Monday, November 22, 2010

Destination: Bali (Part 2)

I hope you enjoyed my last post on wedding & honeymoon destinations in Bali, and as promised, here's part 2.

Ubud is a town close to the center of Bali, set nowhere near the beach, but is just as beautiful. You'll find rice paddy fields, art galleries, artists and craftsmen, temples and the Ubud Palace. Wander into the Ubud market and get caught up for hours wandering through 3 levels of clothes, art, home accessories, trinklets and spices.
And if you've heard of the famous Bali Babi Guling (Roast Pork), the best stall is right here in Ubud, on the left of the Ubud Palace.

You'll be spoilt for choice if you're looking for a perfect place for your wedding or honeymoon in Ubud. Here are my top picks:

Alila Ubud
Location: Ubud
Great for: Weddings, Honeymoon

Alila Hotels, a luxury chain of resorts, are found in Indonesia, Maldives, India, Thailand and Laos.
Their resort in Ubud is simply breathtaking.
The award winning pool (Travel+Living's 50 most spectacular pools in the world) is set above a lush green valley and the Ayung River.

Take a shower in your outdoor bathroom, enjoy your breakfast and afternoon tea by the pool side, and visit the spa for one of the most luxurious treatments you'll ever have.
If you're looking to set the mood for the evening, the ipod docks available in every room will do the trick for some romantic melodies.

They'll plan your wedding for you, and with a total of 56 rooms, there's enough space for your close friends and family to stay.

If you're coming here for your honeymoon, they have special couple's packages for you to choose from, whether you want a villa or a deluxe room.

It's gonna be one sweet stay.


Moziac Bali
Location: Ubud
Great for: Dinner, Drinks

Coming from Singapore where the International food scene can really spoil us for choice, I tend to think of the restaurants in Bali as scruffier but cheaper.
Moziac however, was a complete surprise.
What's not a surprise now, is to know that they have been honoured as the Top 6 Restaurants in Asia by the 2010 Miele Guide

Once you enter Moziac, you're ushered to a comfortable lounge where you can have pre-dinner drinks or tapas while they get your table ready. A great selection of fine wines and champagnes will keep you occupied, if you're not already enchanted by the singer and pianist there.

The setting for dinner is in an alfresco area facing the huge garden (hard to tell when you drive past! then again, lots of things in Bali are hidden behind small road-facing buildings.) If you lose track of what you've been eating, just like I did, they have thoughtfully placed a beautifully printed and rolled up menu on the table.

For dinner, you choose from four different tasting menus. That must have been the one and only time I had foie gras in Bali. And damn, it was good. Very good.
Vegetarians, if you've been put off by what I just said, the chef also offers a vegetarian menu.

Reservations are necessary. If you are staying in Sanur, or Kuta, it's about an hour's drive away.

Opening hours: 1745 till closed.
Contact: , +62 361 975768

Bali Botanica Day Spa
Location: Ubud
Great for: Affordable Ayurvedic Treatments & Spa Packages

Before I start, I need to tell you 2 things
1. Their website doesn't look very good
2. I have a knack for knowing what places are fantastic despite horrible websites and photographs.

Now, Bali Botanica is located a little far out from Ubud town, and that's why they offer a free pickup from your hotel. Being further out from town is a good thing, once we alighted, we had to walk about 50-100 m down a small winding path before we got to the reception.
No noise from the road, no people walking past and peeping in, just a quiet retreat in a forest.

At the reception, they have you fill in a detailed form about any allergies, injuries, preferred pressure and areas to concentrate on, as well as your choice of oils (which were described in great detail!).
Your therapist leads you to your treatment room, mine was facing the west, I had gorgeous soft sun rays streaming into my room when I entered!
Each room is fitted with your own tub and shower, so you don't have to run across the hallways to rinse off before and after your treatments.

snapshot of the treatment room when I got there

I had booked in for a 75min signature herbal massage (RP 150,000/ USD 17/ SGD 22) and a 45 min Ayurvedic Shirodara (RP 360,000 / USD 40 / SGD 53) , which is the Indian ayurvedic treatment where they drip warm oil onto your third eye area.

If you are thinking of having a body massage and Ayurvedic massage, just go straight for the Ayurvedic Chakra Dhara treatment ( RP 495,000 / USD 55 / SGD 72) which you will be put into bliss for 150mins.
In this treatment, warm oil is dripped onto your Chakra(energy) points and then massaged in, helping to detox your body and improve circulation.

I completely loved my Signature herbal massage, it eased out so much tension that was being constantly carried about.
My only regrets - not having enough time in Ubud to make another appointment back at the spa.

Appointments recommended. Opened till 8pm
Contact: , +62 361 976739

Next up : I'll bring you back to the south! Probably to Canggu & Seminyak.. And Kuta if I have enough energy for it! It's always stressful and such a rush there!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Destination: Bali ( Part 1)

Everyone who knows me knows that I LOVE Bali. And I mean, seriously, LURVE BALI!

So if you're ever planning for a destination wedding, or honeymoon in South East Asia, heck, Asia, I'm the first one to scream "GO TO BALI!!!"

Why? I can give you more than a hundred good reasons.. but these you should hear:
- BEAUTIFUL beaches set the backdrop for a tropical beach wedding
- Fantastic 5* villas at reasonable prices
- You can book the entire property and all the villas in it to hosts all your guests
- World-class food at a snap of your fingers
- Spa, Massage, you ask for it, you get it. And you can get it cheap, or uber luxurious.
- Wedding planners, hairstylists, photographers, makeup artists, florists, catering, all accessable
- Direct flights to Bali from most Austra-Asian cities , and if you're coming from anywhere else, you can always transit comfortably in Singapore


Mu Bali
Location: Bingin (The Bukit, South)
Great for: Honeymoon, Wedding, Romantic Getaway

With only 11 individually designed Bungalows spread over a huge property on top of the cliff above Bingin beach, Mu Bali is a back-to-nature-while-keeping-it-luxurious destination. I personally love the Cliff Bungalow (well, it's not really a bungalow because it has no walls or doors!) , the most private and quiet room cut into the cliff, all you hear are the rolling waves, all you see is the infinite sea and the glorious sunset.

The view when you wake up (these are my snap shots!)

Imagine your wedding right here! (A shot from Mu's site)

The property is run by Jerome from France and his excellent team of Balinese women who cook some darn amazing french and indonesian food!

Contact: Endang / Jerome

Shanti Residences
Location: Nusa Dua (South End of Bali, where all the fancy international hotels are)
Great for: Weddings, large family getaways

Shanti Residences is a gorgeous 5 bedroom Villa property, with your own private swimming pool, kitchen, gym, spa room, sitting room, garden, driveway and parking lot!
The five bedrooms are all different, from the largest Master Suite to the smallest twin room.
Three of the rooms have their own plunge pools and sitting rooms, while the twin rooms are located on the 2nd level and have spacious bathrooms (that's what I love most about Bali, HUGE bathroom spaces!)

Your own butler will take care of your every need, from planning your meals to grocery shopping, to arranging a picnic at the beach, or activities for kids, or picking up your guests. You also get a personal chef who can arrange a quiet romantic teppan dinner next to the pool, or whip up a storm for a large party.

They're extremely meticulous and experienced with weddings, so leave all your worries behind and place your trust in their good hands!

My snapshot of their garden!

Photography: Phil Date/ EastWest Imaging , with model Antonio chilling by the pool!

And if that's not enough for you, they have two more properties in Bali, Four@ Drupadi in Seminyak (if you wanna party with friends for your Stag/Hen's night), or Lotus Residences in Canggu for a quiet retreat near the paddy fields


Next post, (i promise I will post in the next 3 days or so)..... Part 2 of Destination: Bali

Sunday, November 7, 2010

*CLOSED* Manicure & Pedicure at BLISS Spa, ION Orchard

**Update: Bliss Spa at ION Orchard has CLOSED :(
But for all you jetsetters, you can get your Bliss fix at the W Hotel in Hong Kong

BLISS Spa in Singapore has been pretty quiet since it's opening in late 2009. Although it's part of an international chain of spas which has a line of extremely successful products, it's spa in ION orchard is tucked away in a quiet corner at the back of Sephora.

Last week, I decided to try out the BLISS Hot Cream Manicure & Pedicure (S$90), to see if their premium-priced treatments were worth the buck.

Entering their spa, I was ushered to their comfortable couch to fill in a consultation form. They have a small spread of bite-sized brownies, lemonade and hot teas which were an excellent touch.
The nail polishes from Essie and OPI were displayed on a clear wall which I got to pick from before beginning the manicure.

The manicure was then done over a table facing two large TVs playing Gossip Girl & Desperate Housewives! I hardly watch TV so this was the first time I got to watch Gossip Girl. If you're worried about it being noisy, it's not, as they have comfy headphones at each table.

Her tools were taken out of a specially sealed pack which means the tools were sterilized either with UV or in an Autoclave, then sealed in a special pack. That's great, since there was a big Hep B scare where Hep B was being spread during manicures.

So she started the manicure:
I have to say this again, why do manicurists keep filing the nails in a super fast, zigzag manner?
This webpage explains it in the simplest, best way:
"Nail filing should be reserved for simple shaping once the nails are at the desired length. Using the proper file, take a few gentle strokes from the corner to center in the same direction. Don’t file nails all the way across or from side to side. A few strokes should be all that is needed to get the ideal shape. Take care not to file down the sides of the nail aggressively - this area is essential to nail strength and should be left alone as much as possible."

After the filing she applied a TON of cuticle remover onto my cuticles, I was really suspicious about it since there was no washing of the remover after. Most cuticle removers need to be washed off since they're very alkaline and are drying to your skin. I asked her about it but she said it is done later.

So after the cutting of cuticles, she put a ton of cuticle oil on, followed by the "Hot Cream" part of the manicure.
Basically, it is cream in a plastic bag which is put into the heater, then wrapped around your hands, and then massaged in.

My hands were never washed or soaked. She only ran a hot wet towel over before applying the polish.

I had chosen Escapades from Essie for my fingernails and she also used Essie base and top coat. The paint job was gorgeous and Essie colours dry relatively quickly, I would say much more quickly than OPI & Orly colours.

Essie "Escapades"

The pedicure was done on these HUGE, PLUSH Chairs. That had got to be the most comfortable pedicure seat I was ever on. Or the most comfortable couch ever.
There were also TV screens right ahead and I got to watch GLEE. (My first time watching GLEE, can I get the DVD set for X'Mas? :P )

I briefed her that my large toenail was easily succeptable to becoming ingrown.. well it wasn't ingrown or inflammed but it always hurt on one side. It was really brittle and had taken months to grow out so I had now cut it extremely straight across. Told her not to cut or file it, and she acknowledged it, but when the filing started she immediately did what i told her NOT to do. I only realised what she had done after all the toes were done and when it started to hurt again. (The hurting comes from the pressure the nail plate puts on the nail bed, and cutting your nails straight shifts the pressure away from the side. So once the nail is cut rounded, the pressure gets put back)
Boy, did I give her a piece of my mind! :(
And yes, I explained about cutting the nail straight, but it makes me wonder, where are the manicurists trained?

The rest of the pedicure was pretty standard: The ton of cuticle remover, cuticle oil, scrub (with a wash off scrub and also with a large foot file), massage and then the polish.

I chose Essie's "Ballet Slippers", a pretty pastel pink. I was inspired by this gorgeous caucasian lady I saw at Great World City, with the most flawless pedicure and pretty polish, exactly like this one, wearing jewelled sandals. I had almost stepped up to her and asked her what shade it was, but figured I might come across abit too obsessive :P

Essie "Ballet Slippers"

Overall, the manicure and pedicure were good, I wouldn't classify it as value-for-money, it's more of a "once in a while, have a treat" kind of place. If you love somewhere hip and luxurious, it would be the place for you.
The major difference comes in their little, important touches, like sterile tools, warm towels, warm massage creams and scrubs, a soft comfy blanket when lying on the couch.

It would be perfect as a pre-wedding treat, or for a private hen's night spa party.

Once you're done, don't forget to get a free pictures of yourself at their little photobooth!

Ambience: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Skill: 3.5/5
Location: 5/5 (for those who take public transport)
3/5 (if you drive and have to pay exhorbitant rates for parking in town)
Price: 3/5
Variety of services: 4/5

Prices for nail services:
Hot Cream Manicure 30 min, $35
Bliss Basic Pedicure 60min, $55
Hot milk & almond pedicure 60min, $75
Double choc pedicure 60min, $75
Pedi colada 60min, $75
Foot Patrol 75 min, $85
additioanl French tips $10

at Sephora - ION
01- 05/06 ION Orchard
Singapore 238801

10am - 9pm Daily
+65 6509 3511

On their menu:
Waxing - Facials - Massage - Nails - Slimming

note: 5 days later (today) Still no chips in nail polish!!! And I have been pretty rough on my hands! Impressive.