Top 5 most useful travel apps

Before you leave home make sure you’ve loaded up your mobile device with the very best of the latest travel apps.

Smartphone

1. Gogobot (iPhone/Android)
More than just a list of interesting things to do at each destination, Gogobot serves up recommendations from friends on your social network and others who travel like you. Suggestions are made around specific needs such as family-friendly, business, outdoor, sporty. Save these activities and when you’re travelling Gogobot will find points of local interest, hotels, restaurants near to wherever you are.

2. Tripit (iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows)
Keep all your travel plans together in one place with Tripit. All you need to do is send it your confirmations and it will sort them all into a travel planner complete with confirmation numbers, flight times and reminders.

3. WiFi Finder (Android, iPhone, iPad)
A simple app to help you track down free or paid-for public access wifi wherever you are in the world. This app works online or offline.

4. Kayak Mobile (Android, iPad, iPhone, Windows, Kindle Fire)
Make reservations for flights, hotels and cars while you’re on the go with this nifty app. It will update you with the very latest prices and even give you an alarm reminder to make sure you don’t miss your flight.

5. XE Currency (Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Windows)
Get the very latest, live currency rates while online, or store them for when your offline with this easy to use currency converter. Including every world currency the rates are updated with just a quick shake of your device.

Tips for maintaining health and fitness

Personal trainer and fitness instructor at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Isabelle Lamant, gives her tips for maintaining a healthy body and mind.

Isabelle Lamant, Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Isabelle Lamant at Le Prince Maurice

Hi everyone,

Today I would like to talk about my own personal health regime, and what I’ve learned along the way to keep myself fit and well.

As I love food but also love to feel healthy, I strive to find a good balance between pleasure and fitness.

At 31, I’m proud of the balance I have achieved but I know it is something that will become more difficult as I get older. I always tell clients, the biggest challenge of our life is finding a balance which makes you feel good both mentally and physically. For me it’s very important for my self-esteem and self-confidence to enjoy life and keep control on my body.

Good health is about paying attention to the exercise I do and what I eat.

My approach to healthy eating
Breakfast
I change my breakfast depending on what I’ve eaten and drunk the night before. If I have indulged in a lovely big meal then I will only take a small plate of fruits and a tea or coffee.

If I had a light dinner, I will have some milk (not cow’s milk) with something I love to eat such as biscuits or chocolate. My secret is to indulge in good quality treats but never in large quantities.

Lunch
I eat only what my body needs and only what fits on one plate. I don’t eat bread, or only very occasionally. I also never take dessert after lunch, I take it 2 hours later so it’s better for my digestion.

Isabelle Lamant exercise classes at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Aqua fitness with Isabelle Lamant at Le Prince Maurice

Dinner
This is often only a light meal because the body stocks fat during the night. If we eat a lot in the evening, we give the liver too much work to do which can affect our sleep and cause fat retention.

It can be difficult to have light dinners every night but I try to have 4 per week to stay healthy and have a beautiful shape. Mashed vegetables with mashed potatoes or lentils is my favourite because it stabilises my hunger. The day after I can really feel the benefit on my skin and my tummy.

Exercise workouts
Just because I’m a fitness coach it doesn’t mean that I exercise for hours each day. I guide my clients and teach them but I don’t do each exercise because my body has limits and doing too much is not good.

When I work I do some exercises like abs, butts and arms with my clients and then on my own I often walk a minimum of 45 minutes a day.

I spend 20 minutes in the sea not only swimming, sometimes just standing in the waves meditating. I also do housework. It is the best exercise to tone up the whole body: cleaning, sweeping, polishing…. exhausting but a good workout!

I hope that my experience gives you inspiration to create your own balance. Remember the key is not to get frustrated. Eat what you like but in small quantities and always make sure you are eating good quality meat, fish and vegetables.

Good luck.

I’ll see you next month for a range of exercises in pictures.

I wish you all the best until then.
Isabelle

Find out more

Try making one of our healthy detox juices and crunchy salad & fresh Basil Blush juice

Read more about Isabelle’s fitness classes at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius and her top tips for wellbeing in 2013.

How yoga can improve your health

Yoga teacher Steve Bracken has spent the last three weeks teaching at Constance Halaveli,Maldives. Here, he writes how yoga can improve our health and wellbeing.

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Finding ways to deal with life’s challenges

If we wish to keep moving forward in our lives, we need to embrace the challenges that life brings our way.

This often entails seeking new solutions to our problems that may involve a radical shift of perspective, stepping into a totally new life situation, or more often than not, just a minor tweak to get us back into the flow of our lives.

A minor tweak though still takes awareness and demonstrates a willingness not to stagnate. We  know when we are on the right track as we are rewarded by a sense of aliveness.

Expanding our awareness through yoga

This same attitude applies to our yoga practice. If we challenge ourselves by opening up to new teachers and new ways of approaching a posture we will enrich our practice. We may discover things that previously we may not have ever considered. Equally, the principles we can learn through a yoga practice can enrich other areas of our lives.

Steve Bracken at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Steve Bracken at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Some examples of this would be:

  • Acceptance - Acceptance of our body with its limitations and from this place encouraging  positive change. If we try to force our body it will create injury and discomfort. If we do nothing then there will be no improvement. If we regularly nurture it with love and compassion it will respond. Through acceptance we learn to listen to the messages of the body and respond accordingly and in doing so we can become present and enjoy the journey. We learn to work with the body and not against it.
  • Breath - If we can breathe fully we can relax, even if we are still working hard. If we are straining for breath then there is tension in the body and mind. We need to become aware of what is causing the tension and adjust ourselves accordingly and in doing so release it.  Only then can a sense of spaciousness occur that allows the breath to flow without restriction. When this occurs the body and mind are working optimally.
  • Foundation - the stronger and more rooted our foundation the less effort is required in a posture. If our foundation is unstable then the resulting strain will permeate throughout the whole structure of the body. We must always come back to our foundation to check whether it is secure and connected to the ground beneath us.
Sunset at Constance Halaveli

Sunset at Halaveli

As we work with the principles of movement and explore that which creates health and wellbeing, we find that the underlying concepts apply to all areas of our lives. In fact what is truly good for us is good for everyone and everything. We also come to know that when we work with these principles on a regular basis we feel both happier and more energised.

These are all good reasons to experience new yoga classes and new teachers wherever you find yourself in the world. To learn, to be revitalised, and to reconnect to important principles for both health and life.

Read more

 

Insider’s guide to the top bars in Europe

Find the perfect bar with our insider’s guide to the top drinking spots in London, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona.

Trailer Happiness, London

Trailer Happiness, London

Bars in London

Best for vibe
5CC
Upstairs in a great East End pub, this buzzing bar serving pints and fresh oysters but it’s downstairs in the cocktail club where things really get going. Low ceilings, dim lighting and arched alcoves give this place a speakeasy cool in the heart of London’s Shoreditch.

Best for business
The booking office
Set in the grand Victorian elegance of St Pancras Station the bar is literally based in the magnificent vast ceilinged, wooden floored former booking office. Nowadays the space is decked out with stylish modern sofas and armchairs.

Best for design
Trailer Happiness
The design here celebrates 1950s lounge bar kitsch while at the same time managing to feel modern and cutting edge. Enjoy perfectly concocted cocktails from the comfort of sleek vintage furniture.

Bars in Paris

Island Bar, Mama Shelter, Paris

Island Bar, Mama Shelter, Paris

Best for vibe
Island Bar, Mama Shelter
This vibrant, bustling hotel bar is also the hotel lobby, library and restaurant. A great energetic ambiance with live music at the weekends. Very bobo Parisian.

Best for business
Le Bar, Park Hyatt Vendôme
This chic, sophisticated hotel bar blends traditional elegance with stunning works of modern art. The bar menu boasts an extensive list of champagne available by the glass and tapas created by the hotel’s executive chef.

Best for glamour
Le Bar, Shangri-La Hotel
A small, elegant space in the heart of 5 star luxury. The bartender here rustles up some fantastic creations including the bar’s signature cocktail Pink Lady.

Bars in Berlin

Tausend, Berlin

Tausend, Berlin

Best for  vibe
Tausend
A large iron door is the only outward sign of this hip high-end bar. Those in the know will find a wide range of cocktails being sipped by über-cool Berliners inside.

Best for business
Reingold
Combining an old speakeasy charm with stylish modern retro fittings this place exudes a lounge bar cool. With a warm ambiance and an extensive cocktail menu it’s a good place to meet colleagues or friends.

Best for design
Bar Lounge 808
Fantastic 70s retro furniture, complete with fish-tanks set into the walls and sleek wood panelling, with a vibe so bang on beat it’s classic Berlin cool.

 

Bars in Barcelona

Bambú Lounge Bar, Barcelona

Bambú Lounge Bar, Barcelona

Best for vibe
Bambú Lounge
S
ituated in the Gracia district, this is where Barcelona’s It crowd head for killer cocktails and an atmosphere so deliciously electrifying you’ll never want to leave.

Best for business
Sky Bar, Grand Hotel Central
Enjoy the views across Barcelona from this elegant rooftop bar above the Grand Hotel Central. Spend the day lounging in the sun and swimming in the infinity pool then settle by the bar for cocktails into the night.

Best for design
Boutique Bar, Ohla Hotel 
Sleek modern design and sharp clean lines combined with warm woods and stone  make this a stylish place to stop for an award-winning cocktail. For a change of scenery, try the roof terrace for stunning views across the city.

What do you think?

Well travelled with a passion for seeking out the coolest places to drink in a city. Let us know where’s your favourite bar in the world. Post a comment here or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Top 5 wildlife adventures in the Seychelles

The beautiful tropical islands of the Seychelles are a paradise of biodiversity ripe for discovery.

Pink  pigeon, Seychelles

Pink pigeon

Rare birds, plants, marine life and animals abound on these idyllic islands. Seize the opportunity to explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as extensive national and marine parks.

Conservation in the Seychelles
Conservation is taken seriously across the archipelago and eco-tourism is actively encouraged by local and government conservation groups. As a result over the last 40 years access to areas of ecological interest have been improved making exploration easy and fun for tourists of all ages.

1. Seychelles National Botanical Gardens
An ideal place to see some of the rare species of flora and fauna of the Seychelles is the Botanical Gardens in Victoria, Mahé.

Come and discover the beautiful collection of exotic and endemic plants, and meet some of the local inhabitants including a population of giant tortoises – some of which are over 150 years old – and a colony of fruit bats.

2. Birds of paradise
Bird lovers flock to the Seychelles to see the nearly 250 different species, including 12 endemic to the islands. Many can be found on Mahé but for keen ornithologists an exhilarating boat trip to Aride or Cousin island is a must. Read more about the Top 5 Seychelles islands for bird lovers.

Some notable birds to watch out for:

  • Seychelles magpie robin and Seychelles warbler, both brought back from the edge of extinction by local conservationists
  • Sunbird
  • Blue pigeon
  • Scops owl
  • Frigatebirds
  • Terns, sandpipers and herons are particularly prevalent with more than 60 different species
Diving in the Seychelles

Diving in the Seychelles

3. Discover the ocean
The whole family can enjoy the wonders of discovering over 1,000 species of fish that are found in the six national marine parks and crystal waters around the archipelago.

Whether you decide to try scuba diving at Constance for adults and children over 8 years, or you prefer snorkelling there is plenty to discover.

The vibrant coral reefs around our shores are home to a wide variety of marine life including the rare hawksbill turtle, yellow snappers, clown fish, humphead parrot fish and manta rays.

4. UNESCO World Heritage Sites
For those who fancy travelling a bit further afield an excursion to the World Hertiage Sites are a real treat. The Atoll of Aldabra is the largest raised coral atoll in the world and home to the Aldabra giant tortoise.

The Vallée de Mai on Praslin, rumoured to be the original ‘Garden of Eden’, is home to the famous Coco de Mare the largest seed in the world. Wandering into the Vallée is like discovering an ancient world of giant palms with leaves measuring 6 meters across and an abundance of rare flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for the national bird, the Seychelles Black Parrot, which is only found here.

Baby turtles at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Baby turtles at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

5. Constance turtle conservation
Budding conservationists and naturalists alike should visit Constance Lémuria to meet our turtle manager.

Dedicated to protecting the endangered hawksbill and green turtles who return to our beaches year after year, he will be happy to show you any currently nesting or hatching turtles and is always keen to share his knowledge on these rare, beautiful creatures.

Whether you’re looking for intrepid exploration or just to immerse yourself in the dramatic biodiversity the Seychelles has to offer there are plenty of discoveries to be made here.

Find out more

 

Yoga instructor Steve Bracken reveals how to maintain good health naturally

Yoga and movement therapist Steve Bracken is sharing his expertise with guests at Constance Halaveli this month. Here, Steve outlines health tips we can all follow.

Steve Bracken, yoga teacher and bodyworker

Steve Bracken, yoga teacher and bodyworker

Movement therapy
My approach to health, yoga (movement therapy), fitness and bodywork was influenced greatly by the work of KRI Jagadish when I volunteered at his clinic in Mysore, India.

In his clinic people are treated with soft tissue manipulation, massage, yoga therapy and only food is used as the medicine. There I literally saw miracles of recovery on a daily basis and I came to realise the importance of treating health in a holistic manner.

Holistic approach & the health mandala
With the knowledge I gained there, combined with what I already knew, I put together the health mandala – a holistic approach to improving health that looks at the areas of exercise, diet, vitality/energy levels and our attitude. If we want to improve our health we need to look at all of these areas in relation to our health goal.

However, to begin we first must check that we are not coming from a place of self-blame or recrimination for any health or body issues we may have. If we attempt to make war on our body to force it into a healthier state we will ultimately fail. We need to accept but not necessarily like that we are in our present condition due to our unique life history.

Positive thinking
The next step is to focus on positive outcomes and understand the benefits of those outcomes. We can visualise living a healthier life and enjoying the benefits. We also need to have a highest goal that is not dependent on outside validation or an ideal image of ourselves. For example, instead of trying to lose weight we can focus on feeling healthier, lighter and more energised.

This is a goal that is growth orientated and flexible. It does not set us up for failure if we don’t reach our specific goal. We may still aim to lose weight, for example, but it should not be our highest goal. When we feel good about ourselves it is easier to treat ourselves well.

Steve Bracken at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Steve Bracken at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Stress relief
Another tip is to learn to listen to the messages of the body. The body will respond to any unhealthy stresses, especially if they are chronic, that are placed upon it in a negative way whether it is from food or drug toxins, nutritional deficiency, harmful physical activity or inactivity, emotional or psychological stress and so on.

The body is hard wired for health and happiness and lets us know when we are going against its best interests. Hence, an awareness of what causes us stresses and a willingness to deal with the cause through this mindfulness will change them or our attitude to them, and guide us to a healthier and happier way of living.

Steve’s holistic health tips

  • Exercise regularly and do something you enjoy but generally work to only 70% of your maximum capacity.
  • Eat less meat and that includes chicken. People generally consume far too much protein.
  • Watch less news and television in general. It is mostly negative, generally not the truth and does nothing for relaxation.
Find out more

Visit his website to find out more about Steve Bracken’s approach to yoga and movement

Get Steve’s expert tuition online with his Simple Mobilisation video 

Read Tanya Kemp’s guide to improving your health through yoga