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Airbnb launches ultimate designer getaway in Phuket’s iconic heritage mansion

The sprawling white and mustard heritage home is located in the historic heart of Old Phuket Town, and has been exquisitely restored to preserve its original fixtures, including richly patterned tiles and teakwood floors. Its first floor is now home to the Blue Elephant Restaurant – a Michelin Plate awardee and long-running stalwart of Thailand’s culinary industry.

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Filipinos planning their first overseas trip in two years after borders reopen on April 1 can now snag themselves the perfect holiday, as Airbnb launches the ultimate designer stay in Phuket’s palatial Governor’s Mansion – the island’s largest icon of Sino-Portuguese baroque architecture.

As the country gears up for its biggest cultural festival, Songkran, one group of four lucky guests will get to soak up the vibrant festivities with an island getaway of a lifetime, only on Airbnb. The majestic Governor’s Mansion will be bookable on airbnb.com/governorsmansion for only Php2,500* for a two night stay from 15-17 April 2022, welcoming overnight guests for the first time in more than 50 years. Bookings open at 9AM PHT on April 5, 2022. Travelers from Thailand or any of the countries that currently allow international travel to and from Thailand can apply — the Philippines included.

Guests will be hosted by popular Phuket-born model-actress Patricia Tanchanok Good who rose to fame in one of Netflix’s most popular Thai dramas last year, Girl From Nowhere 2, and national ambassador for royal Thai cuisine and Blue Elephant founder, master chef Nooror Somany Steppe. Programming for this special stay is supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The 119-year-old Governor’s Mansion welcomed many out-of-town dignitaries and remains one of several neoclassical heritage mansions on Phuket today. The sprawling white and mustard heritage home is located in the historic heart of Old Phuket Town, and has been exquisitely restored to preserve its original fixtures, including richly patterned tiles and teakwood floors. Its first floor is now home to the Blue Elephant Restaurant – a Michelin Plate awardee and long-running stalwart of Thailand’s culinary industry.

On the second floor, renowned Thai designer Saran Yen Panya has created a memorable, visually stunning space that pays homage to Thailand’s rich heritage and buzzing contemporary design scene. The stay features statement pieces by Yothaka – widely revered as Thailand’s master of design – in addition to bespoke handcrafted items by up-and-coming designers Kitt Ta Khon, Masaya, Sumphat Gallery, Thaniya and Mo Jirachaisakul, paired with Phuketian antiques from some of the island’s most distinguished homes and museums.

Guests will be immersed in a quintessentially Phuketian experience, including:

  • A personal welcome at check-in by Thai superstar Patricia ‘Good’ Tanchanok, who will share her favourite hidden gems in Phuket and tips for exploring the island
  • Exclusive access to a two-bedroom suite on the Mansion’s expansive second floor, including a private reception lounge and living room
  • A bespoke, multi-course ‘Songkran’ tasting menu prepared and hosted by master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe
  • A scuba diving and snorkeling adventure around the sparkling reefs and islands that dot the Andaman Sea
  • A gibbon rehabilitation social impact experience in Phuket’s last rainforest

“Thailand is an extraordinary country with unparalleled warmth and hospitality, and some of the most beautiful destinations. As more of us begin to travel further from home and for longer durations, we are working with our Host community to welcome the world back to Thailand safely. We are delighted to add the majestic Governor’s Mansion to our collection of unique stays throughout the Kingdom,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb General Manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“Songkran is a special moment for all Thais, as we give thanks and celebrate the dawn of a new year. As Thailand reopens, we are incredibly thrilled to partner with Airbnb to warmly welcome the world back to our country. We invite travellers from around the world to experience the “Amazing New Chapters” of Thailand under ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022’, with this iconic stay that shines a light on some of our finest Thai designers; as well as Phuket’s natural wonders, unique heritage and architecture, and delicious local cuisine,” shared Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

For more reasons to book that flight to the Land of Smiles, check out Airbnb’s first-ever Travel Guide to Thailand — spotlighting the hottest and most underrated destinations across the country, delicious gastronomic specialties and the most extraordinary Airbnb Stays for an incredible overseas getaway.

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Destinations

Singapore Cable Car launches world’s first Skyorb Cabins

Exclusively designed for the Singapore Cable Car, the SkyOrb Cabin is the world’s first chrome-finished spherical cable car cabin. Unlike conventional cabins, the spherical design of the SkyOrb Cabins breaks the boundaries of traditional cable car aesthetics, offering a futuristic and captivating look.

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Mount Faber Leisure Group officially launched the new futuristic SkyOrb Cabins on the Singapore Cable Car – Mount Faber Line. The launch of the SkyOrb Cabins took place at Mount Faber Peak, as part of the Singapore Cable Car’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The event was attended by Bob Tan, Chairman of Sentosa Development Corporation and Thien Kwee Eng, Chief Executive Officer of Sentosa Development Corporation, as well as Michael Syn, Chairman of Mount Faber Leisure Group and Buhdy Bok, Managing Director of Mount Faber Leisure Group.

SkyOrb Cabins – A cabin like no other in the world

Exclusively designed for the Singapore Cable Car, the SkyOrb Cabin is the world’s first chrome-finished spherical cable car cabin. Unlike conventional cabins, the spherical design of the SkyOrb Cabins breaks the boundaries of traditional cable car aesthetics, offering a futuristic and captivating look.

The SkyOrb cabin boasts a spectacular view through its glass-bottomed floor

Fitted with glass-bottomed floors to allow guests to view the scenery below their feet, the new cabins offer guests an elevated journey with a stunning panoramic view of the skyline. As night falls, a captivating ring of lights surrounds the cabin windows, casting an illuminating glow that imparts a distinctly futuristic ambience. 

The SkyOrb Cabins have been thoughtfully designed with double window louvres at the front and triple window louvres at the rear, providing enhanced air ventilation for guests on board. To offer an exclusive experience, only seven SkyOrb Cabins will join the existing fleet, enriching the vibrancy of the Sentosa skyline. 

SkyOrb Cabin on the Mount Faber Line

“Each SkyOrb cabin, a gleaming chrome orb soaring through the sky, embodies modern design. These cabins offer guests a one-of-a-kind experience, taking them on a discovery between Mount Faber Peak and Sentosa, unveiling breathtaking views along the way,” said Mr Buhdy Bok, Managing Director of Mount Faber Leisure Group.

Collaboratively designed between Mount Faber Leisure Group and renowned cable car cabin manufacturer CWA, the SkyOrb Cabins showcase product innovation and commitment to creating new unique experiences for guests. Based in Olten, Switzerland, CWA has enjoyed a long partnership with Mount Faber Leisure Group since the first generation of the Singapore Cable Car cabins was launched in 1974.

The SkyOrb Cabins will be open for guests to experience from 20 March 2024 and tickets will be available for sale at the Singapore Cable Car Mount Faber and Sentosa Station ticketing counters from the same day. Mount Faber Line and Cable Car Sky Pass ticket holders have the privilege of upgrading one-way of their round trip (between Mount Faber and Sentosa Cable Car Stations) to a SkyOrb Cabin experience. This upgrade costs $15 per person on weekdays, and $20 per person on weekends and Public Holidays.

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Destinations

Japan ranks as top leisure travel destination for Filipino travellers: Visa study

According to the data, 24% of surveyed Filipino respondents have traveled overseas for leisure or business purposes in the past year. This trend aligns with a broader travel resurgence across Asia Pacific, with 37% of those surveyed reporting overseas travels within the same period.

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Visa, a global player in digital payments, has published its most recent Green Shoots Radar study[1]. This quarterly report analyzes consumer sentiments across various sectors, such as financial services, commerce, and travel.

The study reveals a surge in travel frequency among Filipino travelers. According to the data, 24% of surveyed Filipino respondents have traveled overseas for leisure or business purposes in the past year. This trend aligns with a broader travel resurgence across Asia Pacific, with 37% of those surveyed reporting overseas travels within the same period.

Japan emerged as the top leisure destination for Filipino travelers, with 32% visiting in the past year. Singapore (22%) followed by Hong Kong (21%) and Thailand (18%) were the next most popular destinations. For business trips, Singapore led the list with 25%, followed by Japan (23%), and the United States tied with Hong Kong at 18%.

Filipino travelers prefer to book flight tickets directly from the provider’s website (44%). Among those respondents who booked their accommodations through Online Travel Agencies and paid the full amount upon booking, using credit cards is the most popular payment mode (41%), followed by mobile/e-wallets (28%).

Jeff Navarro, Country Manager for Visa Philippines, said, “As cross-border travel gains momentum in the Philippines and the region, we have a significant opportunity to maintain visibility throughout travelers’ journeys. This involves being present during destination searches and bookings, using Visa cards on travel apps for smoother transactions, and engaging consumers with authentic travel and shopping content to create a secure and seamless digital payments experience for everyone, everywhere.”

The future of travel remains promising, with 65% of Filipino respondents planning overseas leisure travel in the next 12 months. The top three leisure destinations intended in the next 12 months are Japan (38%), followed by South Korea (29%) and Singapore (16%). For business travel, Japan (19%), Canada (13%), and South Korea (12%) are the most likely destinations.

According to Visa’s Global Travel Intentions 2023 study[2], majority (89%) of Filipino travelers used credit (44%) and debit (39%) cards when travelling, for the benefits of cards’ wide acceptance (56%), accepted at ATMs (49%), and ability to be used both online and within apps (43%).

Visa’s most recent Consumer Payment Attitudes 2023 study[3] data also reflect cards as the preferred mode of payment when travelling, where 25% of surveyed Filipinos use credit or debit cards online and 21% use via swipe or insert when traveling overseas.


[1] The Green Shoots Radar survey was conducted online in 14 markets covering more than 8,000 respondents, including 500 consumers in the Philippines in January 2024, towards male and female respondents aged 18-65 with a minimum household income of PHP 12,000.

[2] The Global Travel Intentions Study is the largest and longest running global consumer insights program from Visa, which surveys travelers across continents on their travel journey and payment behavior. The study was conducted across April-June 2023 to more than 1,000 Filipino respondents.

[3] The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study was conducted in Oct-Nov 2023 via online interviews with 1.000 Filipino consumers across the country with a demographic mix of ages (18-65), genders and income levels.

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Travel

Tips to prep your motorcycle for safe road trips

Here are key steps to ensure your motorcycle is in top condition and ready for a safe and enjoyable riding season.

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With longer days and sunny weather, the open road beckons to two-wheel owners.  Preparing a motorcycle after it’s been in storage involves several key steps to ensure it’s ready for the road after the winter months. CTEK, the global player in vehicle charging solutions, provides recommendations for riders to prep their vehicles for peak performance and peace of mind on the open road.

“Life on two wheels epitomizes freedom and exhilaration, but unforeseen challenges can arise at any turn,” shared Bobbie DuMelle, President of CTEK North America. ‘With proper preparation, riders can bid farewell to battery woes and enjoy their ride.”

CTEK recommends some key steps to ensure your motorcycle is in top condition and ready for a safe and enjoyable riding season:

Vehicle Inspection

Give the entire motorcycle a thorough visual inspection, checking for any loose bolts, leaks, or damage. Pay attention to areas such as the frame, exhaust system, and bodywork. Do a thorough inspection of your motorcycle including fluids, tires, brakes, lights and electrics, chain and sprockets, fuel system, air filter and suspension.

Battery Test

Ensure the battery terminals are clean and free of corrosion. Charge the battery if it’s been sitting idle. CTEK recommends using the CTEK CS FREE, which features Adaptive Boost technology to ensure precise delivery of power and swiftly charge any 12V lead acid or lithium battery, resurrecting a dormant motorcycle battery within 15 minutes without the need for a power outlet. With intuitive LED indicators, the CS FREE keeps riders informed, signaling when their battery is primed for ignition. Moreover, it offers sustained maintenance charging, whether via conventional grid power, solar panels, or a 12V service battery, effectively extending battery lifespan by up to threefold during idle seasons.

Maintenance Tasks

If the motorcycle has been sitting for an extended period, drain and replace the fuel. Check fuel lines and filters for any signs of damage. Clean and lubricate the chain, and check for proper tension. Inspect sprockets for wear and replace if necessary. Inspect and clean or replace the air filter to ensure optimal engine performance. Check suspension components for any signs of wear or leaks. Inspect fork seals and adjust suspension settings as needed. Test the throttle, clutch, and brakes to ensure they are functioning smoothly. Lubricate cables if necessary.

Test Ride

After completing all maintenance tasks, take the motorcycle for a short test ride to ensure everything is functioning properly. When you’re on the road, take your CTEK CS FREE with you. With a built-in rechargeable battery fueled by rapid USB-C input, the CS FREE retains its charge for up to a year, rendering it a steadfast companion for on-the-go storage. Equipped with versatile USB-A and USB-C ports, it ensures seamless connectivity for charging smartphones, PCs, tablets, cameras, and an array of devices, ensuring uninterrupted adventures.

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