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In May 2017 a brand new swimwear company was launched by Yasra Jaleel called Kandumathi, her designs of both bikini’s and costumes are beautifully made to sit perfectly on the female form.

Yasra’s latest designs are contemporary in style, and all are exquisitely crafted with beautiful finishing touches that offer a quality statement, and some of her bikini’s are uniquely mismatched in design.

Let us delve deeper into the mind of Yasra Jaleel to find out more about Kandumathi for the House of Coco Magazine #WomenWorldwide and #BossBabe interview series.

Q. Where did the name Kandumathi derive from?

A. Kandumathi is a Maldivian brand, specialising in bespoke swimwear. Kandumathi is a Maldivian phrase which invokes the ocean, and embodies the vulnerable, yet enduring nature of island life. We take inspiration from our natural environment and our culture, and work with local artists and designers to produce our unique look.

Q. Kandumathi is a Maldivian swimwear label, can you tell us the history, are you personally from the Maldives?

A. Kandumathi the brand was registered first in the Maldives in 2016 and then in London in 2017. I run the company along with my brother. Yes, I was born in the Maldives and moved to England in 2001. We have been running the company both in the Maldives and England since then. We have now been selling in 28 luxury resorts in the Maldives and across the globe.

Our Kandumathi philosophy is to use Maldivian art and artists, and we collaborate with local artists from the Maldives to create our unique designs. All our collections are water colour paintings by Maldivian artists Nadee Rachey and designed into swimwear by myself and Ahmed Fauzan. All our designs so far reflect the ocean around us, and marine life. Like the name of the brand, Maldivian life is firmly intertwined with the ocean.

Q. All the Kandumathi designs are eponymous with ethereal free flowing materials, can you tell us what materials you have used for your latest collection?

A. We are currently working with a manufacturer in Srilanka who uses recycled Nylon to produce swimwear and we are very excited to be able to work with sustainable material. As a brand from the Maldives, we understand the affects of plastic pollution and the damages it causes to our environment, and the great need for finding sustainable solutions.

Q. You are London-based, do you have a core British market that you sell to or do you mainly sell overseas?

A. Our main market is the tourist resorts in the Maldives and just recently we have started to sell across the globe. Although we are very young brand, we have been lucky to hold our swimwear in different outlets in London and New York.

Q. Your designs are beautiful and bold, do you design everything yourself, and what are this seasons styles?

A. We try not to focus on style seasons. We are influenced by the fact that the Maldives does not have the typical western seasons, and so our clothes don’t change from season to season. We also made a conscious decision not to create too many products too fast, as we understand the effects of manufacturing on the environment. We are also lucky to be in the Maldives as our resort customers change regularly and our first two collections have been doing very well.

Q. Can we ask when you are at your most creative design-wise; are you a morning, afternoon or evening designer? And, where do your design-ideas come from?

A. I am based in London and my work hours are a bit hectic as it is spread out in different time zones. I usually do office work during the day. My typical work day starts around 6am as Maldives is 5 hours ahead and continue to work through 9-5 London time. I believe I’m constantly inspired and I typically have a clear idea of what I want my designs to look like. The most fun part of my job is doing research on our designs, and learning about the marine life and it’s surroundings. For example for our latest collection we used sea shells and I had to learn about the formation of sea shells, it’s characteristics , life cycles as well as the designs on the shells. This work also teaches me more about the Maldives and its atoll formations, coral reefs, mangroves so on and so forth. We try and keep our designs very specific to Maldives.

Q. HOC. If you weren’t designing swimwear, what would you be doing right now?

A. I used to be a filmmaker before I started Kandumathi. I believe running this business is very similar to being a film producer. I would like to think that I am good at bringing together creative people and working with artists. I also have a strong idea of exactly what I want and I believe it is easy for the artists to work with me too.

Q. What are your immediate plans for Kandumathi in the next few years, do you intend on expanding to new markets?

A. Our immediate plans are to expand Kandumathi across the globe as much as we can and also start creating men’s collection.

Q. Did anyone offer you any strong business advice before you embarked on launching your swimwear brand?

A. I’m lucky to be surrounded by strong business minds within my family. I was brought up to believe in hard work, and if you work hard enough, you can do anything and to always dream big. I was very anxious when I started Kandumathi as I do not have any business background and have always been more of a creative person. Of course we’ve made some mistakes along the way but I always think twice before taking big risks; I am a cautious person. It also helps that I have my brother to bounce off ideas, as there is no one who would be more honest with me than my brother. It also helps that I know if I were to make a mistake he will always have my back.

Q. What piece of advice would you give someone looking to get into the swimwear industry?

A. My advice to anyone who wants to start a swimwear business is to pay attention to the female body and try not to focus too much on what other people are doing. Have a concrete idea and stick to it.
And always rely on the people who work with you and trust your gut as well as the people you work with.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all our #WomenWorldwide questions for the #Bossbabe series at House of Coco Magazine online.

Visit www.kandumathi.com for more information. Instagram @kandumathi.
#BossBabe #WomenWorldwide #GirlBoss

Merely eating creates cherished memories in the Maldives. While anything is possible at the request of a butler – whether a gourmet picnic on a Dhoni at sunset or breakfast on the deck of your private villa – House of Coco has discovered five incredible dining experiences at Niyama Private Islands, Naladhu Private Island and Anantara Dhigu.

Gaze at a jaw-dropping sunset

There aren’t many things that will make even the most anxious of people chill out instantly like calming waters, and Edge at Niyama Private Islands takes advantage of the smooth moves of the Indian Ocean by offering one of the best spots to have sundowners in the Maldives.

Each evening a DJ greets guests arriving by boat from the main islands five minutes away. Once the sun goes down the restaurant opens for a dinner service that showcases succulent seafood and where chefs specialise in creating contemporary culinary masterpieces.

Have lunch underwater

If freshly caught seafood is your thing, below Edge lies signature fine-dining restaurant Subsix which not only serves up creatures of the ocean but delights with panoramas of clownfish, parrotfish, angelfish… and even sharks have been spotted.

It’s one kilometer of the shore of Niyama Private Islands and, as the name suggests, is six metres underwater. Subsix’s aquatic-themed décor of black rubber chairs that resemble sea urchins and pearly ceiling decorations, will make you feel like you are lounging on the reef with the marine you can see in front of your eyes.

Chow down beside sharks

While you might spot sharks at Niyama, there’s ample opportunity to gaze at the creatures while dining on Anantara Dhigu. Waterside Sea.Fire.Salt – famous for its Salt Guru who pairs 16 types of salt from around the world with dishes – allows diners to bite into their popular charcoal base cheese pizza while they swim the waters lit up by romantic torches.

Head upstairs first for some eggplant lasagne, octopus and burrata sharing starters and enjoy and advantageous view of the fins from the balcony.

Eat Thai food in a treehouse

Truly feel among nature at Nest, which does a Teppanyaki downstairs and serves Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Indonesian cuisines upstairs in their treehouse-style restaurant at Niyama Private Islands. Guests cycle, walk or arrive by buggy at the quirky place illuminated by soft lamps. While the fruit bats are away, order Tom Yum soup heated at the table in a Bunsen burner-style contrapment, and crunch on prawn crackers until your curry or pad Thai arrives. The Dim Sum and mango and black sticky rice dessert are highly recommended.

Be transported to Africa

Take a culinary journey to the continent with a visit to Tribal at Niyama Private Islands where flavors of Latin America are incorporated with the likes of chimichurri and chipotle. A Masaai warrior greets diners and African tunes provide the soundtrack to to the night as guests try adventurous eating with game dishes and ostrich on the menu.

Once a week, the experience is taken outside of the wooden hut-style structure and onto the beach where their displayed aged meats are barbecued under the stars.

Create your own experience

Anantara Dhigu offers private dining experiences in stunning outdoor settings, from a deserted stretch of beach to a billowing faree tent under the stars. Guests simply make arrangements with their House Master who will take care of all the fine details with the Anantara team.

Naladhu Private Island’s main restaurant, The Living Room, specialises in fresh, seasonal cuisine, in a classic setting overlooking the lagoon. Guests can organise set meals and banquets for group dining across the island, whether by the infinity pool or a private dining affair in the Coconut Grove.

Music makes the world go round and no one knows that better than Sarah Story who I met on a dancefloor in Leeds many years ago. As girl bosses go – she is leading. From her weekly show at Capital DJ sets at Lovebox and Hideout – I turned down the volume to sit and catch up with Sarah.

Sarah thanks for joining me – you’ve been serving some serious looks on your Instagram – who are your fashion inspirations?

Kendal Jenner is a dream, she is beautiful with amazing style. I also love Alexa Chung, she’s flawless and manages to pull off any look.

Also Annie who runs a shop in Ibiza called ‘Annie’s Ibiza’ she has some amazing pieces. I discovered it last summer and I have bought 2 pieces already. I love that she models some of the pieces herself and always gets customers involved on her insta stories who are trying things on in the shop

What’s your go to key piece of clothing?

High waisted blue jeans from & Other Stories, I love them so much I’ve got 2 pairs. They can be dressed up or down and are really flattering.

How important is it to you that we influence and inspire the youth of today ? And what do you do to achieve that?

I think it’s crucial we influence and inspire the youth of today in all aspects of life from fashion to politics (although we’re not doing a great job at politics right now).

I’ve been working as a Radio Presenter for 5 years now and I have wanted to pass on my experience and knowledge to the younger presenters coming through the ranks.

It’s such a tough industry to crack so I have been hosting panels for BBC Bitesize in schools around Yorkshire to give advice on how to get into the creative industry. I am also a mentor for the Soho House Open House mentoring programme which helps young adults from under privileged backgrounds get help working in the creative world.

What has been your perfect holiday so far?

In 2018 I went away with 3 of my best mates to Ibiza. It’s an island I (and most other people) have been obsessed with for years. We went for 7 days and we went out ALOT ! The first night was spent at Café Mambos, Pikes then Defected. Monday was Flower Power at Pacha and Tuesday was a Katermeran to Formentra. Wednesday was Honey Djon at Pikes and Thursday was drinks in Dalt Villa and shopping at Annie’s Ibiza. Friday was Glitterbox closing party and then Saturday back to Pikes for Artworks residency. Needless to say we loved Pikes so much we’ve booked the whole weekend to stay for my birthday this year. Ibiza has changed so much over the years but the spirit is still there

What are your handbag essentials when abroad?

Chanel Red lips stick, Clarins lip comfort oil, sunglasses, suncream and a charger with converter!

Ideal holiday destination – tell us your hit list of places you want to visit!

Bali is on my hit list and I’m planning to go in 2020. I’ve heard mixed reviews but I need to go and see it for myself. I also want to visit Santorini, we’ve all seen the beautiful pictures on our Instagram feeds, it looks stunning! Japan is somewhere I’ve always been intrigued by, the fashion the food and the karaoke! And I really want to go see the northern lights.

How do you detox from social media?

The best thing to do if you’re on holiday is keep your phone in the safe in the hotel room then you can’t check it. There’s something really liberating about not having a phone on you… well until you need to book a taxi! At home I try and not look at my social media if I have guests over…if you really want to just de-activate your account!

If you could invite 4 women past or present over for dinner who would they be and why?

Marilyn Monroe – I’ve always thought she was the most beautiful women to walk the planet. She was so sexy and powerful and she would have SO many stories to tell!

Joanna Lumley – I think she is just fabulous and expect her to act like Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous… pass the bolly darling!

Beyoncé – because it’s Beyoncé! She is the ultimate pop star and entrepreneur and of course I would make her sing for her dinner.

Sara Cox – she is someone I’ve grown up listening to on the radio and is the whole reason I got into radio. I absolutely LOVE her! We would definitely drink too much wine and dance on the tables.

When you were a little girl – what did you want to be?

Either a Spice Girl or a Radio Presenter. 1 out of the 2 isn’t bad.

Tell us about a hidden gem where you live!

There is a beautiful cake shop in Hackney called Violet, it makes the most incredible cakes. They actually made the Royal Wedding cake for Megan & Harry. From the outside it looks just like a bog standard cafe but inside it’s lush!

It’s the end of the world – you can do three things before you leave the earth – what are they!?

Go to Maldives & stay in one of those amazing hotel rooms that has a slide that goes from your room to the sea.

DJ at Amnesia

Get on the rocket that is getting us all the hell out of here!

What is the one song that has you go straight to the dance floor ?

Donna Summer – I feel love

A yoga course can provide you with the mental clarity and physical improvements needed to return home fully refreshed.

Yoga retreats are a great way to reset and recharge the mind, here’s our round up of our top five places to experience yoga, relax and reclaim yourself.

Rebalance the mind and body in Tuscany

Nestled in Tuscany is Grotta Giusti, one of the world’s most unusual wellness offerings; yoga in a millennial thermal cave with natural therapeutic steam baths. The historic Tuscan spa retreat is home to an ancient Grotto – a millennial thermal cave and a thermal underground hot spring lake – which famed composer, Giuseppe Verdi, regarded as “the eighth wonder of the world”.

In this ancient wonder, the hotel now offers thermal yoga classes with a qualified instructor. Yoga practiced in the natural warmth of this underground labyrinth amplifies sensations, aids concentration and raises body temperature whilst guests benefit from the therapeutic effects of the cave’s thermal vapours.

The water running through the Grotto is rich in salt, sulphate, and alkaline earth and comes out of the ground at around 34°C. Its vapours generate a steam bath that provides effective treatment for respiratory, circulatory, osteo-muscular, nervous, and skin complaints.

Classes can be booked individually, or guests can book the hotel’s two night thermal yoga experience. This special package includes a choice of scuba diving or floating therapy in the underground hot spring lake; floating therapy is a deeply relaxing and highly effective treatment for relieving pain and combating stress. Grotta Giusti is the only hotel in Europe to have an underground thermal cave and hot spring lake within its grounds and there is no experience quite like diving into its warm, thermal waters. The thermal yoga follows the floating therapy or scuba diving, with the once-in-a-lifetime experience topped off with an Ayurvedic Massage.

Guests booking the package will also enjoy full access to the hotel’s thermal hot spring swimming pools and bioaquam circuit, fitness centre and guided morning hike. Finally, dinner is included both nights, one a la carte dinner and one special and very indulgent tasting dinner.

Rates for the two-night thermal spa package start from €664 (£576*) per person based on double-occupancy. Rates include two nights B&B, one a la carte dinner at the newly refurbished La Veranda restaurant, one tasting dinner, thermal swimming pool and bioaquam circuit, a 50-minute thermal yoga class, 90-minute scuba diving or spa floating and a 50-minute Ayurveda massage. For further information or to book please email booking@grottagiustiapa.com or call +39 0572 90771. *Price in pound sterling accurate according to today’s exchange rate.

Unplug in India

Ananda in the Himalayas is a world-renowned wellness retreat, located at the foot of the Himalayas in India. Their group yoga retreats are the ideal place relax and find balance. Set among 100 acres of virgin forest, Ananda enjoys views of the mountains, the valley of the holy town of Rishikesh and the river Ganges.

Each morning opens with a two-hour yoga practice, including Asana, Pranayama and Mantra chanting. Daily theory sessions will address Yogic philosophy and concepts, while meditation sessions will assist in the relaxation of body and mind. Yogi enthusiasts can enhance their practice with personalised yoga sessions, yoga nidra and Pranayama. The delicious Ayurvedic cuisine (with menus personalised according to your dosha or body type) ensures successful weight loss or healing and rejuvenation. Beyond the destination spa itself, explore the Himalayan foothills with mountains treks, guided nature walks and white water rafting.

Group Yoga Retreats cost from $2,700pp (*£2,154.60), based on two sharing. For enquiries and bookings, visit www.anandaspa.com *Price in pound sterling accurate according to today’s exchange rate.

Declutter your mind in the Maldives

The Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru – the first to introduce AntiGravity yoga, a Yoga Energy Trail, and Panchakarma to the Maldives – is the world’s first Resort to offer Yoga Therapy Courses: personalised condition-targeting programmes devised in conjunction with S-VYASA, the world’s first “university for yoga” and pioneer of yoga therapy through scientific research.

Each three or five day programme begins and ends with consultations – including comprehensive questionnaires – to help align each course to individual needs and lifestyle. Daily 60-minute sessions then teach bespoke breathing techniques and postures designed for each ailment, aim, injury or intention.

Starting modules target specific common ailments and lifestyle diseases – Stress Management, Diabetes Care, Spinal Care, Thyroid Health, Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Addiction Management – across Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced levels.

Guests are invited to consult with the Resort’s Yogis to tailor a programme to suit other symptoms too, as well as any combination of the above. Follow-up care and support come in the form of personal video conference sessions, as well as on-site access to complementary Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat treatments, classes and cuisines.

The course starts at $650 (£518) + 23.2% taxes for a 3-day programme per person. For more information visit www.fourseasons.com

Get Mindful in Morocco

Escape the daily grind and restore and replenish your mind, body and spirit. Set in a charming riad on the beach in Essaouira, this three-night stay combines yoga, meditation and wellbeing workshops guaranteed to leave you coming away feeling refreshed and reset. This really is a mini mind break, the programme is run by a yoga teacher and wellbeing coach who have designed a retreat to disconnect, change habits and redesign your mindset. Start your day with meditation on the roof terrace followed by breakfast. Following breakfast your days are filled with a range of wellbeing activities from yoga, wellness workshops to surfing and mindful walks on the beach then wind down at the end of the day with the option of a relaxing massage and dinner.

Feast on all the flavours of Morocco during your stay and experience fresh, locally sourced traditional food in this chilled out setting right on the beach.

Bookings now open for 2020. Rates for three-nights package start at £565 pp including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Spa and surf experiences are an extra cost and booked on arrival. For more information visit www.frenchyogagarden.com

Combine yoga and forest bathing in Japan

Head to Japan for a retreat with top London yoga teacher Adam Husler. Your break begins in the beautiful forested Chūbu region, staying at a tranquil health farm surrounded by the highest mountains in Japan, including the glorious Mount Fuji. Here immerse yourself in a powerful combination of dynamic yoga, meditation, forest bathing and hiking. Then travel to a charming mountain village in Nagano region to explore temples and lakes, eat traditional Japanese food and soak in the local onsen.

For a four night stay prices start at £1,995 pp for more information visit www.reclaimyourself.co.uk

If you are feeling all loved up after Valentine’s Day and the break in the weather has you dreaming of sunnier climes, then now is a good time to book a romantic trip with your loved one. Team Coco has compiled some of the best sunshine hot tub breaks because there’s nothing that says relax and romance than a hot tub on your balcony. Sink into the bubbles and sip an ice cold glass of champagne and watch the sun go down in style.

Here’s our top five far flung hot tub stays.

The stunning all-inclusive Kuredu Island resort in the Maldives spans across over 3km of white sandy beaches and has an extensive selection of facilities including a spa, a six-hole golf course, and a water sports centre. However, it’s Kuredu’s Jacuzzi Beach Villas that make for a fantastic Maldives holiday. The villas come with a spacious bedroom, a snug sitting area plus a beautifully designed bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath tub – perfectly placed to watch the sunset from.

Prices from £1,289 per person for a 7-night stay, in a Jacuzzi Beach Villa on a full board basis with return flights. Valid for travel on selected dates 1 to 30 June 2019. Based on 2 adults sharing a room. Price based on flights from London Gatwick and London Stansted, supplements may apply for other departure airports.

Situated on stilts and extending over the turquoise waters of the lagoon, the Jacuzzi Water Villas at Olhuveli Beach and Spa resort in Mauritius offers waves of luxury and privacy. Lavish furnishing within the Jacuzzi Water Villa provides cool contentment while a Jacuzzi bath on the spacious, private sun deck lends a unique feature with views across the picturesque Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, the luxurious bathroom comes with a rain shower and roll-top bathtub that also offers uninterrupted views of the lagoon beyond.
Prices from £1,999 per person for a 7-night stay, in a Sunset Jacuzzi Water Villa on a full board basis with return flights. Valid for travel on selected dates 1 to 30 June 2019. Based on 2 adults sharing a room. Price based on flights from London Gatwick and London Stansted, supplements may apply for other departure airports.

Sitting on the bronzed sand of Negombo Beach, 5-star Jetwing Blue Resort in Sri Lanka boasts 2 spectacular outdoor pools, a spa and 2 dining restaurants. The Suite offers unmatched views of the Indian Ocean from a large timber-floored balcony that acts as an outdoor lounge, with the lavish inclusion of a Jacuzzi in the skies. The opulent beachfront rooms have also been stylishly designed to complement the stunning seascape with a modern aesthetic, along with the addition of a personalised butler service for the ultimate luxury experience.
Prices from £1,615 per person for a 7-night stay, in a Suite with breakfast and return flights. Valid for travel on selected dates 1 to 30 June 2019. Book by 28 February 2019. Based on 2 adults.

Banish the winter blues in Bali at Puri Santrian. Nestled along the golden shores of Sanur Beach in Bali, only a 15-minute drive from Denpasar Town, Puri Santrian boasts 2 spectacular outdoor pools, free Wi-Fi and a spa. The Santrian Club Room is set in stunning landscaped gardens with private pool & jacuzzi (for Santrian Club guests only). The interior of Santrian Club rooms reflects the influence of traditional Balinese style, culture and comfort.
Prices from £999 per person for a 7-night stay, in a Santrian Club Room with breakfast and return flights. Valid for travel on selected dates 1 May to 30 June 2019. Book by 28 February 2019. Based on 2 adults sharing a room. Price based on flights from London Gatwick and London Stansted, supplements may apply for other departure airports.

The Sarojin, Thailand offers a lush tropical garden setting with direct access to a secluded beach area. The Jacuzzi Pool Suite is privately tucked away on the upper floor of each building. Truly luxurious and spacious, offering a home away from home, the suite is complete with a stunning outdoor jacuzzi pool pavilion (for 4 people) on an outdoor sun terrace overlooking the lush tropical gardens
Prices from £1,279 per person for a 7-night stay, in a Jacuzzi Pool Suite with breakfast and return flights. Valid for travel on selected dates 5 to 15 May 2019. Book by 28 February 2019. Based on 2 adults sharing a room. Price based on flights from London Gatwick and London Stansted, supplements may apply for other departure airports.

All holiday packages are subject to availability, to book visit www.emiratesholidays.com or call 0208 972 8949

Here at HOC finding new places to show our readers is the most important thing, so when we found out about the brand new resort located North of Male Atoll providing luxury and beyond, we had to check it out. OBLU Select, Sangali… HOC have arrived!

Oblu Select has been open since July 2018 and sits under the Atmosphere Hotel umbrella, so it came with no surprise that in its first week of opening it reached full capacity. Atmosphere Hotels has an already established portfolio and is a well-known brand in luxury resort world, so we knew we were in good company with this trip.

We landed to the warm breeze of the Maldives and took an excited breath at the prospect of a few days full of indulgence with OBLU Select. The transfer from the airport via speedboat was made easy by well directed signs to the OBLU Select arrival desk and 50 minutes later, we were welcomed onto the resort by their wonderful staff. Our room was a villa with a private pool and a secluded walkway onto the beach, it was past 11pm so it was dark but we knew we had a seriously amazing view to wake up to. After nibbling on welcome snacks we hit the sack, spiralling off into a dream of comfort and the knowledge that utter relaxation awaited us (except for the work bit, of course!).

Deluxe Villa with pool at OBLU Select

Our first full day was kickstarted by eagerly jumping out of bed, the night time arrival added to the suspense of how beautiful this resort really is as we were greeted by pure white sand and turquoise waters, whilst our very own pool glistening away in the sun. Their Deluxe Villas are just that, deluxe.

Each room comes equipped with an incredibly detailed ‘resort bible’ which outlines everything you need to know for the duration of your stay including, The Serenity Plan. This plan is what makes your stay hassle-free – it’s a holiday package that focuses on offering the guests everything they will need for an enjoyable stay with OBLU Select. As part of this plan you will have all your food and drink included, as well as dining experiences in their two on-site restaurants, Just veg and Just Grill. On top of that (and dependent on your length of stay) you will be entitled to excursions such as snorkelling or sports activities – it’s a perfect plan because it offers guests that little bit extra. Some of the diving activities are not included with the plan such as swimming with turtles and manta rays. We paid the extra $120 per person for a 5 hour snorkelling session and we couldn’t have been more satisfied.

Water Villas at OBLU Select

We were lucky enough to experience one of those oh-so-famous water bungalows that the Maldives is so well know for and in true OBLU style they were very, very impressive. With all the same features and funky interiors as the deluxe villas, they just had the added wow factor steps leading into the ocean off the back veranda – it was absolutely beautiful and meant you could snorkel off the back of your villa with ease. What a life!

Snorkelling at OBLU SELECT

An 8am start when you’re on holiday is totally OK when you’re in with the chance with swimming with the beautifully majestic Manta Rays and here at OBLU Select, it’s one of the most sought after snorkelling excursions. We headed out to Rasfari Reef under the knowledgeable eye of on-site Marine Biologist and Dive Master, Mat and his team. It takes 1 hour 20 minutes to reach the snorkelling destination which means you can enjoy the ocean breeze and take in those pretty blue views on the top deck. Prior to slipping into the sea to kickstart the snorkel session we had a detailed overview of how to swim with mantas by Mat which was thorough and thoughtful – it was very impressive to see how concerned the resort are about the welfare of the marine life that surrounds the island and we felt in good hands! We were in luck that day as we spotted two graceful manta rays having a clean (where we snorkelled is a popular manta ray cleaning station). It was a really fantastic morning and a definite highlight to our stay.

Eating at OBLU SELECT

During our stay we were able to experience OBLU Select’s three restaurants: the main buffet restaurant, The Courtyard then Just veg and Just Grill for a more fine dining experience. All three, we have to say, were amazing.

The Courtyard

There is nowhere like an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s the only place where mixing international dishes is a total must-do and we of course, couldn’t help ourselves. Each dish felt ‘a la carte’ and the strong team of chefs running the on-display kitchen clearly took pride in their work. From Sri Lankan curries to exceptional fish dishes and classic pizza choices, its rotating menu was full of variety – this was the same from breakfast through to dinner. Whether it’s the different types of butter available (buckwheat butter… olive butter… – you name it, it’s there!) or the daily fresh fish choices, it’s the finer details that contribute to the success of the resorts dining options.

Just Veg

Located on the West coast of the island and also perched on a solitary island, Just Veg is the resorts vegetarian restaurant. It redefines modern veggie cuisine by combining original recipes with surprising flavour twists and we can safely say, it was a mouth-watering experience. You did not miss the meat at all and it fuelled the desire to focus on a meat-free diet once we had left the resort.

The menus were displayed to us on I-pads which was another way the island focused their attention on producing un-necessary paper and plastic – it also felt incredibly swanky. We devoured a delicious Maldivian curry with pumpkin and a mushroom fungi followed by desserts so tantalising we still can’t stop thinking about them. In addition to its dreamy menu, the restaurant offers incredible sunset views and allows you to check out the awe-inspiring ocean from another angle.

Just Grill

Just Grill is situated in the same breathtaking location as Just Veg and is a combination of fresh seafood and meat selections, all grilled to perfection by OBLU Select’s incredible team of chefs. It was yet again an impressive meal but Just Veg had the edge for us. Its menu felt that bit more exciting and unexpected and really opened our eyes in terms of how delicious vegetarian dishes can be.

Honeymooning at OBLU Select

We were lucky enough to get a sneaky tour of the honeymoon hideaways and instantly wished we were hauled up in one of those beautiful suites – they had romance written all over them. With a luxurious round bed, a bathroom as big as a house, and an Instagrammable infinity pool, these Honeymoon Water Suites oozed serious wow factor. The minimum stay is three nights and you’ll be in for a real treat as some of the extras include butler service, a couples massage and breakfast in bed. Some one find us a husband, pronto!

Going that extra mile at OBLU Select

Extra touches, room:

Scales in the bathroom / Torch / Snack and drinks replenished daily / The White Company toiletries / Chocolates on the pillows / Dressing gowns

Extra touches, resort:

On-site shop / A vegetarian restaurant / No plastic – all glass bottles / Doctor on call / A marine Biologist on site / Water excursions / The Serenity Plan

Why you should pick OBLU Select, Maldives as your choice of vacay in 2019

The OBLU Select is a four-star deluxe resort with a five-star service, from its friendly staff to its awe-inspiring views, it is a magical place where the guests truly come first. So whether you’re a honeymooner after a slice of paradise, a family looking to escape the chaos of everyday life or a couple hoping to recharge, OBLU Select and their exquisite serenity plan is the place to come, unwind and just feel totally and utterly serene. It will be worth every penny.

OBLU SelectSangeli Island,North Male’ Atoll,The Maldiveswww.oblu-sangeli.comEmail : sales@oblu-sangeli.comPhone : (+960) 400 4501

How many times have you wished you could find everything you need under one roof? Taking the stress away when you’re already dealing with trying to plan all the other things that come along with organising your wedding or special event. Let’s be honest, weddings and special occasion events can be a little overwhelming.

This was how Sarah – the owner and founder of Beau Bridals felt when she was planning her dream wedding. She felt slightly overwhelmed and confused as she had always thought she knew the bridal look she wanted. She couldn’t find the products to put together ‘the picture’ all of us women get into our head when we visualise the look we want for that very special day or special occasion we are attending. She also felt slightly frustrated, she was tired of spending numerous hours searching the internet and she had covered many miles visiting bridal retailers – whom mainly specialised in the most beautiful wedding gowns. It became apparent that the choices for bridal jewellery and hair accessories were quite limited.

Here, Sarah tells us more…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?I launched Beau Bridals in early February 2018. Bridal jewellery and hair accessories became my absolute passion when I was planning my own wedding. I really struggled to find my accessories so I wanted to build a place where brides could turn to and find everything they needed under one roof. Beau Bridals soon became a home to many brides across Britain who needed reassurance and outside advice. We love it when brides send us a photo of their dress and ask which jewellery we think would suit it best. We’ve had the most amazing outcomes and never had an unhappy bride. Happy brides mean so much to us and that is the reason why we absolutely love doing what we do.If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?Hmm that’s a really tough one! Actually, no, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Any mistakes are classed as lessons which we learn from. I’m a huge believer in whatever happens was meant to happen to put you on the path you’re on today. I’m grateful that no mistakes have really been made, I’ve tweaked the odd thing but so far, everything has gone really well. Our brides are happy and we have only ever received really lovely, positive feedback.What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?Sleep! During the months leading up to launching I was having 3 hours sleep. My mind was buzzing with ideas. It still is but I’ve learnt to switch off – most of the time. Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?I’m a car fanatic. I grew up with cars being my dads hobby and it was passed onto my brother and I. I’ve only ever met one other women who can excitedly talk about cars for a length of time and that’s my brow artist. She’s awesome!2019 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?Everywhere! The brand has been taken further than I expected during the first 8 months so it’s really exciting to see where Beau Bridals will be in the next 5-10 years. Beau Bridals will be expanding in the coming years. I have so many plans which I never imagined when I initially built ‘The Home of Stunning Bridal Accessories’. I cant really say too much about what our plans are or who’s involved but it’s very exciting and huge.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching? As cliche as it may sound, it’s the happy brides that take the number one spot. Just yesterday day, we received an email from a bride who had bought her tiara and jewellery from us. She sent us her photos of her wedding day and it absolutely made our day. Her email to us was so lovely and its things like that that really make us smile. We love receiving photos from our brides.Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?I love London. New York is on my bucket list and Paris is somewhere I plan to go to, to meet with some amazing designers. Three beauty products you can’t live without?I’m not the type of women to spend lots of time getting ready in the morning so I permanently wear lash extensions created by the lovely Jilly who owns an incredible salon called House of Lashes in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. It was actually Jilly who I told my ideas to about Beau Bridals and her experience and advice pushed me to go from having the ideas to making it happen quicker than I thought I could. She’s a very real, positive, inspirational business women.I also have semi permanent brows done by yet another inspirational, strong and successful business women who i just mentioned called Sarah who owns Yorkshire Cosmetic Laser Clinic. These ladies have made my face pretty much ready to go when I wake up! That being said, i do love to get ‘dolled up’ but not when I’m working in the office or at home.I guess the beauty products I can’t live without are my lash brushes as simple as it sounds! I make sure I have them in my car, my office, bathrooms, handbags you name it and another has to be my teeth whitening. I have a big thing for pearly whites! Style means….?Confidence, personality and individuality. Although, with me being a mum, my style when I’m on the school run is a messy bun, make up free, trainers and something easy. Meetings, work and nights out are my favourite time to play with style. My friends and i are always sending each other links to dresses and shoes etc. We still raid each other’s wardrobes like teenagers and we are in our 30’s.Best thing about London to you?London is special to me because it’s somewhere my husband and I go every year to our special place. I love London, I love the busyness, the ‘anything goes’ fashion and I also love all the different accents! I feel so much freedom in London.

Statement shoe or statement bag?That is such a tough one because I’ve always loved both! Can I choose both? Okay, if I have to choose – shoes.If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?One of my coats, I’m always cold, even in summer. I’m that person that wears a jumper when its 30 degrees!Favourite love song?One direction – little things. My husband is forever singing it to me. It makes me smile every time I hear it.Best place for a coffee?Home! No one can make a coffee like you can yourself.Most memorable pieces of advice given to you that you can pass on?As I’ve got older I tend to only really take advice from people who have good strong morals, people who are living a life I admire, people who run businesses properly and successfully, inspirational people and those who I know genuinely love and want the best for me. I’m surrounded by all these types of people which, I’m really thankful for. I have a few memorable pieces of advice for different areas of my life but my favourites are ‘if you can dream it, you can do it, everything is possible’. It’s actually really true and I think about that pretty much every day. Another really important one – which is very hard to do if you’ve got a soft heart, is to ‘learn to walk away from people and situations that threaten your peace of mind, self-respect, values, morals or self worth’. I’ve learnt to do this over the years and the freedom you feel once having done so is very powerful and the happiness that comes from it is incredible.Guilty pleasure?Reality TV. I’m a sucker for it so i jumped at the chance when i was invited to the National Reality Television Awards in September. We are joining some other amazing businesses there next year and i cant wait to go back and take the girls with me.

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?

In the Maldives, on a hammock over the sea taking it all in.

Find out more…Website – www.beaubridals.comFacebook – @beaubridalsukInstagram – @beau_bridals

Christiane Dowling is an Award-Winning Professional Freelance Makeup Artist based in Sandhurst in Berkshire. Here, the total babe talks to us about her career so far, plans for the future and more…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Christiane Dowling Makeup Artistry was launched in 2016.

As a Makeup Artist I’ve always had very specific ideas regarding both my work and the service that I offer. Because I’m so passionate about what I do my priority was to create a company with the customer at the heart of everything, from the very first point of contact. As well as providing exceptional standards of Makeup Artistry, I’m committed to outstanding customer service. The only way to have 100% freedom to completely implement my own ideas and standards was to work for myself.

My brand bears my name, so it’s really important that Christiane Dowling Makeup Artistry is synonymous with professionalism and quality and that each and every customer leaves feeling delighted with my work and also the experience.

What’s your background?
I feel very privileged to have initially trained classically at the Glauca Rossi School of Fashion & Photographic Makeup in London. Glauca has trained some of the most successful makeup artists in the industry, with several Vogue covers between them. Previous alumni include incredible artists like Charlotte Tilbury, Florrie White and Elisabeth Hseih. I couldn’t have chosen a school with better credentials.

I also graduated from the internationally acclaimed London Makeup School having undertaken specialised training in the fields of Asian and Arabic Makeup and Special Effects (SFX).

It’s very important that I’m versatile and have training over a wide genre of makeup artistry skills to offer my clients the very best in terms of service, as well as industry knowledge and expertise.

In addition, I love to attend events like London Fashion Week Festival and the International Makeup Artist Trade Show at Olympia each year to keep abreast of all the new season trends and product innovation.

How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
For now, just me. I’m the sole owner of Christiane Dowling Makeup Artistry.

As the Company expands, the future will probably necessitate employing more staff depending on the direction that I choose to take it.

If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Although with hindsight there are probably things that I could have done better, I wouldn’t choose to do anything differently. Without making mistakes and dealing with challenges I wouldn’t have the life experience and skills that I do now

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Starting my own business at a young age (I was 19) has not been without its difficulties and the learning curve has been steep.

The last few years have had their challenges, but everything has moved so fast that I’ve hardly had time to stop and reflect. I’m definitely not the same person that I was two years or even 12 months ago. I’m learning all the time and am far more resilient as a result.

Early starts, long days and anti-social hours are not always easy and arriving home to a long “to do list” isn’t the glamourous career that some may envisage. I do feel though that it’s important to be personally involved in and accountable for all aspects of your business, especially in the early years.

Saying that, I could never complain or look back, the payback has been immeasurable. In addition to doing a job that I absolutely love and meeting some incredible people, being my own boss has given me more freedom than it has challenges. I can make my own choices regarding my work/ life balance and working incredibly hard has given me opportunities that I would never otherwise have had.

It might sound clichéd, but I have also been extremely fortunate to have a fantastic network of family and friends who have always supported and encouraged me. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I have an unhealthy addiction to Heinz Tomato Ketchup.

2019 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Increase in brand recognition over the past 12 months has been phenomenal. Growth has been mainly organic, originating from shared client recommendations and positive social media reviews. Hopefully 2019 will be a year of similar expansion, particularly in the Home Counties and London.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Every bride’s face on her wedding day, every bit of positive feedback and every lovely letter.

Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
There are so many beautiful cities in the world that it should be hard to choose, but no place feels as much like home as London.

Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Angela’s Angel plumping lipstick from Mirelle Cosmetics.

Pressed Powder.

A hairbrush!

Style means….?
To me, style is a person. I have always considered my nan to be the embodiment of style and elegance and she is a huge influence in my life, both personally and in my career. She is also my chief co-conspirator in excessive makeup purchases.

Best thing about London to you?
There’s no place quite like London, it has a personality all of its own. No matter what the time of year, looking down at the City from one of the rooftop bars is always breath-taking, especially at night.

Madison at St.Pauls, Aqua Kyoto on Regent Street and Radio Rooftop on The Strand are among my favourite places to enjoy the city’s skyline.

If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear every day?
A classic pair of black jeans. Comfortable, but always stylish.

Favourite love song?
I don’t have one, but if I did I’m sure that it would be something by Ne-Yo.

Best place for a coffee?
Whenever I’m in London, I try to fit in a visit to Élan Café on the Brompton Road. The atmosphere is pretty amazing with stunning ceiling to floor floral displays. The service is great, despite always being busy. Oh, and the coffee’s excellent too!

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Learn from yesterday but live for today. Start each new day with a blank page and write the best story that you can.

Guilty pleasure?
Justin Beiber. I admit it, I’m a Belieber!

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The Maldives. I’ve never been, but it’s 100% on my wish list.

In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
At this stage, I just want to keep moving forward, experiencing life and travel before deciding on the direction I would like to take my business in.

At the moment I’m hands on in all aspects of Christiane Dowling Makeup Artistry and too rapid a growth would ultimately necessitate sharing some of the responsibilities and relinquishing some control. I’d rather do less things exceptionally well, than a lot of things adequately. Quality, reputation and service are all areas that I will never compromise.

In the future, who knows? Every week new opportunities arrive in my inbox and no two days are ever the same. To launch my own label makeup brand would be incredible, but I still have a lot more to learn about the industry. I have A-Levels in Chemistry and Biology, so the science bit has always been of interest to me. Charlotte Tilbury is an incredible inspiration to me personally, having trained at the same Makeup School.

Travelling is also a huge passion, so opportunities to combine travel with work are always worth exploring. Who knows House of Coco, maybe one of your luxury travel expeditions may require a Makeup Artist one day? You know where I am!

Find out more…

Website: https://www.christianedowling.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christianedowlingmakeup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christianedowlingmakeupartistry

Here at House of Coco, there is a never shortage of new places to discover. We round up the best concept hotels in the world; from the Arctic Circle to the caves of Capadoccia. These amazing concept hotels are a must in any traveller’s bucket list – and are all definitely Team Coco approved.

IceHotel, Jukkasjärvi Sweden

Just 200 kilometres north of the Artic Circle, sits the Icehotel – a marvel of both architectural design and natural splendour. The first hotel of its kind, The Icehotel undergoes a metamorphosis every year, with its rooms and being built over the winter and melting away with the coming of spring. The Torne River supplies enough ice (about 4000 tons of ice every ten-seconds), for the Icehotel to rebuild itself every winter. Artists, architects, industrial engineers, and graphic designers from all over the world come to the small village of Jukkasjärvi to take part in the process.

If you are planning to visit the Icehotel in spring don’t fret – The hotel also offers a year round experience with Icehotel365 – all thanks to its solar panels. Icehotel365 is a sprawling 2100 square metre space that houses nine deluxe suites, eleven art suites, a private sauna, and an ice bar — maintained at a constant negative five degrees celsius. In collaboration with Hans Eek, Swedish architect and sustainability designer, Icehotel365 runs from the solar power gained from the midnight sun; thus combining state of the art architecture with a minimal carbon foot print. A unique and sustainable concept that Team Coco can definitely get behind.

Baraza Resort & Spa, The Zanzibar Collection

There are not a lot of destinations in the world that beget the same magic and mystery as Zanzibar. In this idyllic island paradise, the Zanzibar Collection’s selection of luxury five star properties undeniably make for the ultimate island getaway.

On the South Eastern coast of the exotic island, the Baraza Resort & Spa is carefully designed to reflect he island’s stunning natural beauty with the history and culture of the Omani Arabs who inhabited this tropical paradise. The resort boasts thirty luxury villas, each one evoking the magical era of sultans; and filled with exquisite luxury amenities. They also offers a gorgeous Yoga in Paradise concept that combines the benefits of Yoga with an array of island activities including; scuba diving, Swahili cooking lessons, swimming with dolphins, and spa treatments at the world-renowned Frangipani Spa. The Baraza Resort & Spa is definitely on top of our list for a rejuvenating retreat in one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Hotel Heureka, Venice Italy

The recently opened Hotel Heureka is a gorgeous new design hotel concept in Venice, combining grandeur and history. The property dates back to the 16th century, and the renovation has taken into account all the possible modern luxuries any discerning traveller would desire. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live the life of Venetian nobility, then the Hotel Heureka has the perfect atmosphere for you.

Located in the vibrant north western Sestiere of Cannaregio, (it’s the Notting Hill of Venice) the Hotel Heureka lets you experience the decadence of a traditional Venetian palazzo, with its gorgeous Italian mosaics and vaulted ceilings. The hotel overlooks the Madonna dell’Orto canal, and an elegant stone balustrade decorates its classic façade. Built around the layout of a “portego” which is a typical Venetian passage, the Hotel Heureka masterfully maintains the unique dictates of traditional Venetian architecture; and within its classical walls, a twist of contemporary design plays out. With ten beautiful rooms, each one distinct in character with Rubelli silks at the windows, Lacroix tapestries as bedheads, and the most sensational bathrooms, you can be sure that a stay here will be unique. Rather like the art in the house, by Julian Kohl. So, if you ever find yourself in Venice, call in for a fresh Spritz in the private garden; it’s the best place to immerse yourself in the grandiose spirit of this magical city.

Museum Hotel, Capadoccia Turkey

The Museum Hotel sits in a very special region in Cappadocia, and is undeniably one of the most extraordinary hotels in the world. Built within the picturesque stone cliffs of the Tekeli District, the Museum Hotel is a combination of thousand year old historical ruins, natural caves, and stone houses — all impeccably restored for the modern age.

No two rooms in the Museum Hotel are the same. Each of the hotel’s thirty rooms are built from natural yellow stone, and filled with priceless antiquities from the Ottoman, Seljuk, Roman, and Hittite periods. Surrounded by all this history, it is no wonder that the Museum’s Hotel “living museum” concept lives up to its name, with the hotel being the only Relais & Chateaux accredited property in the whole of Turkey. Not to mention, each room boasts panoramic views of the inimitable Capdoccian landscape; where you can see Mt.Ecriyes, the Red Valley, and Love Valley from the distance. Definitely Team Coco approved.

Levin Iglut-Golden Crown, Finland

Theres are very few natural wonders as mesmerising as the Northern lights; and at the Levin Glut-Golden Crown, not only do you get the best view of this rare and beautiful sight, you also get the best glass igloo experience that the Finnish Lapland has to offer.

The family operated Levin Iglut Golden crown is located at a dizzying 340 metres above sea level, at the very top of the Levi Fell and with picturesque views of the Fell Landscape. Their twenty-four glass igloos are roofed over with heated glass and are fully equipped with luxury amenities. If you are travelling in a bigger group, then the Northern Lights House, which features two large double bedrooms, a private sauna and jacuzzi, and a panoramic window for Northern lights viewing — is perfect for you. It seems that every aspect of the Levin Iglut takes advantage of its gorgeous natural surroundings. The hotel’s restaurant, Aurora Sky, allows guests to enjoy locally sourced Scandinavian flavours with an unobstructed view of the spectacular icy landscapes below.

Niyama Private Islands, Maldives

Team Coco loves an island getaway, but the Niyama Private Islands disrupts the luxury island concept over its head with its unparalleled set of culinary experiences. Ever wondered what it was like to have a gourmet meal at the bottom of the sea? Niyama Private Island shows you how.

Set across two private islands connected by a single wooden bridge that traverses the Indian Ocean, this special Maldivian resort in the South-Western atoll of Dhaalu takes barefoot luxury to the next level. The twin islands are appropriately named Play and Chill – each one with their own distinctive feel and exclusive dining experiences. It is an understatement to say that the culinary concepts on offer at Niyama Private Islands are some of the most unique in the world. Tribal is the only African restaurant in the Maldives, while Edge is the hotel’s floating fine dining restaurant set 1 km out at sea. Nest is an Asian fusion restaurant set high above in the tree tops that offers a gravity defying dining experience like no other. On the other end of the spectrum is Subsix – an underwater restaurant that allows Niyama Private Island’s guests to eat at the bottom of the Indian ocean. Niyama Private Islands not only allows guests to experience the paradisiacal surroundings of the Maldives, but also invites them toe expand their culinary boundaries, and should definitely be on any food-lovers bucket list.