Celebrate 50 Years: 6 Unique Singapore Experiences

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If you’re in Singapore over the next few weeks, you’ve picked the best time to visit!  On the cusp of our golden jubilee, Singapore is one of the most exciting cities to be in.

We may be just a tiny red dot on the world map, but our small size simply makes us better at packing a lot of flavour into every experience.  And to celebrate our 50th birthday, our nation has gone the extra mile to orchestrate unique Singapore experiences in the month of August.  Here’s a peek at my personal calendar this month!

#1  Watch Fireworks Light An Iconic Skyline

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There’s something magical about watching firework light up the night – the dancing lights juxtaposed against a spectacular urban skyline is truly unforgettable.  Although catching the National Day Parade fireworks is a yearly ritual for me, I am particularly excited this year.  To celebrate 50 years of independence, the fireworks next month will be at an unprecedented scale, and specially designed to reflect the theme of ‘Majulah Singapura, or ‘Onwards Singapore’ in Malay.

This year, in additional to fireworks on National Day (9 August) and at the National Day Preview (1 August), you can also catch fireworks on 7 and 8 August at the Marina Basin.  The best part is, you won’t even need a ticket to the parade to witness these spectacular light displays.  Simply find a good spot along the Marina Bay Sands Waterfront, Esplanade, Marina Barrage or Helix Bridge for an unblocked view.

#2  Soak In Local Culture At Singapore’s First UNESCO Site

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I’m extremely proud to share that our garden city finally got its own UNESCO heritage site!  And fittingly, it is one of my favourite gardens in the world – the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  The minute you step into this green sanctuary, you will pick up a whiff of exotic herbs, flowers and lush foliage.  From the exquisite National Orchid Garden to the finely sculpted Bonsai Garden, our trees reflect our nation’s unique history, culture and personality.  I also love exploring the century-old heritage trees, which always inspire me to appreciate the fleeting beauty and transience of life.

After an afternoon of exploration, I particularly enjoy kicking back and enjoying an evening concert or outdoor movie screening accompanied by a cool evening breeze.  To celebrate Singapore’s birthday month, the Singapore Botanic Garden’s August line-up include local films such as It’s A Great Great World and Singapore Dreaming.  If you’re visiting Singapore for the first time, this will offer you an instant immersion in local culture and common expressions.

#3  Try The 50-Finger Massage At Capella Singapore’s Auriga Spa

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I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for spa treatments. Carving up me-time is my secret to staying young, and beating everyday stress.  Auriga Spa is one of my favourite places because it instantly transports me from the mundane demands of life and the ceaseless bustle of the city.

For the month of August, Auriga’s Spa director Shanti has designed the ultimate indulgence – the 50-Finger Massage.  As you can imagine, this 50-Finger Massage was inspired by SG50 and Singapore’s 50th birthday, so no expense is spared to ensure your utmost comfort and relaxation.  Performed by five therapists in synchronised motions, this massage soothes the legs, body, hands, neck and scalp, kneading away every tensed muscle in the body at once.  It takes one through Auriga’s four signature moon phase therapies – the New Moon to awaken the senses, Waxing Moon to loosen tight joints, Full Moon for balance and Waning Moon for detoxification and cleansing.  I felt utterly renewed after this treatment.

#4  Go Museum-Hopping Around Singapore

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Museums are the best place to soak in culture, and Singapore offers some of the best museums in Southeast Asia.  From art to culture, history and science, museum-hopping is one of the best ways to indulge my inner geek.

One of my favourite museums is The National Museum – also the oldest museum in Singapore, and a haven of intricate artefacts.  Singapura: 700 Years is currently on display at this museum, and chronicles our nation’s transformation from a fishing village to modern Singapore.  Also worth a visit are the Asian Civilisation Museum, the Singapore Art Museum, and The ArtScience Museum.

#5   Shop For Quirky Souvenirs

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Whenever international friends visit Singapore, I love presenting them with Singapore-inspired souvenirs.  However, one thing I do not love, is ‘Singapore Is A Fine City’ T-shirts.  If you’re looking for more design-driven and less clichéd options, two of my current raves are Naiise and Mandy T.

Naiise is a Singapore-based shopping portal that stocks curated designs by more than 250 brands from Singapore and around the world.  This includes homeware, art, T-shirts and fashion accessories that allude to local humour and expressions.  Many of these designs are modern, clean and intelligent.

Beautyphiles will also adore Mandy T, an artisan natural skincare atelier that will give many large brands a run for their money with tasteful and personal creations.  Mandy, founder of the eponymous label, is a former marketer and publicist who cooks up beauty remedies free from synthetic dyes, artificial fragrances, parabens and petrochemicals.  Many of her products feature fresh herbs from her very own garden.

#6  Toast To 50 Years Of Singapore At Bob’s Bar

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If like me, you’ve had one too many Singapore Slings, it’s time to discover a new Singapore-inspired cocktail.  Exclusively for the month of August, Bob’s Bar unveils a new national cocktail crafted by bartender Vincent Zheng.

The Red Island is made with ingredients that represent the four main ethnicities of Singapore – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian.  It is as complex and unforgettable as it sounds.  An ode to Singapore’s cultural diversity, this Shiraz wine concoction is an ideal way to round up my Singapore adventures.  Cheers to more amazing travels!

For more activities in Singapore, please visit the Capella Singapore’s website here, or contact your personal assistant for recommendations.

 

 

Eating Well: Healthy Tips For Summer Travel

Steven Fowler - Director of Food & Beverage DC

Longer days, children buzzing about outdoors, and warmer weather can only mean one thing – summer has finally arrived!  My family summer vacations always included fun road-trips, action-packed plans, and a ton of laughter while creating memories that I continue to cherish until today.

Often a key component of our traveling was the dining.  My parents always attempted to find a balance between summer indulgence and making sure we stayed healthy and well nourished.  Today, this is still a priority for me, as I love to take part in local flavors, but not at the expense of taking care of my body.  Taking this into consideration, I thought it the perfect opportunity to sit down with the Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown culinary team to find out what they recommend for maintaining a healthy, but enjoyable, lifestyle during summer travel.

Healthy Tips For Summer Travel:

Chef Frank Ruta - DC

“Always ask the locals and those around you, even your waiters while dining out what the healthiest options are on the menu or local spots to try.  Insider tips are always helpful and they know what they’re talking about!”   ~Executive Chef, Frank Ruta

Chef Aggie - Pastry Chef DC

“Remember it’s a vacation!  It’s a time to enjoy everything that’s going on with the activities and with your family and friends surrounding you. Enjoy the food and desserts and have a great time.” ~Pastry Chef, Aggie Chin

Steven Fowler - Director of Food & Beverage DC

 “Sitting in a cramped position for long periods, whether in an airplane, car, or bus, can lead to an increased risk of potentially health related issues.  To minimize risk, drink plenty of water and stay active to allow the blood to flow.  Always carry around with you bottles of water and try to drink plenty of fluids to prevent from becoming dehydrated.” ~Food & Beverage Director, Steve Fowler

Kelly S - Catering Sales Manager DC

“The first thing I do when I travel is to search for the local markets and grocery stores to stock up on fresh veggies, fruits, and snacks.  Sourcing our breakfast meals from fresh local markets was a great way to save some extra cash and getting in touch with how the community in that particular destination lived.  You can ask for a complimentary mini-fridge to be sent to your hotel room to store these items as well.” ~Catering Sales Manager, Kelly Schneider

I hope these tips will come in handy for healthy and delicious summer of traveling!  Please tag @CapellaDC on social media and share your own healthy/delicious summer traveling tips so that I can share them with our community.  Have a great summer!

10 Family Friendly Activities In Ixtapa Zihuatanejo

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Welcome summer and holidays in the sun!  When planning vacations with my family, I always choose the destination based on the variety of activities in the area.  After all, the bigger one’s family the more options you have to have!

In Ixtapa Zihuatanejo we are lucky that we have direct flights and easy access from many towns in Mexico, as well as from United States and Canada.  If you are planning your summer vacations in Mexico, and are looking for family friendly activities in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, here are just some of my favorites:

1. Beach Time

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Ixtapa Zihuatanejo’s unique beachfront location gives us plenty of beaches to choose from to enjoy our beach day.  Here are some of my favorite beaches in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo area.

2. Water Activities

All of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo beaches offer unique fun at the ocean, be it swimming, snorkeling, diving, water skiing, kayaking, surfing, SUP, or anything else your heart desires.  You can find my colleagues, great surfers, at any of these beaches, and your Capella Ixtapa Personal Assistant will be happy to  any other water activity for you, along with the transportation.

3. Swimming With Dolphins

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Swimming with dolphins gives you a unique experience to get to know these beautiful sea creatures.  I loved getting to touch their soft skin and the dolphin-kisses as well!  This excursion is available for kids as well as adults, and I can guarantee you will never forget it.

4. Sailing Tour

Enjoy the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area from the best seat and with the best view possible – from the ocean!  I especially love the sunset sailing tour as the lighting really captures the beauty of the area.

5. Horseback Riding 

Horseback riding is a fun family experience, where you get to explore our beaches and nature.  All the horse back riding tours provide an experienced guide, so you can feel secure about the tour even though you might not be an experienced rider.

6. Bicycle Tour

Cycling is probably my favorite way to explore the area.  At Capella Ixtapa we have the bicycles ready for you (you can also rent them in town), so you can explore the area at your own pace.  I suggest you go to the nearby Ciclopista, and explore the flora and fauna by the road or you can enjoy the crocodile watching at a nearby park (from a safe distance of course).  I also enjoy pedaling to downtown and enjoying the market and marina.

7. Cooking Classes

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At Capella Ixtapa you can participate in cooking classes, which are both fun and educational opportunities.  Our chefs can teach you how to make some of your favorite dishes, which you will then be able to recreate at home.  It is the perfect way to relive your favorite memories from your Mexico adventure.

8. Archeological Tour

If you’d like to learn more about Mexico and the area’s history, head to Petatlán, a small town near Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, and visit Xihuacan Museum and pyramid at the Soledad de Maciel Archaeological Site.  The museum currently showcases more than 800 Pre-hispanic pieces, such as figurines, obsidian vases, works in shell, copper axes, bell necklaces and ceramics.

9.  Ecopark El Refugio de Potosí

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If you love to explore more than just beaches, then I recommend you to visit the ecological park El Refugio de Potosí, a wildlife refuge with the mission of rehabilitating wildlife and returning animals to their natural habitats. where you can see some of the wild animals found in the area.  On my visit, I saw sea turtles, crocodiles, tree porcupines, various bird species, snakes, iguanas and more.

10.  Local Shopping

Anywhere I travel, I enjoy visiting the local markets.  Mexican markets are very special as you can find a wide range of products, from fresh local produce, to artisan products and souvenirs.  When visiting Ixtapa Zihuatanejo’s market, I also recommend you head to the marina and enjoy a freshly made local coffee, or a fresh seafood lunch.

For more recommendations on activities and things to do in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, please visit the Capella Ixtapa website here, or contact your Capella Ixtapa Personal Assistants, who can help you organize a tour or activity.

Summer Skin – Ready, Set, Glow!

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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!

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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:

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#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.

Zip Line Adventures In The St. Lucian Rain Forest

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St. Lucia has a myriad of fun, adventurous activities and as the Capella Marigot Bay Insider, I am thrilled to share one of my favorites: the zip line!

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It all began at Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia where I was outfitted in a harness and helmet (safety first!). My group and I were assigned to two guides who took us through out rainforest adventure and back again.

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The aerial tram brought us through the five layers of the rainforest up to the rainforest canopy. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and told us all about the various trees and plants that thrive in each layer of the rainforest.

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After the aerial tram, we had the chance to hike through the rainforest which let us experience its splendor up close and personal. I was awe-struck by the grandeur of these pristine natural surroundings.

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The hike brought us to the first platform where we began our zip line adventure. Each platform is a bit like a treehouse and the only way to get back to the ground is by zip lining from one treetop platform to the next! But don’t worry, while it’s definitely a thrill, the guides are great at putting you at ease. They’re fun-loving attitude coupled with the fact that they’ve done this hundreds of times helped me conquer my fear of heights and I felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment. For seasoned zip-liners and adventure-seekers, there are always ways to make the experience even more thrilling. Just ask the guides who are well-versed in going upside down, backwards, hands-free and even offer zip line experiences at night!

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I loved how I felt part of the rainforest canopy. Unencumbered by a structure I felt completely free, like one of the rainforest birds flitting from treetop to treetop.

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The last zip line is the longest because it’s the one that brings you back to the ground. This was my favorite part of the course because it gets a bit bouncy, adding another element to the experience.

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Just because the zip lining is finished, doesn’t mean the fun had to end!  The hike back to the aerial tram is another opportunity to experience the beauty of the rainforest. St. Lucia has done a great job of making sure the rainforest stays as untouched as possible. And when we took the aerial tram back to the foothills, we were treated to the most magnificent view!

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I can’t thank the team at Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia enough for their fun and professional attitude and spirit. They’ve truly created something special.

If zip lining is something you would like to do while visiting St. Lucia, don’t forget to tell your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant who will be able to set everything up for you!

And in the mean time, try to experience a little daily adventure. It will help you appreciate life and your loved ones every single day!

Take A Catamaran Sunset Cruise To The Pitons

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Saint Lucia is a gorgeous island and one of the best ways to take in and enjoy all the stunning sights it has to offer, is by sea! Thankfully, Capella Marigot Bay is also a Marina, making it extra easy to find the perfect boating experience to suit your desires.

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One of my personal favorites is the Catamaran Sunset Cruise to the Pitons! The catamaran is a special type of boat whose wide base allows for faster sailing while providing ultimate comfort for passengers. This makes for an enjoyable experience where you can whisk along the water’s surface without excessive dipping and bobbing, something that lends itself really well to ideal snap shots and minimal drink spillage. And that will come in handy since it’s the sunset cruise is open bar with delicious rum punch, sparkling wine and even some of St. Lucia’s own lager, Piton Beer.

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The Pitons tower majestically above seemingly springing out of the sea itself and the Catamaran Sunset Cruise takes you right in between Petit Piton and Gros Piton. This also happens to be the location of a National Marine Reserve and so the catamaran stops for 45 minutes allowing passengers to snorkel and see some underwater Saint Lucian wonders!

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While the catamaran is stopped, the bar opens. Passengers can lounge and take in the sights while enjoying a cocktail and chatting with each other. As the sun begins to dip towards the horizon and the sunset lighting starts to set in, the crew plays some Caribbean dance music and the party begins.

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Some people dance while others lounge, sip on drinks and watch the merriment! The entire experience easily becomes an unforgettable memory shared with newfound friends who wave goodbye as the catamaran drops you back off at Capella Marinasunsetcruise8

Be sure to let your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant know if you would like to take a Catamaran Sunset Cruise and everything will be set up for you! Get ready for a gorgeous and fun-filled experience that will yield amazing photos and lifelong memories.

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