Travel

No News, No Shoes, No Worries!

June 10, 2018


PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationSoneva Fushi, Maldives

 

Outfit Details

Dresses –  Camilla A Night to Remember dress | House of Harlow Gaines dress | Astars Capitola Skirt

Anna Beck jewelryLapis Ring | Lapis Pendant necklace | Lapis Cuff | Adventure Cuff | Saddle Ring | Lapis Multi Stone Ring | Complete Ring | Howlite necklace

SwimwearCamilla Salvador Summer bikini  | Anja one piece | Waterlily bikini

Bags – Green pacha Circle Bag

Hats – Green Pacha Raw Natural | Je T’aime Hat

 

Our recent journey to the Maldives took us to the original castaway style resort, the inspirational Soneva Fushi, located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO biosphere reserve. It is here in 1995 the visionary founders Sonu and Eva created a sacred island paradise that inspires the imagination and deepens your appreciation for nature. It’s a place to connect and experience timeless moments. Every detail and experience helps you switch off, allowing you to melt into the slow life, and feel like you’re walking around in a constant state of meditation. It starts with the no news, no shoes philosophy. We spent 2 weeks barefoot in the Maldives and almost forgot to put our shoes on at the airport! It felt so wonderful to be so connected to the earth; absorbing all the healing energies, and connecting to the energetic footprint of this island’s history.

We loved the resort’s Robinson Crusoe feel, and our Mr Friday host, Jemco, who took care of absolutely every detail of our stay. Even before we arrived we filled in a questionnaire so our beautiful villa was equipped with all our favourite snacks, drinks, essential oils, and our preferred pillow from their extensive pillow menu. We had some of the best sleep of our life here. Each day we watched the sunrise on our balcony before heading straight into the crystalline water of our own private beach. I really fell in love with the natural design of the villa and the lush outdoor bathroom, with it’s sunken bath and the relaxing sounds of trickling water. The villa was so luxuriously appointed with everything you could need; sauna, pool, hammock, bicycles, daybeds, sun beds, indoor bathroom, a walk in mini bar kitchen, and the most grand entrance with floor to second story ceiling wooden doors. It was so easy to switch off, and we loved that we could even turn the wifi off with a single push of a button. The TV was also tastefully hidden into the interior design so you don’t even see it! As a family who barely watch TV we loved this concept so much! We are all about experience and cherishing ever-precious moments, connecting with nature and creating lifetime memories.

This truly was one of the greatest family holiday spots for us. The kids club, known as The Den, is actually the largest in the Maldives. It has a huge lagoon style pool with a much-loved waterslide, a lego room, a music room, a kitchen, and an art space where they teach the children about recycling. Some of my favourite moments with the kids were simply riding our bikes around the island on our way to our next meal at Mihiree Mitha, which means “Here it is.” This main hub is such a wonderful way to come together and connect with everyone. We enjoyed many slow breakfasts by the ocean with the most varied selection one could wish for. And honestly the best vegan food I’ve tasted! I was spoilt for choice and every dining experience was hands down the best culinary experience of my life! And if your day wasn’t already off to a fabulous start then just stop at the all-you-can-eat ice cream parlour and chocolate shop. Open all hours of the day and night! Over 30 flavour options and so many vegan options too! Like I said totally spoilt for choice.

One of our favourite days as a family was spent snorkelling with their in house marine biologist, the lovely Frederica. We explored some of the largest coral reefs in the Maldives, home to manta rays, turtles, sharks and so much more. On this trip we saw some of the biggest and most colourful fish I’ve ever seen and the kids had so much fun practicing their free diving skills. I loved watching how confident they became as they explored the underwater world. It was truly a proud mum moment for me. In the evening we dined amongst the treetops at their incredible Fresh in the Garden restaurant. To end this perfect day, Soneva’s in house astronomer guided us through the night sky at The Observatory and we even caught a glimpse of Jupiter thanks to their state-of-the-art telescope.

Our wonderful stay coincided with the opening of the amazing new Out of the Blue restaurant. More than just a restaurant, this is also a spectacular over water space with all day dining, equipped with waterslide and hammocks for some fun in the sun. This is also the most perfect spot to watch the sunset with one of their signature cocktails, while you look out for dolphins and sea turtles.

What struck me most about Soneva Fushi is how they have maintained such a high level of luxury without compromising on sustainability. They are 100% carbon neutral and they have an eco centre located on the island with an innovative ‘Waste-to-Wealth’ ethos. This is up-cycling at it’s best with up to 90% of all waste being recycled. Glass bottles from the island along with glass waste from neighbouring island resorts are used to create art and installations via the onsite Glass Studio. Styrofoam is transformed into building blocks, food waste is composted to help their organic gardens thrive. So much of the food is grown here and sourced locally, reducing the miles spent in delivering food. Using resources on site, charcoal is made and used for cooking. Water is filtered, mineralised and bottled in glass bottles on the island with proceeds providing 3/4 million people around the world with safe drinking water. And to top it off there is no plastic in sight. What I really love most about these guys is that they care beyond their island paradise. They are empowering women in the Maldives, by providing more jobs and education, they are teaching local children to swim, supporting the local islands with funds for construction of a pre-school and science laboratory, they are providing energy and fuel efficient stoves to poor rural communities in Myanmar and Darfur, reducing deforestation and air pollution. The list goes on and is truly outstanding. They have inspired me to find even more ways I can tread lightly on this earth, and reach out to help those in need. My awareness and passion for sustainability has deepened, and I will always be so grateful to Soneva resorts for this visit.

After this amazing stay at Soneva Fushi we ventured to the magnificent Soneva Jani and I can’t wait to share more of our exciting family adventures, coming soon to the blog!

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Pure Heart

May 13, 2018

 

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/StylingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – North Beach, Smiths Beach Resort – Western Australia

 

Outfit Details 

Violet’s Vintage Skirt | Lace Bandeau |  Lace Wrap top | Riviera cap

Santorini Dress | Summer Love Hat | Riviera cap

Anastasia Lace Skirt | Lace Wrap top | Riviera cap

JadeIsabelle Lace Dress | Ivy White Scarf | Gatsby Headband (worn around waist) | Riviera cap

JacobRiviera cap

Jewelry – Rings – Stone | Stacking Set | Saddle | Black Diamond BezelBracelet | Necklace

PropsPretty Willow | The Zest Group

 

I love watching people create with all their hearts and bring to life their dreams. Purity Lace Designs epitomises everything I love about fashion and working together to share something beautiful with the world. It’s an inspirational label by a gorgeous mother and daughter duo, who have created some timeless, elegant pieces that absolutely flatter the female form in all her divine feminine glory. Nothing will make you feel more like a goddess than a little piece of their collection. Jade and I had such a lovely time styling their pieces in different ways; the scarves as wrap tops, the headbands as belts, and a little cheeky off shoulder with the Santorini Dress. Either way they are just so amazing!

Shooting with my children was so much fun and they even helped me style the set. We collected beautiful pieces from the lovely Zest Group and Pretty Willow to create our magical sunset tea party. The kids were so adorably cute and Jacob even suited up for the occasion and served us tea! What a sweetheart! Jade’s Isabelle Lace Dress was absolutely so gorgeous that I’m already wishing Purity Lace Designs would make it in an adult size ;) It’s become one of her wardrobe favourites. After many giggles, we watched the glorious sunset over the ocean and enjoyed our little tea party. And how amazing were these sunsets! Honestly if you get the chance to visit Smith’s Beach resort I think it might be my favourite place in all of WA!

Juggling motherhood and a full time business has always been a challenge for me, and I’m sure for many other mothers out there. Though I’ve realised in recent years the gift of living your purpose and passions, and how this impacts our children. They watch and learn from us, through modelling our behaviours, and I feel like by living to be my best self I will be teaching them to be exactly that. Every day they teach me, they remind me to follow my joy and to be authentic. This is what children do, and this is why they are so happy. We sometimes forget as adults to take care of ourselves, and follow what we love. Life is far more peaceful and enjoyable when we start living from our heart’s call. To all the mothers out there, please remember you are enough, more than enough, you are everything, and you deserve everything. You can be anything you want to be! And do anything you want to do! Believe and know you are worth the time and space to be heard and to live what you truly love. Follow that spark inside that energises you. See where it leads and know that you are also doing something wonderful for your children at the same time. Think of the gift you teach them through your own transformation. Sending out so much love to all the mother’s today! Happy Mother’s Day today and every day!

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Sunsets and Moonrises

May 4, 2018

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationBawah Island, Indonesia

 

Outfit DetailsMidsummer Star Jewelry

Rings – Parallel Worlds | Persia Rainbow Moonstone | Transformation Rainbow Moonstone | Arabian Rainbow Moonstone | Transcend Rainbow Moonstone | White Light | Delicate Tiara

Necklaces – Cosmic Mandala | Snowflake Mandala

Bracelets – Cosmic Mandala | Celestial Star | Snowflake Mandala Moonstone | Star Mandala

Girl Next Door Skirt | Dana Top | Vamp Crystalize Push Up Bra | Just Dive in ScarfJe T’aime Hat

 

Have you ever seen a sunset and a moonrise at the same time?! I never know which way to look as both views are so beautiful! I still find it absolutely phenomenal that nature produces this kind of magic! How lucky are we!

We were so humbled by nature’s beauty on our recent trip to Bawah; the golden sun flares shimmering over the iridescent turquoise lagoon and the majesty of the moon as it rose against the pastel glow of the sky.

What a night it was, decked out in my absolute favourite dainty moonstone jewels from Midsummer Star, in the most perfect setting. As we were getting ready for an island style dinner I felt called by the full moon. The next thing I know I’m back in a bikini and in the ocean for an evening swim! haha! ;)

As the biggest jewelry lover ever, my dresser is filled with Midsummer Star pieces from every one of their gorgeous collections. The intricate designs and shimmery moonstones speak to my soul and are some of my favourite sterling silver pieces. I get so excited for their new collection drops! And how well do they all pair with each other. It’s always so easy to style and stack them up.

And seriously Bawah is the most dreamiest place on this planet! We are gearing up for more island adventures tomorrow so keep your eye on my instagram and stories for all the behind the scenes! Until then lovers have an awesome week and hope you can feel all the good vibes I’m sending out. And make sure you check out Midsummer Star’s latest release! It’s insanely good!

Love and Gratitude,

Helen xx

 

Bawah Reserve

April 28, 2018

 


PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationBawah Reserve, Indonesia

 

Outfit Details

SwimwearAdrianna Sandy Blanket Stitch bikini | Cloud Dancer One-piece | Hung up on you One-piece | Camilla One-piece (similar)

Dresses/ SkirtsCelestial Mini Dress | Ionic SkirtAnastasia Lace SkirtJust Dive in Scarf/Sarong | Siren Song kimonoGirl Next Door Skirt

TopsDana Top

HatsJe T’aime Hat | Riviera cap

SunglassesClassic Round ray bans

JewelryOrbit Gold necklace | Galaxy Charms Gold Bracelet | Rings

 

This was one of those moments when you stumble upon a piece of paradise so pristine and so perfect you are torn between keeping it secret or sharing it’s beauty with the world. Of course we have to share this magnificent place and we want everyone to experience it for themselves. This is barefoot, sustainable luxury and it’s truly heaven on earth.

Bawah is so much more than an island. It’s an archipelago consisting of 6 beautiful islands, a reserve filled with marine life and wild life, and an experience waiting to bring you back to your true nature. There are 3 gorgeous lagoons and 13 beaches, with the whitest sand and clearest, crystal clear water. You can explore the islands by catamaran, by kayak, by snorkel and by stand up paddle board. And you can hike to the top and explore the magical vista from above. It’s truly a sight to see and a great way to discover the beautiful native flora that grows on the island.

We traveled with our two children, Jade and Jacob (12 and 9), and it was the best family holiday we’ve had. It was so wonderful to watch their confidence build as they bravely dove deep into the lagoon and explored the beauty of the underwater world. I loved seeing their personalities blossom as they interacted with the staff and how eager they were to explore and experience.

We had such an easy and seamless travel experience getting to Bawah. We flew to Singapore from Perth via Singapore airlines and it was such a great flight. From here Bawah Reserve organised our VIP fast track travel experience via ferry to Batam, Indonesia and then a seaplane into Bawah. It took maybe around 3 hours total and it was so cruisy and comfortable with minimal waiting. Landing at Bawah was just the most beautiful view I have ever laid my eyes on. Seeing it from above on such a clear day was incredible! The welcome we received was so heart warming and we instantly fell in love with everyone and this island paradise.

We stayed in an overwater villa which gave us the option for easy snorkeling right from our deck. Our family loves to snorkel and we were lucky enough to see starfish, rays, baby sharks, and the most brightly coloured fish imaginable! When we weren’t snorkelling we enjoyed in villa dining while watching the beautiful turquoise views and sunsets. One evening we were even picked up by boat for an island sunset cruise right from our villa! It was the best! There is just so much to see and explore that your inner child will be shining ever so brightly and just bursting with excitement for the possibilities each day.

Ok let’s talk food because wow the chefs here really know what they are doing. I can not fault them in any way what so ever. The concept is everything is included when you book at Bawah. Your room rate covers all your meals, your water activities, your spa treatments, your sea plane transfers and your dedicated hosts who will take the very best care of you during your stay. The chef will meet with you and create your dream menu catering specifically to your every need. In our family, we have me who is vegan, Jade who is vegetarian and Bobby and Jacob who eat almost everything, except 3 of us are all gluten free! haha! It’s a lot and gets very confusing when we travel. Not here though. Not one bit. They not only ensured our dietary requirements were met, they went above and beyond to create some of the most gourmet culinary experiences I have enjoyed as a vegan. I felt so spoilt! I’m so ok eating fairly simply as it agrees well with my body and health, but it was so wonderful to have someone put so much effort and energy to create these meals for us each day. I never ate the same thing and I was always so pleasantly surprised and in awe of their creations.

We had two wonderful hosts take the best care of us too. Always ready to help us with anything. Big shout out and thank you to both Bayu and Mohra. It’s so helpful for us as travel bloggers to have understanding hosts who can help us out to manage our time so efficiently so we can make the most of our experience.

Bawah is the place you’ll make everlasting memories at, it’s where you’ll connect deeply with yourself, your family, your partner and nature. It naturally brings out your best self and I hope you all get the chance to visit this incredibly special place. If it’s not on your bucket list already, put it at the top! Seriously!

We are filled with gratitude for our dream trip to Bawah, and will cherish every moment of our experience.

Now we are gearing up for more adventures and we’re also talking about running a travel workshop! Let me know if you’re interested in learning how to become a travel blogger? We will be sharing everything from how to build your blog to creating and editing beautiful imagery. Email me if you’d like to hear more and want to travel with us.

Much love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Land of the Midnight Sun

February 16, 2018



PhotographyHelen Janneson Bense | Reija Janneson Bolwell

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Finland – check out Visit Finland | Visit Helsinki and Visit Tampere for more information.

StayHotel F6 – Helsinki | Järvisydän Hotel and Spa Resort – Rantasalmi | Villa Hilja – Tampere

Eat – Breakfast at Hotel F6 | Lunch at Löyly | Dinner at The Cock |  Coffee stop Mattolaituri | Sunset cocktails at Ateljee Rooftop bar | Definitely try karjalanpirakka and mustikkapiirakka whenever you can!

Do – Sauna at Löyly | Catch some live music at Allas Sea Pool | Sky Sauna | Pick up some fresh berries and homemade cloud berry jam at Hakaniemi Market Square | Helsinki Cathedral | Supping with Suppaa Tampere | Boat adventure to Kaarnetsaari Island | Aerial yoga at Järvisydän | Make your own herbal concoctions at Frantsila Organic Herb Farm | Soak up the sunshine and happy vibes at Esplanade park | Pick wildflowers and wild berries (almost everywhere)

 

Outfit Details

DressesWeisy High Low | Kannan | Naoki Mint Lace |  Sayulita | Mini Skirt

SwimwearGypset one piece | Hush Hush one piece 

AccessoriesRiviera cap | Sunglasses | Chisel Boots | Morgan Belt

 

My trip to Finland last year was a coming home experience for me. It had been 36 years since I had visited my home and reconnected with my roots. My earliest memories are of Finland, the smell of the forest, the taste of the wild berries, the quiet, stillness of the land, the centred, strong people, who stand tall like the birch. I remember the midsummer bonfire burning so bright and swimming in the lakes after a sauna. I remember running around my grandmother’s house waiting for it to get dark, yelling out I would never sleep until the sun went down. In this magical land of the midnight sun, I eventually tired from all my time spent exploring nature. I would help my grandfather with the garden, collecting apples, potatoes and we’d pick wild berries from the forest land that was their backyard. We would bake all kinds of deliciousness. My favourite was and always will be Karjalanpirakka. A must try when you visit Finland. And a little tip, we had some of the best ever for breakfast at Hotel F6 – still not as good as yours mum, but close ;) haha!

It amazed me how at home I felt when I arrived. The immigration officer asked me about the origins of my name and then welcomed me home. This feeling of home brought me to tears many times on this trip. All that familiarity came flooding back to me. I started dreaming in Finnish again. I think if I spent just a few more months there I would be speaking fluently once again. Reconnecting with my family was above all the best part; my 50 or so cousins, my aunties, uncles and all of their families. My beautiful sister, Reija, flew in from her home in Santa Cruz, so we could journey through Finland together. We began in Helsinki, staying at the well appointed and beautifully designed Hotel F6. The location was beyond perfect, close to everything we wanted to explore. Helsinki is one of the most beautiful seaside cities, filled with culture, history and inspirational design and architecture. We walked for miles along cobblestone streets, exploring the waterfront, the markets, the parks, and cafe terrace lined streets. We soaked up the sun at Esplanade park, watched the longest sunset over Allas Sea Pool at 10pm whilst listening to live music, and enjoyed the amazing rooftop views of Helsinki at Ateljee bar.

From Helsinki we drove north to Jarvisydan with a couple of stops to pick wildflowers and visit our precious family along the way. This area of Finland is very close to where our family roots began. Our father is from Karelia and mother from Hankasalmi. It was so special to spend time here and experience the beautiful Jarvisydan lake spa. Järvisydän, which translates to Lake Heart, is built into the natural terrain around Lake Saimaa. This is Finland’s largest lake and home to the cutest Saimaa Ringed Seal, an endangered species found only in this lake. You can take a boat trip through Linnansaari national park and hope to catch a glimpse of these beautiful animals. We spent our days exploring the forest for wild blueberries, supping on Lake Saimaa, relaxing in the lake spa with some aerial yoga and a multitude of sauna experiences. With so many types of Finnish Saunas you are totally spoilt for choice. My favourite is the kivi sauna, also known as stone sauna. Refresh in the indoor pool or head into the infinity pool overlooking the lake! And if you’re game, there’s nothing better than running straight into the refreshing lake after a hot sauna.

Next we journeyed to beautiful Tampere to attend a family wedding and connect with all our relatives. Here we found a traditional mokki (cottage) deep in the forest by the most beautiful, glistening lake. Cottage life in Finland is very popular in summer and how most people spend their holidays. It’s a wonderful time to connect with family and nature no matter what you are doing. And still there is so much to do! I built my first wood sauna (with the guidance of my family) and enjoyed a traditional sauna experience. It was the perfect evening of burning hot sauna, naked lake swims, delicious food, wonderful company and a sunset over the lake in the quiet magic of the forest. And when you feel like emerging from this divine forest cocoon, Tampere is full of adventures. Check out the Frantsila Organic herb farm and make your own herbal concoctions, and then get yourself out onto the lakes for some water sports – supping, wake boarding, river floating, kayaking or try flying on a flyboard! Head into the national park for some amazing hiking and views. There were so many highlights of this journey though Finland. The very best part for me was attending a family wedding and witnessing so much love. We had such a fun night, dancing and laughing until all hours, our bellies full of delicious food, our hearts full with connections and memories that will last a lifetime.

I journeyed deep into the heart of Finland and myself on this trip. I’ve always believed that our landscape helps to shape our collective psyche. As I sat amongst the trees, I felt the stillness and calm of the forest. I felt the sacred gift of silence, of listening, of observing. I felt the strength of the trees, collectively centred and standing tall. It was in this moment I realised I was home. This is who I am. I have always longed for quiet, for stillness, this space to observe and listen. I feel so very grateful for the magical gifts the forest and lake have shared with me. I retrieved a piece of myself that was long forgotten. I found myself in the landscape, in the culture, and in my family. I was reminded of who I truly am and I’ve come back to my home in Australia understanding myself so much more.

I’m so grateful to Visit Helsinki , Visit Tampere and Visit Finland for assisting me in organising this trip. They have valuable resources to help you plan your own adventures to this incredible part of our world. And as always please feel free to ask me anything. I’m always here to help :)

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

 

Magical City of Lights

January 25, 2018

Photography/VideographyBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense

Model/Styling/Editing – Helen Janneson Bense | Bobby Bense

Location – Dubai, United Arab Emirates – For all your Dubai travel needs head to Visit Dubai

StayFour Seasons Jumeirah Beach

EatToko | Thiptara | Mercury Lounge

DoHatta Day trip | Burj Al Arab Infinity Pool | Cove Beach | Madinat Jumeirah | Seaplane | Desert Safari

 

Outfit Details

A Night To Remember DressGirl Next Door Short Skirt | Tie front dress | Maple lace cover | Ember Gown | Salvador Summer Skirt

Bag – Basket White Tassel | Ark bag

Swimwear – Ostuni Halterneck | Salvador Summer 

Hats – Je T’aime | Scalloped Ivory Love

 

From the mountains to the city, from the desert to the sea, Dubai really has it all and has won our hearts once again. This was our second trip to this dreamy city, where everything feels like a fairytale. The glistening streets at night, the iconic Burj Khalifa standing so tall and bright, the buildings shimmering in gold, it makes you stop and admire just how innovative and creative Dubai truly is. The blend of traditional architecture with modern luxuries is outstanding. We experienced everything from the Hajar mountains and the historical town of Hatta, to the pure opulence of the Burj Al Arab. We kayaked the Hatta Dam, went stand up paddle boarding at Cove Beach, took a seaplane over the Palm Jumeirah, explored the souks of Madinat Jumeirah, and enjoyed some of the best food we’ve ever had. For a spectacular candlelit meal with the most incredible views of the dancing fountains head to Thiptara at The Palace. The viewing deck at The Palace is also a great vantage point to watch the fountain show and see Burj Khalifa transform into one of the most creative light shows I’ve ever seen. For a fun rooftop sunset sesh we loved Level 43 and the Mercury Lounge at the Four Seasons. One of my personal highlights, however so small, was discovering that the Four Seasons has a gluten free, vegan menu. I did the most joyful happy dance and maybe even squealed a little when I saw this ;) I love how progressive and multicultural Dubai is, and this is reflected in all the amazing dining experiences on offer. We were completely spoilt for choice everywhere we went! For a lovely casual night out with something for everyone try Toko. Feast on Chinese and Japanese street style food in their famous outdoor garden. It was culinary heaven, and set the scene for such a fun night out connecting with friends.

The finale to this beyond amazing trip was heading into the Arabian desert for a safari. We learnt about the Arabian Oryx, the national animal of UAE,  and were lucky enough to see a herd of these majestic creatures in the conservation reserve. What a beautiful sight it was, the white Oryx set against the contrast of the vibrant desert sand. After an exhilarating ride in the cutest vintage jeep we arrived at our desert camp. We watched the sunset in the most divine bedouin setup, with arabic coffee, shisha and traditional drumming and dance. We shared a beautiful meal and heart felt stories around the fire, creating memories with our lovely group of desert travellers. These are the precious moments that will be with me forever.

If you want any more information on Dubai please comment or direct message me. I’m always happy to help and offer my assistance to plan your perfect adventure.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

 

This trip was sponsored by Visit Dubai and we are beyond grateful for this opportunity to create and share all this beauty and magic with you all.

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