ZAP Wanderlust: Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Maldives
One of the most prominent reasons for visiting the Maldives is its aesthetics alone – after all, the islands are known for their pristine beaches and crystal blue waters. And while a beautiful landscape is reason enough to travel, the Maldives has so much more to offer its visitors. Whether a fine wine enthusiast, a budding paparazzi or even just striving for Insta-fame, the Maldives has something for everyone – and we’re sharing!
- Home to the World’s Best Beaches
The Maldives recently won ‘Leading Beach Destination’ in the Indian Ocean from the World Travel Awards (WTA) Africa & Indian Ocean Gala. The country surpassed other world-class destinations, including both the Seychelles and Mauritius. In addition to the prestigious title, the country’s resorts, travel agencies and airlines took home several other top titles, like both the Indian Ocean’s most romantic (Baros Maldives) and luxury (Cheval Blanc Randheli) resorts.
The World Travel Awards, established in 1993, acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across all areas of the tourism industry; often referred to as the ‘Oscars of the Travel Industry.’ Recognized as the ultimate hallmark of quality, the brand is celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year and works with travel agents worldwide to select final recipients.
- Award-Winning Restaurants & Wine Lists
The World of Fine Wines publication’s Best Wine List competition, a unique wine contest judged solely by top wine professionals and enthusiasts, is one of the most competitive in the world with only 300 wine lists across the globe earning three-stars, the highest honor. Two restaurants in the Maldives – Sea at the Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives and Constance Halaveli – earned the coveted designation in 2015. The publication received more than 4,000 applications from restaurants around the globe.
According to World Sommelier Champion Gerard Bassett, the awards are the pinnacle for a restaurant wine list. “These exciting new global awards are rapidly becoming as coveted as Michelin Stars,” he says.
The World of Fine Wines publication offered extensive praise for the wine selections at both resorts:
“Few restaurants in the world can claim to offer its guests a view as distractingly gorgeous as that offered by Sea Underwater Wine Cellar and Restaurant. In such a setting, the food and wine need to be special if it’s anything more than a supporting player. But a glance at the fine international cuisine and extensive collection of bottles suggests a remarkable gastronomic, as well as visual, spectacle.” – Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives
“One of the best wine lists is at the always vinously impressive Constance group, a list that can be described as very thorough with plenty of vintages to choose from, a list that specializes (with great skill) in France — but which offers well-edited selections from all over the world.” – Constance Halaveli Maldives
It was the second win for Anantara Kihavah and the first for the Constance Halaveli. All award-winning wine lists must reach certain standards in relation to a range of criteria, among which the most important are the breadth, depth, interest, quality, and value of the wine selection (relative to the nature and size of the list and any specialism); the clarity of the organization and presentation; the accuracy and completeness of the information for each entry on the list, including origin, producer, wine, vintage, price, and format or serving size; the suitability of the selection in terms of the cuisine and the establishment.
- Top 5 Most Instagram-Worthy Country in the World
The Maldives are so beautiful that collectively they are among the most Instagrammed tourist attractions in the world. In a survey last year, they made it into fourth place with 622,504 photos uploaded, after the Eiffel Tower (977,287); Times Square (773,569); and Big Ben (689,375).
The Maldives were even selected for the inaugural #helloworldRELAY in celebration of the United Nations World Tourism Day on September 27, 2015. An actress, singer, photojournalist and a chef were among the diverse cast of Instagram influencers assembled by helloworld and their global partners to capture special moments that truly inspire travel through the #helloworldRELAY, which curated a visual story about destinations around the world.
As the sun rose in each destination on World Tourism Day, the Instagrammers commenced posting images until the sun set in their location. The event began at sunrise in Samoa, the westernmost point of the earth, and ended at sunset in the Cook Islands 36 hours later.
Singer, model and TV host, Erin Holland (@erinvholland), had plenty of picture-perfect moments in the Maldives. Located in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, the Amilla Luxury Resort provided the backdrop for iconic shots of the azure blue waters and powder white beaches that the Maldives are famous for.
A photo posted by Bar Refaeli (@barrefaeli) on
- A Celebrity Favorite
Celebrities looking to escape for the holidays; celebrate an engagement, wedding or honeymoon; mourn a breakup; or even just relax privately, flock to the Maldives. Fans include the below:
– David and Victoria Beckham, who frequent the One & Only Reethi Rah each New Year
-Josh Duhamel and Fergie honeymooned at the One & Only Reethi Rah
-Prince William and Princess Katherine, who escape the media’s attention at one of the country’s most private destinations
-Sienna Miller, who hid from the limelight surrounding her breakup with Jude Law at the One & Only Reethi Rah resort
-Alexa Chung, who rang in the New Year with a few girlfriends in 2015
-Bar Rafaeli, who had a fun-filled bachelorette party over the summer
The Maldives introduced a ‘green tax’ in 2014 to help fund environmental protection programs in the country that will go into effect this November. A number of resorts, however, have already started to lead the way in sustainability initiatives:
-Soneva Fushi: part of the Baa Atoll, Soneva Fushi is one of the resorts that campaigned for the area to be recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It has an ethos of ‘intelligent luxury,’ and its philosophy is summed up by the acronym ‘SLOW LIFE’ – sustainable, local, organic, wellness, learning, inspiring, fun, experiences. The island’s ultimate aim is to decarbonize.
-Reethi Beach: the Reethi Beach resort founded the Baa Atoll project, which is working toward a ban on shark fishing and shark tank product and encourages the protection of dive sites and the support of local communities. Reethi Beach has also taken action on World Environment Day and Earth Day, hosting a clean-up and tree planting with guests on a local uninhabited island. Each year, the resort also takes part in Earth Hour led by the World Wildlife Fund.
-Coco Palm, Dhuni Kolhu: the natural island is home to lush jungle-like flora, sand paths and a focus on sustainable tourism. It works with the other luxury resorts of the Baa Atoll to help conserve this special area that’s home to manta rays, whale sharks and dolphins.
-Kuramathi Island: one of the Maldives’ largest and most popular islands, Kuramathi has a lot to sustain, and it places a huge emphasis on environmental protection policies. One of its most interesting eco facilities is the hydroponics garden that requires full-time staff and comprises 20 greenhouses.
-Allie Duncan, Publicist
Images courtesy of The Maldives and Bar Refaeli Instagram
Around Town: Oktoberfest
To some, mid-September typically means cooler weather, layered clothing and pumpkin’s ubiquitous return to our dishes and coffee cups. And while of course, there’s plenty of pumpkin beer to go around too, to others, mid-September means only one thing: Oktober[fest] is right around the corner.
And while there’s plenty of ways to get your Oktoberfest on throughout the city, Thrillist has you covered here, there’s also a large selection of new delicious Oktoberfest beers in your grocery aisle! These beers, also known as Marzen, are a lager style which originated in Bavaria. They can be medium to full bodied and vary in color from amber to dark brown. With flavors of warm bread and dried fruit, it is not only easy to drink but also interesting, and can be enjoyed by both beer novices and connoisseurs!
So what to drink here in Chicago? Pick up one of these local options and you’ll be in the German spirit in no time. Prost! Images from Metropolitan Brewing, Revolution Brewing, Two Brother Brewing, Half Acre Beer, and BeerPulse.com
Afterburner – Metropolitan Brewing
Metropolitan Brewing says the following of their seasonal offering, and they’re right, it’s really all you need to know. “We brew Oktoberfest because Fall’s hoodie-temps call for toasty malt aromas and a dry, elegant lager finish. We brew Oktoberfest because the malty sweetness pairs perfectly with freshly harvested food native to the Midwest. We brew Oktoberfest because everything about this beer makes you want to gather up your friends and laugh hard. We brew Oktoberfest in honor of an annual party thrown to celebrate beer itself. And when you think about it, that’s all you really needed to know.” 6.1 percent.
Oktoberfest – Revolution Brewing
This popular beer has doubled its production each of the past three years. This year’s version is brewed with a hop called Hallertau Gold, which is grown on only one farm in the whole of Bavaria. It’s nutty with a lightly sweet and easy-drinking finish. 5.7 percent.
Atom Smasher – Two Brothers Brewing
Aged in Oak Barrels, this beer is considered the heartiest, and booziest, of local options here in Chicago. 7.7 percent.
Lager Town – Half Acre Breer Co.
Half Acre invites beer drinkers to take a drive through Lager Town and Munich’s Storied Tradition. This beer boasts a dry, yeasty nose with a dried fruit finish that increases as the beer warms. 6 percent.
Oktoberfest – Goose Island Beer Co.
This option is balanced and perfect for those new to the style, and with a toffee and burnt sugar aroma, how can be it be anything but delicious. 6.4 percent.
-Carly Holstein, Senior Publicist
ZAP Style Notes: Top 5 Fall Fashion Must Haves
The leaves are changing, and I can finally wear leather without sweating. It must mean one thing… fall is upon us! There is nothing that excites me more than a new season because, duh, wardrobe updates. After one too many impulse buys from Forever 21 that sit in my closet, untouched and tags perfectly in place, I’m here to narrow down your wardrobe must haves and tell you the top five fall essentials.
Images from Shopbop, Nordstrom, Asos, Topshop and Club Monaco
Leather Pants: The ultimate fall staple. I love anything leather, but it’s hard to find a leather pant that fits well. Blank Denim has my favorite pair, and best yet, they are under $100!
Neutral Booties: I walk everywhere, so a comfortable pair of neutral booties is key for fall. I bought this pair from Nordstrom in Dark Moss, but I’m also in love with the Oxblood color.
Chunky Sweater: The only thing cozier than a chunky knit sweater is a chunky knit sweater in every color! Add a fireplace and a hot toddy, and I’m in heaven.
Multipurpose Jacket: I got this trench from Club Monaco last fall, and it has been a lifesaver! It’s perfect for work but can also be dressed down on the weekend with a cute pair of slip on sneakers.
Lace Up Flats: I get it, everyone and their mom has a pair of lace ups. I’ve been living in mine to an embarrassing extent and even bought the same pair/same color twice, because I have no shame or self -control. They are the perfect combination of comfort and chic.
-Brigid Parr, Account Supervisor
Client Happenings: Oh La La
Image by Heather Talbert Photography
La Perla, the leading lingerie and beachwear brand synonymous with “Made in Italy” luxury, recently moved its Chicago boutique to Oak Street, with a new 1,600 sq ft boutique designed by architect Roberto Baciocchi. The store is absolutely breathtaking inside and we’re thrilled to be partnering with the brand for their opening campaign.
For the La Perla design concept, Roberto Baciocchi chose beautiful marble arches which are signature elements of great Italian architecture. No detail has been overlooked. The beautiful boutique offers a curated selection of lingerie and nightwear, from beachwear to fragrances and hosiery. The entire collection is absolutely stunning, and aimed at a refined and sensual woman who aims at expressing and underlining her femininity in a self-confident, sophisticated and elegant way.
More details on the opening campaign to come! Follow the campaign and events on Zapwater’s Instagram at @zapwater.
Visit the new La Perla location at 34 East Oak Street, Chicago, IL and for more information, visit www.laperla.com
-Jenn Lake, Vice President
ZAP Bites: Adios to Pumpkin Spice, Hello to Sangria
Another summer has come and gone, marked by the invasion of pumpkin spice into literally everything. From Greek yogurt to hummus to gum, pumpkin spice season has officially kicked off. Well, I am here to put a stop to it and start a new phenomenon: sangria.
This sangria –my mother’s recipe—will tantalize your taste buds and redefine what fall means to you. Throw out the cider, put down the latte and don’t worry about when Octoberfest will be released becasue this sangria will keep you warm, satisfied and singing like Luke Bryan in no time.
The recipe is simple but it does make quite a large batch! I come from a big family so everything we make seems to be triple what is necessary (Although, in this case, it is a good thing!) Store the extra wine to keep on hand after a rough day or give away to friends for the perfect “Welcome to Fall” gift!
Image via The Knot
Mama Brig’s Sangria
- -1 fifth of White Rum
- -1 fifth of Triple Sec
- -2L Lemon Lime Soda
- -1 jug (32 oz.) of juice- apple cranberry lite or apple raspberry
- -1 cup sugar
- -1 large jug of Carlo Rossi Cabernet
So you might be thinking that this recipe has nothing to do with Fall. But I did promise I would redefine Fall, so here it goes: heat up the sangria with some mulling spices (optional) and change your fall palate forever. Maybe that was a little anti-climactic but I swear by this recipe as a fall favorite! Cozy up with a book or soothe a sore throat with this can’t-miss classic.
-Rachel, Fall 2015 Intern
Client Happenings: National Cheeseburger Day
To celebrate National Cheeseburger Day tomorrow, Friday, September 18th, Gilt City Chicago has partnered up with two local favorites that serve up one phenomenal cheeseburger!
Diners have the option to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day a la luxuriously with a special four-course Chef’s tasting with wine pairing or keep it classic and casual with fries. Cheeseburger with a side of saving money? Check!
Image via Red Door Chicago
Red Door (9/16/15 – 9/30/15): An extensive beer selection is paired with thoughtful, international bar fare at this Bucktown pub.
4 Course Chef’s Tasting + Wine Pairing for Two for $59 on Gilt City ($120 Retail)
Includes: Wine pairings with each course (Chef will select) and 4 food pairings per person
About Red Door: Red Door entices guests with its sprawling outdoor patio, cozy, unpretentious atmosphere and outstanding dishes by chef Troy Graves. You may recognize Graves from his stints at Meritage Café, Wine Bar and Eve. At Red Door, he continues to wow customers and critics alike with his creative, inspired entrees, like lamb neck Sloppy Joe, poutine with curry gravy and chestnut fried calamari.
Image via Kinmont
Kinmont (9/17/15 – 10/17/15): This restaurant prides itself on serving fresh, sustainable fish and seafood inspired by the ethical practices of centuries-old Midwest fisherman.
Cheeseburger, Fries + Drinks for Two for $35 on Gilt City ($58 Retail)
Includes: Two cheeseburgers, two side of fries, one cocktail, beer or glass of wine per person
About Kinmont: Opened earlier year in River North’s Design District, Kinmont is the latest chef-driven project from Element Collective. Named after “Kinmont Willie,” an artisan salmon fly-fishing lure, Kinmont invokes a true appreciation for nature, respect for wildlife and esteem for ethical fishing and hunting.
-Huong Spais, Assistant Publicist
Promotion details provided by Gilt City.
ZAP Wanderlust: An Insider’s Guide to Paris from a Wannabe Parisian
Those who know me, know I love to travel. Near or far, rustic or glamorous, I’m always up for a new adventure and seeing a part of the world I haven’t before. So, when a good friend of mine proposed a last minute trip to Paris (literally the only time we both had free on our calendars) of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
Everyone knows Paris as the “city of light” and famous for a number of sights from the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, and Notre Dame, to name a few. So, as opposed to boring you with what you already know, I thought I’d take the time in this blog to highlight a few hidden gems of the city:
Image via The Telegraph
Ile St. Louis: Everyone who travels to Paris knows about Ile de la Cite which is home to Notre Dame, the St. Chappelle, but did you know there is another island in the center of the city? Located just East of Notre Dame, take the small pedestrian bridge over to Ile St. Louis and find one the quaintest towns in the city. Eat at one of the many traditional French eateries and wander down the main street filled with local shops and galleries.
Image via Eat Play Live with Me
Restaurant Derriere: I’m a foodie and I can honestly say this was by far my one of my favorite dining experiences to date. The restaurant lies on edge of Paris’ Marais district and is a clandestine restaurant that is one of the hottest meals in town. Enter through a hidden doorway next to the 404 restaurant and Andy Wahloo that leads you into courtyard and from there into eccentric Derrière. The restaurant is every bit as eccentric as the name…it’s literally a house with a restaurant inside. Choose from the kitchen, to the living room (complete with a ping pong table) and even dining on a bed in the bedroom if you’d like!
Image via Merci
Merci: Tucked away off a main street in the Maris district you’ll find Merci, an adorable concept store with everything you could want under one roof. You’ll know you’re in the right spot from the Fiat in the driveway. Inside, the concept shop has everything from clothing, to housewares, to furniture – it even has an organic restaurant to give you fuel for your shopping J
To anyone planning a trip to the city of light, I hope you check these places out too. Bon Voyage!
-Morgan Bellock, Group Director
ZAP Bites: Kicking Off Fall with Swedish Meatballs
I love nothing more than comfort food on a brisk fall day. With Labor Day bringing summer to an end, I thought I would get a head start on celebrating Fall here in California and make Swedish Meatballs. These meatballs melt in your mouth, and the sauce is just the right combination of sweet and savory. Warning-this recipe is THAT good. Perfect for football Sundays or a dinner party. Bon Appétit!
What you will need:
- 3 ounces fresh white bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 3/4 unpacked cups)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 medium onion, minced or grated, divided (see note above)
- 1 pound 4 ounces ground beef chuck (about 20% fat)
- 12 ounces ground pork (about 25% fat)
- 4 teaspoons (18 grams) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups homemeade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Buttered boiled Yukon gold potatoes and lingonberry jam, for serving (optional)
How to make the delicious meatballs:
1- Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine bread with milk, tossing to coat. Let stand until bread is completely softened and most of the milk absorbed, about 10 minutes.
2- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add half of the minced onion and cook, stirring, until onion is golden and tender, about 7 minutes.
3- Combine ground beef, ground pork, bread and any remaining milk, cooked onion, remaining raw onion, 4 teaspoons salt, eggs, white pepper, and allspice.
4- Roll roughly 1-tablespoon-sized portions of meatball mixture into balls slightly smaller than golf-ball size and arrange on baking sheets. Put in over for 30 minutes.
5- In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until foamy. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, until raw flour smell is gone, about 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken stock, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in soy sauce and cider vinegar. Season with salt and white pepper.
6- Add meatballs to gravy and stir to coat. Simmer until meatballs are heated through. Serve right away with buttered potatoes and lingonberry jam, or as an hors d’oeuvres speared with toothpicks.
Recipe and image credit are from SeriousEats.com
ZAP Bites: When In Rome…
Chicago has deep dish pizza.
Kansas City has BBQ.
Baltimore has crabs.
As they say, When in Rome…
I love to eat like a local. So, when I returned home, I did just that. It had been about eight years since I visited my hometown on Long Island. When I returned, I made sure visit to some of my favorite haunts were on the itinerary.
Image via Little Vincent’s Pizzeria
First stop was Little Vincent’s Pizzeria. With all respect to my good friend Marc Malnatti, I am partial to New York thin slice. Nothing beats Little Vincent’s thin slice pizza in Ronkonkoma, and speaking of Ronkonkoma… if you want some good Long Island history, you should take a minute to read up on the Indian Princess here.
Now, back to food.
Our second stop was The Good Steer. As a child, this was my family restaurant. It’s been open since 1956 and simply hasn’t changed much = the fried onion rings are still the best!
Third stop was Lake Village Deli. Long Islanders are strangely obsessed with their deli egg sandwiches. If you haven’t had one, you don’t know what you are missing. Words can not begin to do it justice. In fact, my friend John Delaney wrote a blog about egg sandwiches on Edible Long Island. It went viral. After reading it, you’ll know why my third stop was to Lake Village Deli in Saint James.
My final stop was to Friendly’s for the Long Island summer sensation Wattamellon Roll. This delicacy is refreshing watermelon and lemon sherbet with rich chocolate chips made to look like a watermelon. #NomNom
That’s how we Long Islanders “Wattamellon” roll!
-David Zapata, President
ZAP Style Notes: Back to School
We had a sneak peek of fall last week with cooler temperatures and a fashion-filled back-to-school segment on WGN Chicago. There’s something about the start of a new season that invigorates and inspires the team, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome autumn to Chicago this month.
In case you missed the TV segment, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite back-to-school looks for the little ones in your life… although, we fully support using the trends as inspiration for your own seasonal upgrade!
Pop of Color
Night falls a bit earlier in September so we love the idea of adding a pop of color to your outfit to brighten up the day – our models, Hazel and Liam, are showcasing pink and red. Both of their looks are from Gilt.com, and the Kate Spade Dorothy Jacket is available in women’s sizes, too!
Hazel had her hair done in a low ponytail by Blohaute, which guarantees her hair will be out of her face during the day and won’t distract from her outfit!
Mixing prints is a great way to let your personality shine and to turn an otherwise ordinary outfit into a personal style statement. Jak & Peppar, one of our favorite clothing lines for young girls, does this the best, and we love the unique combinations worn by our models, Ella and McKenzie.
Blohaute styled braids and twists to embrace the girls’ natural hair textures (and to help save time in the morning rush). The styles definitely represent the carefree attitude of the looks as well.
Image via Jak & Peppar
It’s important to have a few looks in your closet that work for dressy occasions – whether it’s a professional field trip or class picture day, who doesn’t want to look their best?
Rosie’s look from vineyard vines is fashion-forward, yet perfect for a last-minute Labor Day getaway to the lake. She can switch out her books for beach toys once the weekend rolls around!
Her half-up braided hairstyle is the perfect combination of stylish and casual.
A cozy sweater is the perfect transitional piece for the fall season and is an essential for chilly mornings. We love Viv’s addition of silk trousers from Zara Kids at Block 37 to keep the look appropriate for school, and a pretty twist adds a bit of edge to the bohemian look.
-Allie Duncan, Publicist