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Monday, 6 February 2017

Intercontinental's #852TAILS Menu is Dynamic and Distinctive

Review: InterContinental's #852TAILS Menu is Dynamic and Distinctive

The Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental is 'the' place for cocktails, where every mover and shaker can be seen sipping effortlessly on something fabulous. Set against the iconic backdrop of Victoria Harbour and that skyline, this Hong Kong classic has got a whole lot of wow factor. 
To compliment the splendour of the surroundings, the InterContinental has just launched an extensive new cocktail and appetiser menu in the Lobby Lounge that is reflective of the dynamic and compelling energy of HK itself. Despite the fact that the hotel is situated in busy TST, the Lobby Lounge still manages to retain an ambience of chic, old Hollywood glamour that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the city.
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With seven alcoholic cocktails and five non-alcoholic varieties, there is something for everyone on this long list of creations. While I do love an old reliable, I often find drink menus repetitive, and it can be difficult to discover innovative mixology. Rest assured that the curators at the Lobby Lounge have blended these beverages with a great splash of creative thought – there's not a cosmo or mai tai in sight! The elements of each drink – from the name to the ingredients – are intrinsically linked to aspects of local history and culture, taking the diner through a snapshot of storytelling with every sip. 
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One of my favourites was the New Territories, a refreshing blend of gin, tonic, citrus, cucumber and bitter melon – a contemporary interpretation of a standard G and T. This would be ideal for cooling off during the summer season or as a light aperitif before dinner. On that note, Tea Time, inspired by the bo lo bao (pineapple bun), also had a tropical tang of buttered rum, pineapple, local honey and citrus. I was apprehensive that this could be a little too sickly, but it turned out to be the perfect sweet treat. For a different flavour, I loved the spicy, heady notes in From Condiment to Confection, a mix of bourbon, citrus, local honey, ginger and bitters; this is a great winter warmer for the colder snap. 
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The appetisers that accompany these indulgent cocktails are a combination of festive features for the Lunar New Year (say hello to the best turnip cake ever) and firm favourites like the breadcrumbed fish and chips and the scrumptious Wagyu beef balls. It was the chilli plate that – quite literally – tickled my taste buds, though, as the snack selection ranged from one to five on the spice-ometer. For those a little shy of spice, the chilli cheese nuggets and stuffed jalapeƱos pack just the right amount of punch. If you're feeling like a bit more fire, the crispy octopus with piri-piri mayo and king prawns with chorizo are unforgettable. 
The Lobby Lounge features live entertainment nightly from 6pm–12:30am, with one of Asia's leading jazz singers, Jennifer Parlor, performing every Thursday from 9:45–11:45pm. With this sublime soundtrack, this is the only place to marvel at the harbour light show or simply enjoy an #852TAIL with a view. 
Lobby, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 2721 1211

All images courtesy of The Intercontinental 

Friday, 3 February 2017

How to Beat Jet Lag

We’re so lucky to live in Hong Kong where travel is often cheap, accessible and beautiful destinations are just a hop, step and a leap away. And with so many public holidays to take advantage of, I am perpetually planning our next adventure, while also trying to squeeze in long-haul trips to Ireland and the UK to keep the families happy! On top of all the fun stuff; work commitments mean that we’re expected to travel mid-week – sometimes at short notice – while still staying on our A-Game in the office.
While it may seem like a ‘First World Problem’; with the constant cycle of jet setting, comes the dreaded travel hangover that is jet lag. It affects me differently each time I transit through time zones and can linger for days or weeks as I welcome 3am, staring at the ceiling, ready to raid the fridge for pasta.
While it’s not realistic to completely avoid the pitfalls of jet lag, I have put together my top tips to minimise the strain on your mind and body, and make the whole experience of globetrotting much more bearable!
1. Readjust Your Body Clock
If your trip is planned well in advance, it’s always an advantage to gradually introduce your body to the new time zone. Shifting your daily regimes by a few hours can really help you to sync with your destination. As soon as you board the flight, set your watch and electronics to the local destination time. Many of us let our tummies dictate our eating habits when we arrive at a far flung place (show of hands for anyone who has ever dug into a tub of ice cream in the middle of the night on vaycay?). However, jet lag interferes with bodily processes and sunlight, and sleeping and eating at the right time for your environment stimulates them to function orderly again. Squeezing in some gentle exercise during daylight hours should also help to tire you out and have you ready to hit the pillow at a regular time.

2. During the Flight 
Have a nutritious, filling meal pre-flight and eat lightly during air time – arriving hungry will encourage you to get into the rhythm of the local journeys-end and this will also aid digestion which can become sluggish mid-air.
Try to resist overdoing it on the wine or champagne and remember the golden rule: one on the ground is worth two in the air! A glass or two is a lovely treat and should be enough to help you nod off on a night time flight but limit it to that unless you want to wake up with jet lag and a hangover. So not a good look. Drinking at least two litres of water in flight will keep you hydrated and help you to feel fresh on arrival.

3. In Flight Essentials 

You don’t have to be in business class to spoil yourself mid-air. Even if you’re squeezed into a tiny seat on a budget airline, travelling with a collection of your favourite products sets you up to look and feel fantastic as soon as you step out onto the tarmac. I make sure to have a little bag of mini products ready at all times that I can chuck into my carry case and rest assured that I will be fresh throughout the journey and feel the benefit on arrival.
Hydration is key – I advise to go sans slap for any flight over five hours – and make sure to pack comfy clothes to maximise relaxation. Remember to carry a nourishing face wash to use on board, or when you reach your destination, to kick-start the day or prime your skin for a good night’s sleep.
If you are lucky enough to travel business class with Virgin Atlantic, we highly recommend sleeping in the sky with their bespoke aromatherapy package, full of gorgeous “de Mamiel” and “This Works” beauty products. Each passenger will be gifted with a variety of perfectly blended oils and a selection relaxation techniques to aid sleep and banish jetlag. The packages are tailored for day and evening flights and my personal winner is the divine Deep Sleep Pillow Spray from “This Works” – a couple of spritzes of this lavender and camomile blend had me sleeping soundly after drifting off to a range of on board mindfulness films designed by ‘Headspace”.

4. Try A Holistic Therapy
Trust me, I’m all for nipping into one of the many massage spots for a cheap and cheerful foot rub, but after indulging in the utter opulence of the Four Seasons Spa, I am completely converted to their signature treatments and incomparable client care. After reading about their jet lag solution massage package, I was intrigued to see if it could ease the impact of frequent travel or relieve some of the stresses that come with living in a frenetic city like Hong Kong!
After a consultation process, guests are led to a warm footbath where camomile and red wine (yep, you read that right!) are used to cleanse your feet and prepare your skin for massage. The therapy is split into two ninety-minute parts: awakening in the morning with a mint and Tahitian sand scrub and an invigorating massage and returning in the evening to unwind with a tension-melting massage performed with a rich chamomile cream and a snug heated body wrap. Each and every detail at the Four Seasons is absolutely on point: from the expansive facilities that clients can avail of, to the magnificent surroundings of the massage rooms, to the personalised attention from the expert staff.
My body and mind had a profoundly positive reaction immediately after each session; emerging energised and reinvigorated after the awakening treatment and strolling home blissfully tranquil after the evening massage. I would readily recommend this for frequent fliers, overloaded girl bosses or anyone on the market for a few hours of sublime self-care. It is certainly one way to get your sleep back on track with lavish luxury.
With these tips in mind, I urge you to go forth and book another break to try them out for yourself – ya, like you needed an excuse!

Original article appeared on Sassy Hong Kong 

All images courtesy of Sassy Hong Kong and Taking Hong Kong

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Sponge: Mobile Beauty Service for HK's Lively Ladies

It’s almost December and our calendars are filling up with festive invitations, faster than you can say “Father Christmas”. We’ve got it all going on: from office parties, to seasonal socials and family obligations. Oh, and we also have to hold down those day jobs to fund these frolics! Ladies - it’s a lot - I hear you. With so much to think about, Diane Younes and her Sponge team have popped up at the perfect time to launch the city’s slickest at-home hair and makeup service, to help us look and feel fabulous for any occasion.

Diane herself is the most impressive advert for Sponge, as she arrived to our meeting with meticulous makeup and her hair in a chic chignon. Her drive and determination is infectious and her personal connection to the brand is evident in every element of Sponge. She is the epitome of a #girlboss - after leaving behind her corporate number in New York to move to HK - where she discovered that we were missing the effective, efficient and economical beauty services synonymous with NYC. Cue some serious hustle and the birth of Sponge, which offers women an extensive range of hair and makeup looks in your home, office or, anywhere that is convenient for you; all you need is a flat surface and a plug – genius!

The whole process is a pleasure; start by choosing your desired looks from the website and locking in your preferred appointment slot. I decided to go for The Weekender hair which promised cool waves and an undone look and The Influencer makeup: a smoky eye, contoured cheek bones and a neutral lip. I was clearly going for Gisele vibes and while I, unfortunately, did not transform into an Amazonian Goddess (sob), I did feel super swish and pampered after my session!

The only thing I was slightly apprehensive about was inviting people into my home to complete this service. Undergoing beauty treatments can be a personal and intimate experience – especially in a HK sized apartment – so you really need to have the right personalities to make sure it doesn’t get awkward. Don’t sweat it though, Diane is a step ahead and has assembled a Sponge squad who are talented, warm and friendly; a joy to welcome into your private space. I was lucky enough to have two ladies who were pleasant but professional, punctual and prompt – everything took just under an hour and we even had time for a sign along to Britney’s greatest hits. Yep, those girls rocked!
 I was really pleased with my finished looks and so impressed by the ease and affordability of the service. Everything at Sponge is customisable and after chatting with my stylists, I was able to create an individual look that I was fully satisfied with – all while lounging in my living room. This is definitely something I can see myself getting hooked on so, I may need to ask Santa for some Sponge vouchers in my stocking this year!  

Appointments can be booked anything from two hours to one month in advance, with prices from HK$330 to HK$440 for hair and HK$440 to HK$550 for makeup. Eyelash extensions are also available and you can avail of a HK$50 discount off your first appointment, when you enter the promotion code “FIRST50” at checkout. Happy pampering and here’s to a new way of doing beauty in HK!