For the love of Health- Sante Spa Cuisine, Hyderabad

So, while it has been a while since I last posted here, I am extremely excited to share with you, all about a fun yet unconventional dining experience (it’s an all day eat-out) in the heart of Hyderabad, i.e. Sante Spa Cuisine in Banjara Hills. Before you get thinking that there is a spa twist to this as well, hold on as there isn’t but the food here promises to be made with the choicest of healthy ingredients without compromising on the taste factor. And for someone like me who is quite conscious of my food intake but has been travelling quite a bit in the recent teams, a healthy eat-out is absolutely a great idea!!!

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Getting Started- They have an elaborate menu on offer and just because their offerings are healthy does not mean that they have a limited menu! You in fact, would land up spending some good amount of time mulling over what really to order. In the starters, the Thai Spiced Fish Cakes totally won our hearts!!!

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WOW Factor- Well, for a pizza lover, pizza on the order is a must! And believe it or not but most of their pizzas have a Ragi Base! And as you can see our pizza was very colourful and trust me, very tasteful as well!

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Sweet Endings- You have to really love a dessert to ask for a repeat, right? Their Valrhona Chocolate Pie with an oat flour base was absolutely divine!

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Lastly, its not a compact but a rather well spread out outlet with a good vibe to it!!! And we were told the Activated Charcoal Lemonade is a must order as well. You can even buy their homemade healthy cookies…The owner was extremely welcoming and we truly believe much hard work is going in to deliver a very international yet healthy experience! Having said all this, as I have visited here- I am happy that I have been able to get another tick on my- MUST VISIT PLACES IN HYDERABAD list 🙂

Best,
Sonali

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The Oasis Spa for an experience like no other!!!

Okay then, some of the finest things take time… Hence, this review is coming now- well, I was in Bangkok in February like many of you already know and a ritual of sorts for me is to pamper myself at the top quality and extremely rejuvenating spot- The Oasis Spa.

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Once you enter its surreal setting, you’re sure to leave behind all your worries and stress and trust me on this, I always feel when I am here that I am no longer in a city but truly in heaven.

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It truly is an Oasis of everything pleasant and positive! The tranquility develops as you pass through the gate into an exotic world of beauty, serenity and pleasure. Here you are in company of a place of lush foliage, wooden bridges and walkways, waterfalls, reflective ponds and private treatment villas encompassed in the arms of ancient venerable trees.

The manner in which you are greeted as if they were only waiting for you (even though they keep quite busy), the welcome with fruits, towel and a drink that follows, then the entire process of ensuring you get the most appropriate and effective therapy taking into consideration several factors- everything is dealt with utmost care and professionalism.

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I am not new to this spa at all as have been visiting it for years but this time around I wanted a loved one to try it for she is getting married soon. And with the wedding preparations comes enough anxiety and stress, so I thought this would be the most ideal spa date and gift for her! And while I shall take you through our treatments, I must share upfront itself that my lovely was blown away by the services and the experience and towards the close of our trip, said without a doubt that the visit to The Oasis Spa was the highlight of the entire trip for her!

While she opted for the King of Oasis Signature Massage which is a two hours massage and ensures utmost level of release, relief and contentment using a unique combination of “East meets West” massage techniques. It employs kneading, thumb pressure, stretching and compression combined with a warm aromatherapy oil massage and a Thai Herbal Hot Compress. Tired muscles are soothed to allow stretching that removes energy barriers and re-open all the body’s energy pathways. Eventually you find relief from stiff muscles and muscular discomfort, and gift yourself improved sleep and reduced stress.

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And I this time around went in for the Queen of Oasis Signature Massage which is also a two hours massage combining the best of Eastern and Western therapies to promote a woman’s health and sense of well-being. The ancient oriental massage integrated into this therapy concentrates on the Meridian Lines to detoxify, improve organ function and promote self-healing. The Swedish, Hot Stone and Aromatherapy massage further restores and enhances vitality. It realigns a woman’s life-energy, improves digestion and promotes inner harmony. And you know what? This treatment quite rightly has been compared to doing yoga without the effort while receiving acupressure treatments!

And let me make an honest confession here that the hot stone therapy is absolutely blissful. I also believe that a good spa experience always helps you get some relaxed sleep and guess what? We both woke up totally refreshed post our treatment, still wanting more.

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I always say this and shall say this again- when in Thailand, a visit to The Oasis Spa is a must!!! The Oasis Spa has over 10 branches in Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations of Bangkok, Chiangmai, Pattaya, and Phuket. This is a special year for the brand as it completes 15 years of excellence in 2018!

Happy Spa-ing you all!!!

xoxo,

Sonali

Nailed it with ease and style!

Hey, so finally I am getting to talk all about the wonderful experiences I had in Bangkok lately, though all of you who follow us on Instagram would be privy to all the fun that we had but time to blog it all out too…

So, when girls decide to spend some time on personal care and pampering… nails definitely feature in the to-do list! Hence, we decided to take some time out for our nails and give them a good make-over! So, we headed to the Pretty Cozy Nail Cottage in Thonglor. The name of the place truly gets reflected in its ambience and interiors, for they seemed both pretty and cozy!!!

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This nail spa provides a plethora of services including Classic Spa Manicure/Pedicure, Manicure/Pedicure Spa with Gel Colour, Soak-off Gel Removal, Polish Change, Acrylic Nail Extension, Nail Art, Kiddies Manicure/Pedicure and a lot more.

Here’s sharing about the service we opted for which was a Spa Manicure and Gel Polish Color with Nail Art. For Spa manicure, first, they started with nail clipping and filing, and then scrubbed with a high quality spa product. The scrub we were told helps to remove the dead skin. Then they cleaned and soaked our hands, put some lotion, then pushed back our cuticles which was followed by buffing. Then came in the sanitisation of our hands with alcohol. The last step was to put moisturizer and massage our hands for the much needed relaxation. After the spa was done, they started the process of putting Gel Colour on our nails. Well, choosing the nail colour here was no easy task for their options seemed just unlimited. We were informed that they have more than 180 Gel Colours available from OPI and CND shellac.

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After the nails are properly prepared with OPI Bond Aid (to up the durability and ensure less chipping), they normally start with base coat, then do the colours/nail art, then put the top coat of our choice (glossy, matt, chrome) then finish it off with cuticle oil .

Well, both of us were extremely happy with our nails but what truly impressed us was how meticulously the nails were done and also with much swiftness otherwise I always shy away from such treatments, thinking that the whole day will go in just a salon visit but the staff here was extremely professional and valued our time.

So, when in Bangkok and in search of a quality nail spa- Pretty Cozy Nail Cottage is a good pick and also you would be thrilled to know that they aren’t expensive.
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xo,
Sonali

 

For the love of Good Skin

It is quite well believed that the best cosmetic is great looking skin! Hence, we reckon that one should go deep into the skin-care products we use and lay utmost emphasis on the quality of what gets applied on our skin!

Though I love my basic make-up but I also truly appreciate natural beauty, I mean we would all love it if we could just step out more often in our no make-up look. For if the skin is glowing and radiating- who needs loads of make-up? Anyways, even if we do apply make-up often, there is still no missing on a regular skincare routine.

Up your confidence in your skin by upping the quality of products in your beauty closet.

Now accelerating focus on a brand we came across few days ago and got a chance to unravel more about… Sharing all from our chat with Zahara Gizelle Nedou, CEO, Zahara Skincare. Let me tell you the brand sure looks promising and I am thoroughly enjoying applying their refreshing Spring Scrub and before calling it a day, I love to apply their Walnut Oil on my face and body for some nourishment!

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Q: Tell us the story behind Zahara and what led to the coming up of the brand?
A: My English and Kashmiri grandmothers were my biggest influences, watching them every day make something out of pure recall of what their cultures of parents did-was for a 6 year old almost a miracle! At the age of 9, I already knew what Cleopatra did as a beauty regime and I would fill my bathtub with milk and roses and was very well aware that it would moisturize and lighten my skin! So, I grew up replicating and adding to what I knew about organic skincare. With my diverse family culture and all my travels and knowledge and love for organic skincare regime grew. However, it was not until recently that I decided to commercialize it.

Q: How has the response been so far?
A: Fantastic! I tested my products in Dubai when I first started making them and it was there where I realized what Zahara Skincare is actually capable of and what it can do as an organic skincare company. I came back to India with the same zest and it has been a positive if not a similar response like I had internationally. It is slower but very positive as the awareness of using or switching to an organic lifestyle is still in its initial stages in India. But we are growing as a brand on a daily basis and it’s becoming a really fun journey!
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Q: What is the uniqueness of Zahara products which sets it apart from the rest?
A: I do understand that each organic brand has a few things that sets them apart. At Zahara Skincare, we grow most of our ingredients and harvest them on family run farms across the valley and our very own orchards. We also pay detailed attention that everything is grown chemical-free and most importantly, we are reviving and modernizing traditional beauty regimes and recipes from the Middle-East as well as Kashmir. These are tried and tested methods from the past, which we re-introduce today!

Q: Tell us about the hot buys of Zahara and what makes them must try products?
A: Hot buys would be-
1. Shine Bright like a Diamond- It’s a glow pack with a history of hundreds of years of Kashmiri culture!
2. Spring Scrub- It’s a rose and oatmeal scrub with just the right amount to give you a scrub and a soft rosy glow!
3. The Bow-tox in the Bottle- This is a traditional Arab recipe for removing fine lines and shall plump your skin for that young look.
4. Our rare product “Mulberry Silk Worm Cocoons” that no one in the country has and we at Zahara skincare, have got a raging response for that.

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Q: One unhealthy beauty routine according to you which must be done away with right away?
A: I can sit here and list a million routines that we still practice in India which really aren’t very good for our health or bodies. But if I had to choose the worst according to me, then it would be the constant use of “Skin Bleaching Creams/Products”. Some cosmetic products, including skin-lightening creams contain high levels of mercury.

Mercury is primarily used in skin-lightening creams because it blocks the production of the skin pigment melanin. It can damage the kidneys and the nervous system, and interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children.

Q: The healthy home beauty routine which must be a part of our routines?
A: First up, not many people are strict about their water intake, so- hydrate, hydrate and hydrate yourself! If you find it difficult to have plain water, add some lemon or mint or even fruit. Add whatever but have water! Most people don’t realize how water affects a human body.

About the beauty aspect of it, try to reduce the use of chemicals on your skin. Try applying organic turmeric with coconut oil on the face at least 2-3 times a week- it eradicates acne, any toxins or any form of infections that may start to begin on your skin and the coconut oil hydrates and lightens your skin.

Q: What are the future plans for the brand and where can one get their hands on Zahara products?
A: As for now, we take orders and are very efficient on both our social media platforms, i.e., Facebook and Instagram. Just “like us” on either of the pages and send us a message and we would guide you through your skin concerns and offer you a few of our products and BOOM within the next 24-48 hours, our jars of joy will be with you! We will be now available on various other platforms just for the comfort of our clients like Amazon, Scootsy, Sublime Factory and many more. We also plan to be available on ground across the country in many organic/multi-brand stores! And we are even available in Dubai, Oman and New York at selected stores.

 

Well, I can only sense goodness for the brand and being offering by the brand. Here is wishing them the very best, always! And I am almost running to try out their Shine Bright like a Diamond pack!
Best,
Sonali

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unforgettable Hotel Experience in Bangkok

Confucius asserted, “Wheresoever you go – go with all your heart”. It is quite a thought and advise to take and while I actually went with all my heart to this property- I even came out with my heart filled with beautiful experiences and memories which are going to stay with me forever! In short, this was not just any visit or stay in a hotel- it was one where I felt cherished and cared for throughout!

The property I am referring to is a sister hotel to the award winning 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai, and is located on Sukhumvit Soi 39 in Bangkok called the 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok. It enjoys a wonderful location as it is situated only a short distance from the upscale and fashionable shopping district of Emquartier/Emporium.

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The architects for the property are Palmer and Turner from Bangkok, with Interiors by P49 Design and Landscape by Wabi Sabi Studio. 34 exquisitely appointed suites opened their doors earlier in April this year. And lucky me, just late May- I got the opportunity of experiencing the magic at their Sukhothai Suites.

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The check-in procedure was extremely smooth and exclusive as my suite check-in happened at the Leonowens Club where we were even treated to a refreshing and colour-packed welcome drink.

In no time, we were guided to our suite and I have to admit it that I had a jaw-dropping moment- the minute I stepped into my suite and what made it even more special was a welcome note and platter filled with goodies.

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As I looked around, I unravelled all about my home for the next two nights! Some of its features included a private butler service, maxi bars with wine cellars, user friendly mood lighting, high ceilings, large walk-in wardrobes and stunning marble en-suite bathrooms with chic circular baths complete with built in TV.

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They even reckon that the sleep experience is of the highest standard and the spacious balcony was the ultimate chill zone, complete with the traditional 137 Pillars House signature rocking chair and an over-sized day-bed for two, with superb view of the Bangkok skyline. The balcony was a true blessing for a person like me who loves to sometimes just disconnect and relax!

​137 Pillars Suites features the 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts signature Leonowens Club, the Jack Bain’s Bar and Cigar Divan, and the exquisite Nimitr specialty restaurant featuring Thai favourites with a molecular twist as well as Western delicacies created by their Group Executive Chef and Culinary Artist, Peter Marx from Sweden. A meal here is a must. We dined here once and not just enjoyed the true beauty of the restaurant but thoroughly loved every bit of our meal as well.  It was quite an experience I must say!

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Their Bangkok Trading Post Restaurant is an all-day dining bistro and deli appealing to local residents and guests, serving Western and Asian favourites as well as freshly baked breads, connoisseur coffee and specialty beverages. I was told that both the restaurants were designed and created by Bangkok’s chic design couple Sophie Beghin and Faun Israrena na Ayudhya of Santhaya Associates.

And this is not it, staying in the suite comes with even more added benefits. One need not use the common pool, instead I had an amazing time swimming in their rooftop infinity edged pool. Also, an exclusive gym facility is available for the suite guests! The 27th floor has chic late check-out and early check-in pods and separate shower facilities in the event that suites are fully booked.

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Trust me when I say that there wouldn’t be a dull moment when staying here. The NITRA spa and wellness center with a separate yoga and meditation sala offers activities including aerial flow yoga, tai chi, reiki and dance. Their Golf Studio seemed rather fun and interesting. Others services include 137 signature dining and picnics by design, a personal shopping service and guide, privately curated and customized tours, tennis and golf practice putting and chipping with personal trainers for both on request, kids’ corner and meeting space.

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In case you want to know how to get here, then here are the details… You could get to the Emquartier/Emporium shopping complex through the BTS Skytrain/MRT underground trains and then you could get a pick-up scheduled in their complimentary London Cab, affectionately known as Louie.

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Also, since the property name reflects residences, here is why- 137 Pillars Residences Bangkok houses 179 private residences offering bespoke facilities for leisure, business and long stay guests including the use of their stylish, customized London Cab.

Lastly, I can’t thank 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok enough for the most spectacular stay ever! The staff here was the most helpful, caring and accommodating… I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast each day and have to mention that one cannot afford to miss trying their waffles for breakfast at Leonowens Club!

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Wishing this property great success always as they deserve every bit of it!

Best,
Sonali

In Love with Tea all over again!

I would be lying if I’d say that I have not been a tea fan. In fact, I have always loved my tea and even more in times of rejoicing as well as during stress times to refresh myself! But my latest obsession without a doubt has been with the teas from Gardner Street which are rather aromatic and tasteful. And trust me I have never enjoyed having my tea as much as I do now. I am big time in love with tea all over again! And what is more is that these teas do come with considerable benefits as well.

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And then I got talking with their Brand Representative, so without any delay- here is all that they had to share…

Q: Tell us a little about each of your signature, luxury and wellness collections?
A: So, sharing some information on them-
Wellness- The blends have been created keeping in mind certain targeted problems that are faced by our consumers in their daily lives.
Luxury- Blends that are to be sipped on in leisure, while conversations with our loved ones flow into the night.
Signature- Our first line of teas which is focused on making one ingredient the hero while our whole leaf green tea and other accompanying ingredients compliment it.

Q: Tell us one rare benefit about these teas which is least known?
A: All our teas are whole leaf teas which means that they have a much higher concentration of EGCG and other antioxidants that provide all the benefits from weight loss to clearing the skin. Also, commercial variety paper teabags are composed of tea dust and fanning which is the lowest grade of tea available and is in the form of tiny tea particles. When tea is broken down into such tiny particles it loses all its nutritional benefits and often results in a brew that tastes stale and is more likely to turn bitter.

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Q: This one is for all those who love to host tea parties, what food goes best with your teas?
A: It actually depends on the tea-
1. Glow- Goes best with light foods like Salads, Sandwiches and unsweetened baked goods like Croissants
2. Moroccan Mint- Apple Pie, Poached Pear Tart, Fruit and Spice-based Desserts
3. Chinese Whispers- Asian food like Dim sums, Teppanyaki Rice and Vegetables, Udon noodles
4. Kashmiri Kahwa- Rich Indian foods like Biryani and Kebabs
5. Flower Power- Pancakes, Crepes, Light Salads and Desserts

Q: What are the key points to keep in mind while preparing your teas?
A: Your final cup of tea is a result of the following factors:
1. Quality of tea leaves used- Gardner Street teas are high quality whole leaf teas
2. Water temperature- For Green teas, make sure the water temperature is just under boiling temperature (85 degrees Celsius). To arrive at this, let the water come to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and then wait for 2 minutes till it cools down a little. Then pour the water over tea and not the other way around. For Black and Herbal teas (Moroccan Mint and South African Rooibos) – use boiling water
3. Brewing time- Green Tea- 2-3 minutes, Blacks and Herbals- 5 minutes
4. Quality of the water used- Make sure that you are using filtered water

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Q: For someone who has stopped by Gardner Street Tea for the first time, what would you recommend is a must try?
A: The must-try would be our best sellers: Glow, Moroccan Mint and Kashmiri Kahwa
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Here is hoping you enjoyed reading this post and wishing you a teariffic weekend ahead!

Love,
Sonali

 

 

 

Desi Desserts with a Difference

 

“Dessert is like a feel-good song and the best ones make you dance.” – chef Edward Lee

Well, the dessert brand I am going to talk about in the blog post today, for sure made me do a happy dance each time I binged on their offerings. If you have been a fan (or even not) of Indian desserts, you would be amazed by the unique and interesting range of items which they let you relish. I quite second the fact which the brand urges that Khoya is the essence of true Indian sweets wherein they use fresh and organic ingredients.
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Before we share more on our first-hand experience trying the desserts by Khoya Mithai, we thought that we would let you learn more from the one who has worked rather hard on this brand.

In Conversation with Siddharth Mathur, Director, Head – Food & Beverage, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd…

Q: In times when the non-Indian desserts are such a rage and every now and then we get spoilt with even more choices- how did such a concept occur or did you feel that this was the need of the hour?
A: Need of the hour for sure! Indian desserts have such great heritage and a special place in our culture, we wanted to bring that back. I also enjoy non-Indian desserts, but felt that mithai was underrepresented at the higher end of the spectrum, hence Khoya was born.Khoya_27895

Q: Sweets in general are facing this constant challenge of pleasing the increasing number of diet conscious consumers, what is the most appropriate offering from your brand for them?
A: We have a delicious Date & Nut Barfi as well as the Fig Barfi both of which have no added sugar and contain ingredients that are good for you!

Q: Tell us about that one creation of yours which is a must try or the one that has been the hot-seller? Also, talk us through if any new additions are in the pipeline?
A: The Walnut Peda is not only my favourite, but has had resounding appreciation. It is made of roasted khoya filled with a slightly crunchy walnut praline filling. We have just launched 12 flavours but one of the exciting works in progress is our Orange Barfi. It is smooth, well-balanced and has a wonderful marmalade finish.
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Q: Following are few occasions, we want you to recommend one offering of yours against each which would make for the most appropriate giveaway for that occasion…
A: Okay then for,

  • Baby Shower – Walnut Peda
  • Mehendi – Pink Motichoor Ladoo
  • House Warming – Besan Ladoo
  • Christmas – Date & Nut Barfi

And of course, it’s even better is to order a mixed variety box, so that there is something for everyone!

So, now that you have heard from the man himself, I just want to say that I couldn’t stopping binging on their Walnut Peda, I have always been a Peda fan but this is something else! Also, I feel with Khoya, you get the opportunity to gift your favourite Indian desserts but in such a classy fashion. And what’s even better is the twist with which it comes, I mean I had never heard of Walnut Peda or Brown Sugar Besan Ladoo for that matter!

And lastly, even mom is a big fan of theirs now, I asked her quickly and honestly tell me, “Would you consider them for my wedding gifts?” And she replied, “Of course, YES!”
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This is one brand which you must try if you are a true desi-dessert lover!

Much Love,
Sonali

Pictures Courtesy: Khoya Mithai