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: www.shangri-la.com/

Shangri-La London launches new cocktail menu at Gŏng Bar

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It’s October and we’re finally allowed to utter the C-word. Yes, it’s cocktail season and we’re ready to indulge. London’s Gōng Bar has taken this readiness to dizzying new heights. The bar’s new cocktail menu entitled A Miscellany of Inventions was unveiled just in time for the festive season.

It’s an acknowledgement of the incredible innovations that have impacted society and transformed the world we live in today. A total of 18 cocktails follow the journey of inventions which changed the course of humanity; an ambitious undertaking as well as an unusual one.

A Miscellany of Inventions is divided into five categories; floral and delicate, fruity and citrusy, bitter and sweet, punchy and long finish and non-alcoholic. My favourites of the menu included Director’s Cut (pictured above) which celebrates the birth of the motion picture. Served with buttered corn it combines Don Julio Blanco, elderflower and lime. Cooperman which is an aperitif with fruity notes honours the invention of the barrel; Nikka single-barrel Whisky, Ginjo sake infused Mastiha with melon and citrus make for a supreme cocktail.

The creation of the menu has been a labour of love for head bartender Christian Maspes and his team. He says of the new menu,

The cocktails bring to life inventions that have been real breakthroughs. It is hard to imagine the world we know today without screwdrivers and computers, and movies and guitars. Creating a new invention is like taking a leap of faith and being open to the possibilities and the same goes for the creation of a new cocktail. We really enjoyed bringing our ideas to life and we look forward to entertaining our guests with our unique creations.

For those with a more adventurous spirit there is also Look no Hands which celebrates the invention of the bicycle. The drink combines Copper Dog Whisky, triple sec, an IPA reduction and Fernet-Branca and is served complete with a bamboo bicycle.

If you’re Sober for October you might try La Dolce Vita which is one of the non-alcoholic options. With flavours of  coconut milk, halva, grapefruit and lime blended  to create a creamy and zesty finish it’s a fitting tribute to the creation of gelato.

As London begins to shift gear for the holiday season Gōng offers a fresh approach to the new season. Being the highest hotel bar in Western Europe, with unparalleled views across the city, it invites us to change rhythm in graceful refinement. Combined with Shangri-La’s exquisite hospitality it’s surely a call we must heed. Who would we be to resist?

 

 

Gōng Bar is located at: Level 52, Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London SE1 9QU. For more information visit: www.the-shard.com/restaurants/gong/

Antonio Lai at Gong Bar – an unforgettable sensory experience

It’s taken me a while to write this. Not because I didn’t want to but because my schedule has been so packed lately that I’ve struggled to catch up with my writing. So it’s lovely to finally sit down, breathe and write.

Antonio Lai at Gong

Last month, Shangri-La, London hosted multi-awarded international mixologist Antonio Lai for three nights at the hotel’s Gong Bar. Antonio pioneered the comprehensive Multisensory Mixology concept in Hong Kong and is the owner of Quinary Bar. So we were very lucky to have him grace us in London even if only for three nights.

Earl Grey Caviar Martini by Antonio Lai

Cocktails on the night

Vanilla Sky, especially created for the night, was made of Italicus infused with cedar wood, Bullet Whiskey, Rosso and bitters with smoky notes. The striking amber shade encased in a classic whiskey glass of cut crystal was a bold move against the other more theatrically presented drinks on the menu.

My favourite was the Earl Grey Caviar Martini (pictured above) made of Ketel One Citron Vodka, Cointreau, elderflower syrup and containing caviar with a dramatic whipped top. Antonio’s knowledge and skill had created an utterly stimulating creation which triggered, as expected, all senses. Colour, texture, aroma and taste all in perfect balance for an incredibly immersive cocktail.

I am Jade was another winner for me. Made of B24, jasmine basil syrup, lemongrass syrup, lime juice and soda water. It was all my favourite things at once; lemongrass, lime juice, jasmine basil. Ingredients which can easily overpower if not used correctly. In this instance of course balanced impeccably with precision which can only be expect from skilled hands.

IMG_4286The evening ended with cocktails served by Shangri-La’s rooftop infinity pool. With whimsical views across London we watched the sun patiently sink against a purple sky. The capital illuminated itself, slowly, one flickering light at a time. We sat spellbound, as dusk unfolded its blanket, savouring the cocktails as patiently as the sunset itself. For a few breathtaking moments everything was synchronised and in perfect harmony just as we always hope it could be.

 

Gong is located at The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG. For more information visit: Gong Bar

 

London Bridge has a brand new local bar

IMG_4537London Bridge has a brand new, swanky local bar with all the hallmarks of a good place for a drink; swinging atmosphere, great service, wonderful drinks and very good food. Let’s not forget the location; 31 Thomas Street. It’s the closest bar to London Bridge station and if you’re walking by you won’t miss the buzzy atmosphere through the floor to ceiling windows. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s another among many. Here’s the thing; this is no ordinary bar. It’s Shangri-La’s Bar 31 created by the locals for the locals. Here’s what that means for us.

Food

IMG_4521All the produce for the menu comes from neighbouring Borough market. Expect the best; rice Buddha bowls with egg and kale, pickled avocado, Vietnamese avocado rolls and daily specials such as spiced chicken wings and shepherds pie. It’s world cuisine on a plate via Borough Market. I had the Vietnamese avocado rolls and pickled avocado when I attended the opening and they were sublime. With quality local produce and a menu curated by none other than chef Daniel Mcgarey their sharing plates are nothing short of spectacular.

Drink

For drinks Shangri-La has flexed it’s giant sourcing muscle and gone as far as…their doorstep. (I did say the bar was local). Beers come from Bermondsey Breweries, Hiver Brewery and Anspach & Hobday. Bermondsey Distillery’s Old Tom gin and a whole host of cocktails and Champagnes have also made the cut. A sure-fire summer hit might well be their homemade lemonade followed by an ice cold glass of rosé.

Music

Want to know who provides the live music on Friday and Saturday nights? Buskers. London’s finest street singers from Bermondsey to Piccadilly Circus have been scouted for Bar 31. On opening night we were entertained by Sherika Sherard, Piers Dashfield and Tim Cronin who’s soulful renditions were the perfect backdrop to a beautiful evening.

Verdict

As a Londoner, I can tell you that Bar 31 is as good as London gets. It’s in the heart of the city at an iconic landmark, is a great spot for meeting-up and perfect for showing visitors to London what the city is all about. A mesmerising piece by graffiti artist Mr.Cenz greets you as you walk in, the atmosphere is relaxed and the service is flawless. Add to this Shangri-La’s commitment to the local economy and you’d have to agree that Bar 31 is a credit to London.