This one is a sure winner. Besides the comfort and luxury of a hotel we do like to go for meals for our special occasions. And ofcourse all of us know that besides the expense sometime after a tiring day at work you just don’t want to get out of your home. Here Small Luxury Hotels of the World(SLH) help us to create a romantic meal for two at home complete with serving wine like a Sommelier
“It’s all about first impressions, get your table set correctly and have a wow factor element – whether it be a pot of fresh herbs on the table, a personal name card with secret message or a special bottle of well selected wine ready. Match it with soft background music and candlelight and you’re on to a winner!”
“I have many guests order a bottle of wine that they are familiar with and have enjoyed at home. It is amazing how many times the guest will comment how much more pleasing the wine was here at the restaurant. There is infinitely more that goes into the tasting of wine than just the actual flavour – it’s the temperature, the stemware that it is served in and the feel it has on your hand, the visual presentation of the wine, the food you are enjoying with the wine, the surroundings in which the wine is being consumed, and the company that you are sharing.
The first step in wine presentation is making sure your bottle of wine is at the correct temperature. The temperature will be different for whites and reds, as well as for wines with different weights. Once the bottle is selected and you have the correct temperature, I like to present the bottle of wine. Tell your guest which wine you are serving, including the year. When pouring, twist the bottle about 180 degrees and wipe against a napkin so that no wine is spilled. For white wines I will typically ask whether they would like the bottle kept on ice or on the table. Some of your heavier whites (chardonnay) will benefit from a little warmer temperature. Make sure you top up your guests’ glasses throughout the evening.”
To check out more tips on How to Create Hotel style in your home click here
Love it or hate it, you cannot ignore it, yes, I am referring to Valentine’s day which is roughly 4 days away. I honestly am not one who celebrates Valentine’s day, in fact the only time I did celebrate it was in high school and I was very happy with the stuffed toy I got as a gift. You pressed the teddy and it sang “you are my sunshine” I loved the toy but it was my dogs mortal enemy, he hated the toy or the singing never did figure out which and within 6 months he attacked the toy and that was the end of the only Valentine gift I ever got, the only year I ever celebrated it. But that is just me, unless it is a holiday on that day no festival excites me, so I don’t look forward to a specific day to enjoy luxuries or holidays or gifts but for those who Valentine’s day is special or for whose partners it is special, here is a list of gifts for you to celebrate the 14th of February.
A clutch or Bag- A great gift for that special lady in your life is a clutch or handbag, reason being a bag does not rely on your height or weight unlike clothes, get a size too small and you could have issues for the rest of the evening. With make-up you never know what kind suits a lady’s skin type and God forbid they get some rash you are doomed, hence a hand-bag and some classic pieces last a lifetime. You can go in for Alexander McQueen’s silk satin embroidered hummingbird & flower square knucklebox clutch, or a radiant gift box minaudière in a stunning ombre effect of jewel tone crystal by Judith Leiber or even a Fendi Baguette.
Sexy Lingerie– I have never met a girl who does not love lingerie. But most guys I know feel shy to go to a shop and buy lingerie, so here is the perfect solution-Under Cover lingerie, that you can order online. For Valentine Day collection they have come up with a ‘Naughty + Nice’ collection and have launched 4 special Valentine Boxes. Each box contains an assortment of products this includes an outfit with stockings and specially matched accessory. So, if you have a sweet little baby-doll in your gift box, you will find a pair of animal print handcuffs too. So go ahead and get your own box at www.buyundercover.com
Partake in a physical activity- No, not that kind of physical activity; I mean something that will get your heartbeat going, like ice skating or going for a hike in the woods and bringing wine to drink on the way. Such activities are perfect to boost an old and predictable relationship, and nothing will kick-start a new relationship better than such a thrill ride. If sky is the limit, here’s the chance to touch it as couples seeking adventure now have a lifetime opportunity to sky dive with the internationally acclaimed Sky Diving Art of Extreme crew from Spain exclusively at Aamby Valley City. For reservations call: 022-39807444, SMS skydive to 59090, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.aambyvalley.com/skydiveaamby.
Luxury Valentine Package– The “52 Love Salute” Valentine’s Day Package from Four Seasons Hotel New York and JetWay Private Air. Costing around $487,000, this luxurious package includes:- A private chartered flight on a luxurious jet of your choice with Jetway Private Air from any U.S. state, 52 love songs on a play list for in-flight serenade and 52 love poems for you to have as homage to your sweetness. A night at Four Seasons Hotel New York in the Ty Warner Penthouse Suite, one of the most expensive suites in the world. The evening of romance includes: Caviar and Champagne from Calvisius Caviar Bar, unlimited use of the hotel’s Rolls Royce with a personal chauffeur, a personal butler 24/7 and a decadent dinner for two prepared by Executive Chef John Johnson as well as unlimited massages given in the Penthouse spa room.- A stunning 52-carat heart-shaped diamond necklace from Premier Gem Corporation that dazzles for eternity.
Customized Champagne bottle– “Champagne is the ultimate expression of celebration, and our Moët Rosé Impérial is the most stylish and alluring way to celebrate and declare your love this Valentine’s Day,” said Arnaud de Saignes, International Director of Marketing and Communications for Moët & Chandon. Adding a sense of occasion and romance to Valentine’s Day celebrations, Moët Rosé Impérial effortlessly combines personalized luxury and romantic glamour. Express your feelings to the one you love with the customizable champagne bottle. The premium “Love Case” includes everything needed to create your own memorable declaration with the Moët Rosé Impérial bottle! Included is a pen and an elegant booklet with an array of stickers to personalize and decorate the bottle with your own special touch, and to convey whatever your message is: from “Be Mine!” and “I ♥ You” to “Let’s Celebrate!” “Marry Me” and “La Vie en Rosé!” among many others.
Adopt a Puppy– Well this is a huge step in any relationship, getting a pet together. And I think it is a perfect Valentine’s gift. I think adopting a puppy is a great way to take a relationship forward. Please note I am repeating adopt because I am big on adoption over buying, but to each their own,as long as a Puppy gets a home, it’s all good. Here are some sites you can check out for adoption. http://www.facebook.com/redpawsrescue, https://www.facebook.com/Friendicoes
Chocolate Hampers– Cocheta Chocolates manufactures and supplies Delicious Homemade & handcrafted Chocolates, Cup Cakes, cookies, brownies, fudge , cake
bites, cake pops, marshmallow pops and fudge pops and more.Chocolates filled in centres are a latest craze amongst people. You can choose from various options in orange, strawberry, black current, mango in fruit flavours and butter scotch, honey, coffee, coconut are amongst other flavours. Apart from centre filled homemade chocolate gifts, you can choose from chocolate rocks in pistachio, cashew, almond, hazel nut and mixed nuts. Chocolate Bouquets: A unique fusion of Chocolate flowers and fresh flowers, suitable for any occasion. We also do cake pop bouquets, marshmallow bouquets, fudge pop bouquets. Starting Range Rs 650/-www.cocheta.co.in, email@example.com. Another option is hampers from Nature’s basket which include chocolate cookies and even Oatmeal. So you can check out a Nature’s Basket in your city.
Diamonds are a Girls Best friend- You don’t need an occasion to gift a girl Diamonds, any day of the year you get her a diamond and she will be yours for life. With the vast variety of diamonds available in the market they are no longer as un-affordable as they were once considered. So you can get your Special lady a Diamond pendant or if you want to propose do that over a nice meal. Try these restaurants which we think will make great places for a romantic meal, Rara Avis New Delhi, FIO New Delhi, Trifecta and Vinoteca Mumbai to name a few.(Image courtesy Tara Jewels)
Respect Women– It seems silly for the news, media and blogs to go on emphasising on something as basic as respect women, but somehow it seems necessary and unfortunate to have to repeat something as basic as RESPECT WOMEN not just the women in your life but women in general. It makes no sense to make one day special for women and the rest of the 364 disrespect them. So start a resolution this year to respect all the women you come across, look out for them, stand up for them and mostly just stop to objectify them- they are living beings. They have the capacity to create life so don’t make them feel worthless mentally or emotionally. Don’t play with their emotions and if you see any violence happen against them, stand up against it.
Finally the cold winters are exiting and I can feel glorious Spring in the year. Unfortunately, it is too short-lived in India; mid March it will be closer to summer than spring, but till then we have a few weeks to enjoy this beautiful weather with amazing picnic and brunches.So get together a hamper of goodies and set off with your partner for a romantic date (Valentine day is just around the corner) or with your friends for a fun day out by the country-side(even a park in your locality or city will do!)
From Left to Right
1. Wooden Tray, Goodearth, Rs.362 2.Jars, Pearlpet, Rs.60 each 3.Vintage Bottle, FCML,Price on Request 4.Quilt, Home Stop, Rs.2,099 5.Elan Amphora Love pitcher, Crazy Daisy, Rs.1,050 6.Wicker Basket, Home Stop, Rs.1,099 7.Flowers, Home Stop, Rs.799 8.Cushion, Home Stop, Rs.499 9.Ice Vodka, Local Wine Shop, Rs.750
I think cocktails/punches are a perfect addition to any brunch or picnic. Also if you are like me who avoids cooking at any cost they are great lifesavers so it looks like you made effort and did not just get something from the shop. Thanks to IICE Vodka here we have a few refreshing recipes for the perfect brunch cocktails(recipe for one drink so decide quantity according to the amount of people)
MANGO CREAMY BUSTER
1. 45ml Vodka
2. 60ml Mango juice
3. 30ml Club Soda
4. 30ml Mango Ice-cream Preparation
Mix the Vodka, Mango juice and Club Soda in a Tall glass. Garnish with Mango Ice-cream.IICE Splash Ingredients
1.30ml Green Apple Vodka
2.30ml Coconut Water
3.1 small kiwi or half large kiwi, peeled
4.60ml Apple juice
5.148ml Lemon Syrup Preparation
Pour the Green Apple vodka,Coconut water, Apple juice and lemon syrup into a cocktail maker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a high ball glass. Garnish with Kiwis.
I was an extremely shy child. Something which is hard to believe now or if you have met me anytime in the past 10 years. Anyway, back then rains fuelled a great amount of my day dreams and imagination. They seemed like the perfect backdrop to any scenario; Playing with paper boats made me dream of real yacht, All the greenery around made me want to go to the hills in my cottage and sip tea (My Mountain roots) and of course the romance associated with Monsoons. This was also when I lived in Delhi where Monsoons were a 45 day affair of a few hours of rains per day. Move forward a couple of years and 3 years back I moved to Mumbai. All the childhood fantasies rains held for me were a thing of the past. After the initial few days right after the mucky humid weather where you can’t wait for rains to begin, I begin to lose my cool and am cursing the rain Gods. All I can think of is the traffic and the water rising up to my calves,walking in dirt, being paranoid that shoot stuff will get ruined and the days of no sun which can be oh so depressing. Anyway, this year for the first time in years I am actually enjoying rains. It could be because a) I am currently not doing any shoots so I don’t need to be worried or b)That the monsoons still haven’t come our way in a major way i.e. no 24 hours of rain with no sign of sunshine.
So, since I have made peace with rains this year, I decided to list out a few things I love to do in the rains and completely recommend (Including how to take care of your homes during this weather)
1. Eat, Drink and be Merry– Yup! There are certain foods and beverages which have their own unique charm during the Monsoons. Whether you are a rain lover or get depressed because of the general lack of sunshine (Like I do!) these comfort foods are absolute mood-lifters. Pakoras or batter fried snacks made with onions, paneer, potatoes and a whole lot more vegetables. Masala Chai, tea brewed with a combination of spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Bhutta or corn, which is roasted over hot coals. In fact when you see vendors on street corners, you know monsoons are here.
2. Get Cozy– With the rains pouring down and falling against your window panes, nothing is more relaxing that lying in bed all day reading your favourite books while listening to your favourite songs or even watching your favourite movies. Though I would not call myself a romantic my pick of books, music and movies leans a bit towards romantic during this season. Books I read during this season are 40 Rules of Love- Elif Shafak, Unbearable Lightness of being Milan Kundera, One hundred years of solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Movies; Serendipity, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset. Music well my taste usually runs from Hindi Movie Love and Break up songs to classic Rock. A few of my favourites which play on repeat especially when I am all cozier are Linger- Cranberries, Ain’t no Sunshine Bill Withers, Tere Bina Zindagi se- Aandhi.
3. Take a Hike– I mean that literally. Going for walks during the rains is supposed to be very therapeutic. It could just be in the park near your house or you can actually travel depending on time. For me personally Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala and just astounding in the rains. I have heard so are Sikkim and Assam but never been there. So if you happen to be around these areas atleast try for a short two-day trip. Like I try to go to Lonavla atleast once each monsoon. It is a weekend destination for us living in Mumbai and is absolutely stunning. Apparently there are more such destinations around but I have never gotten down to visiting, maybe this year who knows!
Well as I was saying at the beginning of the post, rain does play havoc to our homes especially the interiors. So here are a few tips to keep your homes looking spic and span and safe during these months
1. Electronic gadgets are most affected by rain and humidity. So even though we know this we tend to get lazy or sometimes just take it for granted. Like I live on the 12th floor, so the wind is so strong that rain actually blows into my house. It is best to keep all electronic devices away from the window and covered as much as possible. Same goes for all electrical circuit. Get them checked once and covered for open wires in the rainy season cause alot of accidents.
2. Upsholstery needs to be given special care during this weather. Heavy materials like velvet, Jacquard and Silk are affected the worst. Since the weather is so humid it collects dust which seeps into these fabrics. If rain water seeps into these it leaves a dark stain especially on silk. These heavy fabrics also attract and trap moisture hence leaving a mucky smell in the room. It is best to change to lighter more airy fabrics and blends like Polycot. If you can’t change your upholstery get covers made. These are easy to maintain and clean. Also since the days are quite dark they let the rooms remain well-lit. Same applies for carpets, they need to be cleaned everyday as they attract alot of dust during rains. It is best to remove them during this season.
3. Furniture especially wooden benches and cupboards seep moisture and start splitting. Keep them away from windows as much as possible and put camphor balls in cupboards to remove dampness and neem leaves work really well to keep insects at bay. For wooden doors and frames, specially the ones facing outdoors, coat them with varnish or other weather proof solvents before the monsoons. Iron to can rust so its best to keep it greased prior to monsoons.
4. If you have outdoor areas like balcony’s or gardens, see to it you keep your plants outside during the rain, as they attract alot of insects. It goes the same for water tanks and coolers, keep them clean and if not in use remove all water. Don’t let rain water stagnate on balcony’s as it can seriously discolour the stone. Also check outdoor drains regularly so that leaves and other things which get flown in with the drain don’t clog your pipes. These too can lead for the water to overflow onto your balcony.
5. Besides these monsoons are perfect for us to do a little bit for the environment. Use buckets to fill up the rain water which can be used for watering plants, cleaning clothes and utensils. Avoid having a bath or cooking as it is not completely safe to do so, infact if you enjoy having a shower in the rain I suggest you take a bath when you get back.
So well here are my few easy to do tips during the monsoons. do share any tips that have worked for you would love to post them here. But do enjoy the monsoons as much as you can especially those of you in Mumbai. For like I always say Mumbai has two seasons Monsoons and Pre monsoons so might as well enjoy them, I am definitely going to try to do that this year.
We all grew up crooning Celine Dion’s “My Heart will go on” from the movie Titanic, and besides having a crush on Leonardo and cursing Kate for letting him lose his life the one thing that fascinated me and I am sure a lot of other people was the ship itself. It looked so grand and luxurious, the most romantic thing a girl could dream off (besides Leo’s lips ofcourse). Anyway that was 1997, where going on a cruise seemed like a fairytale, atleast to me who had even decided I will get married on a ship, I still want to if I do ever get married, well atleast sail to my honeymoon destination, oh well fine go on a vacation with my girl friends, basically a cruise has been my fantasy since 1997. Anyway move ahead two decades and in 2012 a cruise does not seem like such a distant dream, thanks to company’s like Royal Caribbean International.
Royal Caribbean International,a global cruise line has 22 innovative ships touching more than 290 destinations like Alaska, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Dubai, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal and South America.They provide a world-class vacation experience with a wide range of signature on board amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming. From the lure of the Caribbean to the charm of Europe, enjoy the serenity of endless beaches, tropical breezes and sunsets over shimmering blue waters. Basically all you can ask for and more.
And if you are honeymooners or know a newly married couple, guess what they also have amazing honeymoon registry options. These include couple massages and other Spa packages to romantic dinners at specialty restaurants of your choice; from swimming with dolphins to other exciting land and shore excursions that let you discover the amazing sights, sounds and flavors of different destinations.Royal Caribbean International’s Honeymoon Package is the ideal wedding present. The stateroom will be beautifully adorned with Just Married decorations including a fragrant 6″ rose heart arrangement upon arrival. Then, at sundown, a bottle of Moet and Chandon Champagne and Royal Caribbean International vanilla cupcakes will be delivered to the room. The couple receives ‘His and Hers’ Wraps and Slippers and a Keepsake Framed Portrait to remember their incredible time onboard, for years to come.
If not a honeymoon couple, fear not Royal Caribbean offers a varied range of activities to family vacationers as well as singles.Try your luck at the world-class ‘Casino Royale’, get an adrenaline kick and conquer new heights at the on-board rock-wall, indulge in sumptuous culinary preparations, partake in wine tasting and enjoy exciting beverage packages, purchase keepsakes from the onboard shops, discover a world of tranquil bliss in the day spa and fitness center or just relax by the pool and simply do nothing at all. All in all planning your vacation could not sound more fun!
When one is in love, they want every moment to perfect, from the first official date to the first official kiss to the first official vacation. I am saying official cause while you are dating it is nice and all but nothing like when you fall in love and you realise you actually want to spend time planning each special moment. (Sigh! I don’t even know why I talk about all this, I think I am just too romantic and optimistic and a wee bit dramatic). Anyway back to planning those special moments, the most taxing among all has to be the vacation. I mean come on, you don’t want to end up in a place where both of you have nothing to do and hence are fighting the whole time. So well, coming to our rescue is SLH (Small Luxury hotels of the World) to plan your vacations for each of those moments. Even if you are single like me, it is a great start to plan those trips with your lovely ladies, who knows who you meet and what that might lead to (told you I am optimistic). Plus with summer vacation coming up you could do with some help there as well.So here is a bit about few of their properties. See if they catch your fancy or suit your purpose, else go through their site and chose out of the 520 other properties. Let me know how your vacation went.
Hotelde Tuilerieën, Belgium– www.slh.com/tuilerieen
The Hotel de Tuilerieënin the picture-perfect city of Bruges in Belgium exudes old-school romance with period décor, four-poster beds and daily champagne breakfasts. Walk hand in hand down cobbled alley ways, enjoy candlelit dinners at the hotel’s legendary Le Menu Belge restaurant or a relaxing couples’ massage to end the day. So what better way to show to the world that you have found that someone special?
Night rates at Hotel de Tuilerieën from USD 259* per room based on double occupancy.
Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort, Greece– www.slh.com/mykonos
GREECE! I mean if you have not read my earlier post about my desire to visit here or how hot the Greek men are please do, and really there is no argument here that this is the ultimate destination to declare your love against a crystal blue backdrop of sea and sky. Enjoy proposal perfect settings on the white sand beach at sunset, in the privacy of a candlelit suite at Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort or on the nearby temple island of Delos. And to my lovely single ladies, really aren’t you sold?
Night rates at Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort from USD 228* per room based on double occupancy.
The Fortress Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka– www.slh.com/fortress
This is an ideal place for a destination wedding. Buck the white wedding trend with a truly unique celebration at the entrancing Fortress Resort & Spa.Enclosed within landscaped gardens, this ultra stylish 53-room resort offers the perfect party paradise with drummers,dancers and elephants as wedding regulars! Newly weds and guests alike will delight in the 24-hour butler service, private plunge pools and renowned SriLankan cuisine to make it a wedding day that everyone will remember for a lifetime.Night rates at The Fortress Resort & Spa from USD 257* per room based on double occupancy.
Velassaru,Maldives – www.slh.com/velassaru
When deciding where to go for the most important and most romantic holiday of your life, whether is the proposal or the honeymoon it doesn’t get much better than the unsurpassable beauty and luxury at the Velassaru hotel in the Maldives. After the stress and strain leading upto the big day, newly weds can spend their days lazing within the sanctuary oftheir water villa with nothing but ocean as far as the eye can see.Night rates at Velassaru from USD 282* per room based on double occupancy.
Hotel Punta Tragara, Italy– www.slh.com/puntatragara
This celebration is for when you have crossed a few years and real life has begun to be just that “Real Life”. Celebrate your years together with all its ups and downs and rekindle that honeymoon romance with a stay at the irresistible Hotel Punta Tragara perched on the cliffs of Capri, overlooking the rocks of Faraglioni and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Full of charming Italian character and charisma, couples will delight in the stylish décor,decadent cuisine and intimate ambience of one of Italy’s finest hotels. Night rates at Hotel Punta Tragara from USD 475* per room based on double occupancy.
Sivory Punta Cana Boutique Hotel, Dominican Republic – www.slh.com/sivory If not Sri Lanka for your wedding day then there’s always the option of the beautiful tropical paradise getaway, Dominican Republic. So have a beautiful destination wedding here or renew those all important, life-long vows. Sivory Punta Cana Boutique Hotel is what dreams are made of with exquisite gourmet food, suites with private plunge pools and an incredible holistic spa – the perfectsetting to say “I do”. Night rate at Sivory Punta Cana Boutique Hotel from USD 369* per room based on double occupancy.
The Betsy, Florida– www.slh.com/betsyhotel
And finally for all my lovely single ladies the iconic Betsy hotel on Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive is the answer to all those holiday dilemmas. If you’re newly single, or single since the last decade, there’s no better place to enjoy a day of selfish pampering followed by dinner at the hotel’s famous BLT steakhouse restaurant and then a night out in Miami’s fantastic Art Deco District.Night rates at The Betsy USD 400* per room based on double occupancy.
*These rates are approximate rates and could vary.Reservationsfor any Small Luxury Hotels of the World property can be made by calling 000800 650 1456 (India), online at www.slh.com or via the SLH iPhone app. Travel agents need only remember the GDS code LX for LuXury. To receivespecial benefits including a complimentary breakfast, upgrade (subject to availability)and late check-out, join The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World at www.slh.com/club Membership is offered on acomplimentary basis