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!!!

IMG_2406

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!!!

IMG_2404

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!

IMG_2408

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!

IMG_2422

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

Advertisements

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.

IMG_9067

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.

Oasis Spa Bangkok 15

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.

IMG_9072

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.

King of Oasis Spa Signature Massage

 

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.

Oasis Spa Bangkok Sukhumvit 31 5 (1)

 

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!!!

1

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.

IMG_9123

IMG_9115
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.
2018-02-12-PHOTO-00001346
xo,
Sonali

 

Travel & Me…

IMG_1013

Well, I don’t know what really intrigued me to write this piece but I am still going to go ahead and pour my feelings and emotions about my magical and intense relationship with Travel!

As far as I can remember, I have always loved to travel. No matter what age I was- I was excited each time around mom or dad would announce details of our next holiday. As kids, I’d say our holidays mostly (not all) were to safe and well known places. In the sense, the kind of holidays you usually expect families to take so that minimum risk is involved with going wrong.

A place now not necessarily on one’s “Places to Travel List”- Mussoorie, the “Queen of Hills” as it’s been referred to, made for a constant holiday for us every summer break. To be honest, at times we would detest the monotony. But in today’s times of rampant change- I am glad we as a family had some sense of tradition which got followed and now we do have this treasured trunk of memories. I am not saying monotony was essential but maybe simplicity was. I am thrilled that we tasted the simple things in life as now luxury is more available with growing up.

I mean going pretty much packed in a family car with limited leg room, stocking up everyone’s favourite munchies to share on the way, then heading to modest yet long standing restaurants for their specialties such as Chole Bhature at The Green Vegetarian Restaurant, Steamed Momos at The Rice Bowl, Omellete at the Lovely Omellete Centre or even the Maggie at Char Dukan. All this only added much more flavour to one’s holiday. Best part was that there was little to no “Me Time” and there was a lot of “OUR TIME”. There were little to no selfies but a lot more memories etched in one’s heart.

To be honest, this isn’t a critique of times today necessarily but just a little jiggle for each one of us to be able to enjoy our holidays or family time more. Also, what I didn’t realize then- I wish I am fortunate enough to gift my kids some sense of legacy- in the sense, I visited Mussoorie 24 years in a row straight and that’s not it, this is something which was started during my father’s childhood.  I mean there is no such thing as lack of options but today, I feel blessed to talk about something rather unique even amidst that monotony.

And not to say we just made it to the “Queen of Hills” as a family, we went to the beaches, we went to some really nice heritage properties, we went to some more hills and we also made several road trips. My first flight as well as first foreign trip didn’t come so early but I am glad it didn’t else maybe I would have been devoid of the simple pleasures. For instance, having my father wait as I wrote my final exam to quickly rush to the train station to catch our overnight train to Goa wherein the whole family occupied close to ten beds. Not sure if I’ll do it now but I am glad we did it then as I wouldn’t swap that for anything else!

Today, my job and passion to travel has taken me to several places and I must confess that each place has been ultra-special for me-maybe because there were a lot of firsts attached to them and also for the sheer pleasure of touring on one’s own earnings.

I have to say that my love for travel was triggered during my childhood days and I am glad and grateful to parents and family for ensuring we traveled enough. I pretty much convinced myself of being a travel writer but though that plan didn’t materialize fully (no regrets) – I pretty much got my wings on in my early 20’s and so intensified my relationship with travel.

Here are few snippets of some really special experiences at some really special places-

  1. Thailand, 2012- This one was extremely special as my father let me go by self for the first time to visit friends in Bangkok and Pattaya. I was pleasantly surprised with his decision. And what an empowering feeling- I suddenly felt more responsible and just loved life a little bit more. And not to miss adding- visiting Phuket a year later to indulge in water sports like never before- I feel several fears got conquered at that very instance. Also, Bangkok continues to be special as I have experienced some of the top quality properties, thanks to my blog!
  2. Japan, 2014- I learnt the sense of gratitude and compassion from the most wonderful people I encountered in Tokyo. And in general, the build up to the trip inculcated much faith in self as well as courage and confidence…On a side note, I learnt how to spend 12 hours at the airport if you have a connecting flight 😉
  3. Sri Lanka, 2015- Witnessing the tea gardens of Nuwara Eliya was like my mini encounter with Switzerland!
  4. Bangkok, 2016- This was with family and our special toddler (my nephew), the joy of gifting a holiday to my mom- priceless!
  5. Europe, 2016- What do I say about this one? The trip comprised of my solo visit to Istanbul- sounds fancy but did require much preparation within and out to take it on! But really there was an entire sense of self-discovery during those two days. Then came Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin with my best friend- of course we had some wonderful experiences and ticking off a few things from my wish-list including watching a tennis grand slam live but what it truly made me realize was the richness of a bond that had been nurtured. The way my best friend took care of me, the giggles we shared, the confessions we made- wow, I can see us doing that even at 80!

I must reiterate that I haven’t kicked aside the simple pleasures from my trip, this year itself I thoroughly cherished my trip to Udaipur with my cousin where the simple satisfaction of visiting a temple or being on a boat to absorb the surroundings were truly memorable.

And there is so much more… I can’t thank my job enough for letting me taste immaculate food of Kolkata, treating my eyes to the skyline of Dubai, refreshing my senses in Nepal, indulging in Ayurvedic massages in Kovalam and exploring other cities and their unique offerings such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai amongst others!

 

18342224_1616213345125571_8176701003143882393_n

Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathmandu

Lastly, as the quote goes, “Not all those who wander are lost”- I love to wander every now and then, but trust me- mostly my travels have great purpose as they usually do add more purpose to my life!

13315343_1297770696969839_7787185072341351632_n

Here’s to my endless wanderlust!!!
-Sonali

HIGH ON HOTELS: THE DYLAN

Amsterdam… what more do we say that we have not said in admiration of this city? Well, continuing with our public display of affection (P.D.A. you see) for this city, next in our High on Hotel series- we getting chatting with the representatives of another extremely credible and worthwhile hotel- The Dylan, so sit back and enjoy!

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: The Dylan consist of 40 rooms and suites. All the rooms are individually designed in different styles. The Dylan Amsterdam is located in the heart of the city center and in “de negen straatjes” district. In “de negen straatjes” you can discover different galleries, boutiques, bars and eateries. Personal attention and high-quality service isn’t something we have to explain to our staff –at the Dylan it comes naturally.  Our guests are always our priority. The guests can have a perfectly crafted coffee or one of our signature cocktails at Bar Brasserie OCCO, an exquisite dinner at our Michelin Star restaurant Vinkeles or they can relax in our lounge by the fireplace.

All in one, The Dylan offers a refined, modern decor along with unparalleled, personalized service and a five-star product.
front_courtyard_03

Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A: We have the following comfort in the rooms: Air-conditioning, Bose sound system with Bluetooth iPod connection, safe, minibar, telephone, television, work desk (incl. USA adapter), “Frette” bathrobes, linens and slippers, James Heeley bath amenities and a magnifying mirror. Also, there are tea and coffee facilities, free Wi-Fi and 24 hours room service.

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam has different facilities. Bar brasserie OCCO, Michelin restaurant Vinkeles, fitness room, a cozy lounge, garden, massages, bicycles, concierge service and free Wi-Fi.

terras_01

Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: We have two must try restaurants in The Dylan. One of them is Restaurant Vinkeles. The intimate and historic setting offers the perfect mood to enjoy the cooking of Chef Dennis Kuipers and his team. His modern French cuisine with its international twist, often described as “exciting, modest and refined”, has been awarded a Michelin star in 2009.

Bar Brasserie OCCO is a distinct cosmopolitan eatery with menus highlighting handcrafted cocktails and creative cuisine drawn from local Dutch influences and producers. A perfect, more casual alternative to Restaurant Vinkeles.

Vinkeles_01

brasserie_occo_03 - Copy

Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: One of the unique selling points of The Dylan Amsterdam is the location. The rooms have a view over the canals or our garden. The Dylan offers refined and modern décor along with personalized service. Another unique selling point is our the Michelin star restaurant and our beautiful secluded garden.
Luxury Suite Serendipity - Jacob van Campen (3)

Luxury Suite - Loft

Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is perfectly reachable with public transportation. The tram station at the Keizersgracht or Elandsgracht is within walking distance (5 minutes).

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: The easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport is with a taxi but the hotel is easily reachable by public transportation.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: The Dylan Amsterdam is located in “de negen straatjes” (The nine streets).  These streets are the connection between the four main canals. Vintages stores, alternative fashion and specialized theme stores can be found there. The nine streets is also an excellent location for a good cup of coffee and to escape from the busier streets in Amsterdam.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: There are many things that you can eat when you get back to the hotel at 2 am. For example, for a big appetite-we offer pizza, roasted steak with fries, different kinds of wraps and more. Next to this, we have different options for a late night snack. Think of veal “bitterballen” or Dutch shrimp croquettes.

Pictures Curtesy: The Dylan Amsterdam

HIGH ON HOTELS: Swissôtel Amsterdam

It is not an unknown fact that we absolutely love and adore Amsterdam. The place has a fun and cozy vibe which is very inviting and we just cannot wait for our next visit there. Today, in our High on Hotels series, we are throwing light on a boutique hotel situated in our favourite-Amsterdam which looks extremely impressive and comfortable. So, sit back and enjoy this beauty of a property as we get chatting with its representative…

Swissotel - Rooms - 437 - Overview 2_HR

Sleeping Area

Room 4

Q: Why a stay here would prove to be the most memorable one?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers outstanding, personalized service- making guests feel comfortable and at home. The staff goes above and beyond for their guests and has a lot of knowledge regarding the city and its activities and is always there to help and inform guests. Furthermore, the location of Swissôtel Amsterdam gives guests direct access to shopping, public transport and the main tourist attractions. A few minutes away you will also find the famous Body Worlds, Madame Tussauds and Royal Palace.

Sweet DreamsSwissotel Amsterdam-1150-EditSwissotel Amsterdam-1201-Edit

Q: What all facilities would you find in the room?
A:
Every room has a Nespresso machine and tea- free of charge and a mini bar at an additional charge. Furthermore, guests can enjoy complimentary wireless access and every room has a pillow menu, where people can find different pillow types that can be requested at reception.

Nespresso

Q: Elaborate on the facilities in the hotel for in-house guests?
A: All guests have free access to the Swissôtel Amsterdam Fitness featuring state-of-the-art TechnoGym equipment and to the business centre which offers complimentary internet access and light snacks.

Swissotel Amsterdam-1059-Edit

Q: A must try restaurant in the hotel and why?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam does not have its own, in-house restaurant. However, right next to Swissôtel Amsterdam- you can find the restaurant ROYAL98, which offers seats with a view on the famous Dam Square. ROYAL98 opened up last year and offers delicious, fresh wood oven pizzas and pastas as well as more international dishes such as sandwiches, cakes, burgers and Dutch Bitterballen. And don’t forget to try the typical Dutch dessert-Trio of Stroopwafel. Hotel guests can also enjoy the buffet breakfast or A la carte breakfast for an additional charge.

Q: Please throw some light on the USP of the hotel?
A: The prime location on the Dam Square and personalized service would be our USP.

View Square

Q: Could you share a little about the connectivity of the hotel?
A: There is a tram stop right in front of the hotel, which is connected to the most important stops in the city. Furthermore, the metro and train stations are situated on a 7 minutes’ walk, connecting to the other areas of Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport.

Q: Further to the earlier question, what is the easiest way to get to the hotel from the airport?
A: By train, you arrive at Amsterdam Central Station within 30 minutes, then it is a 7 minutes’ walk to the hotel. Swissôtel Amsterdam can also arrange a taxi to pick guests up from the airport at an additional charge.

Q: For all the prospective guests and shopping lovers, please tell us about the closest shopping hub to the hotel?
A: Next to the hotel- the famous warehouse ‘De Bijenkorf’ can be found, other warehouses ‘Magna Plaza’ and ‘Hudson’s Bay’ are on a 5 minutes’ walk and the main shopping street is right behind the hotel with stores of all the popular brands such as Pull&Bear and Forever21.

Q: Lastly, if one got back at 2 am to the hotel, what is it that one would get to eat?
A: Swissôtel Amsterdam offers 24/7 room service, with offerings such as pizza, pasta, sandwiches and ice cream.

Swissotel Amsterdam-1292-Edit

Pictures Courtesy: Swissôtel Amsterdam

 

Bright & Beautiful Birthday at Blo Bar

Can only begin by expressing gratitude to all those who made my birthday super special and beautiful. While the celebrations went on for days, sharing a little about the party I had hosted for my girlies at the newly opened Blo Bar in Defence Colony Market.

The minute I came across the fun concept of this place, I just knew it that I wanted to host a party here and what’s better is that the birthday was not very far off. Blobar is India’s first blow-dry bar only. They strongly believe in the transformative power of a simple blowout.

Here is taking you through the journey of planning and executing this very simple yet supremely fun party. As a birthday girl, I can talk for myself for sure with confidence that I had a ball of a time.

  1. Invitation- Being an event planner, I was certain to go into details. Hence, this invite for my close group of friends and sisters. The theme had to have an essence of celebrating “US”- so, I thought of Bright and Beautiful. And I love making invites on www.greetingsisland.com so the birthday invite too had to be from here!
    WhatsApp Image 2017-09-07 at 11.05.26 AM
  2. Venue- Girls, believe me when I say this that I made the best decision to host my party at Blo Bar. It was something so different and unique that everyone thoroughly enjoyed and so many reached out to me to ask more about this entire concept. The package I opted for included shampoo/conditioning and hair styling with drinks from their side such as Champagne, Sangria and Vodka which translates to the fact that each guest got 2-3 glasses of alcohol. Yes, you read it right, the owner-Sargam is ever so sweet and did pop a Champagne as well. In addition, they provided some munchies such as Cheese Crackers, Nachos & Salsa and Puffs. What’s better is that they are ever so flexible and hence, let me add more food to the table. 
    IMG_3761
    IMG_6504
  3. Food- Since the talk on the food just got started thought I’d enlighten you a bit on what all I added. There was Vegetarian Quiche from Defence Bakery, Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Kathi Rolls and Yummy Sandwiches, courtesy mother.
    IMG_6518
  4. Games- Yes, we had to play some fun games as the girls took turns to get their hair shampooed and conditioned and then styled. They have a lovely hair styling menu for one to pick and choose! And each one loved their hair styles and flashed a big smile! The games included- What’s on your phone- the girl with the maximum score won, then-Who knows the Birthday Girl the Best and lastly, I got everyone to write their most Special Memory with Me!
    IMG_3743
    IMG_6529
    IMG_6549
  5. Cake- Well, this element too had to be different so I ditched cutting the usual cake and instead ordered Passion Fruit, Mixed Fruit, Lemon and Chocolate Tarts from The Bombakery! And believe you me, their tarts are absolutely divine!
    IMG_3816
  6. Photos, please- The entire venue is so so pretty but there is one particular wall against which you gotta click enough pictures! And Blo Bar was kind enough to arrange some amazing photo props as well!
    IMG_3749
    IMG_6472
    IMG_3748
  7. Decor- The place requires very little add-ons. They arranged for some beautiful hangings and I too added a few cut-outs of flowers, pink buntings, purple tissues, polka plates, pink glasses and the like! The place is very bright and beautiful!
  8. Music- I had shared my preferred list and they played them all! In the end, you gotta a shake a leg or two!
  9. Return Gifts- I just wanted to do this! As a very small gesture to express tremendous gratitude to each one of them for adding so much brightness to my life- I gave each one a Face Mask from The Face Shop with a Thank you Card!

    Hope you enjoyed going through my party in brief!!! And THANK YOU Blo Bar for making this Birthday truly memorable and extra special!

    Love,
    Sonali