Nothing sweeter than Lucian Carnival!

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I always get very excited to experience the wonderful festivities that Saint Lucia has to offer in the month of July.  This time of year, there are a lot more flights landing as many visitors come to the island for one of the biggest events of the year.  Today, whilst walking near the Castries Market, this lovely lady named Nora, came up to me and asked for directions to the nearest mall.  In conversation with her, I learnt more about why she decided to  visit this lovely island.  Nora spoke of the beautiful people and the lush green forests that painted the hillsides but then she paused and I noticed this fire and excitement in her eyes as she exclaimed, “I’m here because of the Lucian Carnival!”


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The Saint Lucian Carnival or Lucian Cah-na-val as some would call it, is a festive time of year that brings together people from all around the island to showcase a colorful history with costumes and dance.  Saint Lucia won its independence in 1979 and since then, discovering new aspects of his history can be seen in the various carnival efforts of its people.  It is amazing to witness such a spectacular showcase and even more interesting to learn that every year around the month of July, people come to Saint Lucia just to see the parade.  My friends and I make it our duty to attend every single event surrounding this festival.  From the Annual Carnival Queen Show to the Parade of the Bands, we take pride in engaging in activities that are part of the island’s wide culture.   This year, I am very anxious to put on my Carnival Costumes as I join the parade with over twenty thousand participants.

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Carnival in Saint Lucia is the one event that you would not want to miss.  If there was ever a time that you wished to see the island in full color then I strongly recommend you visiting around the month of July.  With the Carnival Queen show happening very soon, I can’t wait to see more of  Saint Lucia’s lovely culture and it’s people.  

Top Activities For Families In Cabo

Turtle release in Los Cabos, Mexico

It’s officially summertime in Cabo, the most popular time of the year for kids of all ages because they are OUT of school for the summer.  Families have already started to arrive in Cabo and the town is ready for them.  Capella Pedregal’s Personal Assistants shared with me their top recommendations for activities for families in Cabo. The choices are endless and there is something for everyone.

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Of course most people prefer water activities, when the heat goes up what a better way to cool down than with one of the newest trends in adventure sport, Flyboard!  This is a fun activity for the entire family where you will blast out of the water and float above it up to 40 feet in the air.

Another fun activity for the family is “Swimming with the Dolphins” where you have the chance to swim and learn from the beautiful bottlenose dolphins.  For animal lovers, Cabo Adventures has the Trainer for a Day” program, where you can spend the day working closer with the dolphin trainers.

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I love adventure activities so I have to recommend trying the outdoor ZipLine Adventure.  It takes place at “Boca de la Sierra” a UNESCO protected biosphere where you can practice climbing, rappelling, walking on suspended bridges and zip lining over the desert on Mexico’s longest and fastest zip line!  With speeds up to 60 mph (100 kph) and a length of over 1,200 meters (more than 4,000 feet), this is an experience you do not want to miss!! 

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However, my favorite summer activity is the arrival of the Sea Turtles that come to the Capella beach to lay their eggs.  When it comes time to hatch, guests have the opportunity to help the release the baby turtles into the ocean! The peninsula of Baja California is home to five of the seven species of the world’s sea turtles.  These are the Hawksbill (Tortuga Carey), Loggerhead (Tortuga Caguama, Amarilla o Cabezona), Leatherback (Tortuga Laúd), Green Turtle (also Black Turtle, Tortuga Prieta, Negra o Verde) and most common of all the species of sea turtle, Olive Ridley (Tortuga Golfina).  Turtle releasing is a wonderful, unique experience that will stay in your memory forever!
Turtle release in Los Cabos, MexicoLos Cabos has endless fun activities for this summer! Don’t forget to ask your personal assistant to help you find the perfect activity for you and/or your family during you time in Paradise!

Actividades familiares en Cabo

Turtle release in Los Cabos, Mexico

Es oficialmente verano en Cabo, el momento más popular del año para los niños de todas las edades, ya que están fuera de la escuela durante el verano. Las familias ya han comenzado a llegar a Cabo y la ciudad está preparada para ellos. Los Asistentes Personales de Capella Pedregal compartieron conmigo sus principales recomendaciones para las actividades para las familias en Cabo. Las opciones son infinitas y hay algo para todos.

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Por supuesto la mayoría de la gente prefiere las actividades acuáticas, cuando el calor sube qué mejor manera de refrescarse que con una de las nuevas tendencias en el deporte de aventura, Flyboard! Esta es una actividad divertida para toda la familia donde una explosión de agua te hará flotar por encima de ella hasta 40 pies en el aire.

Otra actividad divertida para la familia es el “Nado con los delfines”, donde tienes la oportunidad de nadar y aprender de los hermosos delfines nariz de botella. Para los amantes de los animales, Cabo Aventures tiene el programa de “Entrenador por un Día”, donde puedes pasar el día trabajando estrechamente con los entrenadores de delfines.

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Me encantan las actividades de aventura, así que te recomiendo probar el ZipLine outdoor Adventure. Se lleva a cabo en la “Boca de la Sierra”, una biosfera protegida por la UNESCO, donde se puede practicar escalada, rappel, caminar sobre puentes colgantes y tirolesa sobre el desierto en la tirolesa más larga y rápida de México! Con velocidades de hasta 60 mph (100 kph) y una longitud de más de 1.200 metros (más de 4000 pies), esta es una experiencia que no quieres perderte!

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Sin embargo, mi actividad favorita es el verano la llegada de las tortugas marinas que llegan a la playa de Capella para poner sus huevos. Cuando llega el momento de salir del cascarón, los huéspedes tienen la oportunidad de ayudar a la liberación de tortugas bebé en el océano! La península de Baja California es el hogar de cinco de las siete especies de tortugas marinas del mundo. Estos son los carey (Tortuga Carey), caguama (Tortuga Caguama, Amarilla o Cabezona), laúd (Tortuga Laúd), la tortuga verde (también Tortuga Negro, Tortuga Prieta, Negra o Verde) y la más común de todas las especies de tortugas marinas, golfina (Tortuga Golfina). La liberación de tortugas es una experiencia maravillosa, única que se quedará en siempre en tu memoria!

Turtle release in Los Cabos, Mexico
Los Cabos cuenta con actividades de diversión sin fin para este verano! No te olvides pedirle a tu asistente personal ayuda para a encontrar la perfecta actividad para ti y / o tu familia durante tu estancia en el Paraíso!

The History of Sentosa Island

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I love history.  I find that knowing the history of a place adds to its unique character and personality and makes it even more endearing and charming.  With that in mind, I thought I would share a bit about the history of Sentosa Island and Capella Singapore.

Did you know that Sentosa Island, where Capella Singapore, is located, is the largest of Singapore’s southern islands and an island with a rich history and heritage?  In the past it was an island fortress and military base for the British army and today it is an island of pure entertainment and recreation.

On the western side of the island was Fort Siloso which has underground passages, bunkers and gun emplacements dating back to the 1800s.  It was built in the 1880s to protect Singapore, which was a thriving port under Great Britain’s rule.  Fort Siloso was part of Singapore’s coastal defence with Fort Serapong and Fort Connaught.  The guns at Fort Siloso were used during World War II and are part of Singapore’s rich history.

Capella Singapore is home to four colonial buildings – the two blocks where the main lobby, Capella Library and Chinese restaurant, Cassia, are located are actually two Colonial Manors.  In fact, they received conservation status in 2000.  These colonial buildings were formerly the Royal Artillery Officers’ Mess.

 The Officers’ Mess was where the officers and their families had their meals and recreational activities such as dining, dancing and tennis. There was a tennis court beside the block.

Royal Artillery Officers Christmas Party 1951

Royal Artillery Officers Christmas Party 1951

Christmas and New Year parties were celebrated at the Officers’ Mess.  Formal table settings extended out to the wide corridors of the block and band performances were held in the room at the entrance. From the Officers’ Mess, there was a good view of the Singapore harbour and it was a practice for the officers and their families to welcome in the new year with the loud horning from the ships in the harbour.

After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the government decided that it was important for the emerging nation to have a place of recreation.  Soon after, Sentosa Island was chosen for this purpose.  Sentosa Island was then given the name Sentosa Island in 1970, which means “Isle of Tranquility” in Malay and developed by the Singapore government into a recreational area in 1972.  It has now become an island of fun, filled with amusement parks, beaches, museums, restaurants, aquariums and many more attractions.  It is truly amazing how in just a few decades it has transformed from a military base into an exciting playground.

If you are interested in the history of Sentosa, you may wish to go for a tour at Fort Siloso or visit Images of Singapore where you can learn about the colourful history of Sentosa and of Singapore and how we became the thriving and successful country that we are today.  Do speak with one of our Personal Assistants to organise a tour at +65 6591 5035 / pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

Historical pictures of Capella Singapore’s past as the Royal Artillery Officers’ Mess are available for viewing in The Library.

Art Along the Banks of the Singapore River

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Singapore River is the lifeline of the country. It was on the very banks of Singapore River that the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, stood in 1819. Since then it has played an integral role in our country’s development serving as one of the busiest trading ports in Asia.

One of my favourite ways to unwind after a busy day at work is to spend time strolling the banks of the river. While it is no longer the busy trading port it was in the 19th century, the Singapore river is now an idyllic destination to eat, work and play. The shophouses along Boat Quay and Clarke Quay that used to be filled with spices, sugar, salt and other items of trade, have now been converted into trendy bars and restaurants – the watering hole of Singapore’s stylish and sophisticated crowd.

Today, during my usual walk down the banks of the river, two particular bronze sculptures caught my eye: A Great Emporium by Malcolm Koh and From Chettiars to Financiers by Sculptor Chern Lian Shan.

These sculptures depict life as it was along the banks of the Singapore River in the 19th century.

A Great Emporium by Malcolm Koh

A Great Emporium by Malcolm Koh

In A Great Emporium, there are four distinct characters represented in the sculpture, a British Trader, a Chinese Merchant, a Chinese Coolie and an Indian Coolie all engaged in trade. Coolie refers to manual labourer, the origins of the word has both Chinese and Indian derivations.

It really brought me back 200 years ago. When life was tough. Many of these coolies, liked the coolies in the sculpture, worked without a thread on their backs. They carried gunny sacks of rice, flour and spices from ship to shore for pittance.  These coolies were indeed the backbone of our society. They built up Singapore. Without them, we could not have developed as fast and as furious as we did.  The sculpture reminded me of how fast Singapore has developed and how grateful I am!

The sculpture to its left, From Chettiars to Financiers, is also a depiction of life along the banks of the river in the 19th century.  This sculpture shows the dramatic change of Singapore’s finance industry.  From simple Indian Chettiars who were most commonly moneylenders with the pig-tailed clerk to a female financier.  How times have changed.

From Chettiars to Financiers by Chern Lian Shan

From Chettiars to Financiers by Chern Lian Shan

The Indian Chettiars originated from Chettinad in Tamil Nadu.  Interestingly, the term “Chettiar” is actually a caste label, not another name for moneylender.  These moneylenders were private financiers who lent money to entrepreneurs and businessman.

I spent quite a while admiring these two sculptures. Indeed, life has changed for us here in Singapore. We have evolved from a small trading port to one of the most stable and secure economies in the world.  As we reap what our forefathers have sowed, we should never forget where we came from.  These bronze sculptures along the Singapore River serve as fitting reminders of our past.

Capella Singapore’s Personal Assistants will be able to share more information about Clarke Quay and Boat Quay and recommend restaurants and bars along the river. If you would like to organise a private tour or book a restaurant, please contact our Personal Assistants at +65 6591 5035 / pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

 

Screen On The Green At The National Mall

Screen On The Green

Summer has finally arrived and there’s no better place to be than the Nation’s Capital!  Every year I count down the days until summer along with all of the activities it brings.  One of the most popular summer happenings among the locals and visitors alike is Screen on the Green, a chance to watch classic films hosted by HBO and Comcast on a gigantic movie screen on the National Mall overlooking the United State Capitol Building.

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This complimentary outdoor event goes a little something like this: Gather a few of your friends on Monday night and head to the Mall around 5 or 6 pm to get a good seat.  Bring a blanket (no chairs) and a picnic basket for dinner and some dessert. Next, watch the sunset over the Capitol Building as you anxiously wait for the movie to begin.  My favorite moments are gazing up at the stars while the movie is rolling and seeing all the happy faces surrounding me.  This event makes for a fantastic summer evening and perfect way to enjoy this beautiful landmark, attracting over 15,000 people to each showing since 1999.

The schedule is out for this summer; take a look at the lineup:

July 21 – The Karate Kid (1984)

July 28 – Lover Come Back (1961)

August 4 – Key Largo (1948)

August 11 – A Soldier’s Story (1984)

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The best way to get to the National Mall is by Metro.  The closest stations are Archives/Navy Memorial, Smithsonian and L’Enfant Plaza.  Public parking is very limited in this part of the city.  On-street parking in Washington, DC is restricted during the evening rush hour.

Of course, if you are a guest at Capella Washington, D.C. you Personal Assistant can arrange both the picnic supplies and the ride.  For more information contact your Personal Assistant at 202-617-2400 or e-mail pa.dc@capellahotels.com.

I will be sure to share my visits to Screen On The Green on Twitter, but you can also follow the hashtag #SOTG2014 for updates.