A Tropical Getaway Right On Our Doorstep – Banksia Boutique Hotel.

Earlier this year, Lauren and myself packed our bags and drove just 25 minutes from home to the beautiful Banksia Boutique Hotel. Located in Cape Town’s historic Rosebank, Banksia has the ability to make you feel as if you’ve jetted off to a luxury villa located on a lush, tropical island.

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Banksia Boutique is an elegant eight room boutique hotel housed in a grand 19th century Victorian-styled home. Part of the beauty and uniqueness of Banksia is seen in each suite as you take note of just how many features they have managed to save from the many years ago when the house was built.

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As you pull into the driveway on arrival, you’ll find yourself blown away by the beautiful building standing before you. The breathtaking, grand entrance to this exquisite 19th century Victorian boutique hotel sets the stage. From the topiary lined entrance, perfectly manicured garden to the beautifully tiled entrance and woodwork- nothing has gone unnoticed, and no stone left unturned when it comes to preserving the property’s history.

LISAH (13)We were greeted by Joy, one of the friendliest women we’ve met whilst doing a travel review, and she kindly took us around the entire hotel and gave us a breakdown of each room. Beyond the exceptional staff, there is so much love that has been put into restoring the old world charm and glamour to this incredible home turned hotel. We were shown all 8 well appointed bedrooms, each en suite, are comfortable, neutral and spacious with everything you need to have a luxurious stay. The linen is crisp and of the best quality. You are treated to the luxurious range of Charlotte Rhys bath and body products in your rooms, complimented by freshly picked blooms from the garden and fluffy bathrobes, perfect for relaxing in your room, cup of tea or glass of bubbles in hand.

 

The owner, Shelley Kingston, has made sure that all of the details of the architecture have been maintained from what it was when it was first built, and has done such a beautiful job.

I struggle to find the words to describe our experience, to be honest. We were given our own rooms, right next door to each other on the balcony, which meant that we were really secluded, and could sit facing the pool area from above. We felt as if we were in Bali in a private villa, and would enjoy our morning coffee or dinner from above.

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The large glass conservatory houses a beautiful pool as well as Jacuzzi. Adorned with tropical plants and palms, it creates an old world and colonial look and feel.

Teak sun loungers surround the pool and are perfect for long lazy days spent relaxing. Just perfect after a spa treatment (right on the premises) or a slow, continental breakfast.

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Before bed, we climbed into the Jacuzzi, which I’m sure most of us can appreciate – and the hospitality just showed when we came downstairs – they had turned the lights off, and lit some candles to make it peaceful and private.

We never once felt that it was too busy, and rarely even saw any other guests, apart from at breakfast or on the Sunday morning when a couple was using the communal pool area.

There wasn’t a moment where we weren’t in awe of how beautiful everything surrounding us was – when just sitting on our balcony and looking down at the same pool area we’d been looking at since the moment we arrived. Or even just sitting out front, enjoying the beautiful gardens.

On the Saturday, we were invited to visit the Spa which is located at Banksia. We walked over and were greeted by the lovely, gentle Stefanie. Don’t let her sweet voice fool you – she’s got a firm handshake and means business when you ask for a medium pressure massage!

She suggested the Rasul Treatment, which was something that neither Lauren or myself had done before. You use an exfoliator and mud mask on your entire body. You climb into the steam room, and the room fills with steam and then ends with a rain. I certainly felt the benefit of this treatment, however, it was definitely an experience, and I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who is claustrophobic. Our skin felt so fresh and soft and smelt divine after this.

We then had a 30 minute back, neck and shoulder massage which was everything we needed and more. Stefanie is the only therapist in the spa, but less is certainly more in this case. The pressure was perfect, she knows when a client just wants silence and doesn’t force sales in your face. 10/10!

Another lovely thing about the spa is that you don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to book a treatment. And when you book a treatment, you’re able to make use of the pool area.

We were absolutely spoilt by choice at breakfast each morning, as it is B&B. Not only do you get to choose from a buffet of fruit, freshly baked muffins, yoghurt, cereals and croissants with cold meats and cheeses – but you can also order from their menu for egg and bacon, salmon and French toast! You’ll also get fresh fruit juice and your choice of hot drinks. It was flawless!

The hospitality of Banksia is something I’ll never be able to speak more highly of. We met Joy and Tarryn who both treated us like queens. Not just because we were reviewing the hotel, but because they are both so good at their job. They are genuinely lovely women who care about their guests and just want them to have an amazing, memorable stay.

Our rooms were always cleared, beds made, duvet turned down before bed. Our snacks, fridge, etc, was restocked before we even had a chance to request for anything to be replaced.

As busy moms, this little escape was everything we needed, and more. It felt so great to climb into our car and drive down the road to this little slice of heaven. Sometimes it’s the places that are right on our doorstep that are the gems.

I’ll return in a heartbeat to get that feeling of having travelled abroad to a tropical island. If you’re Cape Town based – don’t let that put you off! Sometimes a little holiday close by is all you need. It’s the perfect anniversary spot or even a great place to escape to with a friend. Banksia is super close to some incredible spots in Cape Town. You’re spoilt for choice with coffee shops, restaurants and things to do. It makes a perfect place for foreigners too! You have many of Cape Town’s attractions right on your doorstep!

From the front patio, conservatory or the formal lounge- there is always somewhere other than your suite to catch up on some reading (or even work as there is Wi-Fi). Rosebank is a leafy and peaceful suburb, close enough to town or bustling restaurants, but Banksia is secluded enough to feel like you are somewhere far away.

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We found that Banksia Boutique Hotel is really affordable, and the spa treatments are also really well priced. Don’t just go for one night though – you won’t want to leave! So definitely make a weekend or good couple of nights of it. You can thank me later.

My first reaction to Banksia was: “I can’t believe this is in Cape Town”. And I feel that that sentence in its own should be powerful enough.

You can make a reservation here, or simply follow their Instagram account to keep dreaming!

Thank you for having us! We will certainly be back soon!

Photography: Shante Hutton Photography
Hair & Makeup: Makeup By Mish
Wardrobe: My Scattered Heart & AP Jones
Jewellery: Spirit Jewellery

Words: Lisa Harrison & Lauren McCreath Interiors

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Going Natural With Your Skin – OptoDerm

I was recently invited to try out the CBD Serum from OptoDerm. I very rarely agree to try out different skincare products as I have recently changed over to a very specific skincare routine that I find works for me. I have, however, recently run out of the one product, and with a combination of not using that product and going off of my menstrual pill, I had certainly found that I had more frequent breakouts.

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For starters, I love getting an understanding of how and why companies start and how products are creating. It’s a part of what I do that makes it all worth it. I find the story incredibly beautiful. John Heath started OptoDerm after his wife had breast cancer. He developed a method to improve ingredient penetration and he embarked on a journey studying the benefits of Green tea. This is how OptoDerm was born.

 

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:

I started using the OptoDerm CBD Serum the day that it was given to me. As many of you know, I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which means that my body experiences numerous symptoms on a daily basis. One being a break out of pimples on my chin and jaw line area, being hormonal as well as on my back and chest around the time of my menstrual cycle – when it does come around. I never used to struggle with bad skin, so it sort of caught me and my self-esteem off guard when it arrived in my mid-twenties.

I’m very apprehensive about trying too many different products on my skin, because my skin is sensitive and can really burn, itch and get very dry if I use harsh products. Let me begin by saying that the CBD Serum doesn’t affect my skins sensitivity at all. It is incredibly gentle, fragrance free, and almost immediately after being applied, is absorbed into my skin. Therefore, leaving my skin treated but not oily.

I have also found myself applying the serum to my back, shoulder and chest area and it has really helped minimize the outbreak of pimples when I would usually experience it.

I have really enjoyed using this product, and will definitely purchase more when this is finished. I apply it before putting on my foundation in the morning as well as after washing my face in the evening – and it really leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh – ready for whatever else my skin needs to take on. And, unless I am imagining things, I also feel that some of my scarring has gotten lighter since using it! Something that has always a big concern for me.

I’m eager to see how my skin continues to benefit from it as I use it for a longer period of time. I am really excited to have found out about such a wonderful product that is definitely going to help so many people over time!

For those of you who don’t know much about CBD and the benefits of it here’s what you’ll want to know…

Cannabidiol, known commonly as CBD is one of the main active components of the Cannabis plant. It is found in both Cannabis species: Indica and Sativa. It has an incredible way of connecting to cells in the body including the multiple layers of the skin. CBD fits into the cells like a key being placed into a lock, this is possible because our body makes two of its own cannabinoids (2AEG and anandamide) which form part of an intercellular communication network called the Endocannabinoid system. Excitingly, CBD activates over 500 genes in our skin, including those that control things like inflammation and hydration. OptoDerm’s blog contains much more information on this.

This system is closely linked to our bodies’ self-regulating processes such as control of temperature and pH, it is involved in many different aspects but let’s look at what it does in the skin:

-Regulates the normal function of the skins barrier

-Increases new cell growth

-Assists in the process of old cells being eliminated

-Decreases over stimulated inflammation

-Is extremely anti-inflammatory

-Suppresses itching

-Stops the development and spreading of pain

-Slows down over production of sebum (oil)

-Activates collagen formation

It is so interesting that one component can have such a large impact on helping our skin function at its best and be healthy.

Optoderm only uses 99.9% pure CBD from organic Hemp, legally imported from the USA that is certified to have no THC (this is the component that causes hallucination when using recreational Cannabis), this is possible due the structure of CBD being identical in Hemp to other Cannabis species that contain THC.
After having been given incredibly educating and informative reading material from OptoDerm, there’s just far too much for me to share with you in one article! So I am going to jump to telling you a little bit more about the OptoDerm CBD Serum I was sent as well as my own personal experience with it over the past month and a bit!

OPTODERM CBD SERUM

– Contains 150mg pure CBD per 30ml
– No THC
– PenetrX transdermal delivery
– Contains soothing peptide Acetyl Dipeptide – 1 Cetyl Ester which acts synergistically with CBD
– Layers well with other OptoDerm serums and creams
– CBD accelerates cellular turnover in epidermis, promoting enzyme, fillagrin and ceramide production – all of which are important for healthy skin
– It up and down regulates genes in most skin cells: controlling production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid in fibroblasts, sebum production (or over-production), and melanin expression.
If you’d like any additional information about OptoDerm or their range, please pop me an email or comment on this post and I will send you more information. You can purchase the products online, or from Doctors and Advanced Skincare clinics. Also, head over to their Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/optoderm/ or facebook account https://www.facebook.com/OptoDerm/ to follow their journey as they share informative tips and information on their products and their incredible ingredients.

Winter Snuggles In Keedo.

As the months fly by in a flash, we already find stores filling their shelves with knitted beanies, snuggley jerseys and colorful, warm shades of winter.

Keedo has always been one of our favorite stores that we turn to each year when we need to stock up on clothing for the new seasons. There’s just something about the quality of the fabric and how each garment is made.

We visited the Cavendish branch a week ago to see their winter range. I love how neutral many of their garments are – especially for older kids. As cute as slogans can be, there’s also something about plain clothing that can be worn for every occasion.

I must admit that returning to their store did have me wish for a baby to snuggle in their soft blankets, and tiny beanies and rompers. But, we also found some beautiful items for my wild 4 and a half year old.

The first garment I’d like to show you is these PJ’s, because I can’t get over how cute they are. Apart from the fact that you can rub the print for it to smell nice, which is the most exciting part of each night at the moment – they really have been made so well. They are super cute, loose where needed and have the drawstring so that they can fit even the smallest little waists. I love that the neckline is normal size, as so many garments are so tiny around the neck these days, so it’s easy to get on and off. The Llama print is just adorable and so trendy at the moment. They had these PJ’s for girls and boys.

Next up are these denim shorts with suspenders. I was actually worried that my son would refuse to wear them, but they are his new favorite. I know they aren’t really for Winter, but just pop a long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt on, and they work perfectly! This is great for cooler Autumn days with a pair of sneakers or Wellies. The suspenders are able to be adjusted, and can also be removed so that the shorts can be worn on their own. Again, phenomenal quality – and super affordable!

Our third purchase was this cute long sleeve set. Kids seem to love prints and pictures on their clothing, and as much as many parents want to steer away – kids will be kids and must be kids. I found that these, however, were a good compromise that left us both happy. The fabric is thick and warm with a nice stretch to it, and again, the quality is lovely.

Lastly, over the years we have sadly lost some really beautiful beanies – don’t ask me how, but we always seem to need to replace them a year or two later. I thought that this beanie was really well priced and I just loved the pops of color, especially because I dress him in reasonably neutral colours. It’s warm and thick and promises to keep his ears warm. You can also pull the fold down, which means that when necessary, it can cover more for super cold days.

I was very happy with our Keedo shop, and felt that we got a good variety to stock up his wardrobe for winter. I love shopping for him, but don’t often do it, because I believe in getting by with what we have for as long as possible. That being said, we do donate a lot of old clothing, ones that I don’t keep for when baby number 2 comes along – and with brands like Keedo, I love that we can pass them on and they’re still as good as new for the next child.

I still remember a bag of second hand clothing being given to us when I was pregnant with Olly from a family friend – and many of the items were from Keedo. Some of them being my favorite which have been packed in the container for when we do have our next baby. And even two babies later, is still absolutely fine for the next one.

Keedo makes me so proud of our South African stores. They really do provide some beautiful, high quality clothing, toys, books and accessories for our little people. If you’re quick, you may still be lucky enough to get some of their beautiful sale items which are online at the moment.

You can browse Keedo online or 

alternatively, pop in at one of their many stores around South Africa – you can see their full list of stores on their website.

Live In Levi’s

It has been months since I last posted, and not because I haven’t wanted to, but rather because life has been so busy – holidays, Christmas, work. My son is finally back at school and I’m able to catch up a bit.

I wanted to share this awesome press drop we were sent from Levi’s South Africa a few weeks back. I’ve never really thought of ‘matching’ with my little boy, but just jumped at the opportunity to do a little ‘Mother and son’ Levi’s shoot showing Olly’s first pair of Levi’s.

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I feel that anybody can wear a pair of jeans, but the little patches that they sent with the package allowed him to add some OLLY to his pair – enabling him to be unique. This was such a fun touch, and I really love how it’s added that childlike touch to them.

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I know it’s quite a random statement really, but I love how my Levi’s didn’t restrict me. Being a mom means you’re up and down throughout the day. What may start as a day at home, may find you at the grocery store, and then playing Lego on the floor before running alongside your child as they squeal with happiness riding their bike down the road. This specific day, we had gone down to the lighthouse and were exploring the rock pools. I didn’t once feel like I needed to stop to pull my pants up because they’d started sneaking down or that I couldn’t jump from one rock to another. They fit like a glove. They move with me, fit my body the way it is and are incredibly comfortable. Also, what Mom doesn’t love a piece of clothing in her wardrobe that hardly ever needs to be washed? Because Levi’s cares for our planet, they have created a pair of jeans that needs to be washed LESS!

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He’s a fussy shopper (already) and is quite specific when it comes to picking out clothing and shoes. I was curious to see his reaction when he opened his box to see what they had sent him. All I can say is that it was a hit, because he now likes to point out everyone who he thinks is wearing a Levi’s tshirt (if it has the same colours).

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We sort of decided on behalf of him, that these would be his special occasion jeans – you know, that pair that come out when you’re going somewhere nice for dinner, or to watch a special show. But he very quickly disagreed, and said that Levi’s would be sad if he didn’t wear them all the time. I had to agree.


At the end of the day, Olly was to get into the bath and to get ready for bed – he looked at me and said – “Mommy, I had such a happy day with you in our Levi’s.” My heart smiled. I also had such a happy afternoon with him in our Levi’s. Maybe we should #LiveInLevi’s. Maybe it’s the magic touch to keeping our hearts content.

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Then again, if my summer evenings ended like this – my heart would also be bursting at the seams. Thank you to Jacques from http://www.instagram.com/vanartistmedia for the beautiful images!

Girls Weekend Away In Paradise: La Bella Vita Studios.

I think it is safe to say that all girls need a weekend away here and there. A few nights away from the kids and hubby makes a good opportunity to unwind and to go back home with a clear mind and ready to take on a new week.

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Lauren and myself were invited to visit the beautiful La Bella Vita Studios out in Paarl. Now let me just begin by saying that the Winelands have never really pulled me in – I am not a huge wine drinker, and we normally head out to the seaside for family holidays.

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But, this time around the Winelands caught me off guard. I think because we were staying at such a beautiful place – it set the scene and the mood. Also, being newly engaged, it was an opportunity to dream a little.

We drove up on the Friday afternoon, just a short drive from home – and checked in at the Studios. We were really lucky to be given a little tour of the 8 studios (as well as the two new studios that will launch THIS month), because it really showed us the full vision of the owners, as well as the talent of the interior designer, Elsje Schonken. So much love has been poured into each studio – but I am going to leave the interior talk to Lauren from Lauren McCreath Interiors who will cover it from every angle. What I would like to mention though, is that each suite has a huge bathroom with a shower and bath, a small kitchen which is well equipped with beautiful crockery and cutlery, as well as a fridge and microwave AND Nespresso machine – so you can bring your own food (there is no oven or stove though, so as long as it is food that can be heated/cooked in the microwave), as well as a fire place, TV, lounge area and balcony. So it is fully equipped, and we didn’t once feel that it was lacking anything.

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You never tire of looking around the studio – each corner of the room is filled with high end finishes. The coffee table is neatly stacked with interesting books which are all relevant to the room. Nothing has been spared in terms of style. There is more than enough WiFi, and everything has been so thoughtfully done and considered which all adds to the overall experience.

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I always get excited for a girls weekend – I know I can just let my hair down and relax. La Bella Vita Studios allows you to do EXACTLY that. It was quiet, and we were surrounded by beautiful mountains and nature. We’d wake up each morning and go out to our private balcony, and just sit and drink coffee while watching the ducks and birds on the pond in front of us. We honestly could have spent all three days just sitting in our studio or outside on the deck.

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On arrival, we were gifted with a basket of delicious bread from Babylonstoren (literally a 5 minute drive away), some butter, jam, honey, cheeses, strawberries and wine. All fresh and divine. This allowed us to just totally chill on the first night with soup and bread, and we didn’t have to go anywhere.

 

I truly believe that hospitality is shown in the little details – in this case, the basket of treats, as well as the beautiful tray of bath salts, bath bombs and scents that they use in the studio (each studio gets a different scent).

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We had a divine bath that night (they have their own water supply), and each climbed into our own bed, which was literally MAGICAL. I haven’t experienced such comfort in a bed! There’s nothing like bundling up between beautiful linen sheets and sinking into plush feather pillows after a long day of adventuring. We watched some TV, laughed and chatted and fell asleep quite contently.

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The next morning we woke up, and had a slow start to the morning before heading out into the Winelands. Breakfast and some exploring at Babylonstoren, then off to a few other beautiful spots before heading to Blaauwklippen for a glass of wine, and then to Boschendal to finish off our day of adventures with a late lunch.

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We headed back to the Studios, and it honestly felt like getting home after a long and busy day. That says a lot about a place. We finished off the day with a glass of wine and a bike ride around the estate. This was the most fun we had had in awhile!!! So much laughter.

 

On the Sunday, we decided that we would spend our last day just relaxing and hanging out at ‘home’, because we just wanted to absorb what was around us. It was also incredibly hot, and neither of us had thought to bring our costumes, not realizing that there is a gorgeous pool. We then booked a spa treatment at Sante Wellness Retreat and Spa which is right next door to the Studios, within walking distance, and in the same Estate. I found that this was perfect for a girls weekend, and was also a highlight of where La Bella Vita Studios is located. Note that there is also a restaurant based inside of the Spa, so you don’t even need to leave the Estate when staying at the Studios. My facial was amazing, and Lauren had a full body massage which she also raved about. There are also uncountable amazing places just a stone throw away which are begging to be explored. Mark my words, you won’t ever feel bored!

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My mind keeps switching over to the beautiful interior and décor of each studio, but I know that Lauren will be covering all of that in the next article. But, I do need to say that it is refreshing to stay at a place that has put so much thought into creating each studio unique and totally different to the next. One studio may not be your ‘vibe’, however, one of them will be. I have about three others on my list for when I return, one of them being their brand new studio, which is breathtaking, and may even be my new favourite.

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I love that each studio has a ‘theme’, the one we stayed in being the Mare Studio. Each theme represents a charity or cause that they support – so when you stay, 3.5% of their annual profit from each studio goes to that specific cause. This is really something amazing, and you don’t get many places that do something as selfless as that.

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La Bella Vita Studios isn’t just a weekend away. It is staying in luxury, rebooting, and an experience. A perfect spot for a girls weekend, your honeymoon, or even the spot to stay the night before your wedding with your girls, as it makes for beautiful photos for getting ready. But mostly, it was the ideal place to escape to for me to chatter away to one of my best friends as a newly engaged woman about all of my dreams and visions for planning my wedding day.

 

I hope to be back soon with my maid of honour too for even more fun. This is one of those places that will never be forgotten. And I am excited to return to stay in one of the other Studios for a different experience! A few key words to describe La Bella Vita Studios in closing would be: Upmarket, contemporary, comfortable, and luxurious. It was such a treat being surrounded by the simple beauty that nature offers, and we were so sad to leave that we even stayed one extra night.

Thank you for having us! Your hospitality was refreshing and your Studios magical! Keep an eye out for the interior review by Lauren McCreath next week.

Do yourself a favour and head over to their beautiful social media accounts that are bursting with gorgeous photographs of their studios and also have loads more information on each Studio:

Instagram | Website | Facebook


*Please note that the majority of these images were used from the La Bella Vita Studios website shot by Sheldon Moultrie Photography.

I decided to use their images because mine just didn’t do the beauty of La Bella Vita Studios justice!