Monday, February 23, 2015

Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa Penang: Rasa Premier Room (A Hotel by Shangri La)


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The name Rasa Sayang is not unfamiliar to most Penangites, as it is one of the most, or rather, the most luxurious and highly rated lavish hotel on the island known as the Pearl of the Orient.

Located along the winding coastal road of Batu Ferringhi, this hotel has indeed stood the test of time with its existence since the early days and continue to strive to uplift its reputation.

Rasa Sayang is dear to the hearts of most tourists who love the island, and even to the locals, this is the pride of the island, with its beautiful landscape and the modest opulence yet maintaining the grandeur of this warm residence landmark which never fails to court many, including the locals themselves into its embrace.

Since undergoing a major facelift over the past few years (or decade), the hotel continues to shine as the local favorite landmark of class and luxury, and has even upgraded its facilities/grounds to invite their guests to indulge in their resort lifestyle and comfortable spa facilities designed to free their guests of the daily stress and bustle of their routines.

Named after one of the local favorite folk song so dear to the Malaysians' hearts, Rasa Sayang means "the feeling of love" and it is exactly this that the resort aims to achieve; to make their guests feel comfortable and loved during their stay.
From hotel to resort, Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa vows to fulfill the expectations of their guests to make them enjoy every moment of their stay, and to make them feel just like they would in the comforts of their home.

I have known this place since I was a kid, and it is definitely also a place dear to my heart. I loved to see that the efforts made by the management to uphold their standards and name, and that they remain as one of the most loved hotels/resorts on the island.

Sometimes it may seem weird that locals would book into a resident hotel; when they reside on the island themselves but it is a thing in the past as people are more experimental these days.
Also, what could be better than experiencing one's loved culture than to start with one's own background to be better spokesperson for one's hometown?

Furthermore, it is good to boost our own economy or tourism at the same time, especially with the rising costs of living these days.
Many may not be able to have the luxury to travel overseas for a vacation; perhaps due to financial, or the more logical is due to the logistics and work where they may not be able to go on a long escape and sometimes a weekend away is all they could come up with.
Local indulgence in a nearby resort could sometimes be the solution.
Also a resort like this, can even make one forget they are in the comforts of their backyard and just so close to home as the feeling is so much like being overseas yet enjoying the warm hospitality of home.

Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa was on my weekend list for getaway recently, having been there for a quiet and simple celebration with my hubby.
This is definitely not a paid review, nor an invited one as it was purely a personal visit and to check in for relaxation.

I was in for a pleasant experience, in fact, I enjoyed my stay so much that I almost forgot to take photos of most of my experiences.
(It shows how much of a vacation I truly need *grins sheepishly*)
At the same time, I was also in between being sick; a major virus which really bugged me for more than a month.

There are two wings in the resort; the Rasa Wing and the Garden Wing.

The Garden Wing has been recently refurbished and offers families a great view of the natural greenery of the gardens, pool and even the sea, as its name suggests.

The Rasa Wing, is a more private and exclusive part of the resort, offering more privacy to the guests on the other side of the resort.

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There is another lobby for the Rasa Wing guests to check into, and welcome drinks will be provided upon arrival; a glass of refreshing nutmeg juice (a true symbol of Penang's favorite local produce).

The rooms in the Rasa Wing are more spacious; designed for the guests' comfort in mind and also privacy.
Guests in this wing are entitled to their own swimming pools in the wing too; which is restricted to mostly adults and above young adults above 16 years of age. They can also access the pool in the Garden Wing which is accessible to everyone including children.

The ambience in the Rasa Wing is maintained well; minimizing interruption and disturbances to ensure the comfort of the guests.
Children are required to be under the supervision of their parents/adults at all times for their safety as well.

The rooms in Rasa Wing are categorized into the following:-
Rasa Superior
Rasa Deluxe
Rasa Premier
Rasa Deluxe Suite
Rasa Premier Suite

There are sometimes seasonal promotional offers for these rooms, and there can be upgrades too.

I had the luxury to try out the Rasa Premier room; and I was truly spoilt to the very core, I mean, pampered with the luxuries of the space and the comfortable settings with all the complete amenities and facilities that I might as well have left all my toiletries back home.
(Technically speaking, I could still drive back to get some of my stuffs which I had forgotten, but Rasa Sayang just did not give me any reason to).

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The King Size bed set up in the room was definitely welcoming and makes one struggle to get out of bed in the morning, even for someone like me, who is always excited to wake up early in the morning.
There is the turndown service and bedroom slippers will be prepared when guests go out for dinner, all compliments to the hotel staff who will go to make the effort to make sure that one can have a good rest when they are back from their dinner.
Water bottles will also be prepared beside the table; it is such a thoughtful effort from the hotel!

There is also a welcoming Fruits platter on the coffee table for the guests upon check-in, and while I thought this was only the first day, the resort surprised me by refilling it ever single day!
I love that they are taking such care of my well-being by stuffing with fruits, an act of kindness which I definitely appreciate :-)

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The bathroom is another captivating factor, especially for me, for I personally adore large spaces for bathrooms. Okay, I can still deal with small bathrooms but the space, oh the space, leaves so much for one to even dance while brushing teeth, washing face or even in shower!

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There is an automated sliding blind for the privacy while at the same time, offering that open concept to view the bathroom from the bed. It is truly a bold and romantic insight encapsulated within the premier room.

The spacious shower room; complete with three types, yes, you read that right, Three Types of shower to ensure that enjoyable shower experience.
It makes one reluctant to step away from the shower room, honestly, can they spoil us any further?

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Towels are in ample supply, and there are so much space for storage and they were so thoughtful to even put a bench on the other side of the hand shower area.

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Rain showers are always welcoming and refreshing if you really want to get one good soaking shower!

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Toiletries are all carefully placed with much thought within the reach while one is in the shower room, and strategically located too.
There is still space left for the guests' own toiletries too, if one is not much into the idea of using other types of toiletries and more comfortable with their own.

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Toothbrushes, comb, shaver, shower cap, cotton buds and pads, and even hair band is provided.
Is there anything else we need from home?
Of course, ladies definitely need their own bag of skincare products, but they have gotten the basics covered.

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Dressing room/area is well-designed and located adjacent, or directly facing the bathroom.
There is again that spacious area and also the area is designed to be within its own privacy, clearly set apart from the rest of the room for one to dress up and get ready.

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Lizard-motifs on the handles of the wardrobe and drawers rule the theme of most of the furniture in the room.
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Fridge and Kitchen cabinet area

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We definitely know the concept or meaning of the Tudung Saji, for its Malaysian roots but this is a good concept to introduce some of our local stuffs/trademarks to the visiting tourists.
A thoughtful idea, again, from the resort to promote the local culture to non-Malaysians.

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Complimentary drinks and snacks stocked in the fridge for the guests, but non-refillable.
Still this is rather a rare gesture from our hotels, and I am sure most guests would welcome it especially when they wake up hungry at night.

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Another interesting gesture from the resort is the use of glass bottles for the drinking water, an act to conserve the nature by recycling these bottles rather than the throwing away plastic bottles, which could amount to millions in a  year.
I love this idea, and the bottles too!
I applaud the resort for going to such lengths to promote and give back to the nature.

Note: Please do not bring these bottles home, cute and attractive as they are, for that would destroy the purpose of the conservation the resort is trying to promote.

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A mini kitchen cabinet to store the mugs, drinking classes, coasters and spoons and again, there is still space for one to store additional stuffs.

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There is also a large working desk with a wall-mounted adjustable LCD television, which can be oriented to face the bed and one can snuggle into the bed while enjoying their movies.
For the Rasa Premier room guests, there is also the complimentary request of movie DVDs from the concierge (based on selected titles) for viewing in the room.
The working desk is also equipped with stationery for the working executives, or those who simply have to work during their vacation *winks*

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If you are not blown away by the space and the facilities yet, there is still more, for the Rasa Premier room has its own outdoor bathtub and a spa bath can be set up at the guest's request for only a minimal fee.

The private balcony and the bath is the answer to blissful indulgence while on vacation.

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The room is not the only one with the space as the balcony is also offering a generous width for one to wander around while enjoying the serene scenery from the comforts of their room.
A comfortable couch is also available for one to relax in, overlooking the gardens.

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There is also a dining table set on the balcony, for couples to enjoy dining or just chatting by the balcony.
A romantic dinner setting in the room can also be prepared on the balcony upon request.

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Rasa Wing guests are privileged to enjoy multiple meals in a day, just like the Garden wing as well as Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa ensures that none of their guests would be left starving throughout their stay.
There is no time to worry or watch one's waist, though they have the gym for that reason, and the swimming pool and an assortment of physical outdoor activities.

From the welcoming drinks to the fruits platter in the room, Rasa Wing guests are also entitled to the pre-dinner cocktail treats which allows guests to indulge in a free flow of alcoholic cocktails, wines (red, white and sparkling/bubbly) and even juices, coffee and tea, along with an array of canap├ęs or finger bites.

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Available from 5.30pm - 7.00pm, this is bound to attract most of the guests in this wing for it is a nice time to relax in the Rasa Lounge while waiting for dinner.
The Rasa Lounge is only accessible to the Rasa Wing guests; complimentary and a dress code is also required where guests are requested to be in smart casuals while in the lounge.

The Rasa Lounge also offers complimentary non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day; starting from 7am - 11pm.

Afternoon tea is also available; complimentary to Rasa Wing guests from 3pm-4pm, with offerings of mouth watering pastries, cakes and sandwiches to tempt the guests' palates.

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This is indeed indulgence at its peak, and the generous assortment of food is bound to stuff anyone to the fullest, leaving little space for dinner or any other meal after that.
I am a fan of afternoon teas, in that English garden setting and Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa just nailed the perfect afternoon tea right on the spot.

I enjoyed my tea, just like a tai tai would :-)

There are also free access to a wide selection of magazines and books for guests to browse through while relaxing in the Rasa Lounge, and one can definitely sit back and just will the time away with the quiet and peaceful settings in the afternoon or throughout the day.


Guests at the resort can enjoy complimentary buffet breakfast (International theme) daily at the Spice Market Cafe, and Rasa Wing guests are offered another option to have their breakfast within the more private and exclusive settings of the fine dining restaurant of Ferringhi Grill; which offers a semi-buffet and also ready to cook breakfast menu (preset) upon request.

Enjoy the serenity and quieter ambience in Ferringhi Grill one day, and also the merry surroundings and wider selection of the buffet at Spice Market Cafe on another.

Breakfast in Ferringhi Grill is a private and exclusive affair.

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My personal experience is only based on Rasa Wing, and the Premier Room in which I stayed on my visit and enjoyed tremendously.
It feels so much at home, and yet truly pampering that I almost did not want to leave.

I enjoyed my much-needed rest and Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa definitely went to great lengths to spoil their guests and ensure that peace and relaxing environment.

I am sure this will not be my last time visiting them, and perhaps the next time I could try out the Garden Wing?

I had a memorable experience and am proud of my Malaysian, and also Penang hospitality delivered by this award-winning and luxurious resort.
It made me lose track momentarily that I was actually still in my own country!

It is truly a stay to remember, and I look forward to my next visit here!




**This is NOT a sponsored post, and it is based on my personal experience**



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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Enjoying (non) lobster meal at Red Lobster (Chandler)

One of the interesting news I have heard since last year is the upcoming closure of Red Lobster restaurant, an American chain specializing in the crustacean sector, obviously mentioned in the naming of the restaurant itself.

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It brought back to mind my very own experience at Red Lobster, a year or so ago in the Chandler outlet. I was there for a simple lunch while on a short trip to that part of the country.
Red Lobster, named after the core business as the crustacean specialist, has more than 700 outlets all over the world, originating from Orlando, Florida.

Originally started by two entrepreneurs, Bill Darden and Charley Woodsby, in 1968, the restaurant became one of the local names offering seafood in its casual-themed dining environment and quickly grew in its operations, shortly after garnering the attention and interests of the locals in the 1980s.

Late last year (2014), there were rumors spreading around that Red Lobster is on its way to cease operations which was quickly clarified to be false as Red Lobster was merely acquired by the Golden Gate Capital, taking over from the Darden Restaurants in July.

Indeed it was good news to hear that this seafood-themed restaurant is not closing down, and the fact that they have even extended their outlets to my part of the country (which I have yet to try for myself).

My love for seafood is well-satisfied by the menu offering in Red Lobster and it is definitely one of personal favorites to fulfill that seafood persona in me.


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The aromatic and buttery soft crusted bun served straight from the oven was the right start to give off an impression for diners, tempting the palates and there is no way to resist this as its fragrant aroma just seduces your senses and turn away as you might, you just might give in to take that little bite.


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Enjoyed a lovely Peach Smoothie to chill myself against the hot weather of Arizona
I have always loved peaches, and the flavor of this exquisite fruit just soothe and comforts my soul, and I loved that there is that little strawberry sticking beside my drink along with a slice of lemon, all making up an awesome combination of a drink!


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Oven-broiled Wild Caught Flounder with broccoli and wild rice pilaf as sides.
I simply had to have fish, especially when it's claimed to be fresh catch, no offense to the lobsters and this convinced that I still made the right choice.

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Averagely sliced and the freshness from the oven maintained the tender juicy fillet of the fish and the broccoli was lightly broiled where the crunch of the florets are just right to my liking.
Wild rice pilaf is an interesting addition, and has that unique taste of a combination of flavors to complement the fish.

Fish Tacos, I can't remember the actual name of the dish anymore was a generous serving which can serve two definitely!

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Caesar's Salad was quite simple, nothing much to rave about as we just wanted some greens for our meal.

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The star of the meal is definitely this Sweet Chili Shrimps, which was wickedly appetizing with its sweet sauce enveloping the scrumptious and crunchy fresh and hand-battered shrimps.
This is a generous serving as well, and while it is meant to be a starter, we loved it so much that we took our time to relish every bite, or shrimp.
It is really, finger-licking good and the zesty taste of the sauce was not just great company to the shrimps but also the neatly shredded lettuce leaves forming the bed for the shrimps to rest upon.

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I have fallen for the ravishing beauty and flavorful tastes of these shrimps that I could even relive the tastes as though it is still nestled against my taste buds as I stare at these photos.
Yes, that is how obsessed I am with this dish and it just officially instigated my interest and craving for shrimps suddenly!

While lobsters may be the theme of the restaurant and I did not try any on my visit, I am looking forward to return, especially when they have clarified that they are not closing down anyway.
I will wait patiently to return to their original outlets in their home country, but at the same time, I heard that they are already operating in my country.

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It is definitely time to pay my own local outlets of this American casual dining chain in Malaysia, like, really soon?


Wonders of Grand Canyon

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A natural landmark that fills me with awe, backed by its astounding history dating back to almost 20 million years of geological changes and processes to its amazing and breathtaking formation today.

Grand Canyon is aptly named, and lived up to the glory of its given adjective description, or more, for this is one sight to impress, with the splendor and beauty of the carefully crafted landscape and all entirely works of nature. It does seem its grandeur in physique is paled with just one single adjective to describe its wonder.

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It is impossible not to be captivated or be entranced by the impressive sight when one stands and take in the scene, and everyone who has been to the Grand Canyon National Park to witness the amazing Grand Canyon can attest to that, and the list is endless.
Even President Theodore Roosevelt was taken by awe, an impression further strengthened by his words quoted, when he visited the site in year 1903.
 "The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."


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Grand Canyon owes her attractive attributes to the Colorado River and the elevation of the Colorado Plateau, a process which took millions of years with the many branches of streams stemming from the main Colorado River penetrating and slicing the channels across the plateau by the layers. The activity occurred in continuity and slowly led to the formation of the natural shape of the boulders evidently displayed in the enthralling landscape of the canyon.
The technicalities of the formation and the scientific facts of the Grand Canyon is an interesting read, with most of the elements associated with the field of geology, and one can even take a tour in the Grand Canyon Visitor Center located at the South Rim of the canyon where large boards display the facts and stories behind the Grand Canyon in a detailed and interactive manner.


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(Inside the Grand Canyon Visitor Center)
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While the Grand Canyon can be viewed from its North and South Rim, it is the latter which is brimming with activity and provides one of the more spectacular views of the canyon, and the former is a much quieter zone, though it can still be accessed by the Arizona State Route 167.
The South Rim is popular probably due to the establishment of the Grand Canyon National Park, which drew most of the visitors and geology enthusiasts to the site with the availability of accessibility and resources (or view) of the Grand Canyon.

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The technicalities behind the entire story of the canyon’s formation could take more than a simple post to describe, and I may not be the best expert to explain but simply put, if one is imagining or wondering the sight of a canyon, just think of a super sized basin or a bowl.
It is basically a river basin; which is formed by continuous processes of erosion.
Think of the water, flowing from streams, gently touching the rocks as it flows, and as time goes by, it erodes (practically lightly ‘eating’ away at the surface of the rocks, causing some parts to diminish or deform). The process is not an immediate one to the naked eye, and takes years, millions of years to create an impact, which explains the timeline of the formation of the Grand Canyon which dates back to, and well, debated still, to an approximate of 17 millions of years ago.
The multiple layers of the canyon are also caused by the uplifting of the plateau, filled with dense forests and the crossing, or intersections of multiple streams (also known as tributaries) cutting across the rocks, gently or deliberately forming the natural shape of the walls which appear like the side of the basin and that, forms what we term as the canyon.

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The Grand Canyon is indeed a sight to behold, and is the pride of the state of Arizona, in which it is located and no doubt, of the United States of America as well.  
The beauty and wonder of the natural landmark is so treasured that it is under the federal responsibilities to preserve it, and as their former President Roosevelt mentioned, “for generations to see”.

While the Grand Canyon had nestled in the heart of the Americans long ago, it was only in 1919 that the Grand Canyon National Park was officially established.
President Theodore Roosevelt had it in his best interests to preserve this amazing beauty but it was years before the natural preserve park saw daylight. Bills were submitted to create the Grand Canyon National Park, and the park was even considered the second to the Yellowstone National Park in the United States of America.

The Grand Canyon National Park Act was put through and successfully approved by President Woodrow Wilson, and thus became one of the most visited attractions in the nation, attracting tourists from the nation and worldwide to witness the magnificent wonder that America stands proudly for as it sits on their land.

Americans, and the state of Arizona have every reason to be proud, for the Grand Canyon National Park was not only one of the nation’s oldest national park, it is also recognized and announced as one of the UNESCO heritage sites in the world.
If that is not enough, the Grand Canyon even earned its spot and put on the list to be considered as one of the World’s Natural Wonders, or famously known as the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
While the list evolves with a few exceptions of permanent residents, to be even considered to make it to the list is honorable enough and says much about the greatness of one landmark, and for that, Grand Canyon definitely stands tall in its might, while maintaining its dear spot in the hearts of all the Americans.

There is no end to the praises for this amazing landscape, and words alone do no justice to describe its breathtaking sight.
While it was said that the Grand Canyon’s scene is at its best under the sun, where the light enhances its striking features, the dazy weather still failed to mask the natural beauty of the canyon.
The weather was rather cool at the site; considerably, compared to the rest of the state of Arizona (which is warmer), partly because of its geographical location where it is slightly elevated and located on higher grounds.
Clouds and light breeze accompanied me on the day I was there at this amazing landmark, and it appeared that it was also the low peak season then, possibly due to the eluding clouds which blurred the natural colors of the canyon.
The sun acts like the natural lighting to magnify the rich colors of the layers in the canyon, and is naturally the preferred background when one takes in the view of the Grand Canyon, despite the heat one has to endure.
Pro and con definitely, but I can still attest to the fact, that the stunning view of the Grand Canyon is unfazed by the misty state, as my jaw still dropped (literally) when I had my first peek of the canyon as I stood at the edge of the viewpoint.


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The image of the Grand Canyon, packed with the complexity and beautifully carved child canyons amalgamated with the depth, size and the colors contributed by the varieties of rocks sitting on layers (they were believed to date even back to the Precambrian times), definitely sticks in one’s mind and perhaps, I would say, secures a permanent position in one’s memory for life.
At least, I would say that for myself.

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This is definitely deserving of one of the wonders of the world, and I definitely would call for it to be preserved though I am sure it is pretty safe in the hands of the nation, and furthermore, UNESCO has definitely spoken with the granting of the heritage title.
President Theodore Roosevelt, you have definitely spoken everyone’s mind with your words and I can’t agree more, for those, were my sentiments, exactly.

May Grand Canyon continue to be preserved in its natural and pure state, for generations to come and be awestruck by its allure and exquisite demeanor.

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I look forward to be back, Grand Canyon!