Friday, 31 January 2014

Destination Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, Spain

The adrenalin rush that I got as I sped down the snow-covered slope was something that I will never forget. Stopping was a bit more of a problem, but somehow I managed to bring myself to a halt without causing any damage.

Some people have a list of things they want to experience before they die. Skiing was not on mine. However, here at the Sierra Nevada, the most southern ski resort in Europe, I got my first taster.

Maybe it was the combination of the heady atmosphere, the thrill on small children’s faces at they took their first steps, the sun shining and the spectacular views that coerced me to do an activity that took me completely out of my comfort zone. 

Sierra Nevada Ski Resort
Courtesy of the Spanish Tourist Office

From the moment I had put on my ski boots and had taken my first steps on the Magic Carpet conveyor belt which takes you to the nursery slopes, I knew there was no turning back. 

I was with two other girls that also had never skied. Our instructor was really good and could sense our nervousness.  After my first fall – I wasn’t hurt – I had enough courage to “ski” down the small slope. It is something that I am so pleased that I actually accomplished. 

All the exercise had left us famished, so before we returned our hired ski equipment, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of grilled meats at one of the many restaurants. Sitting outside with the sun beating down, in the middle of winter, drinking in the vistas of the peaks, the pistes and dots in the distant that were stretches of beaches was rather special.

This resort, a world of sports, has approximately 105 km (65 miles) of slopes. From steep and challenging to the nursery slopes, it caters for skiers of all levels. There are plenty of schools if you want to take the sport up. If you have a bit of daredevil lurking inside and fancy trying skiing under the stars, the lit-up El Rio piste is waiting for you on Saturdays.  

The sun sets over the Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada is perfect if your idea of a dream break, summer or winter, consists of a helping of sports, a swim at the beach and the attractions of an historic city, all peppered with warming rays. The Andalucía region has an average of 320 days of sunshine a year. The winters are particularly mild. It is only 32km (20 miles) from the historic city of Granada and a short drive from the coast. You could be skiing in the morning and dipping your toes in the ocean in the afternoon.

The ski season usually runs from the beginning of December until early May. If skiing isn’t your bag, you will find plenty of other activities to keep you entertained in the Sierra Nevada. The resort village, Pradollano, pulsates with energy, especially at night.

Awash with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops, it is almost a destination in itself. You could easily while away a few hours here during the day at a café taking in the mountain air while enjoyed a glass of wine or hot chocolate. 

If you prefer something more energetic without having to wear skis, head to El Miro Blanco. This family leisure centre offers a host of activities ranging from ice skating to slides to the Russian Sleigh. My favourite was a ride on a toboggan. It brings the child out in you.

After so much activity aching limbs deserve a treat. So a quick visit to relax at the Yhi Wellness Spa at the Meliá Sierra Nevada is just what you need. I’m sure its hydrogenating baths have revitalised many a weary skier!

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

British Airways flies to Granada from London City Airport four times a week and costs from £59 one way. (Price includes free onboard food and bar service and 23kg of free checked baggage allowance.) For more information visit

I stayed at the Hotel Carmen, Granada ( Rooms from €115 

For more information on Granada and Sierra Nevada Ski Resort visit and


Monday, 27 January 2014

The main causes of damaged hair

“The main cause of damage to the hair that we commonly see is over use or incorrect use of chemical processes such as bleaches, perms, relaxers, and chemical straighteners or reverse perms,” says Philip Kingsley, a leading authority on hair and scalp health. “Damage most commonly occurs when more than one of these processes is carried out on the same hair.” 

Using too much heat can also seriously harm the hair, especially if it is chemically processed.  So be careful with straightening irons and curling tongs. Even a hairdryer that is too hot can “burn” the hair.

“If handled incorrectly, hot irons are a potential danger to hair, although if they are used with care, the damage they cause is minimal,” says Philip. “For irons to work effectively the hair should be fairly dry, in this way the natural moisture content of the hair is used to create a new style. If care is not taken, you can make your hair brittle.”

Heat can damage the hair’s cuticle (the outer protective layer) by lifting it and roughening it up leading to tangling and potential breakage. Hair can also become dull and you will have difficulty in handling it.  “The hair’s configuration is compromised by this. It is interesting to note that very dry hair (due to heat) frizzes and in many circumstances, moisture penetration from the air and rain can also have the same effect,” says Philip.

Courtesy of  Philip Kingsley

Keratin treatments

You many want to think twice before shelling out on these procedures.
“Keratin treatments are to smooth hair – not necessarily to defrizz or straighten, so they are not as damaging as permanent straighteners,” says Philip. “They are still damaging to an extent, particularly when the process is repeated, as it has to be.”

Philip advises the best way of caring for fluffy hair is to use a moisturising shampoo and conditioner and to use Elasticizer (£27.50), a pre-shampooing treatment once a week and a product such as his Philip Kingsley Preen Cream (£22.50) to help protect and condition.

If you want to have your hair extra sleek for a special occasion, head to the salon. A good blow-dry should last a couple of days, unless you have greasy hair.

Choosing rollers and curlers

Waves and curls are still on-trend and many of us use rollers to create the look, so which ones are the best?

“Look for smooth or foam-covered rollers without spikes and, preferably, without a Velcro-like covering. Why? Because Velco rollers can tangle the hair and can also be impossible to remove without breaking off some hair,” says Philip.

 “Be careful not to roll the hair too tightly, nor sleep in your rollers. Similarly with curlers, remember not to roll too tightly nor over-dry with a hairdryer.”

Heated rollers may be convenient and quick to use, but Philip cautions about over using them as you run the risk of dried and split hair. “Choose steam-producing, thermostatically controlled rollers,” he adds!

By Daralyn Danns

Friday, 24 January 2014

Destination Granada, Spain

From the moment that I laid eyes on the city of Granada, set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, I was captivated by its dramatic beauty.

Granada’s, and arguably Spain’s jewel in the crown, has to be the Alhambra. Part fortress, part palace and small city, it is the dazzling emblem of the domination of the country by the Moors.

The Alhambra
Courtesy of the Spanish Tourist Office

The Alhambra was once the residence of the Nasrid, the last Muslim dynasty in Spain. Its walls snake around al-Sabrika hill that crowns the city. In 1492, Granada was the last Moorish city to fall to the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile.  

Oozing romance from an ancient world, this complex showcasing Islamic art and architecture has intrigued artists, writers, poets and visitors for centuries and continues to do so. It is far more impressive in reality than any picture you see.

This ornate complex, especially at night, was something incredibly special. As I walked round gazing at the stuccoed columns, carved ceilings and intricately tiled rooms, exotic images of Arabian nights floated into my head.

Courtyard of the Lions
Courtesy of  the Spanish Tourist Office

One of the highlights has to be the Courtyard of the Lions (Patio de los Leones). In the centre is a fountain supported by 12 marble lions. Go back during the day to take a walk around the Generalife, the Emirs’ summer retreat. The water gardens are jaw-dropping. (Tip: book your visit to the Alhambra in advance.)

In today’s Granada the past fuses with the present to form a cultural powerhouse that will stimulate even the most world-weary heart. The city fulfils so many requirements for a weekend break. You really can have it all. 

Wander around the winding streets of the Realejo, the old Jewish quarter known as “Granada of the Jews” during the rule of the Nasrids. Saunter along the labyrinth of narrow medieval streets peppered with small squares of the old Arab quarter, El Albaicín.  Named after the hill on which it stands, this charismatic area, awash with eateries and boutiques, now has a somewhat Moroccan vibe. Pop into one of the bars to enjoy a glass of wine and some tapas – which are free in Granada. 

Punctuate your trip with some retail therapy and explore the elegant streets of the city centre where you are bound to be tempted to flash your credit card in one of the boutiques, or Zara. 

For a cultural jaunt put the Parque de las Ciencias on your itinerary. There are plenty of interactive exhibits to keep all ages engrossed for hours. The butterfly house is amazing and the birds of prey exhibit is definitely not to be missed.

If you want to fit in some skiing then head to the Sierra Nevada, only 32km from the city centre. The season usually runs from December to May. (There is so much to do there, even if you don’t ski, that I will cover this in another post.) 

Nature lovers cannot help be bowled over by the fauna and flora of the Sierra National Park whatever time of year they visit. While sun worshipers will be pleased to know that you can even fit in a visit to the beach on the same day – the Costa Tropical is approximately an hour’s drive away. 

El Albaicín
Courtesy of  the Spanish Tourist Office

Eating out in Granada is truly one of the city’s finest forms of entertainment. Not only is the food and wine magnificent, but there are some rather special “rooms” with a view. 

Lunch at the elegant Hotel Alhambra Palace, now over a hundred years old, was awesome. Architecturally inspired by the nearby Alhambra, the hotel dishes up stunning views of the city of Granada, as well as giving you a culinary treat of the traditional spiced up with a modern edge.  The poached sea bass with tropical fruit and rum sauce was scrumptious. I also got to savour my first sip of “Granada” wine, hopefully, not my last as it was remarkably good.

A great place for dinner is Las Tomasas, El Albaicín, from where you gaze at the Alhambra in all its glory and let your taste buds be tantalised with some interesting dishes.

Flamenco has been popular in Granada for centuries. So, find the time to fit in a show. I loved the Temple of Flamenco, set in a centuries-old cave which has a wonderful authentic atmosphere. The menu consists of modern-styled typical Andalucian dishes which you can enjoy while watching a show that is dripping in raw passion and energy. 

For a quick insight into Andalucía history, I rounded up my action-packed trip with a visit to the Museo CajaGRANADA Memoria de Andalucía. The highlight was a superb meal at the Restaurant Arriaga, on the top of the cultural centre which is also home to the museum. 

It is arguably one of the city’s finest eateries. It was filled with locals, which in my books, says it all. The food is bursting with innovative flavours, but its real pull is the sweeping panoramic view of Granada from the floor-to-ceiling windows that surround you.

My first taste of Granada has well and truly sparked an appetite that will, no doubt, have me craving more.

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

British Airways flies to Granada from London City Airport four times a week and costs from £59 one way. (Price includes free onboard food and bar service and 23kg of free checked baggage allowance.) For more information visit

I stayed at the Hotel Carmen ( Rooms from €115 

For more information on Granada visit and

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Need a lift?

Epigenetics is a science that analyses how factors such as diet, stress levels, environmental aspects as well as life experiences including those of our mother, grandmother and even further back, may play a part in altering our genetic legacy.

Studying the subject, Chanel discovered that skin ageing not only depends on what we inherit, but also on external stress factors and individual influences. How many times have I been told: “my face says it all?”

Utilising the powers of the edulis plant to mitigate the decline in “youth proteins” as we age, Chanel has created its new Le Lift Crèmes to work with each woman’s beauty needs.

It comes in three different textures: Le Lift Crème, Crème Fine and Crème Riche, £89 each. I am using the Crème Riche which has a beautiful velvety texture that blends effortlessly into my skin. My complexion appears to have been given a new lease of life: it is more radiant, appears firmer and is well hydrated.

By Daralyn Danns