review

Theme 39. Arabian Adventure. Four Seasons Dubai, Sea Fu review

Ulia Ali - travel and fashion blogger, fiction writer. Review on Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah. Sea Fu restaurant.

Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach - Jet Set Oasis

Dubai has made a name for itself catering to the luxury-minded jet set crowd over the years, so it was only a matter of time before the Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels group installed their beach-side desert offering: Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach (FS for short because #carpaltunnel).

For those of you who have not had the privilege of gracing the threshold of a Four Seasons, let me be the first to tell you that you are in for a treat should the opportunity arise to visit one of their 109 (and counting) properties worldwide.

Gorgeous Four Seasons
Four Seasons Dubai beach

Like many of their locations, the FS exudes opulence from the moment you approach the grounds. A sweeping paver stone driveway lined with trees lifts you up and away from the bustle of Jumeirah St. Through gaps in the greenery as your drive deeper, you will begin to notice the neutrally colored, Arabian influenced lines of the main building. Terraced construction incorporating terra-cotta and neutral tones is the perfect complement to the landscape, causing one to forget that a city of steel and glass is only 15 minutes away. If you look closely at the buildings, you may notice nods to the Arabian culture in the form of Horseshoe Arches and large, ornate doors standing between you and marble lined lobby of the FS.

Four Seasons Dubai Review

As one would expect from a Four Seasons, the lobby is the crown jewel. Every Four Seasons seeks to make the entry way to each of their hotels a statement. Dubai is no exception. With an attention to detail second to none, the FS unabashedly flaunts the line between palace and hotel. Gold trim, deep brown hues, neutral tones, complex light fixtures comprised of baubles and more flowers than Versailles in spring, the FS transports you.

Now, our engagement on this particular adventure was at one of the FS’s dining venues known as Sea Fu. The FS mantra is about experiencing sensory environments. So, if you can accept that the lobby overwhelms, Sea Fu relaxes, much to the same degree.

Sea Fu Dubai, UAE
Free People dress in Dubai
Sea Fu menu, Dubai

Set in a quasi-outdoor, beachside setting, Sea Fu serves an Asian-inspired menu amongst pillars of wood and beneath umbrellas and billowing fabric. I highly recommend sitting outside as the breeze in winter or early spring is still pleasant. However, should the sun be too harsh, the interior of Sea-Fu is a perfect alternative and a welcome respite from the sun. There is something about an ocean breeze and eating lunch on a terrace that is just…pleasing.

The staff at Sea Fu was, for lack of a better term, phenomenal. From the moment we approached the host stand to announce our arrival, we were treated with near-perfect deference (I say near-perfect because I have a penchant for restaurants that maintain a dress code that includes white gloves for their staff, but that is a story for another time). The truly standout quality however, ignoring the smiles, friendliness and attention of the staff was something that I believe every restaurant should take to heart and do: responsive and thoughtful guidance on the menu.

Best sushi in Dubai
Sea Fu Dubai, Four Seasons review by travel blogger Ulia Ali Pillmore
Four Season's Sea Fu review by Ulia Ali Pillmore.
sea-fu-review

This may sound like a simple task, but the vast majority of restaurants do not ensure that their staff knows the menu.

When I patronize a restaurant I like to ask the waiter or waitress to pick items from the menu that they believe will constitute a meal representative of the quality and diversity of the restaurant. Few get this right. More often than not, the selections are representative, but not of what is good, but what is popular, or what they think I will like based on their judgement. For those of you who know me personally, you will know that I drink and I know things. But you will also know that I eat. I love good food.

Sea Fu understood this. Our waitress selected dishes that complemented one another, were varied enough in their execution to not leave us bored and diverse in flavor to the point that we had to throw in the proverbial towel for lack of capacity. It was beautifully executed and showcased what I love best in a restaurant: mastery of a variety of techniques. 

In the words of Paul Prudhomme: “You don't need a silver fork to eat good food.”. Fine by me, the FS (and Dubai) happens to prefer gold anyway.

Until next time,

- BAP

Free People dress in Dubai
Desert in Dubai. Sea Fu at Four Seasons review.
Lotus Flower Sea Fu
Sea Fu review
Impressive deserts of the world
Dubai food - Sea Fu Four Seasons review

P.S. For the curious among you, here is what we had for lunch:

Small Plates: Edamame, Spicy Chicken

Sushi: Yuzu Tempura Roll

Raw Bar: Hokkaido Scallops

Main: Seared Black Cod

Dessert: Mochi Selection, Lotus Flower

Four Seasons Dubai

SHOP MY LOOk:

My Dress - Free People (it comes in 4 colors and it is my favorite dress EVER!)

Bag - Louis Vuitton (It was a Christmas gift from my hubby)

Jewelry - Sequin Jewelry (My favorite Jewelry company! Everything is so gorgeous)


Week 28: Scandinavian Adventure. Raden A50 Set review.

Raden luggage review by blogger. Stockholm travels.

Ben and I travel quite often and last year I hopped from one plane to another almost every weekend. It wasn't always for fun and vacations (although we had our fair share of those too!), but often for family matters and work. Regardless of the purpose, it is important for me to have stylish, comfortable and spacious luggage.

As my suitcases (I had this one for years!) got destroyed by our frequent flying schedule, I was excited to get a new Raden A50 luggage set in a sleek, matte black color for our Scandinavian trip. The set includes the A22 Carry-On and the A28 Check suitcase. To be honest I really wanted a pink and white combo (they have so many colors to pick from!), however many colors were sold out before Christmas. Luckily, I checked their website just now and seems like they have everything back in stock!

Raden pink set of luggage.

 

What is so special about this luggage set? Well, the best feature is that every suitcase has a built-in scale. You simply download the Raden app and lift the handle and an internal scale will determine how heavy your bag is, displaying the weight in the app. Moreover, the app can tell you where your luggage is within 100 feet as there is a Bluetooth receiver inside the case.

Raden A50 luggage set review in 2017.

There are also two charging ports on both suitcases that allows you to charge your device. My iPhone is always low on battery, so this is quite a handy feature.

Both suitcases are light and roll easily without me having to push or drag them.

Blogger review on Raden suitcases. A50 set in matte black

Now, of course there are also some down sides that I just have to talk about. Even though the Raden set is gorgeous, and looked so sophisticated out of the box, it got scratched very easily on our first flight. I am not sure if it's an issue with the black cases or the material used. Despite the scratched surface, the content of my bag was 100% protected, which is important when you travel with expensive camera equipment, heeled shoes and makeup all packed together :)

Overall, I do recommend the Raden luggage set if you can ignore a few scratches on the surface. You will appreciate the functionality and protection these suitcases provide.

Raden suitcases and Ulia in Oroblu bodysuit

MY LOOK:

Leather shearling jacket - Walter Baker | White bodysuit - Oroblu | Boots - Hush Puppies (in black)

Photographs were taken in Skeppsholmen Hotel, Stockholm.


In the next post, I am going to share some of my Cold Vacation Essentials and help you pack for your vacations in sub-zero weather and ski resorts!

Week 28: Scandinavian Adventure. Ice Hotel in Kiruna review.

North by North North - The Ice Hotel

by Benjamin Pillmore (my hubby!)

pinterest-kiruna-swedish-lapland.jpg

When most people think of the Arctic Circle, they imagine a cold, white wasteland devoid of even the smallest signs of life.

Good news!

The frozen north has a plethora of life (human and otherwise) and is quite manageable if you have a sense for adventure. Ulia and I decided to make the trek up to Kiruna, Sweden which is about 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle and Sweden’s northernmost city. There, resides the original Ice Hotel (Jukkasjärvi): a resort situated on the frozen banks of the Torne River that boasts the world’s first and most famous hotel made of ice.

The hotel is divided into three types of rooms, grouped into three separate structures. The first is the warm, which is, well, warm, as in not made of ice. The second is the newly-opened (November 2016) 365 building which houses a series of rooms that are maintained year-round at -5ºC. The third, and most renowned, is the original Ice Hotel; a building comprised of massive blocks of ice harvested straight from the Torne River but a hundred meters away.

Now, for those of you who are wondering why anyone would go that far north to stay in what essentially amounts to an oversized igloo, let me enlighten ye with the top five coolest things you can do at The Ice Hotel.

 

1. Airport Transfers

At this point, you have read the heading and are probably wondering what lavish or outlandish vehicle could possibly pick you up from the airport in Kiruna and drop you off at the Ice Hotel. A hummer? A snowmobile? Some Swedish cross-country skiers? Alas, no. But you can have a team of adorable huskies come pick you and three friends up for a dogsled transfer to the hotel!

The dogsled airport transfer is not cheap, but it is an experience unto itself and should definitely be considered if you want a very original method of getting from A to B or have a thing for dogs, sleds, snow and adventure.

 

2. The Ice Bar

For those of you who drink, you are in luck. The Ice Hotel crafts an awesome bar made of sheer ice every year and serves all of its mixed drinks in glasses made of ice, cut straight from the Torne River. For the hypochondriacs (I’ll save you the google: people who are scared of germs) in the crowd, the ice has been tested and verified bacterium-free before it is cut into the glasses you drink out of. The bar itself has a mascot named Mr. Fuzzy who happens to be the portrait of a lion that overseas the goings on in the bar area. There is comfy seating adorned with animal hides (probably reindeer, I did not get a proper look) and plenty of space and music for both personality types.

Pro-tip:

Ask for the off-menu drinks and make sure you keep your glass so you can break it later (for fun of course!)

3. Lingonberry Juice

Yeah, yeah: "oh this sounds so boring! ’Tis but juice!". Well, guess what? The idiom: 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do', is very applicable here. Backstory: in Sweden, there is a concept known as "allemansrätten" or 'Everyman’s Right" which essentially grants anyone the freedom to roam the land, sail the water, camp, and forage for food, pretty much anywhere in Sweden (this custom exists in many nordic countries). This centuries’s old edict is still just as strong today and as Lingonberries grow quite commonly all over Sweden, consuming them in various forms is a part of life. The Ice Hotel is no exception and makes it a habit of providing hot Lingonberry juice at opportune moments throughout your stay; from your first arrival to your morning wake up call, Lingonberries will be in your face and I recommend you be Roman.

A Song of Ice and Fire? 

A Song of Ice and Fire? 

4. The Ice Hotel Art Suites

Every year, ice artists and sculptors (from the cold parts of the world), descend on the Ice Hotel to showcase their woks in the form of exquisitely detailed suites made entirely of ice and snow. Each room has its own theme, ranging from the instantly recognizable 'Casablanca' with its Moroccan geometric embellishments, to the more subtle (and frankly unsettling) 'Faces' room which contains a 3m tall face staring at your bed while another ten faces gaze down at you from the ceiling, judging your dreams and snickering at your snores. The Ice Hotel commissions thirty five unique suites every season and offers one of the few places in the world where you can essentially sleep inside a sculpture.

 

5. The Northern Lights

The Sámi people have inhabited the northern portion of Scandinavia for a millennia and developed their own belief system, much like any other people, around their environment (think :sun gods, weather gods, ocean gods, etc). In this case, the Sámi people believe that the Northern Lights are the sparks flung from the tail of a fox as it bolts across the sky and represent the souls of fallen relatives. 

At this point you may be scratching your head over how we just went from a solar particle phenomenon to foxes, but just bear with me and I will connect the dots! The Sámi people stem from the northernmost portions of Scandinavia which, as some of you geography buffs are aware of, contains a little country called Finland. Now here’s the line between the dots: The Finnish word for 'Northern Lights' is 'Revontulet’ which literally translates as 'fire fox'. Voila! Pretty cool, right? Anyway, this is the main event at the Ice Hotel, this is the once-in-a-lifetime experience you drag your loved ones with you to see. Our guide advised us that it needs to be cold, clear and dark to experience the revontulet at its finest, so bundle up, be patient and keep your eyes on the sky.

Breathtaking Northern Lights in Swedish Lapland!

Side bar:

The Northern Lights experience at the Ice Hotel comprises three arctic adventures rolled into one. First off, you take a snowmobile on a 2.5 hour journey from the hotel to a secluded wilderness camp with Finnish style cottages. Secondly, your guide will prepare dinner for you and talk about the history and culture of the area. Last but not least: The Revontulet will hopefully make an appearance (I still have a lawsuit pending with the Swedes over the clouds that ruined our chances but I doubt I will hear back from them).

 

Until next time - BAP

Ice Hotel Kiruna review

Week 19: Honeymoon in Hawaii. Beach Babe in Black.

Shein Black Fringe swimsuit

Today I am sharing another Hawaiian beach look that was shot in the cute town of Hanalei. I found this black fringed swimsuit on the Sheinside online store and was so excited to wear it!

This swimsuit definitely attracted a lot of attention and stole the show. I would advise buying a double-sided tape to keep the top in place especially if you plan to dance or move around town in this swimsuit, or else you might run therisk of flashing your boobage :) Luckily, I had tape in my purse for this kind of revealing top or bodysuit. So don't be shy, and grab your sexy swimsuit from Sheinside (they deliver worldwide and often for free!).

Ulia Ali in black fringed swimsuit. Azerbaijani woman, girl.
Blogger in Kauai. Beach look Sheinside.

Swimsuit - Shein (Only $11.99!)

SHOP THE POST:


Азербайджанская модель в бикини. Фотосессия
Girl holding dragon fruit
Dragon fruit, beach accessories

After our beach photoshoot Ben and I went to Wishing Well Shave Ice  in Hanalei and I got their famous Rainbow Shave Ice that is so perfect for Instagram photos (and it's delicious of course!). Can you believe that what I am holding is a KID'S PORTION?! The normal one was the size of my head! So if you have a sweet tooth and you are in Kauai, check this place out.

Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei on Kauai island.
Wishing Well Shave Ice Review. Rainbow Ice
Black swimsuit on Kauai, Hawaii State
sand love
Kauai Hawaii. Girl on a tree

Week 16: I am BLONDE! Haircare tips and my blonde experience.

Photo of Ulia Ali and her haircare tips.

I promised I would write about my first dyeing experience and share some hair beauty secrets, and here is the awaited post! I also wrote about my favourite makeup and fashion finds in July in the Insta-Shop section.

As I mentioned in this post, my new blonde look is a masterpiece created by NYC based Turkish hairstylist @asilsmsk, who currently works at the Val El Salon and Spa. I was afraid my blonde ombre would look too yellow-ish or that a dye would damage my hair, but so far my hair is super soft and the colour is perfect. It is noteworthy that I showed Asil a few different photos of what I liked and he came up with something that suited my vision, while also complimenting my feautures. As a side note, this post IS NOT promoted in any way and I am just genuinely recommending Asil to any woman who finds herself in NYC. Since I did not work with any other stylists or have any other services done, I can't specifically recommend anything else at the salon.

I have always loved my long light brown hair and I was terrified to dye it or cut it short. During hot summers my hair would also get really beautiful natural highlights. Oftentimes it looked like I dyed my hair even though I did not, and people would ask me the name of my colour. However, in the last few months I have started to crave a new look, and I am happy I finally gave in.

In this post I will sharea few of my favourite hair products, both for coloured and "virgin" hair, so everyone can benefit from this article.

1. My miracle Coconut Oil and Manuka Honey mask. 

Мой отзыв о маске из кокосового масла и меда Мануки! Здоровые блестящие волосы.
Sleek shiny hair

This mask is seriously my secret weapon. I am too lazy to apply the coconut oil /manuka honey mask often, but whenever I do, my hair feels incredibly soft, shiny, and healthy afterwards.

Here is the recipe:

1 Tablespoon of Raw Manuka Honey (I also love this shampoo with Manuka)

3 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil (I use cold pressed coconut oil and 3 tablespoons because my hair is quite long)

Slowly heat honey and coconut oil in a small pan and stir it before it forms into a mass. Do not raise the temperature as you melt your mask! It is important to keep the heat low at all times  in order to preserve the nutrition in the manuka. After it's all melted, wait a little bit for it to slightly cool down (but make sure it is still warm!) and apply to your wet or dry hair. Massage into your roots and make sure you apply the mask generously on your split ends as well. 

Many people suggest that you keep the mask on for half an hour, but I usually tie my hair up, cover it with a plastic bag (don't laugh! :)), wear an old scarf on top (any beanie hat you are not afraid to ruin works as well) and wait at least 3 hours before I wash it out. Make sure you wash your hair thoroughly as it will naturally be very oily. It feels super gross while you have this mask on, but afterwards you will enjoy the results.

Don't do it when your boyfriend/husband is around. I usually wait until I am home alone. ;)

2. It's getting hot in here.

Never forget to protect your hair from your blowdryer and irons. I haven't found my one holy grail heat protection product, but currently I am protecting my hair with:

TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray
 

JOHN FRIEDA Frizz Ease serum that I apply only on wet hair.

3. Jose Eber Curling Iron

Ulia Ali wearing white lace dress from ASOS.
Ulia Ali with Snapchat filters on :)

I get asked all the time about how I curl my hair. My hair is naturally straight, so when I was a teenager I used rollers overnight to wake up to perfect curls. I think that saved my hair from a lot of damage since irons can really destroy your hair. But a few years ago I found a Jose Eber curling iron in Selfridges (London, UK) and I cannot live without it now!

I believe the Jose Eber iron is one of the safest and fastest at curling on the market. It usually takes me no more than 10 minutes to style my hair. My mum and auntie also use Jose Eber straighteners and they are amazing. I cannot wait to get a straightener for myself too as it makes hair look sleeker and shinier.

My tangle-teezer

4. Favourite Hairbrush

I am a loyal user of Tangle Teezer. Nothing compares to this wonderful hairbrush! 

5. What do I wash my hair with?

I like Bumble and Bumble hair products even though they are relatively pricey. However, after I dyed my hair I switched to an Australian brand Evo (this and this one in particular).

6. Volume up!

My hair often lacks volume, therefore I consider myself somewhat of an expert in volumizing products. I used the Got2B powder that everyone raves about for a couple of years, but now I have switched to the John Frieda spray and a volumizing dry shampoo by Sexy Hair. I feel the Got2B powder works really well, but I had a problem distributing it evenly over my hair and felt like sometimes it gave me a white-ish “covered with flour" look.

Dry shampoo works so much better for me and gives my hair a really impressive boost in volume. :) I have this limited Marilyn Monroe edition, but I think there is no difference in the formula if you buy a regular volumizing dry shampoo by Sexy Hair

You can see in this photo that my hair had natural ombre highlights. It was beautiful, but I am still happy with my new look! Changes are always fun.

You can see in this photo that my hair had natural ombre highlights. It was beautiful, but I am still happy with my new look! Changes are always fun.

Last summer my hair was super long! 

Last summer my hair was super long! 

Please let me know if you have any questions or if you want more product recommendations! I am happy to help and will always answer your requests and questions on our Facebook Page.