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  • Basia Briggs Launches Memoir

     

    This time of year is full of parties but one invitation that I was most excited about accepting came from Basia Briggs, one of London’s best-connected people. As a key player on the London social scene, Basia’s been to and hosted millions of parties for other people and animals (I once attended the 21st birthday of her horse Leopold). This time, the party was in her honour as she’s written a book about her extraordinarily dramatic life.

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    With the title A Mother’s Anguish, you may guess that the tome is not always a happy read. At times, it’s painful to read as you feel terrible for Basia during the ordeals she’s been through. However, due to a mixture of courage, determination and pure strength of character, Basia never gave up. Not only did she survive a series of events that would have defeated others, she created a new life for herself and you would never ever be able to guess what she’s been through by looking at her. She is one of the most warm, friendly and caring people I know and she always looks immaculate. In that way, Basia’s like royalty – no matter what she happens she does her hair, puts her eyelashes on and smiles.

    BASIA

     

    As a skilled hostess, Basia understands that location is a very important part of an event and so she chose The Ritz as the venue for her party. It was magnificent to be mingling in a private room of one of London’s most historical hotels drinking the finest Ritz Champagne with the creme de la creme of London society.

    Politicians mingled with journalists and editors, there were business people, socialites, artists, photographers and you could tell that they all admired Basia as much as I do. The queue to get Basia to sign a book was never-ending but I finally stole her from the likes of Norman Lamont and Eve Pollard for a few seconds to take this photo:

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    The gorgeous lady on the right is Irene Major, a mum of 6 who is one of the most clever and witty women I’ve ever met. Basia knows all the best people! The first time I ever met Irene was at The Ritz (recap on that meeting in this blog post) and I was blown away by her fashion sense and multi-tasking ability. She’s a fabulous mum, a fabulous person and she knows fashion and music too. I really want to set up another meeting so I can delve in deeper and ask her how she does it.

    The inside of Basia’s book has a photo by Aliona Adrianova, who is a very talented photographer specializing in portraits. Not only is she beautiful and creative, but she’s a warm and positive person and I cannot wait to see her climbing to the top of the art world in 2018.

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    I have been to a lot of book launches in my career, but I have never been to one where I was so desperate to read the book that I started it during the taxi journey home. My poor husband was ignored for the rest of the week as I was dying to find out what happened next and how Basia would deal with it.

    Let’s face it, the period between Christmas and New Year can sometimes feel flat as you’re just sitting around and waiting for everyone to wake up and get back to work. With Basia’s book on hand, you’ll be transported out of your own life and realise that it is possible to cope with hard situations. Whatever you’re going through, it probably won’t compare to what Basia’s been to and she came out the other end. It’s an emotionally challenging read, but ultimately it’s inspiring.

    A Mother’s Anguish can be purchased on Amazon now – I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    Read more »
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    Best Places To Ring In The New Year

     
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    If you are thinking about booking a last minute holiday for the upcoming New Year, you certainly aren’t short of options. Every country and city around the world has its own unique way of ringing in the year ahead. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best places to celebrate the start of 2018.

     

    Oahu – What sounds better than spending your New Year on a gorgeous Hawaiian island? Not only is Oahu a magical destination, with beautiful scenery and culture, but also it hosts a number of traditional and quirky events for New Year’s Eve. For something a bit different, Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii puts on a celebration during the day in West Oahu for families, which concludes after sunset with fireworks. There is also a calmer affair at Waikiki Beach with a traditional fireworks show.

    Bangkok – If you are looking for somewhere a bit more manic, crazy, and fast paced, you will struggle to find better than Bangkok. This is a bustling metropolis where expats and locals come together. The Central World Square is the centrepiece where masses gather to celebrate the turn of the New Year. You will see video screens that project celebrations from across the globe, as well as a live concert, and a spectacular light show. You will then enjoy the majestic firework show, followed by parties at lively beer gardens and nightclubs.

    Cape Town – If you are the type of person that likes to make celebrations last as long as possible (i.e., you have a birthday week rather than a birthday!), you will love Cape Town. This is because the celebrations take place over three days in this vibrant city in South Africa. There is a midnight fireworks display and concert at the Victoria & Albert Waterfront on New Year’s Eve itself. There is also a live music and a carnival-themed train at the Victoria Falls New Year’s Carnival. On New Year’s Day, and the following day, thousands of people will flock to the beaches. There is also a parade through downtown as part of the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, which sees the streets laced with 10,000 entertainers singing and dancing. It’s a spectacle to marvel.

    Miami – If you are someone who likes to party the night away, and you spend most of your weekends at your local club, Miami is a no-brainer. The world-class nightlife scene in Miami won’t disappoint. There are celebrations for all budgets, but for the real party people amongst you, the glitzy hotels in the area host the best events. These events feature firework displays, open bars, and big-name acts. Some standout events this year include the Worldwide New Years Eve Party at Bayfront Park with Pitbull as a special guest, and Billy Joel’s New Year’s Eve 2018 Concert.

    Reykjavik – If you are looking for somewhere truly unique to ring in the New Year, Reykjavik certainly lives up to expectations. In late December, there are only four hours of daylight, meaning the locals are ready to party like no one else. A community bonfires kick off New Year’s Eve. This is a lovely tradition, as it symbolises burning away troubles from the past year. Also, fairly relaxed government restrictions mean that fireworks virtually light up every corner of the city. It’s a magical sight to behold to say the least.

    Vienna – Vienna is a city that has become famous for the Grand Ball that is hosted on New Year’s Eve at Hofburg Palace. The throwback elegance is a feature of this event, but it is not the only thing on offer. The famous markets in the city transform into incredible New Year’s fairs, with hundreds of thousands of people gathering at New Year’s Path. The party starts early, at 2 pm, and it continues until the early hours of the morning. Expect lots of mulled wine, and of course, there is a traditional fireworks display too. Another highlight is the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert, which is displayed on a huge screen outside of the City Hall.

     

    So there you have it: some of the best places to visit if you are looking for somewhere exciting to ring in the New Year. Hopefully, you will have found something that appeals to you from the list mentioned above. No matter where you go, you will have a celebration to remember for years and years to come.

    Read more »
  • VIP Fitness: London’s Best Classes

    After having two babies in 15 months, it’s fair to say that my body’s taken a bit of a battering. I lost weight after the first, working really hard to get back into my size 10 jeans and by six months after the birth of my first I felt like me again. Then I got pregnant again a couple of months later…

    I found the second pregnancy a lot harder as I didn’t have the same amount of time to nap so I got my energy from gooey supermarket cookies, chocolate fudge cake and Dairy Milk. Sugar was what helped me get through a day with a pre-toddler / toddler while being pregnant and exhausted. And now, 7 weeks after the birth of the littlest I have a lot more weight to lose. It’s not baby weight, it’s sugar weight and I don’t like it. I want to look like this again:

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    Before the babies, I was super fit so I’m hoping getting back to exercise will help me shed the fat and feel like a yummy mummy rather than a slobby mummy. However, I don’t have time to waste on average exercise classes. What matters to me is how can I burn the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time plus tone the booty and build some biceps. Also, I don’t want to be committed to a specific time just in case something happens with one of the babies / childcare.

    Thankfully, I was a bit of a commitment-phobe when it came to gyms last time round and I tried several of London’s boutique fitness studios. Below is a guide to what I remember from each of the studios if anyone out there wants to get fit quickly. And when it comes to my fitness journey, you can definitely expect to see me at Barry’s soon….although I don’t think I’ll be moving fast at first.

     

    Barry’s Bootcamp

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    I am a Barry’s addict. I love it so much I even smile when I do core exercises (above). Seriously though, I  went to the first ever class when the first studio opened near London Euston in February 2013 and I went non-stop for almost two years. I’m saying at least three or four times during the week plus a double session on a Sunday. For a commitment phobe like me, that’s a lot of sessions!

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    The reasons I stuck with Barry’s is because the classes are so hard, so intense and so lung-busting, eye-watering-ly painful that the endorphin rush afterwards makes you feel like you can conquer everything. If you start your day with a Barry’s class then you can rest assured that nothing that occurs for the rest of the day will be harder than the class you smashed

    The workouts consist of approx. 25-30 minutes of treadmill activity and 25-30 minutes of weights. The instructors are full on, meaning they’ll notice if you’re not going fast enough or lifting heavy enough. The fact that the trainers are all super hot definitely encouraged me to work harder.

    Get more info on the Barry’s Botcamp London website.

    Frame Shoreditch

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    Frame is one of the most fun boutique fitness studios in London. There’s something on it’s timetable to suit all fitness tastes whether you’re a yoga bunny, a dancing diva or you just like to work up a sweat doing cardio. Oh and there’s boxing, ballet barre and even bouncing on trampolines. All with super friendly, smiley and energetic instructors who are so upbeat they force you to try harder. When I started there was just one studio in Shoreditch but now they’re in Kings Cross and Victoria too – they must be doing something right.

    The dance classes are especially fun, with special themed ones for divas like Beyonce and Britney, music video classes and even healthy raves! But I enjoyed the Cardio Circuits class – a super high intensity class where you work through different stations for 45 minutes and burn shed loads of fat. Ass and abs and Get Leggy are also high intensity with cardio, toning and high-energy instructors.

    Visit the Frame website for more details.

     

    Ride Republic

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    If you’re competitive or you need to be pushed and motivated, you’ll love, you’ll love Ride Republic. The perfect physical shape of the teachers does a lot to motivate me (I’m shallow I know) but the wow factor comes from the Burn Board. Everyone’s bikes are numbered and this correlates to a number on a large blue screen behind the instructor’s bike. However hard you’re working on your bike is then projected onto the screen for all to see. There’s no hiding! If you see someone in front of you or catching up with you it’s great incentive to push that little bit harder.

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    Another thing that puts Ride Republic above other cycling studios is the clarity of the instructions. The bikes are super hi-tec, meaning that you can see which resistance you’re working on (as opposed to being told to turn your own wheel by a quarter or a half at other studios). Having a number to aim for whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced keeps you in check so you can’t pretend you’ve turned your wheel up. How hard your working can be seen by the instructors who often get off their bikes to check up on the class.

    Find out more on the Ride Republic website.

     

    Paola’s Body Barre

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    This is where the beautiful people of West London go to sculpt their bodies. Paola (pictured above right with me) has been trusted with the bodies of models, TV presenters and socialites (as well as discerning fitness folk) ever since her original studio opened in the residential backroads of Fulham.

    Her signature burn class is full-on – a workout for every single muscle. If you want a lean, toned dancer’s body then Paola’s is where you build it. By repeating small movements, it forces the muscles to lengthen and it’s especially good for thighs and bottoms. Paola herself full of energy and she picks instructors that share her joie de vivre, lust for life and fitness know-how. Seriously, try going regularly for a month and be prepared to listen to compliments about the shape of your booty!

    Check out the PBB website for location details and to book classes.

     

    1 Rebel

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    City workers are often high achievers and also short of time. When Barry’s only had one studio, 1 Rebel set up as a city based alternative for those who didn’t have time to trek to Euston for a class nor spend 60 minutes doing it. 1Rebel’s Reshape classes are similar to Barry’s Bootcamp classes with a mix of treadmill and floor work, but usually last 45 minutes with lunchtime 30 minute slots available. But there are five things that make 1Rebel more fabulous than the rest.

    • There’s a real mix of classes. I find that after a while my body gets used to exercise so I stop seeing results. When I shock the body and do a mix of exercises, I start to see more changes. 1 Rebel has cycling classes, Reshape classes and Rumble (boxing classes). Doing a mix of all three will definitely get you fit fast.

     

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    • The changing rooms (above) will mean you look tons better after a workout, no matter how much you’ve sweated. The benches are heated – amazing for your muscles – the showers are powerful and stocked with luxury products and the free towels are large, fluffy and sumptuous. There are also plenty of state of the art hair dryers and hair straighteners if you don’t book in for a blow dry. Which leads us to point 3…
    • There’s an on-site barber shop and blow dry parlour – Barber + Blow. Everything you need to look fabulous from top to bottom has been considered by 1 Rebel.
    • The pricing structure is clever. Several fitness studios only sell class packs, but 1 Rebel also does monthly membership where you get a specific number of classes per month. This works out much better value for money
    • There’s free prosecco on Fridays!

    Find out more details on the 1 Rebel website.

     

    Core Collective

    When you walk into Core Collective, you feel like you could be in a high-end spa. It’s really relaxing and calming (until you start a class when you’re pushed to the max). So get there early and enjoy the changing rooms while you can – you’ll need to psyche yourself up.

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    Like 1 Rebel, there’s a mix of classes but I particularly enjoyed the Velocity classes – high intensity interval training and the Resistance TRX classes for building the core and shaping longer, leaner muscles.

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    The PACE classes combining cardio on rowing machines with weights provide the ultimate full-body workout without any potential damage to knees that can occur when running on treadmills.

    See more details on the Core Collective website.

     

    Barretoned

    Check out this video for a glimpse into how Barretoned delivers a more intensive workout than you’d imagine from first impressions:

     

    See more details on the Barretoned website.

     

    So those are a few of my favourite places and  I haven’t even got round to writing about Gymclass London, KOBOX, Psycle, Project Fit, BXR London, Slice Studios, Cyclebeat, Boom Cycle, Barrecore or Speedflex yet…London has so many incredible fitness studios!

    What’s your favourite way to stay in shape?

    Read more »
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    Introducing The Newest VIP

    Hi VIPs! You may have noticed that this blog hasn’t been updated for a while. I’ve missed you lot and I hope you’ve missed me? I know I disappeared without any explanation and I’m sorry about that but I didn’t know what to write. For the past few weeks, I wasn’t living like a VIP. I was pregnant, hospitalised and terrified by the prospect of having a pre-term baby.

    However, now I am happy to announce that baby Isabella has made a safe arrival into the world. She was born at 33 weeks and 5 days weighing a teeny 5lb 1oz, but she has a strong pair of lungs on her!
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    Now that we’re both out of hospital, Isabella will be joining me in living the VIP lifestyle. You’re never too young or too old to live the best life possible.

    While in hospital, I lost my mojo slightly as I felt tired, drained and guilty for having to part from my older son to give his sister the best start in life. In hindsight, I should have remembered that life is what we make it! I could totally have glammed up my hospital ward more and used the time to experiment with nail art and different hair up dos. But I did at least live like a VIP when it came to food, using Deliveroo to order in healthy meals rather than eat the hospital food. That helped me feel nourished from the inside, even though I was suffering on the outside. I look back on photos like this with my son where I look completely drained and feel a bit sorry for myself, but I’ve moved on now and I’m not going to dwell on things.

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    If you really want to know what happened, google Placenta Abruption and Subchorionic Hematoma. It was messy! I was in for seven nights on complete bed rest and then a following nine nights until my baby and I were healthy enough to leave. But that’s in the past now. We’re out and I intend to make the most of life like never before. I’ve always lived my life to the max but now I appreciate things even more. Life is so short, we really need to enjoy as much of it as possible.

    Since we’ve been out, we’ve enjoyed a pub lunch, I’ve had my nails done and we’ve received lots of presents from visitors while I’ve made up for lost time drinking Champagne. We’ve definitely started as we mean to go on…

    I’ve also been amazed by all my friends’ generosity in terms of clothing and gifts – we had absolutely nothing prepared and all of her brothers’ sleepsuits would have been humongous on her. I didn’t expect to give birth so early so the sterilisers, cot and pram were still in the loft and I’d even forgotten how to use them. On our first trip out, I realised half way down the road that the hood of the new iCandy peach pram was on upside down. It still looked stylish though – I always feel proud when I’m pushing it and get so many compliments on its luxurious Butterscotch colour.

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    My son went to his first showbiz event at 3 months old, so Isabella won’t have to wait long until we wheel her to a celeb party while she sleeps snugly in the iCandy. We’ll keep you posted on what we’re up to and give you all the behind the scenes goss.

    We may take it easy over the next few days to recover from Isabella’s dramatic entrance into the world. She sure showed her diva credentials early. But we will have some goss by the end of the week – my mojo is back!

    Read more »
  • How To Model For Greetings Cards

     

    Do you find that when you’re in a card shop, it’s hard to find something that’s relevant for minority groups? If so, you’re not alone. According to a survey by Huetribe, a multicultural and LGBTQ greeting card line, 73% of us say there isn’t enough choice. Furthermore, with wedding season in full swing and same-sex marriages more popular than ever before having been legalised over three years ago, the pool found the most underrepresented in the greetings card market are LGBTQ people (47%), followed closely by the disabled (33%), people of colour (27%) and interracial couples or people (26%).

    BUT rather than just publish the figures, Huetribe are doing something about it and has teamed up with Manchester Pride  to find some faces to represent these groups. This is your chance to be a star! Huetribe will be scouting at this year’s Big Weekend (from 25 – 28 August) and everyone is welcome to apply. Start practising that ‘duck face’ now!

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    Tineka Smith, Founder of Huetribe said: Nothing says I’m thinking of you or I love you more than a card – but it can be hard to find cards which truly represent modern day society – whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, black or white. And with wedding season upon us, I’m not surprised the majority of Brits feel they can’t find cards for minority groups– and that’s exactly why I set up Huetribe – to address the gaps of racial, cultural and sexual representation in the greeting card market. When you walk into a store and see images on greeting cards that look like you or your relationships, it gives you a sense of acceptance that people

    “When you walk into a store and see images on greeting cards that look like you or your relationships, it gives you a sense of acceptance that people realise you’re part of our society too.”

    And because the Live Like a VIP team’s quite geeky, we were intrigued to learn more statistics. According to the survey, it’s the younger, more socially-savvy generations that like to buy cards most. Even though 18-24 year olds spend at least nine hours online each day, they buy the most cards out of all the age categories. Overall, we purchase at least 10 cards each a year spending up to six minutes looking for the right one.

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    But back to the competition, it’s worth entering because the winner will receive a professional photo shoot as well as a weekend away for friends and family.

    You can find out even more details by looking out for the ‘Join our Tribe’ competition launching on 24 July on Huetribe’s (@huetribedesign) and Manchester Pride’s (@ManchesterPride) Facebook page, as well as the Huetribe website.

    Good luck! 

    Read more »
  • A Little Pick Me Up For Weekdays

    One of the changes we’d like to do at LiveLikeaVIP is having more pieces about positive mental attitudes. To be like a VIP, we have to think like a VIP and that involves a positive, can-do mindset.

    But let’s face it, sometimes weekdays can be quite depressing. Unless you’re blessed with a fantastic job, a great boss and friendly colleagues, you probably hate going into work as much as the next person. Sadly, it’s the daily grind that we subject ourselves to because we need to raise a family, support ourselves and put food on the table. As much as it sucks to go to work on a dreadful weekday, there are plenty of ways to give yourself a motivational boost in order to reach the weekend:

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    Treat yourself to a meal

    As long as you don’t break your diet by chowing down on fast food, there are plenty of tasty foods with surprising benefits that you could treat yourself to. For example, fish such as salmon and tuna are filled with great nutrients that will really give you a boost of happiness. It’s hard to prepare at home unless you’re a seasoned chef, so take you and your partner or friends out for a lovely mid-week dinner at a fancy restaurant. It’ll give you some motivation to continue to the end of the week, and it’s something to look forward to at the end of a hard day.

    Small pick-me-ups

    If you’re feeling a lack of motivation, then there are plenty of small pick-me-ups that you can rely on. For instance, Caruso’s stress relief tablets are perfect for beating back the monotony of working at an office or a repetitive job, and caffeine tablets are a fantastic replacement for coffee due to their immediate effects and convenience. If you want to carry a guilty pleasure with you, then purchase some small chocolates and keep them in your bag or pocket and treat yourself to one every time there’s a stressful situation. Just remember not to binge on them too much else you’ll pay the price in calories!

    Plan something for the weekend

    Be it a family break, an outing with friends or even a small holiday to the country, plan something for your weekend. It doesn’t need to be so extravagant either. There’s nothing wrong with sitting at home and sleeping in, watching your favourite film and snacking on fast food. As long as you have something to look forward to, the chances of you successfully making it through the week with a glowing smile will be that much more likely. Treat yourself to a massage at the end of the week, a spa break or pamper yourself with a luxurious meal.

    Order something online

    You shouldn’t be throwing your money away, but what’s better to look forward to at the end of the day than a package with your name on it? Order something nice and simple. It could be a unique box of chocolates, a new music CD that you want to listen to, a book or even some new clothes. Whatever it is, treat yourself (assuming you can stay in your budget!) to something you can buy online so that every time you finish work, you’ll look forward to coming home and seeing if it has arrived or not!

    Read more »
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    Review: Roca Nivaria Gran 5* Tenerife

     

    Floating on my back at the edge of the infinity pool, letting the water take the strain of my tense, knotted shoulders and joints stiff from long days sat behind a computer, I looked out at a clear blue sea and felt completely relaxed.

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    It was less than 24 hours since I’d arrived at the hotel but I already felt a million miles away from my fast-paced life in London. As the flight is just 4 hours from the UK and the transfer from the airport a breeze at less than 30 minutes, I did wonder why I hadn’t visited the Roca Nivaria Gran Hotel in Tenerife before.

    Admittedly, Tenerife is perhaps not the first destination I would previously have associated with a luxury break. As a girl used to holidaying in the social hotspots and party cities of Dubai, Cannes, New York, Monaco and Mykonos, I had a bit of a snobbery when it came to the Canary Islands. Associated with package holidays and the dreaded ‘Brits abroad’, I was sceptical that I’d find the gourmet food, modern but classical décor, tasteful bars and luxury shopping that I knew I could get in the other cities. But after hearing the word Tenerife come up at social occasions, seeing it on the TV show The Only Way Is Essex and Take Me Out and reading about the Sky Team cycling camps in Tenerife, I figured there must be more to the island than meets the eye…and thankfully I soon found out I’d been correct.

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    Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I stayed in the same hotel that TOWIE used to film in earlier this year. The stars’ Instagram accounts showed me enough of the Roca Nivaria Gran Hotel to make it look appealing and if you watch the Tenerife episodes you’ll notice shots of sunbathing, eating breakfast outside by the sea and balmy nights on hotel balconies – the vital ingredients of a decent holiday.

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    The hotel’s location on Playa Paraiso near Costa Adeje means it’s situated in one of the more upmarket parts of the island (which I liked a lot) but I soon found out that it’s a hotel that you just can’t tear yourself away from. With two infinity pools (one heated), a kids pool, a private beach with soft black sand, breath-taking views of the Atlantic from everywhere you step (including your room’s balcony) and a variety of top quality restaurants, you can walk around with the lovely feeling of confidence that whatever you need is never more than a quick telephone call away. There’s no need to worry about the weather either as it rarely rains in Tenerife and the mercury is guaranteed to be in the mid 20s or above.

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    My travel partners were my husband and our 13 month old baby (pictured above), which isn’t the obvious group to enjoy a celebrity style holiday, but I’ve always thought that you don’t have to have a personality lobotomy when you have children. Besides, even 13 month olds deserve to holiday in style, don’t they? One thing you need to make this possible is to ensure the hotel has a great kids club, which the Roca Nivaria Gran certainly does (more about that later).

    Every day started with a luxurious breakfast outside on the terrace, overlooking the Atlantic. We feasted on fresh fruit, yogurt and granola and my husband was a frequent visitor to the freshly cooked omelette station. I watched chefs cook pancakes fresh for me and then I smothered them with scrambled eggs and syrup. The croissants were also very more-ish, served warm and just the right size to tickle your tastebuds without leaving you uncomfortably full.

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    The baby and kids club, which is included in the price of your stay, opens at 10am every morning. All the staff we met went the extra mile to make the kids feel comfortable and between them spoke every language imaginable. Babies have their own padded fenced off area so they are safe from older kids and they have access to hundreds of toys, balls, stacking toys, pushing toys and soft play foam that captures their attention and makes them want to stay. There’s even a dedicated sleep room so babies can stick to their regular naptimes. When I picked Rory up for lunch at 1pm, I was told exactly what he’d done, what he’d eaten and drunk and if he’d had any wet / dirty nappies.

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    Lunches we liked to take by the pool, sampling a variety of BBQ food, paella and salads. My son loved the small birds which were so tame they sat on the back of seats, waiting until someone left the table so they could steal some morsels. After some ice cream and fruit, we liked to dip our feet into the pool, looking out to sea and catching up on the morning’s activities. My husband would usually have spent the morning cycling while I would have been topping up my tan, swimming and reading by the pool. My husband was in cycling heaven with Mount Teide being a mecca for cyclists. One on day, he was cycling down the mountain when he saw Chris Froome and Team Sky cycling up it as preparation for their Tour De France cycling. If you like to keep fit on holiday you can easily hire a bike on the island and our hotel had a fully equipped and air-conditioned gym for people who prefer a less sweaty workout (like me).

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    Our son was back in kids club from 3pm – 6pm, giving my husband and I some time together to chill. We rarely get to spend so much quality time together as a couple so it felt super special and was a chance for us to remember why we got together and stuck together. However, both of us looked forward to the end of the day when we collected Rory and took him to the pool. There’s just something about being in a swimming pool with an excited baby that makes you feel like a kid again yourself.

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    We usually ate dinner early to keep to Rory’s bedtime and this meant we always had a prime spot outside, whether eating in the buffet or in one of the hotel’s speciality restaurants. Instead of a traditional buffet, the Roca Nivaria Gran has demonstration stations. Every night, there are eight or so areas with chefs making a variety of meats, stews, stir-frys, grilled food, pasta and pizza fresh while you watch. It was warm and full of flavour, which was infinitely better than helping yourself to food that’s been sitting there for ages. I love a restaurant where you can see chefs working in the kitchen and this took it to another level.

    Every night, we had at least eight hours sleep to the sounds of the waves crashing onto the rocks. I don’t usually allow the window to be open on holiday as I am severely allergic to insect bites, but I didn’t get any on the first night at dinner (which is always a test) and so I allowed the window to be open. To my surprise, I awoke in the morning to clear skin and a clear mind. My son used to get up around 5am at home but the sea air and timetable of activities at baby club helped him to sleep in until at least 7am in the mornings. Bliss! This meant we were all started the day in a better mood.

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    To holiday like a TV star, there needs to be fabulous food, a spectacular location, a relaxed setting and efficient service and we certainly had that at the Roca Nivaria Gran hotel in Tenerife. Now I have a new destination on my list of VIP holiday destinations. When people ask me where I enjoy holidaying my new list will be Cannes, Monaco, Mykonos, New York, Dubai and….Tenerife

     

    Visit the Roca Nivaria Gran’s website to see more of what they offer.

     

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  • A Guide To Surviving Festival Season

     

    With Coachella in full swing, festival season is now well and truly upon us! This means a summer of dancing, partying until dawn and wearing the season’s best trends throughout the long hot months. But spending weekends in fields and staying up late for days and nights on end doesn’t make for a healthy body – we may want to look like Lottie Moss, but those bags under your eyes aren’t fooling anyone. So without further ado, here is our guide to surviving the festival season like a pro, without damaging your health while you do so.

    vip-festival1

    Opt for hotels or VIP camping

    It’s not good for anyone to be in a tent for long periods of time, especially when it means trying to snooze through the bass of that 8am DJ who somehow still has a crowd. If you opt for a hotel outside of the festival grounds not only are you guaranteed a comfy and quiet place to get some shut-eye, but also a shower, mirror and hair dryer. Most festivals also offer VIP camping areas where partiers can crash out in a real bed in a tipi or yurt. These areas usually offer showers and toilets that are in good condition, as well as electricity to charge phones and stay connected.

    Drink water

    However great all that booze and sunshine is, it wreaks havoc on your skin, quality of sleep and energy levels. Stay hydrated throughout the day to stay fresh, keep hangovers at bay and to encourage your skin to maintain a healthy glow. Rehydration salts, however disgusting, are your best friend at a festival so stock up and drink up!

    Be prepared

    Anything can happen at a festival, so make sure you have stocked up on all the essentials and more. Wet-weather gear and wellies are a no-brainer, as is pre-bought alcohol and any meds you regularly need to take. If you are short on time, a company like Sable Pharmacy can home deliver your prescriptions, so you can concentrate on getting festival ready, rather than running around the shops.

    vip-festival2

    Look out for each other

    This one goes without saying, but it’s likely that someone in your group is going to push their limits a bit further than they can handle. Look after you friends and make sure they are safe and well – escort them back to basecamp if they need, fill them up with H2O and hold their hand or hair back if required. You’re all in this together guys, stay safe!

    Never underestimate the power of dry shampoo

    If you didn’t have time to shower because your favourite DJ is playing in 10 and you only got into bed two hours ago, don’t panic. Dry shampoo is the mother of all festival essentials and will turn your hair from grease ball to lion mane in a manner of seconds.

    Glitter!

    It’s not a festival without so much glitter you’ll be finding it in bags and pockets for years to come. Cover yourself, and your friends, in your favourite accessory and you’ll be in full festival swing. While you’re at it, there is a whole load of biodegradable glitter out there, which means you can feel a little bit better about your bad behaviour!

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  • ,

    Competition: Win 7 RNA Award-Winning Books

    The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s RNA Awards are one of the highlights of the publishing world and a fantastic opportunity to meet the celebrities of the writing world. If, like us, you love to relax by the pool on holiday with a romantic read or two, or read a book to escape the drudgery of your daily commute, there’s a good chance you will have heard of some of the names on the RNA shortlist.

    If you’re looking for inspiration about what to read next then you need to pay careful attention to the list of winning books as these have been chosen by a panel of judges as the best of the best. You could also enter our competition as we are very excited that the Romantic Novelists Association has given us the set of winning books to give away to LLAVIP readers. These are the fabulous winning titles:

    RoNA books all

     

    The books are:

    Penny Parkes, Out of Practice, Simon & Schuster

    Winner Romantic Comedy Romantic Novel of the Year

    Out of Practice.indd

     

    Kate Kerrigan, It Was Only Ever You, Head of Zeus

    Winner Historical Romantic Novel of the Year

    Kerrigan_IT WAS ONLY EVER YOU - Copy

     

    Scarlet Wilson, Christmas in the Boss’s Castle, Mills & Boon Cherish

    Winner RoNA Rose Award

    Christmas in the Boss's Castle - Scarlet Wilson - Copy (2)

     

    Kate Johnson, Max Seventeen, independently published

    Winner Paranormal or Speculative Romantic Novel

    Max-cover3
    Janet Gover, Little Girl Lost, Choc Lit

    Winner Epic Romantic Novel of the Year

    Litte Girl Lost front cover - Copy

     

    Debbie Johnson, Summer at the Comfort Food Café, HarperImpulse

    Winner Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year

    Comfort Food Cafe - Copy
    Sophia Bennett, Love Song, Chicken House

    Winner Young Adult Romantic Novel of the Year

    Winner Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year

    Love Song - Copy

     

    To enter, email info@livelikeavip.com with your name, address and  the answer to this question – who was the host of the 2017 RNA Awards? [Hint: the answer can be found below] The closing date is 2359 on 30 March 2017 so please enter before then – usual LLAVIP competition T&C’s apply.

    The night itself was the ideal opportunity to meet the authors – look at how fantastic they look in real-life, along with outstanding achievement award winners Adele Parks and Barbara Erskine.  Writing isn’t all about being isolated in the study / home office (although that is a big part of it). When these authors aren’t scribbling away, they know how to let their hair down.

    RoNA17 winners

     

    The host of the evening was novelist and food writer / cooking school founder, Prue Leith.

    prueleith

     

    She said that she was waiting for the call to be a judge on Channel 4’s version of the Great British Bake Off. After talking to her, I know she’d do a great job. She’s had 11 years of experience on BBC’s The Great British Menu and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She’d be feistier than Mary Berry and make the amateur bakers up their game. Would you like to see her as a judge?

    Good luck in our competition and don’t forget to enter by 30 March!

     

     

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  • E!’s Sabrina Chakici Shares Networking Tips

     

    You should know from reading Live Like a VIP that there are several showbiz parties a night in London, plus some in New York, LA and other celeb destinations. There’s a reason for this – it’s all about going out to see and be seen. The stars may be dressing up, but they’re not letting their hair down and going crazy. Often, they get work by appearing at the right events, so they need to stay as professional as possible.

    One lovely lady who always looks gorgeous and is super interesting to talk to at these events is E! TV presenter and founder of the aspirational travel  blog www.clutchandcarryon.com, Sabrina Chakici. We love bumping into her at parties! Her job is to report back on showbiz events for E! so she what she doesn’t know about networking at these parties isn’t worth knowing. We’re super excited that she’s sharing her networking tips with the Live Like a VIP readers.

    Over to Sabrina…

    sabrina1

     

    How to nail the art of networking at an event

    Working as a TV presenter is a job that is assuringly preserved for the confident, speaking to new people, in front of new people pretty much 24/7 can be a tasking role but there are a few tricks of the trade for those of you wanting to assume a convincing self assured role for the day. 

    Events are an excellent opportunity to network, whether it’s to make new friends or business contacts or to highlight opportunities and information, being invited to a high profile event is an amazing honour but giving each and every event you attend a purpose is the VIP mindset 😉

    So here are my tips to rocking it when it comes to networking:

    (1) Assume people like you before you even start talking to them 

    It’s a brave thing to do in a crowd of new people, but a great way to work an event. It can be so easy to think ‘well. what if they don’t like me’ and be put off approaching new people but if you have the premeditated mind set that those you are about to speak to already like you it not only relaxes that anxiety aspect but it also makes the conversation flow so much better.

    (2) Dress up but keep it classy.

    Making an effort for an event is never a bad idea, now I’m not suggesting you splash out for a designer frock and blow-dry for every event but it’s always a good idea to look presentable and slap on a bit of make-up. People tend to respond well to people who make an effort.

    (3) Let alcohol spur you and a not control you!

    I will always have a glass of champers in my hand when networking, not only does the fizz instantly give you a little preppy kick it always gives you something to do in any awkward silences (take a sip!) and gives you something to do with you hands. Handbag in one arm and a glass in the other, you no longer have to think about your gestures, just focus on the conversation 😉 Do not get tipsy though ladies! If you are there to network no good can come out of being too sloshed to remember someones name!

    (4) Ask for a business card or email early.

    A common mistake I’ll make is not getting the contact details of the guy I’ve schmoozed for the last half an hour. It’s always good to ask for a card or offer yours near the start of a conversation. that way should the conversation with a stranger part not go too well you can always impress them with a kick ass follow up email 😉

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