Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dreamy sleepover with Kids Party Palace



A surprise sleep over! A very fun and glamorous party set up for three very lucky little girls, thanks to Kids Party Palace.

The setup
Thursday morning, the lovely Kara owner of Kids Party Palace arrived with her team and all the props to set up a dreamy sleepover for Luella, Josefin and her friend. We had agreed on the theme, the number of guests and all the little extra via email previously. You can choose from themes from Sleeping Beauty, Superhero Slumber (cool for boys), Secret Garden, Into the Woods, Dream Racer, Spa Party, Unicorn Magic and Pancakes & PJs. The party package has different options and extra party add-ons are available to create that perfect sleepover party! Within two hours, Kara and her team had set up beautifully our Spa Party with gorgeous teepees, comfy beddings, breakfast trays, twinkling fairy lights, decorative cushions and various styling pieces to make the girl's sleepover super special!



The party
It was a huge surprise on Thursday afternoon, when the girls walked in to find the sleepover set up! The evening was all good laugh, creating special spa treatments with fresh organic ingredients all provided by The Kids Party Palace. We girls watched a movie while snacking on all the treats and the night went by in a blink. As per the girls, beds were cosy and comfortable... It's a such a lovely (and very fancy) idea, a real treat for children! The sleepover was a "goodbye" treat to Luella's dear friends who was leaving Dubai. Definitely memories to cherish. Thank you Kids Party Palace!



For all the details, checkout, www.kidspartypalace.com


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Our family summer vacation in Greece at Grecotel Creta Palace


Back in Dubai, after a beautiful summer in Europe. Like every year, we go back home to South of France and Sweden. The girls absolutely cherish that time of the year with family and friends. This year, we took a little extra time to explore with my side of the family, the Greek island of Crete. One of my favourite things to do is to travel and discover new family friendly destination, and Crete was a lovely surprise. Very welcoming and infinitely generous are the people of Crete. Every single day we experience kindness and unexpected generosity in a very natural manner, never forced always with a true warmth. Here's a little overview of our stay in Crete at the elegant and very friendly, Grecotel Creta Palace.

The resort 
Crete Palace sits on a rocky coastline, about 5 km from the old town of Rethymnon, about 70km from Chania Airport and 78km from Heraklion Airport. From the exterior the hotel is simply stylish, white low rise building surrounded by trees, pretty green lawns and paths fringed by palm trees, rosemary bushes, and local vegetation. The long beach is sandy but becomes pebbly just as you go into the water. There are three swimming pools to choose from at the Creta Palace, including a super-sized main pool, a children’s water-slide pool and an indoor pool by the spa area.

The interior is bright and open, with open windows directing you to the gardens, the pool, restaurants and even a little Greek village square with shops (souvenirs, local produces, beach gear, mini supermarket) and a traditional Greek coffee house. The setting of the resort is just lovely and convenient.



There are over 300 rooms, divided in four categories: Room, Bungalow, Villa and Suite. Unfortunately I did not visit all the options, but we were really delighted with our Deluxe Family Bungalow located on the lawn, close to the pool facing a beautiful sunset. Simple but elegant decor, with marble bathroom (shower only), robes, slippers and a hairdryer, along with air conditioning, an LCD satellite TV, a safe and a fridge. I would strongly recommend to request (at extra cost) the " Famous Class Package" which include some extra advantages like express checking with champagne, personnel escort to your room, welcoming gift including fruits and wine, daily supply of mineral water in the room, twice daily maid service, complimentary tea/ coffee facilities in the room, beach service with water, tea, coffee, juice, fruits. The extra exclusive service from the package also include two invitations (per week) for complimentary a la carte dinner at selected restaurants and spa discount. (details here).






Things to do
The Creta Palace offers activities to keep the whole family happy and entertained. One of the main reasons we choose the resort while searching for our summer holidays was the children friendly facilities and range of activities available. Grecoland, is a well managed kids Club, for ages 4-6 and 7-12 (year-round) and 13-17 (seasonal). Everyday our 4, 9 and 10 years old checked the schedule and worked around the different activities to try, like art & craft, wall climbing, volleyball, table tennis, baking, pool games, sand building, ... While our oldest child 14 years old enrolled in the Arsenal soccer school and made new friends at volleyball training. All the daily activities and evening entertainment scheduled could be accessed via an online portal which was super convient. There is also a water sport centre available on the beach of the hotel. Jetski, pedalo, parasailing, donut ride, banana ride,... lots of beach fun at extra cost.





The Food
The resort offers great food option. We booked half board option, which included a really lovely breakfast buffet located in main restaurant Labyrinth and its terrace. Our morning started in the shaded courtyard with good coffee and nice variety of breakfast selection. We usually skipped lunch and just enjoyed fruit platters and drinks on the beach (part of the Famous Class package). Dinners were at Labyrinth or at à la carte restaurants Barbarossa the seafood restaurant or Golden Dragon for Asian food. I would definitely recommend both options. There is also Zeus + Amalthia, a trendy, blue-lit roof bar perfect for cocktails and sunset view. Also for authentic local food, the Hellas, a traditional kafeneion, serves local firewater raki and meze snacks.

At Cregotel, kids eat free from the Kids Corner, providing food throughout the day, it was super convenient, as our little ones are constant snackers.











The region and sites seeing options
If you are looking to explore the surroundings, Creta Palace Guest Services will be very helpful organising day trips to various destinations with private chauffeur or boat trip along the coast.
The Island of Zeus offers some interesting sites seeing, we enjoyed the Old Town of Rethymno and its pittoresque harbour with multitude of taverns, kafenions and souvenirs shops.

The Holy Arkadi Monastery founded in the 13th century, build around 1587 and expended all through the 19th century is truly beautiful. Located between olive tree, oak trees and vineyard, we absolutely loved exploring its architectural beauty.

Another pointe interest we got to experience was The Museum of Ancient Eleuthera, an on-site museum of Greece in the archaeological park of Eleutherna, and houses artifacts found in the nearby archaeological site of Eleutherna and the necropolis of Orthi Petra.



Next stop... The little town of Margarites, is one of the largest pottery center in Greece. We visited a lovely traditional family pottery workshop Tsikalario, where our children could experience clay and a bit of ceramic history. Perfect spots to grab a few souvenirs and little gifts for friends back home. In the village, we stopped at a little taverna for simple lunch under the oak trees.

We took the road again for another 20 minutes to reach the Melidoni Cave, absolutely fascinating underground caves with stalagmites formations were mesmerising for adults and children. The site is rich in history, a quite tragic story during the war with the Turks in the 19th century.



Another favourite day of our summer holidays in Crete was the boat trip to explore the coast, jump of the boat, snorkel and enjoy the true beauty of the Island of Zeus. This was also organised via our hotel in a perfect manner.


While staying in Crete, you must experience the famous traditional cuisine and the mixture of old-world charm and lively Cretan life. The AgrecoFarms, traditional farm located around 5 km from the hotel will deliver this unique experience - a true Greek hospitality. The farm is gorgeous, nestled between olive trees and vineyards, it's a beautiful example of environmentally friendly methods for traditional and modern cultivation. We had a delicious, very copious dinner followed by some traditional folklore dancing. A fantastic evening!



The lowdown and little extra you need to know...
♥ Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands. It's mountainous and rocky with abundance of olive trees and vineyards. Rich in history and various influences Roman, Byzantine Empire, Venitian, Ottoman ...

♥ The resort best feature was definitely the friendliness and efficiency of all the staff.

♥ Food was super from daily buffet to a la carte dinner. Nothing to disappoint.

♥ There is activities and entertainment throughout the day to keep everyone busy. It's also a place to rest and chill out. There are few sites seeing opportunities within an hour radius but longer distance will also take you hydilic beaches with crystal Caribbean-like water. Balos, Elafonissi, Falassarna are known to be of stunning natural beauty but quite touristic during the summer months so we decided to avoid them.

♥ The resort is beach is nice but can be a little rough with some strong current. It's a Blue Flag-awarded beach. Sandy with pebbles into the water, I would recommend wearing water shoes or slippers for comfort.

♥ The kids pool with fun slides, located close to the kids club need renovations at the time of our visit.

♥ I would recommend doing a little "homework" before booking to choose your accommodation and plan. Again we suggested the upgrade to "Famous Class Package"

♥ The resort is working to be eco friendly with recycling bins and encouraging the Sea Turtle Protection initiative on the beach (and within the children kids club activities). Plastic cups and straws were still in used around the pool/beach but after requesting alternative the staff made sure to provide us with reusable, non disposable options.

♥ We would love to visit again! Hope this is helpful. Feel free to DM if you have questions.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Zip Water Hydro tap - Instant filtered, chilled, boiling and sparkling water for your Dubai home



About two years ago, we had what I called a mini revolution in our house. A life changing update to our daily life as a family. I wrote a blog post about it then, but today I would like to give you a little update. We consume a lot of water, we use to buy bottled water (1.5L and 50ml) and also have a dispenser in the kitchen with a scheduled weekly home delivery of gallons containers. This was our set up for years. As a Dubai family, we understand the importance of drinking the right amount of water in this climate. Not like back home in Sweden, tap water is not an option for me here in the UAE : “Tap water is completely safe to drink at the time of dispatch. But, the tanks must be cleaned systematically, at least once in six months, to ensure it is unpolluted. Commercial tanks are monitored by us, but not the residential ones,” said Bobby Krishna, Principal Food Studies Officer at Dubai Municipality at the time. With this in mind, we preferred to rely on bottled water until we were introduced to a high quality device, a filtered drinking water tap: The Zip Hydrotap. 

Let me tell you again why we have been relying, for over two years, on our Zip Water Tap for our water consumption and all the benefits for our family. Also excited to show you the updated, more designed version of the device, which is now fully incorporated into our new kitchen in our new home. 

Since its inception in Australia in 1962, Zip Water has been producing boiling water systems. Other the years the multinational company has evolved and now provides world class filtration technologies. The tap technology is now sold in 70 countries and provides great tasting, pure drinking water and instant boiling water. In the Middle East, Zip is sold exclusively by Culligan, also a world-renowned water treatment company.



Characteristics and functions
Zip filtration system is the solution for pure and crystal clear water, by removing chlorine and bacterial contaminants from your ordinary tap water. The single inbuilt-action-sub-micro water filter removes micro-organisms tiny as one thousandth a millimetre. Zip Hydrotap system has a NSF certification, a public health and safety organization which provides third-party certification to ensure the product complies with the technical requirements of the relevant standard. The Zip 0.2 micron filter is one of the most advanced and most practical filtration system available anywhere today. This advanced process produces crystal-clear and pure tasting water, free from odours and contamination; ensuring water in its healthiest form.

Zip Hydrotap offers different water options. You can pick a tap that delivers filtered chilled water only or choose to have chilled, boiling and sparkling water all at the touch of a button. We decided that our home would benefit from all options. It’s convenient to refill school water bottles, use the boiling water for instant coffee or tea, enjoy sparkling water at dinner time or prepare refreshing lemon concoctions throughout the day. I also tend to use it while cooking. It's so convenient! The chilled water is set at 3-5ºC, while hot water is set at 98ºC and there is a child lock security.

There are also many technical benefits, from the power-pulse energy saving technology and adjustable water temperature function,  to the sleeping function when inactive and programmable timer. Love that the water is instantly dispensed at the set temperature, no longer any need to waste water running from the tap while waiting for it to be at the correct temperature. No more water wastage. Zip’s intelligent technology makes the Zip HydroTap supremely efficient. It saves on power, energy and water wastage, meaning it’s good for people and the planet.

Cost and environmentally friendly
Zip filtered water will be cost effective, a much cheaper solution then bottled water. The bottled water market is exploding in the Middle East. Did you know that bottled water can cost up to 124 times more than filtered water? The bottle, cap and label amount for 90% of the total price of mineral water. We should also rethink bottled water from an environmental point of view. Even if water bottled are made of completely recyclable polyethylene (PET) plastics, but PET's don't biodegrade. They photodegrade, which means they break down into smaller fragments over time. Those fragments absorb toxins that can pollute our waterways, soils and eventually our food... There is also a Carbon Footprint to consider, with the delivery and manufacturing of bottled water.


Stylish design
The Zip Hydrotap is well designed and offers different styles to suit your kitchen from Classic, Cube, Arc and Elite all available in different finishes. You will find the one for you. It will become a stylish highlight in your kitchen. We decided to update from the practical “Classic design” installed onto the kitchen sink to a standalone “Arc design” in rose gold to be fully incorporated into our new kitchen. The “Arc design “ is fixed in position, with rubberized illuminated touch buttons on the side and a smooth rotating tap. The upper button scrolls through the three dispensing modes with accompanying colours: blue is the default and signifies it will dispense chilled water; white indicates chilled sparkling water; red is for boiling water.

Installation
The Culligan team proceeded to the installation in a day and were very professional. You need to keep in mind to plan a space to “host” the device under the counter. It took up half a double-width cupboard for all the required parts (boiler/chiller unit, cartridge filter, CO2 canister for sparkling water, …) but it’s all neatly put together under the cupboard. It might also require, a cut-out and vent installation in the floor of the cupboard to ventilate the chiller mechanism. I fully trusted the team and the customer care service. Keep in mind that you will need to replace filters and canisters ( we do it about every 5/6 months).



The lowdown … our verdict…
We were very happy to collaborate with Zip and Culligan water, to experience all the benefits of our Zip Hydrotap. We genuinely could not be more grateful for this addition to our family home and I truly love the product.

It is frankly amazing, since it turns mains supply into the great tasting mineral water. I have noticed a better flavour and taste to my cup of tea while my husband loves the refreshing sparkling water as an alternative to plain H2O.

It works well, require minimum maintenance and looks great in the kitchen. It’s a premium kitchen appliance that also comes with a price tag. The Zip Hydrotap is expensive but you truly get what you pay for. The design and quality is said to make the Zip Hydrotap the very best multi-function boiler tap on the market. We are totally addicted to it’s convenience and love how we have reduce our consumption of plastic bottles.

The price range varies greatly from the design and Hydrotap system you choose.
For all details check out : zipwater.ae or call +971 (0)4 803 9900

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Our new Hacker kitchen : heart and soul of the house



This is it! An overdue blogpost about our new kitchen. About four months in the new house now, we have finally settled. We love the new dynamic of our family life around this new favourite space in the house. Here's the final results and also some before and during photos to show you the process.








I did a quick inquiry around friends and search on Instagram looking for quality kitchen manufacturer available in Dubai. I came across Hacker, luxury kitchen engineered in Germany.
The brand is known for it's quality and design but also function. Making a kitchen look good is one thing - making it work well is another. We decided to trust that their world renowned quality was the solution to our new home investment.

On our first visit to the Hacker showroom, we had in mind some aesthetic but we also felt so comfortable with the designer that we could let him do his job and present to us his vision. My requirement were, " a big open space, bright and white, a family space with lots of storage to hide the mess". I think David, senior design at Hacker absolutely delivered our request and beyond that.



The design process was effortless, we approved the design within a week and choose all the different finishes and appliances shortly after that. The team was great to advise us on what would work best for our needs based on design, function and quality. They have a large selection high quality door and top finishes available to satisfy a variety of budgets. We picked high gloss white cabinets with a light grey stone composite as a counter top. The inserts, clever corner units and soft closer drawers were all part of the design, making the kitchen very functional. They have the technology to find solution and to optimize space, we loved the carousel units for example to fully use our corner space.

The Hacker team can recommend contractors to do the initial work, what I would call the prep job. They were able to co-ordinate with our contractors, making the process relatively smooth. Communication during this kind of stressful project is so important, thankfully the Hacker team is always receptive and ready to step up.

Regarding timing, it took less then two weeks to approve the design layout, the finishes and appliances. After placing the order and first payment, it took about six weeks for the kitchen to reach Dubai. The Hacker team was on site to coordinate with our contractors making sure all was ready for the installation. It took just over a week for the installation to be done, but the team came back a couple of time later for some finishing touches and some tweaking. Again, the process was relatively painless and efficient. We were lucky that all was done before we moved in the house.





The Hacker showroom, is part of Innerspace, a design company based in Dubai. They have a great selection of brands. The portfolio include Kaiser kitchen, Hulsta and Rolf Benz, and also lighting, rugs, flooring and accessories.

During the design process of our kitchen, we came across a flooring solution that was displayed in the Hacker Showroom. We were looking at wood flooring to be installed throughout our new house. We were introduced to Hürne flooring, high-quality and innovative products on the basis of new technologies. I truly believe that flooring is a crucial part of the home decor, so I was very excited to discover Hürne Luxury Vinyl Tiles as our new flooring option. We choose the light wood effect for its warm and elegant feel. It might not be wood but it looks great and feel great. We trust that it has a durability and long-term life. The product is convenient, it can be installed directly on top of your original tiling, no need to removed the old flooring making the installation process quicker and easier. It's also well priced, our option retails for about AED220/sqm. We had our kitchen floor installed and loved it so much that we went back to Hacker and ordered Hürne Luxury Vinyl Tiles for the rest of the house.


Home renovations are always a little scary, stressful, time consuming and expensive. It's a commitment but looking back at it, I have no regrets and I am truly grateful we achieved our dream kitchen. The space is becoming our favourite family hangout, a great entertaining area with friends and with no doubt the heart and soul of our new home.

If you are looking into Kitchen renovation, you should consider Hacker or maybe Kaiser kitchen the sister company. And if you need more feedback back or words of encouragement please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.