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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An Unforgettable Lunar New Year

Cassia's signature Lou Hei

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.

6 Reasons You Should Visit Capella Ixtapa and Ixtapa Zihuatanejo

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Capella-Ixtapa-from-pool

At Capella Ixtapa we recently celebrated our 6th anniversary.  I still remember the day when we opened the resort, and can’t believe the time has passed by so quickly.  In these 6 years we have met many wonderful people from all over the world, and created many beautiful memories and friendships.  If you haven’t visited us yet at Capella Ixtapa and Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, here are 6 reasons why you should plan your visit soon:

1. Relax & Recharge

Our guests like to say that their stay at Capella Ixtapa was the most relaxing they have ever experienced.  And they are right.  Capella Ixtapa is perched upon a cliff facing a beautiful small bay.  The secluded location ensures you have all the privacy and tranquility, and our spa and culinary team will help you relax and recharge.

2. Romance

Capella Ixtapa has been named one of the most romantic resorts in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Mexico and world-wide.  Many couples who decide to visit Capella Ixtapa for their wedding celebration, honeymoon, or just a romantic escape, discover that those titles are well earned.

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3. All You Need is in Your Suite

And why we claim to be so romantic?  Because each of 59 suites at Capella Ixtapa has it’s own private pool and a cozy terrace, and from both you can enjoy blue Pacific Ocean views and marvellous sunrises and sunsets.  Indeed, all you need is in your suite and our room service is delicious, so if you want to spend you vacation sequestered in your room you can!

4. World’s Best Cuisine

Mexico has without a doubt some of the world’s best and most diverse cuisines.  Our Chef Miguel Baltazar has been named among the Top Chefs in Mexico, and he loves creating dishes that are based on Mexican tradition, while giving them a contemporary twist.  We are not forgetting about the classics, of course: every day at 5 pm, your complimentary treat of freshly made guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips and beers is waiting for you in your suite.

5. Nature

We are truly fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas of Mexico.  Lush nature, stunning landscapes, amazing flora and fauna, sunsets in all shades of hues from yellow to dark purple, and many gorgeous beaches are just another reason visiting Ixtapa Zihuatanejo is truly a must.

6. People

Mexicans are famous for their friendly nature, big warm smiles and open hearts.  Our staff and people of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo are looking forward to welcoming you to our small piece of paradise.

For more information on Capella Ixtapa, our accommodations and amenities, and reservations, please visit our website www.capellaixtapa.com

#SG50 – Five Reasons To Visit Singapore in 2015

Party With Us In Singapore

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 New Year Resolutions for a Better New Year

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capella-ixtapa

The New Year has started beautifully at Capella Ixtapa.  We wrapped up a wonderful holiday season with our guests from all over the world, and we are ready to enter the new year with the intentions to make this best year ever!  I have written a list of my new year resolutions, and wanted to share it with you – and at the end of the year you can ask me how I was able to keep up with my goals!  It doesn’t matter if you have one big wish for 2015 or a long list, I hope the year brings you inspiration and motivation to fulfilling your goals.  Please feel free to share your list in the comments below.

  1. Travel more:  there are so many places I want to visit, and in this new year, I would like to visit Singapore (and our sister hotel Capella Singapore), and Oaxaca, a beautiful and colorful Mexican state.  But – I also want to use my days off work and holidays to explore more of my own town, Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, and visit beautiful places I am surrounded with every day (romantic horse back riding at the beach, sunset walks, colourful towns are within reach easily.)
  2. Stay healthy:  this is probably one of the resolutions that is on my – and probably everybody else’s – new year resolutions list every year, and it should be.  Without health we can’t achieve anything, and it’s important to stay healthy.  To be more efficient, I have decided to talk to our wellness consultant at Capella Ixtapa, and have him help me create a detailed list of tips, ideas and activities, that will help me stay on track and not lose sight of my goal as the year goes by.
  3. Eat healthy:  I love cooking, but preparing 3 healthy meals daily can sometimes feel just too time consuming.  I have scheduled a cooking class with a visit to the local market with Chef Miguel Baltazar, who will share some of his healthy cooking recipes and tips with me.  I will repeat this each new season, so I can update my recipe book with new seasonal recipes and tips.
  4. Stay fit:  I intend to continue with my pilates classes, but want to add weekly running (both my dog and I will be happy for this one), and start with morning yoga at least twice per week.  Capella Ixtapa is located next to a Ciclopista, a bicycle path, so I am planning to try cylcling to work (I am thinking of making Fridays my bicycle Fridays)!
  5. Manage stress:  This busy life is keeping everybody stressed nowadays, and I believe we all deserve to be pampered now and then, don’t you think?  I have already bookmarked every first Saturday in the month at El Capricho spa for an ‘obligatory’ spa treatment.  I look forward to it already!
  6. More reading for fun and education:  I love reading, but find myself finding excuses too often for taking a reading break. Reading not only helps to prevent memory loss, but it boosts creativity and imagination as well.  My new year resolution is to read 10 fiction and 10 business books in the year too come (if you have any favorite books you have read in the past year, or are planning to, please share your suggestions with me in the comments below).
  7. Stay in touch with friends and loved ones:  time passes by too fast, and before I know it months pass without spending any time with my long-distance friends spread across the world.  Facebook just doesn’t compensate for a conversation in person.  Set a date with your friends, pick up the phone and call them, or send them a handwritten postcard or letter.  If you live in the same area, make time to see them in person.
  8. Save money:  With small lifestyle adjustments I want to save money so I can travel more.  By going to work by bicycle, I intend to stay fit, save on gas and at the same time pollute less.  When buying clothes, I will not buy based on current trends, but will buy clothing that never goes out of style.  That way I won’t need to change my wardrobe each season, but can keep using and combining my items for longer.
  9. Buy local:  I love supporting the artisans from our local community.  It helps them make a living and support their families, while at the same time carry on the tradition of their craft from generation to generation.  When I travel I tend to support local artisans as well.
  10. Volunteer to help others:  Doesn’t it make you feel happy when you help others?  It doesn’t cost us to help others, but it provides huge benefits to our happiness.  Last year I started helping local organisation with children in need, and I walk the dogs at Animal Humane Society of Zihuatanejo.

May the New Year bring only the best to you and your loved ones!

Romance In Singapore

Romance in Singapore

This February, love is in the air, especially in Singapore where the Chinese Valentine’s Day, which is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, coincides with the Western Valentine’s Day.

To commemorate this occasion, I sought to uncover some of the most romantic spots and activities where you can savour the best of Singapore while enjoying the company of your loved one.  These are my top 3 recommendations:

The Jewel Box Cable Car Dining
I particularly love this because you get to enjoy a private dinner with your loved one high up in the sky with a panoramic view of the vibrant Singapore city and Sentosa Island below you.  It is certainly a remarkably memorable experience to watch the glistening lights below.  You will truly feel the romance of spending quality time in a space which you can call yours exclusively for the evening.

Romance in Singapore

Be My Valentine: A Spa Villa at Capella Singapore
Last week, I had the pleasure of having a preview of the Be My Valentine package here at Capella Singapore.  Now this is romance!  Enjoy one of Capella Singapore’s romantic villas for the weekend, which has been completely transformed with romance in mind.  This weekend getaway includes in-Villa Auriga spa treatments, a special Valentine’s dinner at The Knolls and even a one-hour photo-shoot to memoralize the weekend.  Of course there is plenty of champagne and chocolate as well.  Frankly, I can’t imagine a more romantic way to spend the holiday!

Take A Trishaw Ride Though Singapore
In my book, nothing says romance more than a whimsical tour though Singapore’s rich colonial heritage.  Trishaws are bicycle drawn carts, an evolution of the rickshaws, which were used as transportation for the wealthy in old Singapore.  Today you can cosy up to your loved one as you take a ride though some of Singapore’s most culturally rich places like Chinatown – just you and your partner, and of course your friendly trishaw guide who’ll be eagerly share fascinating historical tales.

If you would like to know more about any of these couple’s activities in, please approach your Capella Singapore Personal Assistants who would be pleased to share their favourite romantic haunts in Singapore.