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TRAVEL: A Quick Jaunt to the Mayan Riviera

With hectic lifestyles, sometimes you just need some R&R. What better way to relax than to hop on a plane down south and soak in some sun. So that’s exactly what I did, but unlike most of my trips, where I venture off the beaten path, this trip was a calmer one. I just soaked in some sun, devoured fresh seafood and admired the endless views of the turquoise sea.

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Our destination for a few days was The Viceroy in the Mayan Riviera. After an effortless 3.5hr flight from Toronto to Cancun, we took a taxi to The Viceroy, just 40 minutes away from Cancun International Airport. Unlike other resorts, which are busy and often chaotic, The Viceroy is the perfect place to relax with its 41 private villas, white sand beaches and calming jungle ambiance.

Upon arrival, all of our stresses and worries were lifted with a Mayan Blessing performed by the Mayan shaman on site, who blessed us with copal, a natural Mayan herb known for its healing properties. After our blessing, we were shown to our private villa, complete with a private patio, plunge pool and even an outdoor shower. Once we were settled in, we made our way to the beach!

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The views from The Viceroy were simply splendid. But it wasn’t just the beaches that offered natural beauty but also the pathways and surroundings. At any point in time, you could walk through the property and be enveloped by the lush, jungle like surroundings. If you looked up, you might even spot a spider monkey or two just hanging out in the trees. I was often up at sunrise so I caught sight of many spider monkeys (for some reason, they’re only around in the mornings) who were fun and friendly and just wanted to hang around to say hi.

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When I wasn’t by the beach, I was wandering the property and found myself in the spa, fitness centre and even their outdoor paint studio. Although the goal was R&R, sometimes it’s fun to do a few activities. The restaurants (there were two on-site) also offered different themes every night, which varied from Mexican street food to beach barbecues. If you didn’t want to eat at The Viceroy, you could hop into a cab and find yourself in Playa Del Carmen, a coastal town, just 15 minutes away. In Playa del Carmen, you could wander their main street, Fifth Avenue, where there is no shortage of shops, restaurants and bars.

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Although the weather was windy, it was still better than the frigid temperatures of Toronto. Sometimes you just need a quick escape, and this was the perfect place to do it. Once we soaked in a few days worth of Mexican sunshine, ate seafood to our hearts content and were satisfied with our wildlife interactions, we hopped on a plane and made our way back to reality (aka Toronto). For those that want some peace and quiet (or just their own private villa), a quick jaunt down to The Viceroy in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is a great way to get your dose of Vitamin D.

– Chenessa Lam

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STYLE: Beat the Heat with a Casual Summer Dress

Right now, a lightweight and easy-to-wear dress can be the difference between being uncomfortably sweaty, or not. With this heatwave among us, hot weather means wearing clothing that is light, airy, and not too tight. I love a chambray shirt-dress or loose tank dress, but currently, I’m obsessed with this of-the-shoulder style that’s so cool and comfy, I never want to take it off.

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Cotton Dress, Primark. Metal Sunglasses, H&M. Vegan-Leather Clutch, Nella Bella. Beaded Wrap Bracelet, Me to We. EVA Shoes, People Footwear.

As the mercury rises, we want clothes that are less restrictive. Casual dresses are the way to go. I love to wear my off-the-shoulder style with flats, especially with these lightweight sneakers, but the same dress can be instantly elevated with a wedge or heel. A pastel clutch also adds a fun pop of colour. No matter my summer schedule, I’m often reaching for that casual summer dress because once you throw it on, your outfit is virtually complete.

– Chenessa Lam

Photos by Stephen Thomas Maciejowski

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STYLE: Light Weight Fabrics for Summer

Summer is one of the only seasons when you don’t have to leave the house wondering “should I bring a sweater” or “will I be cold later on” which, after winter is exactly the change you need. Now, if you’re anything like me you’ll probably think of any way you can to mix up your outfits from day to night and pack on the layers without overheating.

A blazer is a staple piece to dress up any outfit. Try seeking out the perfect blazer vest that’s light and flowy for the warmer months, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed with this must have item that’s the perfect add on to any outfit and can be worn in the cooler months as well. A longer dress is always a great transition piece from day to night and paired with a layering piece is perfect for any occasion.

Don’t be afraid to wear black on a sunny day and if you do pair it with light colours and fabrics to create a lighter look with a touch of solid colour.

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Cotton Dress, Winners. Long Vest Blazer, Winners. Necklace, Jenny Bird. Sunglasses, Persol. Sandles, Aldo.

– Vanessa Cioffi

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WELOVE: The New Alcatel Idol 4

Let’s be honest, we’re all a little obsessed with our smartphones. I can admit that I’m very attached to my device, but it’s because it isn’t just a phone; it’s a phone, camera, calendar, e-reader – essentially, it’s a mini-computer that disguises itself as a phone. With the advances in smartphones, I have been able to leave my camera at home and just take my phone with me, whether I’m going across the street for a coffee or hopping on a plane across the pond. My phone is my ultimate accessory and I was recently given the Alcatel Idol 4 to test drive, so let’s see if it lives up to the standard.

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At first glance, the phone is simple and sleek With its metal frame and 7.1mm thick glass body, but the Idol 4 is more than what meets the eye. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 Octa-core processor, offers a microSD expandable card slot and is preloaded with Android Marshmallow v6.0.1. It also features a 2,610 mAh battery and 3.6-watt speakers featuring Waves audio technology.

When it comes to a smartphone, my essentials are: the camera and battery life. I recently took the Alcatel Idol 4 with me around town and on a quick jaunt down south to see how the camera would hold up in different lighting conditions. The main/back camera is 13MB with phase detection autofocus and dual-LED (dual tone) flash, while the front camera is 8MB with LED flash. The camera also features geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama and HDR. Here are just a few of the shots I’ve taken with the Idol 4.

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The battery life is just as impressive as the camera. The Idol 4 comes equipped with a non-removable Li-Ion 2610 mAh battery, which offers 15h of talk time and 520h of standby time. On a day-to-day basis, when I use my phone regularly, it lasts a whole day without charge (that includes, talk, text and lots of data usage). When I’m away on vacation, it lasts even longer. As it’s mainly used for photos and videos on vacation, I can usually go a day or two without requiring a charge.

Additionally, the Idol 4 features a ‘Boom Key,’ a dedicated button that can be used to create shortcuts to certain applications, as well as other tasks such as increasing the volume or instantly opening the camera app (obviously for me, it is the latter).

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With its 5.2” Full HD 1080p display, microSD expandable card slot, a 13 MP camera and a long-lasting battery, it is a surprisingly capable smartphone at a very affordable price (the phone is available for $0 on a 2-year contract and $299.99 on a no term contract at Bell and Virgin Mobile). For a phone in the “budget smartphone” category, it is worth every penny, whether at home listening to music, across the globe or just snapping your latest lunch.

For more information on the specs and more details about the Alcatel Idol 4, go to alcatel-mobile.com.

– Chenessa Lam

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STYLE: One Dress, Infinite Styles with Henkaa

Unlike most people, I only travel with a carry-on. After losing my baggage to many airlines or getting my baggage 9 days later (which by the way, is both useless and infuriating), I’ve decided to take matters in my own hands and pack lighter. But sometimes, packing light can be one mighty task – that’s where Henkaa comes into play.

I was introduced to Henkaa about a year ago and although they are best known for their convertible bridesmaid dresses, their dresses are also the ideal travel companions. I took two Henkaa dresses with me to Italy, the Calla ($98) and the Ivy ($78). They can be rolled up tightly to fit into a corner of your bag and they don’t wrinkle. The best part, with one dress, your outfit options are pretty much limitless.

The Calla is a modern one-piece with 3/4 length batwing sleeves but the sleeves are what make the dress! They can be tied around your neck for a sleeveless halter, tucked in to create a one shoulder style or tied at the waist for a strapless look. It is available in Ruby Red, Deep Teal, Royal Blue, Plum Purple, Charcoal Grey and Night Black. I’m wearing it in Royal Blue and I wore it with me around the Roman ruins, the Borghese Gardens, along the coast and just roaming around the city.

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The Ivy dress is a bit different than the Calla. Although it is also convertible, it is sleeveless and includes an interchangeable drawstring, which can be used to help create the different looks. The relaxed fit design is easy to twist and tie to create styles that are both simple and sexy. It is available in Ruby Red, Deep Teal, Royal Blue, Plum Purple and Night Black. I’m wearing it in Deep Teal and I wore mine while I wandered around the Pompeii ruins, I turned it in to a skirt to check out the city of Amalfi and I even got a little ambitious and playful one evening and created a super-strappy dress to wander the city and watch the sunset.

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These are just two of the styles Henkaa has to offer and I only scratched the surface with the many styles you can create. All of their dresses are made of their signature Lenaa™ fabric, a super soft, wrinkle resistant material which is 92% polyester and 8% spandex. Both of the dresses above are available in three sizes: XS/S (0-6), M/L (8-14), 1X/2X (14-18) and all of their dresses have online tutorials to make dressing a breeze (I’ve included the Calla tutorial below).

Whether you plan on travelling, taking a weekend jaunt or just party in your own city, Henkaa dresses are amazing because they’re eight dresses (or more if you get creative) in one. My Henkaa companions definitely made packing a lot easier, and even a bit lighter. For more information on Henkaa, check out henkaa.com.

– Chenessa Lam

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