Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chiang Mai

Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai

Situated on the banks of the Ping River in the heart of Chiang Mai is a place that not only will envelop you in luxury but an establishment that makes you feel like a King or Queen. 

X2 (Pronounced cross two) Riverside Resort on Chiang Mai is part of a luxury resort chain that has the finest attention to detail coupled with modern design and impeccable service. With Ewan Taylor appointed the head manager and Executive Chef Alexandre Demard serving up delectable dishes this boutique hotel is a gem to explore in northern Thailands Chiang Mai. 

Getting to the hotel was fairly easy. Just a short half hour cab ride from the main airport of Chiang Mai this boutique hotel is really central. Making excursions really easy and allowing access to all Chiang Mai has to offer. 

The rooms are spacious and overlook the restaurant and the Ping River. With a large balcony and a full set up mini bar with coffee, I was in heaven and simply had to have an ice cold drink in the balmy weather on the balcony. The beds are king sized beds and each room is uniquely decorated with koi fish on the walls. The design element is modern and welcoming. The bathroom is large and with white fluffy bathrobes, you will soon feel like a million dollars. 

If the room doesn't make you feel that way then the Spa surely will! A five start spa offering traditional, as well as aromatherapy massage, is on the property. A mere few feet away from your luxury bedroom.  After your relaxing massage you can make your way to the beautiful rooftop for sunset and sip on an ice-cold cocktail and take a dip in the pool. My favourite thing about the pool was the fact that it was designed to look like a galaxy and is speckled with mosaic tiles and lights that come on after the sun has dipped below the horizon! 

The food in the resort is spectacular and well thought out by executive chef Alex Dermard. The tasting menu is something I would highly recommend and the flavours were spot on. He is a true artist displaying each bite with flair and passion. We spoke about wandering into the local markets and losing ourselves in the amazing fresh produce that Thailand has to offer. I must admit a dream for me to cook with! 

Breakfast is fresh and simple and the poached eggs made to perfection. A gooey yolk and perfectly cooked white is a thing of glory. Breathing in and taking a moment at breakfast whilst over looking the river made me think about slowing down and how I don't do it often enough. 

The staff are the heart and soul of this botique hotel. They were friendly and beyond helpful - which is also a Thai thing. Nothing was too much effort to arrange for us. A special part to me was that everybody just worked so well behind the scenes. Your room was cleaned and the hotel spotless yet no cleaning staff were in sight. It was as if fairies were on duty! 

As a five star establishment they are on the more pricey, however, if you are not looking to backpack but rather have a holiday where you do not want to lift a finger, then this hotel is for you! The spa offers an array of treatments and losing yourself in a full body massage is defiantly something I would recommend. After all, what is visiting Thailand without a Thai massage? 

I hope to soon return to this magical spot in the cultural heart of Thailand, Chiang Mai. A city that has so much to offer. Very much like X2 Riverside Resort.

-Melissa

Diving Bali - Nusa Penida

Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada

Diving to me is the ultimate form of mindfulness. I think because you are silent and you have no choice but to be right where you are. You are focused on your breath, your body, and your environment. The environment just happens to be under hundreds of tons of water in an alien landscape where you are the guest and the vibrant creatures of the ocean your host. For as long as I can remember, my dream has been this, to dive with Giant Manta Rays. These animals can get a wingspan of up to 5.5 meters and are placid gentle giants that glide underwater as if they are flying.

Getting to Nusa Penida can be done by fast or local boats off the coast of Bali. The most popular port to get a boat from is Sanur. If you use the fast boat the ride is about 30-40 minute depending on the swell. You can get tickets online or at the harbour. I recommend online because it just makes life easier and the boats can fill up rather quickly.

Approaching Nusa Penida looks like approaching the tropical island of Jurassic Park. With jagged cliffs and towering palm trees, the island looks like a movie scene. Once safely in the harbour, we arranged with Sanctum diving to collect us. They were going to do so by car which is a quick drive from the harbour but in the end, we rented scooters and made our way there following our guide. It was quicker and much less painful than sitting in the heat on the back of a pickup truck as we ended up in unexpected traffic due to a school parade.

I went to Nusa for one reason, in fact, I went to Bali for one reason. That reason was to see the Giant Manta Ray. To chase the dream of diving under the water with them and be in awe of their beauty. Sadly due to the traffic, we were late and unable to get out to the cleaning station with the dive boat. It seemed all odds were against me. First an earthquake, then a full boat, then traffic! The cleaning station is a dive where you are almost guaranteed to see Giant Manta Ray and not being able to get there felt like a major blow to my excitement. So we decided to dive one of the other points also popular with these gorgeous beasts.

Together with Ben and Lauren (my adventure buddies for the day), we had our first dive, desperately searching everywhere underwater to find them. These giant black flying fish were nowhere to be seen. I let it go and lost myself in all the other creatures of the ocean. 40 minutes into the dive I made peace that it just wasn't my time to see them. First the earthquake and then no Manta ray. Bali wasn't going to give me all I had hoped for. But then it happened. As soon as I let go I received. Perhaps there is a lesson there...

I turned around and over my head flew a Giant Manta Ray. I was so happy I think you could hear the screams of joy under the water. Out of nowhere came another - I turned to Ben and there he was shooting away taking these beautiful images of me and my dream come true. I could see Lauren in absolute awe and the energy the three of us shared is something that I will remember forever. I saw the giant Manta Rays of Bali. Although brief, I had my moment. A moment with an animal that is so majestic it leaves you speechless. Nusa Penida - it was a day trip which was way too short, I will have to return!

My hope is that the world over will see that the oceans are a magnificent breathing living being that needs to be protected from us! Below I have linked two organizations that are doing amazing work locally in Bali. If you have the time - hop on over and read up on them. Perhaps even donate. The oceans need us.

https://www.misoolfoundation.org

https://www.madistewart.com/donate

My vow this year is to use even less plastic in my life - it just ends up in the oceans and affects these amazing animals. It serves no purpose but to harm. Refusing the straw is great but the problem is much bigger than that. Single-use razors, plastic bags, and bottles are some of the plastic items used every day that end up in our beautiful oceans. Think twice before you use plastic and ask yourself, can I make a change?

-Melissa

p.s thank you Benj for the pictures





The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali

The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
IMG_6213.jpg
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali
The Yoga Barn - Ubud Bali

I stumbled upon The Yoga Barn by chance. One of my followers sent me a message telling me that if I found myself in Ubud, a spiritual village nestled in the mountains of Bali, that I better head there because I would love it! Well, I am obsessed and will return.

Tucked away in the centre of town is a lush green, calming and beautiful property called The Yoga Barn. Centred around Yoga and Ayurveda this property is filled with all that you could ask for to the point that I didn't want to leave for a few days. It is silent and peaceful, you feel like you can exhale the second you walk in. Next time I visit I will definitely look into the accommodation that they offer and stay there as a retreat for a few days of Yoga and healthy eating.

The property has several cafes and juice stands which makes healthy eating so easy. I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable the food is and how tasty each meal was. Offering an Ayurvedic menu along with other healthy options that are plant-based, the cafes work together with the healers and ayurvedic doctors that also have rooms on the property. This means that you can see the practitioners and then follow their detox by getting the food at the cafe and stay in comfort. It is the perfect all in one offering. Easy, simple and delicious. The cafes are also open to the public so you can pop in even if you aren't catching a yoga class.

The Yoga Barn offers several options for Yoga and each class is different. You can choose a more advanced flow class or bring it back home with a beautiful Yin class by candlelight. Classes run throughout the day and I recommend popping onto their website or visiting them once you arrive at the Yoga Barn to book your classes. Whether sound healing or meditation is your thing you will find it there. It's like a cocoon of spiritual happiness.

The teachers are from all over the world and each class is longer than your normal 60 minutes in the city. Averaging 90 minutes. Allowing time for play and personal instruction. The venue is enclosed by nature and filled with yogis from all walks of life. I managed my first headstand with proper instruction and learned how important it is to trust myself. A rather big lesson I hope to carry on in my day to day life.

I got an appointment with a cranial sacral therapist who shed some light on my healing journey with Pcos. I highly recommend treating yourself to an appointment with a healer. It's a very precious self-love gift that can help you look deeper into your journey and understand more of yourself. Joining a sound healing class afterward by candlelight with the frogs chirping was perfection.

I am already planning my return to be honest. I dream of Ubud and most defiantly The Yoga Barn.

-Melissa

A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate

A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate
A night at Lanzerac Wine Estate

A stone's throw from Cape Town centre tucked away in what seems to be the suburbs of Stellenbosch is a historic landmark that has risen from the ashes, quite literally. Lanzerac Wine estate is not just your average wine estate but rather a piece of history with a classic feel that is timeless. With a history dating back to 1692, this grande dame is synonymous with old-world charm and rich Cape heritage.

The estate is situated just an hours drive from Cape Town CBD and is worth booking a weekend for, if not longer.

Upon arrival you are greeted with the most beautiful shady driveway that is towered by tall oak trees, I always wonder the stories they could tell!

The estate is the third oldest in Stellenbosch and although the property has over 300 years behind its name the newly renovated hotel is the most recent addition. The property was closed down and a breath of classic fresh air was breathed in after a horrendous fire in 2017. The grounds are perfectly manicured and the interior of the hotel echoes this. Every little aspect was not only thought out but is utterly beautiful.

Each room is unique and has a different feel to it. Classic interior tied together with old farm charm is the feeling in the rooms. With large king sized beds and different room options available. The bathrooms have large walk-in showers and bathtubs. The bedrooms are fitted with a TV and minibar so staying in and getting comfy is at your fingers tips!

The estate offers several options to wine and dine your needs. My personal favourite being the Deli where you can experience a wine and chocolate pairing along with one of the best cheese platters I’ve had to date. With freshly baked loaves of bread and cakes lingering in the air, I am sure you will find your way there. The manor kitchen was also another favourite with many glasses of the perfect Chenin Blanc, a personal best of the estates. The food is classic and fresh using seasonal produce grown locally. Whats not to love?

The estate is home to a spa which is an activity I very gladly took up. With a full body massage leaving me in a relaxation coma I decided to lounge by the pool for the rest of the day. You can of course head out into Stellenbosch to explore or arrange a wine tour at reception. There is something for everyone and all you have to do is ask. The staff are attentive and friendly and always ready to share a little history or attend to any of your needs.

This five-star establishment captured my heart. Whether it is for a weekend getaway or a wedding, the estate has all bases covered. It's wonderful to see such a classic piece of history honoured with such integrity and standing proudly in the small town of Stellenbosch.

-Melissa


Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox

Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox

Swimwear and active wear is always a challenging conversation with self. I always have the question of, “do I want a full piece”(which in my head probably looks better) or “Shall I get a bikini”(that I love wearing more) but that can leave me feeling slightly more self-conscious. Will the pants split when I do yoga or is the fabric thick enough to not perish.

I’m always on the hunt for the ultimate swimwear/activewear destination and thanks to Colourbox I have found the perfect fit. Not only is the shopping experience unparalleled with the fitting experience and attention to detail but it is also the ultimate luxury resort wear destination which includes amazing brands such as Moses sandals, Mr Boho Sunglasses and Maaji swimwear and active wear. Bringing you the latest and greatest from top international and local lifestyle brands, Colourbox is your one-stop fashion and lifestyle destination. Since inception, it has been the express mission of Colourbox to source only the most colourful, comfortable and above all, unique items that not only look and feel fabulous, but also enhance the vibrant and free-spirited energy of today’s discerning fashion-lover.

With my shopping hat on, I decided to try both the bikini and the full piece costumes. Did I mention that both are fully reversible? With bright and beautiful patterns and a unique style in shape on all tops you are bound to find the perfect fit for your body that leaves you feeling secure, comfortable and beautiful. It’s always in the detail right down to the way the bottoms don’t cut into your skin due to the double lining and stitching. A more comfortable swimwear line I have yet to discover. The sizing guide and online shopping experience is smooth and easy but if not you can always visit one of their stores. Just make sure you are aware that you will probably blow your budget! 

Mr Boho is a fun and fresh Italian sunglasses range that has an exciting summer collection that includes colour rimmed glasses. To be honest whilst trying them on; I had a flash of seeing myself in a cobble stoned courtyard eating gelato in Italy. Perhaps colourbox is not only the ultimate resort wear luxury range but also the ultimate inspiration to get that ticket out of here. The thing I loved the most about the range is that they are the type of sunglasses that look good on almost everyone! 

Every good holiday in my mind has some fun activities. Be it yoga or hiking you are going to need the attire and again, Colourbox to the rescue. From sports bras to leggings they have something for everyone. I love that the leggings are high waisted making me feel like I can go securely into any yoga pose without fear of revealing a little too much. The patterns are bold and beautiful which are representative of the brands origin in Brazil. 

They say these boots are made for walking but they haven’t heard of Moses sandals. With a vanilla smell and a wide range of colours these babies are my official favourite shoe and if the shoe fits, buy it in every colour. Which is the plan. They are so comfortable that I wore them every day in Bali and they haven’t left my feet since. I think I might have developed attachment issues to them. If you don’t have a pair then you are missing out and yes, they are the best Christmas present you will find either for yourself or a loved one! They come from Israel which again leaves me thinking of walking the old city of Jerusalem eating baklava in the Arab quarter and putting my wish in the western wall. 

So thank you to colourbox. Not only do I have the best arsenal for any holiday destination but I also have the wildest wanderlust a girl can think of. Visit their site and get shopping. I’m sure they will inspire you to do the same!

-Melissa