The Holiday Season in Saint Lucia

bamboobursting1

One of my favorite things about travel is experiencing the different customs that exist in cultures around the world. The holiday season is an exceptionally good time to do just that! Here at Capella Marigot Bay, we’re celebrating the holidays and ringing in the New Year with traditional St. Lucian foods, drinks and festivities. Today, I’ll be sharing my favorites with you.

Bamboo Bursting

bamboobursting1

While most people associate carols and mistletoe with the holidays, St. Lucia celebrates with a type of bamboo cannon that they craft themselves to create loud bangs and beautiful explosions of light. Accomplishing the desired effect takes precise skill and quite a bit of practice, making observation of this tradition even more exciting. Throughout the holiday season, you can hear the bamboo bursts echoing softy around the hills of the island.

A Traditional St. Lucian Christmas

If you enjoy experiencing local traditions as much as I do, you’ll love the Traditional St. Lucian Christmas. Members of the Capella Marigot Bay team tell stories passed down from their ancestors and share the island’s traditional Christmas foods and drinks such as St. Lucian Black Cake, made from rum and fruits, and the Holiday Sorrel Drink, made primarily from the beautiful, bright red Sorrel flowers.

sorrelplant

sorreldrink

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise

fireworks

Fireworks are a New Year’s staple in St. Lucia and I cannot think of a better vantage point to observe them from than on the Caribbean sea! The New Year’s Eve Midnight Cruise brings you to a location on the Northern part of the island where we could see several firework displays while we sipped champagne and a live DJ inspired our dancing spirit. Ringing in the New Year with so much energy, fun and excitement around me definitely set the tone for an incredible year and I highly recommend the experience.

 

These are my personal favorites but the holiday season in Saint Lucia includes countless activities to choose from. I highly recommend perusing the Daily Activities of the Festive Season Calendar, which you can find right here on the Capella Marigot Bay site. Your Capella Personal Assistant can arrange any of these activities and will help create a most memorable experience for you and your loved ones. ‘Til then, I wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday season filled with joy, love and just the right amount of adventure!

5 Top Festive Experiences In Singapore

Christmas always fills me with a sense of child-like wonder.  The nights twinkle with fairy lights and soft jazz drifts through the air.  It’s a magical season.  This year, I’ve picked my five favourite festive experiences that you shouldn’t miss if you happen to be in Singapore.

Enchanted Gardens

GBB2

High on my list this year is Gardens by the Bay, where toys and childhood fantasies come to life.  The gardens have been carpeted with poinsettia, Christmas rose, winter heather and holly; and towering over these yuletide florals is an 11-metre tall pyramid decked with toys.

To add to the sense of festive magic, the Supertree Grove also features a Spiegeltent (a century-old travelling ‘mirror tent’ from the Netherlands); and hosts a European-style festive market with Christmas gifts and delicious food.

Don’t miss the nightly light shows at the Supertrees that are now synced with beautiful festive tunes; as well as the series of ‘live’ performances on the multi-tiered traditional German wooden carousel at the Flower Field.  Look out for classical opera, stand-up comedians, string quartets and Enid Blyton storytelling.  Schedule here.

The Iridescent River

Singapore River

Always alit with soft shimmering lights, The Singapore River is peaceful during weekdays, and a bustling hub of activities on weekends.  It’s one of my favourite places for an evening stroll in Singapore.

This Christmas, it comes to life with a luminous forest of LED-lit tree-like structures from Robertson Quay to Boat Quay.  Christmas carollers and roving festive troopers will also add to the merriment on specific days of the week.  I’m really looking forward to the Artisan Pop Up Christmas Market at Clarke Quay’s Central Fountain Square from 5-7 December, and the fireworks display on 12 and 26 December at 9pm!

Party Under The Stars

Picture by www.yoursingapore.com

Picture by www.yoursingapore.com

December always puts me in a party mood, and Zouk Out is arguably one of the best dance festivals in the region.  Last year alone, this sunrise beach festival welcomed more than 50,000 revellers from Singapore and around the world.

Besides a diverse and electrifying line-up of techno, trance, indie-electronic and hip-hop music, festival-goers can also expect ‘live’ performances, art installations, costumed buskers, food stalls, fireworks and endless fun from dusk to dawn.  Zouk Out will take place from 11-12 December.

Christmas Movie Magic

Picture by www.rwsentosablog.com

Picture by www.rwsentosablog.com

If you love Christmas blockbusters as much as I do, here’s a chance to spend the yuletide season with your favourite characters.  Universal Studios Singapore‘s programme this year is nothing short of amazing.

Catch the Sesame Street Saves Christmas Show, Dancing Christmas Light Show, Fairytale Remix Show, and other festive performances featuring beloved characters such as the Penguins of Madagascar, Marilyn Monroe, toy soldiers and Scrooge.  Plus, it’s one of the few places to experience snow in Singapore, and catch a dazzling display of fireworks on 12, 19 and 29 December.

#5 Cuban Festival in Singapore

_MTC8413

One of the things I love best about travel is experiencing festivals around the world.  And this year, Capella Singapore re-creates a Cuban festival under the stars – El Ritmo de la Noche – for its New Year’s Eve Party.

Watch aerial performers whiz across the night sky, as well as fire dances, stilt walkers and magicians.  In the tradition of the best Latin American parties, a ‘live’ Cuban band Havana Social Club will also serenade you as you welcome 2016 with the finest champagne.  Join me on 31 December from 10pm!

For more exciting festive experiences around Singapore or Sentosa, speak to your personal assistants at Capella Singapore.

 

 

A Christmas Market Favorite: Roasted Almonds

Winter is my favorite time of the year, which is why I try to cherish each moment as much as I can. Christmas time brings back so many childhood memories, involving both friends and family in Dusseldorf and around the globe. My absolute favorite winter activity is a visit to the Christmas Markets.rsz_collage_blog_post_mandeln

Just in Dusseldorf, we have 12 Christmas markets spread throughout the entire city center  which are open from November 19th until December 23rd. I have visited various markets around Germany and I must admit that every single one is beautiful in its own way. Nevertheless, there is one attribute that differentiates a good market from an outstanding Christmas market: the quality of roasted almonds being sold in the festive booths.

Did you know that the production of roasted almonds has a tradition of over one hundred years? Even today, each almond roaster has his or her own recipe and production preferences, which varies only in minor details, but can seriously impact the final taste of the almonds.

In an old cookbook from 1870, I found a rather simple recipe, that makes quite irresistible roasted almonds.  The recipe calls for 500g of sugar disolved in water, to which 500g of almonds are added. The almonds get cooked and roasted, while cinnamon is sprinkled on top of the warm almonds. At the end, in order to achieve a shine, the almonds are toasted in a hot oven.

If you enjoy the delicious taste and typical smell of warm, freshly roasted almonds as much as I do, then join me at one of the Christmas markets in and around Dusseldorf during the next few weeks. Of course, our Personal Assistants at the Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel would be pleased to support you in finding your “perfect” Christmas market.

Furthermore, if you also love to enjoy roasted almonds outside of the Christmas season, I can recommend the Dusseldorf almond roasting shop to you. Here you can enjoy the taste of Christmas 365 days a year!

Das Beste am Weihnachtsmarkt: Gebrannte Mandeln

Der Winter ist mir die liebste Zeit im Jahr, weshalb ich versuche jeden Moment so gut wie möglich auszukosten. Die Weihnachtszeit bringt so viele Kindheitserinnerungen zurück – mit Freunden und Familie in Düsseldorf und auf der ganzen Welt. Meine absolute Lieblingsbeschäftigung ist das Besuchen der Weihnachtsmärkte.

rsz_collage_blog_post_mandeln

Allein in Düsseldorf haben wir 12 verschiedene Christkindlmärkte in der Stadt verteilt, die vom 19. November bis zum 23. Dezember geöffnet sind. Ich habe schon viele Märkte in Deutschland besucht und muss sagen, dass jeder einzelne auf eine andere Art besonders ist. Dennoch gibt es ein Merkmal, welches einen guten von einem überragenden Weihnachtsmarkt unterscheidet: Die Qualität der gebrannten Mandeln, welche an den kleinen Verkaufshäuschen angeboten werden.

Wusstet Ihr, dass die Herstellung von gebrannten Mandeln seit mehr als hundert Jahren Tradition hat? Auch heute noch hat jeder Mandelröster sein eigenes Rezept und Produktionsgeheimnis. Vielleicht sind dies nur kleine Unterschiede, dennoch können sie den endgültigen Geschmack der Mandeln beeinflussen.

In einem alten Kochbuch von 1870 habe ich ein sehr einfaches Rezept gefunden, bei dem man einfach nicht anders kann, als es auszuprobieren. Für das Rezept benötigt man nur 500g Zucker in Wasser gelöst, worin 500g Mandeln gekocht und gebraten werden. Danach werden die Mandeln mit Zimt bestreut und im heißen Ofen noch einmal geröstet, sodass sie ihren typischen Glanz bekommen.

Wenn Ihr den leckeren Geschmack und den unverkennbaren Duft von frisch gerösteten Mandeln genau so mögt wie ich, dann besucht doch in den nächsten Wochen mit mir gemeinsam die Weihnachtsmärkte in und um Düsseldorf. Natürlich helfen die Persönlichen Assistenten vom Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel auch gerne bei der Suche nach Eurem persönlichen Lieblings-Weihnachtsmarkt.

Wenn Ihr gerne gebrannte Mandeln außerhalb der Weihnachtszeit genießen möchtet, kann ich Euch die Düsseldorfer Mandelrösterei empfehlen. Hier könnt Ihr den Geschmack von Weihnachten ganze 365 Tage im Jahr erleben!

Best-Kept Auriga Spa Beauty Secrets

Singapore really comes to life during the festive season – with dawn-to-dusk feasting, dusk-to-dawn parties, and lots of shopping and gatherings in between.  That said, the festive frenzy sometimes sends me (and my skin) into over-drive.

This past month, back-to-back late nights were starting to take their toll.  So, with the party season coming up, I really needed a beauty reboot.  Fortunately, Auriga Spa’s Regional Director of Spa Alsu Abdulina read my mind, and invited me for a restorative experience.

The Ultimate Healing Journey

I’m personally not a fan of the new breed of ‘in-and-out’ express spa treatments.  So Auriga Spa’s back-to-classics and back-to-nature approach was just my cup of tea.  Instead of newfangled ideas and short-term quick-fixes, I embarked on the ultimate healing journey.

Vitality Pool

Vitality Pool

The moment I stepped into Auriga Spa, I felt removed from the fluster of the world.  Shrugging off my worries and slipping into my spa robe, I relaxed in the cinnamon-infused steam room, cooled myself down with the ice fountain, and then stilled my mind and body with the warm massaging jets of the vitality pool.  I was teleported to a secret universe where time stood still.

Rejuvenating Lunar Rituals

Since city life causes us to feel estranged from nature and our bodies, Auriga Spa’s treatments are designed to put us in tune with nature again.  The spa’s signature moon phase treatments are uniquely synced with the lunar cycle, and tap into its restorative energies.  My spa day happened to correspond with the new moon, so I was offered the New Moon Treatment for festive detoxification and renewal.

Unhurriedly, my therapist began by anointing and massaging my foot with a clarifying blend of juniper, rosemary and fennel oil.  Then, she treated me to an aromatic seaweed and eucalyptus salt scrub.  After I rinsed off the salt, dead skin cells and impurities, she slathered on a purifying seaweed mud wrap to purge out toxins.

Auriga Spa (Clay Back)-2

While being cocooned in this warm soporific wrap, my face was thoroughly cleansed and massaged with an organic honey jasmine mask that smelled good enough to eat.  And to end the treatment on a high note, I enjoyed a soothing body and scalp massage.  My therapist had an uncanny knack for finding and easing every ache in my body so that I emerged from this treatment feeling as good as new.

Best-Kept Spa Secrets

Alsu Abdulina, Regional Director of Spa

Alsu Abdulina, Regional Director of Spa

To retain my post-spa glow for as long as possible, I quickly caught up with Regional Spa Director Alsu for her wellness tips.  Here are her four secrets to youth and beauty:

#1 Eat Your Way To Glowing Skin

True beauty comes from within, so the first step to inner radiance is eating right.  Cut down on sugar, which cause glycation and damages the collagen and elastin in your skin.  Also, consume carbohydrates moderately, especially refined carbohydrates which are depleted of nutrients.

Instead, trade these for superfoods such as antioxidant-packed goji berries and acai berries, nutrient-dense avocado and omega-3 rich chia seed.

#2 Nature Is The Best Healing Balm

Don’t overwhelm your skin – many modern skincare products contain harsh and strong ingredients that may deliver flash results, but also tend to over-stimulate your skin.  This causes inflammation and premature ageing over time.

Organic and natural products on the other hand may take longer to deliver results, but they nourish your skin from within, and won’t strip or irritate your skin.  Some wonderful natural skin-savers to try are aloe vera, seaweed and marine collagen.

#3 Exercise Is The Key To Youth

Exercise not only helps your body flush out toxins through sweat; it also boosts microcirculation, and delivers oxygen and nutrients to each of your skin cells for speedy cellular rejuvenation.

Regular exercise also shapes your body up, and keeps your muscles toned.  Alsu personally enjoys a mix of cardiovascular workouts such as cycling, high-impact exercises such as gym classes, and relaxing and toning exercises such as yoga.

#4 Stress Ages Your Skin At Record Speed

It’s no secret that stress damages skin cells and accelerates ageing.  So in today’s fast-paced urban environment, spa-time is no longer a luxury but a necessity.  Scheduling spa-time regularly has immense stress-relieving and anti-ageing benefits!

The best way to benefit from a spa treatment is not to zip in and out of the spa in a great hurry.  Make it a point to arrive early, take your time to enjoy the spa facilities such as the steam room and vitality pool, and prepare your body well for the treatment ahead.  Don’t forget that our skin repairs itself best when we are completely relaxed.

Embark on your own wellness journey at Auriga Spa.  For more details, call 6591 5023 or email spa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

Christmas At Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel

Waiting for Christmas – I love it! My day starts with a walk to my Advent calendar to open the next window with great excitement.  The anticipation for Christmas grows every day.  But if you ask me, the best part of the day is, when I walk through the lobby of the Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel.  Our great pianist Ulli plays the most beautiful Christmas songs, the hotel gleams in its ceremonial brightness everywhere you look.  A wonderful Christmas tree with a mountain of presents under it welcomes every guest, client, deliveryman and employee entering the hotel lobby.

Christmast at Breidenbacher Hof

One of my favorite elements this year is our Christmas wonderland display featuring giant Steiff stuffed animals.  Provided by our neighbors Kaufhof an der Kö, this wintery display delights not only children, but adults as well!

I love to watch as the people enter the hotel.  At first, they may seem overwhelmed by their day or the bustling of the city outside.  But, then there is this moment: they look up, and suddenly are enveloped by the season’s good cheer.  Next thing you know, a smile stretches across their faces.  It doesn’t matter how exhausting the journey has been or how many people are rushing through the city – in this moment the Christmas season has overtaken them.  You can’t imagine what kind of privilege it is to welcome a guest at Christmas time!

Will you be visiting Breidenbacher Hof this holiday season?  Christmas at Breidenbacher Hof truly is a special experience.  If you are in Dusseldorf do come by for a cup of hot cocoa and some holiday cheer—you won’t be disappointed!