Connaught Village in the urban jungle

In the midst of this vast metropolis is a village. Connaught Village to be precise.

Read my full story here: Seen in the City.

Ocean Encounters – a photographic exhibition by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Recent high-profile activism led by environmentalist Greta Thunberg has succeeded in refreshing the global conversation on climate change. Protecting our oceans, which play a pivotal role in the balance of ecosystems, have figured heavily in the debate. Most certainly it calls for multinationals to be held socially accountable. As ever, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts lead the way with Ocean Encounters – a photographic exhibition to be held at Shangri-La Hotel Paris and Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard London in support of its innovative SANCTUARY project.

Shangri-La’s Care for Nature project SANCTUARY was set up in 2010 with the sole aim of biodiversity conservation and habitat protection. Each property, in the group, works on individual projects that are monitored and tracked. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives’ Reef Care project focuses on replanting fragmented corals to regenerate the reefs. The resort has successfully planted over 2,000 healthy corals. Up to date the group has 16 SANCTUARY projects in place worldwide.

The latest initiative is Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives and Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius’ collaboration with National Geographic’s award-winning photographer Greg Lecoeur. Spending time in the waters surrounding Shangri-La’s resorts in the Maldives and Mauritius Lecoeur has captured the beauty of the underwater worlds which surround the resorts. Shot entirely in the Indian Ocean the images have captured Hawksbill turtles, spinner dolphins, whale sharks and sperm whales. The exclusive series of images will go on display to inspire visitors to learn more about the Indian Ocean environment and what could be done to protect it.

A childhood spent in Nice along the Mediterranean Sea means this is a cause close to Lecoeur’s heart. He has travelled extensively around the world photographing life underwater and sharing his experiences to raise awareness of the fragility of ecosystems and the urgent need to preserve biodiversity. His work won National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year in 2016.

“The waters surrounding the Shangri-La Resorts in the Maldives and Mauritius are teeming with life, creating incredible opportunities to encounter marine animals; a true underwater paradise for divers,” says Lecoeur. “Through sharing my photography of this world, I am proud to contribute to Shangri-La’s SANCTUARY project to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity protection.”

“We were thrilled to bring Greg to our islands in the Indian Ocean and explore the marine life of the Maldives and Mauritius,” said Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’s Executive Vice President, Operations – Middle East, India and Indian Ocean John Northern. “His extraordinary photographs capture the stunning beauty that surrounds our resorts and we hope will inspire travellers to protect the ocean and perhaps even travel to the Indian Ocean to witness its beauty in person.”

There’s more

To coincide with Ocean Encounters Shangri-La Paris’ Le Bar Botaniste team have lovingly shaped The Nautilus cocktail (€27). Made with oyster leaf–infused gin, dill-infused vodka, Noilly Prat and smoked salt the cocktail is sure to please.

Furthermore, the team at CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Paris have created a 60-minute Indian Ocean-inspired treatment for those who wish to support the SANCTUARY project whilst nourishing their own wellness.

The GōNG Bar team at Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, London support the cause with The Azure cocktail (£18) made of bergamot-infused gin, Blue Curacao, saline solution and sea samphire. Be sure to order your cocktail with a cause on your visit.

A percentage of proceeds from the sale of cocktails and spa treatments will be contributed to SANCTUARY.

When and where

29th October – 22nd November 2019 at Shangri-La Hotel, 10 Avenue d’Iéna, 75116 Paris. 20 images will be displayed on the ground floor’s public areas.

30th October – 15th November 2019 at Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9QU. In London the images will be split between three floors with five on show at the ground floor entrance, five on the 35th floor lobby and five more in the Sky Lounge on the 34th floor.

Prints of Lecoeur’s work will be available to buy priced between €250 to €850 with all proceeds contributed to SANCTUARY. They will be on permanent display at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa and Maldives and Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius after the exhibitions in Europe.

For more information visit:

Five cool things to do in London this weekend

Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross

Let’s face it. London’s pretty great. We make and break our own rules but never ever stop being cool whilst doing either. This week, for example, I was invited to London’s latest cultural and innovative space in Kings Cross. Samsung KX is an impossibly cutting edge experience that’s opened in Coal Drops Yard. You needn’t be tech-savvy nor particularly rich to enjoy it as it’s open to all and completely free. I went along and was surprised by what I found.

Create your own graffiti

Did you ever harbour dreams of spending Saturday afternoons in Leake Street tunnel creating a mural that the world admires? Well, here’s your chance. You can embrace street art on the 10 metre wide wall inside Samsung KX. A range of digital London backdrops, such as Kings Cross train station, are projected to a wall you can spray your very own tag, mural or love heart on to. A digital paint can is provided and there’s no shortage of colours. Spend as little or as long as you wish on your masterpiece.

Become a DJ

House, Hip Hop, Rock or Pop. Whatever your musical preference you can create your own beat, mix your own sound and be the rockstar that you are. This was undoubtedly my favourite experience. The DJ Galaxy booth experience teaches you how to create and record your own track on a smartphone. Once you’re done you can even email yourself a one minute recording of the beat to impress friends with later.

Drive a fast car

Put on your virtual headset and get ready to race across the most beautifully imaginative scenery. Think Monaco, think AbuDhabi or think road trips in Portofino. This experience inside Samsung KX is for the wild at heart with a love for adventure. Drive your car through your imagination and be awed by the ride.

Take a seat in a digital cockpit

Say, “hello” to Bixby; your virtual life assistant. The digital cockpit is a seamlessly connected driving experience inside Samsung KX which does anything from play the next song to answer your door bell at home. The smart home connectivity even allows you to take a look inside your fridge from the comfort of your car; especially handy for those times when you’re unsure if you’re out of milk as you head home.

Make your own selfie collage

Push the boundaries of self-expression and create yourself a selfie collage. It’s simple. Take a selfie and use an app to create arty effects around your image. Once complete you can print your selfie and take it home.

Samsung KX is a 20,000 square feet, experience-led brand showcase in Kings Cross. It’s open 10am – 10pm Monday to Saturday and 12pm – 6pm on Sundays. Admission is free.

For more information visit: