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Welcome to the second edition of Karma Chronicles – our bi-monthly global briefing of all things Karma. We’re celebrating the start of summer by bringing you a sneak peek of some exciting new developments direct from Karma Chairman John Spence in a special travel missive…

Welcome to the second edition of Karma Chronicles – our bi-monthly global briefing of all things Karma. We’re celebrating the start of summer by bringing you a sneak peek of some exciting new developments direct from Karma Chairman John Spence in a special travel missive… there are also insights into Karma destinations from Chiang Mai to Normandy, London to Tuscany, We’ll also be showcasing the Karma Luminaries and Friends that are helping bring the whole Karma Experience vividly to life, from artists to bibliophiles to rock n roll legends. Plus a host of special members offers to inspire your travel plans!

Welcome to the second edition of Karma Chronicles – our bi-monthly global briefing of all things Karma. We’re celebrating the start of summer by bringing you a sneak peek of some exciting new developments direct from Karma Chairman John Spence in a special travel missive… there are also insights into Karma destinations from Chiang Mai to Normandy, London to Tuscany, We’ll also be showcasing the Karma Luminaries and Friends that are helping bring the whole Karma Experience vividly to life, from artists to bibliophiles to rock n roll legends. Plus a host of special members offers to inspire your travel plans!

 

STAMPS AND SAOLAS

There are various types of journalists; those that merely repeat what you say in an interview, or indeed just research past facts online… and those that ask insightful questions to build their own ‘story’.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by an extremely good example of the latter some time ago and they asked me what hobbies I had as a child… and specifically whether I liked stamp collecting!!

It may sound a strange question to ask… but indeed I did!

I was an avid stamp collector and used to be fascinated by collecting as many stamps as I could from exotic locations around the world… the remoter the better. As the journalist and I discussed, this was probably one of the inspirations for my passion for travelling and also one of the reasons why I love now collecting resorts rather than stamps, in beautiful and attractive locations and adding them to the Karma ‘album’.

This is one of my favourite parts of the job – finding great new properties in beautiful locations that we can add to our portfolio for owners and staff to enjoy visiting and working in.

And the last few weeks have been no exception as I have been travelling and doing some stamp / resort collecting!

You will soon hear news of our new resorts in Ireland and Koh Samui… but let me tell you about Laos and the magical beast the Saola!

Laos is known as the Switzerland of Asia. It is landlocked, bordered by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. Reasonably large in size and low in population it is a magnificent country that is the ‘ true’ Asia of old. The people are friendly, generous and amazingly – given the appalling damage caused by bombing during the Vietnam war – totally open to foreigners.

I had the pleasure of visiting Luang Prabang recently, the ancient capital in the north and the home of countless Buddhist temples, the meandering and mysterious Mekong river, and magical mist-shrouded mountains.

I came to visit a potential new Karma Group resort which combines a hotel with an elephant sanctuary.I won’t spoil future announcements by telling you much more about it, but suffice to say both the potential resort and the location are unbelievably beautiful!

I have always loved elephants and it would be fantastic to be able to combine adding a new property with also taking over the care of seven of these magnificent animals.

Which brings us to the Saola!! Or the Asian unicorn as it is known!!

So rare that it was only discovered in 1992, critically endangered and only living in Laos.
Indeed, this country is home to a host of endangered animals like rhinos, gibbons and various breeds of jungle cat. It really does feel like the land that time forgot.

And the food!!! Off the charts! A blend of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese with strong reminders of the French colonial past.

I arrived intrigued and left in love with the country. I hope that soon I will be telling you all about this exciting new resort and returning once more to see those elephants.

I just hope that with the rapid development going on, particularly by the Chinese, that the magic and mystery of Laos doesn’t become as endangered as the Saola.

In the meantime, I will log off and look for some more stamps and resorts!!!

John Spence
Chairman, Karma Group

Click here to connect with Karma Group →

 

Rajesh Chari – Fine Art From Humble Beginnings

Karma Group In-house artist Rajesh Chari’s beautiful paintings grace everything from façades to wine labels. Yet they might easily have remained in obscurity.

Talent often resides in unexpected places. Sometimes it never has a chance to shine. Imagine if Einstein had remained a humble clerk in the Swiss Patent Office, his earth shattering discoveries overlooked by the establishment.

Now we’re not comparing Rajesh Chari to Einstein, but his talent certainly went unheeded for a while here at Karma. Born in a village called Velim, Goa, Rajesh was first introduced to art by a friend of his uncle’s. “He was an art teacher and he would discuss different aspects of art with me. I was only eight years old, but it sparked my interest.”

After completing secondary school, Rajesh decided to pursue his interest in art further, enrolling at the British School of Fine Art in Mumbai. Subsequently, he worked as an in house artist for an advertising agency in Dubai. “I gained a lot of experience there – it’s a very fast paced environment,” he explains.

But art isn’t an easy career path and on returning from Dubai in 2013, Rajesh needed to find work. “So I joined Karma Royal Haathi Mahal as a carpenter. He worked there for some time before management learned that he had studied fine art. “My first works were a portrait of Karma Chairman John Spence and a large scale mural depicting elephants in the Karma Royal Haathi Mahal restaurant.” (Haathi Mahal means ‘Elephant Palace’).

Both were so impressive that Rajesh swapped his role of carpenter for that of Karma Group Official Artist. Since then, he’s had the opportunity to travel to Europe, to produce artwork for Karma Bavaria. “I create original paintings for Karma Group apartments around the world, as well as portraits, murals – whatever is needed really.”

Rajesh’s most recent works can be seen on Karma Group’s recently released wines – including a classic Bordeaux featuring none other than Karma Chairman John Spence on the label as part of a montage and a crisp Rosé from Provence produced in the vineyards close to our stunning Le Preverger Estate. The label depicts an impressionistic panorama of Mont St. Victoire – which is visible from Le Preverger. It’s an homage to an original by Cezanne.

“I’m so grateful to Karma Group for giving me the opportunity to express myself through my art,” he says. And we’re grateful to him for bringing his beautifully rendered artistic visions to Karma Group resorts around the world.

To see more of Rajesh’s work, follow our Karma Group India Facebook page →

 

Philip Blackwell: Reviving The Art of Reading In an Age of Instant Gratification

Philip Blackwell’s Great Grandfather founded Blackwell’s bookshops. Now, he’s pioneering his own book curation project where world-class destinations are the inspiration… There’s nothing quite like the holiday read – that glorious window where you have the space, time and inclination to immerse yourself in your favourite book for hour after peaceful hour. Philip Blackwell’s Ultimate Library is in many ways a celebration of this. Karma Chronicles sits down for a chat with the erudite and affable book lover, who is bringing Karma Group destinations to life with his lovingly curated collections.

  1. Have you had a long love affair with books?

    Books are in my DNA, my family have been publishing and selling them for 140yrs. I feel naked without a book on me.

  2. What inspired you to set up Ultimate Library?

    In the past we have supplied and created library collections for all of the great academic and public libraries in the world. We recently observed that in today’s frantic world, people only really get to read for pleasure when they travel or are on holiday. So Ultimate Library was born to create inspiring and entertaining destination libraries in hotels and resorts, at the ‘point of need’.

  3. How do books compete with the instant gratification of mobile devices and social media?

    In the all consuming digital world, there is strong evidence to support the benefits of reading analogue books; in addition to the sensory experience of a ‘proper book’, the information goes in faster off the printed page. And recent research says 6 minutes reading reduces stress by up to 66% and helps sleep. Books are an aid to Wellness!.

  1. What three books would you love to peruse at Karma Dharamsala?

    In order to get a greater sense of place in Dharamsala I would be packing:
    VS Naipaul’s India Trilogy which includes a wonderful description of a pilgrimage in the area
    Sunil Khilnani Incarnations: A History of India in 50 Lives
    The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Wisdom

  2. Describe your perfect holiday read(s)?

    I often start with something light and diverting to whet the appetite; a bit like a canape. But as the noise of daily life recedes to a background hum the mind becomes more open to challenging reads that have the power to make you think deeply about life. A good perhaps more challenging read is part of the overall holiday experience and will stay with you.

 

Around The World With Karma Spa

As spring settles over Europe and our Asia resorts head toward high season, our Karma Spa team led by curator and wellness expert Judy Chapman have been busy preparing a perfect portfolio of wellness experiences at our resorts around the world. Not only that, but guests can now experience the consummate teaching skills of Karma Yoga Ambassador Ola Lirka in the comfort of their own homes via the Karma Group YouTube channel. Get your day off to an energised start with one of her perfectly pitched classes! For those of you planning trips in the coming weeks, here’s our round up of Spring offerings at Karma Spas around the world.

At Karma Kandara, guests can now treat themselves to Bespoke Wellness Vacations – choose your own adventure that’s equal parts healthy and pleasurable, combining your choice of daily spa treatments with yoga sessions, Infrared sauna and healthy breakfast and lunch offerings.

There’s nothing like soothing sounds to send you into states of deep relaxation. New to Karma Kandara is our Sound Bath by the Sea with conscious DJ Vanessa Holiday providing a sonic mental massage that will leave you in a state of bliss. Over at Karma Jimbaran, guests can benefit from a personal blessing from a Balinese Hindu Priest, taking part in a centuries old tradition that confers peace and positive Karma. You’ll head to the temple wearing a traditional sarong, where the Pedanda will bless you with flowers and holy water. Followed by 90 minutes of bliss via a 90-minute Balinese massage.

You can rely on the pure air of the Bavarian Alps to deliver that elusive elan vital: combine mountain hikes and lakeside walks with indulgent spa treatments, yoga sessions as well as sauna, steam and Jacuzzi at our revitalising Karma Bavaria resort. Disconnect to reconnect! If Aegean island escapes are more your speed, then head to Karma Minoan in Crete where we’re offering a complimentary yoga session with every 90-minute spa treatment – may we suggest yoga first, massage after! At Karma St. Martin‘s in the Isles of Scilly guests can enjoy a blissful 2 day / one night stay that combines a Scilly Salt Detox Scrub & Oil Experience and a 60 minute Sacred Lomi Lomi massage with a three course feast at Cloudesley Shovell restaurant that includes a half-lobster, daily breakfast and 20% off any further Karma Spa treatments.

As Europe looks toward summer, Australia is approaching the winter solstice and to celebrate Karma Rottnest brings you the Winter Solstice Retreat – the chance to look inside and take solace in quiet so that you’re rejuvenated and replenished for the gradual reemergence into spring. The two day retreat includes a sacred opening ceremony, sound meditation, daily yoga classes and healthful breakfasts, lunches and dinners. There are also a selection of two and three day spa escapes to choose from, with a range of spa rituals perfectly combining to leave you fully revitalized. Meanwhile, guests looking for a little spiritual orientation can partake of our Tea & Tarot sessions with Vasna Shalom, accompanied by bottomless cups of tea and a glass of bubbles to boot.

 

Beyond Chiang Mai’s City Limits, Natural Treasures Abound

Chiang Mai is not only the name of Thailand’s northern capital, but of the province it’s located in too – and it is home to some of the country’s finest natural attributes…

While no one would dispute Chiang Mai’s status as one of Thailand’s preeminent cultural destinations, the eponymous province of which it is the unofficial capital is full of world class national parks that are a must for nature lovers.

Chiang Mai province is a world of jungle clad mountains and cloud forest, rolling banks of mist and unique ethnic groups – the so called ‘hill tribes’ that populate the hinterlands of Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

When it comes to national parks, thee first stop for many visitors also happens to be among the most spectacular: Doi Inthanon is a protected mountain reserve and it is also Thailand’s highest peak, at 2565m. You don’t need to be a mountaineer to reach the peak – it is easily accessible by road so visitors can choose between minibus tours that take in many of the best attractions, or hiring a private car.

Just south of Chiang Mai is Ob Kahn National Park – a world of weathered limestone crags and river courses, studded with evergreen trees that one might not normally associate with Thailand. Besides hiking trails and picnic spots, there are lots of caves and hot springs to explore here. It’s proximity from Chiang Mai makes it an ideal day trip destination – and since it is less high profile than Doi Inthanon, it tends to be quieter too.

Karma Chang Chiangmai – Thailand →

 

KARMASPHERE

A Raft of New Resorts & Instant Service Both at Members Fingertips

The extent of destination experiences available with Karma membership continues to expand seemingly exponentially – in 2018 over 200 world class properties around the world became available for members to book through our External Exchange Program.

In addition, members can now instantly access Karma Odyssey Services through the Karma Group website: Simply click on the ”Chat” or “Log In” icon at the top right of the site and you can immediately speak directly with a member of the Odyssey team in real time.

This means you can connect with highly trained operators that understand your particular membership and can assist you in getting the most out of it. Thanks to our cutting edge Odyssey platform, our Karma Odyssey Navigators can assist with every kind of membership related enquiry and accessing information at the touch of a button. Simply put you get to book your next unforgettable holiday with ease and peace of mind!

Karma Group →

 

Welcome to your Personal Chef’s Table Experience

Do you consider yourself a bona fide gourmand? Is an excellent dinner up there among your most desired sensory experiences? Then you’ll definitely want to experience our brand new Chef’s Table offerings at Karma Kandara.

Our precociously talented chef Joseph Antonishek – named among the ‘Best Hotel Chefs of America’ by the James Beard Foundation and featured in publications like the New York Times – is bringing his culinary skills into the comfort of your private villa for an intimate dining experience where he provides a bespoke menu just for you and your guests. We sat down with Joseph to get some insights into what drove him to become a culinary stand out:

There’s huge interest in food and culinary creatives these days. Beyond the hype, what’s important in creating stand-out dining experiences?

Being present and focused! Cooking & creating dishes is just one aspect of being a chef. There is a whole business side to being a chef as well. Food cost, labor cost, vendor relations… all the stuff that isn’t romantic about being a chef – but is crucial. During service when cooking for guests, the most important thing is to be focused on what is happening right now at that very moment and putting everything you have into the dish you are cooking!

What are the most rewarding things for you about being a chef?

Being able to contribute to the memorable experiences that we create at Karma. People could be celebrating a birthday or just having a regular dinner – regardless, we turn the experience into an extra special event.. Being a chef allows for opportunity to make whatever experience people are seeking a memorable experience like no other through cuisine.

What’s special about the new Chef’s Table experience?

The Chef’s Table Experience is special because it gives the guest an opportunity to collaborate (within limitations) with the Chef in creating a customised dining experience. We start off by meeting a day or two in advance to discuss likes, dislikes, food allergies/ restrictions and previous memorable dining experiences. I use this information to create a surprise menu which is revealed on the occasion itself. So it’s a bit like an artist who is commissioned to do a portrait: the dining event is an expression of artistry consistent with the Mediterranean approach at di Mare, but that also reflects the individuals we’re creating for.

 

Watch as Normandy Bursts Into Riotous Colour This May…

Head to Normandy in May and June as France’s famed north westerly province springs to life. Besides exploring the regions spectacular coastline and rolling countryside dotted with farms, vineyards and centuries old villages, these early summer months see a number of notable events taking place as the fine weather settles in.

The annual Graines de Jardin festival takes place on 19 & 20 May. Over two days, the stunning Jardin des Plantes in the city of Rouen turns into a riot of colour and heady floral fragrances as growers from across the province gather to exhibit the dexterity of their green fingers.

Between 25 May and 16 June, the province also commemorates the legendary D-Day landings, when the allies successfully invaded occupied France, going on to drive out the Nazis. There are parades, concerts, talks and exhibitions across Normandy, including events at the legendary beaches such as Omaha, where the assault took place.

Join Karma Group at one of our new properties on the banks of the Seine River – Karma Manoir des Deux Amants and Karma Résidence Normand amid stunning rural surroundings that provide a quintessentially French experience!

Karma Manoir des Deux Amants, France →

 

Tuscan Classics at Karma Borgo Di Colleoli’s Newly Opened Restaurant Enoteca

Enoteca is open once again to celebrate the opening of the spring and summer season in Tuscany. Situated at one of our newest Europe residences, Karma Borgo di Colleoli in the heart Tuscany between Florence and Pisa, Enoteca serves authentic Tuscan fare using the freshest local ingredients, paired with a fine selection of Italian wines.

Prepare to be regaled with classic rustic Italian dishes like Bistecca Fiorentina – a thick and succulent cut of Porterhouse steak that legend has it centuries ago the dish was served by the Medici royals to English guests who shouted ‘Beef steak!’ with great approval hence the Italianate derivation, ‘Bistecca’ And of course, you can’t leave without trying the handmade pastas including the likes of Tagliolini al Tartufo Nero (Taglionini pasta with black truffle) or Pappardelle con Ragu di Cinghiale alla Toscana (Tuscan Pappardelle pasta with wild boar and ragu sauce).

Laid back lunches and lingering dinners are best accompanied with one of Enoteca’s ‘Super Tuscan’ varieties, including classic Chianti that’s soft as velvet & rich and plummy. We’re inviting members and guests to sample Enoteca’s classic flavours with a special offer of a free glass of Prosecco when you join us for lunch or dinner through Summer.

 

 

EXCLUSIVE OFFERS

 

We Have Our Member Survey Winners!

Congratulations to all those who participated in our survey last issue – all of the responses we received contribute to our efforts to ensure we’re providing you with the services you want. We’re excited to announce that our winners were given the choice of a free 7 nights holiday at Karma Mayura in Ubud, Bali or Karma Chang in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

COMPLIMENTARY
7 nights at Karma Mayura, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia


Mr. Robert White (UK)
Karma Group member
since 1996

Mr. & Mrs. Aditya Kishwar (India)
Karma Group members
since 2015

COMPLIMENTARY
7 nights at Karma Chang, Chiang Mai, Thailand


Mr. and Mrs. Morgan (Australia)
Karma Group members
since 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Thakore (India)
Karma Group members
since 2015

In addition, every member who participated received a special runners up prize of 7 nights at either of these properties for just US$99. We’re inviting all our members and guests to share their holiday experiences – Tag @Karma.Group along with #ExperienceKarma on Instagram or Facebook to automatically be eligible for entry in future contests. It really is good to stay in touch!

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