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I have a bit of a crush on the Maldives – you see, it’s rare to see such crystal blue waters and such vast expanses of well, nothing. I think the romanticism of it all draws me in – especially on busy work days!

Cocoa Island, located on South Malé Atoll, is a highlight of the Maldives region. Part of the COMO group, Cocoa Island enjoys the COMO Shambhala program – the presence of this wellness retreat on the island not only means you can escape and restore your body and mind, but it even flavours the menu which is packed full of beautiful, fresh foods. Perfect for post wedding bliss.

There is a wide range of accommodation  on the resort – 33 rooms, all luxurious, to select from. They start with the Dhoni Suites with private sun decks, split levels and direct access to the lagoon to the Como Villa – the largest style of accommodation at 300 square feet which includes a king sized bed, outdoor shower, private sun deck, double vanity and private bale accessible via a walkway.

All rooms are also provided with complimentary espresso machines, beach bags and thongs, ipod docking station, fresh fruit and bottled water delivered daily, 42″ LCD TV and DVD player. WiFi Internet connection and the finest of Italian linens.

As a bit of a self confessed foodie – making sure my destination has amazing food is always a priority and Cocoa Island has “Ufaa Restaurant” which serves fine cuisine prepared with traditional Indian and Sri Lankan techniques. The resort makes the most of the fresh produce available serving up locally caught seafood delights and fruits and vegetables. The menu is flexible,  catering to your whims and the additional “Faru” bar is adjacent to the pool leading straight onto the beach. Cocoa Island also provides in room dining and private dining. The resort also offers a COMO Shambhala menu which focuses on Vegetarian cuisine, highlighting raw and organic foods rich in minerals and vitamins.

Relaxation is key on Cocoa Island – the resort has it’s own beautiful day spa, COMO Shambhala Retreat. Based on traditional Asian healing techniques, the day spa provides everything from a stunning hydrotherapy pool, to treatment areas on the beach. The retreat also contains an open air yoga pavilion, gym, double massage pavilion and plenty of Asian-inspired holistic therapies developed by COMO Shambhala including reflexology, Ayurveda, massage and facials.

The hotel amenities don’t end there. Guests can enjoy a number of activities on and around the resort at Cocoa Island. The facilities include a dive centre, windsurfing, kayaking, fishing, dolphin & sunset cruises, snorkeling and island tours. The resort can also arrange plenty of excursions for you – private island picnics, visits to local townships, fishing & snorkeling trips and  even a day of luxury sailing.

Of course if you don’t want to leave the comfort of the resort, then Cocoa Island has you covered! From their 25 metre infinity pool which overlooks the crystal blue waters of the lagoon, (close to the beach-side bar too – cocktails anyone?) and of course with the endless facilities at the resort, including their CD, DVD and book library, WiFi and all day dining – why, you might never have a reason to move!


For destination weddings – even though the marriages are not legal, the resort can accommodate families and arrange the entire day for you – what a beautiful excuse for a picture perfect destination wedding!

Photos from Cocoa Island

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Greece holds claim to an amazing array of beauty. Pretty much anywhere you decide to go is going to leave an impression. From dirty, busy Athens (which boasts the most amazing archeological site in the Acropolis) to the remotest of islands which scatter the ocean all around the mainland.

In a last minute attempt to grab some rays of sunshine, we were searching for a holiday destination that was close to our base in Athens, that wasn’t going to break the bank and where we could get some peace and quiet. Enter my cousin Eleni who having already toured all the islands in her homeland recommended Kea. Kea (also known as Tzia) is a small island in the Cyclades  and a short, one hour ferry ride from the port of Lavrio close to Athens.

Kea is an island on which a car is an absolute necessity. Luckily, it costs just 30 Euro each way to transport your rental across to the island. Be prepared to have a port official (usually a guy with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth) directing you to reverse into the tightest spot imaginable amongst tractors and trucks. An interesting experience but worth it in the end as the island has next to no public transport and you don’t want to be calling a cab from a remote beach.

Once on the ferry, the kids will have fun exploring the ship!

After a short one hour trip and a freddo cappuccino (iced cappuccino which you drink with a straw) later you’re in Kea. Our choice of hotel was a self contained house on the Red Tractor Farm. Perfect for our needs as we had with us our two mini-me’s. The best time to travel to Greece and more specifically the Greek islands is early to mid September. August is a month of religious significance with much of the Greek population on holidays. The hotels are packed and the prices are the highest. In addition, August is known for the “Meltemi” which is a strong and ever present wind. We snapped up this accommodation for a song (in comparison to other more cosmopolitan islands like Mykonos) and were thrilled with the facilities and location.

Of course, besides the ancient ruins, tavernas, ouzo, plate smashing, nightlife and general merriment, for me the most enjoyable part of travelling to any Greek island is the beach. The weather varies between hot and hotter with no cold snaps thrown in to sabotage your beach going plans. You’re not likely to get rained out, flooded or hit by a cyclone. The water is crystal clear and warm. Best of all, because you’re swimming in the Mediterranean sea, you don’t need to worry about some bizarre sea creature taking one of your legs off.

We found the organized beach at Koundouros to be the ultimate in relaxation. There’s all the conveniences that you need in terms of food, sunlounges and bathrooms and the water is just divine. The sunlounges even have buttons on them to call your waiter for service! The kids had fun ordering iced chocolates. Many multi million dollar yachts make their way here to enjoy the views and the water and they’re pretty amazing to look at. All in all. there are probably over a hundred beaches to choose from in Kea, from organized beaches like this one to ones that are so secluded you’re likely to spend the whole day by yourselves. Some are very hard to access though with roads not even having been paved yet (part of the charm) so you’re best off asking the locals for advice or doing some research before you arrive.

Once you’re all beached out (and after the obligatory afternoon siesta), there’s heaps to do at night. The town centre Ioulis is spectacular to see. It was built hundreds of years ago on the top of the mountain to keep lookout for pirates.

Once you’ve made it up the steep, winding road, the town is full of photo opportunities like this tiny church to say a prayer in.

Time to eat.

Apart from Ioulis, there’s the port that is worth having an evening walk along and also the upmarket and trendy Vourkari with bars, restaurants and shops. Soon enough though, it’s time to leave so take your tanned bodies and your sandy suitcase back to the port to catch another ferry with your head full of memories and the promise of a speedy return.

Photography by Ms Gingham, Little Ms Gingham and Eleni Spyropoulou.

A girl can’t go to Paris in a tracksuit – especially on her honeymoon! Keep warm and rugged up in a stylish wool coat, comfy boots and thick wool tights. The simple but elegant black dress can be easily worn during the day or out to dinner and the leather tote is perfect for cramming your ipad, travel guide book and camera in! A stylish cuff and of course a wool beret keeps the outfit fun & personal.

My Glory Box Coat from Alannah Hill, Hailey Leather tote from Trenery, Dyson boots from Mollini, Mimco bow cuff, Metallicus plain long sleeve dress from Birdsnest, wool tights from Witchery, She’s A Shy Girl beanie from Alannah Hill My beautiful life clip

Ms Gingham says: I can almost smell the croissants and coffee!!! Yum!