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9.4.15

Chic Stays: Tup Kaek Sunset Beach Resort, Krabi


Before I took this trip, I'd been craving a beach break for a long while (my idea of a proper holiday is typically British - sun, sea and sand, on repeat!) Living in Singapore the past three years, I'd had my fill of short-escape city breaks which, although often a lot of fun, end up just being shopping/eating/market excursions, and do a bit more damage to my bank balance than I'm comfortable with (*ahem* Bangkok!)

I was quite keen to visit a different part of Thailand, and so my boyfriend and I settled on a five day break in Tup Kaek Sunset Beach Hotel in Krabi, after reading up on lots of reviews. We bought the package (flights, hotel and breakfast included) through Expedia, and flew with Tiger, which was actually just over an hours flight, so super quick. 

Navigating our way out of Krabi's tiny airport was very easy, and we booked and prepaid a taxi van at the airport to our hotel (this cost us 800 baht, about 34 SGD) but it is over an hours drive, as the hotel is on a secluded beach right on the coast. 

The hotel itself is boutique size, and absolutely beautiful. We could quickly see why they call it the 'Sunset' hotel, as you're treated to full blown sunsets with unobstructed views every single evening. We stayed in a poolside room as none of the beach villas (pictured above) were available when we booked, but I would have stayed in one if I could! Not that the poolside room wasn't nice, it's just for the experience sake. All of the staff are very polite and helpful too for anything you need (our TV suddenly switched off/semi-exploded at 11pm at night, and they came and gave us an immediate replacement!) 

Breakfast is held in an indoor/outdoor pavilion with beautiful sea views, and has a nice spread of good food. There are healthy options (fresh fruit, cereal/muesli, natural yoghurt) and cooked breakfasts everyday (eggs how you like, Asian options, fantastic bacon and veggies etc). When I visited there were a mix of visitors including couples and families with older and small children, but given the fact it is a boutique hotel it and the beach never feel crowded in the slightest. We ate dinner either at the hotel restaurant (not as pricey as I thought it would be for a hotel) or one of the thai restaurants down the beach (for the life of me I can't remember the name, but if you head out on the beach and turn left and walk five minutes down, there is a local restaurant there where I ate the best Thai food of literally my entire life!) 

As this was our 'relaxing' holiday break, we pretty much spent our time sunbathing, reading, swimming and exploring the coast. The tide goes out in the afternoon and you see all sorts of cool oceanic life,  including many starfish, crabs and fish which is really cool. The hotel let you take canoes out for free (note: and they provide life jackets), or you can book with one of the boat tours down the beachfront who will take you on an island tour of your choice - these are really popular and good for day trips. 

On the days you'd like to head into Krabi town (which is about a 45 minute drive away by taxi) you can book a return trip through the hotel, or a one way option. This cost us about 600 - 800 baht, but we made it worth our while as we stayed the whole day exploring the town - to be honest, I don't feel like we needed more than one day as it's not that expansive. 

Overall for those looking for a get-away-from-it-all experience, I'd thoroughly recommend this hotel and would definitely visit again. I travelled in February (peak season and best weather period with minimal rain) but still got a pretty good price deal! 





5.4.15

My Top Time-Saving Beauty Essentials


Like most women, my time is precious and limited in the mornings. My goal is to get out the door as quickly as possible, which means minimal fuss when it comes to my beauty routine! These seven products I've discovered in Singapore have been fabulous time savers for me, and so I thought I'd write a post to share them with you all!

(From left to right)

Gimme Brow by Benefit
I can safely say this is one of the easiest to apply brow products on the market. Basically, if you can use mascara, you can use Benefit's Gimme Brow - it's fast become one of their HG products. Just a few swipes through your brows gives them noticeable yet natural definition, and it does this through a formula containing special microfibres which cling to each hair, giving a volumising effect. For ladies who don't have time for pencilling etc (who really does in the mornings?? really?) this product is a game changer. 

Stila One Step Correct
This super handy serum is a primer, colour-corrector, brightener and anti-ageing treatment all in one, and is my first step after skincare and before makeup. The different tones in the swirls each serve a purpose - the green tone takes the edge of any red patches and blemishes, the lavender plumps up and energises your complexion, whilst the pink/peach tone illuminates and brightens. The formula also provides oil control for those with oily or combo skin, and smoothes over pores and fine lines. 

Pantene Pro-V BB Creme for Hair
This product claims to have 10 benefits in one product, which mainly come under the categories of smoothing, repairing and boosting shine. I usually apply it on wet hair out of the shower and let it dry whilst I'm doing my make up, followed by a rough dry on my curly hair. I always have to wait and let product soak in, otherwise a blow dry will just cause frizz mania. This definitely does what is says on the bottle and means I don't have to use two or three different products to achieve a tamed mane. 

Estee Lauder BB Brush On Glow
This was given to me by a friend, and I've recently started using it in the same manner I would use the YSL Touche Eclat (which I really need to re-buy...ergh). Under the eyes, brow bone, cheek bones and down the nose, this gives a perfect 'lit from within' effect and blends flawlessly. LOVE. 

Clio Gelpresso Waterproof Shadow
I'm not much of an eyeshadow girl, but the Gelpresso is a product I've really gotten in to. It's basically an eyeshadow in crayon form, and it's as easy to apply as you can imagine! Just 'colour' in the eyelid, blend and go. The formula is fab because it goes from a creamy, blendable texture to a powder, which then doesn't budge all day. 

Too Faced Melted Lip Stain
I love the new Melted stains, simply because they really stay put which means minimal reapplication - because who really has the time to be reapplying make up throughout the day? It's available in lots of different colours too, pictured above is 'Melted Peony'.  

Benetint by Benefit 
Yes, another Benefit product makes this list but *disclaimer* this isn't a sponsored post, it's just a fab brand for those good ol' multipurpose products. Benetint can be used on both the cheeks as a blush (just blend and go, and I love the way it just melts into your real skin) and on the lips as a tint, with staying power.



30.3.15

[The Shortlist] Picks of the Week

zaratry


The perfect slouchy dress, and I love the fact this has pockets. I picked this up in Zara just last month paired with both sandals, trainers and dressed up with heels and a clutch. 

These are available to order online and have been on my wish list for a while - the lace up detail at the front means you can definitely loosen and tighten according to your calf size. 


Really loving Maria Black's jewellery line right now - a mixture of delicate vs structured gold and silver jewellery. My favourite is the hand/finger bracelet which adds a touch of boho chic to any outfit. 

5. Balenciaga City Bag 
The City is just one of those 'it' bags that just looks perennially chic. When it comes to designer, you can buy new, but theres nothing wrong with a pre-loved piece. For discounted new designer goods, head to Reebonz, alternatively keep checking back at sites like StyleTribute or Vestaire Collective

29.3.15

Treatments to try: One Farrer Hotel and Spa


I was recently invited down to try out the spa at the new One Farrer Hotel (opened September 2014), which is situated conveniently by 1 Farrer Park Station, right on top of the MRT.

What I tried: The Origins of Food Spa Retreat - $209

The most interesting thing about this particular spa package experience was that it incorporated a one-on-one cooking class at their Origins of Food restaurant and Institute of Nutrition in after the spa treatments (they hold classes and workshops there). Pretty intrigued, I was eager to find out more, of course!

For the package, you can choose from a range of 60 minute massage styles - I opted for the Swedish (mainly because I hadn't had a 'Swiss' one before so I was curious) intended to relax tight muscles - yes please. My therapist was lovely and I love the Decleor products they use, the whole experience was very luxurious and she concentrated good pressure on the areas I needed (aka, lower back - ouch!)

My massage actually finished at 3pm and my cooking class wasn't scheduled till 6 - wonderfully enough I was told I could use the spa facilities for the next three hours! Needless to say I felt like a kid in a candy shop...

I'm later told by Doris, the spa's director, that they encourage spa guests to take the time out to use their facilities - even if you've got a massage booked for 4pm, you're welcome to come in as a spa guest as early as 10am to use their gym, pool and spa facilities! I personally think that's incredible value for money. I spent the next couple of hours dipping in and out of their cold plunge and hot pools, pretty onsen, steam and sauna rooms.

My 90 minute cooking class at 6pm was led by executive sous chef Ho Chan Fei. This was actually my first cooking class, and it was a fantastic experience. I made a lovely dish of breaded chicken, parsley potatoes and vegetables which I gobbled up afterwards with the chef!

One Farrer Hotel and Spa
1 Farrer Park Station Road
To book an appointment contact 6705 7860 



[Lookbook] Knitted Khaki


What I'm wearing: 
Knitted top by H&M (in stores now), vintage denim shorts, sandals by Mosstories and pre-loved Mulberry Oversized Alexa (my latest steal from Singapore-based online designer marketplace StyleTribute, styletribute.com)  

26.3.15

[Lookbook] Off Shoulder Casual


What I'm wearing: 
Off-shoulder blouse from Zara (in store now!), UNIQLO boyfriend jeans, Mosstories tassel sandals (one of my favourite boutiques in Bangkok) and watch by Michael Kors 

7.3.15

[Review] 3 day juice detox with Punch Detox




I recently tried out one of the latest detox crazes: a juice cleanse, this time from Punch Detox, a cleanse company started by two ladies in Hong Kong who discovered the wonders of juice cleansing after having children, and they've recently started business in Singapore.

There are three different levels of cleanses: Level 1 (which I did), Level 2 (a bit more hardcore with more green juices) and Level 3 (super super hardcore with three green juices instead of the fruit). If you're a newbie, I'd go for Level 1, like I did. 

I'll admit, one of the things I loved about the cleanse is that I didn't have to think about what to eat for three days - and no washing up - BIG bonus.

You're juices are numbered from 1 through to 6, and you drink them at regular intervals that suit you. I'd start my first juice at 7 in the morning, and finish my last between 8 and 9pm on average when I got back from work. 

My thoughts on the six juices: 

1. Citrus Punch (Lemon, Ginger, Cayenne Pepper, Agave Nectar, Filtered Water) - yummy, refreshing and zingy. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I'm pretty sure this will put a spring in your step without the need for coffee! 

2. Green Punch (Celery, Cucumber, Kale, Bitter Melon, Parsley, Spirulina, Green Apple) - this tasted surprisingly nice considering it's virtually all greens - my favourite juice of the lot. 

3. Red Punch (Beet, Carrot, Ginger, Orange, Goji Berry, Red Apple) - My favourite fruity juice, this is antioxidant rich with the beetroot and goji berry. 

4. Fruit Punch (Pineapple, Lime, Watermelon, Acai Berry) - this one was a little too sweet for my liking, but refreshing - by this point of the day and after the red punch I would've preferred something a little 'greener'. 

5. GazPUNCHo (Tomato, Cucumber, Cilantro, Garlic, Sea Salt, Cider Vinegar, Olive Oil, Cayenne Papper) - according to many reviews I read before doing this cleanse, this was a lot of people's favourites, but for some reason I just wasn't a fan, at all (blergh). I think it's possibly the idea of drinking something savoury that was the killer? Upon advice, I tried putting this into a bowl and heated it up like a soup, but it still wasn't my cup of tea. In the end, I left this out. 

6. Nut Punch (Raw Cashew, Raw Almond, Cinnamon, Agave Nectar, Sea Salt, Filtered Water) - refreshing, filling and soothing, and perfect to drink when winding down in the evening.

How it felt: 

After and throughout the cleanse, I definitely felt myself feeling progressively clearer headed, calmer at work and surprisingly - not hungry at all. Overall, I'd say the cleanse is definitely worth trying at least once - I made much healthier choices after food-wise, too. It was a pretty smooth ride for me, (to the shock of my SG friends, I'm not much of a foodie!) but it isn't as easy for everyone. If you find yourself STARVING, grab an apple, some carrot sticks, or cook up a veggie stir fry - something to munch on, but sticking to fruit and veg will help you stay on track.

One three-day cleanse will set you back $330, which is, in my honest opinion, pretty pricey, but I would consider doing one again before a big event, I did feel 'cleansed' afterwards, both mentally and physically.

It's important to note that you have to go into one of these with the right mindset - they are not for weight loss but rather for cleansing and giving your digestive system a break. I didn't weigh myself before or after the cleanse because that wasn't my priority, but I definitely felt 'lighter' and healthier.

20.2.15

Chic Stays: MesaStila Resort, Central Java

If anyone asks me where to head to in Asia for a real holistic escape and retreat, the MesaStila hotel in Central Java, Indonesia, is the first place that springs to my mind. I visited on a short press trip last year, and it truly blew me away. The journey to MesaStila from Semarang airport (a convenient short flight from Singapore with SilkAir) takes just an hour by car.

The resort (it feels strange to even call it a resort, because of the way it is so seamlessly set into the landscape!) is spread over twenty two acres on a working, thriving coffee plantation. You're completely surrounded by tropical vegetation, greenery and spectacular views of eight mountains. It all feels very "back to nature".

A nature view of the resorts infinity pool

One of the most beautiful things about staying at MesaStila is the accommodation. The property has 23 different villas, all traditional Javanese structures and architecture, but all with modern facilities and decorated with different antique art. I must admit, my villa and four poster bed were so huge I could barely sleep, I was so excited! Other unique touches include different bath tubs (mine was a huge stone construction) but others were made of beautiful tiling (picture below) or brass. 

An infinity pool at their largest villa (just where the Indonesia president hangs out, you know) 
A pond view from the coffee plantation
Pretty flowers in the room

Gorgeous beds await!

Each villa has a different (equally huge) bath tub
What's more, MesaStila can put together a tailored retreat program for you depending on your needs (body cleansing, de-stress, fitness and more). They arrange nutritional plans and tons of activities on site, including mountain biking, yoga, hiking and more - great for those in need of a health-kick. 

On a final note, you cannot leave MesaStila without visiting their spa. In fact, aside from all of the above, I would go back to MesaStila JUST to visit their spa! One of the only genuine hammam spas in Asia, it's gorgeous inside with stunning facilities (you have to use huge the steam room) and a tranquil atmosphere, and the staff were so friendly - not to mention I had one of the best Javanese massages of my life.

For more information or to book rooms head to their website, or alternatively you can plan your visit through the lovely folks at The Collektion. 

Selfie! A happy me in my villa's gorgeous bathroom


[Beauty] My Sun Care Essentials



I have to admit, I wasn't always one to slather on the SPF. Those who know me know that I'm a complete sun-lover, and used to happily while away hours and hours tanning on the beach with minimum protection. It wasn't until I moved to Asia and started my job as a beauty editor that I really got to understand the damage that unprotected sun exposure can cause to your skin.

Sure, sun damage may not become visible when you're younger, and most of us come back from holiday thinking we look so much better and healthier with a tan (hey, I'm certainly one of them!) but if you start applying suncream you'll definitely thank yourself in ten years time when you have less wrinkles, dark spots and skin discolouration.

Oh and, a complete beauty myth to debunk - applying sunblock does not mean you won't tan ladies, you'll still get that golden glow, just without the risk of frying or burning (ouch). If you're big on tanning oil, apply once suncream has been absorbed into the skin (and all of this before sun exposure, this is what I do).

But, out of the tons of SPF products out there, which should you choose? Well, below are my current favourite (and recommended) sun care products to help get you started. Stay safe on the beach!


Nivea Sun Protect & Refresh SPF 50, $24 
A handy little spray cream which is so easy to apply quickly. Just be sure to apply it indoors, as if you're outside the spray can be carried away off your body by the wind and you're not getting quite as much protection as you think (this was my tried and tested mistake!)

Garnier Ambre Solaire Golden Protect SPF 30 (also available in SPF 50) 
I love this suncream because of the shimmering lotion. It looks amazing to enhance a holiday tan day or night, and smells absolutely divine. I don't think it's available in Singapore and I stock up when I'm back in the UK, but you can buy it here from Amazon.

Lancaster SPF 50 High Protection Sun Control, $55
A newly launched product, I took my recent holiday trip as an opportunity to give this a test-drive. My verdict: super lightweight protection for the face, nice smell and consistency (non-sticky is a must!) and had my sensitive skin feeling comfortable all day. I didn't feel the need to triple cleanse to take it off either, like I have before with other sunscreens.

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue with SPF 30, £45
When I need a little coverage on the beach or am heading out into town, I love this new tinted moisturiser. It's only light coverage, but gives a really nice glow and finish, plus you have the sun protection in there as an extra bonus. Pick up a tube from Sephora.

Bioderma Photoderm Spot 50+, $44.90  
This has been my favourite SPF for a while. It does just what it says on the packet. Protects skin, prevents any uneven darkening, is super lightweight and non-greasy, and stays on all day. One of my must-haves.


17.2.15

Ending the blogging hiatus!

Just a little something I've been working on....
Oh my gawd, HI! 

Well, I've certainly been MIA from this blog for a while now. I can't believe the last time I officially posted was August last year??? Time flies ridiculously fast.

BUT but but, it has been for sort of a good reason. I've been superhumanly busy doing none other than launching a fashion and beauty magazine called LIV for Expat Living Publications. I'm sure if you're a subscriber you would've seen it by now - it gets sent out with the main magazine as a supplement on a monthly basis.

Isn't it gorgeous??  

Anyway, it's definitely a work of love and I adore it, but it certainly has meant that my time for blogging and sharing has been, well, minimal - and I apologise to all the brands events I've had to miss because of it (my inbox is not pretty), however, in a late New Year's Resolution (let's call it my Chinese New Year resolution, can?) my aim is to blog twice a week, every week to get this little style diary back on track. 

Ok so, now I've officially made that announcement perhaps the pressure of other's reading this will make sure I stick to it? That was sort of my game plan but hey, we'll see how it goes. 

To be honest, I think there was a lesson for me in all this: to not let work take over to the point that I don't invest time in myself, my personal interests, hobbies and the things I love. I admit this could risk sounding a bit soppy confessional but, I really regret letting this blog's content slide - it was the one thing that brought me so many opportunities and meetings with funny, interesting (sometimes weird) people in Singapore when I first moved. Funnily enough, my traffic hasn't dipped much (maybe I have some google stalkers...cool) and I was recently featured on this list for the top 50 fashion bloggers in Singapore (eh??) but there you go. 

Anyway, here's to a fresh start! 





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