The high life: Ashley Graham shows off Etihad Airways suite

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US model Ashley Graham just co-hosted the Miss Universe pageant. (AFP)
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Ashley Graham at an event earlier this year. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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The high life: Ashley Graham shows off Etihad Airways suite

DUBAI: US celebrity model Ashley Graham was given VIP treatment on an Etihad Airways flight this week after she wrapped up hosting the Miss Universe 2018 pageant and jetted off on her winter holiday.

The model took to Instagram on Tuesday morning to share a video taken on her flight, saying “I’m in an airplane, in the air, headed to Dubai,” although the star could have meant Abu Dhabi as that’s where the flagship carrier of the UAE is based.

Graham flew in the residence suite, which features an on-board living room, separate bedroom and shower room.

The living room on the A380 aircraft boasts a leather double-seat sofa and two dining tables, along with a 32-inch flat screen TV. The hallway leads to a bedroom with a double bed and the shower room features a full-height shower and vanity unit. And if that isn’t enough, discerning travelers are also taken care of by a private butler, who appears in Graham’s video.

Graham posted the clip after touching down in a mystery holiday location, complete with blue skies and palm trees, which she posted about on her Instagram Stories.

It wasn’t her first time in the suite, however, as a few days earlier she took to Instagram to post a photo in which she can be seen in a bedroom aboard an Etihad Airways plane.

“You’re closer to your dreams when you sleep in the sky,” she captioned the photo.

The model is taking a well-deserved break after co-hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand. The competition, which wrapped up on Dec. 16, culminated in a glittering ceremony in which Miss Philippines was crowned as the winner.

Graham gave Miss Philippines Catriona Gray a run for her money in the fashion department, however, wearing a sequence of gorgeous gowns during the show’s closing ceremony. From a figure-hugging, high-necked white dress to an emerald green gown with a peek-a-boo cutout, Graham was as glamorous as the contestants themselves.

As for her trip with Etihad Airways, the model joins an A-list set of stars who have flown with the airline in recent months, including Pakistani-Lithuanian-Australian Victoria’s Secret beauty Shanina Shaik, who starred in a campaign video for the airline in October.


Booming Bangalore: India’s ‘It’ city

Updated 18 March 2019
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Booming Bangalore: India’s ‘It’ city

  • Yoga at the resort offers the chance for gentle self reflection
  • The chance for some simple, but delicious food is just around the corner

DUBAI: Officially called Bengaluru — though not by the locals — Bangalore, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka, is lauded as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ thanks to the presence of prestigious IT companies and a burgeoning technology sector. Once known for its sprawling gardens and lakes, today Bangalore is more easily identified by shiny shopping malls, hip restaurants and traffic-congested roads. But beyond the trappings of urban life, the city still surprises with refreshing spots where you can hit reset.

One such oasis of calm is Shreyas Retreat. This coconut farm turned yoga retreat, set amid 25 acres of lush greenery, is the real deal, and one of India’s best-kept secrets. Though probably not for long.

Experiences here revolve around ‘self-discovery’, but with a refined approach to wellness. An in-house doctor will prescribe treatments ranging from oil massages and herbal healing experiences based on Ayurveda — regarded as the world’s oldest medicinal system — to more modern remedies such as hydrotherapy. You can choose to stay in one of the poolside cottages strategically placed around the retreat’s central courtyard, with the 25-meter pool and heated jacuzzi on your doorstep, or be at one with nature in a charming Garden Tented Cottage, several of which are scattered across the grounds. They come complete with canopied roof and outdoor patio, offering incredible views.

Need some time to reflect, then try the resort's yoga sessions at the Shreyas Retreat. (Supplied) 

Guests can also join in group-yoga sessions in the morning and evening, deepen their meditation practice or lend a helping hand at the retreat’s organic gardens. If all seems too new-age for you, packages are entirely customizable and really do cater to everyone — from the blissed-out yogi and spa seeker, to curious foodies who want to learn more about Indian cuisine.

The retreat is also an inspiring base to explore nearby landscapes, with trekking trips and village visits easily arranged. If you’d like to plan your own thrills, the scenic Nandi Hills, Hogenakkal Falls (often called the Niagara Falls of India), and cultural hotspot Mysore are just a few hours drive away.

The Nandi Hills provide the more adventurous with some spectacular scenery. (File/Shutterstock)  

For unique attractions closer to the city, a day at Lalbagh Botanical Garden is one well spent. Sprawling across 240 acres in the heart of Bangalore, it started out in 1760 as the private garden of Mysore ruler Hyder Ali. The government-run garden is home to the largest collection of tropical plants in India and a popular spot for bird-watching. Visitors have plenty to take in, including a serene lake, bonsai garden, aviary, sculptures and more. Its best known feature is the centuries-old glass house — designed along the lines of London’s Crystal Palace — that plays host to bi-annual flower shows which attract thousands of visitors.

A short stroll away from Lalbagh is Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (or MTR as it’s more commonly known), established in 1924. This is a no-frills dining experience. Delicious steaming hot food is served on steel plates as patrons tear into crunchy dosas (savory pancakes) and soft idlis (steamed rice cakes). Make sure to order try the rava idli — made from semolina — which was invented by MTR during World War II when rice was in short supply.

Bangalore is home to a handful of world-class galleries, including the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). However, if you’re short on time, there’s only one name you need to remember – Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. Home to a respected college of fine arts, the complex is buzzing with art aficionados and curious tourists picking up unique souvenirs. There are 14 permanent museum galleries to explore here, as well as five rotating art galleries that blend the best of contemporary works alongside more traditional and Indian folk pieces. Afterwards, wander through the verdant grounds, following sand-swept paths and enjoying the city’s creative energy. Bangalore may be India’s digital heart, but it’s got soul.