6 Must-Try Dessert Treats at The Dubai Mall – KeepDining.com

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A paradise for shopaholics and foodies, The Dubai Mall is a place where one can spend hours, days and even weeks shopping, eating or just strolling about. With innumerable options to pick from, there’s something for everyone here.

During my recent trip to Dubai, I spent an entire week at the mall shopping and trying out different cuisines at some of its renowned cafes and eateries. While I do share a special fondness for food, I also truly love desserts and all things sweet – be it a chocolate, tart, pie, cheesecake or cookie – guilty as charged, I love it all. Since this place has so much to offer, I had to take regular pit stops to satisfy my sweet cravings. So here’s my list of six drool-worthy sweet treats that were oh-so-satisfying:

Carrot Cupcake at Magnolia Bakery

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The Bloomingdale’s store is home to an elegantly decorated counter of mouthwatering cupcakes and cakes from New York’s famed Magnolia Bakery. Each one looks so pretty that its hard to pick just one. However, after spending almost ten minutes admiring each one, I decided to try the carrot cupcake. One bite into it and I was floored. Moist cake packed with flavors of freshly grated carrots, coconut, pineapple, raisins and walnuts, melted in the mouth while the cream cheese icing left a tingling after-taste. Though their red velvet with cream cheese is a bestseller, I recommend giving this one a try. It’s worth the risk…and the calories!
Location: Inside Bloomingdale’s store, lower ground level

Macarons at Ladurée

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World-famous, luxury French bakery and sweets maker, Ladurée gives you a feel of Paris as you walk into the store. With plush café style seating and cutesy interiors, one can pick from a variety of desserts and colourful macarons. I tried various flavors of these smooth delicate shells, but the salted caramel and black truffle ones, were par excellence. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, they were tucked with flavorful filling on the inside. Since they are priced on the higher side, you might consider compromising on those shopping bags over another piece.
Location: P5, level 1

Red Velvet Frozen Custard at Shake Shack

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The combination of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and ice cream sounds like heaven in a cup, doesn’t it? So when I found out that Shake Shack, the famous American fast food chain known for its burgers and hot dogs serves this lip-smacking trio, I knew I had found my calling. The divine fusion of red velvet cake chunks and cream cheese served as frozen custard was so pleasing that I just couldn’t stop myself even after a few bites. Next on my list is their Shack Attack.
Location: Level 1, near waterfront

Hot Bun with Chocolate Sauce at Pappa Roti

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Pappa Roti, famous for their hot buns and cold shakes is a must-visit. Each bun is freshly baked from the oven and served hot. With a crispy layer on top, one can feel the crunch with every bite. I highly recommend their hot bun with honey and caramel. The crunchy layer of the bun along with these flavorsome toppings surely makes for a beautiful combination. All you need is a delectable cuppa chocolate milkshake on the side and you’re good to go.
Location: Level 2, near the waterfall

Tiramisu at Eataly

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Eataly, known for its Italian food and fresh ingredients, warmly welcomes guests with a luscious dessert spread located right at the entrance. It’s hard to walk past the store, as the aromas of fresh ingredients and chocolate are enough to make you stop by. After several minutes of strolling around the store, I finally called for their Tiramisu. All ingredients of this rich, fluffy, coffee flavored cheesecake are specially imported all the way from Italy and packed with generous amounts of liqeur, espresso, chocolate and mascarpone, thus making it a must-try dessert on their menu. Incase that’s not enough, you can devour some crepe con Nutella from the store’s exquisite Nutella bar. After all, nothing makes shopping more enjoyable than a piping hot crepe oozing with oodles of creamy hazelnut-chocolate filling. I say its worth the chocolate rush!
Location: Lower ground level, near marina exotic home interiors

Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory

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Known for its ginormous portions of food, The Cheesecake Factory is a great place to enjoy some lip-smacking American fare. No matter what you eat; make sure to leave some room for dessert, as they have a variety of drool-worthy cheesecakes that cannot be missed. If you’re a fan of cheesecake, cookie and chocolate, the Oreo Dream Extreme is what you’re looking for. Imagine relishing layers of delectable fudge cake, rich cookie mousse, decadent cheesecake and Oreo crumbs – all in a bite. Drooling already? I don’t blame you.
Location: Ground level, near aquarium

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A Royal Indian Experience at JW Marriott Pune’s Shakahari

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I love to travel…even if it means going to Lonavla for a nice Sunday brunch and back. So when I received an invite from JW Marriott Pune for lunch on Saturday, I instantly said yes! Because for me, an ideal weekend is one where I can getaway from the chaos of the city. Since I knew I had something fun to do over the weekend, I couldn’t wait for the week to quickly pass by. Luckily it did. Before I knew it, it was D-day.

I woke up at 8am as our scheduled time of departure from Mumbai was 9am. Since my pick-up point was Worli, I quickly got ready and left. Nikhil, our kind and polite driver had reached Worli Seaface in his white Innova way before time and was patiently waiting for us to come. We (that includes three of us), started for Pune at about 9.15am and were all set to see what the rest of the day had in store for us. Our car had been stocked with cold bottles of aam panna, lassi and several juices for the journey. Thankfully, due to a slight drizzle in the city, it wasn’t very hot or sunny and as we got onto the expressway, it began to rain and started getting a wee bit breezy. Needless to say, our comfortable drive became even more enjoyable.

We reached Pune at about 12pm and were at the property 40 minutes later (thanks to Pune traffic). As we entered, we were warmly greeted by General Manager Vineet Mishra and his kind and loving team. There was something about the place – it felt like home in an instant. I guess that’s why its so popular and buzzing at all times. We looked around for a while and visited its various outlets, starting with the ones on ground level – Pune Baking Co. (the renowned bakery and patisserie), Lobby lounge (which had a special wine promotion for the weekend), Spice Kitchen (their all-day multi cuisine restaurant that was prepping for the on-going Goan festival) and the JW Marriott Food Truck (which unfortunately wasn’t operational that day). Soon after, we proceeded to the next level to see Alto Vino (the Italian restaurant, serving lip-smacking wood-fired pizzas among other things and a variety of wines), Bar 101 (the elite whiskey and cigar bar that houses over 100 different types of whiskey) and Shakahari (their vegetarian restaurant serving authentic Indian specials). Next, we proceeded to Mi-a-mi (the hotel’s rocking night club that was getting ready for Bollywood night) and Paasha (their fine-dining restaurant and bar with an indoor and al-fresco section from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city). After the property tour, we headed to Shakahari as we had been invited to sample its lip-smacking menu based on authentic Indian cuisines inspired by some of India’s royal, princely states.

A warm welcome with flowers and rose water, an extravagant table set-up and a tikka clad Maharaj Jai Kishen greeted each one of us with his pleasing smile and folded hands. Looking at the hospitality, we knew we were in for a grand feast. The menu, featuring a variety of traditional Rajasthani and North Indian preparations, had been crafted to provide a #RoyalIndianExperience to each one of us.

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‘We want to revive the culture of food in its most authentic Indian form. That is the philosophy at Shakahari – a royal dining experience. Keeping this focus, Maharaj Jai Kishen seamlessly blends tradition and flavor for each dish that is specially curated by him,’ said Mr. Vineet Mishra, the friendly and ever-smiling general manager of the hotel.

Bright and shiny silver Thalis with napkins perfectly folded and knotted gave us a true royal feel. As we took our seats, a server came to each one for a handwash. (In India, a traditional Thali is best enjoyed when eaten with the hands, without any cutlery).

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We were all set for our grand feast which began with some Fratelli wine, a variety of starters served with a bowl full of papad, various chutneys and pickles like plum, peanut, mint and mango as accompaniments. The starters consisted of:

– Dahi Wada
– Palak Patta Chaat
– Rajma Lasooni Salad
– Palak Chawli Tikki
– Beetroot Tikki
– Amritsari Paneer
– Besan Chilla

Out of all the above, the rajma lasooni salad with fragments of burnt garlic and beetroot tikki were my most favorite.

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After a break of about 15 minutes, we were then served our Rajasthani mains. I’m sure you already know that a traditional meal in Rajasthan is incomplete without its speciality dishes like

– Dal Batti Churma: lentil preparation made with wheat flour dough, served with dal, grounded flour dessert and dollops of ghee
– Ker Sanger ke Kofte: ker, bamnera bean dumping cooked in fresh tomato gravy
– Jodhpuri Gatta Curry: steamed gram flour dumpling, cooked in spicy, tangy, hung curd gravy
– Gatta ka Pulao: spiced gram flour dumpling, dum cooked with basmati rice
– Subz Panchmel: a melange of five vegetables, tossed in dry spices and flavored with asafoetida
– Phulka, Palak Poori & Ajwaini Poori

To be honest, I find Rajasthani food too heavy so I avoid eating too much. But here, it was served with so much love that I just couldn’t say no. I thoroughly enjoyed most of it, especially the gatta curry and ker sanger koftas but I wanted to leave space for the rest.

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Right after the Rajasthani meal, we were served some speciality North Indian preparations like

– Dum Paneer Kasoori: homemade cottage cheese, simmered in rich tomato gravy, flavored with fenugreek seeds
– Subz Makhmali Kofta: vegetable koftas filled with dried plums and almonds, simmered in a cardamom cashew gravy
– Pindi Choley: chickpeas, slow cooked and flavored with whole Indian spices, tempered with dried pomegranate seeds and smoked with desi ghee
– Dal Shakahari: black lentils, soaked overnight and rajma, tempered with cumin, fresh garlic and white butter
– Gucchi Pulao: long grain rice flavored with whole spices
– Stuffed kulcha, Roti, Naan, Laccha Paratha

The dum paneer kasoori and dal shakahari were amazing. So flavorful and delicious. The pindi choley reminded me of my recent trip to Amritsar. I wanted to go for a second helping but I had to leave some room for dessert. Considering the lavish variety our meal had to offer, I was eagerly waiting to see what the desserts would have in store.

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Once everyone was done with their meal, the friendly and hospitable staff of Shakahari, escorted us to the ‘Mishtan Bhandar’ – a room filled with sweet treats. Yes, you read that right. A ROOM full of sweet treats! Everything was so tempting that for a minute I almost forgot I had to take pictures and started helping myself. We could choose from a selection of freshly cut fruits like guava, apple, pineapple, dragon fruit among others or desserts like

– Mango Rabadi
– Malai Kulfi
– Vanilla Ice Cream
– Kesar Pista Kulfi
– Moong Dal Halwa
– Gulab Jamun
– Lychee Gulla
– Kaju Pista Roll
– Moti Chor Ladoos
– Kadambari
– Badambhog
– Ghewar

I literally wanted to try everything but unfortunately was already pretty full. So I tried a small piece of the ghewar and some mango rabadi – both, absolutely awesome. And finally finished off with some paan.

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While chatting with Mr. Mishra, I was intrigued to know how long it took to formulate such a royal meal. ‘About 4 months and 60 tastings later we finalized on the menu,’ he said. Unlike most Thali places where you’re served in a rush, the meal at Shakahari is timed (approximately 60 minutes per sitting) so every guest can absorb the food and enjoy every bit of the experience. The menu keeps changing every now and then so there’s always something new to look forward to.

An hour-long chatting session and a few cups of green tea later, it was time to bid adieu. So we thanked the wonderful team for their impeccable service and hospitality and proceeded towards the car, which once again had been stacked with still, sparkling water and other beverages. Our drive back was just as enjoyable as before as we didn’t get any traffic and were home in less than 3 hours.

All-in-all, it was truly a fun getaway from the city – even though it was just for a few hours. Will most certainly be going back soon again…this time for more than just a meal!

Shakahari - JW Marriott Pune Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheese Workshop organized by the European Union & CNIEL

The best cheese in the world comes from Europe where artisans and big producers use their ancestral know-how to produce a wide variety of fine cheese. From French Camembert to Italian Burrata, the range of cheese is very diverse.

Today, the dairy industry in the European Union is the most productive and the most successful in the world. Its strict regulations by the European Union and the CNIEL (National Interprofessional Center of the Dairy Economy, France), a privately run organization whose main objective is to promote dairy products and to facilitate relationships between dairy producers and processors, makes cheese from Europe, the best and safest product for the consumer.

In order to promote French cheese, the European Union and CNIEL organized a cheese tasting workshop, this afternoon, with French Chef François Robin at Artisan, Sofitel Mumbai BKC. Awarded the Best Cheese Monger of France, Chef Robin demonstrated exclusive recipes based on the available vegetarian cheese (without any animal rennet) and added a unique Indian touch to create fusion food, using cheese as the main ingredient. ‘Make cheese, not war. Atleast that’s what we do in France,’ he jokingly said. For those of you who don’t know, France has over 2000 different types of cheese – so there’s something for everyone.

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Our workshop started with a tasting of four different types of cheese – Camembert, Chevre, Comté & Roquefort. Blindfolded with our nose blocked, the entire experience depended solely on our taste buds. We could touch and taste but could not see or smell – which makes a world of a difference when it comes to cheese. Camembert with its bloomy rind was my absolute favorite…especially when it was baked and runny. While Chevre was creamy, flavorful and a tad bit salty, Roquefort was intense and had probably been aged for several months. ‘In France, cheese is considered to be a meal for everyone – rich or poor, as it is more affordable than milk,’ said Chef Robin.

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Soon after our tasting, he demonstrated a few quick recipes that were delicious beyond words and super easy to make.

Goat’s cheese or Chevre:
Mix together with chopped coriander in a bowl and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.

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Comté:
Remove the rind. Cut into small pieces. Dip in balsamic vinegar reduction and coat with roasted sesame seeds.

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Camembert:
Bake until the cheese is soft and runny on the inside. Top with toasted nuts OR Mix together finely chopped apricots, pistachios and mascarpone cheese with a little bit of gin. Slice the wheel into two and pipe the mixture in between.

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Indulgent Getaways with your Valentine

You know it’s that time of the year when you see pink heart shaped everything around you, receive non-stop data absorbing love messages and see cheesy pictures all over social media…Yes, Valentine’s Day is round the corner! But let me guess, you don’t know what to do yet? Fret not!

Step into the season of love with full gusto by gifting your partner a spa-cation because nothing in the world is more gratifying than that. The mere thought of having someone pamper you from head to toe is so heartening, isn’t it? Whether you’re planning a getaway to the Himalayas or to the closest property near home, these spas are sure to provide an unforgettable experience (with or without your partner).

If you’re in the city…

1) Iridium Spa at The St. Regis Mumbai:

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It’s hard to not love this charismatic property – be it the food, drinks, service, ambiance, just about everything! So one can only imagine how astonishing Iridium Spa would be.

What’s in store:
Embark on a Romantic Chocolate Valentine Journey with red wine and scrumptious cake to celebrate with your partner. Think chocolate scrub, chocolate body wrap, chocolate body oil massage and an anti-oxidant treatment that nourishes the body with coco butter and Vitamin E…What more can you ask for? If that’s not enough, indulge in one of their Valentine’s special chocolate facials.
Price: INR 18000 ++
Duration: 150 mins

2) Jiva Grande Spa at Taj Wellington Mews:

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Immerse yourself in luxury and comfort at this property, situated at the heart of South Mumbai. The building, with 80 fully furnished and immaculately appointed apartments, stands nestled in 2.6 acres of lush green gardens, that makes it an oasis of calm and tranquility in the city.

What’s in store:
Jiva Spa, one of the largest and most popular spas in the city is known for its various holistic treatments inspired by the rich and ancient wellness heritage of India. This Valentine’s Day, gift your partner a session of their indulgent body treatment called Sushupti that ensures lustrous glowing skin. It starts with an aromatic footbath that sets the perfect tone for the session. A natural blend of green gram flour, honey and fresh cream is then applied all over as it infuses a youthful glow and enhances your radiance. Then, delight your skin with a combination of a floral bath with a mix of herbs and warm milk, to enhance smoothness. A deeply nourishing massage stimulates blood circulation and fills you with renewed vigor. A languid facial massage with signature oils peels away the last trace of stress leaving your skin soft, revitalized and deeply moisturized. This is undoubtedly an ultimate skin therapy that is sure to pamper your partner to the fullest.
Price: INR 7000++
Duration: 120 mins

3) Club Oasis at Grand Hyatt Mumbai:

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When you step foot at Grand Hyatt Mumbai, you know there’s something grand coming your way. Everything is larger than life here – be it a brunch or a birthday celebration. So if you’re thinking about treating your partner to a splendid experience, Club Oasis is the place for you.

What’s in store:
Kick the day off with their Choco Affair package that includes a chocolate wrap and massage treatment that kneads away all those unwanted kinks and knots. Next, enjoy a soothing facial before indulging in some lip-smacking strawberry nectar with your lover. Boys, you can also surprise your girl at the Christian Georgio salon with a manicure, pedicure, gel polish, facemask and hair spa. You can’t even imagine the brownie points you’ll earn for the day.
Price: INR 15000 ++
Duration: 150 mins

4) 24- hour SO Spa at Sofitel Mumbai BKC:

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There’s something so comforting about this suburban hotel. Nestled in the by-lanes of BKC, it has become a favorite amongst inbound travellers and city residents looking for a relaxing break.

What’s in store:
Unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city at the hotel’s 24-hour So Spa, salon, pool and restaurant by opting for new Indulgence Offer and spend an entire day at this luxurious property, with your partner or even by yourself (self-love is always a good idea). An hour long massage treatment at the spa followed by a hair wash, blow dry, manicure and pedicure at the Savio John Pereira Salon is sure to loosen stiff muscles and de stress you completely before you enjoy some spa lunch. Head over to Artisan – the hotel’s French bistro to relish various house-created nutritious salads and detox juices. Finally, end this revitalizing session by taking a dip in the azure waters of L’OH pool.
Price: INR 6500 ++
Duration: Half a day

5) Suara Spa at Hotel Sea Princess:

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Located in the heart of Juhu, this hotel is an ideal place to enjoy stunning views of the Arabian Sea. One can enjoy a hearty brunch with a dip in their open pool or simply dance the night away at their rocking nightclub. Whatever the occasion – this place never disappoints.

What’s in store:
Head over to the spa’s couple suite to experience their Valentine’s Dreamy Retreat package. It begins with a coco vanilla aroma massage followed by a vanilla/strawberry scrub that has you looking and feeling completely energized in 2 hours flat. Finally you can complete this mystical journey of love and romance with a rose milk bath for two with eucalyptus steam and shower. If this is not enticing enough, opt for the 75 mins mini retreat package that includes an invigorating Swedish massage with scrub, steam and shower.
Price: INR 8500 ++
Duration: 120 mins

If you want to getaway…

1) Sereno Spa at Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa:

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An award-winning hotel located along the pristine Arossim Beach and 15 minutes from Dabolim Airport, Park Hyatt Goa combines elegance with old world charm reflecting traditional Goan heritage.

What’s in store:
Treat yourself and your partner to their luxurious Red Wine Ritual scrub designed to gently polish your skin to a rosy glow. Packed with powerful anti-oxidants from red wine, grape seed oil, vitamin E and other therapeutic ingredients, this is an incredibly healing, anti-ageing body scrub. A relaxing wine mask containing polyphenols and natural vitamins comes next and finally concludes with a Red Wine extract enriched cream massage that not only provides powerful anti-oxidant protection for the entire surface of the body but also penetrates to strengthen and repair connective tissue.
Price: INR 7500++
Duration: 2 hours, 15 mins

2) Ananda Spa at Ananda Resort, Rishikesh:

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Set in the tranquil Himalayan foothills, close to the mythological cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh, Ananda is the ultimate wellness retreat offering therapeutic treatments based on traditional Indian practices of Ayurveda, yoga and meditation. Built majestically on the Maharaja’s palace with the holy Ganga flowing by, it provides the perfect setting to a beautiful spa experience. Its breathtaking surroundings soothe the senses and ensure holistic wellbeing.

What’s in store:
With Ananda’s 3/5-night Couples Connect package, you can connect with your soul mate on a different level, in the most romantic set up ever. Enjoy a handful of massages including aromatherapy and a special Himalayan honey and rose facial within your very own couple’s suite. The enchanting ambiance allows you to disconnect from your fast-paced life and take the first step towards a sound mind, body and soul. Not just that, you can also enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner at the tree top deck with a bottle of house wine right after.
Price: Varies as per room category
Duration: 3 and 5 nights

3) Explore Spa at Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa:

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Surrounded by rare evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, the 27-acre resort stands secluded from the outside world and brings guests in touch with nature and tranquility.

What’s in store:
Exquisite treatments await you at this tranquil haven overlooking the valley. Designed entirely in white, the spa exuberates positivity and peace – just what you need on a spa date! Experience their special couple’s package – Celebrate Love that starts with a steam bath and strawberry brown sugar scrub. Next, enjoy 60 minutes of a Swedish massage that is sure to calm your mind and body and lastly, finish with a dip in the couple’s bathtub while sipping on a glass of bubbly with some chocolate dipped strawberries.
Price: INR 14000 ++
Duration: 120 mins

5) Spa Alila at Alila Diwa Goa:

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Set amidst the serene landscape of lush, verdant rice plantations flowing towards the Arabian Sea, relaxation reigns at this Goa resort. Whether enjoying an intimate couple’s retreat or a getaway for the entire family, the 153 rooms and suites at this Goa resort offer havens of space, comfort and serenity.

What’s in store:
In order to celebrate the season of love, they have introduced a special treatment – Skinny Moccocino in which a combination of cedar wood and rose essential oils are blended with raw sugar as they help remove dead skin cells and tone the skin, leaving it soft and pure. A coffee and cocoa full body mask follows soon after. The caffeine draws out all the impurities and tightens the skin while the cocoa, full of antioxidants, provides a fantastic anti ageing effect by keeping the skin nourished. This unique treatment also includes a signature footbath, 60-min Balinese or Swedish treatment of your choice and finally concludes with a herbal steam.
Price: 7000 ++
Duration: 140 mins

6) Khyber Spa at The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg:

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The first thing that comes to mind when you hear of Gulmarg is snow-clad mountains and breathtaking beauty. Clad in locally sourced pine and slate, this resort is built in a style true to the architectural heritage of Kashmir. In every way, indoors mirror the beauty of the outdoors.

What’s in store:
The Khyber Spa managed by L’Occitane is a treat for the senses with its stunning views and impeccable hospitality. Though there isn’t any particular spa treatment to choose from, the couple’s suite allows you to spend some intimate time with your partner while getting a treatment done. They also have a heated indoor pool that you can take a dip in before or after your treatment.
Price: Depends on treatment
Duration: Depends on treatment

7) Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa at ITC Mughal Agra:

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Sprawled over 35 acres of luxurious gardens, and in close proximity to the Taj Mahal, ITC Mughal, a luxury hotel in Agra is a fitting tribute to the great Mughal builders of the past.

What’s in store:
If you’re in the heritage city of the monument of love, you can’t miss the royal spa treatments at India’s largest spa that offers therapies based on ancient customs to create everlasting experiences for the soul. Relax in the lush couple’s suite while the therapists guide you to a state of bliss with their soothing therapies. A Gemstone Massage is highly recommended for the ultimate spa experience. As part of the treatment, a therapist provides a lymphatic drainage massage with gemstones and natural aromatic Indian blends that revitalizes the mind and eliminates all kinds of tensions and stresses, thus leaving you feeling refreshed.
Price: Available on request
Duration: Available on request

8) Maya Spa at The Zuri Kumarakom Kerala Resort & Spa:

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A luxury resort and spa on the banks of India’s longest Vembanad Lake, the property is spread across a magnificent 205 sq.km. Set on the backwaters of Kumarakom, revel in the soothing luxuries provided by this 18-acre piece of paradise.

What’s in store:
Mystical and magical, ‘Maya’ means the ability to transform an illusion into reality. Here, they use varied time-tested, revitalizing, holistic therapies of the Ayurvedic, Western and Oriental systems of healing and rejuvenation that are sure to tranquilize you completely and make you feel the magic. Opt for the Couple’s Massage that begins with an hour of any massage of your choice from the Western Spa menu in the privacy of a candle-lit couple’s spa suite with soothing music. It ends with a head or foot massage and a floral bath in the private Jacuzzi.
Price: INR 10000 ++
Duration: 75 mins

Honeymoon Beauty & Travel Essentials

After the unavoidable frenzy that accompanies wedding planning, most couples want to get done with the mumbo-jumbo and jump straight into the honeymoon! Whether you’re the type of newlyweds that wants to experience the great African safari or a duo that sits back on a sandy beach, sips one-two-many margaritas and cuddles up in the cabana right after – your first holiday post-nuptials ought to be special and memorable in every way.

You may choose to travel to your dream destination with your lover or together accomplish one of the many places on your bucket list but if you’re planning activities that involve sweat and sun, do take that into consideration while packing. To make life easier, we’ve collated a list of beauty and travel essentials for every bride-to-be.

Winter Wonderland:

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Pearl-white mountains, snowflakes and cold winds blowing through your hair – probably what an ideal romantic getaway should be like. Or so we’re made to believe, thanks to Bollywood movies! However, chilly weather can have an impact on your lustrous locks and skin. Cold saps the hair of moisture, making it dry and easily breakable. So, to avoid becoming a hot mess, tuck in a hair masque or a highly intensive conditioner and try using heated appliances as minimum as possible. For skin, use a good hydrating moisturizer that will prevent dryness and leave you with a long lasting glow. A high intensive hand and foot cream can do wonders for cracked, sore skin. If your lips get chapped easily, a lip balm is a must. Take along these itsy-bitsy things and enjoy your time amidst the cool and chilling winds.
Tip: Bring out your trench coats, mittens, boots, mufflers & goggles. Don’t you want to look your best while taking a snow-fie?

Sunny Sojourn:

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If you’re heading for a sundrenched honeymoon in a tropical island, chances are you’ll be living in your bathing suit. So the first and most important thing you need is a sunscreen lotion with an SPF higher than 15 to avoid burns and damages. Generously apply everywhere, especially in forgotten areas like the ears, nose, eyelids, neck and top of the feet. Sunscreens wear off easily, so you have to keep reapplying every hour to avoid burns. If you have really sensitive skin, a day at the beach may cause some redness. Apply heaps of aloe vera gel as it has a cooling effect. If you’re planning to wear makeup most of the time, waterproof cosmetics are your best bet. Saline water adversely affects the hair causing it to become coarse, dry and frizzy. Double up on the conditioner and moisturize with Shea butter or coconut oil. Also, never ever comb immediately after getting out of the water. Condition first and then comb with a detangler to avoid breakage.
Tip: What to pack in your beach bag? Swimsuit, flip-flops, hat and shades … only thing missing is a strawberry daiquiri!

Adventure Escapade:

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No matter what’s on your exploration itinerary, wet wipes have changed the travel game. Carry 2-3 packets; preferably cucumber ones and you’re sorted for the rest of the trip. If you’re following the outdoorsy theme, now would be the time to throw in a travel-size, scented deodorant or talcum powder to absorb sweat along with an insect repellent to keep prowling insects at bay. Another vanity must have is a dry shampoo. It’s practical, convenient to use and keeps you fresh until you hit the shower. Also, pick an aromatic body butter or body lotion to keep your skin soft and smooth. Avoid using too much makeup; instead keep it natural with just a BB cream, mascara and some lip-gloss.
Tip: Say good-bye to foot blisters by wearing a comfortable pair of walking shoes. For safety reasons, carry a torch, small compass and binoculars.

 

London Calling!

The first thing that strikes you about London is the city’s enigmatic vibe. There is never a dull moment here – one may run out of money but will never run out of things to do. A true melting pot, it is home to tourists, gastronomes, adventure enthusiasts, art connoisseurs, business tycoons and more. With an awe-inspiring history and culture, there is something for everyone in this magnificent city.

One can never predict what the day looks like in London – one moment the sun shines and the next moment it begins to pour. In spite of several mood swings, it welcomes tourists 365 days a year. Though summer is prime-tourist season since people can enjoy long sunny days; the cold winds and snow do not stop them from visiting either. It’s the sort of place that makes you fall in love with it – truly, madly, deeply in love with it.

Popular attractions like the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square are always flooded with visitors, especially during the peak tourist season. But there are also those areas that most tourists miss out on due to lack of time. Listed here are a few places where you can enjoy the city’s relaxing yet entertaining side.

– Notting Hill: 

Escape the city’s hustle-bustle and see an altogether different side at Notting Hill – an area that hosts the city’s biggest street carnival. Tourists are seen in large numbers fanning their cameras to capture beautiful images of quirky, colourful buildings – after all, pastel pinks and vibrant reds make excellent backdrops! Head to a local bar and enjoy a chilled glass of beer or shop at the famous Portobello Market, a great place to collect vintage souvenirs. Whether you like to eat, click, shop or people watch, this is one part of London you cannot miss.

– Camden Town: 

Famous for its labyrinth open-air markets, quirky street shops and tattooed hippies, Camden has its own distinctive flavor – a vibe that gradually grows onto you. It is a mind-blowing mix of eclectic, unique and intriguing experiences that are sure to leave you spellbound.  Shop for quirky clothes and accessories or relish food from around the globe at its numerous eateries. If you’re into rock, punk and jazz, this sprightly market is surely the place to be at for its live music performances.

– Borough Market: 

A delight for gourmands, Borough Market is the largest vegetable, fruit, meat and seafood market in Central London. It is home to the finest quality ingredients and is flooded with foodies everyday. Interact with various traders or sample delicious foods from live counters. Walk in hungry and you will have ample to choose from.

– Carnaby Street: 

Home to independent cafes, British bars, chic boutiques and concept stores; Carnaby Street is a charming area located next to Soho. Walk around this quintessentially English street to experience the city’s infectious vibe.

– Gabriel’s Wharf:
Amidst the bustling South Bank lies Gabriel’s Wharf, the quaint creative hub for art and design lovers. Enjoy panoramic views of the stunning city skyline while sipping on a drink or indulging in some life-changing conversations at the wharfs cutesy cafe.

– Primrose Hill: 

Enjoy breath-taking views of Central London by climbing the steep slopes of Primrose Hill. Famous for its skyrocket residential rates, this area houses some prominent names. Relax at one of its cozy cafes and keep your eyes open for celebrities.

– Emirates Air Line:

Glide over the River Thames between Greenwich Peninsular and the Royal Docks to enjoy stunning views of East London and the O2 Arena. The best time to enjoy a ride in London’s first and only cable car is during sunset. Keep your camera ready to capture stunning views of the city from above. After your ride, head to the O2 Arena for an enjoyable meal as it stocks some of London’s finest fast food chains.

– Spitalfields Market: 

Set in the heart of London’s diverse neighborhood, Spitalfields is a treasure trove for visitors. Famous for its pop-ups, vintage shops, handcrafted items and food court, it is undoubtedly a great weekend destination to enjoy with the family. Art enthusiasts can also walk down the lane to Shoreditch and experience some quirky paintings by Banksy and the likes.

– St. Christopher’s Street: 

Located opposite the Bond Street Station, you will surely find it difficult to leave this place. Flanked by cafes and bars on both sides, picking a restaurant can be a tough decision. Keeping in mind the relaxing ambiance, be prepared to have never-ending conversations over lunches that might just turn into dinners.

– The Scoop – Near London Bridge:
An open-air amphitheater located near the London Bridge, The Scoop is a hotspot for entertainment all year round. Enjoy live performances, open-air plays, opera, film screenings and lots more over here. Their events are open to public and are free of cost. It is recommended to reach before time as the seating is on a first-cum-first-serve basis.

New York! New York!

Journalist Tom Wolfe once said, “One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

I realized how true that statement is when I first visited New York a couple of years ago. As a diehard fan of popular sitcoms such as Gossip Girl and Sex and the City, a vacation in New York was a dream come true for me! Like most other 20-year-old girls, I wanted to see the spot where Blair met Chuck for the first time, eat at the places where Carrie and her girls went for brunch and ofcourse, visit the store where Bradshaw found her famous Manola Blahnik’s. Everything about New York fascinated me – the people, food, culture — even the song, Empire State of Mind.

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Photo Credit – http://www.newyorker.com

The first thing that strikes you between New York is the city’s enthusiastic vibe. It’s fast-paced yet relaxing. A true melting pot, it is stuffed with ambitious people who populate its five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. More than the dream of New York that I had built up in my mind, it was the awe-inspiring splendor that took my breath away. From tall skyscrapers to subways, every little thing was magnificent.

Food Matters!
New York is a paradise for food lovers. – my day would usually begin with a cream cheese bagel and a cup of hot chocolate. Food trucks line every corner, making it impossible to miss out on the city’s renowned fast food. But, if you still need recommendations, here’s what you should try out:
– Cart Food: New York is known for its cart food, which basically serves you large portions of meat and rice, flavoured with sauces. Available into the wee hours of the night, it is filling, delicious and pocket-friendly. The best and most popular cart food is available at The Halal Guys.
– Max Brenner: A renowned chocolate bar and restaurant located at Union Square, this is a paradise for chocoholics. A few friends and I walked into Max Brenner for a cup of hot chocolate and walked out with a 12-inch chocolate pizza, topped with chocolate chips and marshmallows!
– Chipotle: This is, by far my favourite Mexican chain. A filing burrito at Chipotle is the perfect way to end a tiring day.

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Photo Credit – http://www.maxbrenner.com

Fashion Forward:
Draw up a list of fashion capitals of the world and New York is bound to be somewhere close to the top. Some of the world’s most popular stylists, designers and fashionistas hail from here. From walking to Soho empty-handed and returning with a handful of bags, to sitting at a café, wishfully looking at people splurging on high-end brands in Park Avenue, New York has something for everyone. Other popular shopping hubs include Macy’s, China Town and Canal Street.

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Photo Credit – http://www.walldevil.com

Slice of Culture:
New York has a number of museums and art centers, but the most popular is undoubtedly the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, popularly known as the MET. I was stoked to see the amount of creativity that was on display – it houses the world’s finest modern and contemporary art. If you’re an art enthusiast, this place is a must-visit for a dose of inspiration.

Entertainment Ahoy!:
From musicals to live street performances, sports to shopping, bar hopping to sit-down meals, you won’t run out of things to do in New York. I watched The Phantom of the Opera, an award-winning musical at the Majestic Theatre. Of course, Times Square is a spot you can’t miss visiting – the large billboards, flashing lights and the energy will leave you amazed. New York’s many parks such as Central Park and Union Square Park are other great places to while away your time. My favourite pastime was to walk through, or simply read a book at the park.

The Tourist Trail:
Even the tourist attractions in New York, which you wouldn’t think would really surprise you, can leave you with long-lasting memories. On my way to the Statue of Liberty, I spent some time at Battery Park, which is the port from where the ferries set off. While I was there, I stumbled upon Castle Clinton and a couple of artists who offered caricatures on the spot. The caricature I had drawn of myself is undoubtedly my most precious souvenir. As for the Statue of Liberty? Well, I was lucky enough to head there late afternoon, where I was treated to a fabulous display of the setting sun on one hand and the Statue of Liberty standing tall on the other. Other must-visit tourist spots are The Rockefeller Centre, Grand Central Terminal, Yankee Stadium, Chelsea Market, Harlem and the 9/11 Memorial.

With its architectural assets, vintage cafes, boutiques and novelty shops, New York City is a serious treat for every traveler. It’s the sort of place where getting lost will only help you find something new. It allows you to dream as high as its skyscrapers and then helps to convert them into reality. I now know what Simone de Beauvoir meant when she said, “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”

FYI
– Unlike Mumbai, New York is extremely strict about following road discipline. You cannot run across an empty street at a red light – yes, the pedestrian ones that we normally ignore in our city.

– A basic understanding of the grid system is helpful if you wish to travel independently. Finding your way around the city becomes easy once you master this. An important thing to remember is that avenues run North and South, while streets run East and West.

– While local buses, taxis and tubes make commuting within the city convenient, having experienced all, I think walking was the best option – more so for the experience than for the ease of travel. I came across and struck up conversations with several people during my walks and some ended up becoming acquaintances!