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A Timeless Sanctuary

November 12, 2019

Photography – Bobby Bense

Model/Editing – Helen Janneson Bense

Locations – Vakkaru Resort – Maldives

USE DISCOUNT CODE VMGYPSY when you book direct at vakkarumaldives.com you’ll get 40% off room rates + complimentary half board meal plan. Stay from now until 19th December 2019.

Outfit Details

DressesCharo Ruiz Vaiana | Yumi Kim Dolce Vita Maxi | Camilla Retro Rainbow Tie Front + (Similar)| Jaase Fiorella Adriana Maxi

Swimwear – Heidi Klein (similar) | Camilla (similar)

When our arrival to Vakkaru was blessed with a dolphin sighting, we already knew it was going to be one amazing experience. Every moment of our stay from being greeted at the airport to saying our farewells was managed with the highest level of service, that has put this resort into our top 5 best resorts in the world.

Vakkaru is located in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Baa Atoll. The resort has multiple blue holes and an incredible house reef accessible from the overwater villas. We had some of our best snorkelling adventures right here in the pristine turquoise waters of Vakkaru, that were teaming with tropical fish.

In the Maldivian language, Dhivehi, Vakkaru means Coconut Timber and the island actually has around 2300 beautiful, lush coconut trees. We loved the earthy yet luxurious design of the resort, and how beautifully decorated the villas were, with the most soothing colour palette reflective of the surrounding nature.

As always we spent the majority of our time in the ocean from sunrise to sunset. From their dive centre, known as Splash, we headed out on kayaks to their incredible pure white sandbank island. From here you can snorkel some of the surrounding reefs, and the blue hole. It’s an easy kayak and a great family adventure exploring the most iridescent turquoise waters that surround Vakkaru. Ensure you pack your snorkel gear, water, hat and reef safe sunscreen as it gets so hot in that Maldivian sun. One of our favourite snorkels was the turtle splash snorkelling trip and we lucked out seeing 3 turtles the moment we jumped off the boat! From here it was turtle after turtle as we snorkelled along the most beautiful reef.

Our kids had the best time here at Vakkaru and have said we must visit again. If they weren’t snorkelling with us, they were riding their bikes around the island and visiting their favourite spot the coconut club. We played many games of foosball, table tennis and pool here. We even challenged some of the Vakkaru team members to a few games which was so fun! We really loved that the resort had activities for all ages groups. It really is a great and safe place to travel with kids of all ages.

One of my favourite spots, and there were so many, was the overwater Merana Spa. They have the most beautiful sound healing room equipped with crystal bowls. I was already won over when we arrived, but this was everything. The room had a glass bottom viewing space so while you played the bowls you could see the turquoise water and fish below. Absolutely so serene. What I loved about the spa most was that it is actually a communal space available for all guests to visit. There is no extra charge for use of the jacuzzi, plunge pool, sauna and sweat room. They sit right on the waters edge in the most picturesque setting. It’s like having your own giant overwater villa. It’s a beautiful spot to watch the sunset as you soak in the jacuzzi.

We were also very impressed to learn about Vakkaru’s green initiatives as sustainability is always an important factor anywhere we stay. Their on-site reverse osmosis water treatment means still and sparkling water for all guests served in glass bottles. They regularly clean up the house reef and have coral planting for guests and team members to participate in. We absolutely loved their healthy organic farm where they compost and source much of the produce for the kitchen. And you can tell! Everything we ate was absolutely delicious and full of vitality. Some of the best vegan food we’ve had. The breakfast buffet offers a wide range of options for anyone on a plant based diet. And if you like, have your breakfast in your villa pool. The floating breakfast was so good and full of all my favourite breakfast foods – avocado on toast, fresh fruits, granola, and fresh veggies. Nothing was ever too much for the chefs here either. They were more than happy to create some beautiful bespoke vegan taste sensations and experiences for us. Our last dinner under the stars at Vakku was probably the most extraordinary way to end our stay. Surrounded by a love heart, lanterns and a glorious sunset, we enjoyed one of the best dinners of our lives together as a family. We felt beyond blessed. This is a memory we’ll never forget.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Vakkaru now and book the dream trip of a lifetime and remember to use my discount code VMGYPSY

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

Out of the Ordinary

October 25, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Editing/ModelHelen Janneson Bense

LocationSix Senses Laamu, Maldives

Outfit Details

ClothingSky Hyeon Mini |Sky Maija High Low |Koleha Tassel Wrap |Milanja Lemon Stripe Top + Lace Skirt

SwimwearKoleha Pistachio Botanic One piece |Heidi Klein One piece (Similar)

Accessories – Pom pom bag (similar) | Hutton Sun Hat

When I began planning our family holidays to the Maldives I wanted to ensure that I chose somewhere to stay that reflected our beliefs. We always look for places that make sustainability a priority, respecting the land and ocean that surround them. We look for a place that supports healthy living and offers plant based cuisine. And we seek out back to nature, unique experiences, something out of the ordinary. We found all of this and more at Six Senses Laamu. It’s laid back, barefoot luxury, that will enliven all your senses. I now understand why so many people have told me this is their absolute favourite resort in the Maldives. It lives up to it’s reputation.

For me family holidays are about connecting and doing what we love together. There were so many activities at Six Senses for us all to enjoy including water sports, volleyball, table tennis, badminton, football, treasure hunts, board games, and of course snorkelling is by far our family favourite. It has been a dream of ours for the longest time to swim with turtles. This was also one the reasons we chose Six Senses. They have an amazing house reef and they offer guided snorkelling with their marine biologists each day. You’ll be able to see multiple green sea turtles and maybe even the endangered hawksbill turtle. Every time we saw them it was like the first time. The joy and excitement we felt as we shared this experience as a family was immeasurable. And to top it off they actually have turtles nesting on the island! We even woke up one morning to a turtle laying eggs just next door to our villa! If you’re lucky you may even be able to witness them hatching during your stay.

In between hours of snorkelling and ocean adventures, we enjoyed so much delicious plant based cuisine. We sampled vegan goodness from each of their dining options – Zen (Japanese fusion), Leaf (local signature restaurant), Longitude (à la carte and buffet) and Chill bar, which was perfect for enjoying a cocktail and watching the sunset to some great tunes. Our favourite was Sip Sip where we all enjoyed many laid back long lunches by the pool. They offered a great range of vegan options which was so refreshing to have some variety each day. Whether you’re plant based or not, try the ‘Love Salad’ when you visit. The flavour explosion is incredible! After lunch you can lounge by the pool or relax in the water hammocks. This was my favourite spot to completely unwind. There is nothing more relaxing than the warm ocean gently swaying you. And if you’re not too full who could go past the all you can eat vegan sorbet! One of the many wonderful treats we love about Six Senses was the Ice and Chocolate Studio :)

What I admire most about Six Senses Laamu is their dedication to sustainability and their goal to be completely plastic free by 2022. They have already banned all single use plastics, but they are taking this one step further to remove all plastics from their supply chains as well. During our stay I did a back of house tour which was so insightful. They grow much of their own organic produce including a mushroom hut, they make all their own uniforms and textiles, they limit the amount of waste they produce, they re-use all glass bottles in their Earth lab, and produce their own water. And it doesn’t end there. You can read more here about their marine conservation efforts and community outreach.

The wonderful gift of travel is how humble it makes you. You begin to see the world in a new light. Your appreciation for nature grows and your will to protect it. We were so inspired by our children who on their own accord initiated efforts to collect rubbish from the beach during our transit in Male, and what small amounts of rubbish washed up on shore at Six Senses. During our stormy yet beautiful visit to their sandbank island we saw a little bit of plastic pollution wash up with the strong currents. Plastic bottles, lighters and flip flops were some of the most common items we dredged out of the water. It just goes to show how far these pollutants are traveling and how much more we all need to do to protect these beautiful environments. Our wonderful children of course happily helped us to collect all the rubbish to be properly recycled.

Something we highly recommend when traveling to the Maldives is bringing your own reusable water bottle. We also suggest that you take all your plastic waste home with you. Not all resorts will recycle properly like Six Senses and your plastic may end up back in the ocean.

Here is a website that I’ve found some really great tips and products that have helped us transition to a plastic free home, and ideas for traveling plastic free. If you want any specific advice please feel free to message me. I’m always happy to support anyone on a journey to help protect our planet.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

Because Tomorrow Matters

May 9, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Byron Bay (NSW), Fremantle (WA)

This blog post is sponsored by Recoverthol.

It’s a funny thing getting older. You start to notice every part of your body like never before. You start to remind yourself of your parents! The aching joints begin, the need to go to bed at 9pm starts, along with the early rising, and for me in particular the ability to metabolise alcohol has diminished. For the past few years my tolerance has reduced significantly. And I really love to enjoy a fancy cocktail or 2. I was thrilled when I recently discovered Recoverthol, a liquid formulation that you add to your first drink, that helps to reduce the symptoms of a hangover. And I was even happier when it actually worked :)

Recoverthol is a nutrient formulation that assists in the metabolism of alcohol. It provides the body with the essential nutrient co-factors required for the enzyme, Alcohol dehydrogenase, which is responsible for breaking down alcohol. The nutrient co-factors required by this enzyme are already present in our body, however we only have enough to process 1-2 standard drinks. If we replenish these co-factors with Recoverthol, then we can assist the body to process alcohol more efficiently.

And it’s so simple to use, you simply snap and squeeze the liquid into your first drink, allowing the co-factors to reach the enzyme right away. Your drink will look and taste exactly the same. If you drink moderately and responsibly, you’ll wake up feeling fresh and ready for your day.

This innovative product is not about drinking to excess and trying to find a way to counter that. To me this product is a way of giving back to your body what it actually needs, so you have a choice to enjoy a few drinks without the hangover.

I am always looking for balance in life. I’m always looking for ways to be healthier and enjoy some small indulgences on occasion. I have a lot of self discipline when it comes to my diet and lifestyle and it seems the older I get the more I’m unable to compromise on that. I’m grateful to have discovered Recoverthol that I can 100% stand behind as the perfect adjunct for your next cocktail party so you and your guests can enjoy a few drinks and enjoy your tomorrow as well. Because tomorrow matters and there is so much life to enjoy.

If you’d like to trial this product use my discount code GLL30%off to purchase online.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

Wanderlust + Co Travel Diary

November 21, 2015

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/StylingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationThe Siam, Floating Markets, Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand

JewelryWanderlust + Co

Constellation Story

Necklaces – Crescent & Star | Crescent & Diamonte

Cuffs/Bracelets – Spell Bound | Moon + Star

Rings – Petite Orbit Crystal | Frame Crescent | Double Box | Double bar + Chain | ConstellationIota

Clean Slate Story

Necklaces – Daydreamer Necklace | Remain Present Necklace

Cuffs/Bracelets – Breathe Bangle | Studded Pave | Dusk to Dawn Spike | Arrow

Rings – Double BarJagged Ring Set | Double Box | Triangle | Double Ring & Chain | Double Bar Wrap | V

Marble Story

Necklaces – Breathe | Crescent & Diamonte | Daydreamer Necklace

Cuffs/Bracelets – Dusk til Dawn XL | Dusk til Dawn Spike | Multi-Stud Spike

Rings – Dusk til Dawn XL | T-Bar | Double Arrow | Petite Orbit Crystal | Arrow Split | Dusk til Dawn | V Double Bar

Onyx Story

Necklaces – ArrowBreathe |  Daydreamer Necklace

Cuff/Bracelets – Multi-Stud Spike | Arrow | Dusk til Dawn XL | Dusk til Dawn | Dusk til Dawn Onyx Spike

Rings – Dusk til Dawn Onyx | Dusk til Dawn XLPetite Orbit Crystal | Triangle | Frame Tri | VDouble Ring & Chain | Trio Stack Rings | Iota

Rose Gold Story 

Necklace – Crescent & Diamonte

Cuffs/Bracelets – Box | Arrow Petite | Knot | Multi – Stud | Double Arrow

Rings – Aztec Pave | Dusk til Dawn Turquoise Wrap | Double V Bar Chain | Geo Armour XL Crystal | Orbit & Stud | Orbit

Outfit Details

Spell Isla Bonita Embroidered Dress

Paisley Tunic

His Touch Dress

Bikini

Spell Lace top | Shorts | Shirt | Bag

OOAK Lace Dress

Crochet Maxi

Silk Playsuit

Beaded Top | Shorts | Shirt | Bag

Sunglasses

Straw Hat

Thailand has to be one of my favourites places ever. I feel so grateful to have experienced another amazing adventure to this beautiful country once again. During your vacation, you may want to spend time traveling with online locations, click here to kill your boredom. This time, we were lucky enough to journey through Bangkok and stay at The Siam Hotel, which has to be in my Top 10 all time best hotels I’ve ever stayed at. I’m so grateful to the wonderful Wanderlust + Co, who organised so many beautiful relaxing, pampering and adventure filled experiences for us on this trip, making it one we’ll never forget.

These few days away gave both Bobby and I an opportunity to really spend precious time together. Time to connect and time to create magic. We were continually inspired by our surrounds. There was so much culture and beauty everywhere we went. We spent our first day relaxing and catching our breath after leaving our busy home and daily routines. That first massage was all it took and we completely melted into holiday mode. It was hands down one of the best massages I’ve ever had. Big thanks to the Opium Spa at the The Siam for a job well done. We basically walked out of the spa with the hugest grins on our faces. The rest of our pamper day was well spent relaxing by the pool, exploring the hotel and all the incredible collectibles they have, chatting with locals, and simply being in the moment, enjoying all that life has to offer.

A perfect day in paradise was followed by an amazing dinner at Le Du restaurant. If you love seafood this place is so for you. Each plate was beautifully presented and the flavours and textures of each dish were perfectly balanced. My favourite was definitely dessert! Thai desserts are simply the best!

The next part of our journey led us to the floating markets in Bangkok. As we floated through the markets, sipping on fresh coconuts, we had the opportunity to see some traditional thai handicrafts and experience the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. We then ventured to the Grand Palace and enjoyed a serene walk throughout the grounds, admiring all the incredible architecture and detail of this sacred place. It’s simply something you have to see with your own eyes.

Until the next wanderlust adventure!

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

Dancing in the Rain

September 30, 2015



PhotographyBobby Bense & Helen Janneson Bense

Model/StylingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationCentara Grand Resort & Spa – Krabi, Thailand

Outfit Details

Sea Urchin Crochet Dress | Hat

Crochet Bikini + Halter Top | Necklace | Sunglasses | Hat

Kimono | Sundress (similar) | Hat

Tanzania Bikini | Hat

Innika One piece Swimsuit | Hat

Kiss the Sky Gown

Sundress (similar) | Hat | Necklace | Rings | Clutch

Arizona Chain Necklace | Kimono

Gold Leg Chain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass….It’s about learning to dance in the rain” – Vivian Greene

This quote has never been as relevant as it was for our recent wanderlust adventures to beautiful Thailand. The day we arrived, so did a crazy monsoon. I must say even though I envisioned my time away with never-ending sunshine, it was a wonderful opportunity for both Bobby and I to embrace the uncertainty of life and find gratitude for all the unexpected blessings. It forced us deeper into ourselves, to reflect and discover what we actually love most about holidays is connection. We still had many pockets of sunshine where the rain and wind slipped away momentarily and we made the absolute most out of it.

We ventured to Krabi first, and discovered this stunning region walled with grand size limestone karsts providing a completely majestic and breathtaking backdrop. It’s a rock climbers paradise and feels a little like a scene from Jurassic Park. We stayed at the luxurious Centara Grand Resort with it’s own pristine private beach. Accessible only by boat or a jungle monkey trail from the nearby town, it’s surrounded by giant awe inspiring cliffs, clear turquoise waters and some of the softest sand I’ve ever felt. It’s a completely magical setting that instantly evokes a relaxed, holiday vibe. We enjoyed the privacy and seclusion of the location, whilst just a short boat ride or hike, you can venture out to the bustling markets, cafes and bars of Krabi. We never felt the urge to leave though as the resort had so much to offer. You can literally jump in a kayak straight from the beach and head out and explore the limestone karsts and turquoise lagoons. The whole area is surrounded by the most amazing beaches, abundant with incredible underwater life. You can take a boat tour to the surrounding islands, or head out for some scuba diving or snorkelling. Enjoy sunset dinners on the beach, jungle hikes, or laze by the multi level pool and spa with a cocktail in hand as you watch the immaculate view of the Andaman sea.

I was lucky enough to celebrate my 39th!! birthday here and indulge in one of the best massages I’ve ever had at their divine day spa. I was lulled into a deep trance and quite possibly this moment was one of the most relaxed I’ve ever felt. Later this evening we were then treated to an amazing Teppenyaki dinner, as we were serenaded with live music, a super friendly atmosphere, creating the perfect holiday ambience we were looking for. We were lucky enough to meet so many amazing travellers here, ending the night with one two many cocktails at the very cool Blu bar. One of the best parts about travelling is all the awesome people you meet and wonderful connections you make. No matter how transient these may be, they are a huge highlight of any adventure abroad.

I’m so excited to explore more of Krabi next time I head back to Thailand. More adventure awaits! ;)

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Travel Tips :

  • Rainy season in Thailand is typically from May-November though I’ve been in June and it was sunshine and blue skies with just a light misting so you never know. And it’s still so wonderful even when it is raining :)
  • When travelling to Krabi or any of the islands by boat, I’d suggest arriving in the daylight hours, so the transfer from car, boat to resort is seamless.
  • The monkeys here are some the bravest I’ve encountered so watch your stuff, they will take it if you leave it unattended.
  • If you stay at Centara Grand Resort in Krabi definitely opt for a club room. The extra is well worth all the additional advantages that come with this room type. There is an almost non stop serving of food and drink from the Club lounge and happy hour is so amazing you might not even be able to fit in dinner!
  • Also make sure you order Strawberry Margaritas here…they are the BEST! ;)

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

NorCal

September 13, 2015

Blouse | Hat

Necklace | TopCuff | Rings – Reality of Dreams | Bohemian BardotAzure set | Imaginary Air set | Black Sands set | 7 Ring stack set

Cuff | Rings – Reality of Dreams | Bohemian Bardot | Azure set | Imaginary Air set | Black Sands set | 7 Ring stack set

Bikini | Bodychain | Necklace | Rings – Poetry | Om | Twin Triangle

Flash Tattoos | Rings – Elephant | All seeing Eye | Arrow | Tipi | Stackable Turquoise | Double Vibe Turquoise | Phobos Deimos

Nishka Leg Chain | Bikini | Self Tan + Bronzer

Photography – Bobby Bense

Model/Styling/Photography – Helen Janneson Bense

Location – Benbow Historic Inn, Richardson Grove State Park – California

There’s just something in the air, the earth, the energy…I’m forever drawn back to Northern California. It somehow feels more like home to me. Perhaps being in the northern hemisphere I feel somehow closer to my Finnish origins. I also wonder whether it has something to do with the energy flow, and the impact each hemisphere has on the way our chakras spin…. Regardless of the why and my inner musings, I love this place like home. The ancient redwoods, the crystal clear rivers, the diverse landscape, so full of vivid colour and beautiful wildlife. As much as I yearn for the ocean and beach now, my heart still sings with joy when I’m amongst the trees. I feel at peace as I recall early childhood memories of Finland, sitting in the forest picking berries.

On our recent Norcal adventures, we were lucky enough to spend a glorious week in Humboldt county. Bobby’s family have a multi-generation long annual tradition of summer camping amongst the redwood grove, along the beautiful eel river. It’s always so much fun when we get the chance to go back to the states and join in on this family adventure. Hot summer days were spent rafting on the river, rock jumping and exploring the redwoods. The kids were always so happy connecting with their cousins, chasing lizards and catching tadpoles. We stayed just 5 minutes from the park at the absolutely divine and elegant Benbow historical Inn. Originally built by the Benbow family in the 1920’s, this majestic hotel was once a secluded getaway for many hollywood stars. What once was over a 14 hour journey from San Francisco is now around a 5 hour beautiful scenic drive.

We spent many a balmy night at Benbow eating dinner amongst the ancient trees, overlooking the river, serenaded by local musicians. We indulged in the most impeccable food, so much of which was organically grown right there in their immaculate gardens. As dusk would set in the stone bridge would light up and the whole inn turned into this magical twinkling fairyland.

Hopefully we’ll be back again next year to keep the family tradition going and create new and wonderful memories.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

All text and images copyright © Helen Janneson Bense 2020

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