Summer Skin – Ready, Set, Glow!

One of the most beautiful ‘souvenirs’ of a beach vacation is a rich golden tan. However, having read extensively about the ageing effects of prolonged sun exposure, I have my reservations about soaking in the sun.

Fortunately, Shanti Krisna, Director of Auriga Spa here at Capella Singapore, introduced me to a safe and effortless way to get my glow on and achieve the perfect summer skin. Using top-quality organic products, Auriga Spa’s Healthy Glow Self Tan treatment replicates the resplendent glow of sun-kissed skin, minus the skin damage from ultraviolet rays!

Capella Singapore_Auriga spa suite Mid Res

This fuss-free 60-minute treatment began with an uplifting citrusy body scrub. Formulated with aloe, sage and naturals oils, it gently sloughed off dead skin cell for satin smooth skin. It also subtly tightened my skin, revved up microcirculation and reduced the appearance of cellulite!

After my skin had been polished to perfection, my therapist slathered on an even layer of premium plant-based self-tan cream. Featuring a unique DHA derived from organic sugar beet, this light cream gave my skin an instant tan that lasted for a week. Its nourishing cocktail of aloe, coconut oil, sesame oil, jojoba and shea butter also left my skin feeling soft, supple and dewy – just as if I’d just stepped off a round-the-world luxury yacht!

To get me perfectly summer-prepped, Shanti also generously shared five tips for tress-to-toe skincare and rescue! Here they are:

Auriga Spa (Products)-36

#1 Get Under Cover

The sun is the No. 1 culprit of premature ageing. So never leave home without a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. You should look for a sunscreen with at least SPF30 PA+++, and apply it at least 20 minutes before sun exposure to allow the product to penetrate and protect your skin optimally.

#2 Scalp Help

Ultraviolet rays can also harm your scalp and hair. This causes sunburned scalp, dehydrated tresses, as well as hair loss. So invest in a sunscreen formulated for your hair and scalp, or wear a sunhat.

#3 Sunburn SOS

If you are suffering from sunburn, an aloe vera gel can help to calm and rehydrate your skin for accelerated recovery. In the meantime, keep your skincare and makeup regime simple. Avoid exfoliating products that will injure sunburned skin, as well as products with synthetic fragrances that may cause irritation.

#4 Hair Tip

Seawater and chlorinated swimming pool water strips hair of its moisture. So before diving in, wet your hair and apply a leave-in conditioner or olive oil to protect it from damage.

#5 Balancing Act

We all love summer. However, hot and humid weather can increase sebum protection while dehydrating your skin. Switch from a heavy moisturising cream to a lightweight gel-based moisturiser to prevent T-zone shine, clogged pores and acne. A facial blotter and hydrating mist can also help to keep skin matte and dewy during the day!

For more summer-perfect spa indulgences, refer to the Capella Singapore Auriga Spa’s treatment menu here.

Discover Water Adventures On Sentosa Island

I love driving onto to Sentosa Island on my way to Capella Singapore each day.  Sentosa may only be a twenty minute drive from downtown Singapore, but it is an escape unto itself.  What I love most about Sentosa is being amidst an ocean of sapphire, sparkling in the brilliant sunlight.  Spread across just 500 hectares (5 square kilometres) of lush greenery, Sentosa offers stunning coastlines and countless water-themed attractions.  Here are my top four recommendations for wonderful water escapades on the island.

#1 Find Your Dream Beach

Suspension bridge at Palawan Beach

Suspension bridge at Palawan Beach

Summer is synonymous with the beach, and Sentosa boasts three stunning beaches.  Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong Beach are just mere minutes apart, but take a closer look and you’ll discover their rich and distinct personalities.

For family fun, make a beeline for Palawan Beach. The Port of Lost Wonders will enrapture the little ones with a water play area and themed islets. This sunny haven also features a suspension bridge leading to Asia’s closest point to the Equator, so you can literally ‘journey to the centre of the Earth’ together!

Siloso Beach has a decidedly more hippie vibe, with themed bars, beach volleyball games and an outdoor whirlpool bath lining the golden strip of sand. Come nightfall, it also transforms into a party haven, fuelled by beautiful beachgoers, thumping clubs, and regular guest DJ performances.

If you’re looking for an under-the-radar beach, however, Tanjong Beach will fit the bill. By far the quietest of the three, it offers the weary traveller a few peaceful moments away from the world. Skip the crowd, curl up with your favourite novel, pack a picnic with your partner and find a nice piece of paradise to call your own.

#2 Discover The Underwater World

Dolphin Adventure at Marine Life Park’s Dolphin Island,  ©Resorts World Sentosa

Dolphin Adventure at Marine Life Park’s Dolphin Island, © Resorts World Sentosa

Sentosa is also home to one of the world’s largest oceanariums, so relive your Steven Spielberg fantasies by observing sharks, gigantic manta rays and exotic fish.

If you’re looking for a more personal adventure than that, you may also dive with dolphins at Dolphin Island or snorkel with 20,000 colourful reef fish and rays. Intrepid gourmands should also make a mandatory stop at Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora, an underwater dining destination. Helmed by a celebrity chef, this restaurant located within the S.E.A. Aquarium serves up delicious smoked eel and sous vide salmon with first-class view of more than 100,000 marine animals through its giant glass window.

#3 Ride a Wave

Looking for some surf? Adrenaline junkies will love flowboarding at the Wave House. Get some heart-pumping action riding a wave, and then chill out to live music, enjoy some gourmet pizza, or knock back a few artisan beers at the alfresco beach bars. It’s the best way to let off some steam and decompress for the weekend.

#4 Experience Water Therapy

Auriga Spa Vitality Pool

Auriga Spa Vitality Pool

After all that action and excitement, Auriga spa at Capella Singapore is the best place to unwind. Our wet facilities include hot therapies such as an Herbal Steam Room to flush out toxins and boost blood circulation, lovely hot shower facilities, and an elegant Vitality Pool with water jets to deliver amazing body and neck massages. The heat promotes healing by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow, hence delivering more oxygen and key nutrients to cells, and flushing out toxins.

Cool down in between hot therapies with cold therapies such as the Ice Fountain and cold showers. These encourage blood vessels to narrow and decreases blood flow to reduce swelling and inflammation. For optimal results, try alternating a few minutes of heat therapy with a minute of cold therapy, and repeat this several times. This prompts deep detoxification, healing and relaxation, and is the best way to end your water-themed weekend or summer vacation!

 

These are some of my favorite water experiences on Sentosa Island, but believe me, there is even more to discover!  Make sure to ask your Personal Assistant at Capella Singapore to help in your activity selection.  I am sure you won’t be disappointed!

Discover The Wellness Retreat at Capella Singapore

I love exploring the furthest corners of the world.  However, very often, I find myself returning from a vacation feeling like I need another one to recover from the first.  So after all the excitement of New Year, Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year, I finally decided that it was time to take a quieter sort of vacation.  I checked myself in for Capella Singapore’s new Wellness Retreat.

The retreat began with a private consultation with a dietician, and a wellness dinner at The Knolls.  I was fully expecting ‘rabbit food’, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that beyond a tasteless plate of greens, I was treated to a Thai Beef Salad, Baked Cod Fish with Olive Mozzarella Crust and Homemade Tiramisu – all nutritionist approved.  They tasted delicious, and left me feeling less lethargic than usual.

Baked Cod Fish with Olive Mozzarella Crust

Baked Cod Fish with Olive Mozzarella Crust

Day Two began bright and early at 7:30am with a personal training session with multiple Manhunt Singapore winner, Jovin Koh.  Jovin discussed my fitness abilities and goals with me before putting me through a series of weight resistance and intensive cardio exercises that gently tested my personal limits.

After ‘paying my dues’ at the gym, breakfast and lunch were rare treats. The highlight of the day however must have been the spa session at Auriga Spa.  The herbal steam room, ice foundation, vitality pool and 90-minute Shiatsu massage were uniquely revitalising.

By Day Three, I didn’t even need my alarm clock get up in time for sunrise yoga at 8am.  My body was so well rested that it didn’t scream for more snooze time.  Going through the gentle yoga postures also helped me discover a newfound sense of balance and well-being.

15. Sunrise Yoga

I emerged from the retreat feeling more than five years younger and absolutely radiant.  I also scored useful tips to embark on a lifelong journey towards healthier living. Here are five detox tips I learnt from senior therapists of Auriga Spa Amapola Nazareno and Chang Huang Mei.

GET REAL – Avoid processed food as they are packed with chemicals and preservatives. Pick real and whole food, whenever possible.

DECAF – Avoid drinking too much coffee and black tea – these stimulants dehydrate the body.

REHYDRATE – Drink up to 2 litres of water daily. Keep a bottle on your desk so you won’t forget.

BRUSH UP – Use a body brush in the morning to stimulate lymphatic circulation and drainage.

SUPPLEMENT – Natural supplements can help your body cope with a hectic and stressful lifestyle. Vitamins, antioxidants, probiotics and other superfood sweep away harmful free radicals and flush out toxins to keep your body in tip top condition.

To find out more about Capella Singapore’s Wellness Retreat or making reservations, please dial +65 6591 5000 or email reservations.singapore@capellahotels.com.

 

An Unforgettable Lunar New Year

Every Lunar New Year’s Eve, if I’m not abroad, you can expect me to be having dinner with my family.  By family, I mean all 23 of them from my 93-year-old grandmother to my 2-year-old niece.  It is something my grandmother insists on—she believes a person who forgets tradition, forgets family.

Like any cosmopolitan city, it’s nothing short of a miracle to get so many people to sit down to dinner together in Singapore.  It requires the expert management of multiple clashing schedules, packed with the million little demands modern life makes.

As you can imagine, arranging an unforgettable dinner for 24 is no simple affair.  So this year, I’ve decided to take a leaf from Executive Chinese Chef Lee Hui Ngai of Cassia, Capella Singapore.

During the 40 years of his culinary career, Chef Lee has charmed diners at top hotels in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore, and made Lunar New Year memorable for so many families.  He generously shares his ‘recipe’ for happiness this Lunar New Year.

Executive Chinese Chef Lee Hui Ngai from Cassia

Executive Chinese Chef Lee Hui Ngai from Cassia

What is the most unforgettable Lunar New Year meal you’d recommend?

Chef Lee: One of the top five fish I’ve tried over the past four decades of my culinary career is the Unforgettable Fish.  In Mandarin, it’s called 忘不了鱼, which actually translates to ‘unforgettable fish’.  Once you’ve tried it, you’ll see why.  The first time I savoured this fish was when a guest from China specially requested it.  I took my first bite, and was instantly enraptured.

The Unforgettable Fish

The Unforgettable Fish

Why is this fish so exceptional?

Chef Lee: I could tell you how sweet, succulent, silky and tender it is, but that barely begins to describe it.  The Unforgettable Fish swims against the current, and its scales are unusually crisp when steamed.  Unlike other fish, we tend to steam this fish with its scales intact.

At Capella Singapore, we import the Unforgettable Fish ‘live’ from Sabah, Malaysia when it’s fully-grown and at least 2kg in weight—any smaller, and it loses some of its unique flavour.  As with the best ingredients, there’s no need to do too much with it.  It is best enjoyed lightly steamed, with a glass of white wine or champagne.

Any other dining tips for an unforgettable Lunar New Year?

Chef Lee: Lunar New Year has special significance for Chinese around the world.  We believe it is auspicious to enjoy a beautiful and unforgettable meal to herald an amazing New Year.

Fortune and good luck aside, what really warms my heart is being with my family, and watching their sheer delight in enjoying a meal together.  As a chef, this naturally fills me with a deep sense of pride.  But as a father, husband and son, this gives me a glimpse of true happiness, in all its richness and simplicity.

Cassia's signature Lou Hei

Cassia‘s Signature Lou Hei

If you are planning your own Lunar New Year’s celebrations, be sure to check out Cassia’s Lunar New Year specials here.

#SG50 – Five Reasons To Visit Singapore in 2015

I love travelling.  I am deeply convinced that travel is the only thing money can buy that will make you richer.  Most days, I’m just looking for any plausible excuse to hop onto a plane.  As I grow older, however, I tend to look less abroad, and closer towards home for inspiration.

Singapore is evolving.  Yes, we still retain our quirks and hybrid culture.  Most of us still call any elderly man, especially taxi drivers, “Uncle”.  And we still love durians enough to have durian buffets.  But as a country, we are also rapidly modernising and progressing.  And by “progress”, I mean we are developing a more vibrant art, culture and music scene, and a greater sense of national identity.

Recently, Singapore was listed by CNN as one of the 10 top destinations to visit in 2015, and Lonely Planet elected us as #1 on its Best in Travel 2015 list.

All this couldn’t have come at a better time.  As a born and bred Singaporean, let me share with you five reasons you should visit me at Capella Singapore this year.

2015 Is One Big Party

Party With Us In Singapore

Party With Us In Singapore

New Year’s Eve last month was just the beginning of a year long party.  If you were here, you’d remember how top DJs were flown in from the coolest cities in the world (including DJ Mr. Best for Capella Singapore).  Fireworks also lit the sky everywhere—not just at Sentosa where Capella Singapore is nestled, but even at suburban areas around the island.

This is but a taster of what to expect this year.  In a couple of week, Chinatown will celebrate a special light-up ceremony, with lion dancers prancing around our ‘Lion City’ to cue in Chinese New Year.  After this, you can look forward to holidays such as Vesak Day and Hari Raya Pusa before Singapore officially turns 50 on 9th August.  You can be sure we’ll pull out all the stops for that party.

We Are Committed Foodies

Your taste buds will love Singapore.  Our running list of celebrity chefs includes Joel Robuchon, Tetsuya Wakuda, Jamie Oliver, Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud, to name a few.  And this year, Gordon Ramsay joins the fold.

Our food culture, however, extends way beyond these international culinary stars.  New dining concepts are sprouting out by the minute—including NOX where you dine completely in the dark, and secret bars such as Operation Dagger and The Library with no signage and password requirements for entry.

We are also one of the few countries in the world that truly believes in supper.  If you happen to be hungry at 1am, you won’t have to satiate yourself with cold bites.  You can find piping hot Singaporean food anywhere, including Bak Kut Teh (peppery pork rib soup), Indian food, noodles, oyster omelette…  Here is a list of places.  Supper in Singapore is a unique and bustling experience, and one of the best ways to get a true taste of local culture.

The Art Scene Is Booming

Let’s not talk about the iconic ArtScience Museum, which of course, is a must-visit.  We’ve also got the Gillman Barracks, a colonial army base-turned-contemporary art cluster, and the upcoming National Gallery Singapore, which will house an extensive collection of Southeast Asian and Singaporean art when it opens in mid-2015.

Music is also thriving in Singapore.  If you love seminal music, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival is just a few days away, and if you prefer jazz, Singapore Jazz Festival is scheduled for early March!

Green Is The New Black

Gardens By The Bay

Gardens By The Bay

Granted, our ‘garden city’ moniker is a bit of a tired cliché for locals.  We are however, embracing the global green movement.  Whether you prefer real food or raw food, you can probably find a quaint café nearby.  You could even saunter into an organic farm such as Bollywood Veggies, and ask for farm-fresh Indian fare.

On cool evenings, we also love to spend time in our little pockets of green.  And being city folks with famously short attention spans, we need to be entertained.  Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Botanic Gardens regularly organise music performances, artists’ workshops, writers’ workshops and seasonal exhibitions.  So pack a picnic basket and some wine, and enjoy round-the-year summer.

Superlative Creature Comforts

From the minute you step into Changi Airport, you’ll sense how obsessed we are with shopping.  In space scarce Singapore, we’ve somehow managed to cramp an incredible number of big name designers into our airport.  In fact, many of us head there for our shopping and dining fix, even when we are not travelling.

That said, I’m sure you’re not in Singapore just to shop at Prada.  We’ve got amazing local designers such as Hansel and Ong Shunmugam as well.  Check out this list.  Other local brands I love include Carrie K, founded by advertising managing director turned artisan jeweller, and Merci Encore, an aromatherapy atelier founded by the former senior beauty editor of Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.

Of course, to end your trip with the ultimate indulgence, you should definitely make Capella Singapore your final pit stop.  As part of SG50, we are launching a decadent 50 fingers massage from mid-2015.  In just 60 minutes, our five dedicated spa therapists will knead out tension and aches you didn’t even know you had.  You’ll emerge feeling utterly renewed and as light as a cloud.

 

10 Resoluciones Para Un Mejor Año Nuevo

capella-ixtapa

El Año Nuevo comenzó de una manera muy bella en Capella Ixtapa.  Cerramos una maravillosa temporada decembrina con huéspedes de todo el mundo, y estamos listos para adentrarnos en este nuevo año con todas las intenciones de hacerlo el mejor año hasta ahora!  He escrito una lista de mis resoluciones  para el nuevo año, y me gustaría compartirla con ustedes – para que a final de año me puedan preguntar si fui capaz de cumplirlas.  No importa si tienes un solo gran deseo para el 2015 o un gran listado, espero que este año les traiga inspiración y motivación para cumplir sus metas.  Por favor siéntanse libres de compartir las suyas en la sección de comentarios del post.

  1. Viajar más: Hay tantos sitios que quiero visitar, y en este año nuevo, me gustaría visitar Singapur (y a nuestro hotel hermano Capella Singapore), y Oaxaca, uno de os estados más bellos y coloridos de México.  Pero – también quisiera utilizar mis días libres para explorar más sitios cercanos a mi ciudad, Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, y visitar los hermosos lugares que me rodean (montar románticamente a caballo por la playa, caminatas al atardecer, pequeños y coloridos poblados, todo esto a mi alcance).
  2. Mantenerse saludable:  Esta es una de las resoluciones -y probablemente la es para todos- que cada año aparece en mi lista, y así debe ser.  Sin la salud no podemos lograr nada, por eso es muy importante mantenerse sano.  Para lograr esto, he decidido platicar con nuestro experto de Salud y Bienestar en Capella Ixtapa, el cual me ayudará a crear una detallada lista de consejos, ideas y actividades, que me ayudarán a mantenerme en disciplina y no perder de vista la meta en el transcurso del año.
  3. Comer saludable: Me encanta cocinar, pero preparar 3 alimentos saludables al día a veces puede parecer muy demandante ya programé una clase de cocina así como una visita al mercado con el Chef Miguel Baltazar, el cual me compartirá algunas de sus saludables recetas y consejos.  Repetiré esto cada temporada del año, así podré actualizar mis recetas con alimentos y consejos de temporada.
  4. Hacer ejercicio:  Pretendo continuar con mis sesiones de pilates, pero quiero por lo menos una vez a la semana salir también a correr (tanto yo como mi perro vamos a estar contentos con esto), y comenzar las mañanas haciendo yoga por lo menos dos veces a la semana.  Capella Ixtapa está ubicada junto a la Ciclopista de Ixtapa, un camino exclusivo de bicicletas, así que voy a intentar ¡irme en bicicleta al trabajo (estoy considerando convertir mis viernes en “viernes de bicicleta”)!
  5. Gestionar el stress: Este ritmo de vida contemporáneo nos tiene a todos siempre ocupados y estressados, y creo que todos merecemos ser consentidos de vez en cuando, ¿no crees?  Ya tengo en mi agenda que cada primer sábado del mes ir a El Capricho spa por un tratamiento ‘obligatorio’.  ¡No puedo esperar!
  6. Leer mas:  Me encanta leer, pero comúnmente me encuentro inventando excusas para no hacerlo.  Leer no sólo ayuda a evitar la perdida de memoria, sino que también detona la creatividad y la imaginación.  Mi resolución de año nuevo es leer 10 libros de ficción y 10 libros de negocios en el 2015 (si tienes algún libro favorito que hayas leído recientemente, o que estés planeando leerlo, sugiérelo en la sección de comentarios)
  7. Mantenerse en contacto con amigos y seres amados:  El tiempo pasa muy rápido, y antes que te des cuenta los meses pasan sin pasar ni un sólo minuto con los amigos lejanos y repartidos por varias partes del mundo.  Las redes sociales no sustituyen lo bello de una conversación cara a cara.  Organiza una cita con tus amigos, levanta el teléfono y llámalos, o envíales una carta o postal escrita de tu puño y letra.  Si vives en la misma área, hazte el tiempo para verlos en persona.
  8. Ahorrar más:  Con pequeños ajustes a mi ritmo de vida planeo ahorrar más dinero para poder viajar más.  Ir al trabajo en bicicleta, me ayudará a mantenerme en forma, ahorrar en gasolina y al mismo tiempo contaminar menos.  Cuando compre ropa, no compraré basándome en modas pasajeras, sino en clásicos en estilo que perdurarán el paso del tiempo.  De esta forma no tendré tampoco que cambiar mi ropa cada temporada, y podré usar y combinar mi ropa por más tiempo.
  9. Comprar local:  Me encanta apoyar a los artesanos de nuestra comunidad.  Les ayuda a ganarse la vida y mantener a su familia, y al mismo tiempo les permite transmitir la tradición de su oficio de generación en generación.  Cuando viajo trato de hacer lo mismo y comprar de los artesanos locales.
  10. Hacer trabajo de voluntario:  ¿No te hace feliz cuando sabes que ayudas a alguien?  No nos cuesta nada ayudar a otras personas, pero si que repercute directamente en nuestros niveles de felicidad.  El año pasado comencé a ayudar a una asociación local de ayuda a niños de escasos recursos, y también ayudo a pasear perro s del Animal Humane Society de Zihuatanejo.

Que este Año Nuevo les traiga solamente lo mejor a ustedes y sus seres queridos!