Eat and Drinks Diary – Ho Chi Minh City- Part One

Eat and Drinks Diary – Ho Chi Minh City- Part One

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One of my favourite cities.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Formally known as Saigon..

It is famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War, stunning French architecture, traffic mayhem , cheap guesthouses and 5 Star hotels, street food and high end roof top bars, crowded markets and luxury designer stores.

It is a crazy and intoxicating clash of commerce and culture. And it will grab you by the throat and drag you along for the ride. This is why it is one of my favourite cities…

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So, we left a chilly Melbourne winter and flew via Singapore with Jetstar to Ho Ch Minh. Its an easy trip. We arrived at 9pm local time and after a seamless exit through customs and visa approval, we hopped straight into the pre booked a car that was waiting kerbside. I always suggest this as my preferred option upon arrival. It can be a bit daunting landing in a foreign country at night and its just easier to spend a little more and get to the hotel. (**check with your hotel prior to travel, as most will offer courtesy shuttle, so you can pre book it before you leave home.)

I had booked the Hotel Liberty Central Riverside. It is as it sounds, on the Saigon river, located in District One, which is the best district for nightlife and shopping. 600 mtrs to the Ben Thanh Market, 20 minute walk to the Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon and only 15 minutes to The Saigon Opera House. It has a fitness centre and roof top bar with a pool..so all my preferences were ticked!

Life balance!

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http://odysseahotels.com/saigon-centre-hotel

 

Day One:

After a traditional Vietnamese breakfast which consists of Pho Bo ( beef noodle soup), lots of chilli, coriander, bamboo shoots and fresh lime…we hit the Ben Thanh Markets.

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This is the place to find local handicrafts, ‘faux’ Nikes and lots of T-shirts, sunglasses, belts , travel bags and electronics …You name it ..and it is here. It also has an amazing array of market food, fruit, vegetables, dried fruits and most important the Vietnamese herbs and greens for the traditional street foods and soups.

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Expect to spend about 2- 3 hours here and prepare to bargain. Start at half asking and creep up to no more than two thirds of the original price. The Vietnamese people thrive and expect bargaining…so don’t be shy.

Getting used to the traffic in Vietnam is probably the most difficult task to master.  The streets are full of honking trucks, taxis and motorbikes on a intensity level not known in Western Countries, with road rules that don’t exist. Bikes, cars and people seem simultaneously, collectively and individually to be heading straight at each other.

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Be warned, drivers will not slow down, or stop, so therefore you must be confident. Step out into the traffic, start walking, keep an even gait at all times  and just keep walking.

DO NOT STOP. I liken it to blood flow. It keeps going and flowing at a natural pace. The traffic will ebb around you. They anticipate your speed and adjust to suit. The honking of horns is considered a polite gesture…to let you know they are near…not as an angry one. So take a deep breath and go for it. (it will take you a day to get used to it.)

Once we had loaded up at the markets, it was time for lunch. Vietnam is all about fresh  and light food. So we headed to a local restaurant and ordered all the traditional options. More Pho soup, fresh rice paper rolls, vegetable noodles and completed the feast with my new obsession.

Vietnamese Coffee.

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Iced or hot, this is an addictive blend of ox-strong black coffee and sweetened condensed milk. Addictive. Delicious. Heart Racer. More please.

After lunch we did what any other 3 gals would do next…hit the day spa. We found a clean, modern beauty salon near the market and proceeded to spend the next four hours being completely pampered. Leg scrubs, body massages, facial steams, eyelash extensions, tummy wraps, pedicures, manicures, eyebrow wax, hand massage, foot massage, head massage..total cost $300.

It was the best few hours and totally refreshed we headed back to hotel to change for the night time activities.

… Sx

 

Expert Advice for Bathroom Renovations

Expert Advice for Bathroom Renovations

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Top Designer Tips and Renovation Advice for the Perfect Bathroom.

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When you decide to renovate your bathroom, it can be an overwhelming and daunting task.
How is it possible, that one of the smallest rooms in your house, requires almost every tradesmen necessary to build a new house from scratch!
The key to reducing the anxiety related to renovating, is to be prepared and organised before you begin any demolition or construction.
And the most important factor in achieving the organisation is to hire a professional who will assist with the key steps in keeping your project on track and on budget.

Design and Plan :
Before you obtain quotes or engage the contractor, have your plan and design ready. The size and space needs to be considered, so that the scale and proportion of the design is correct. This includes the functionality as well. Write up a wish list and then apply the ideas to the plan. A designer will assist with executing your goals and will also offer more solutions and options that you may not have considered.

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Lighting Features :
Bathrooms pack a lot of punch in one small space, so creating some key features is important.

Lighting is paramount and is required for both task and ambience.
Consider using recessed lighting under a floating vanity or recess shelving for ambience.
A stunning feature pendant over the bath for hotel like opulence.
A wall mounted LED light for makeup and shaving.

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Storage Features :

Good storage is quite possibly the most important component of your bathroom.
Recessed Mirror Shaving cabinet storage is perfect for smaller items and easily accessible.
Drawers instead of cupboards is a better form of storage due to the availability of internal dividers and partitions that be inserted and keep everything organised.
Recessed feature shelving in the shower or running along the bath wall is at the perfect solution to housing shampoo and bottles. If you apply a feature tile to the recess it also creates a key feature.

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Budget :
So how much is this all going to cost….

Depending on your material selection..marble bench top versus laminate bench top, porcelain tile versus ceramic…The price actually shouldn’t vary too much. If you consider using a floor tile at $65 p/m for 10 mtrs of tiling versus a $35 p/m tile, the cost savings is not huge with only a $300 savings. So bear in mind that the product doesn’t really alter your final budget dramatically. (**It certainly will bring down the overall spend if all items are at a budget pricing)

The best way to consider how much is a realistic spend on your renovations, is to base it on the current value of your home. Professionals will advise that a minimum of 30% of the value of your property be spent on a bathroom renovation. Therefore, if your house is valued at one million dollars, then expect to pay $30,000 + for the materials and construction of your new bathroom.

Contracting the right builder for the job is also paramount, as you are relying on their expertise to ensure good workmanship is done. Waterproofing is one of the most important factors as a leaky floor is a nightmare once the bathroom is completed..you guessed it…the whole space has to be ripped up and redone!
Allow 4 weeks from demolition to completion. All of the trades have a section to complete, in order, and most can’t go in and work until the trade before him has finished. So patience is key, and if you are living in the property during the renovation, consider staggering the bathroom fit outs, so you still having one that works.

In conclusion…Hire a professional interior designer to advise and assist with the design and plan. A well thought out, scaled plan is paramount before you begin.
Select everything. Basins, tiles, toilets, cabinets, lights..everything.
The builder can then quote accurately on every item you have selected and you will know the cost beforehand. This should prevent any budget blowouts once construction commences.
And then, light a candle, pour yourself some wine and sink into that beautiful bath tub and enjoy your new space. You’ve earned it.

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Are you following White Chalk Design on Facebook?
If not, click the link and you can watch us stream live videos from building sites, award nights and weekly renovation discussions. Ask all of your design questions, and interact with us LIVE.

Click the link to watch one of our latest live feeds.

 

Project of the Month.
Multi Residential Townhouses – Bayside.

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White Chalk Design prides itself on working closely with our local Bayside developers to help achieve a practical and desirable fit out for the discerning buyer. This month we are proud to feature this recently completed 2 town house development located close to the beach. We used natural organic materials and light colours to achieve a coastal vibe, with out being obviously beachy.

“The key to creating a harmonious living space is to use a variety products that are cohesive and appealing to the buyer. Therefore the design needs to be aimed at all tastes and a variety of requirements, however, executing a point of difference is of the utmost importance for us. We never want our developers to feel that we are all churning out cookie cutter designs, everything the same on each project. The developments must resonate with the buyer and still feel as if it has been designed exclusively for them”

Serena Elise

Principal Designer  WHITE CHALK DESIGN

Inspiration from the Milan Design Fair 2016

Inspiration from the Milan Design Fair 2016

 

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What a busy month we have had at White Chalk Design!

Our projects are varied and exciting, ranging from decorating beautiful residential properties, redesigning bars and hotels and our all time favourite… designing and building new kitchens.

It is such an progressive time in the design world, with the new trends coming through from the Milan Design Fair.

Kitchens are getting darker and more textured, with the accent being on creating a harmonious work space that is timeless, yet cohesive with your family environment.

Consider using dark oak timber cabinets, with soft grey veined marble and slim lined feature pendant lighting.
Very simple, yet completely adaptable to any home.
Take a look at what Milan delivered this year.

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Thinking of renovating your old kitchen?
White Chalk Design is offering a ‘free of charge’ initial consultation to discuss your kitchen plan. We can design, quote and install your new kitchen. Take advantage of our new ‘3D walk -through’ option to ensure you are completely comfortable with your plan before we commence construction.
This offer is valid for the month of June.
Contact us now to book your free site meeting.

 

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White Chalk Design is proud to be nominated as one of the Top 100 Interior Design companies in Australia.

 

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Project of the Month.

Contemporary Family Home. Bayside.

‘The owner of this magnificent home, built recently in Bayside, had one main design request in his brief…to successfully incorporate a live fish tank into the plan, and thus creating a magnificent feature and focal point.
We think we hit the brief perfectly. ‘

Serena Elise,
Principal Designer,
White Chalk Design.

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White Chalk Design Rewards You…

White Chalk Design Rewards You…

White Chalk Design | Luxury Lifestyle & Design

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We want to thank you for being a loyal White Chalk client.

Do you have a friend who is thinking of renovating or building?
White Chalk Design can help ease the stress associated with the process.

This month, White Chalk Design is offering a special referral gift to you.

Refer a friend or colleague to WCD and you will receive a free 12 month subscription to any magazine of your choice.
Its as simple as that.
Remember to tell them to mention your name when booking their initial consultation and we will contact you to arrange your magazine subscription.
It’s our way of saying thank you.

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Project of the Month.

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Modern Family Home, Bayside.

‘We loved working with our client on this decorating project in Hampton. The client had full faith in White Chalk to execute a modern and striking monochromatic palette, whilst still keeping the home family friendly. The grey velvet sofa, paired with the black leather tub chairs, created a very masculine feel, and by adding a feature chair with the pop of soft blue, this created the warmth we needed to avoid a stark environment.”

Serena Elise,
Principal Designer,
White Chalk Design.

 

…Sx

Snail Mucin. The latest skincare craze from Asia.

Snail Mucin. The latest skincare craze from Asia.

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Move over Snake Venom. Take a seat Bee Pollen. Dragons Blood? Out! …There’s a new craze in town and its slowly taking off. (no pun intended)

Snail Mucin.

When we think of snails, we think of our basic garden variety. (do not to step on them.)

Or the uber chic French variety. (eat them.)

Now, the Asian variety. (slather it all over  your face.)

Thanks to a skincare obsessed culture in Asia, there’s always a new way to plump, rejuvenate, hydrate, and purify your skin—and the ingredients are most likely in some form of a nature. Unlike most Western beauty products, Asian skincare tends to emphasize natural ingredients over harsh chemicals. And what could be more natural than snail slime?

Snail enzyme is a high-efficacy active ingredient comprised of proteins, glycolic acids and elastin commonly found in skin creams and sheet masks.

Like the name suggests, snail cream is made from snail mucin extract—the mucus that protects and heals the snail’s undercarriage when it slides over jagged terrain.
In beauty products, snail mucin firms and restores skin by replenishing moisture and supporting cell regeneration (which helps fade acne scars, smooth uneven complexions and reduce hyperpigmentation).1428430850-snail2.jpg

Click to Buy : http://www.sephora.com/premium-time-returning-serum-P376222?om_mmc=aff-linkshare

Discovered in Chile, by a group of Chilean snail farmers who noticed that handling the critters softened the skin on their hands and quickly healed any cuts. Naturally, one of the first snail creams on the market was launched by a Chilean beauty brand. And then quickly went worldwide.

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Never one to shy away from an innovative skincare product. And being slightly obsessed with all things skincare, (thanks Mum!) I had no choice but to pick up some creamy snail muscus in a jar, whilst on a recent trip to Asia.

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(Click to Buy : http://www.yesstyle.com/en/snailwhite-snail-white-snail-secretion-filtrate-moisture-facial-cream/info.html/pid.1035326332)

I chose to buy the Snail White cream. Then went back and added the facial mask and brightening cream. I also bought a couple of jars of traditional snail secretion cream from a pharmacy in Thailand. The packaging is not as pretty, its all written in Thai, but I was assured its the real deal. I hope!

I have been using the Snail White, think Snow White… for about 2 weeks and I think my skin appears fuller and maybe a little softer. The cream itself is quite rich, odour free and does feel little slimy, but I think that could just be mind over matter thing. It feels nice once it settles and wears well under makeup.

So, if you see me crawling across the garden path, real slow, with super glowing skin…

It worked.

 

…Sx

So, I Tried a Health Retreat in Thailand. Hello Phuket Cleanse.

So, I Tried a Health Retreat in Thailand. Hello Phuket Cleanse.

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I’m not very Zen. I try to meditate and I become restless. I eat well 5 days a week then I snack too much on the weekends. I travel frequently, so any credit I gain in fitness and health reverts back far quicker than it took to achieve. I work out 6 days a week and I’m still chubby. As Will Farrell says, “I work out just to look fat.”

So, I decided to try something completely opposite to what I’ve been doing for the past few years. Focus on my core fitness, eat raw food and learn to mediate and do yoga.

How? A Health Retreat. In Thailand. For 7 days. Say hello to Phuket Cleanse.   (http://phuketcleanse.com)

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Phuket Cleanse is a one stop retreat with the emphasis on fitness, nutrition and detox education. It is based in Rawai Beach, South of Phuket, and is run by an American couple Mel and Stanton Proctor. This actually was one of the main selling points for me when I was online researching retreats. The Americans are number one in the world for customer service, so I figured it would be very highly service orientated and organised. My hunch paid off. It was. And more.

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Upon landing in Thailand, my eldest daughter (who I bribed into coming with me) were greeted by the retreat driver and driven directly to Phuket Cleanse. We landed late at night, so check in was quick and once in our rooms we slept well and woke ready to take on this new and exciting challenge.

Day One went something like this: Sunrise meditation Yoga at the beach. Let me just say, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever done. The sun rising, the calming mindfulness and the stretching was the hands down (no pun intended) best way to start the day. I plan to do it daily at home. I just won’t have that stunning view!

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Breakfast at 7am – select from raw food, eggs, juices, elixirs, and smoothies. All the food is raw vegan and simply delicious. Clean, healthy and fresh. There is a communal eating area, so day one you feel a little like the new kid in school, but within no time you are chatting with people from all over the world. Everyone is there for different reasons and ultimately the same goal. The learn to create a healthier version of themselves. Most guests were repeat customers so that was very encouraging.

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There is daily timetable with all of the activities listed and you simply choose how you would like to spend the day. There are multiple activities going on at one time, including yoga, running, Muay Thai Boxing, Bikram yoga, stretching, TRX, HIIT, and more …so the choice is huge.You simply choose to do a little or as much as you like. We chose a morning hike around Amphoe Mueang, which was uphill, hot and pretty hard. At the top there is a stunning view and 50 squats. It was a good way to settle in, adjust to the heat and acclimatise to our new surroundings.

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We then headed back to retreat to try out the infamous ice bath before lunch. To sit in a spa filled with ice at a general temp of minus 5* was challenge to say the least. I only managed to go in and jump straight out. A total of about 1 second. My whole body was shocked and it literally took my breath away. The goal is to sit in the ice water, hands and toes out of the ice, for obvious reasons..you want to keep them!…for about 15-20 minutes. The reason…An ice bath simply freezes you back into a youthful version of you. Getting sun, participating in cold thermogenesis, and sweating in a steam sauna and an infrared sauna are all ways that will help you feel rejuvenated! So we alternated between the ice and the steam room and then headed to lunch. (by the end of the 7 days I was able to sit in the ice bath for 15 minutes..yay me)

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More delicious raw salads and vegetables and then we had an orientation meeting. To discuss the program and what we planned to achieve. Included in the retreat is a consultation with a nutritionist,  a fitness instructor, a life coach, plus a host of others. We locked in all of our relevant meetings and then it was time to soak up some sun (vItamin D and rest is paramount in achieving good health) and then prepare for the afternoon activities, cooking lessons and coaching talks.

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We chose Muay Thai boxing with a professional Thai boxing champ at the gym and it was intense. The heat is about 38*, the humidity is high and you can feel all the toxins escaping as you sweat it all out. Such a great workout.

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Back to the retreat, for dinner and a massage and then to bed. Day one was intense and extremely satisfying.

I don’t plan to list what we did everyday, because there is actually just too much to write..we did so much.  So, I will list at the end of this post the breakdown of how it goes at Phuket Cleanse and a little brief as to what its all about courtesy of ‘Book Yoga Retreats Thailand” Scroll to the bottom to read more.

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So…I have come away from this experience, with more knowledge about how important it is to be mindful, relax and eat clean. Life is a balance but we can all benefit from slowing our pace and being grateful for who we are. I have learnt that training hard and fast is not always the right thing to do. Stretching, yoga and walking may be a better way to stay healthy and fit. Have you ever seen a chubby yoga instructor…No? I didnt’t think so.

Ps Aerial Yoga is my new thing…go find somewhere local to you and try it..Its amazing! Seriously. You’ll really enjoy the challenge.

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I loved this experience at Phuket Cleanse and after 7 days I feel clean, lighter and motivated to continue the with the knowledge I learned whilst there. I plan to go back. I have included some images of our time there, we made some wonderful friends, and I was extremely lucky to share it all with my daughter.

Until Next time Phuket Cleanse….. Sx

 

 

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So…What is it all about:

Fitness and workouts (five cardio classes, five weekly HIIT cardio classes, five weekly Muay Thai classes, and 15 weekly strength and conditioning classes, three weekly walking hikes)
Various yoga styles sessions to choose from (five Aerial yoga classes, 10 Bikram and Hot flow yoga classes, five Hatha and Yin yoga, three Power and strength yoga, and three beach and outdoor yoga)
Spa and recovery treatments (four weekly evening massages, daily ice bath and herbal steam sauna, far infrared sauna, daily magnesium body scrub, and 1 complimentary natural spa treatment)
Beach trips and activities (weekly ocean therapy beach trips, one weekly health store shopping trip, one weekly trip to Olympic athlete training center, one weekly boat trip to coral island, and one weekly trip to night market)
Schedule orientation and consultations (pre-arrival guide book, induction and orientation,one complimentary weekly health and fitness consultation, and one complimentary physiotherapy consultation)
Educational classes (five weekly raw food cooking classes, five weekly health and fitness educational classes, guided meditation classes)

Detox supplements
Phuket Cleanse provide a full range of supplements – protein, wheat-grass, spirulina, and dark leafy green juices and salads.

One weekly health store shopping trip
One weekly boat trip to coral island
One weekly trip to night market
One weekly trip to Olympic athlete training centre
Weekly ocean therapy beach trips

Oxygen therapy
Breathe in electricity! Oxygen therapy for 20 minutes will deliver more electrons into your system and brighten up your mood and clarity. What does it mean to be fully human? What does it mean to activate the bells and whistles of our DNA? You will know when you experience the Phuket Cleanse ‘Electrify me’ treatment that includes oxygen, ozone, far infrared sauna, ice bathing, and helio therapy.

Magnesium meltdown
Phuket Cleanse have created a daily magnesium sweat lodge experience to nutrify you with magnesium and trace minerals from the Dead Sea, Epsom Salt Lake, and the Himalayan Mountains, among other places. You will begin to know what it was like to be human when magnesium and minerals were abundant in every bite of our food. You will notice increased sharpness, clarity, reduced anxiety, and an overall feeling of being whole.

Infrared sauna therapy
The far infrared sauna with Ozone delivers electrons (little particles of electricity) into your system. The process will boost your metabolism and provide great healing. As part of your all-inclusive program, you will be excited to book in daily for this treatment as a powerful boost to your healing!

Juicing
The best part of this juicing program is that you will pick up the juicing habit while there and will return home a lifelong juicer. Most customers start living more and more on juice when they return home due to the energy and sense of well-being juicing provides them. Phuket Cleanse, are always creating and improving their juices, making sure they provide guests with the optimal balance of nourishment.

Promthep cape
Leading up the mountain from the Nong Han lagoon is Phuket’s most famous viewpoint, Promthep cape – where Phuket Cleanse sometimes do sunrise yoga and Tai Chi. This popular spot is framed by a collection of white windmills gently blowing on the hills behind, but the main attraction is in the small island slightly out to sea.

Sunday boat trip and snorkeling
The Sunday boat trip, island hopping on a traditional Thai longtail boat, is incredibly popular with guests. You will tend to visit Coral island, as it has some wonderful snorkeling activities – look out for crabs, starfish, and other marine creatures! It’s just a 20 minute boat ride away from the resort.

(You can stay 3  nights, 5 , 7 or endless. Rates are approx $400USD pp per night,all inclusive.)

 

http://phuketcleanse.com/resort/

 

48 hours & Sydney’s Finest Bars

48 hours & Sydney’s Finest Bars

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This week was fun.

I flew to Sydney to attend the annual design trade fair, where I am able to source new furniture and homeware accessories for our current design and interior projects at White Chalk Design.  (http://www.whitechalkdesign.com.au)

It is always a productive few days and there is nothing better better than sourcing new products for clients as they are being released hot off the press.

But…what I enjoy more, is finding inspiration out of the design fairs. Out and about. Researching and staying in new hotels. Checking out the latest bars and pubs. Sampling what I can from the real world and determining whether elements can be utilised in our projects.

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Primus Hotel Sydney : (http://www.primushotelsydney.com)

Art Deco Glamour.

Recently launched and located right in the heart of Sydney at 339 Pitt Street, this brand new, seriously stunning hotel,  housed the Sydney Water Board’s offices from the building’s construction in 1939 until 2009. The former Sydney Water Rating Chamber, once a bustling office space, is now the hotel’s lobby, a grand room with cathedral-like dimensions. Eight spectacular red scagliola columns, each eight metres tall, surround a large, beautifully restored skylight.

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It is truly stunning. The old world vibe mixes beautifully with the original restoration and the new design elements.  The ground floor used to house the 30 or so secretary offices partitioned by frosted glass, and a bustling work place.  You can literally close your eyes and be instantly transported to the chic 1930s. Glamorous women in pencil skirts, high heels and cigarette holders, typing on manual typewriters, whilst the male boss barks orders in a charcoal suit and hat. I swear I heard them echoing around the walls!

As and to the old, the designers have kept the old drinking bubblers on the walls for authenticity. Ceramic bowls with rust anchored on geometric wall paper walls. Classic old meets new. (the bubblers are for show only)

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Also occupying the ground floor is the lobby bar and the Wilmot, a high-end restaurant serving contemporary Asian cuisine. The design and vast material selection is mix of Art Deco,  Hollywood Regency and New York 5Th Avenue. It soothes the senses and is indeed aimed at the highest 5 star market.

There is also a roof top deck with pool and bar which is very calming and much needed in the hustle of the busy Sydney CBD. The perfect spot to sip on a refreshing Whisky Sour and unwind.

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Even the bathrooms are fancy. I mean seriously, what is not to love here??  Limestone, marble, gold, black,  white…Tick. Tick. Tick. Heaven. Thank you Primus Hotel.

 

Bondi Icerbergs: (http://icebergs.com.au)

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A slight change in pace, after walking most of the day through the design fair at Homebush,  we headed down to the famous Bondi Beach and on to Bondi Icebergs for lunch. The sun was shining, the beautiful people were lounging around the pools and the almost famous celebrities were eating lunch in the main restaurant. If you’re visiting Bondi, you can visit the surf club section for a bite to eat, the main Icebergs Bistro or Terrace Bar for a fancy lunch or dinner, or simply pay $6 and laze in the historic ocean sea bath. The choice is yours and any option is a winner.

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The atmosphere here is pretty chilled. The view and ocean is the key player, so it is very cathartic to just sit and sip a chilled Rose and enjoy the ambience. So thats what we did. Until dusk.

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Coogee Pavilion: (http://merivale.com.au/coogeepavilion)

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Deciding to stay beachside, I was keen to explore the latest quirky hotel fitout by the Merivale group and Justin Hemmes. Famous for Sydney bars such as The Ivy, The Establishment, Hemmesphere…to name just a few from this ever growing empire.

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This Hotel is located right on the beach at Coogee. It has 180* views of the ocean. It is amazing. 3 floors and a roof top bar, this pub is probably the quirkiest of all the Hemmes thus far.

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You wander through the rooms and can feast your eyes on hundreds of vignettes set around the 3 floors. I can’t even begin to imagine where they source these items from, but this is what certainly adds the eccentric character to this beachside pub. Its a focal and talking point. Especially if your table has critters under glass looking at you.

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The roof top bar was my favourite. Sitting upstairs, with the ocean summer breeze, cocktail in hand, it felt very Bahamas mixed with Maui, and a sprinkle of Out Of Africa thrown in for good measure. Apparently the design brief for the roof top bar was based on a fictional character… an eccentric botanist in his conservatory. That works!

The Rooftop houses four indoor and outdoor bars each with its own exotic flair.

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Walk the famous beachside track from Bondi to Coogee and then you have no excuse to indulge at the Coogee Pavillion. Life’s a balance after all.

Hotel Palisade: (http://hotelpalisade.com)

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Switching gear on Day 2 (not really..another bar) and I was determined to find the latest roof top bar Henry Deane, at The Palisade Hotel in Millers Point. I had seen images of it on Instagram and wanted to see it for myself.

I should point out, my 20 year old daughter accompanied me on this ‘work trip’ and was quite surprised (aka pleased) to hunt out bars and hotels, rather than the more traditional mother /daughter get away of shopping and mani / pedis.

So, this stunning 100 year old building, sits alone and is now a multi-level boutique pub/cocktail bar/hotel. It was once an overnight nap-and-grog stop for Anzacs and “wharfs”.  A newly built rooftop cocktail bar, above the pub,  pays homage to the Australian engineer-architect who designed the building, Henry Deane.

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The cocktail bar, which sits over two levels – the top floor and rooftop of the original hotel is very fresh and light.  It’s complete with pink-leather sofas, copper furnishings, double-hung windows and marble everywhere.

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Separate to the Henry Deane bar, there are nine boutique hotel rooms opened in December and each named after an Anzac. Half have views over Barangaroo and the waterfront. The other half look out over Millers Point towards the bridge. It is quite small upstairs, cosy in fact… but this just adds to feeling of being in the right place. And that view!

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Downstairs is more black and white and geometric, with wall panels and custom papers plus exotic leathers and masculine sofas. The ground floor is a typical old school pub. We actually thought we may have been at the wrong spot when we got there. Its very understated. But very busy.

As a designer it is so refreshing to see a shift away from the cold retro, prohibition style bar design that seems to be everywhere at the moment.

Every new bar these days seems to have red exposed brick, copper exposed bulbs, no soul and is bare, boring… and on every corner.

Let it go people. It’s time.

Lets do more Detail. More Design. More Accessories. More Products. More Glamour.

More everything.

Thank you Sydney for the inspiration and being a perfect host.

 

…Sx

One & Only Hayman Resort : Day One

One & Only Hayman Resort : Day One

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Hayman Island.

Luxury. Indulgent. Breathtaking.

This year I was fortunate enough to visit quite possibly one of the most beautiful Islands in the world…Big call I know…But I remain firm…Hayman Island is a premier resort located amongst the Whitsunday Islands, offering unrivalled luxury.

To put it mildly…it’s pretty freaking perfect!

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From the minute you land, the full luxury, rock star treatment begins. The handsome crew from Hayman Island Luxury Launch Crew meet you at the airport, then with the utmost discretion lead you into a cool air-conditioned room to refresh and sip a glass of bubbly. Whilst you relax, they collect and load your luggage onto the Island’s very own luxury super yacht. Once aboard, more bubbles, canapés and the crew present you with a welcome pack, your room key and you’re all checked in. It feels indulgent because it is!

A one-hour luxury launch transfer is an experience itself, departing the Great Barrier Reef Airport and gliding through the water to and from your island paradise, the perfect way to start this vacation…costs vary, but expect to pay $200 return p/p.  If you choose to arrive on Hayman by helicopter or private sea plane from the airport, the cost jumps again to approximately $1000 p/p…

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Hayman staff greet you at the jetty upon arrival, one staff member per couple, and escort you by buggy to your resort room. It is quite the cavalcade, and once again reiterates the very personal and luxurious experience that the One & Only hotel brand is world renowned for.

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A massive renovation of Hayman Island commenced in 2013 and officially relaunched as One & Only Hayman Island in 2014. You very quickly see where the $300 million plus was spent, and it hasn’t been in vain. Hayman Island has received numerous international awards and recognitions. ‘Conde Nast Traveler’ has named Hayman Island as one of the ‘Top 3 Hotels and Resorts Worldwide’, and Forbes Magazine went one step further, declaring it ‘The World’s Best Beach Resort’. Hayman Island is the only Australian island to be accepted as a member of the prestigious organisation ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’.

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So its a big deal for this resort that originally opened in 1950 with a few beach shacks and a modest swimming pool. In 1980, a new vision for Hayman when Ansett Chairman, and my old boss!, Sir Peter Abeles, set out to create a truly magnificent luxury resort, establishing Australia’s highest standards and unsurpassed service. Hayman closed in 1985 and a $300 million rebuild project commenced. In 1987 the Pool Wing opens and we are introduced to the iconic Hayman salt water pool, that winds its way through the West Wing of the resort. (It is the size of 7 olympic size pools)

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Over the next 2 decades it is bought and sold to various hotel groups and millions and million are spent in upgrading and expansion of the resort. And wow…..it was worth every cent.

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So… back to us…and accomodation…we decided to stay in a beach view suite. The accomodation levels are varied and as the resort only accommodates a small number of guests, the once 300 rooms …now 150 larger rooms are spacious and you never feel crowded. Once again..this helps the luxury vibe. Very little noise. Or people.

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The pool access rooms are smaller, but the ground level has direct access to the magnificent swimming lagoon. A private deck, sun beds and a ladder to the pool…you may never leave your room!

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Or, if you are feeling very indulgent, you may prefer to stay in a full beach villa with your own private pool, hammock and garden.

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The room choice is pretty endless, but whatever style you choose, trust me, you won’t be complaining.

Day One……

…Sx

Portsea Summer : Travel Lifestyle

Portsea Summer : Travel Lifestyle

 

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Summer. Beach House. Friends. Portsea.

Is there a better way to start the 2016 Summer Break?

Portsea, is a resort town located across Port Phillip on the far tip of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. It is well known for its glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Think the elite clique of The Hamptons, USA. This pretty much sums up a Portsea Summer Season.

Portsea has it all. Millionaire mansions, helicopter pads, more spanking new model Range Rovers per square inch than the dealership itself. The historical Portsea Pub, the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay or the thrashing waves at the famous Portsea back beach, upmarket yacht clubs, local wineries and sunset beach yoga! Seriously …what’s not to love !

So when the opportunity came about for my family to rent an old school beach house with my best friend and her family…we jumped at it.

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We found a small weatherboard house located close to the back beach, and within walking distance to the Main St of Portsea. It had a tennis court instead of a swimming pool, and in my opinion this is a way better option than a pool. More to do. More fun. If the budget allows,  you could rent a house with both, but to be honest the tennis court is a good entertainer for the kids and adults alike. The kids stay active and anything that keeps them off their phones and outdoors is a good thing. They had a ball and we all improved our tennis skills. It is also a great fun when friends come over for a BBQ and a game or two of tennis, daaahling…Very Portsea!

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So if you’re keen to rent a beach house in Portsea with friends / family over Summer, here are my tips…..

People…#1 – Choose your travel “family” carefully….this can be the make or break for a harmonious holiday. You really don’t know someone until you live/ travel with them and lucky for me our companions were spot on for a week together.

Location…#2 – Portsea is slightly less chaotic than close-by suburbs Sorrento and Rye at this time of the year. This is when the coastal town reaches maximum capacity, so my suburb pick is definitely to head as far down the coast as you can and escape the daily tourist madness.

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Drinks…#3 – Have a drink at the famous Portsea Hotel.  The sweeping view across the bay is stunning, and when you look back up to the Hotel from the lawn, the old world charm and the beauty of this historical seaside pub is amazing.

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More Drinks…#4 – Just out of Portsea is the Sorrento Hotel and having just undergone a renovation, the new roof top open air bar is very cool. Get there to watch the sunset and the crowd. It is certainly a mix. Old Melbourne establishment, private schoolers, middle aged tennis wives and day trippers, all chilling together sipping drinks and tapping toes to the DJs cool beats…It’s a fun summery night out.

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Excercise…#5 – Go to the Portsea back beach. You can walk through sand dunes, rock pools and  climb what seems like an eternity of grey timber stairs to the lookout, and marvel at the treacherous coastline of Bass Strait. Or if you’re game you can body surf, surf or just laze on the beach and read. Its a great day out any way you look at it!

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Swim…#6 – If you prefer calmer waters, the beach at the Sorrento Couta Sailing Club is it. Clean white sand, blue ocean bay water and an old school jetty that the kids can jump off into the water. Plus a cafe, and if you happen to have a friend who is a sailing club member, you can sit on the upper deck of the club and sip a glass of bubbles, enjoy the sunset and watch it all pass by…another perfect day activity.

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Eat…#7 – Italico. Main St. Authentic Italian food. Waiters with Italian accents. Upmarket fare with a casual beach vibe. Go there, but its super busy, so be prepared to wait a while for your meal. A long while!

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Socialize…#8 – The Jeep Portsea Polo is the “must do” social calendar event of the Summer season. Whether you are an invited Corporate guest, the ticket holder who paid lots of bucks for an upmarket marquee ticket, or the happy to roll around on the grass in General admission for a fraction of the price…its a great day out for people watching, socialising, spotting the rich and famous, and not so famous, and admiring the sheer athleticism of the gorgeous Polo Players. (more about the polo on my next post)

So, any way that you look at it…It is a great week away, enjoying the summer, and plenty of active and inactive options to keep you throughly relaxed and entertained.

We enjoyed it so much we are locking it in again for next year. If you  can share with another family it is definitely the best way to ensure its a cost effective holiday and create great memories together.

 

…Sx

White Chalk Design | New Name | New Site |

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White Chalk Design
Welcome to the new and exciting launch of our new website, name and branding for White Chalk Design.
We are super excited to show you our brand new site and hope you will take a peek at our most recent projects now online.

 

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At White Chalk Design we have been very fortunate over the last 16 years to work on some amazing projects with incredible clients and this has helped us grow into the design firm we now are.

When the business was first set up we were a small bespoke decorating and homewares studio located in Sandringham.

As the years have flown by, we have adapted to suit the design requirements of our clients, and can now boast that we are a full interior and exterior design and architectural design company.

Our scope of work includes both residential and commercial client and each project is different from the last so its always exciting.
This also includes business branding, 3D images and project management.

With 3 in-house architects, graphic designers, specialist contractor and builders, landscapers, furniture makers and suppliers, we are able to co-ordinate any level of project size at ease.

So a very big thank you to our clients both past and present for helping us achieve such success…without great clients the work would be just that..work!

Wishing you all a very safe Christmas and New Year and here’s to a fantastic 2016.
Serena and the White Chalk team…. xx

Clink the link to go to the new site http://www.whitechalkdesign.com.au