The Holiday Season in Saint Lucia

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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

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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.

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New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise

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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!

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!

Cinco De Mayo con Margaritas de Mango

En México somos bien conocidos por nuestra naturaleza festiva y alegre, y sinceramente no podemos decir que no a ninguna excusa para celebrar la vida y a las personas cercanas a nosotros.  Como se aproxima el Cinco de Mayo, y hay muchas festividades planeadas principalmente con nuestros vecinos del norte, me gustaría tomar esta oportunidad para compartirles algunos de los planes que tenemos para celebrar esta fecha aquí en Capella Ixtapa.  Yo estoy principalmente emocionada con el cocktail creado específicamente para la ocasión por nuestro mixólogo Miguel, ¡Y no puedo esperar más para compartirlo con ustedes!

Hay mucho más que guacamole, nachos y tequila durante las celebraciones del Cinco de Mayo, que contrario a los que muchos creen no es el Día de la Independencia de México, el cual es en Septiembre 16.  En Mayo 5 se celebra a batalla de Puebla, la cual conmemora la victoria del ejército mexicano sobre el ejército francés.  En Mayo de 1862, un poderoso ejército francés avanzaba hacia la Ciudad de México.  Los franceses se encontraban bien armados, disciplinados y eficientemente habían destruido cualquier resistencia en su avanzar a la capital mexicana.  Sin embargo, al llegar a las afueras de Puebla, sucedió algo que nadie esperaba:  Soldados mexicanos, la mayoría de ellos sin ningún entrenamiento formal y con un armamento bastante deficiente, derrotaron a los franceses.

La verdad es, que el Cinco de Mayo es mayormente una fiesta regional celebrada en la ciudad y el Estado de Puebla, con un modesto reconocimiento a nivel nacional en México.  Sin embargo, aquí en Capella Ixtapa ¡no podemos decirle que no a ninguna celebración!  Nuestro mixólogo Miguel amablemente nos comparte su receta para uno de sus cocteles más populares, la Margarita de Mango:

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Margarita de Mango

Ingredientes:

• 1.5 oz.  Tequila Maestro Tequilero reposado
• 1.5 oz.  Jugo de naranja
• 1 oz.   Cointreau
• Néctar de agave
• Jarabe o concentrado de mango
• Sal para escarchar

Preparación:

• Escarchar el vaso con sal y llenarlo de hielo.
• Añadir tequila, jugo, Cointreau, jarabe de agave y de mango en una coctelera shaker y agitar vigorosamente.
• Sirve el contenido sobre hielo (cubos o frappe).
• Decora con una fruta estrella o con una flor de bougainvillea.

Salud y feliz Cinco de Mayo!

St. Martin’s Day in Dusseldorf

I love when the weather shifts in Germany.  It is a sure sign that the holidays are upon us.  The first seasonal holiday is St. Martin’s Day.  The holiday is November 11th, but really festivities begin the night of the 10th.  This holiday is a wonderful reminder to be kind to those around us and is also lots of fun for children to participate in!

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Do you know the story of St. Martin? His actual name was Martin de Tours and he was born in 316 in Hungary. His colleagues and friends appreciated him because of his big heart: St. Martin reached out to people who were ill, gave help to the needy and shared his belongings where he could.  One day, when it was very cold, St. Martin came across a beggar freezing in the streets.  A snow storm was about to erupt and the beggar, who had little clothing, was sure to freeze.  St. Martin, who was on horseback dismounted to check on the beggar.  Realizing that the man was near freezing, St. Martin removed his own cape and drew his sword, slicing the cape in two.  He then gave the beggar half of the cape, ensuring the man’s survival.  It is this event that we celebrate each year.  I still remember my first St. Martin’s celebration and continue to take part every year.

The ceremony starts early in the evening when the sun goes down. In Dusseldorf we meet in the Old Town and everyone brings colorful lanterns which create a romantic and picturesque atmosphere. You can’t imagine what kind of feeling it is to be part of this crowd, watching actors who reenact the life of St. Martin and sing songs about him.

When the ceremony is over, my favorite part of the celebration starts: All of the kids and their parents walk from house to house, sing songs with their lanterns and get candy in return.  Although I’ve become too old to collect candy myself, I still enjoy being part of the tradition, handing out treats to the children.

What do you think? Will you be part of the St. Martin’s Day this year? Come out and watch the performance in the Old Town with me!  We will get you a pretty lantern and I’d love to teach you the songs so we can experience this unforgettable evening together.  For more information, please contact your Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel  Personal Assistant at pa.bbh@capellahotels.com.

 

St. Martinsfest in Düsseldorf

Ich liebe es, wenn die Tage in Düsseldorf kürzer werden und die Temperatur langsam sinkt, denn dies ist ein sicheres Zeichen dafür, dass die Feiertage unmittelbar bevor stehen. Der erste Feiertag in Deutschland ist das St.Martinsfest, welches traditionell erst am 11. November stattfindet, jedoch schon am Abend des 10.Novembers gefeiert wird. Dieser Feiertag ist besonders für Kinder mit viel Spaß verbunden und ein wunderbares Beispiel dafür, dass man respektvoll mit seinen Mitmenschen umgehen sollte.  610fbea0791

Kennt ihr die Geschichte von St. Martin? Sein richtiger Name war Martin von Toulouse und er wurde 316 in Ungarn geboren. Seine Freunde und Bekannten schätzten ihn vor allem aufgrund seines großen Herzens und seiner Selbstlosigkeit: St. Martin unterstützte Kranke, half Bedürftigen und verteilte seine Habseligkeiten wann immer er konnte. An einem sehr kalten Tag, begegnete St.Martin am Stadttor von Amiens einem frierenden Bettler. Ein Schneesturm zog auf und der Bettler, welcher nur wenig Kleidung trug, drohte zu erfrieren. Ohne zu zögern teilte St.Martin seinen eigenen Mantel mit seinem Schwert und gab dem Bettler die Hälfte dieses Mantels, wodurch er sein Überleben sicherte. Dies ist genau die Szene, welche jedes Jahr im November nachgestellt und gefeiert wird. Ich erinnere mich immer noch an mein erstes St.Martinsfest und nehme seitdem jedes Jahr daran teil.

Die Feierlichkeiten starten am frühen Abend, wenn die Sonne gerade untergeht. In Düsseldorf treffen wir uns zu Beginn in der Altstadt und jeder bringt bunte Laternen mit, welche eine romantische und gemütliche Atmosphäre erzeugen. Ihr könnt Euch nicht vorstellen, was für ein einzigartiges Gefühl es ist, Teil dieser Menge zu sein, die Schauspieler bei ihrer Vorstellung zu beobachten und die Lieder mitzusingen.

Wenn die Feierlichkeit vorbei ist, dann beginnt mein Lieblingsmoment des Abends: Alle Kinder und ihre Eltern ziehen mit den bunten Laternen von Haus zu Haus und sammeln Süßigkeiten. Auch wenn ich leider schon zu alt dafür bin selber Süßigkeiten zu sammeln, freue ich mich immer wieder darauf, Teil des St.Martinsfestes zu sein. Nun darf ich Süßigkeiten verteilen während die Kinder singen.

Was denkt ihr? Möchtet ihr dieses Jahr auch Teil des St.Martinstages sein? Kommt vorbei und schaut Euch den Umzug mit mir gemeinsam in der Altstadt an. Keine Angst, denn ich versorge Euch gerne mit einer schönen Laterne und bringe Euch auch die traditionellen Lieder bei, sodass wir einen unvergesslichen Abend erleben können. Für weitere Informationen, kontaktiert bitte unsere Persönlichen Assistenten im Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel, welche Ihr unter pa.bbh@capellahotels.com erreicht.

A Truly Unique Mother’s Day Gift

May is one of my favourite months.  This is because the second Sunday of May is Mother’s Day.  As a new mother, it has become even more meaningful — signifying to me the true beauty of life.  I have learnt to appreciate my own mother a lot more as well. As such, I decided that instead of buying my mother a generic Mother’s Day gift this year, I would do a bit of my own research so that the flowers I buy her will have significance and meaning.

What better place to learn about flowers than the Singapore Botanic Gardens — which was where I headed to last weekend.

Opened in 1859, the Singapore Botanic Garden is home to the National Orchid Garden, which features the largest display of tropical orchids in the world.  As the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid is the national flower of Singapore, I thought it fitting to give my mother a bouquet of orchids for Mother’s Day.  Covering more than 3 hectares of ground with more than 60,000 orchid plants representing 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids, I was sure to find the perfect orchid for my mother.

National Orchid Garden Singapore

When I was there, I found out that many famous people had orchids named after them, such as, Princess Diana, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!  Apparently, the National Orchid Garden has named more than 100 VIP orchids.

Orchids named after Princess DianaOrchids named after the late Princess Diana

Orchids named after Margaret ThatcherOrchids named after the late Lady Margaret Thatcher

It was at the National Orchid Garden that I realised that you did not have to be a VIP to name an orchid after someone.  An orchid can be named after your loved one for a fee of anywhere from S$5,000 to S$15,000.  The National Orchid Garden can put you in touch with a local orchid breeder who confer a unique hybrid after the name of your choice.  He will then send the details to the Royal Horticultural Society in London.  How amazing is that?  Who wouldn’t want an orchid named after them?  Don’t you think it is a truly unique Mother’s Day gift?  One that will live on forever.  I might just name one after my mother this Mother’s Day!

For those who are interested in finding out more about naming orchids, please contact your Capella Singapore Personal Assistants at pa.singapore@capellahotels.com / +65 6591 5034.  Alternatively, The Knolls is offering guests the opportunity to create a bouquet of flowers for their mothers during the Mother’s Day Sunday Brunch on 11 May 2014.  Please contact theknolls.singapore@capellahotels.com / +65 6591 5046 to find out more.