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30 May 2016

Chloe

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | wearing Karen Millen blouse, Chloe suede shorts, Maxmara bag with Fendi scarf
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | wearing Karen Millen blouse, Chloe suede shorts, Maxmara bag with Fendi scarf
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | wearing Karen Millen blouse, Chloe suede shorts, Maxmara bag with Fendi scarf
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | wearing Karen Millen blouse, Chloe suede shorts, Maxmara bag with Fendi scarf

Suede, lace up, camel coloured - these might be the perfect pair of shorts. Chloe, a long-time favourite of mine, gets it so right (every time). Shot during a brief window of sunshine and warmth in London. Now we're all like...spring? What spring?

Wearing: Chloe shorts, similar here and here
Maxmara bag with Fendi scarf
Karen Millen blouse, similar here

25 May 2016

Exotic Meets Contemporary // Donatella Balsamo

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad, Maldives
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | wearing Donatella Balsamo jewellery in the Maldives
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | wearing Donatella Balsamo jewellery in the Maldives


Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad, Maldives
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | wearing Donatella Balsamo jewellery in the Maldives


"Inspired by the beautiful turquoise sea, golden sandy beaches and the colours of the Mediterranean."

What better place to wear gemstones ranging from the most vivid of blues to pastel shades of pink than the Maldives? It's places like these that make you want to put away the diamonds, the bling and the sparkles - there's no place for them in laidback island paradise. Instead, I find myself reaching for pieces that make me think of nature. Featuring semi-precious gemstones such as chalcedony and rose quartz, Donatella Balsamo's Sardinia collection evokes such a strong sense of the ocean, you'll be wishing you were frolicking on a beach in Italy or relaxing to the sound of the waves in Bali. Or perhaps, like me, stuffing your face with coconuts in the Maldives. In style, of course.

Thank you to Donatella Balsamo for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 

21 May 2016

Diving With Mantas in the Maldives

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives, Vilu restaurant

Vilu was my favourite restaurant at the Conrad Maldives. I say this having not even eaten anything other than breakfast and snacks there, but my reasons are clear enough with photos alone. It boasts picturesque views: a calm, turquoise ocean, the occasional boat sailing peacefully by and the odd heron skimming the water as it swoops in to land on the nearby white sand beach. During our stay, this was the restaurant we frequented the most, partly owing to Happy Hour drinks every evening between 5 and 6pm, served alongside freshly made canapés (the selection changed daily). 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives, Vilu restaurant happy hour
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives, Vilu restaurant happy hour
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives, Vilu restaurant happy hour

Wearing: Daisy Street top and ASOS skirt

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives, Vilu restaurant happy hour

To spend the day out at sea on a dive boat, enjoying the salty ocean breeze and the tranquility of the underwater world... then to return to the resort just in time to toast to a successful day of diving with a couple of refreshing (not to mention potent) gin and tonics in a setting like this - life doesn't get much better, really it doesn't.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives, Vilu restaurant happy hour
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives, George the heron
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Rangali, Maldives

Now, about the diving. If you find yourself in the Maldives and you don't dive, you are truly missing out on something spectacular. I wasn't exaggerating when I said this was the best diving I've ever done, and I've been diving since the age of 12. I've been lucky enough to dive in Thailand, surrounded by leopard sharks, nurse sharks and large black and white tip reef sharks (absolutely incredible, and a close second best); in the clear waters of Malaysia with the most colourful of reefs; from the shores of Bali and around numerous wrecks and even a lake in the Philippines. 

Still, none of that compares to the experience of swimming with such striking and, sadly, vulnerable creatures, watching in awe as they dance around, circle you, swim so close over your head you have to duck to avoid being whacked in the face and gracefully somersault over and over as they feed on plankton. It's almost as though the mantas are showing off, eager to stick around and let us enjoy their company. Have you ever laughed underwater? I couldn't help myself, encountering these wild animals up close like this was intoxicating (ha - if you watch the second video below, you'll hear Jarv burst out in incredulous laughter himself as he films). 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | scuba diving in Maldives, Conrad
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | scuba diving in Maldives, Conrad
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | scuba diving in Maldives, Conrad
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | scuba diving in Maldives, Conrad

Some facts: Mantas have spots on their bellies - each pattern is unique to the individual and can help to identify each manta, much as a fingerprint would be used to identify a human. Tragically, they are dangerously close to becoming an endangered species due to overfishing and unnecessary use in Eastern medicine, and although they are believed to live as long as 50 years, not too much is known about these mysterious, gentle giants. Reef mantas such as these have an average wingspan of 3.5 meters, whereas oceanic mantas can reach wingspans of up to 7 meters (!!). 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | scuba diving with manta rays in Maldives, Conrad
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | scuba diving with manta rays in Maldives, Conrad
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | scuba diving with manta rays in Maldives, Conrad

I just have to share with you how majestic these fascinating mantas are in motion (that's me in the first video, just underneath): 


Undeniably beautiful.

17 May 2016

A Beach Villa at the Conrad, Maldives

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa

Bam! Diving straight in with a shot of the gorgeous, clear water you've probably all seen so much of. Whenever I hear "the Maldives", I immediately think of the lightest turquoise water I've ever seen and the whitest of sand. It truly lives up to expectations. 

...But let me backtrack a little. We arrived at Male at about 4pm in the afternoon. Our seaplane wasn't scheduled for another hour or so, so we whiled the time away at the Conrad lounge in the airport, watching the seaplanes land and take off whilst helping ourselves to the buffet food and 15 minute massages.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Male airport seaplanes, Maldives

After what felt like far too long (I was jittery with excitement!), we began boarding.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Male airport, seaplane, Maldives

The seaplanes only hold about 20 people (including crew). If you're claustrophobic, I hate to break it to you but you will not enjoy this ride. It's extremely stuffy; barely any air moves around and there isn't any air conditioning. The aisles are very narrow and seats are small, but hey - it gets you where you need to go! The Conrad is about a 35 minute flight from Male airport. 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Maldives seaplane
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | view from seaplane, Maldives atolls

Upon arrival, we were greeted with refreshing pots of sorbet and introduced to our island host, Naeem. He would be our contact for the duration of our stay and help us with any issues or questions we had. Being as we were both Diamond members, we enquired as to whether an overwater villa upgrade might be possible at any point and he assured us he'd look into it, although the resort was currently at 95% capacity (!). 

A quick note on this - despite being a busy time for the Conrad, I was pleased at how easy it was to find peace and tranquility during our stay. At no point did any place feel overcrowded; you could easily find somewhere quiet to lay down on a beach or by the Quiet Zone adults only pool, or wander off and explore the paths on foot and not bump into anyone else for ages.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, arrivals and departures area
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives

The lobby, where check in takes place:

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, lobby

Naeem drove us to our room in a buggy where we settled in before heading off for dinner at Mandhoo restaurant.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa

The pathway below leads straight out to the beach where the house reef lies. It is a fantastic reef to snorkel, honestly some of the best I've ever done. 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa outdoor shower and bath
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa outdoor bath
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa bathroom

Mandhoo is definitely one of my favourite restaurants at the Conrad. Set over the water, you're likely to catch a glimpse of a stingray, some bluefin trevally and perhaps even a black tip reef shark as you enjoy organic, healthy dishes.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, Mandhoo restaurant
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, Mandhoo restaurant

The food is cooked and presented beautifully and is very high quality. I had the seabass, which was simply moreish; crispy skin and fresh meat that just flakes away, sat atop wasabi mashed potato.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, Mandhoo restaurant, seabass
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, stingrays at Mandhoo restaurant

With full bellies, we hopped on a buggy back to our room and promptly passed out. With a navigation dive the next day (we were studying for our advanced open water diver certification, which I can happily say we both now have!), we spent the morning just relaxing outside our villa, snorkelling the house reef and enjoying the warmth of the ocean. 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, house reef, triggerfish

A small note on snorkelling around reefs: it's safe, lots of fun and full of exciting creatures, most of which are harmless. Do watch out for territorial triggerfish (pictured above - there are many different patterns and colours, so give them a Google!) guarding their nests - they'll defend their homes and babies fiercely! Most of the ones here are small and not aggressive. Only one or two little ones chased me away, haha. Just remember if you see one, swim horizontally and calmly away (not vertically up) so that if they nip at anything, it's only your fins. Always keep your hands to yourself. Even if something isn't poisonous or dangerous, at the very least you'll likely still be causing trauma to the reef or the creatures themselves by frightening them.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa, baby black tips

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Conrad Maldives, beach villa

Next time - sunset drinks and canapés at Vilu and the best diving I've ever done in my life.

10 May 2016

Etihad Apartments - A First Class Experience

We'd been counting down to this day for months. Over half a year, actually. Finally, it was here - we were making our way to the Maldives...on Etihad Apartments. It was the ultimate Queen of trips (#tripgoals and all that). I was chomping at the bit to get going. 

My chauffer picked me up from home whilst Jarv's met him at work, yet we managed somehow to arrive within 2 minutes of each other. Don't ask me how...I left earlier than him and arrived after! We were checked in, made our way to the lounge, had some lunch and headed for the plane when it came time to board.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

We were escorted to our 'seats' (rooms, to put it more accurately) and presented with a cool towelette, sweet dates, a welcome letter and drink of choice. Left to my own devices, I stood up and began to explore. This look never left my face:

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

I was seated in 4A and Jarv in 3A, meaning his seat faced backwards so that our 'room' divider could be slid to one side to allow for a more open and shared space between a couple.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

The main doors to each individual room can also be shut, allowing for privacy between passengers and from the crew. Although it's not like you can really see your neighbours anyway unless you stand up and lean over. If you want privacy, it doesn't get much better than this. Perhaps a private jet, if this doesn't quite meet your needs! 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

Along with a generously sized seat and a sofa on the opposite side (to be turned into a bed should you want a few hours of sleep on your flight), each room has a vanity area stocked with Le Labo amenities and all your usual sleep aides and the like.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH, vanity area
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

First class also has access to a shower, should you want to freshen up before landing. I didn't take one on the way out but indulged on the flight home. After all, how often do you get to shower at 40,000 feet?! Both First and Business also share access to a lounge area where you can converse with other passengers or simply enjoy a cup of coffee and a magazine.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

After having about an hour to settle into our seats, my table was set up for dinner.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

For Jarv to join me, of course! I love being able to dine together in the air, restaurant style. It's one of the best things about first class, having the space to sit opposite each other during a meal and enjoy the experience together.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

The food was excellent. 

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH, salmon dinner
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH, tomato sorbet
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

This carrier bag is placed on your sofa by a crew member soon after boarding and contains a pair of PJs and slippers should you wish to get comfy straight away. Doesn't the idea of snuggling down to watch a great movie...in your pyjamas...in your bed...with a drink sound just divine?

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

As our flight was an overnighter, we begrudgingly decided after dinner that we should probably get a few hours of sleep so that we'd be ready to explore the Maldives upon arrival. I didn't want to waste even an hour of the first day napping ;)

So, off I went to the bathroom to get changed whilst an FA made up the beds.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH
Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH

I had a restful few hours of sleep, and was gently woken by an FA offering some breakfast before landing. Sitting up, I squinted at the light beaming in and marvelled at how waking up to a sunrise through the windows of a plane is one of the best, most calming feelings in the world. Especially when you have the adventure of a lifetime waiting for you when you land.

Euriental | fashion & luxury travel | Etihad Apartments, First Class LHR to AUH