Perfect Vacations: The great escape

For Mae Ballout of Ayana Slim Spa, a perfect vacation would be a complete getaway

For Mae Ballout of Ayana Slim Spa, a perfect vacation is one that would enable her to get away from it all -including her familial duties.

Personally, my ideal vacation would be a week-long spa indulgence where I completely pamper myself. It would be pure indulgence, short and sweet. A perfect holiday is when I'm not the personal assistant, luggage packer, photographer, laundress and tour coordinator."

Has she ever done that? "Only once - for my last birthday. When my husband asked me what it was that I wanted for my birthday, I said I would like to go away all by myself for a pure spa indulgence. He arranged that and I spent two nights at Burj al Arab while my husband took care of the kids. I came back completely refreshed."

Jokes apart, she says an ideal vacation is where the whole family has something to enjoy. In our family vacations are always planned and arranged by me.

One of the vacations all of us enjoyed a lot was a Mediterranean cruise we took two years ago. We flew from here to Zurich and then to Rome and the port of Cagliari to catch Star Libra, the cruise ship.

But the best part was Milan. We stayed for four days as I've cousins there - half Chinese, half Italian. I had never met them before. It was like meeting my long lost family and finding out that they too had all my little allergies and sensitivities.

They joked that finally they had found out which side of the genes was responsible for that. My cousins took us to places which tourists miss. We even went to restaurants in tiny alleyways where Mafiosi go for dinner. My daughter Alia and son Alawi thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

It was springtime so we gorged on artichokes and the most fabulous buffalo cheese. It's good to have family who can take you around. That worked well for shopping also as I could get good bargains, not the tourist prices.

But I'm sure Adib, my husband, enjoyed the visit to the barbershop the best. In Sicily he insisted on going to a barbershop for a shave. His reasoning was that after all the mafia movies how could he be in Sicily and not go to one of the barbershops!"

Perfect Vacations: The great escape
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