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Going Green by Going Blue

MD Staff

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As the leeward coast of Oahu’s first Blue Zones Approved worksite, Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina supports a national community movement inspired by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow who identified five regions of the world – or Blue Zones – with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older.

Brought to Hawaii through an innovative sponsorship by HMSA and Sharecare, Inc., Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to lifestyle, environment, policy and social networks.

One of the world’s original Blue Zones is Okinawa , which Buettner describes as “sort of a Japanese Hawaii.” For almost a thousand years, the Pacific archipelago has maintained a reputation for nurturing extreme longevity. The Okinawan sweet potato and one or two other staples are known to have sustained generations for thousands of years, in the same way taro has sustained generations of Hawaiians.

A focus of the movement is that food and lifestyle decisions should flow from the environment. Communities naturally benefit from the impact of sustainable change – in significant medical cost savings, productivity improvements, increased economic vitality and lowered obesity and smoking rates. Ultimately, the result is a better quality of life.

“No one person can create a Blue Zone but in the case of Four Seasons, more than 750 people collectively can make a difference,” says Joseph Hodnette, Director of People and Culture at the Resort.

As a triathlete, Hodnette is passionate about creating an environment that encourages healthy eating and an active lifestyle, on a part of the island where fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available and the rugged beauty of Oahu’s western coastline is only steps away.

In Ko Olina, Four Seasons launched a Blue Zones Project initiative called “The Polu Project” (polu meaning Blue in Hawaiian). The Resort joined with other community partners in west Oahu to create a kickoff event called Kupuwai | Cultivating Healthy Communities, featuring plant-based cooking demonstrations using native Hawaiian ingredients, gardening workshops with indigenous plants, cultural games, children’s activities and more.

As a Blue Zones Project Approved worksite and first Four Seasons location nationwide to be recognised as so, the Resort has implemented several features to optimise health and well-being. These include a weekly Farmer’s Market with nearby Kahumana Farms, employee yoga classes, healthy food options in the employee restaurant, a new mother’s area where moms can express and store breast milk, easy access to walking, biking and other fitness programs, and locations with self monitoring health equipment including scales and blood pressure monitoring systems.

The focus on sustainability extends to procurement and community building initiatives. Sourcing ecologically friendly products is a priority. Paper straws have replaced plastic straws throughout the Resort. The goal in food services is to use 100 percent compostable and biodegradable product.

“The challenge is for eco-friendly suppliers to meet demand,” says Four Seasons Oahu’s Director of Food & Beverage Martin Knaubert. “Supplier preference is often given to mandated states and cities but we are committed to making a long term impact in the Hawaiian Islands.”

Buying local fish and whole produce is part of the solution and Four Seasons is reaching out to other restaurants to share information about what the Blue Zones Project can do in serving Hawaii communities, from kitchen composting to patronage of local farms.

In shaping the restaurant concepts and menus at Four Seasons, Executive Chef Richard Polhemus is inspired by the many farmers and fishermen on the island. The culinary team at Four Seasons Resort Oahu works directly with island fishermen and farmers along the Waianae coast, sourcing and serving the freshest quality ingredients sourced just miles from the Resort.

“Food needs to be true to itself and relevant to where it comes from. One should be able to smell the soil where the carrot was grown. That’s how close it should be,” Polhemus says.

Spa options further accentuate the wellness focus. Treatment choreographies at Naupaka Spa draw inspiration from a rich healing history at Ko Olina that dates back centuries.  Annually each June, Four Seasons celebrates Global Wellness Day. On Oahu, programs include free morning yoga, lomi-lomi (massage) workshops and poi and taro inspired culinary options.

Each September, Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina presents Race Ko Olina, with an emphasis on family fitness, inviting adults to test their endurance in a Sprint Triathlon or 10K and 5K runs, with an Aquathlon and 1K Run for keiki. Registration fees support Kapiolani Medical Center.

“The programming intention is holistic,” says Four Seasons General Manager Charlie Parker. “Travellers are looking for immersive, transformative experiences. This can only come from a Resort-wide focus on sustainability and wellbeing, shared by our employees. The philosophy is to leave a better world for generations to come.”

Travel & Leisure

Discover Jordan’s Timeless Beauty

MD Staff

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With its ancient ruins, lush valleys, and dramatic desert landscapes, Jordan is a nation steeped in history. Renowned as the birthplace of some of the world’s earliest civilizations, the country remains one of the Middle East’s most remarkable destinations – as reflected by its inclusion on Lonely Planet’s recent list of the Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2019. Jordan placed at #6 on the annual list of ten countries primed to capture travellers’ imaginations, and was the only country in the region to receive this prestigious accolade.

With its central location in Jordan’s capital city close to upmarket residential areas, Four Seasons Hotel Amman offers the ideal base for discerning travellers seeking to explore the Kingdom’s myriad attractions. Enjoying a commanding position on the highest of Amman’s seven hills, the 15-storey Hotel is a beacon of elegance at the heart of one of the region’s most welcoming cities. The historic sites of Petra and Wadi Rum, the spectacular landscape of the Jordan Valley and the storied waters of the Dead Sea are all within easy reach, with the knowledgeable Four Seasons concierge team happy to make arrangements for guests to enjoy an array of exciting excursions.

Carlo Stragiotto, General Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Amman, says, “Jordan’s inclusion on Lonely Planet’s list of Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2019 is a timely recognition of the countless unique experiences this wonderful country has to offer visitors. With its fascinating historical attractions and abundance of outdoor adventures, the Kingdom has taken its place among the region’s most treasured destinations. Four Seasons Hotel Amman is the perfect sanctuary from which to discover this beautiful country. Our dedicated concierge team take great delight in crafting bespoke itineraries as unique as our guests, helping to ensure that every stay creates cherished memories to last a lifetime.”

See Amman in a Fresh Light

Home to almost half of the Kingdom’s population, the Jordanian capital of Amman is a city of fascinating contrasts. The vibrant metropolis occupies a hilly area on the edge of the fertile Jordan Valley, where visitors will find modern buildings, hotels, restaurants, art galleries and boutique stores sitting side-by-side with reminders of the city’s ancient past. Its charming tree-lined streets and avenues are flanked by picturesque rows of white houses clad with Jordanian limestone. The city is perhaps best known for its spectacular Roman ruins, with the famous Amman Citadel attracting visitors from across the globe. This storied enclave features the Temple of Hercules, Umayyad Palace and the ruins of a 6th century Byzantine church, together with the Jordan Archaeological Museum where travellers can view a collection of artefacts that date back to the Bronze Age.

Four Seasons Hotel Amman invites guests to embark on an Extraordinary Experience with a unique opportunity to explore this beguiling city in the company of Zohrab Markarian, a former official palace photographer whose work has been published in prestigious magazines around the world. Markarian will guide budding photographers on a tour of Amman’s top landmarks, including the Old Souk and the 2,000-year-old Roman Theatre. This is followed by a stop at the Citadel in the heart of Old Amman, which offers a perfect opportunity to capture the beauty of the surrounding mountain landscape. The tour concludes with stunning views of Old Amman’s architecture and a traditional Jordanian tea in the artistic heart of the city. Throughout this incredible journey, Markarian will share photography tips and local insights, all while capturing picture-perfect mementoes of the experience.

Embark on an Unforgettable Visit to Historic Petra

Chosen as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, a trip to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan transports visitors back in time to the era of the Nabatean Empire. Home to an estimated 20,000 inhabitants, the city prospered thanks to its location on the Spice Road, one of the key trading routes connecting Arabia, Africa and India to the West. The incredible carved rock faces of the ancient city offer a fascinating glimpse of this early civilisation’s prosperity and advanced architectural methods. Must-see attractions include the iconic Treasury, the Street of Facades, the Royal Tombs and the Great Temple.

Explore the Majestic Desert Landscape at Wadi Rum

Discover the allure of the desert at the Wadi Rum protected desert reserve. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum is famous for its red-pink sands, endless shifting dunes and dramatic mountain landscape. The area has served as a location in countless movies, and is home to many Nabatean temples, inscriptions and rock drawings. Located around four hours from Amman, the Four Seasons team can arrange a captivating day out to this beautiful destination.

Visit Aqaba, the Jewel of the Red Sea

Located in the south of Jordan, Aqaba is the Kingdom’s only coastal city and a highly popular spot among diving enthusiasts. The area off the coast is home to more than 25 dive sites encompassing vibrant coral gardens, pinnacles, deep canyons and shipwrecks, including many unusual vessels. Its warm clear waters and colourful reefs are considered the finest in the Red Sea. A short walk from the bustling waterfront, the city’s old town area captures an authentic taste of old Arabia with its traditional souqs, historic sites and charming cafés.

Travel to the Lowest Point on Earth

One of Jordan’s most famous visitor attractions, the Dead Sea is a salt lake whose banks are more than 400 metres (1,300 feet) below sea level – making it the lowest point on dry land globally. The high concentration of salts in its water offer a unique experience, as the saline waters provide increased buoyancy, making it easy to float on the surface. The mineral-rich mud found in the area is also renowned for its therapeutic qualities and a popular ingredient for high-end cosmetic treatments. The legendary body of water is surrounded by mountains to the east and the rolling hills of Jerusalem to the west, creating a stunning environment in which to enjoy a swim like no other.

Experience Rural Jordan Off the Beaten Track

Connect to authentic local experiences around the historical town of Um Qais, which sits in close proximity to the ruins of ancient Gadara and overlooks the Lake of Tiberias and the Yarmouk River gorge. The town is around two hours north from Four Seasons Hotel Amman, and the Hotel’s concierge team can arrange a comfortable vehicle for guests to enjoy a leisurely trip through the scenic countryside. Located in the hills above the Jordan Valley, Um Qais offers an abundance of hiking, cycling and camping activities. For the ultimate return to nature, Four Seasons Hotel Amman can arrange a special camping getaway where guests can spend an unforgettable night under the stars.

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Travel & Leisure

Ten Little Known Facts About the Moscow Metro

MD Staff

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Since the recent redesign of the Metro navigational system and map, it has become a lot easier to use the subway. With ambitious projects in the works and the addition of many new stations, the Moscow Metro is developing at high speed. To help you discover this cultural gem, Four Seasons Hotel Moscow prepared a list of ten little known facts about Moscow Metro:

Moscow subway is famous for its underground architecture: 44 of more than 200 stations are listed as cultural heritage sites. Each day thousands of people go underground to touch the live history. If you are up to it, our concierge team will be happy to arrange a metro tour for you.

Did you know that Moscow Metro is the world record holder for on-time departures and arrivals? It is quite impressive since the interval between trains during rush hour is only 40 seconds.

There are different types of tickets. The most convenient is the Troyka electronic card which can be used in any public transport of Moscow. You can load the card with any sum you like, or purchase a one-time ticket called Edinyi.

In the run-up-to the Football World Cup 2018 most of the Metro’s cashiers attended English language courses. So, if you spot the We Speak English sticker, the cashiers would happy to assist you in English.

Recently a new project Music in Metro was introduced. It opens new opportunities for street musicians to share their talents with public while making it more fun and interesting for people to use public transport.

Moscow Metro also wows with the location of its stations. For example, Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory) is the only metro station in the world which is located on a bridge. We highly recommend a visit to this place as it offers a fascinating view over the Moskva River, Luzhniki Stadium, and Moscow State University.

At Vystavochnaya station you will find Moscow Metro Museum. If you prefer to learn a little bit more about subway history, you could ask our concierge team for directions.

The capital’s underground world has an old interesting superstition: if you rub the nose of the bronze dog sculpture on Ploshchad Revolyutsii station, good luck will follow you in all undertakings. This spot is conveniently located just in a few steps from Four Seasons Hotel Moscow.

Metro Night is a fantastic new project which makes it possible to transform any subway station into the platform for cultural events or art performances. Previously Mayakovskaya station hosted the premiere of the first episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones.

In 2016 a new Moscow Metro line was launched. Moscow Central Circle was built above ground to service areas lacking public transportation. Take a ride on the MCC if you are a fan of non-touristic sights.

To make it more convenient for you to use Moscow Metro Four Seasons Hotel Moscow concierge team created a special subway map with the most beautiful and interesting stations highlighted so you would be able to explore with confidence by yourself.

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Travel & Leisure

10 Reasons to Visit Bengaluru

MD Staff

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Bengaluru, also known as Bangalore, is the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state. The nerve centre of India’s high-tech industry, the city is also notable for its abundant green parks. Known both as India’s Garden City and its Silicon Valley, this cosmopolitan city beguiles with its blend of rich history and 21st-century buzz. While the old palaces and forts bear testimony to Bengaluru’s cultural stronghold, new destinations such as Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru, with its modern outlook and design, ring in the new. The city is certainly at a cross-road and these are our top 10 reasons to visit this prize destination in Southern India.

Weather: Its temperate climate is one the biggest reasons Bengaluru is on everyone’s top places to visit. With temperatures rising around the world, Bangaloreans can still boast of pretty great weather all year round and even on the hottest days, a cool breeze is a pleasant reprieve. April is the hottest month in Bengaluru with an average temperature of 86°F (30°C) and the coldest is December at 73°F (23°C).

Greenery: Though old timers will reminisce about the good old Garden City days, Bengaluru still has an impressive green expanse. Choose from the city’s central breathing space Cubbon Park or the shaded Lalbagh, where an annual flower show is something to look forward to.

Performing Arts – Visit Nrityagram Dance Village for a never seen before experience. Set up by Protima Bedi, this place is a different world of its own. The residential school offers training in Indian classical dance forms – including Odissi, Mohiniattam, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Manipuri.

Art Scene – Trawl the art galleries and be transported to a magical place. National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), the expansive white structure located on Palace Road, exudes a certain kind of warmth, yet has its own special aura. With all its greenery, the campus is nothing less than an oasis. After you are done with seeing the massive collection on display or an ongoing exhibition, enjoy sitting under the flourishing trees including sandalwood, raintrees and banyan.

Beer: After all, this is the true pub capital of India and has a whole bunch of microbreweries with excellent craft beer. With its great artisanal brews Bengaluru is a beer lovers’ paradise. The former Pub City is now vying for the title of brewery capital of India.

Food: Name a cuisine and you will find it in Bengaluru, from modern and exotic to traditional South Indian flavours. Choose from crisp dosas or perfect pizzas, sushi to street food. The bustling gastronomy of the city is sure to leave you delighted. Food trails in the old parts of the city such as Malleswaram and Basavangudi are reminiscent of yester years. Follow these trails with a steaming cup of frothy South Indian filter coffee at Brahmin’s Café.

Architecture: Spanking new high rises dot Bengaluru’s skyline showcasing the best in modern architectural design juxtaposed with heritage buildings such as the Bangalore Palace and Vidhana Soudha. If art and design is your thing, then Bengaluru should be on your list of must visit destinations. Palaces like Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace and Bangalore Fort stand as testimony to the cultural heartbeat of the city.

Weekend Getaways: Bengaluru enjoys the perfect location, just a few hours’ drive (on excellent roads) around pristine hills and forests. Drive down to Mysore city and explore the architecture, or head to Coorg for an invigorating weekend on the coffee estates. Enjoy some thrills? Then take a safari and try to spot one of India’s big cats in their natural habitat.

Shopping: From malls with the best in high street brands to small boutiques and flea markets, Bengaluru has enough to keep even the most determined shopaholic occupied for hours. Scout for fragrant spices, sparkling trinkets on Commercial Street and soak up the luxe environs of UP City of Phoenix Mall.

Nightlife: Excellent food and drinks bolstered by foot thumping music is Bengaluru’s USP, walk into the city’s popular watering holes and you may strike up conversations with an eclectic mix of people, from CEOs to students, IT professionals and start up gurus. The perfect setting for an unforgettable time.

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