Friday, 27 July 2012

Strawberry Park Resort – the best of then and now…

Note: This post series (first in a set of three) brought about a bit of nostalgia…not sure if I’m the only one that feels this way, but have a read and let me know if you feel the same? :) Photos are a mishmash of pics from my phone as well as those taken by the bf (hey, must make him do some work too right? LOL...)

When I received an invitation to the newly refurbished Strawberry Park Resort a couple of months back, it was like a trip back in time. It hadn’t hit me until I actually did the calculations, that it had been 15 years since I’d been back to Cameron Highlands…and *gulp* a quarter of a century since I’d last visited Strawberry Park Resort!

My first memory of the Strawberry Park Resort was as a child – I’d gone there with my parents and paternal grandparents (remember my classic 92-yr old granny? Yeah, with her!). The most vivid memory I have of that trip? Granny complaining she would never go to Cameron Highlands again if we went any shorter than 3D/2N because the drive up made her nauseous. Not sure if it was my dad’s driving or the windy road, but she puked in the apartment sink the minute we arrived. Funny that something that random stuck in everyone’s mind, because that was the same incident my parents brought up when I told them I was going back to the Strawberry Park Resort. But let's move on...

The main building was a familiar sight – this building hosts all the resort’s restaurants and facilities with the exception of the Garden Terrace (located just opposite the main building) and the Mandrayu Spa (located next to Block A of the resort).

The façade of the blocks hasn’t changed much in the past 25 years to retain the Tudor look, but in the 25 years or so I haven’t been back, there have been four overhauls done to the resort’s rooms and facilities…and oh, what a difference to the rooms inside!

Here’s a peek into our Tioga Deluxe Suite…I loved the décor and feel of the room, not to mention their beds were really nice and comfy. All the standard amenities were included, such as toiletries, hairdryer, in-room safe, minibar and TV.

The wardrobe is literally walk-in size…OMG!

Can I have a bathroom like this in my own place? I really felt like taking the magnifying mirror home at the end of the trip (though I didn’t, of course)

We also had a complimentary fruit platter every day that we stayed there, and I was told it’s actually sent to most of their guests during their stay. To me, that’s a lovely touch since you get your dose of fruits (yay!) while getting to try all the local varieties they grow in Cameron Highlands. And mind you, those fruits were SWEET! We didn’t even need the honey or yogurt that came with the platter, but it was much appreciated all the same.

Didn’t get a chance to try the Mandrayu Spa services as we were only there for 3 days and the schedule was pretty packed, but if you’ve always dreamed of being pampered in the middle of nature, this comes pretty close.

The spa pool and massage area are in sheltered pods outside if you love the nature surroundings, but you can opt for a more enclosed area if you’re feeling a bit bashful. :P

Wildberry Bar – located in the basement of the main building…only popped in to have a quick look since we had to wake up early the next morning to catch the sunrise, but I was pleasantly surprised that their selection of tunes were quite current. No techno Spice Girls songs, thank god!! (you never know, right?)

Another place I saw only briefly was the Tudor Lounge and Grill, which is on the second floor. There’s a lovely candlelight dinner set available for couples and quiet if you just want to enjoy each other’s company. As for us? Err…we decided to go walk off our buffet dinner (more on that later) at the Brinchang night market. Romantic fail, that one… :P

Heated pool, anyone? The resort managed to squeeze a small pool (as well as squash court) into the main building…tiny, but sufficient for doing laps if you want to work off your meals. :D

Now do you see what I mean about the mix of then and now? I love how the resort has managed to retain the charm of the old facades and exteriors, while fitting the rooms and facilities with top notch equipment. The only drawback to this sprawling place is that there are no lifts available, so you’d better be prepared to work the “stair master”…

Safe to say, before I even go into the next 2 parts of this series, we had an amazing time there (journey on the windy road notwithstanding!). Every single staff I came across had a ready smile and was quite chatty. Many of them had been there for years, and when I say years I mean 10 and up...mind blowing, isn't it?

From the gardener who randomly walked past guests at the Garden Terrace dropping off Japanese tomatoes fresh off the vine from the resort's garden telling visitors to "just wash and eat, they're sweet!", to the Orang Asli resort driver who patiently ferried us from spot to spot up Brinchang at 6am in the morning just so we could take photos of the was just awesome! :D

Stay tuned for part 2 and 3 of the Strawberry Park Resort series……there’s food (oh god, the food!!) and activities coming up! :D

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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Tea time treats @ Covelli Italian Bistro & Wine Bar…

A couple of weeks back, I was extended an invitation to sample the tea time treats at Covelli, which is located in the basement of Orchard Central. I’d been to the place once before for dinner, but had never tried the teatime selections given that I don’t quite like coming into town on the weekends unless there’s a good reason for me to do so! But I digress…

For Covelli’s tea time treats, you get a set of 4 different pastries or cake with your choice of tea or coffee at SG$9.90++ per person. We were told the selection of dishes served for the tea set change from time to time, so do check out at the entrance for the day’s choices. There’s also a decent selection of teas to choose from – I counted fifteen different types on the menu. Now, I'm no tea connoisseur, but there should be something to suit most palates. :D

Since the bf was also down that weekend, he came along as my *ahem* photographer (hey, that’s the point of bringing him, right?) and we tried two teas between us – the first one above is Uji Genmaicha, which is a sencha green tea with roasted rice and matcha. The roasted rice flavour came out above the green tea but surprisingly wasn’t overpowering, which was nice.

The second tea was a blend called Grandma’s Garden – a sencha green tea with strawberry, mango and pear flavouring mixed with dried fruit pieces. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of dried fruit pieces in there but the end result was still quite pleasant to taste. Oh, and the pots of tea are refillable - a good thing since each pot only yields about 2 cups of tea.

Let’s move on to the food, shall we? We sampled a selection of several cakes and savouries which I was told are included as part of the high tea menu rotation.

The top layer of the tray had smoked duck bruschetta (foreground) and tomato bruschetta with pesto (background) – out of the two, I liked the smoked duck one more as it went very well with the balsamic vinegar dressing (and I like my meat! *ahem*)

The bottom layer had a selection of cakes, and what you see here is the Chocolate Ganache (left) and Pistachio Cremeaux (right). The Chocolate Ganache had a good solid texture to it while the Pistachio Cremeaux was very nutty. While both were delicious, I’d hesitate in putting these two together as they’re quite heavy on the stomach if you have a slice of each!

This was my absolute favourite and the clear highlight of the afternoon – Kahlua Pannacotta! Creamy, smooth pannacotta covered with a layer of Kahlua glaze…absolute heaven! :D

And there you have it – a decent high tea set selection for SG$9.90++ per person. The shot above also includes the Apricot Cake which I didn’t mention earlier – the light and fluffy sponge was delicious, and I liked that they were quite generous with the chunks of apricot in it. So if you're wandering in Orchard during the weekend and are looking for a quiet place to rest your feet and have some tea, do check out Covelli.

Covelli Italian Bistro & Wine Bar
181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central
Singapore 238896.
Tel: +65 6238 6400
Tea Time: 3-6pm Mon to Fri, 12-6pm Sat and Sun

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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

July Bellabox – Taking you around the world…

If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen this photo I posted of the July Bellabox below…

Just check out the brands included this month!

Bellabox’s theme this month is “Around the world”, which is bringing some of the best beauty brands from across the globe into the box’s contents. This month, which also marks the increase of Bellabox’s subscription to SG$19.95, Bellabox also has a super treat in store for three lucky members – a gift from Tiffany’s!!

Alas, I didn’t get one in my box, but the contents are gorgeous all the same – let’s have a look, shall we?

From Korea, I got the L’egere Healthy Facial Treatment Skin Conditioner and Platinum Hologram Illuminating Hydro Cream Base.

There’s also a Pore Beauty Nose Pack from another Korean brand, Skinmiso (begone, blackheads and whiteheads!), as well as a hot pink Twistband from California – part of their new neon colours for summer!

From London, we have none other than the Jimmy Choo fragrance – rather than the usual sample vials, this is actually a lovely miniature of the actual fragrance bottle and looks amazing. It’s quite a strong fragrance to be sure, but from what I’ve smelt so far it should be quite nice.

And of course, from Japan…*drumroll*SKII! The SKII samples came in a small organza bag, and includes the Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser, Cellumination Mask-In Lotion, Facial Treatment Essence and Cellumination Deep Surge EX samples.

I reckon they counted all the 4 samples as “one item” in the box, so you can imagine the box is quite packed this month!

The box also typically comes with a stack of flyers from the participating brands, and this month is no exception, but a cute touch would be the Bellabox lipstick pen that was thrown in for a bit of fun. :D

So there you have it – a more-than-decent six items in this month’s Bellabox…seven if you count the lipstick pen, and a whopping EIGHT if you happen to be one of the lucky three that got the Tiffany’s box!

Now, which one do I try first….??

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Friday, 6 July 2012

The ArglyDuckling – a name (and retail service) too cute to ignore!

A couple of weeks back, I received an invitation from the nice ladies at ArglyDuckling to attend a introductory session to some of the ranges they carry. In a nutshell, ArglyDuckling is an online retail site in Singapore carrying some great niche brands (and they’ve got a super-cute name to boot! Rinnah has already drawn the connection to the Ugly Duckling tale, so I'm sure I won't have to go into that too)

During the session, we were introduced to quite a number of brands, so I’ll just leave you with some of my choice picks and a short preamble about them.

Nature Girl – looking beyond the fun outlook, this brand carries a whole range of botanical products. There’s body lotion, body wash, cleansing milk, cleansing gel, exfoliating face mask, salt scrub, facial mist, shampoo and conditioner! *whew*

They smell great...personal picks would be the Patchouli Orange, Blood Orange and Orange Blossom Botanical Body Lotions (simply because we only got to try the body lotions that evening, and I’m partial towards citrusy scents!). There’s a huge variety of scents to pick from though, so rest assured there’s a scent to suit everyone.

Kaia – the Kaia Bamboo Facial Cleansing Cloths are brilliant for removing makeup and grime. It’s infused with 8 pure citrus essential oils, organic Canadian honey, sunflower seed oil and oat amino acids…it’s got a mild scent that I’m ambiguous about, but the brand has definitely gone all out for natural packaging. The cloths themselves are 100% biodegradable!

Blinc – what they’ve brought in is the lash primer, mascara, eyebrow mousse and eye shadow in a number of colours. I’ve come across this brand in the past but have never had a chance to try it, so this might be a good time, eh?

Ciracle is another brand that has caught my eye over the years but somehow never got around to trying them…until now. The two that caught my eye was the Jeju Water Sleeping Mask (above), which contains gold flakes (you can probably make out a few if you look at the pic closely). The texture for this mask is similar to that of jelly, which I’m looking forward to trying out!

The other one which I currently have and am going to test out is the Blackhead Cotton Mask, which claims to remove sebum, blackheads and whiteheads without irritation. As for me, I’m more interested to see how this will stack up against my current Skin Food Egg White Pack fave.

Benta Berry is another fun brand that smells exactly like berries (Rinnah likens it to Ribena!). The kit you see above is made for both boys and girls, and even comes in a transparent pouch so that you can pack it in your cabin luggage.

For those that have been raving over Lucas’ Papaw Ointment but don’t like that it’s petroleum-based, this Pure Papaya Ointment with Calendula may be your answer. Personally, I prefer the smell of Lucas to this one, but in the end it boils down to personal preference since Rinnah seems to prefer the smell of this one!

I think most people would be familiar with at least one of one of the salves and balms from the Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith’s range. There are a number of varieties available that come in cute vintage tins…and yes, I’m such a sucker for cute packaging!

If you’re not into the tins or need them to be more travel- or handbag-friendly, some of the salves and balms now come in tubes – easy peasy to tote around.

I guess I kind of saved the best for last, because these are pretty awesome! Move over Sally Hansen, there are now some pretty awesome designs out from Rebel Nails originating from jolly old England. They’re retailing at an affordable SG$15 and come with a guide to help you select the correct size for your nails. Just check out that gorgeous floral print! (and no, I’m not just saying that because it’s *cough* purple…)

Our of all the items above, my absolute favourite of the evening would have had to be Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith’s Menthol and Eucalyptus Balm in a Tin. This salve smells exactly like rootbeer!! *swoons*

Other brands carried by ArglyDuckling include Butter London, Deborah Lippmann, Laqa & Co and Pangea Organics.

Now the good news – ArglyDuckling is currently having a storewide offer of 20% off plus free shipping for all orders above SG$50. New shoppers will need to register to enjoy the offer, while existing customers will be sent a code via email. This is a limited time offer so if you want anything you’d better high-tail it over there! :D

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Fabulous Finds – Malaysia’s first beauty box that will have you looking AND feeling good…

In the past year, I’ve probably written a fair bit about beauty boxes since I subscribed to Bella Box and had that fun group post about what I’d put into my beauty box. The sentiment among most were lamenting the lack of a beauty box service in Malaysia, but today I’m happy to let you know Fabulous Finds has launched Malaysia’s first beauty box service!

For RM35 a month, you’ll get a pretty box containing 4 – 5 deluxe beauty samples from high-end and niche brands delivered to your doorstep. Items in the box are varied and can range from skincare, bodycare, nailcare, fragrances, cosmetics to haircare.

A couple of weeks back, a group of us were invited to a preview of the first box, which will be sent out in July. The contents of each melon-pink box is wrapped with silver paper, a ribbon and sticker – very pretty, and I’d love getting it as a gift. The box is also great for storing other knickknacks, although I’m not sure what I’d do when they start piling up! (get more stuff to fill them? oops…)

Here’s a peek into what you can expect for the July box:
  • Beaubelle CLARITY Brightening Cleansing Exfoliator
  • Beaubelle GORGEOUS Multi Defence Protection Cream
  • Burt’s Bees Cranberry & Pomegranate Scrub
  • Burt’s Bees Milk & Honey Body Lotion
  • Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturising Cream
  • Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional
  • Crabtree & Evelyn Iris Ultra-moisturising Hand Therapy
  • Lunasol Skin Fusing Powder Foundation
  • Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil

On the whole, I’d say it’s not bad for a first box – the full-size Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy is a firm favourite of mine, and I’m looking forward to trying the Lunasol foundation. :D

The feel good part? Beyond just enjoying the products in the box, Fabulous Finds is also giving back to the community with their boxes. Each box is packed by women who come from disadvantaged backgrounds (single mothers, widows) which help to supplement their often meagre incomes. This is a big plus in my book as I think it's a nice gesture.

The Fabulous Finds boxes are now available for subscription from and can be purchased up to 14 July 2012, as the boxes will be shipped out to subscribers on 15 July. There are a total of 180 boxes available for July, and subsequently 200 boxes per month on a first come, first served basis.

There are 2 options for subscription:
Monthly – RM35 per month recurring payment
Annual – RM420 one-time payment (you’ll get a free box ie. 13 in total, and it’s transferable)

You can also opt to gift a friend or family member a Fabulous Finds subscription in denominations of three, six or twelve months.

What are your thoughts about Malaysia’s first beauty box service?

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