Browsing Category

TRAVEL

STYLE, TRAVEL

How to spend a Hens weekend..

March 6, 2016

So just over a week ago I travelled to beautiful Byron Bay for a hens weekend. My friend Sarah, is a week out from getting married and I thought it would be timely to share what we got up to. We stayed in a beautiful part of Byron Bay called Newrybar, in the Byron Hinterland. Newrybar was formed in the late 19th century and is just the most gorgeous little village, with shops and beautiful cafes lining the street.

Our house was absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful architectural features. There was art everywhere, with stylish furnishings and details. I was told that it was originally a General Store and had been converted to a gorgeous holiday home – it was large enough to house 13 females and I felt there was enough space. Aside from a giant gourmet kitchen, there was multiple bathrooms, 2 spas and the most divine salt walter pool.

As part of our hens weekend activities, my friend Gabrielle, the brains behind Style My Soiree, held a floral crown making workshop. I must admit, I thought floral crown making would be extremely difficult, but I was pleasantly surprised how well I managed to put mine together. I found the entire process extremely calming and it was one of my favourite parts of the weekend.

What was lovely, despite everyone having access to a limited range of flowers (I am pretty sure Gabs and I cleared out each and every florist in the Byron area!), each crown made was completely unique. Naturally, the beautiful bride-to-be’s crown was all white. It was the perfect opportunity to snap away and get some gorgeous photos.

Aside from getting to know everyone at the hens a little better, the floral crown workshop was a necessity – after all, donning our crowns was part of our hens uniform! As we hit the town on the Saturday evening, it was what tied everyone together – and what a sight we were! We received so many compliments, comments and a few looks of bemusement. I do recall even having photos with a number of tourists! So what was the end result?

I thought it was such a wonderful idea for a hens party and I had an absolute ball. Byron was just the most magical place to spend some quality time together. All though we were only there for the weekend, I came home feeling like I had enjoyed a week long holiday!

Now I’ve got the wedding to look forward to. The countdown is now on!

TRAVEL

Valencia Dreaming..

January 17, 2016

Well we are well and truly into the year of 2016 and I am feeling really excited by the endless possibilities and all the wonderful moments that lay ahead. I know we all have those day-to-day commitments which often can get in the way of mapping where we want to go and how we want to get there, but it’s so important to have those plans tucked away, even if you’re not intending to visit them anytime soon.. For me there are career goals, personal plans and the capacity to see new places.

..and, on that note, travel is most certainly on the cards. I am definitely ticking some new locations off the bucket list! I got the opportunity to visit some amazing places last year and never shared them with you on Live a Little, so taking a trip down memory lane, I thought it might be nice to be visually taken to the Spanish city of Valencia..


Over the next few posts, there will be some of my favourite snaps from my travels in 2015.. It was wonderful going through all my albums taking in all the places that I went to. Hopefully looking through some of my photo blogs will get you thinking about taking that trip you’ve always dreamed of. After all, it’s always important to live a little.

TRAVEL

A postcard from Port Douglas..

October 3, 2015

I recently came back from a week-long break from beautiful Port Douglas. For those that aren’t aware, Port Douglas is about an hour north from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland. Visitors are a mix – you’ve got Australians requiring much needed sun, backpackers from all over the world and plenty of international tourists. If you’re looking for sunshine, great food, luxury hotel options, the Great Barrier Reef or the Daintree Rainforest then Port Douglas is perfect.

When you arrive, you’ll be amazed at all the tours, activities and trips you can do. There is so much to see and do in that area, but for us (Mum and I) we just wanted to pan out, relax and not do too much at all.

Live a little and enjoy my virtual post card! X

Where did we stay | The QT Port Douglas 
Where did we dine | Harrisons, Nautlius, On the Inlet & Sassi Cucina e Bar  
Where did we get pampered | SpaQ
What did we do? | Port Douglas Cruises

SOCIAL, TRAVEL

A Quintessential English Wedding..

June 23, 2015

How wonderful are weddings? Aside from the suits, dresses, delicious wedding cake and fabulous food, I love the atmosphere – there is always so much positivity in the air. It’s so lovely to see friends, family and loved ones all come together with one cause of celebration in mind.

I don’t often post personal events on my blog, but this was so worth sharing. Part of my travels earlier in the year was to celebrate my partners’ cousin, Emily and her marriage to her now husband Russ. They were married at St Peters, with her reception at the very grand Dumbleton Hall. Em looked absolutely phenomenal and everything about the day was perfect. From the horse drawn carriage, to the Worcestershire countryside setting, the beautiful wedding cake to the very emotional speeches.

It was a very special day and judging by the photos you can certainly see why.. Enjoy! X

TRAVEL

My London Love Affair!

June 9, 2015

I am so proud to call London my hometown. It’s a city that just has got it right. Between the hundreds of dining options, beautiful shops, cultural stops, architecture and history everything about the city works. It was wonderful to spend a long weekend there, so here’s what we got up to.

It was a short but sweet encounter with the city. I was so devastated that I had to leave. Especially when I know there are so many other places to explore, to see and to try. London speaks for itself and I recommend it entirely.

It will certainly not be my last affair with London. After all, it is my hometown and that in itself is a perfect reason to go back.

Happy travels! X

TRAVEL

Dubai Dreaming..

May 30, 2015

After a whirlwind trip made up of four countries, multiple flights, plenty of driving and a wedding somewhere in the middle, in less than a month, I’ve made it. I am officially home.

When I think back to my first stop, Dubai it seems like ages ago! But going through my photos, all my memories of that magical place has come flooding back.

I spent just over 48 hours in Dubai on the way over to Europe. I figured a little stop over would break up the journey. Plus, I’ve never been and have heard so much about the place. My verdict? Dubai is incredible. Aside from it’s sheer size, which quite literally floored me when I arrived, it has everything. Shopping malls, day trips, beaches, bars, nightclubs, a marina, ice skating rink, indoor skiing centre, polo club.. The list could go on! And yet, has this amazing capacity to function in 35-50 degree heat.

So to start of my recent adventure, I figured a mini photo journal would give you an insight into my brief rendezvous with the Arabic state.

I stayed at the Park Hyatt Dubai. Since we were only there for a couple of days and the fact that we arrived so late I thought it best to pick a hotel not to far away (15 mins approx). The Park Hyatt is set right next to the Dubai Creek and Marina where you can sit out at the bar and be amazed by the hundreds of luxury yachts. In relation to Dubai City, the hotel is a little far away, but on the same token, it was so nice to be away from the hustle and bustle. The hotel itself boasts a gym, a beautiful pool, a luxury day spa, golf course, conference rooms and a range of restaurants. The rooms were big and very luxurious with all your typical five-star inclusions like robes, slippers, bath products, mini bar, pressing services and what not.

A range of restaurants and bars at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club are also in walking distance. I highly recommend the Mediterranean Boardwalk Restaurant for a beautiful dinner overlooking the water and then partying on at the Cielo Sky Lounge. Aside from awesome music and absolutely stunning cocktails, Cielo looks like something from the future with it’s glowing blue lights, white furniture and sleekness. The rooftop terrace is accessed by a VIP lift and gives patrons a beautiful view of the Dubai skyline. On the bar note, another place you must make time for, is the 360 Degrees Bar in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. In relation to our hotel, it was about a 20 minute taxi ride, as you have to head to the beach. And then you have to go through the hotel lobby, down past the pool, all the way down a super long boardwalk (heels so not recommended). But when we arrived, it was so worth it. The views are breath taking and if you’re wanting to get snaps of the super luxurious Burj Al Arab, then you can kill two birds with one stone as it’s right there slap bang in front of you. A perfect way to watch the sun go down over the Persian Gulf. Both an absolute must.

Attractions wise, we visited the Dubai Mall, went up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (half a kilometre in the air!) and visited the Gold Souks. All worth doing, but on the same token, it would be perfectly acceptable to just relax in your hotel.

So.. my Dubai tips?

  • It really is hot. I know people say, “oh I can handle the heat”.. but be prepared. Especially around midday and early afternoon. It can get blistering. Always have water with you. Dehydration is awful.
  • Don’t underestimate its size! Dubai is MASSIVE. It took us ages to drive from the Marina to the Burj Al Arab, thinking it was just down the street. If you’re wanting to get around the city, taxis are fine, but just be wary of how far you have to go.
  • Try a shisha. Although originating from Turkey, the staff in Dubai certainly know how to throw a shisha party! My recommendation, grape and mint flavour, but ask the staff to only put a little bit of mint. It’s perfectly acceptable in bars and a very social thing to do.
  • Be conscious of alcohol prices. Wine in particular. In some places, wine was costing us $35.00 Australian dollars a GLASS. If you’ve got the cash, by all means spend away, but just be wary if you’re on a budget.

All in all, I thoroughly recommend actually getting off the plane and enjoying a stop over as I had a really lovely stay in Dubai – it was new, exciting, bold and very different to what I expected. But I haven’t had the opportunity to visit the other Arab states yet, so next time would be keen to do somewhere new like Oman or Abu Dhabi to compare..

Keep an eye out for my next travel post, my love affair with London!

But in the meantime, live a little and get travel inspired! X

SOCIAL, TRAVEL, WATCH LIVEALITTLE.TV

New Resolution? Snap Away With Camera Chick!

January 24, 2015

I can’t believe that we are fast approaching February, is it me or has January just flown by? There are so many things about January that I love. It’s still summer and beautifully warm, people are slowly getting back into the swing of things and it seems that everyone is travelling, having weekends away and just enjoying the moment. We had News Years Eve, New Years Day and Australia Day weekend is just around the corner.

Modelling Camera Chick's "Mary Lou" Bag.

Modelling Camera Chick’s “Mary Lou” Bag. Copyright Natalie Winter.

I have loved hearing about everyones new years resolutions too – something I’ve promised myself is to start capturing more key moments in my life and not just on my smart phone, with my camera and actively get them printed. There is something so wonderful about photography and looking back on all the memories I have created with friends, family and love ones.

I am promising you, my readers, more photography based posts. Places I visit, things I love and fashion that inspires me, and I am asking you to do the same. Capture as many moments as possible. Create albums, collages and fill photo frames with memories. There is something so much more exciting when a photograph is tangible.

To get you photographically inspired, I wanted to share with you a photo and video shoot I did last year with a very special business called Camera Chick. It has been one of my favourite collaborations and was super happy with how everything turned out. Owned by photographer, Natalie Winter, Camera Chick provides unique and beautiful bags that can safely store all your photographic and camera gear.

Our shoot took place in the beautiful Southern Highlands and we were blessed with stunning weather. After filming the videos for Camera Chick (which you can view here), Natalie and I had a wonderful time driving around the area scouting perfect shooting spots. My favourite location? The famous Lolly Swagman Lolly Shop, which is heaven on earth if you have a sweet tooth! I thought it would be nice to share with you some of my favourite snaps from our photo shoot.

What I loved the most about the photo shoot was the fact that there was no specific creative direction – it was super relaxed and all the photos candid. And the result? Perfect! It’s this particular photo shoot that has inspired me to be a little bit more proactive with the camera, and I hope it has for you too. Don’t be shy, grab that camera and start snapping away! You’ll never know what you’ll capture.

Until next time! X

GASTRONOMY, TRAVEL

My ‘Southern Highlands’ fling..

October 5, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated my 24th birthday in the beautiful Souther Highlands of NSW. What a magical place it was to visit – so lush and green! I am originally from the UK and so many parts of the Highlands distinctly reminded me of the English countryside.

To give you an insight into my trip, I thought it best to do a photo blog for you to enjoy..

The Southern Highlands is approximately an hour and a half outside of Sydney and is perfect for a weekend getaway. In a couple of days we managed to fit in wine tasting, shopping, a visit to Historic Berrima, a spa treatment at Milton Park and dined at some beautiful restaurants.

It’s such a peaceful place and you truly feel like you escape the Metro area. However, there is plenty of things to do, visit and see. So if you’re a little more adventurous you will certainly be spoilt for choice.

Go on, live a little and book a break – you deserve it!

Where did we stay? – Peppers Manor House and Milton Park.
Where did we dine? – Katers, Peppers Manor House and Hordens Restaurant, Milton Park.

TRAVEL

The bright lights of Hong Kong: Where to stay?

June 30, 2014

Hong Kong – a bustling harbour-side city full of life, colour and action. Accessible around the clock, there are quite literally, hundreds of dining, shopping and hotel options to satisfy travellers, tourists and its 7 million residents. Deciding where to go, what to do and where to stay can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you have limited time. Plus, after spending a few hours researching on the net, you can walk away from your computer exhausted and confused. Hong Kong can be extremely expensive, if you’re not careful. However, there are certain areas (in my case dining and hotels) where a little bit of luxury never goes astray. In fact, sophistication and glamour is certainly a given when it comes to Hong Kong. Luxury shopping, high-end hotels and fine dining restaurants are in the bucket loads across the city. I’ve put together a few posts, which you can consider as my Live a Little in Hong Kong plan, that is guaranteed to keep you busy and feel a little bit glam!

Hotel of Choice: Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok
This is the third time I have stayed at the Langham Place Hotel and never have been disappointed. A little different to the other main hotel chains in both location and design, the five-star Langham Place is placed slap-bang in the middle of Mongkok, the most densely populated area in the world. I love being in the middle of the residential area, as you can step out and feel like you’re right in the heart of everything. Shopping, dining and day/night markets are all in walking distance. From a design perspective, the Langham Place is modern, unique and a little bit quirky. From it’s ‘Langham Pink” and grey colour scheme, to its modern Chinese art dotted around the hotel, the decor is intriguingly amazing. Everywhere you look, there is something to enjoy visually. There are a couple of bars, dining options, gym, high end spa and rooftop pool. Plus, the staff are extremely helpful, knowledgeable of Hong Kong and extremely well presented (the ladies uniforms are super cute!).

I stayed in a ‘Club L’ room, which are kept on the top six levels of the hotel. Not only are you given a separate check in area, club guests have access to a range of extra perks. Guests are treated to complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, champagne and canapés and late night supper every day. The ‘Club L’ lounge is a gorgeous space, that offers floor to ceiling views of the Hong Kong cityscape. Additionally, guests automatically receive a late 2.00pm check out, complimentary wi-fi, access to board room, fax/copy/printing services, complimentary access to the gym, steam room, sauna and rooftop pool. In my eyes, it’s always worth paying a little extra to be in club rooms, as the privileges that you get in return, are so worth it!

The hotel rooms are just as beautiful and well maintained as the rest of the hotel – we were in room 3801, a corner room that had incredible views over looking parts of the Harbour and cityscapes. You have your normal room amenities, but they have upped it a notch – flat screen televisions, DVD players, high-tech phones, printers in the room, fully stocked mini bar and a wide selection of luxury teas/coffees. Plus, the Langham Place is known for its amazing bedding and pillow menu option, so if you prefer your pillow a little more firm, or you need something malleable and soft, then you can organise house keeping to bring up any pillow that suits your needs. Quirky touches just make your stay a little more special. As I mentioned before, the Langham Place prides its self offering an experience for the senses, and if you look around your room you’ll find rubix cubes, jelly beans and gel eye masks. Every night, you receive a little gift to make your sleeping a little easier too! The bathrooms are just gorgeous with mirrors and glass detailings everywhere.. The bathroom extras are top notch with nail and shaving kits on offer, cleansing pads, shampoo, bath salts, loofahs and much more on offer.

The Langham Place is the perfect setting and location for a top-notch getaway in Hong Kong. The hotel itself is:

– within walking distance of famous street markets such as Ladies’ Market, Temple Street Market and Jade Market
– a direct connection to Langham Place Shopping Mall and Mongkok MTR (subway) station
– 15 minutes to Central
– 35 minutes from Hong Kong International Airport.

Although there aren’t as many restaurants, bars and nightclubs in walking distance per say, the staff are more than happy to organise cabs and drivers for you. Taxis in Hong Kong are super cheap, so it’s not going to burn your wallet to get around the city. So don’t let the Mongkok location deter you at all! As per my first paragraph, I have stayed here three times and never been disappointed. The hotel calls itself a hotel that has ‘thought of everything’ – and they aren’t far off. Every aspect of a hotel stay has been catered for, whether you’re a business traveller, a family of four or after a girly trip away (in my case!).

I can’t wait to share with you some more of my dining, shopping and relaxing ideas for Hong Kong (so stay tuned), but for now, when it comes to accommodation, I hope I have got your brain spurring! After all, we all need to live a little, so next time you do, consider the magical city of Hong Kong!

TRAVEL

The Bali Diaries: Part Three – Villa Love

March 20, 2014

I am finally back online.. After coming home after Bali and literally moving in that day, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Between juggling work and uni, it’s been insane. I’ve finally been linked up with my Internet!

What a perfect time to be reminiscing about my incredible trip to the Indonesian island of Bali? It’s such a beautiful place with so much culture, atmosphere and colour. One of the hardest and most difficult decisions to make, is where to stay. With so many beautiful resorts, hotels and accommodation options, it can be a little overwhelming. Whilst I was in Bali, I stayed in a few different places, which gave me scope to try out some different accommodation. One of the most popular forms of holidaying, especially in South East Asia, is the private villa. I guess the main difference is the privacy. Unlike hotels, you are left to your own style of holidaying. Many private villas come with their own pools, meaning that you don’t even have to step outside of your own complex. Plus, you often get your own kitchen area, meaning you can cook your own meals and eat at your own leisure. Many of the villas offer a butler/chef service, so at any point in time, you can have delicious meals cooked just for you. Whilst I was in Bali, I stayed in three private villas – all were extremely different with their service.

1. The Seiryu Villas, Seminyak
Jalan Drupadi, Kuta, Bandung, Bali 80361
www.seiryvillas.com

Pros:
1. Loved the privacy – we were rarely disturbed and basically could have holidayed in the villa.
2. The bathroom door that opened out to the pool was amazing.
3. Loved the quirky decor that was dotted around the villa.
4. Service of food was fantastic – meals would be cooked outside of your room and brought to you. However, if you did want a chef to come in, that could also be arranged.

Cons:
1. Whilst we were staying there, across the road there was a severe amount of construction going on and we had floodlights streaming into our villa until 11.00pm and banging and rattling until the early hours of the morning.
2. There is no ‘communal’ area – so if you like to meet people that you’re holidaying with, then this set up wouldn’t work. It’s very much designed for couples and honeymooners that want to relax.
3. The outside isn’t particularly wowing, so don’t judge a book by its cover!

 

2. The Elysian, Seminyak
Jalan Sari Dewi 18, Seminyak
www.theelysian.com

Pros:
1. The Elysian was a bit more of a hotel set up – there was a restaurant, bar conference room, communal pool area and spa.
2. We spent Valentines Day night there, and the staff went above and beyond to make it a special experience for us. They really do want to make your stay magical.
3. Loved the food. Breakfast in the morning was divine.
4. Had a bus service that could take you into town whenever you needed.

Cons:
1. It’s really hard to find! It’s down lots of teeny tiny weeny streets. You can walk to Seminyak town, but it is a bit of a way.
2. It’s extremely expensive to stay at The Elysian and I felt that it was no more luxurious than the Seiryu, yet there was at least a $200.00 a night difference between the two.
3. If they are marketing themselves as more of a hotel, they could add a gymnasium, sauna and spa to justify the high villa rates.
4. You can’t cook your own meals in your villa – you can have a chef, dine in the restaurant or head out into town.

 

The Puri Sunia Resort
Ubud, Bali.
www.purisuniaresort.com 

 

Pros:
1. The surroundings are gorgeous – you feel like you’re in a jungle. Ubud as an area is much more relaxing, it’s a lot greener and lusher. If that’s the type of holiday you’re after, then Ubud is the spot to go to.
2. The villas are much more traditional in design – thatched roofs, wooden furnishings and a canopy bed with mosquito net!
3. A beautiful outdoor bathroom adds to that jungle feel.
4. As a resort, the overall feeling is much more tranquil, offering walks, cycling and yoga.

Cons:
1. If you do want to head into town, you have to take a 15 minute bus. The resort is quite a way out of Ubud Town Centre.
2. There is only one restaurant, so you’re limited with your dining options.
3. If you’re not very good with bugs – be careful! Ants come into your room at the sniff of food and there are creepy crawlies all in the garden. Mosquitos galore too. So be mindful!

 

If you’re looking for a personalised service, holidaying flexibility and a little bit more privacy, then the villa is the perfect option. I would suggest that the villa set up would suit couples, honeymooners or single travellers. Less confronting than the big chain hotels, you can certainly have a memorable getaway.

Live a little and book your next trip to Bali!

 

 

FOR THE CAT LOVERS, TRAVEL

The Bali Diaries: Part Two – Villa Kitty

February 23, 2014

As you all know, I am completely and utterly mad for cats. Perhaps you could call it an obsession, but I don’t like coming across too crazy. They are my favourite animal in the entire world. Not only am I passionate about them as a pet, I am also passionate about their welfare. Cats are beautiful creatures that offer potential owners a wonderful companionship – they offer affection, loyalty and love and unlike some other pets, like dogs, require less daily attention. They are happy to be left alone (bot not for too long) and can often amuse themselves. For anyone that is living in a townhouse or apartment environment, cats are the perfection option. So for me, any opportunity to be involved with projects or programs that look after cats around the world is a given for me.

I was walking down the main street in Ubud, when I stumbled across a car parked. What drew me in was the magnetic sign on the sign of the car which read ‘Villa Kitty’, paired with a picture of a cat. I literally jumped and squealed in delight (my boyfriend Pete can definitely confirm that one!) and I immediately wanted to know more. As soon as I got back to the hotel room, I found out that ‘Villa Kitty’, located on the outskirts of Ubud, is a not-for-profit organisation solely focused on rescuing Bali’s abandoned kittens and cats and finding them suitable homes.

Founded by fellow cat lover and Australian, Elizabeth Henzell back in 2009, ‘Villa Kitty’ originally was a “Cats and Kittens Section” in another shelter in Lodtunduh. Elizabeth was asked to look after three tiny kittens, but simply didn’t have the time. Instead, she employed two of her friends, who were looking for work at the time to look after them. From humble beginnings, with just three care takers, two vet assistants and Elizabeth, ‘Villa Kitty’ has grown enormously, with now, twenty three staff. The ‘Villa Kitty’ veterinarian team is led by one of Bali’s most respected vet surgeons, Drh Karnata, with Drh Isa and Drh Sinta caring for all their beautiful cats and kittens.

I was so excited to head down to ‘Villa Kitty’, meet the team and of course, meet the beautiful cats and kittens house there. All in all, there are currently 113 furry friends being looked after. I was in complete and utter kitty heaven.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are so many wonderful people who are involved in the success and running of ‘Villa Kitty’, from vet assistants, to food preppers, a chef, cleaners, care takers, gardeners, security.. The list goes on. There is even a dog trainer, who feeds and trains the ‘Villa Kitty’ dogs (yes, dogs, even kitties need protection sometimes too!). It makes me so incredibly happy to see other people from around the world, passionate about providing the right care, attention and love to abandoned animals.

Elizabeth, whilst providing a safe and protective environment for all the felines, also runs successfully community projects. ‘Every Child Deserves a Kittten’, was a projected started in 2013. ‘Villa Kitty’ in partnership with SOS Children’s Village, placed 14 desexed and vaccinated kittens into eight different homes so the children and their foster mothers can have the opportunity to look after their own kitten. Additionally, Elizabeth has started a reading group for children, using the ‘Villa Kitty’ as a base – children are also welcome to ‘Villa Kitty’ every Wednesday from 10am – 12pm, where they can assist the staff with looking after the felines.

If you’re a cat lover like me and you’re in Bali, live a little, and do yourself a favour and drop in to ‘Villa Kitty’! The staff are incredibly friendly and you are more than welcome to meet all the feline residents. The cats and kittens loved it when Pete and I walked in – they are extremely curious and want to play!

As ‘Villa Kitty’ is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, support, where possible is always graciously received. If you would like to offer support, you can email Elizabeth directly at elizabeth@villakittybali.com. 

Villa Kitty
Jalan Ambarawati,
Banjar Tengah Lodtunduh
Ubud, Bali

TRAVEL

The Bali Diaries: Part One

February 19, 2014

The Indonesian island of Bali is a must visit for all Australians – considering where we are, hopping on a 5 hour flight to get to paradise doesn’t seem too difficult. With plenty of flights offered by an array of airlines, getting to Bali has never been easier. This time around I flew with Virgin Australia return for less than $600.00.

Having been in Bali a few times, there are certain areas that I have fallen in love with more so than others. It’s really important to outline exactly what you want from your trip, because Bali first timers can be thrown. Kuta is perfect for party lovers – think nightclubs, bucket drinks, lots of markets and plenty of people about. It is full of hustle and bustle, has an eclectic nightlife and can be a little overwhelming. On the other hand, Ubud (where I am writing from now) is a little less shall we say ‘in your face’ and provides a much more relaxing, peaceful environment. It’s an area that is great for nature lovers, as many of the hotels and villas are surrounded by jungle, greenery and rice paddies. It’s a little bit more ‘spiritual’ with plenty of yoga retreats and health and wellness spas. Then there are plenty of spots in between – Sanur, Seminyak and Legian just to name a few.

This time around, my iteniry consists of Seminyak and Jimbaran Bay. I was meant to fly into Yogakarta in Java, however Mother Nature put her foot down by erupting Mount Kelud. I am not sure what sort of coverage this event has been getting back home, but from the press here in Bali, I’ve learnt that many people have been displaced from their homes and sadly there have been a small number of fatalities. So my thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected. Hence why I am now writing from Ubud. Since my flights were cancelled, I had three days to fill. Funnily it was a blessing in disguise, as I never intended to stay in Ubud.

Here’s a few snaps of what I’ve been unto over the past few days, to give you a little insight:

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be doing a few posts about my adventures in Bali – from accommodation ideas, to my favourite spots to dine, to a very special kitty post! It is a rich and colourful country with so much to offer, so keep your eyes peeled! In the mean time, stay happy, stay safe and don’t forget to live a little!

 

TRAVEL

Tropical Travel Essentials

February 4, 2014

I am off to Bali in a week and I have already started the packing process. I always like to pack well in advance for holidays. I know it seems a bit excessive, but I have in the past, suffered from ‘last minute packing stress’ – which I am sure many of you out there can relate to. You know, when left to the last minute, we have a mini anxiety attack, throwing every single piece of clothing and shoes that we own into a suitcase, aggressively trying to zip it up (usually whilst sitting on it) and then collapsing into a heap on the floor after dealing with the physical struggle. Then you realise that you’re only allowed 24 kilos on the flight, so you attempt to weigh your suitcase (which seems to weigh like an elephant anyway) on your bathroom scales, praying that you don’t have to open that darned suitcase again.

That moment of craziness only hits us once we arrive at our destination, when we open up our suitcase and realise that we packed 5 white singlets (which all look the same), a pair of Ugg boots, despite the fact we’re holidaying in Thailand, not enough undies, and as always, realising that our toothbrush and iPhone charger are still at home.

You know what I’ve learnt? Only pack the essentials. Sounds easier than it looks, but when it comes to tropical holidaying, you really don’t need a lot of ‘stuff’. I’ve put together a few tips that I’ve found has helped me enormously when I’ve travelled.

1. Put together a re-useable wardrobe.
Pack pieces that can be easily dressed up or down, that could be worn during the day and during the night and also together. When you pack your suitcase and you look at your wardrobe try and match the colours and prints. A printed maxi dress could be worn during the day by the pool, but can also be jazzed up for night with some jewellery, heels and a little clutch bag. Another tip – pack clothing that doesn’t need much maintenance. For example, linen crushes really easily, so make sure you have access to an iron or laundry facilities at your hotel if you are going to pack clothing that needs TLC.

2. Never fill your suitcase.
Always leave some room when you’re departing on your trip – you are going to find some amazing pieces, accessories and jewlery on your travels. As I mentioned before, always consider the baggage limit. You don’t want to be hit with that sneaky fee, if your suitcase tips the scales by a couple of kilos. Unfortunately in my experience airlines don’t budge, if you’re over, you’re over – even by a kilo or so!

3. Have a spare bag handy.
In the front pocket of your suitcase, always pack a really lightweight expandable bag that could pass as ‘carry on’ luggage. This tip (taught to me by my mum) is really great for those out there that would classify themselves as a bit of a shopaholic. If you go a little crazy on the souvenir shopping on your travels, then you do have an extra bag to pop all your purchases in, without going over your baggage limit.

4. Think tight when it comes to toiletries.
When I say ‘tight’ – I mean it in two ways, be limited with what you put in your beauty case and also how you pack your products. Be realistic about what you need. Is it essential to bring your volumising 2 litre hairspray can and every single foundation that you own under the sun? Probably not. I find when I am on holiday, I wear less makeup and care less about my hair – I usually want to give it a once over with some shine spray. Also, pack travel size – toothpaste, shampoos, conditioners, not only it is a legal requirement with your carry on luggage now, but you can chuck toiletries away at the end of your trip, instead of lugging them back home. Finally, in your beauty case, line it with a plastic bag, to avoid spillage and leakage (which has happened to me on numerous occasions).

5. Make copies of everything.
This tip isn’t particularly about ‘packing’ as such, but still is super important. Make sure you photocopy your passport, drivers licence consulate and hotel information at least twice. Keep a copy in your suitcase and keep a copy in your handbag. Whilst you are overseas, utilise the safe in your room and lock away all valuables. There is nothing worse then having your passport stolen, so having multiple copies in reach is always good – just in case you find yourself in a spot of bother.

As I mentioned before I have already started packing. Inspired by luxury, the tropics and everything ‘islandy’ These are my top travel essentials that I’ll be taking along with me to Bali next week.

My 'Bali Basics'

Starting from the bottom left:

My Sportsgirl tortoiseshell ‘cat style’ (of course!) sunnies.

My beautiful leather travel journal that was given to me by my godfather, so I can write my thoughts, ideas and inspirations whilst I am away.

My favourite hair product right now, the Kevin Murphy repairing shine mist, which actually has flecks of of gold in it. Not only does it give my hair protection from the elements, but adds a gorgeous no fuss shine.

My ‘Imperialis’ face moisturiser by my all time favourite beauty brand Lush to keep my skin hydrated on the plane, on the beach and in the tropics.

My favourite nail polish right now by Sportsgirl and so on trend – the whitest of white! The best thing about this polish, is that it is scented! In the name of the Balinese paradise, appropriately scented too – coconut! Delicious!

Finally, my splurge purchase. My brand new Camilla ‘Jaguar Multi String’ Bikini.. So beautiful!

So there you have it – packing 101 and my personal picks. I will definitely be doing a few posts from the beautiful island of Bali. It’s a colourful, exciting and dazzling place to visit. I can’t wait to get over there and explore. So keep your eye on my Bali posts giving you some fashion, beauty and travel and accommodation inspiration.

In the meantime, start dreaming about your next adventure and live a little!

TRAVEL

Club Intercontinental in Fiji

January 23, 2014

I can officially say that I have got over my post-holiday blues. We’ve all experienced it, you know, that sinking feeling that you get when you come back from an amazing trip? Symptoms include: brain cloudiness (as you’re still in holiday mode), desperation for the beach and sunshine, severe need for fruity cocktails, wanting to sleep at all hours of the day (usually brought about by jet lag) and an obsession with maintaining your post-holiday tan by over moisturising with coconut scented body butter. Perhaps we all deal with our ‘post-holiday blues’ differently, but I can assure you, it doesn’t last for ever. Usually it takes about a week to get over. This gives you enough time for you to get back into the swing of things, get back into the routine and pretty much begin planning your next trip.

So why was I suffering all of last week? Well I returned from beautiful Fiji, which was a magnificent holiday. I went with my best friend, my mum, where we decided to have a weeks long getaway. Our mission for the trip was to a) relax, b) relax a little more and c) relax whilst we relaxed. I can assure you, we returned a little lighter, definitely brighter and very very relaxed!

We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, located on the Coral Coast. The Interncon is one of the newest resorts in Fiji and you could certainly tell, as the decor and design was modern, on-trend and up-to-date. As a resort, it has all the features you need for a no-brainer family holiday – two swimming pools, one for children and one for adults. The pool overlooks a beautiful white sandy beach. Three different dining options – buffet, casual beachside dining and a beautiful fine dining restaurant called Navo. A gorgeous golf course, which also has lunch facilities, an award winning day spa, (which really was one of the best spas I’ve ever been in – the treatments were unbelievable!) daily activities and nightly entertainment. Also, a fully functioning gym, kids club facilities and water sports including kayaking, tubing, snorkelling etc (Note you have to purchase these, so be mindful).

I think the part of the resort which blew me away the most, was the Club Intercontinental. When I go travelling now, it’s always good to see if resorts or hotels offer club style accommodation. Although it can be more expensive, the perks and add ons, truly make it worth it. As mum and I knew that the resort would be busy with lots of children and families, we thought getting a bit of privacy and luxury would suit us.

The Club Intercontinental experience started for us from the moment we got out of the airport and to the resort. Not only were we greeted in a friendly manner with a cool towel and welcome drink, we were whisked away to check-in in the Club Intercontinental lounge privately. Here we were given our keys, explained the break down of the service and what was included in our stay. All the accommodation is situated near the Club Lounge, and all guests that are staying in a Club Intercontinental suite are slightly further away from the resort (perfect for privacy!). The suites are divine – when we walked in for the first time and not only saw the ocean views, but also the option to look at the ocean from our own private plunge pool, we were knocked back. The suites are airy, spacious and beautifully designed. The outdoor bath was beautiful and I loved that even the beauty products in the bathroom were Fijian. Every day we were given complimentary Fijian water.

Although all the Club suites are set back away from the resort, I would encourage you to walk around, not only to enjoy the beautiful views, but to also get a bit of a workout! If thought of walking isn’t your thing, then the staff at the lounge can order you a buggy, where you can be driven to anywhere is the resort that you so desire.

If you stay as a guest of Club InterContinental, not only do you get to enjoy the resort like any other guest, you also get to enjoy the following extra privileges:

Private check-in and check-out
Itokani butler service
Access to the Club InterContinental Lounge and infinity pool
Breakfast in a choice of 3 venues:
– A la Carte at the Club InterContinental Lounge
– Full buffet breakfast at Sanasana Restaurant
– Continental breakfast at Toba Bar & Grill
All day non alcoholic drinks in the Club InterContinental Lounge
Afternoon tea in the Club InterContinental Lounge
Sunset canapés and cocktails for two hours each evening in the Club InterContinental Lounge
Complimentary Planet Trekkers sessions for our younger guests
Complimentary wireless internet access throughout the resort
Daily turndown service

All of these privileges were wonderful – my favourite moment each day was watching the sunset go down during the cocktail hour each evening. Not only was the canapés served to us, simply delicious, but each night we were graced with some five-star entertainment. From traditional Fijian dances to acoustic duos, it was wonderful – Fiji offers some amazing singing talent! It was also lovely to be able to enjoy a cup of tea or a cold drink whenever you required – the one thing that really made a difference, was the complimentary bottled water, which normally you would have to purchase in the resort.

If I had to point out a few ‘cons’, my only qualm would be that you do have to pay for a lot of things that the resort offers including the water sports and even kids club. Normally these are offered complimentary by big name resorts, so that threw me back a bit. If you do have a big family and you are looking to put them in kids club or try some water sport activites, be warned that there is a daily charge, which seems low at the time, but multiply that for three children over five days? Well, it does add up. As for the Club Intercontinental, my only issue was that at certain times of the day, families would be by the pool, often making a lot of noise. A lot of the guests in the Club Intercontinental I noticed were couples, retirees, mothers and daughters and people generally looking to relax. It was a little frustrating that nothing was said, as these children were very disruptive. Given that there are so many facilities designed for children around the resort, it would have been nice if we could have had a few hours a day, where children were not allowed, just so the fellow guests could swim and relax in peace.

Overall, it was a beautiful stay – we were extremely well looked after by all the staff, especially in Club Intercontinental. All the staff that we personally dealt with went above and beyond to make sure we were happy. The Fijian people are such warm and friendly souls – they want to get to know you, hear your story and of course share theirs. It was a wonderful experience getting to know the staff around the resort, learning about the Fijian culture and also relaxing in a beautiful environment. If you are considering a mid year break, or even a long weekend getaway, then consider Fiji. Flights run daily out of Sydney with either Virgin and Qantas. We booked our package  through Flight Centre, who can organise some great deals for you.

So go on, live a little, you deserve it!

DSC_0084

TRAVEL

A little touch of luxury, Bells at Killcare

September 27, 2013

I spend my time between Sydney and the beautiful Central Coast of NSW. Known for its amazing beaches and its relaxed coastal atmosphere, the Central Coast is a getaway pick for many tourists, both internationally and nationally. There are so many quirky businesses that operate out of the Central Coast with the area offering some wonderful restaurants, boutiques, bars and accommodation.In the heart of Killcare, a coastal suburb, located in the Bouddi Peninsula lies Bells, a luxury boutique retreat. With a small number of suites, villas and cottages, your stay at Bells is always an intimate one.

I spent a night in their Lakeview Villa, which overlooked the gorgeous lake, offering a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere. I was blown away by the attention to detail and the luxurious finishes throughout the rooms. With Ralph Lauren furnishings, bountiful amounts of blankets, pillows and throws and beautiful artwork dotted around the room, you instantly get the vibe that a lot of thought and effort has been put into the design of the accommodation. The colour palette of creams, navy blues and white add a touch of coast, without it being too overpowering.

The bathrooms are just as stunning, with a huge shower, free standing bath and gorgeous Bouddi products to use. Additionally, guests are able to use the ‘Bells’ branded fluffy white bath robes and slippers.

The hotel is built amongst lush gardens. It is very obvious that the grounds are well cared for. I was blown away by the manicured lawns! A lovely way to spend your time is walking amongst the grounds, where you can experience Australian flora and fauna, little ponds and maybe a few native animals (I did spot a Bush turkey and a giant lizard!). Bells also has a beautiful pool, that guests can freely use during their stay. It was well kept, crystal clear and surrounded by gorgeous deck chairs and day beds.

One of the most amazing parts of Bells, is their award winning and ‘One Chef Hat’ restaurant, Manfredi. Opened by Stefano and Julie Manfredi in 2007, the restaurant operates under the Manfredi banner. Paying homage to Italy, the menu offers a mixture of Modern Australian and Italian dishes. You can see the Manfredi values of “authenticity, simplicity and freshness” and offers seasonal dishes inspired by the produce, which is grown and harvested in Bells’ very own produce garden, known as Stefano’s garden. It was amazing to learn that the garden supplies the restaurant with 15% of the produce used on the menu. Hotel guests also enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast every morning (Hot breakfasts are also available for $15.00). I enjoyed fresh fruit, organic cereals, freshly squeezed juices and cooked-to-perfection bacon and eggs. Manfredi is open to the public for dinner seven nights a week from 6pm and lunch three days from 12noon (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Additionally, for Central Coat locals, Manfredi have their ‘locals night’ every Tuesday, where patrons can enjoy two courses and a glass of wine for just $39.00.

Additionally, Bells has a fully functioning Spa on offer for hotel guests and the public. With a focus on Aboriginal techniques and native Australian oils and and products, the treatments are soothing, relaxing and give guests a true experience to connect with the traditional Australian culture. The Spa offers a great package on Tuesdays, which you can read about here. Normally $175.00, guests receive this package for only $125.00 and you are pampered for a full 70 minutes!

I had such a pleasant stay at Bells. The staff are incredibly friendly and not too overpowering. Although Bells is considered a ‘hotel’, guests are given their own space and time to do what they want. It’s definitely more of a retreat and a place for you to rejuvenate and relax. It is important to note that children are not permitted, as it is an adults-only retreat. However, children are allowed in the restaurant.

It was wonderful to have a mini mid-week break. After all, we all deserve some time to live a little! Next time you want to step away from the daily grind, consider Bells – a little luxurious gem tucked away in Killcare.