollar figures in the data and analysis are inflation adjusted and stated in 2018 constant dollars.

The final calculation of the average domestic round-trip fare price for all of 2018 won’t be available until sometime next spring. But it is very unlikely – in fact, it’s almost statistically impossible – for the full-year 2018 average fare price to rise above the 2017 full-year average price. That’s the case for several reasons.

First, to push that much higher from the first half 2018 average fare price, second half 2018 fares prices would have to have been significantly, even painfully higher throughout the second half of this year. But that has not been the case.

Only this week has Southwest been able to push through a modest fare hike that other carriers followed. Southwest is a long-established discount carrier that now struggles with higher costs than traditionally was the case. Still, it tends to set the floor price for fares charged by the nation’s largest, more conventional airlines. Southwest raised its prices $2 to $5 each way on about 90,000 listed fares. American, Delta, United, Alaska, JetBlue and Hawaiian airlines all followed suit.

That increase was welcomed by analysts and investors who had been complaining for months that airlines’ fares were too low this year because the industry had added more capacity than consumer demand could fill without airlines resorting to increased price discounting. But even that new, modest price increase isn’t big enough, nor will it be in effect long enough for it to significantly alter 2018’s downward pricing trend line.

Airline profits in 2018 also are expected to be down from 2017 and from the peak year of 2015, when the group as a whole earned an unprecedented $23.7 billion net profit and an operating profit of $26.8 billion. Last year U.S. airlines reported combined operating profits of $20.3 billion and combined net profits of $14 billion.

Through the first nine months of this year, U.S. airlines saw fuel prices move up 50% from the previous year, only to fall precipitously again over the last six weeks.

The fact that U.S. air travelers are getting a relatively good deal on the average domestic fare prices paid this year does not mean that every passenger is scoring a great deal.

The calculation of the average fare price includes a large number of factors that impact the percentage of seats sold at various prices. Business travelers and leisure travelers willing to spend extra for comfort frequently end up paying twice or three times more than the price of the average fare. Conversely, those willing to forego “extras” or even service features that used to be considered basic (like the ability to choose a seat or carry on a bag for free) frequently pay half, or even only a third of the “average” fare price.

Then there are business travelers who pay somewhat lower fares for full service treatment because the big corporations for which they work negotiate substantial net discounts based on the high volume of business travelers they place a particular carriers’ flights.  Then there are those who travel for free, or virtually free, by using mileage points earned as members of carriers’ frequent flier programs.

Price-sensitive travelers tend to make up a much greater share of passengers on board any given flight. But the wide gap in prices paid by the most and the least price-sensitive travelers can push the average price up even though relatively few travelers pay those higher fares.

Not surprisingly, data from A4A, the carriers’ trade association, illuminates the effect that different carriers’ marketing approaches can have on the average prices paid by their passengers.

U.S. Carriers’ Average Domestic Round-trip Fares* – 1st Half 2018

Carrier                                 Fare                      Market Share

Southwest                          $261.52                 23.3%

American                            $411.63                 19.6%

Delta                                    $413.01                 18.8%

United                                 $428.70                 14.4%

Alaska                                  $320.78                  6.3%

JetBlue                                $296.36                   5.5%

Spirit                                    $ 90.32                    4.3%

Frontier                               $114.71                     3.1%

Allegiant                              $133.65                    2.5%

Hawaiian                             $349.12                    1.5%

Sun Country                       $268.60                   0.4%

Southwest, which continues to be a discount carrier though it no longer positions itself as industry’s absolute low price leader, had an average roundtrip domestic fare price, excluding fees and taxes, of $261.52 in the first half of the year.

American, the world’s largest airline, had a first half average fare of $411.63, while No. 2 Delta’s was $413.01 and No. 3 United’s was a relatively whopping $428.70.

But because Southwest, which has a very small international footprint, carries an industry-leading 23.3% of all domestic travelers (to the Big Three’s 19.6%, 18.8% and 14.4%, respectively), its first half average domestic round-trip fare of $261.52 has an out-sized effect on bringing down the industry’s average fare price.

The carrier with the lowest average domestic round-trip fare in the first half of this year was Spirit Airlines, at just $90.32. Thus, though it carries only 4.3% of domestic passenger, Spirit, which features Spartan service and extra fees for virtually any service beyond a seat on the plane also has a strong downward pull on the industry’s average fare. Though slightly pricier – and, in each case, smaller that Spirit – fellow “ultra low cost carrier” Frontier, Allegiant and Sun Country exert similar downward pull on the industry’s average price.

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