Review: Virgin Atlantic’s New Clubhouse At Gatwick North Terminal

Virgin Atlantic has released pictures of its brand new Clubhouse airport lounge at Gatwick’s North terminal. Virgin Atlantic (along with Easyjet) now operates from the North terminal. British Airways now flies out of the South terminal.

The new Clubhouse lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows for natural light and views across the runway. The centre piece of the Clubhouse is a marble bar, and the airline has partnered with East London cocktail bar White Lyan for a selection of exclusive cocktails.

The menu features Virgin’s Clubhouse burger alongside a variety of breakfast and lunch options on the a la carte menu. There is a woodland-themed play area filled with toys and games for children.

There is also a spa area with double the number of treatment rooms from the previous Clubhouse in Gatwick’s South Terminal.

Mark Anderson, Virgin Atlantic’s Executive Vice President, Customer, commented;

“We want our customers to have the best possible experience at the airport and those visiting the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse will be in for a real treat. Cocktails designed by award winning mixologists, hearty food options and relaxing spa treatments, all set within a luxurious environment, really make for a truly and memorable customer experience. Our Gatwick customers travel to a variety of global destinations, and whether they’re planning to relax in the Caribbean or soak up the theme parks in Orlando, our new Clubhouse will make the start of any break truly special.”

I have also reviewed The Clubhouse at London Heathrow. The Clubhouse also has outposts in LAX, Newark, JFK, San Francisco, Boston, Washington Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Gatwick. These lounges are fun, well designed and offer better food than the BA Galleries lounges. To find out which other ways Virgin is better than British Airways read my article on British Airways Vs Virgin Atlantic. Both airlines feature in my top 10 best airlines for longhaul Business Class.

Virgin Atlantic

Tom Ford Spellbinding Fragrances For Valentines

Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Lumière & Private Blend Vert de Fleur are two of Tom Ford’s latest fragrances.

Ton Ford Velvet Orchid Lumière, is a fresh new interpretation of the Velvet Orchid Eau de Parfum. It opens with a blend of Italian bergamot, mandarin, honey and rum. Its heady floral heart includes notes of rose, orchid and jasmine on the base of sandalwood, vanilla and myrrh. The fragrance is strong and boozy with hints of rum and very very sophisticated. Like the original Velvet orchid but a bit lighter. Rich but more velvety, creamy and sunny. Like a bit of milk and honey is added to the original and only the lightest spray will last all day.

Tom Ford also recently released Private Blend Vert De Fleur, which marks the fourth fragrance within the Tom Ford Private Blend. It is completely different from Velvet Orchid but equally lovely. It hints 70s glamour but with a modern flourish of iris and hyacinth. Vert de Fleur is Tom Ford’s floral subversion of classic green. The fragrance opens with emergent hyacinth and galbanum notes wrapped in a re ned embrace of neroli, bergamot and basil. A velvet oralcy lies at the heart of the scent, which includes a luxurious blend of iris butter, jasmine sambac and rose balanced by orange flower. Woody notes include warm vetiver and patchouli against dark oakmoss and brilliant green. Blend Vert De Fleur really does smell green with a touch of spicy pine.

Whatever you prefer, if you are still searching for that special present, these should impress your sweetheart.

Tom Ford

My Flight: a review of Qantas First Class A380 from Dubai to London

Departure: 2.25 am 

Arrival: 6.55 am

Flight Duration: 7 hours (approx)

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite 4

Check-in 

We arrived at the terminal at 11.30pm in the evening, with a good 3 hours to spare before our flight. We made our way to the premium side of the terminal and found the check-in desks dedicated exclusively for this flight. I wasn’t sure if we were to use Emirates’ check-in, but that was not the case.

We did not see a single person by the time we entered this terminal – we checked in alone in about 3 minutes and we made our way to security.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london checking at DXB airport

Security

At this time of the night (and surprisingly, to be very honest), we did not see a single person except airport staff. Security took a minute each and was no trouble at all. We walked a fair bit to the train stop which we had to board to get to the departures area. The shuttle took a good 10 minutes to arrive but we saw other passengers at last as everyone gets the same shuttle, of course.

We spent a few minutes at the Duty Free and shopping area – which was seriously disappointing. With this being Emirates’ new terminal, I was (naively) expecting a world class shopping arcade, but besides overpriced drinks and camel chocolates, there wasn’t much to buy. So we didn’t!

The Lounge

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london emirates first class lounge DXB airport

We made our way to Emirates’ First Class Lounge – due to the codeshare between Qantas and Emirates, all Qantas passengers use the Emirates facilities and I have to say – there were some really really cool features about it.

First… well… the proper shops (or some proper shops like Tiffany & Co. etc) are actually located inside the lounge. I liked that, a lot. You can also get some premium whiskies and I hope next time there will be more fashion. Because it was actually a fabulous concept.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london emirates first class lounge DXB airport dining

The lounge is huge (and a tad sterile at the same time) and I would guess there were probably only 50 passengers using at the time – either that, or everyone was hiding.

We had dinner a few hours prior in Dubai (we actually went to Abu Dhabi on this trip) and weren’t hungry – but had a look at the buffet and the a la carte options which looked excellent. But I can only assume they were as we did not try it.

The only thing I wanted to do was have a glass or three of champagne and the only option was Moet Brut. Yup. Not a mistake. And this really surprised me. The funniest thing was that I posted a photo on Instagram and then got quite a few comments from readers saying exactly the same. What an odd choice of champagne for an airline’s flagship lounge. Drinks are technically self-serve – but there as there were such few passengers, if you looked at one thing, it would be bought to you. The staff always made sure our glasses were topped – to the point where we had to say ‘no more, please’.

I was looking forward to a spa treatment (some are complimentary to First Class passengers), but there were no slots available. Having a few hours to kill, I got excited that there was actually a hair and beauty salon, but there was no one working at at time, which is understandable. More airports should have hair salons!

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london emirates first class lounge DXB airport smoking area quiet area

Worth noting that there is also a separate lounge for smokers – with full food and drinks service and fully staffed. Also, there are various quiet areas with day beds which looked very nice.

And last but not the least… my favourite part of the lounge – you get to your gate directly from the lounge, via a lift. This terminal is exclusive for A380s, so set up for double decker planes. I really liked this and within minutes, we cleared all the boarding procedures (if you look at the photo above, you will see a small boarding desk). Got on the lift, and we were on the plane.

The Flight

–          Welcome 

We got a welcome indeed. The crew were brilliant from the moment we boarded the plane until we left. Lots of smiles, good commentary and yes, we knew we were on an Australian airline. We were escorted to our seats quickly and our jackets were taken from us.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite 1

–          The Cabin 

This cabin had quite an usual configuration, offering 3-per row seats (one by each window, and one in the middle), and it had 5 seats on the window sides and 4 in the middle, making it possible to accommodate 14 passengers.

The ‘first class suites’ and the whole cabin was beige with wooden accents and dark flooring. I did not notice if there was a Qantas logo at all, but it felt very bland. If it wasn’t for the accents of the crew (lovely lovely crew), I would not have guessed where I was, in all honesty.

–          Drinks service 

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london comtes de taittinger champagne menu

We were immediately asked if we would like a glass of something to drink and I asked what champagne they were serving. I loved that it was Taittinger’s Comtes de Taittinger 2005 – a great upgrade from what we had earlier. Not sure how we got into the Moet at the lounge (but another passenger also chimed in, which was hilarious), and the crew made sure we all got a second glass as the first one was to ‘cleanse the palate’. We were also served nuts and olives (the latter is very rare and I loved it because I love olives).

–          The seat 

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite details

Our seats (or suites) were very spacious as you can see from the images above – and as you can see, allowed for couples dining (which we did not test as this was a sleeper service and straight to work the following day for both of us).

I took that photo of me wearing the seatbelt only to show you that it is different from the normal ones, which clasp in your lap. This one is a 3-part seatbelt and the extra bit is necessary due to the design of the suites. Because of its shape, if there was serious turbulence, you’d hit the back of the seat in front, and this prevents it. (I only know this because the lady who was part of the design team of BA’s First Class Suites told me).

There was plenty of storage, including various USB ports and power sockets. I like when there are drawers and nooks so you can hide all your bits – and no complaints there.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite seat controls

I also really liked the ‘remote’ which controlled the IFE and the seat itself. I did try the massage bit for fun and the whole system was very very easy to use. I loved the ‘Time to Destination’ feature which appeared by default – when I am asleep I am obsessed with the time I have left and it meant I didn’t have to have the inflight map (and the TV) on.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite 2

Service was super attentive and friendly and after dinner, we were asked if we wanted to sleep and the crew made up the bed. We had 2 pillows (instead of one, which was very good) and the bedding was nice too.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite flat bed

–          Amenities

There was a his and hers version, but I have to say – it was poor. I knew that Qantas has a collaboration with Kate and Jack Spade in business class (and the actual toiletry bags are fabulous and change all the time – and they sell on eBay for over $75) and I was expecting something even better in First. Well. We were given these fake leather pouches with SK-II products (which are good), but the whole thing (maybe because of the Rexona deodorant) did not feel luxurious or special at all.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite SKII toiletries

I left mine behind on the plane. But a lovely reader has sent me a Kate Spade one (from Qantas business class as he had 2), and I use it all the time. It is brilliant for cables etc when you travel – and in my opinion, Qantas could do a bit better in first class. Just my opinion.

–          In-flight dining

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london dinner and breakfast sleeper service

As I had dinner a good 4 hours before, and I had not eaten at the lounge, I was a bit pecking and the idea of a steak sandwich sounded brilliant. Sadly, the bread was dry and so was the steak, so it really wasn’t a success. The upside? The ice cream was brilliant and I had 3 tubs.

There was a selection of Australian wines (2 reds, 2 whites and 1 dessert), and I had a glass of a Hunter Valley Shiraz which was lovely.

We asked not to be woken up for breakfast, but the request backfired as breakfast started being served a good 2h30 before landing and everyone was awake and quite loud. I understand that the end was near for those flying all the way from Sydney, but for those catching the red-eye from Dubai to London, it was far from ideal. And I am used (and grateful) for British Airways’ letting you have breakfast 1h to 40 minutes prior to landing, so this was pretty strange.

I ended up having some fruit, a lovely peach juice and an espresso coffee. There was also a (seriously) extensive selection of teas available.

–          In-flight entertainment 

No problems here – the screen was massive and worked well. I also really liked the ‘Australian’ flavour in the programming and benefitted from the difference in film release dates (ha!). In honour of Australia, I watched ‘The Dressmaker’ with Kate Winslet which was set there.

We were given noise-cancelling headphones, but I preferred to use my in-ear Bose, which makes it easier to sleep.

flight review qantas first class 380 dubai to london first class suite toilets and stairs

Cost

A return flight from London to Dubai in first class with Qantas costs around £4,000-5,000. We bought a business ticket with British Airways which cost £2,500 and upgraded with Avios (50,000 each, I believe) on this leg, which made it a very good deal.

Final thoughts

I thought the service was brilliant – probably one of the most enthusiastic and personable crews I have met (and I do not say this lightly). I thought the cabin was bland and really beige – it didn’t give me a great sense of place (or airline). But the seats were very spacious and the champagne was definitely Mrs. O approved.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Until the next flight…

xo

Mrs. O

PS. You can also read other flight reviews – BA Club World (Business Class) between London and LA on the A380, American Airlines Business Class between London and Miami,  BA Club World (Business Class) between LHR and JFK, World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) on the new A380, and for the BA001 all business class service from London City to JFK. See also other airlines including Qatar Airways (Dreamliner), Jet Airways (Premiere) and JetBlue (Mint).

A hotel to remember: Baros Maldives

When I ‘announced’ that I was going to Baros Maldives on a recent trip, something quite special happened: I had literally dozens of readers comment and react to the news in a very unique way. Why? Because many of you have discovered this Maldivian secret sailing paradise and have been going back year after year.

Having been there for 5 days on a recent trip – it is easy to understand why. It is a very small island (with only 70 something rooms, both over water and beach villas), service is incredibly attentive and it does feel like home. You all got to know the staff, or better, the staff got to know you over time and you are not interested in anything else except going back. I get it!

We arrived to this little piece of paradise by speedboat from Male airport (takes 25 minutes and transfers are included for all Sovereign customers) and before we knew it, we really were ready to enjoy our gorgeous beach pool villa at Baros Maldives.

Our beach pool villa at Baros Maldives

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays bedroom beach pool villa

Our room was absolutely gorgeous and very very recently updated. The standard was very good and it felt spacious yet very comfortable. These beach pool villas are 130+ sqm and as private as they get.

We had a king size bed with a pop-up TV at the end of it, a seating area and a writing area. The room also had a sizeable storage area which kept our luggage out of sight.

You could also find a Nespresso coffee machine, 2 1.5l bottles of water (replaced every day free of charge), ironing board, iron and new flip-flops.

Being a beach pool villa (which I have to say, is my favourite room category in the Maldives), you have a large outdoor area with your own secluded pool, day bed, 2 sets of sunloungers (one for the pool and one for the beach) and a seating area.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays outdoor beach pool villa

Getting in the spirit of the island, we also ordered breakfast and lunch almost every day – because it rained sometimes, and also because we just didn’t want to leave. And I am sure you can see why we did it!

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays breakfast beach pool villa

But needless to say, the best part is, without a doubt, your own ‘private’ stretch of beach. You have your own sun loungers and no one else can use them. We had neighbours as the hotel was at full capacity when we were there, but they were all very quiet. The hotel caters to adults mostly (children under 8 are not allowed) and those who choose this island resort do so to get away from it all. Literally.

The bathroom at Baros Maldives

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach pool villa bathroom

Our bathroom was mostly indoors and was very spacious. Inside we had a full-sized bath (and don’t you love that bath tray?), separate toilet, shower and double vanity units. The toiletries used were L’Occitane Verbena range which were lovely. My only comment was that we did not have spares for the outdoor shower (but we left a note to housekeeping and they then kept replacing them in both showers).

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach pool villa bathroom outdoor shower nespresso

As expected, the room was cleaned each morning and then turned down before dinner. We never had issues with timings and more often than not, they managed to do it whilst we had breakfast. Overall, service was excellent.

The food at Baros Maldives

Being a smaller island, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of dining options. But they weren’t as limited as I thought: for breakfast you could go to the excellent buffet breakfast (which also offered many cooked-to-order items like eggs, pancakes, etc) or you could order in-villa (with an extra charge).

My highlight for breakfast was having fruit actually cut and prepared in front of you and also what the hotel called ‘Eye-opening shots’, which changed every day. It was a little detail, but a lovely one.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays breakfast dinner food restaurants

Lime was also opened for lunch (we did try it once, but then indulged in our room every day) and dinner – and we loved the curry options they had. Lots of international cuisine (something for everyone), but we really did enjoy the various types of curry.

On two of the nights we went to Cayenne, which has more of a grill concept, with a starters buffet, which had really good sushi and sashimi options. We then chose the Maldivian seafood platter (approx $130 for 2) which we paired with Cloudy Bay, of course ($120/bottle).

On our last night, we tried the Lighthouse, which is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. We started our meal outside but due to the rain, we moved inside. The food was excellent and a meal will cost approximately $100-150 per person, depending on what you choose and excluding drinks.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays dinner food restaurants

On the photo above you can see Lime from 2 different perspectives (and also the Lighthouse restaurant).

Below, you can see the main bar (which I found incredibly quiet at all times, and honestly quite surprising as people did disappear immediately after dinner), and the ‘Lighthouse’ restaurant.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays lighthouse restaurant

I know you must be asking.. what about the drinks? Well, there were also options. We loved watching the sun set every day at the Lighthouse Lounge, located on the first floor of the building and enjoyed what I can call, gin & tonics with a view. (A Gin will cost you around $17 plus service and tax, which you can round-up to $22)

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays cocktails

We asked for them to be served in a wine glass and no one batted an eye lid. Even better, each day they remembered ‘our preference’ – which was kind of followed by other guests too!

After dinner, we did go to the main bar, but as I said before, we found it very quiet at around 9pm. Cocktails are $15 (+service + tax) and we ended up going to the room earlier than normal as we did feel a bit lonely at times.

The Spa at Baros Maldives

As the weather wasn’t brilliant at times, the spa was our to-to place when it rained (in the afternoon). We had a massage every day (60 mins for $159 ++) and one day we even tried a private yoga class ($60 ++ per person).

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays spa massage

Most hotel spas in the Maldives are ‘over water’ and I loved that this one was inland – very different and so so so green. It had ‘little houses’ which were self-contained treatment rooms and the therapists really were fantastic.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays spa massage yoga lessons

What do to at Baros Maldives

I know many readers worry about going to the Maldives ‘as there is nothing to do’. I have said many times that you need to be prepared for something unique: Maldives time. It goes so quickly, it is quite unbelievable.

We had planned to do some SUP and other things (like a sandbank picnic and the unique breakfast in the middle of the ocean), but the weather did not allow it. But when we had sun, which was actually every day for at least half the day, we did something we are very good at: we went to the beach where we swam, sat and read.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach fun beach pool villa

And we did it again and again…

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach reading beach pool villa

But the highlight was a private snorkelling session ($100 for 2) – which I highly recommend you do at the beginning. You will then know where to go, etc. And you also get photos!

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays snorkelling

Final thoughts

It was easy to see why most people go to Baros and return time after time. The island is small – but not too small – but everything has a purpose and place. The service was really attentive and friendly (lots of smiles), the rooms were exceptional and the food was really good too.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach sunset

And the sunsets were not bad either ?

Until the next time!

xo

Mrs. O

Factbox and disclaimer: I was a guest of Sovereign Luxury, who organised this trip. Opinions are, as always, my own (but I loved it, promise).

Sovereign ( Tel: +44 1293 765 003) is offering a seven-night holiday to the Maldives staying at the five-star Baros Maldives in a Pool Villa on B&B basis from £3,895 per person – a saving of up to £1006 per couple. The offer includes airport security fast track and access to UK private airport lounge (where available), airport transfers, and return international flights from London Heathrow with Qatar Airways in economy class. For business class flights, the cost is £5,279 per person. Based on departures 14 May 2017.

 

Top 5 Luxury Apres-Ski clothes you must take on your ski holiday

You have all the ski and snowboarding gear – the jacket, the trousers, the boots, the helmet, goggles, sun glasses and the rest. But what do you wear when you are actually not skiing?

I have been upgrading my apres-ski wardrobe recently – where comfort comes first and of course, making sure I keep warm.

Here are my Top 5 Luxury Apres-Ski clothes you must take on your ski holiday: (well, I am!)

Sorel Caribou Boots

Get it from Amazon for £96.

top-5-luxury-ski-apres-ski-boots-shoes-sorel-caribou-beige-black-weatherproof-waterproof-shearling-boots-men-women

Sorel boots are a classic and they actually look great. The Caribou range is their most upmarket one, where the boots are actually in leather and they have a faux shearling inner boot lining for warmth, comfort and protection in cold and wet winter weather. You can get this version in various colours for women and also men. Also, I have done some shopping around the prices vary dramatically from £160… down to £96 at Amazon. I just had mine delivered and couldn’t quite believe it.

You can also look at the Sorel Winter Carnival/ Pac range, which are similar but the boots are not in leather – see here for womens, mens and kids.

Falke socks

Get it from Falke from £25.

top-5-luxury-ski-apres-ski-clothes-falke-ski-socks-men-women

I mentioned apres-ski items, but I had to mention these actual ski socks – which are outstanding. Falke is our go to brand for all types of socks and you really get what you pay for. Click here to browse all ski socks (for men, women and kids) and their lovely cashmere sock range (perfect for apres-ski, of course). And also check out their base layers too (available for all the family).

Uniqlo Heattech range

Get it from Uniqlo from £10

top-5-luxury-ski-apres-ski-uniqlo-layers-tops-underlayers-men-women

Uniqlo has been a recent discovery for me – they have the best jegging trousers in the world, which fit wonderfully, look like trousers and have pockets. But I am borderline obsessed with their Heattech clothing range, which has a variety of tops, leggings and other items for women, men and kids. They are perfect for lounging around your chalet, at home when it is cold and also I found them a godsend for working out during the Winter. Vogue seems to agree to as they said, and I quote “The collection is a firm Vogue favourite, thanks to innovative technology that retains heat in winter months despite coming in the softest, thinnest of layers to allow for extra stretch and mobility.”

A gorgeous cashmere jumper

Get it from John Lewis for £199

top-5-luxury-ski-apres-ski-clothes-women-cashmere-jumper

I love cashmere and I believe one cannot have enough! I also loved this top as it is ‘airy’ and loose – and you know what happens when you are up in the mountains. This one is perfect for lounging around and you can pair them with the Uniqlo denim jeggings or heat tech jeggings.

A warm cashmere beanie

Get it from John Lewis for £45

top-5-luxury-ski-apres-ski-clothes-women-cashmere-beanie-hat-john-lewis

I personally don’t love wearing hats (because hat hair), but you will freeze without one. I also find them quite boring.. until I found this one. Has a bit of sparkle, is 100% cashmere and ties in very nicely with the rest of your perfect ‘apres-ski outfit)

And a bonus item: the perfect chalet slippers

Get it from Amazon for £62.50

minnetonka-cali-fur-suede-slippers

Don’t fancy regular shoes at your chalet? Or are you looking for a pair of slippers that do not look like your grandmothers’? The Minnetonka range is great – super comfy, warm and they look like real moccasins. You are welcome!

What do you think about these items? And what would you recommend in terms of apres-ski clothing? Also, check out my Top 5 Sunscreens for Skiing.

xo

Mrs. O

Top 5 Sunscreens for Skiing

Still using your Summer sunscreen when you go up the mountains for some skiing or snowboarding? May be it is not the best idea. High altitude conditions call for a different type of protection and quite a few of my favourite beauty brands have now developed mountain-specific sunscreen ranges.

When choosing your sunscreen for skiing (or snowboarding or just going up to the mountains for some peace and quiet) bear two things in mind: pick small sizes so they can easily fit in one of your outfit pockets and do not forget lip protection. Your lips will thank you.

Some products actually come with the combo, which makes them very handy. But others don’t, so here are options.

And one little last thing: get rid of last year’s cream. Here are my Top 5 Sunscreens for Skiing:

Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution SPF 50 Day Cream, 30ml

Costs £32.50 and you can buy it from John Lewis and Amazon.

A must have in your toiletry case for every day use and perfect for skiing.

best-ski-sun-cream-sunscreen-clarins-uv-plus-anti-pollution-spf-50-transparent-translucent

Sun Sport by Lancaster Ski Wind & Cold Protection Cream & Stick SPF50 20ml

Costs £18 and you can buy it from Amazon.

Very difficult to find in the UK (but Selfridges stocks it in season).

best-ski-sun-cream-sunscreen-with-lipstick-lancaster-sun-sport-ski-spf-50-cream-stick

Sisley Sunleÿa Age Minimizing Global Suncare SPF 15, 50ml

Costs £142 and you can get it from John Lewis

Probably the most expensive sunscreen in the world, but it is pretty special. Just careful when using it later in the season as it only offers SPF 15.

best-ski-sun-cream-sunscreen-sunleya-sisley-spf-50-transparent-translucent

Bioderma Photoderm Ski Cream + Stick SPF 50+

Costs £11 and you can get it from Amazon.

Although this brand is now available in the UK, the ski range isn’t. Amazon comes to the rescue but I would also think you’d be able to find it at a Pharmacy in France ?

best-ski-sun-cream-sunscreen-with-lipstick-bioderma-photoderm-ski-spf-50-cream-stick

Piz Buin Mountain Sun/Lip Protector with SPF 50

Costs £8.50 and you can get it from Boots or Amazon

The most basic of options and the brand you are most likely to find on the slopes (for 3x the price) if you don’t buy it before you leave. You can get this product with SPF 50, 30 or 15. And it does smell wonderful.

best-ski-sun-cream-sunscreen-with-lipstick-piz-buin-mountain-ski-spf-50-30-15-cream-stick

And for the lips, if you don’t buy a combo solution, here is my favourite:

Clarins Sun Control Stick UVB/UVA30 8ml

Costs £17.50 and you can buy it from Boots, Amazon or John Lewis.

best-ski-sun-cream-sunscreen-clarins-sun-control-stick-for-sun-sensitive-areas

Do you have any favourite ski beauty products you have tried and loved? Let me know!

xo

Mrs. O

10 Christmas gifts for luxury lovers

I am now finally feeling festive – it took me a bit longer than usual this year. But Christmas shopping is done and here are some ideas for christmas gifts for luxury lovers from £50 to £500 (so you can get a few!)

Christmas Gifts for the Ladies

Aromatherapy Associates Pure Indulgence Set

I love Aromatherapy’s Seasonal Sets and this year’s is fantastic. I also bulk buy for friends and one has never been disappointed.

Buy it from Space NK for £45

aromatherapy-associates-pure-indulgence-gift-set

Molton Brown Vintage 2016 With Elderflower Bath & Shower Gel, Body Lotion, Scented Candle and Bauble Gift Set

I am still using the 2015 Vintage (yes, I bought loads) and this is one of MB’s loveliest seasonal ranges.

Buy it for £90 from Molton Brown

molton-brown-vintage-2016-with-elderflower-bath-shower-gel-body-lotion-scented-candle-and-bauble-gift-set

Valentino Rockstuds

Because a girl can never have too many rockstuds. You have been warned.

Buy it on sale for £499 from SecretSales

valentino-rockstuds-heels-burgundy

Nespresso EN 550 Lattissima One Touch Coffee Machine

We have been Nespressoers for over 10 years and Latissima addicts for the past 4. That should say it all. (PS. and buy the clear glasses, makes a huge difference).

Buy it for £199.95 from John Lewis (including £75 Nespresso Credit) 

nespresso-en-550-lattissima-one-touch-coffee-machine

Love Molly 7-in-one Cashmere Wrap

One of my best buys of the year – discovered them in Scotland and have got this in 3 colours… and have been delighting friends all over the world. Outstanding quality and so so so useful.

Buy it from Love Molly for £120

love molly cashmere wrap

Christmas Gifts For the Gentlemen

Smythson Panama Card Holder

Very simple and classy – I am ever so slightly obsessed with Smythson’s Panama Range. Lots of colours and options.

Buy it for £95 from Smythson

smythson-panama-card-holder

Frescobol Carioca Buzios swim shorts

Mr. O loves swimming shorts and this brand has not disappointed us. Obviously get matching polo.

But it for £135 from Frescobol Carioca

frescobol-carioca-buzios-mens-swim-shorts

Amazon Echo

We love our Echo – but we call it Alexa. She now understands us and it is a fixture in our kitchen.

But it for £149 from Amazon

amazon-echo-black

Cole Haan Zerogrand Wingtip Oxford Shoes

Best travel shoes ever. I have the female version too – very smart, light as a feather and so so so comfortable it is almost ridiculous.

Buy it for £240 (including shipping and duties) from Amazon’s Global Store

cole-haan-zerogrand-wingtip-oxford-shoes

Smythson Panama Currency Case

More Smythson goodies. Because one cannot have enough.

Buy it for £185 from Smythson

smythson-panama-currency-case

What have you asked Santa this year? Tell me!

xo

Mrs O

Ten champagnes perfect for any party

Champagne is, without a doubt, one of my favourite drinks. And this time of the year, a Christmas party isn’t a party without these delicious bubbles. Or a Monday, or a Tuesday. If you want to brush up on your champagne knowledge, click here (you will enjoy studying this subject, I promise!).

Here are 10 Champagnes perfect for Christmas (or any party):

Non-Vintage Champagne

Taittinger Brut Reserve Non Vintage Gift Box, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £25.99

taittinger-brut-reserve-non-vintage-gift-box

Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne NV 75 cl 

Buy from Amazon for £30

bollinger-special-cuvee-champagne-nv-75-cl

Gosset Grand Reserve Brut Champagne NV 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £44.95

gosset-grand-reserve-brut-champagne-nv-75-cl

Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut NV Champagne 75cl

Buy from Amazon for £43.95

laurent-perrier-cuvee-rose-champagne-pinot-noir-nv-75-cl

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne Non Vintage, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £48

ruinart-blanc-de-blancs-champagne-non-vintage-75-cl

Vintage Champagne

Taittinger Comtes de Blanc de Blancs Brut 2006 Champagne in Gift Box 2006, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £98

taittinger-comtes-de-blanc-de-blancs-brut-2006-champagne

Bollinger Champagne La Grande Annee Vintage 2005 Champagne in Gift Box, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £69.40

bollinger-champagne-la-grande-annee-vintage-2005-champagne-in-gift-box

Dom Perignon Vintage 2006 Champagne with Gift Box, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £115

dom-perignon-vintage-2006-champagne-with-gift-box

Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut 2009, 75cl

Buy from Amazon for £144

louis-roederer-champagne-cristal-brut-2009

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Champagne Brut 2007, 75cl

Buy from Amazon for £97.50

perrier-jouet-belle-epoque-champagne-brut-2007

So what do you think about my selection? Which are your favourite champagnes? Let me know

xo

Mrs. O

Ten champagnes perfect for any party

Champagne is, without a doubt, one of my favourite drinks. And this time of the year, a Christmas party isn’t a party without these delicious bubbles. Or a Monday, or a Tuesday. If you want to brush up on your champagne knowledge, click here (you will enjoy studying this subject, I promise!).

Here are 10 Champagnes perfect for Christmas (or any party):

Non-Vintage Champagne

Taittinger Brut Reserve Non Vintage Gift Box, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £25.99

taittinger-brut-reserve-non-vintage-gift-box

Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne NV 75 cl 

Buy from Amazon for £30

bollinger-special-cuvee-champagne-nv-75-cl

Gosset Grand Reserve Brut Champagne NV 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £44.95

gosset-grand-reserve-brut-champagne-nv-75-cl

Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut NV Champagne 75cl

Buy from Amazon for £43.95

laurent-perrier-cuvee-rose-champagne-pinot-noir-nv-75-cl

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne Non Vintage, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £48

ruinart-blanc-de-blancs-champagne-non-vintage-75-cl

Vintage Champagne

Taittinger Comtes de Blanc de Blancs Brut 2006 Champagne in Gift Box 2006, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £98

taittinger-comtes-de-blanc-de-blancs-brut-2006-champagne

Bollinger Champagne La Grande Annee Vintage 2005 Champagne in Gift Box, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £69.40

bollinger-champagne-la-grande-annee-vintage-2005-champagne-in-gift-box

Dom Perignon Vintage 2006 Champagne with Gift Box, 75 cl

Buy from Amazon for £115

dom-perignon-vintage-2006-champagne-with-gift-box

Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut 2009, 75cl

Buy from Amazon for £144

louis-roederer-champagne-cristal-brut-2009

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Champagne Brut 2007, 75cl

Buy from Amazon for £97.50

perrier-jouet-belle-epoque-champagne-brut-2007

So what do you think about my selection? Which are your favourite champagnes? Let me know

xo

Mrs. O

Mrs. O Around the World’s 5th Blog Giveaway #MrsO5

5 years. 5 years. I honestly cannot believe it – where has the time gone? And omg, the places I have been to ever since – and been able to share my experiences with those of you who give me your time. I am incredibly grateful by the opportunities and experiences that the blog has given me – but as I said many times, without you wonderful people, there is no Mrs. O.

So, to celebrate these 5 years in style.. the gifts are for you. I have worked with incredible companies over the last year and would love my readers to enjoy some of the same moments I had – or pretty similar ones!

I have rounded up a selection of incredible prizes – and I hope those who win them love them as much as I do. So without further ado… let’s get the Mrs. O Around the World’s 5th Blog giveaway started, shall we?

Enjoy Spain in Style with The Luxury Villa Collection

mrs-o-around-the-world-luxury-travel-blog-giveaway-the-luxury-villa-collection-villa-rentals-spain-andalucia

The Luxury Villa Collection is a boutique portfolio of luxury Spanish villa rentals with a tailored Concierge service to help you indulge in the finest of Spanish culture and gastronomy. Each property is hand picked so you’ll only find villas that they personally know and love, and with a personal ‘Human’ service from first enquiry through to being met at the villa and during your stay, you know you’ll be in safe hands while you enjoy Spain in Style! I have stayed with them in Marbella earlier this year and you can read about my luxury villa experience here.

Villa Cezanne is one of the newest additions to The Collection. Located in the exclusive El Madronal Estate above Marbella, this outstanding villa is a picture-perfect testament to the natural beauty of Andalusia. Here you can enjoy breath-taking panoramas from mountains to sea, stylish architecture, high-tech interiors and leisurely indoor-outdoor living. Set into countryside that would inspire Cezanne himself, this is a 4 bedroom modern hideaway that blends Andalusian charm with its owners’ South African warmth and unique personal touches.

The Luxury Villa Collection are giving away one free stay at Villa Cezanne for up to 8 people including a gourmet hamper to welcome you to Spain. The prize is for the villa accommodation only, including light housekeeping 3 times a week, a personal meet & greet at the villa and free membership to The Luxury Villa Collection Concierge service who can assist with car hire, restaurant reservations, shopping service, private chefs, and more.  You may stay for any duration up to a maximum of 7 nights, between 15th January to 31st May 2017, or from 15th September to 15th December 2017, subject to availability. Flights are not included and there will be a refundable breakages deposit payable of £2,000.

Six months’ membership of Ten Concierge

Joining Ten Concierge ensures that your evenings, weekends and holidays are spent exactly as you would like.

The service offers exclusive access to the best restaurants, premium travel flights, luxurious hotels, and global entertainment as well as hundreds of member benefits such as complimentary upgrades and discounts with the world’s top brands.

Their expert lifestyle managers will keep you in the know about the latest and hottest places to visit and get you booked in before anyone else. From dinner with friends to next summer’s holiday or once-in-a-lifetime experiences, Ten Concierge will become your best kept secret. Membership starts from £130 per month and the winner will receive a six-month Classic membership.

But nonetheless, all readers can use the code MrsO for a month’s free trial of Ten’s Classic Concierge service. Sign up here.

One hand-crafted beyond the guidebook tours in Spain, designed exclusively for Mrs O Around The World by Toma

mrs-o-around-the-world-luxury-travel-blog-giveaway-toma-tours-private-tours-andalucia-spain

The Secrets of Andalucia´s Liquid Gold – Did you know that Spain produces 55% of the world´s olives?  There are close to 200 Million trees in Andalucia alone. Delve with TOMA into the deep-rooted traditional values and tight working network of olive producers. Take a step into traditional Spain and learn about this incredibly valuable crop. We will take you on an unforgettable voyage of discovery where you will visit an Andalucian Cortijo/Hacienda where olive oil is produced, enjoy an olive tasting, visit 2 marvellous Andalucian villages and enjoy a succulent, traditional Spanish lunch.

A Foodie Tour of Malaga Old Town  – Dubbed by many as the new Barcelona, the city of Málaga is enjoying a surge of increased visitors all mesmerised by the charm of this authentic Spanish city. It is quickly becoming a mecca for foodies and during this day trip TOMA will share with you the many culinary delights the city has to offer. You will visit the old taverns and bodegas, see a market in full swing and taste delectable tapas as our favourite haunts in the Old Town. This is a marvellous way to get to know the city; tastes and memories will linger long after your visit.

Ronda Wine and Jamón Ibérico Tour – Discover why everyone is talking about Ronda wines on this fabulous day trip into the hills in and around the world famous white town of Ronda. This town, perched high on an escarpment above the gorgeous valley floors and surrounded by mountains has been a TOMA favourite for as long as we can remember .We want to share with you an exclusive winery, steeped in history and charm that can only be compared to the Garden of Eden. A micro-climate and a secret water source are jey to its incredible success. After a very special tasting session sitting under an avocado tree in its sumptuous gardens, we will venture into town to visit a local Iberian Ham or Jamón Ibérico business and learn all the intricate details of this world famous ham. In the afternoon, we will stroll into the old town of Ronda to sit at a traditional table and be served an array of local delicacies.

Which of these 3 tours will you choose? Visit Toma’s website for more details and read about my experience of 2 of their tours. The tour is for 2 people.

A 3-night stay at Nizuc Resort & Spa, Mexico

mrs-o-around-the-world-luxury-travel-blog-giveaway-nizuc-resort-and-spa-cancun-mexico

Once a base for Mayan astronomers and then a presidential retreat for world leaders, NIZUC Resort & Spa is a 29-acre private beachfront escape on the secluded Punta Nizuc, within a paradise of protected mangroves and lush local foliage facing the white sands of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the second largest coral reef in the world – and yet within easy reach of Cancun international airport.  A collaboration between artists and architects who have created a resort that fuses modern sensibility with Mayan ethos, NIZUC was opened in March 2013 and offers 274 suites and villas, as well as multiple pools, including family friendly and adults only options, six world-class restaurants including Mexican, Peruvian, Italian, Asian and a beachside Grill, and a 30,000 square foot ESPA spa complete with male and female hydrotherapy areas and 10 indoor/outdoor treatment rooms.  Guests wanting to get more active can collect a paddleboard or kayak from one of NIZUC’s two beaches or explore the region’s natural wonders, archeological sites and amazing attractions, including the world’s first Underwater Art Museum.

Experience modern Mexican luxury redefined at the Yucatan Peninsula’s newest and most exclusive destination, NIZUC Resort & Spa.  Winners  (you can read my review of this fabulous hotel) will receive a three-night/four-day stay for two at NIZUC in an Ocean View Junior Suite on a room only basis.  The prize is valid until 23 November 2017 and is subject to availability.  It is not valid during blackout dates (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Easter) and is subject to availability.  Prize is non-transferable, non-refundable and non-redeemable for cash.

A 2-night stay at the Belmond La Residencia, Mallorca

mrs-o-around-the-world-luxury-travel-blog-giveaway-belmond-la-residencia

Belmond La Residencia is a beautiful luxury 5 star property located in the tiny mountain village of Deià, Mallorca, in the heart of the Tramuntana mountains, a Unesco world heritage site.  Nestled between stunning mountains and the Mediterranean sea, this property not only boasts a privileged position but its unique ancient manor houses provide a sense of home rather than a hotel.  With beautiful pools, hillside Spa, and tennis courts with sea views, the 73 room property is further enhanced by its fabulous restaurants and cuisine, and the warmth and personal care of its staff, making you feel immediately welcome and part of their family.

The property is a paradise for art lovers, with a permanent collection of over 800 works of modern art by local artists, a Sculpture Garden, an Art Gallery running continuous temporary exhibitions and a wonderful collection of 33 original Miró artworks hanging in the Café Miró.  The place lives and breathes art and culture.

Belmond La Residencia is offering a two night stay in a junior suite. Prize includes full breakfast and of course, use of the gym, Jacuzzi and pools.  Offer available between 31st March and 9th November 2017 (excluding 15 June-15 September), and subject to availability.

Luxury Nespresso Coffee Machine & Limited Edition Christmas Collection

mrs-o-around-the-world-luxury-travel-blog-giveaway-nespresso-touch-christmas-season

Nothing can top a perfect cup of coffee, especially one made in the comfort of your own home. 30 years ago, the Nespresso system transformed coffee making at home and since then, a cup of coffee has become so much more than a simple daily routine. It is a ritual, which can be personalised according to preference. Whether you prefer a powerful Ristretto or a smooth latte, enjoy expertly sourced single origin coffee or a crafted blend, there is a Nespresso Grand Cru to suit all tastes. Nespresso sources its range of 24 Grands Crus from the top 1-2% of coffee beans grown around the world, providing unique tasting experiences.

Giving the gift of coffee is simple this festive season with the Nespresso Christmas range. This year’s Christmas collection features Limited Edition Festive Variations inspired by the rich traditions of Vienna, smart, contemporary and sleek machines and beautifully designed accessories – visit the Nespresso website for even more gift ideas. Nespresso has partnered with Milan-based illustrator Lorenzo Petrantoni who has added his unique design flair to the Christmas Variations coffee sleeves and festive accessories. Famous for his intricate graphic artworks inspired by the 19th century, Petrantoni has created a simple and stylish pattern featured on the Festive Pure Collection cups.

Just in time for the festive season, Nespresso is offering one lucky reader the chance to experience coffee connoisseurship by giving away a sleek Lattissima Touch machine, a selection of festive accessories as well as the Festive Variations coffee range. The three unique limited edition coffees have been crafted to reflect the splendour of Vienna using the flavours of the region’s most famous desserts and are perfect to enjoy on a cold winter evening.

30 Minute Flytographer Vacation Photo Shoot

mrs-o-around-the-world-luxury-travel-blog-giveaway-flytographer-photo-session

Flytographer is an online marketplace that connects travelers with local photographers in 200 cities worldwide for fun, candid vacation shoots (about an hour). Often people return home from a special trip with no decent photos together.

With Flytographer, travelers not only return with a beautiful souvenir  but they learn cool insider tips on what to eat/see/do as they stroll the streets chatting with their passionate local photographer. Customers book their preferred photographer online, and photos are delivered five days after the shoot, often before they’ve even unpacked. If you read this blog regularly, you will have seen some of the photos in places like Bali, Venice, Prague and Santa Monica, just to name a few! (I have now done over 20 shoots!).

For travelers who value experiences vs. things, it’s the perfect souvenir and it will remind you of your trip for decades to come. Flytographer has been featured across A-list media such as: Oprah, Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes, The New York Times, InStyle, and many more. Flytographer has also partnered with global brands like Fairmont, Expedia, Context Travel and Virtuoso.

The prize? A 30 minute Flytographer gift card, redeemable in over 200 destinations world wide with no expiry date.

The Ultimate Hendrick’s Gin Experience

mrs-o-around-the-world-luxury-travel-blog-giveaway-hendricks-gin

Delve into Hendrick’s Gin peculiar portmanteau from the purveyors of the unusual and you’ll discover a host of gifts guaranteed to file your life a certain degree of wonderment.

From an umbrella designed specifically to stop water moisture penetrating your overcoat, to a watch made entirely for holding in one’s pocket.  It doesn’t stop there though, the wonderful cucumber and rose infused pedlars at Hendrick’s have bestowed upon us a box of tricks that include, a number bottles of Hendrick’s in varying degrees of size, a wonderful cocktail book, as well as some scales to ensure you always know how much of your beloved gin you have left.

You can learn more about gin, by reading the Hendrick’s Beginners Guide to Gin, right here on the blog.

To enter this competition, simply do the following:

a) subscribe to the blog by signing up on the right hand side of this page. You will receive an email confirmation and you are free to unsubscribe at any time as soon as this competition ends.

b) share this blog post via Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. Make sure it has the hashtag #MrsO5 so I can see it!

c) let me know which prize you would prefer (if you could choose!), and answer the following question: ‘Where would you spend your perfect Winter getaway and with whom?’

This competition is now closed.

Winners will be selected by each prize sponsor, based on the answers and will be contacted by email.