Travel

Rainbows and Rays

June 30, 2018

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationFairmont Sirru Fen Fushi – Maldives

 

Outfit details

Dresses –  House of Harlow Gaines | Sky Nadiyya

Swimwear – Camilla multi colour one piece | Camilla Salvador Summer one piece

HatsEcua Andino Custom Boater

BagsZara Cage bag

 

Our last stop on our amazing Maldives trip was to the newly opened Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi. I didn’t think our holiday could get any better but it absolutely did. From rainbows to manta ray sightings, it was filled with so many magical moments that will be forever cherished.

It all started with most wonderful Mother’s day celebration. I woke up after the best nights sleep of my life and I owe it all to the incredible california king bed and the soothing sounds of the ocean. The bed was so comfortable, like a giant cloud, that I totally melted into. This was the first time I was challenged to get up for sunrise because it was just so cosy. Clearly the best bed I’ve ever slept in! But what a reward it was waking up at sunrise to spot 2 manta rays swimming past our villa. I was just coming out of a deep meditation when I opened my eyes to see these beautiful, gentle beings. They swam back and forth for over half an hour and it was honestly so overwhelming it made me cry.

After a wonderful breakfast at Raha market we headed out on a snorkelling trip with Fairmont’s resident marine biologist. It was so wonderful to see such an abundance of marine life and some very well preserved coral reefs. They really take care of their environment here and we love that! This was the trip where our daughter, Jade, saw a 1.5M shark and she wasn’t scared at all, she actually wanted to see more! I love how confident our children have become on all the adventures we’ve been on. I also love how well set up Fairmont was for keeping children of all ages entertained; not only an awesome kids club but also a teen centre. Jade being 12 going on 21 had so much fun here creating a traditional Maldivian mat on a loom. She went back each day to finish her project. Jacob’s favourite spot was definitely the giant trampoline with climbing ropes and slide. We loved how content they were to do their own thing, and it gave Bobby and I time to enjoy together.

After fun in the sun, an amazing in villa lunch with turquoise ocean views, I was able to have some luxurious nurturing time in one of their incredible copper bath tubs! My flower bath dreams came to life once again as they prepared the most beautiful bubble bath. Followed by a sunset dinner under the stars it was by far the most amazing mother’s day. They even created a bespoke vegan 5 course meal from their new Azure restaurant. I was totally spoilt!

One of the coolest experiences during our stay was learning about the new Coralairum they are building. This sculptural museum will be the first ever in the Maldives. It’s such a great environmental initiative creating an artificial reef to support a healthy underwater ecosystem. We were lucky enough to meet the artists behind this venture and we can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished. It will be open for tours soon!

Even when it rained during our trip we were loving life. We went on the most amazing SUP sesh as a storm rolled in. It was so invigorating to be supping in the rain and watch the contrast of light and colour scatter across the sky and ocean. And of course without rain there wouldn’t be rainbows! What a magical sight to see rainbows across those iridescent turquoise waters.

One of the many highlights at Sirru Fen Fushi was the sunset dolphin cruise. Both Bobby and I have been on quite a few of these and honestly they never get old. We love seeing dolphins and the energy is pure joy. The best part for me as a mother was watching the joy on my children’s faces as they experienced this tour for the first time. They were squealing, smiling and super excited to see them flipping in the air.

If you’re looking for somewhere new and amazing to visit in the Maldives, make sure you add this one to your list. It ticks all the boxes and more. It’s perfect for families and honeymooners and it has plenty of activities on offer. And If you want to just relax, there is always that beautiful giant infinity pool that stretches across the entire island!

I love the Maldives so much and can’t wait to go back again. For now though we have an incredible trip lined up a little closer to home. In just two days time we will be hitting the road, motorhome style. Our direction is set to sunshine and ocean and everywhere in between. We can’t wait to share our trip so make sure you’re tuning into our instagram stories for all the bts adventures.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

A Dream Come True

June 27, 2018



PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationSoneva Jani, Maldives

 

Outfit Details

Dresses – Sky Nadiyya Dress | House of Harlow Gaines Dress

Astars Capitola Embroidered Lace skirt | Embella Free Spirit top

Anna beck Jewellery – Howlite Cocktail RingSaddle RingHowlite stacking rings | Adventure RingHowlite multi stone necklace | Adventure cuff

Swimwear – Heidi Klein Ostuni Halter One piece

Hat – Je T’aime

 

Our trip to Soneva Jani was every one of my childhood dreams come true; a place where anything feels possible, a place so filled with magic and natural beauty it sparks the imagination. It starts with your two story overwater villa that includes a waterslide that goes straight into the ocean, a retractable roof right over your cloud bed to watch the stars at night, and an all you can eat ice cream parlour! No wonder people call it ‘disneyland for adults’. I still have to pinch myself as I look over these images and remember our special time. I loved how it was both so laid back and luxurious. Everyone is barefoot, riding bikes, enjoying the endless turquoise waters and relaxing vibes, and the smiles are contagious!

On arrival we were greeted by our wonderful Ms Friday host, Nikki, who is one of the loveliest humans on this earth! She was so amazing and genuine; she really cared about making our stay totally spectacular. And it was! Every single detail was perfection.

The beautiful Soneva Jani resort was created mostly overwater within a 5.6km crystal clear turquoise lagoon. Most of the villas along with the Gathering are situated over water, along with some island sanctuaries on the beach. The white wash wood, light neutral decor paired so perfectly with the turquoise views and provided such a calming and light feel. Within our villa we had a lovely open layout; including a sunken lounge, an indoor/outdoor style bathroom with private lagoon, a walk in mini bar kitchen, relaxed writing space equipped with a wifi on/off switch, and a huge bedroom with adjacent smaller nooks for the children’s beds. It was so great to be so close to them in an overwater villa. We had no worries at all. Upstairs we had even more spectacular ocean views from our sala and access to the best part – the waterslide! Stepping out of the villa you enter into the huge infinity pool, along with hammocks, sunbeds, a sunken lounge and your stairway to turquoise heaven (ocean).

We had many wonderful, memorable experiences at Soneva Jani. We enjoyed a delicious Peruvian dinner at The Directors cut by Gaston, which they made completely vegan for me :) After dinner we watched Pete’s dragon here with the family at their Cinema Paradiso. It’s actually the first ever overwater silent cinema + Peruvian restaurant in the Maldives. We enjoyed our movie amongst the stars in luxurious comfort, with popcorn and family cuddles.

Between lounging in our immaculate villa and eating up the entire abundant vegan food supply at the Gathering, we were pretty much always in the ocean. We even went on an incredible snorkelling trip here in the Noonu atoll with Soneva Jani’s expert marine biologist. It was such a treat to see all the rainbow colours of the underwater world and snorkelling is by far our favourite family activity.

One of my absolutely favourite moments of this trip was our sunset family dinner. Soneva Jani set up a personalised dinner suited to all our dietary and culinary preferences, with our own chefs preparing and cooking our dinner fresh right there on the beach. Surrounded by lanterns and a starry night sky, we listened to the sound of the waves and the laughter of our children. It was one of the most perfect moments forever forged into my memory banks, anchored with so much love.

Our journey from Soneva Fushi to Soneva Jani has filled our hearts with love and inspiration. Make sure you read about all the wonderful sustainable initiatives Soneva resorts has in place, from my previous post or here on their website.

I hope you all get to live your dreams and experience a little Soneva magic.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

 

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

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