Ian Swain Sr

  • The Jackalope in Mornington Peninsula

    We traveled to the Jackalope in the rolling hills of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria to see if the hotel lived up to its mythical namesake. We were not disappointed.
    Jackalope Vineyard | Photo Credit: Jackalope

    Jackalope Vineyard | Photo Credit: Jackalope

    Jackalope Hotel

    Appropriately, a large sculpture of the part-hare, part-deer mythical creature greeted my wife Linda and I when we arrived at the Jackalope Hotel. The property, set amid a lush vineyard and green hills, is where such a creature would thrive. The views from the pool and bar are breathtaking. Linda and I lingered there, enjoying bar service and watching the sunset. We headed back to our room where the views were just as remarkable. Be sure to book one of the rooms overlooking the vineyard or consider one their larger “Lair” suites.

    Rare Hare | Photo Credit: Jackalope

    Rare Hare | Photo Credit: Jackalope

    There are are two outstanding restaurants to choose from; the Doot, Doot, Doot and the Rare Hare. The Doot, Doot, Doot, which means a herd of Jackalopes, offers a 5 course tasting menu featuring local produce and wines. The Rare Hare provides casual fare in a relaxed atmosphere. We chose Doot, Doot, Doot for our first night and sipped on some cocktails at the elaborately decked out bar.
    Mornington Peninsula | Photo Credit: Visit Victoria

    Mornington Peninsula | Photo Credit: Visit Victoria

    Mornington Peninsula

    The next morning, we left with our guide from Melbourne Private Tours to enjoy a Foodies Journey through the Mornington Peninsula. Starting at the Green Olive, we met with the chef/owners Greg and Sue. They walked us around the property as we picked the ingredients for our lunch. And then it was back to the kitchen to find a bottle of wine from local labels the Old Apple Shed and Ten Minutes by Tractor. We rolled out dough and made some fantastic pizzas that were absolutely delicious. After, we hit the road for two more wine tastings and some dramatic views of Port Phillip Bay.

    We concluded our stay at the Jackalope with a meal at the Rare Hare the following night. Large communal benches comprise the seating at the Rare Hare which makes conversation easy. We enjoyed our small, casual dishes and chatted with some new acquaintances. In the end, we were sad to bid farewell to our friendly Jackalope before we headed into town.

    Jackalope | Photo Credit: Jackalope

    Jackalope | Photo Credit: Jackalope

    Want to experience the Jackalope for yourself? Check out these itineraries featuring the hotel.

    October 3, 2019 • Australia, Ian Swain Sr, Property Highlights, Travels • Views: 462

  • My Birthday in Cambodia and Thailand

    First Stop: Cambodia

    Queen's Palace - Siem Reap

    Queen’s Palace – Siem Reap

    My family set off and flew to Cambodia! Upon arrival we connected to Siem Reap where we had arrived in time for my birthday. My plan was to have something special most days. The night of my birthday – we are staying at Amansara – they assisted in creating a memorable night. The night began with us hosting a giant shadow puppet show to the small children of a village close by. It was great to be surrounded by such happiness as this was the first time they had seen this show. Then we went to one of the ancient temples, where hundreds of candles lined the path to guide us through the maze to a dinner set up with rugs, great food and wine and a fortune teller. Looking at the stars in this 1000-year-old temple was magic.

    Amansara

    Amansara

    On to Thailand

    We then moved to Chiang Rai and the Four Seasons Tented Camp. Here, the general manager at the time, Jason, helped with a special dinner in the elephant camp. What a thrill to be there after dark with these massive animals! They had surprised me by releasing 51 Kongmings (sky lanterns) in my honor.  What a thrill to see these candles helping me celebrate for the next 50 years in the sky.

    A private cooking lesson at the Lanna Cooking School in Four Seasons Chiang Mai followed where we all enjoyed learning more about Thai Cooking.

    Food in Thailand

    Food in Thailand

    We finished our trip in Bangkok and took small boats along the canals. We visited the grand palace and temples, and dined amongst the stars at Sirocco.

    Thailand and Cambodia are such special places with wonderful resorts to stay in and enjoy the culture in luxury.

    Chiang Mai Temples

    Chiang Mai Temples

    November 19, 2018 • Asia, Ian Swain Sr, Property Highlights, Travels • Views: 880

  • Get Festive in New South Wales

    Vivid Sydney

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    The weather in Sydney in May is absolutely beautiful and the addition of  Vivid Sydney enhances your stay. Vivid Sydney is the world’s largest festival of light, showcasing innovation and creativity across the iconic city. The Sydney skyline, harbor, Opera House and bridge all come alive with bright light installations each night during the festival. This spectacle of light and music transforms the city into an artistic wonderland. You can even view from a private boat on the harbor! I would add an extra day in Sydney to experience it.

    Crystallise Light Installation | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Crystallise Light Installation | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Magicians of the Mist | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Magicians of the Mist | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    New Year’s Eve in Sydney

    New Year's Eve Fireworks | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    New Year’s Eve Fireworks | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    It was my first New Year’s Eve in Sydney, and knowing I would soon be climbing the bridge, sailing under it and seeing the world’s most spectacular fireworks display, had my adrenaline surging. The evening begins cruising around Sydney Harbour for a few hours enjoying champagne and the view. Then, they serve dinner after the first round of mesmerizing fireworks. Finally, right at midnight, the second round of fireworks begins which lasted much longer. The finale could not be put into words. New Year’s Eve in Sydney exceeded my expectations.

    Sydney Harbour Fireworks | Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Sydney Harbour Fireworks | Photo Credit: Ian Swain II

    Opera House on New Year's Eve | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Opera House on New Year’s Eve | Photo Credit: Destination New South Wales

    Handa on the Opera

    Sydney Opera House | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Sydney Opera House | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Imagine sitting on the edge of the park in the Royal Botanical Gardens, with Opera Australia performing on a floating stage and the famed Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the back drop. Each year the performance changes! I suggest taking the VIP package with access to the lounge before and during the intermission. This is not an event to be missed!

    Hosh Carmen Dancer | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Hosh Carmen Dancer | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Madama Butterfly | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    Madama Butterfly | Photo Credit: Opera Australia

    May 23, 2018 • Articles, Australia, Destinations, Ian Swain Sr, Travels • Views: 3404

  • My First New Year’s Eve in Sydney

    As soon as I landed in Sydney, I felt the energy of the city all around me. As I looked out of the plane window, I saw the Iconic Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the suburbs fringing the water. It gave me a strong sense of belonging. And knowing I would soon be climbing the bridge, and sailing under it, let alone seeing the world’s most spectacular fireworks display, had my adrenaline surging. It was my first New Year’s Eve in Sydney!

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination NSW/Ethan Rohloff

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination NSW/Ethan Rohloff

    Exploring Sydney

    A short drive brought me to my city hotel, and a friendly “G’day” from the doorman and reception staff made me feel at home. Right away, I wanted to get out and explore. I walked to Circular Quay, watched the ferries and viewed the myriad of people from all over the planet enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. The outdoor cafés beckoned me in for a traditional Aussie beverage and a delicious meat pie.

    I couldn’t help but stare at the Opera House, and to my left at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I was so lucky to be spending New Year’s Eve in Sydney. The world’s greatest fireworks display was only several hours away, but now there was time to discover the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens just a few hundred yards away. I was also able to take a leisurely walk through the historic Rocks area. This is the place where the first English settlers landed over 200 years ago!

    Sydney Harbour Bridge | Photo Credit: Destination Tourism Australia

    Sydney Harbour Bridge | Photo Credit: Tourism Australia

    The New Year’s Eve in Sydney Celebration

    It was finally time to prepare for the night ahead, casual clothes were the instructions. Then I met my fellow revelers for a short coach ride to the dock, where the 100-foot luxury motor yacht awaited.

    With a glass of champagne waiting on the boat, I eagerly walked the gangway. Ben the Skipper, renowned for knowing the best spot to be on the harbor for the fireworks display, greeted us with a warm Aussie welcome.

    The DJ had the music going, champagne was flowing and everyone checked out the fly bridge, aft saloon, the bow and the main saloon. We were all trying to decide where to be at 9 pm for the first round of fireworks. The appetizers served by the crew were scrumptious! After two hours of cruising the Sydney Harbour and glimpsing the high-priced houses with the amazing views, we settled into where Ben felt the best viewing would be. He was correct! We were right in the center, surrounded by hundreds of other vessels, all shrieking with delight as the fireworks started. The entire boat was taking selfies, but mostly just watching in awe.

    Sydney Opera House | Photo Credit: Tourism Australia

    Sydney Opera House | Photo Credit: Tourism Australia

    Gearing Up for the Main Event

    Right after this spectacle ended, dinner was served downstairs in the main saloon. There were several delightful beef and chicken dishes, fresh vegetables, salads and an array of ways to prepare sandwiches. There was also a fantastic seafood selection with fresh fish and Sydney Rock Oysters. This made for a beautifully prepared and truly well-enjoyed meal.

    Ben, in the meantime, had been cruising and edging his way to the front of the pack so we would have a splendid view of the Harbour Lights Parade. As the 20 or so decorated boats made their way around, we were right in the front of the other viewing boats. We had an unobstructed view of the main event, the fireworks at midnight.

    Like the earlier fireworks display, they were fantastic! The second round lasted much longer and the finale could not be put into words. New Year’s Eve in Sydney exceeded my expectations.

    Remembering these wonderful times makes me extend my hand to you. Come and join me this New Year’s Eve, and experience this for yourself. It will be one of those events you will remember for a lifetime.

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination NSW

    Sydney Harbour | Photo Credit: Destination NSW

     

    July 25, 2017 • Articles, Australia, Destinations, Ian Swain Sr • Views: 3267

  • Experiencing Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses

    As I flew into Blenheim from Auckland over the small islands that start the South Island of New Zealand, the lush green countryside began to unfold amongst the crystal clear water, separating the finger-like peninsulas jutting out. Budget had my car ready and off I drove for the 70 mile journey to Kaikoura. It is amazing how this coastline is almost as untouched as it was when the Maoris first came here; a real treat. As I approached, the Treehouses and Lodge at Hapuku Lodge came into sight. Continue Reading

    April 9, 2015 • Bloggers, Destinations, Ian Swain Sr, New Zealand • Views: 5215

  • Mandarin Oriental, An Exclusive Taipei Experience

    As we arrived at the Taipei international airport, we could tell we were close to the tropics as the warmth enveloped us immediately. We made it to customs hall where quite a line awaited us, but it went very quickly as the officers efficiently processed the visitors. We were immediately met outside by the Mandarin Oriental greeter who ushered us to their waiting Mercedes which quickly headed off to the hotel. Continue Reading

    September 29, 2014 • Articles, Asia, Ian Swain Sr, Travels • Views: 8743