Author Archive for GP

Black History Month – Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

Black History Month – Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

Exterior of National Museum of African American History and Culture

Exterior of National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

By Patricia Szpekowski

The hopes, dreams and aspirations for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in our nation’s capital have been resilient, remarkable and are now a reality.

Its triumphant opening on Saturday, September 24, 2016  with a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting by President Barack Obama, our nation’s first African American President, illuminated the significance of this extraordinary event that will be remembered for generations to come.

 

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural Photrography

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture Architectural Photrography

President Obama was joined by our nation’s legislators, thousands of citizens and supporters from the United States and abroad to witness this historic occasion. President George W. Bush first signed the African American History and Culture Act in 2003, so the design, assembly and curation of historic artifacts could begin. Some notable members of the Museum Council include former First Lady, Laura Bush, former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, OWN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Oprah Winfrey, Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder, Robert E. Johnson, Grammy award winner, Quincy Jones, along with museum’s founding director, Lonnie Bunch.

Standing at a striking 400,000 square-feet, the Museum structure is positioned on the last remaining undeveloped museum site on the National Mall in close proximity to the Washington Monument. Its strategic location and design subtly portrays the past, present and future of the African American experience in ways that are both tangible and symbolic.

The NMAACH stands center stage as the natural spotlight highlights the beautifully crafted, three-tiered glass and bronze-colored metal lattice design.  Throughout Washington, most of the other museums and monuments are predominantly cast in white marble or concrete and reflect light. The structure’s glory is in its ability to reflect, absorb, and shine, rendering iridescent rays unlike the standard white marble or concrete which typically stays the same. The aluminum panels pay homage to the intricate ironwork that was fashioned by enslaved African American craftsmen in Louisiana, South Carolina and elsewhere.

The architecture is manufactured in a way that allows the sunlight to casts its soft glow on the interior and upper floors, providing illumination on the various exhibits. Ironically, the sunlight is symbolic of the fact that the museum aims to shed light on certain topics, thus creating a conversation about race in hopes of promoting restoration and reconciliation. As the natural light reflects off the structure’s metallic frame, it will serve as an example reminding everyone of what was, what challenges are still relevant, and what we as a nation can aspire to become. Museum Founding Director, Lonnie G. Bunch III describes it saying, “This building will sing for all of us.”

 

The architectural team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR, and lead designer Tanzanian born David Adjaye, were awarded the honor to design the new Smithsonian Museum through an international selection process. The vision was to envelope the African American’s journey from its exterior to the carefully designed interior exhibit-hall to mirror what he calls a “spatial narrative” of having the building itself tell the story. The story develops at the ground level with the heart-rending history and as the exhibits progress, the rising floors unveil culture. The layout depicts and describes early pains and struggles, while maintaining a sense of future optimism.

The inverted pyramid form is meant to recall a motif in African sculpture and is inspired by Yoruban caryatids, the traditional wooden sculptures of female figures found in West Africa that are often topped by box-shaped crowns. The building’s exterior primary feature and main entrance is a welcoming “porch” that has architectural roots in Africa, especially the American south and Caribbean. Often times, in many African American communities, porches served as a meeting place which embodied southern hospitality. The large porch extends a welcome gesture to visitors of all kind and serves to orient visitors to its entrance within the geometric structure. It is “the first forecourt on the Mall that will have a shaded respite”, according to architect Adjaye.

The interior is encased with symbolism. It spans nine floors with five levels above ground and four below to offer a strong historical and emotional journey. Every aspect of the African American experience unfolds before its viewers — from slavery in Africa, to the role played by black patriots in the American Revolution, the “Segregation Era” and from the Civil Rights movement to today.

Hunted Slaves, 1862 Oil paint on canvas Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Hunted Slaves, 1862
Oil paint on canvas
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Amongst the historic displays and artifacts depicting the African American’s struggles and triumphs are exhibits that spotlight the significant black presence in the military, sports, arts, music and the entertainment industry. It is a place where all Americans can witness and learn about the richness and diversity of their history — a place that binds and unites the American experience and lives on without boundaries of race and culture.

The museum features a series of openings, or lenses, throughout the exhibition spaces that frame views of the Washington Monument, the White House and other Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. By peeking through these framed perspectives, visitors are reminded that the museum presents a view of America through the lens of African American progress.

The journey to the exhibits throughout the museum is meant to be experienced from the bottom up. The stunning ground floor lobby entrance beckons the visitor to avail him or herself to the experience of embracing our nation’s difficult history with the optimism of hope.

The museum opened with 11 inaugural exhibitions that focus on broad themes of history, culture and community. The exhibits on the two belowground floors tell the long and brutal story of Africans in America, from the early origins of the Atlantic slave trade in the late 15th century. Using raw and emotional displays, the exhibits include records of slave ships, and the staggering number of those who perished. There are displays of wreckage from a Portuguese ship that sank off the coast of South Africa in 1794 and shackles found at the wreckage site. Over 400 slaves on board were killed.

The underground spaces also include a Jim Crow-era Southern Railway Car and an Angola prison guard tower. These large exhibits have found a permanent home at the museum. Because of their size, they were carefully placed into the museum as construction began.

Going into modern times, there are remembrances from the Civil Rights movement — a time of protests and change.

The museum also features some of the more than 40,000 artifacts it has collected through the generosity of many donors since the legislation establishing it was signed in 2003. The treasured objects include: badges, banners, Bibles, buttons, drawings, dresses, letters, newspaper clippings, photographs, quilts, and more.  

They depict the documentation of African American life, history and culture, spanning decades, and global influences. There are opportunities to explore and revel in the African American history through interactive exhibitions including an area to record your own history.

The museum’s collections are vast. They are designed to illustrate the major periods of African American history, including: a segregation-era Southern Railway car c. 1920, Nat Turner’s Bible c. 1830s, Michael Jackson’s fedora c. 1992, a slave cabin from Edisto Island, S.C. plantation c. early 1800s, Harriet Tubman’s hymnal c. 1876, and works of art by Charles Alston, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden and Henry O. Tanner.

The upper level exhibits of history, culture and community galleries warrant even more time to soak in the vastness of black contributions to every aspect of American culture, including education, business, visual and performing arts, and sports. The depth of each gallery’s themes runs across all aspects of culture from Slavery and Freedom and A Changing America to Musical Crossroads and Military History.

There is an extensive sports exhibit on the third floor that is enveloped with history-making moments in sports with statues of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate, Michael Jordan hitting a fade away jump shot and Serena and Venus Williams in a doubles match. The exhibit houses a small theater with three rows of seats to allow patrons to view a short film about the rich history of African Americans in baseball.

As the museum ebbs and flows to be current, the recent accomplishment of Simone Manuel, the first African-American female swimmer to take home an Olympic gold medal in an individual event, has also been recognized.

“After 13 years of hard work and dedication on the part of so many, I am thrilled that we have this good news to share with the nation and the world,” said Burch. “Visitors will walk through the doors of the museum and see that it is a place for all people. We are prepared to offer exhibitions and programs to unite and capture the attention of millions of people. It will be a place for healing and reconciliation, a place where everyone can explore the story of America through the lens of the African American experience.”

“The National Museum of African American History and Culture furthers the Smithsonian’s commitment to telling America’s story in all its dimensions,” said David Skorton, Smithsonian Secretary.

The extensive National Museum of African American History and Culture website at nmaahc.si.edu provides a vast amount of information to explore, connect and learn. It is filled with engaging stories and interpretations of the powerful collections.

Entry to all Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. is free. Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture website at nmaahc.si.edu.

 

Seeking Sun – Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Seeking Sun – Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Do you want to relax in the lap of luxury, yet have access to all the nightlife, restaurants, shopping and other activities while you vacation in Mexico? When you arrive at the airport, a Mercedes vehicle transports you, with a flower for the ladies, to the hotel in cool, swift comfort. As you check in, a long cool glass of Prosecco eases you through the process and up to your room — a view of the Mexican Caribbean, loaded with amenities, treats, and luxurious touches, like Mexican candies, creams, bathrobes welcome you to Playa del Carmen.

The Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort’s award winning spa design is topped only by the service and the people. For one of the best experiences of your life, drop in for a lime, passion fruit and ginger drink as you wait to move on to your massage or facial. Treatment rooms look out on the mangrove, for double relaxation.

Afterwards, drop into the sauna or steam bath, and, if you dare, a cold (delicious) or hot plunge with cucumber mint water. Finish with laps in the lap pool or private meditation in the cenote room, designed after the underground water caverns that network through the Yucatan peninsula.

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort Lobby

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort Lobby

If you want to get out and about, there’s so much to do on the pedestrian walkway that stretches through downtown Playa and 5th Avenue — every kind of food and shopping. Try Cantina #20, and enjoy Mexican food with a fusion twist such as fish tacos with hibiscus flower sauce. It is a mouth treat. Seated in the covered, open area, join the noisy crowd screaming as Mexico plays soccer against Venezuela — this is authentic Mexico! After a meal, walk along 5th Avenue (or rent a bike) and see everything from brand name stores to Mexican curio shops.

Arrange to go on a tour to see Sian Ka’an, run by Siankaantours.org, a community organization that uses the fees to conserve this delicate ecosystem — a biosphere reserve with mangrove, canals, birds in the beautiful aqua-blue water of freshwater and saltwater lagoons. Jump in the water and float through the canal, past orchids, huge termite nests, and mangroves that make an umbrella as the fish swam in the crystalline waters below. It is beyond belief. You will return.

The Sian Ka’an tour includes demonstrations on how sap is drawn for chicle, yes, chewing gum, from the chicozapote tree. Then they offer a walk in the shade through the archaeological site of Mujil (3ooBC – 1500AD). Guides tell stories of grandparents claiming the site as a place of aluxes, Mayan spirits. Indeed, it is, as they are descendants of the people who built these structures.

There is no need to leave the hotel if you just want some pampered down time — the staff from the pools, to the Grill, the bars, everyone’s goal is to make you happy. The Grand Hyatt Playa del Carment Resort plans daily activities, for families and couples — from cupcake to cocktail contests! For their one-year anniversary, there was a huge Mexican buffet of grilled tacos, all to the tune of a mariachi band, celebrated under the stars.

What’s New at LAX

What’s New at LAX

American Airlines

American Airlines

American Airlines Launches LAX > HKG

Aboard American Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER, travelers experience the airline’s award-winning wine list and destination-driven, farm-to-flight menu featuring Cantonese dishes such as traditional Dim Sum, Congee, and Steamed Chashu Pork Buns.

The Boeing 777-300ER Flagship international aircraft features the next generation Flagship First Class suite and Business Class cabin with fully lie-flat seats; direct aisle access; complimentary pajamas and turndown service; a walk-up bar stocked with snacks and refreshments — a first for any U.S. carrier — Cole Haan amenity kits filled with rejuvenating skincare products; international Wi-Fi capability; AC power outlets and USB ports at every seat; and a touchscreen monitors that offers on-demand entertainment with up to 250 movies, 160 TV shows, 13 radio channels, 375 albums, and 20 games.

The daily flight departs LAX at 1:55 a.m. and arrives at HKG at 8:10 a.m. the following day. The return flight departs HKG at 8:20 p.m. and arrives at LAX at 6:50 p.m. the same day.

China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines Celebrates 25 Years at LAX

China Eastern Arilines hosted a luxurious event for over 100 of L.A.’s premiere travel influencers to celebrate important anniversaries.

China Eastern airlines celebrated their coveted 60th anniversary with 25 of those years providing exceptional business connections between Los Angeles and Shanghai. The airline has officially opened its North America call center providing even more of their revered customer service to thousands of global travelers.

Guests indulged in cocktails and a six course meal prepared by Chef Rui Wang that channeled the very best that the Pearl of the Orient has to provide to business travelers. Guests experienced on-stage performances and a unique look into the outstanding traveler experience the airline has to offer presented by official MC Christine Lakin.

Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport

Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport

Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport

Located less than one block from Los Angeles International Airport, the closest hotel to the airport, Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport opened after undergoing extensive $75 million renovations. Guests marvel at amazing views of busy LAX runways, the airport’s iconic Light Towers, and the sparkling City of Angels, from the comfort of their guestrooms, which feature quadruple-pane windows to eliminate air traffic and airport noise.

 

 

2017 Snow Report

2017 Snow Report

Heavenly Mountain Resort and Lake Tahoe

Heavenly Mountain Resort and Lake Tahoe

California had a banner snow year in 2016 and we are already having a very snowy 2017.

Northstar California Resort

Northstar is located at the northern part of Lake Tahoe about seven miles from Truckee and 45-miles from Reno Airport. Northstar is an upscale, family-friendly destination — often described as “California laid-back luxury.” The slopes offer a variety of terrain for teaching kids or developing skills on long runs. Right in the middle of Northstar resort sits the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe. Onsite amenities include retail/rental shop True North where you can rent gear, purchase lift tickets or score the perfect pair of gloves. The Spa offers post-ski treatments to sooth achy muscles in a beautiful and restorative setting.

Mountaintop Culinary Experience

Enjoy freshly-sourced produce, meats and seasonal ingredients paired with regional artisan wines, craft beers, and distilled spirits at the Northstar’s iconic Zephyr Lodge. The lavish dinners are offered just four times this season so you must book in advance.

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

Where to Stay

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is the first AAA Five Diamond resort in the Lake Tahoe area. Nestled mid-mountain at Northstar California Resort, the resort is a contemporary mountain retreat featuring slope-side ski-in, ski-out access. Manzanita, the resort’s signature restaurant, features artfully crafted cuisine, combining classical techniques and a modern culinary philosophy. Located just six miles from both historic downtown Truckee and the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, the resort features a 17,000 square foot spa and fitness center and an inter-mountain gondola that connects the resort to the nearby Village at Northstar.

13031 Ritz Carlton Highlands Ct, Truckee, CA 96161

(530) 562-3000

www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/lake-tahoe

 

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

After great snowfall in 2016, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is gearing up for a big 2017. Alpine World Cup ski racing returns to Squaw Valley with the Audi FIS Ski World Cup in March. The world’s best skiers return to the legendary Red Dog run that hosted the 1969 World Cup and 1960 Olympics. The March 9-12 schedule of events features concerts, fireworks and parties.

New App

The new Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows app offers real-time lift, trail and snow data along with unique new features. The first-of-its-kind ski resort app features one-touch easy “group” creation which allows users to stay connected with friends and family on the hill — sharing location and messaging throughout the day. Performance dashboard shows daily and season-long data including trails and lifts skied, vertical climb, miles covered, hours skied, average and maximum speeds, and the difficulty of trails skied. Chairlift wait times allow guests to plan runs and navigate the mountain efficiently. The app includes sale functionality to purchase lift tickets.

Eco Efforts at Squaw

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is composting all food scraps and organic waste generated at the resort. The program is in line with new law, AB 1826, and supports California’s statewide goal to recycle more and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Each year, California disposes of approximately 30 million tons of waste in landfills, 30% of which could be used for compost or mulch. To help support this greenhouse gas emission reduction program, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has installed composting containers at all dining facilities for sorting food scraps and compostable paper products.

In the 2015-16 season, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows became the first domestic ski resort to discontinue the sale of disposable water bottles with the implementation of Drink Mtn Tap, a program focused on reducing single-use water bottle usage. The resort installed over 20 water refill stations across both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows during last year’s season and will continue to offer visitors reusable water bottles for purchase at the same price point as disposable bottles. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows plans to install an additional five water stations, with locations to be determined.

Another focus for the 2016-17 season is the removal of single-use serving items. Single-use items will be replaced with reusable cups, dishes and silverware to further reduce waste and involve guests in the resort’s commitment to sustainability and reducing waste resort-wide.

DJ CAT at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe,

DJ CAT at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Heavenly Mountain is the party destination of Lake Tahoe and has the No. 1 après ski party in North America. The party, Unbuckle at Tamarack, features end of day action with go-go dancers, drinking, dancing and Heavenly Angels. Check the calendar because the 2017 season will have theme days for Spring Break and Mardi Gras.

During the day, Heavenly is known for the best views of Lake Tahoe and expansive terrain allowing for miles of skiing or boarding practice. Take in spectacular views as you ride the Gondola up from South Lake Tahoe.

If you’re skiing or boarding while you should be working, then you’ll be pleased to know that Heavenly Mountain Resort has partnered with Tahoe Mountain Lab (a South Shore based co-working business) to create an on-mountain work hub. The shared workspace located at Heavenly’s Lakeview Lodge is for professionals who dream of guilt free powder days and taking a few turns before hopping onto a conference call or responding to an urgent email.

At the base of Heavenly Mountain, you’ll find plenty of action including South Lake Tahoe casinos such as Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe. If you prefer to sleep in California then stay at Grand Residences by Marriott, Lake Tahoe. This family friendly resort has full kitchens, heated outdoor pool, hot tub and on-site exercise and activities centers.

 

Kirkwood Backcountry

Kirkwood Backcountry

Kirkwood

Kirkwood is a serious ski and snowboard destination with the highest elevation and lowest population of all the Lake Tahoe ski destinations. Known for deep powder, steep runs and cornices, Kirkwork welcomes the season by expanding its flagship program Expedition: Kirkwood to include daily mountain guide service and private snowcat tours.

Kirkwood’s instructional program Discovery Series is for intermediate and expert skiers/riders ready to take it to the next level. The course boosts confidence and skills by exposing students to the unique and challenging terrain found only at Kirkwood. All sessions include lunch and use of Go Pro cameras for skier/rider analysis.

At the end of a tough day on the slopes, you’ll find a hot tub instead of an après ski party. The slopes are a terrific challenge for those looking to push down a double black.

 

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth

Mammoth is ready for 2017 with exciting new culinary offerings including Eastern Sierra Brewery Tours and on-mountain improvements including new jumps and platforms at Hemlocks.

Hemlocks Ridge is the hike-accessed backcountry on Mammoth Mountain. This season, the Unbound Terrain Park offers new jumps and platforms throughout the bowl to provide a backcountry experience with more flow and airtime.

The Unbound Terrain Park is celebrating 20 years of leading the industry in on-mountain innovation and design with 13 unique parks, four halfpipes, 100+ jibs and over 50 jumps on any given day. To celebrate the impressive anniversary, events, parties, on-hill activations, and digital storytelling of #20yearsofUnbound are planned throughout the season.

Off Hill Culinary News

Eastern Sierra Brewery Tours
Sit back and relax as owner, driver, beer lover and tour guide, Mike King, takes you on a four-hour tour of the region’s micro and nano breweries. Stopping at Mammoth Brewing Company, June Lake Brewing and Black Doubt Brewing with lunch at Ohana’s 395 in between, King handles the driving and entertainment so you can devote your full attention to a careful study of the region’s rapidly expanding beer scene.

Black Velvet Wine Bar
When coffee industry veterans, Matt and Gracie Hammer, opened Black Velvet Coffee Shop five years ago, they took it one cup at time. Every order served in a 12 ounce cup, brewed pour-over, and with attention paid to the smallest details. They’ve taken the same approach with their latest venture, a wine bar in Black Velvet’s tastefully appointed space on Main Street. With a focus on boutique wines and a selection that changes weekly, the wine bar is a great après option and a frequent venue for unique tastings.

Big Bear

Adventure Academy
The new 5,000 square-foot learning center at Snow Summit will offer a one-stop-shop for rentals, tickets, and sports school registration. The increased efficiency means families can spend less time in line and more time enjoying the slopes.

Methods Sports Bar
Located in the main lodge at Bear Mountain, Methods has been renovated for the 2016/17 season to provide a more welcoming atmosphere to watch a game or catch up with friends for a drink after a day on the slopes. With an array of new big screen HDTVs, all major sports packages, and an updated menu, Methods is sure to be an après favorite on game day.

Base Area Activities
This year, BBMR installed a 30-foot rock climbing wall. Weather permitting, the climbing wall will remain open through the winter, giving guests another option for off-snow entertainment to go with the Grizzly Ridge Tubing Park, which debuted last winter.

Winter X Games 20th Anniversary
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Snow Summit hosting the inaugural Winter X Games. During that time the event has grown from a mix of “extreme sports” like super-modified shovel racing and ice climbing, to become the ultimate winter action sports competition. Both resorts have a number of exciting events planned throughout the year, both on and off the slopes, that pay homage to Snow Summit’s place in action sports history.

Revelstoke

Revelstoke

Canada 

Revelstoke

Revelstoke is located deep in Canada’s BC rockies. Although the town of Revelstoke has more than a century of skiing history, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is practically brand new. The area, located between the Selkirk and Monashee Mountain ranges, has long been a destination for backcountry and heli-skiing operations. However, this beautifully designed, easily accessible and modern resort with the luxurious ski-in, ski-out Sutton Place Hotel only opened in 2007 — and immediately grabbed the attention of serious powderhounds. The mountain features the most vertical in North America — 1,712 metres (5,620 feet) — as well as 1,263 hectares (3,121 acres) of varying terrain with two alpine bowls and 65 named runs. It’s also the only resort in the world to offer lift, backcountry, cat, and heli-skiing from one village base. Wake up early in the morning to experience a wide variety of terrain, with everything from steep, open runs to big cliff areas, tree skiing and long groomed runs, top to bottom.

Say Cheese!
Want to relive all the action from your ski vacation? The new Paparazzi Pass lets you do just that. HD video cameras have been spread across the mountain to capture your best looks. With an easy download of the Paparazzi app, the cameras are programmed to communicate with your smart phone, automatically filming your action from the day and recording it to your account for online viewing.

Moonlight Snowshoe Tour
Revelstoke Snowshoe Company offers guided tours in the subalpine forests of the Selkirk mountains. Suitable for most ages and fitness levels, knowledgeable guides teach about local plant and animal species, wildlife tracking, local history, and winter survival. Enjoy a moonlight tour amidst the stars. A guided Moonlight Snowshoe tour through the subalpine forests of the Selkirk Mountains promises a quiet sojourn to cap the night.

Great Canadian Snowmobile Tours
Great Canadian Snowmobile Tours is Canada’s premier backcountry snowmobile clinic & rental company with guides who are meticulously trained in avalanche safety and awareness and wilderness first aid. With over 20 years of snowmobile experience in the mountains surrounding Revelstoke, they have perfected the art of riding. “The Cabin Run” is designated for beginners looking to get an idea of what snowmobile in Revelstoke is all about. The 1-hour tour teaches basic skills and techniques for operating a snowmobile. Guests have fun riding trails up along Frisby Ridge to a lovely cabin overlooking the surrounding mountains. Ride as a single or double up!

 

SunPeaks

SunPeaks

Sun Peaks

Sun Peaks Ski Resort, in British Columbia’s Interior, is now the second largest ski area in all of Canada, with 1728 hectares (4,270 acres) of skiable area, two bowls, 133 runs and 11 lifts, including five quads, as well as the four-hectare (10-acre) Rockstar Energy Terrain Park. Even better, Sun Peaks, which is located 45 minutes north of Kamloops, is drenched in more than 2,000 hours of sunshine each year, making this a great place to escape from gloomier climes. The resort’s European-style alpine village is nestled at the base of three mountains, Tod, Sundance and Morissey, and offers award-winning downhill skiing and snowboarding. The area is also becoming known as a world-class Nordic destination, with 34.9 kilometres (21.7 miles) of groomed and track-set Nordic trails, plus 14.3 kilometres (nine miles) of backcountry trails and 16 kilometres (10 miles) of snowshoe trails.

Fondue Dinner and Evening Descent
Picture yourself gliding down the mountain under a dark starry sky. It’s a favorite memory of guests who visit Sun Peaks. The Fondue Dinner and Evening Descent starts with a peaceful ride on the Sunburst chairlift after everyone else is finished skiing for the day. The mid-mountain destination is Sunburst Lodge. A decadent selection of meat, cheese, and chocolate fondue awaits, accompanied by live music and a casual, friendly atmosphere. After eating your fill, you’ll have the mountain to yourself for a private ski down to the village. A tour guide and headlamp (and on a clear night, all you need is the moonlight!) leads you along freshly groomed corduroys of Sun Peaks’ signature run, 5 Mile. Enjoy the sound of carving fresh turns and the beauty of a snowy winter’s night as you descend towards the lights of the village nestled in the mountains.

BeaverCreek First Tracks

BeaverCreek First Tracks

Colorado

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek has long been the most upscale of the Colorado mountain resorts operated by Vail Resorts. The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch sits at the base of the mountain and often serves as an end-of-day meeting point for guest of the mountain. This year Beaver Creek is offering even more luxury packages for coddled adventurers.

For a mere $50,000, guests arrive in style with first class airfare direct into Vail/Beaver Creek’s Eagle Airport (EGE), then board a private helicopter for the 28 mile ride to the base of Beaver Creek Mountain upon which they are transferred into a private car and delivered to Trapper Cabin. Trapper Cabin is located on Beaver Creek Mountain at 9500 feet and the luxury property comes with a private gourmet-chef and private Ski School Ambassador, Epic Passes, Helly Hansen gear and other lux perks.

The White Glove Collection offers guest various levels of specialty services. Join the White Carpet Club for slope-side ski valet, preferred parking in Ford Hall, private lockers, boot dryers, concierge service and more. White Glove First Tracks offers guests sunrise access to flawless snow surface conditions and a gourmet breakfast at Allie’s Cabin — located on Beaver Creek Mountain. The Winter Wine Excursion begins at the Beaver Creek Nordic Center, situated steps from Beaver Creek Village. Guests travel up Strawberry Park Express Chairlift to McCoy Park to enjoy a guided snowshoe tour while taking in views of Beaver Creek. Following the tour, The Osprey Fireside Grill and Executive Chef Ryan Murray serve a delicious assortment of charcuterie carefully paired with select wines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food News – Kura Sushi & O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

Food News – Kura Sushi & O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

 

Omakase Sashimi Set

Omakase Sashimi Set

Kura Sushi

West Hollywood

Kura Sushi has been around for over a decade, serving fresh fish flown in direct from Tokyo’s best fish market. A family business, Chef Daniel Son, transports diners to the streets of Japan with his Chef’s Omakase menu. Located in a strip mall in the heart of West Hollywood, Kura is a sushi purist’s nirvana offering a traditional Japanese experience.

Kura Sushi

8162 Sunset Blvd

West Hollywood, CA 90046

(323) 656-6347

www.kura-sushi.com

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, Ryan Tanaka 2016

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, Ryan Tanaka 2016

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

A taste of Sicily arrived in Santa Monica when O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, opened on the corner of Ocean Ave. and Olympic Dr., one block from the Santa Monica Pier. O+O offers modern Sicilian cuisine with a California flair, serving lighter versions of traditional Italian dishes including pizzas, meatballs, salads, meats and fish made with local farmer’s market ingredients. The new neighborhood restaurant and bar also features an outdoor patio, handcrafted cocktails, wines on tap and an extensive wine list of Italian and California varieties in a sleek urban setting.

“I’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant in Santa Monica because of its ever growing food culture, accessibility to the local markets and seaside location,” said Owner and Executive Chef Georgi Yaneff. “When developing the concept, I took my experience with global cuisine to create dishes that combine classic and current flavors and my deep love for Sicily.”

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

1705 Ocean Ave

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(424) 272-8700

oosantamonica.com

Football in Los Angeles

Football in Los Angeles

Defensive tackle (9) Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams against the Seattle Seahawks during the Rams 9-3 victory over the Seahawks in an NFL Week 2 game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Sunday, September 18, 2016, in Los Angeles, CA. (Jeff Lewis/Rams)

Defensive tackle (9) Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams against the Seattle Seahawks during the Rams 9-3 victory over the Seahawks in an NFL Week 2 game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Sunday, September 18, 2016, in Los Angeles, CA. (Jeff Lewis/Rams)

By Debbie Emery

Los Angeles seemingly has everything — beaches, mountains, diverse culture, award-winning restaurants, the coolest bars and the hottest clubs.

But one thing it didn’t have for over two decades was an NFL team. While the Lakers and Clippers had NBA fans fulfilled, the Dodgers and Angels entertained during the baseball season, and the Kings and Galaxy offered action on the ice and the soccer pitch — football Sundays were a quiet time in the City of Angels.

That all changed last year, when after years of teasing, the NFL officially announced that the Rams were returning to L.A. The Rams originally played here from 1946-1979, before moving to Anaheim from 1980-1994, and then to St. Louis, Missouri.

Suddenly L.A. had a team again, with an exciting young quarterback in number one draft pick Jared Goff, a star running back in Todd Gurley, and — in true Hollywood style — a TV crew following them around for HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” plus E! reality show “Hollywood & Football,” which chronicles the lives of the players’ wives and girlfriends as they transition to California.

Their presence couldn’t be ignored -— even by impatient commuters who stared up at mammoth billboards proclaiming “We’re Home,” featuring a Goliath-sized Aaron Donald leaping over the Griffith Observatory.

The Rams’ temporary home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is also steeped in local history. The 93,607-capacity venue has been home to the USC Trojans since 1923, it hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympic Games, the Dodgers played there until Dodger Stadium was built in 1962, and even The Boss has performed there. When it comes to the NFL, the Rams, Chargers and Raiders have all hosted games at the Coliseum over the decades.

The modern day Rams are just lodgers at the Coliseum until their shiny new $1.9 billion stadium is built on a 298-acre site in Inglewood. Excavation at the new location began late last year, the digging will take six to eight months and it is scheduled to open in time for the 2019 NFL season.

Along with becoming one of the most sought-after stadiums in the NFL — giving Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clarita, the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and the Minnesota Vikings U.S. Bank Stadium a run for their money — the mixed-use community will include residential units, a manmade lake and a revamped casino.

It is also located less than four miles from Los Angeles International Airport, which is convenient for visiting players and fans — making L.A. an potential hub for sports tourism. Time a trip right in October (post season schedules permitting), fans could potentially go to a football, basketball, baseball and hockey game all in one weekend. Then they could pop up to Santa Anita to watch the horse racing too!

Understanding how important access to travel is for all those involved in the NFL, the Rams are official partners with American Airlines, teaming up for community events, fan rallies and player meet-and-greets. When it comes to the expanding NFL International Series, Virgin Atlantic is the official sponsor for teams and fans flying to England for American football games. The Rams will be making that 11-hour flight once a season for the next three years for “home” games while their new stadium is being built so they’ll be getting pretty familiar with that route!

For team owner Stan Kroenke, it is all part of building their brand in the U.S. and abroad. Also the owner of London’s Premier League club, Arsenal, the business entrepreneur is keen to unite the fan bases of both teams.

Back here in L.A., the Rams also have partnerships with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Hollywood Bowl, Film Independent Spirit Awards, Universal Music Group, American Film Institute and British Academy of Film and Television Arts – Los Angeles chapter.

With all those glamorous connections, the Rams are proving they really are part of the future of Los Angeles. However, no one said it was going to be easy — and it hasn’t been. It’s been a rollercoaster return for the organization so far for their first season back in Southern California in 22 years.

Regardless of how the season ended, the fans have proven that they are fully behind their team, and after setting the record with the largest crowd to ever watch a preseason football game in U.S. history with nearly 90,000 fans in attendance, the Rams sold out their home opener and have boasted consistently high ticket sales since.

Are the Rams going to win the Super Bowl soon? Maybe. That’s still to be determined. Is the ride going to be fun to follow? That’s guaranteed!

 

Defensive linemen sign autographs for kids at the Kids Autograph Tent on Day 1 of Rams Training Camp on the campus of UC Irvine, Saturday, July 30, 2016, in Irvine, CA. (Jeff Lewis/Rams)

Defensive linemen sign autographs for kids at the Kids Autograph Tent on Day 1 of Rams Training Camp on the campus of UC Irvine, Saturday, July 30, 2016, in Irvine, CA. (Jeff Lewis/Rams)

Player Profile: Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald has a sweet personality. He’s from Pittsburg and is now a bonafide NFL star. He’s making his way (with his young family) as an important part of the L.A. Rams. It’s good to remember that he is just 25 years old and only a few years outside of attending college at University of Pittsburg.

Q & A With Aaron Donald
LAX Magazine: Can you talk about the process of moving from college to NFL, and also moving out here?

Aaron Donald: The difference from college to NFL is the speed of the game. Guys in the NFL are a lot bigger, a lot faster, and more athletic. I am just getting used to the speed of the game and, the play book is a lot bigger too. There are a lot of things to learn but it has been a good transition. Moving from St. Louis to L.A. is a lot different too — a way bigger city, and more opportunities out here. At the end of the day football is football. When you see that green field it’s the same everywhere.

LAX Magazine: Have you gotten a chance to get to know Los Angeles?

Aaron Donald: I’ve been pretty much focused on football. I know Thousand Oaks like the back of my hand.

LAX Magazine: When you were growing up in Pittsburgh, who were your NFL idols?

Aaron Donald: I grew up a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan. You gotta be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan in Pittsburgh, you know. I grew up a big Jerome Bettis fan. I used to play full back so I thought I’d be a running back one day. But I ate myself out that position.

LAX Magazine: Do you travel much outside of work travel?

Aaron Donald: I really don’t travel. I don’t. I’m a boring person.

LAX Magazine: What do you do on your down time?

Aaron Donald: Relax with my family. Watch film and give my body rest. That’s it. I’m a boring person. I don’t do much.

Sounds like the perfect football player to us!

 

Lima and Machu Picchu

Lima and Machu Picchu

Larcomar in Lima, Peru

Larcomar in Lima, Peru

By Dory Benami

Of the approximately 3.5 million visitors to Peru each year, nearly one third include Machu Picchu in their itinerary. Many others make the main emphasis of their Peruvian voyage the Amazon, but nearly all paths to Peru begin and end in the capital city of Lima.

Since Lima’s major airport, Jorge Chavez International, is located approximately 40 minutes from the major tourist areas of Lima, most visitors to all parts of Peru are likely to spend at least a night in Lima before heading elsewhere. It is best to arrange ground transportation prior to your trip, but otherwise, the Easy-Taxi and Uber apps on mobile devices have significantly improved professionalism of transport in Lima.

Hotel B

Hotel B

Where to Stay

Lima’s tourist districts of Miraflores, San Isidro and Barranco are filled with tourist amenities. Of the three districts, many prefer Barranco because of its colonial Spanish charm. Budget hotels and Airbnb apartments are available.

The magnificent Hotel B is a relatively new four-star boutique hotel with restaurant, bar, exquisite décor, and 17 guest rooms.

In Miraflores many frequent visitors love to stay at the JW Marriott because of its proximity to Larcomar, a shopping center built into the cliff of a wall overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the JW Marriott has a good lounge for business meetings and the Majestic Casino is located adjacent to the hotel’s entrance — a perfect place to play blackjack and craps. In San Isidro — an upscale suburban district of Lima — the Hotel Atton is highly regarded amongst business and vacation travelers, and the hotel features a nice breakfast buffet.

Pescados Capitales

Pescados Capitales

Lima’s Food Scene

As you may have heard, the foodie scene in Lima is on fire! Recently, Lima made waves across the globe when three local restaurants were featured on the The World’s Best Restaurants 2016 list — a list based on polls of international chefs, restaurateurs, gourmands and restaurant critics. If you are a fan of ceviche you may want to plan lunch at a different cevicheria everyday, throughout the city.

Ceviche is a Peruvian staple normally eaten mid-day because that is when the fish is most fresh. The dish comes in many different forms and styles. Ceviche is not cooked by heat but rather by the acid of the highly acidic Peruvian limes. Very few cevicherias are open for dinner service. Here are a few favorites:

Chez Wong 

Located in a gritty neighborhood called La Victoria, this restaurant is a favorite of intrepid food critics Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain, and can only be visited by reservation. Seating is limited and there is no signage outside so if you seek a challenge, this is a can’t-miss place. Pictures with Chef Wong and a large pre-chopped fish are certainly Instagram-worthy.

Pescados Capitales 

A mainstay for business lunches due to the upscale décor and location in the business district, this modern restaurant serves excellent seafood and also a mushroom risotto to pair with ceviche.

Canta Rana

Owned by a soccer mad Argentinian ex-pat named Vicente Furgiuele, this restaurant is located along a side street called Genova in the heart of Barranco. The showpiece dish here is called ‘El Guardia Imperial’ and is comprised of sole and octopus. Apparently, this is what the owner would serve the Queen of England if she were to ever enter his restaurant. She hasn’t yet, but there’s still time.

La Mar

Gaston Acurio is the most important personality in Peruvian gastronomy. He is also one of the most important names in South American gastronomy because his restaurant empire stretches throughout Latin America. His cevicheria is known for its innovative ceviche selections that are delicately prepared, and served in a delightful atmosphere.

Aside from cevicherias, there are several other restaurants that can’t be missed in Lima. First and foremost is Central, the fourth best restaurant in the world according to the latest rankings from British magazine, Restaurant, The World’s Best Restaurants 2016 (third last year). What is most remarkable is that Central’s Chef Virgilio Martinez has surpassed Gaston Acurio who also makes The World’s Best Restaurants 2016 ranking at number 30 with his flagship Astrid y Gaston. Another highlight of Peruvian cuisine is Nikkei, the fusion food which combines classic Japanese with a Peruvian twist. The best exemplification of Nikkei cuisine in Peru is found at number 13 of The World’s Best Restaurants 2016, Maido in Miraflores.

For more casual fare in Lima, try some of the best ‘pollo a la brasa’ (blackened rotisserie chicken) in the world. Pardos Chicken has built its acclaimed reputation as one of the best purveyors of pollo a la brasa, with several locations in Lima including one at Larcomar, along with Don Bellisario, located near Parque Kennedy. However, what may be the ultimate best pollo a la brasa in Lima can be found at Don Tito in the San Borja district. The secret to Don Tito’s taste is the additional spices and herbs.

Another mainstay dish in Peruvian cuisine is “lomo saltado” (stir fry sirloin with onions, tomatoes and french fries) — the origins of lomo saltado come from the fusion of Cantonese cuisine. Try this dish at Panchita, which is also owned by Gaston Acurio. Other popular dishes worth sampling here are “Anticucho” (beef heart) and “Picarones”(sweet potato doughnuts) both of which are popular street-food offerings, but at a place like Panchita, are elevated to an even more delicious level than what can be found on the street.

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca

What to Do in Lima

Now that our stomachs are full, the question becomes how to fill up the time in between meals. The answer is just as diverse as the dining options. Shoppers will want to visit Dedalo in Barranco to find moderately priced artisanal gifts and jewelry by Peruvian artists. You can visit one of the many traditional Inca market stalls near Parque Kennedy to find what would be considered more typical Peruvian souvenirs, ranging from brightly colored blankets called “mantas” to baby alpaca sweaters and scarves. At Inca markets, bargaining is acceptable, and if you’re comfortable, hone your Spanish speaking skills negotiating prices en Español.

If shopping isn’t your thing, you can check out ancient pre-Incan sites called Huacas, like the one that can be accessed adjacent to Restaurant Huaca Pucllana near Miraflores. Alternatively, a trip to Barranco’s Museo MATE which is the permanent home of Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino’s most significant works, is a good way to spend a couple of hours.

As night approaches head to Ayahuasca, a large house in Barranco, named after the psychedelic tea that many come to Peru to experience. This lounge and restaurant is visually stimulating due to its unique décor. While there, take a tour in the courtyard and private rooms to see how they’ve ingeniously incorporated traditional crafts of Peru into furniture and art. It is mesmerizing.

The national drink is a pisco sour but many enjoy the national beer, Cusqueña. A good place to enjoy either is El Dragon only a few streets away from Ayauhasca, where international DJs and entertainers perform regularly. As the night approaches 1 or 2 a.m., head to Bizarro in Miraflores. There you can party until the sun comes up. Bizarro features two main rooms; one with house and techno music and one with top-40.

When you wake up the next morning, you may want to relax at Cala, a lounge and restaurant located on Barancillo beach adjacent to Miraflores and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The vibe is relaxing and the views of the water are the best in Lima.

Whatever you end up eating, drinking, seeing, doing or buying in Lima, you will find yourself becoming an advocate for this vibrant, modern, historical, beautiful and fun city when you return home. I certainly have.

Getting There

LATAM Airlines offers direct flights from LAX to Jorge Chavez International.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a stunning archaeological wonder of an ancient Inca citadel located deep in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status. Surrounded by huge mountains and valleys, Machu Picchu was built and used by the Incan Empire until the Spanish invasion of the sixteenth century. The impressive development includes walls, ramps and terraces held together without mortar and designed to interplay with incredible views and astrological alignments. While there are no official records, it is generally assumed that Machu Picchu was an urban hub of commerce, religion, agriculture and community for the ancient Incans. While this is a bucket list destination, expect lots of crowds and it is now required to purchase a ticket for admission in advance. There are physical challenges to the exploration of Machu Picchu as it is in the middle of a huge mountain range. Visitors can either hike or take the bus but there is no escaping high elevation, which can lead to lightheadedness.

Getting to Machu Picchu from Lima
The first leg of the journey is Lima to Cusco by air. The flight is less than 90 minutes and there are several flights offered daily. From Cusco take a train to Aguas Calientes which is the base of Machu Picchu. This trip takes three and a half hours and trains depart early each day so it is impossible to fly in from Lima and catch a train on the same day. It is required to spend a night in Cusco. There are hotels, restaurants and plenty of tour guides available in Cusco.

 

Improving LAX

Improving LAX

Rendering of the Automated People Mover (APM)

Rendering of the Automated People Mover (APM)

 

By Patricia M. Szpekowski, APR

Are you aware of the excitement taking place at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)?

Progress is happening as Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) continues its $14-billion Capital Improvement Program at LAX.

It is a massive undertaking of more than two dozen projects that began in 2009, with several critical projects expected to be completed by 2023. The LAX modernization program is considered the largest public works program in the history of the City of Los Angeles.

The multi-billion-dollar investment in modernizing LAX also includes approximately $1 billion in direct and/or indirect improvements to ensure the quality of passenger safety and security.

The decision to re-imagine, renovate and rebuild LAX is an important step forward to greatly enhance and improve the travel experience for all who arrive and depart at LAX, the seventh-busiest airport in the world and third in the United States. It is all the more essential to exceed the pace and expectations for LAX, which in 2015 set a record for passenger volume with more than 74.9 million passengers, and will easily top that record in 2016.

Automatic People Mover

Automatic People Mover

The vision that drives this monumental project at LAX affects all aspects of its users, including millions of passengers, 64 airlines and over 50,000 airport workers. The modernization program encompasses vast improvements to: enhance the passenger experience; provide reliable and certain access into and out of LAX, and provide airport access to the latest class of very large passenger aircraft.

In addition, the modernization will continue to have a staggering overall impact on the economy of the City of Los Angeles, with the creation of an expected 121,000 annual construction-related jobs.

LAX has long been recognized as an economic engine for the six-county Southern California region encompassing Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura. Economic effects of the modernization project include direct, indirect impacts resulting from ongoing activities, visitor spending, and international exports.

The projects underway at LAX and those being planned will continue job growth and provide opportunities for small, local and diverse businesses.

There are a host of successfully completed projects. The first major project, the New Tom Bradley International Terminal (New TBIT), opened in September 2013. It includes 18 new aircraft gates, concourse areas, and the new Great Hall, which offers passengers premier dining choices showcasing L.A.’s global flavors, a variety of concessionaires and retail shopping trend favorites, and other guest amenities for a world-class experience.

TBIT Ticketing Lobby

TBIT Ticketing Lobby

Walking through the Great Hall, you’ll see it is a modern engineering marvel. It provides 1,179,000 of usable square feet — nearly 40 percent greater than that of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. It contains over 45,000 tons of steel, enough to build 148 Airbus A380 super jumbo jets or 22,206 mid-sized SUVs. It offers over 310,785 square feet of glass, enough to create a window the size of 6.5 football fields. It contains 405,405 cubic feet of concrete, enough to fill 8,000 cement trucks or to create a one-foot-thick slab of concrete the size of 8.5 football fields.

Also, completed, or underway, are several major airfield and facility projects. A replacement Central Utility Plant went online in 2015. The Terminal 4 Connector, which opened in 2016, helps tie together the southside terminals and international terminal, reduces the time it takes for passengers to reach connecting flights, improving the guest experience. Upgrades have been completed in Terminal 6, and are nearly done in Terminal 2. Other work includes new taxiways and taxilanes, and major renovations and infrastructure upgrades in nearly all the other terminals.

The largest projects still to come include proposed transportation efficiencies. Traffic into and on the roadways in the LAX Central Terminal Area is a major concern, with an estimated 50 percent of air travelers driving to and from the airport by car. Over 6,000 vehicles per hour enter the LAX Central Terminal Area (CTA) during peak periods!

Land Access Modernization Program

Landside Access Modernization Program

The number of vehicles is expected to increase as annual passenger volume continues to break records. The $5.5-billion Landside Access Modernization Program would give airport guests choices that provide a first-class, convenient, and reliable way to access LAX. LAMP includes five major program elements: a 2.25-mile Automated People Mover (APM) that will connect three on-airport stations to Metro Rail and transit services — finally providing a seamless connection to public transportation; a Consolidated Rent-A-Car center; two Intermodal Transportation Facilities for additional parking, ground transportation services, and meeter-greeter activities; and roadway improvements. LAMP would provide the solution to the CTA traffic congestion, and its major elements are scheduled to be delivered by 2023.

There will be a total of six stations connecting new rental car, airport parking and Metro facilities to the airline terminals. Passengers will have short wait times at each of the three stations in the Central Terminal Area providing fast and easy connections to airline terminals with a convenient pedestrian walkway system to the terminals and parking garages.

Another major project is the new $1.6 billion Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC). Phase I of the state-of-the-art facility will open with 12 gates and be in the central part of the LAX airfield, west of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. It will significantly reduce use of the LAX remote gates, where passengers are now bused to board aircraft, and provide additional flexibility when other gates are taken out of service. Substantial completion of the North Gates phase of the concourse, as well as a project to expand baggage handling capacity, is anticipated in late 2019, with additional gates built in a second phase on the south side in the future.

New Terminal 1 Lobby

New Terminal 1 Lobby

Terminal 1 

Terminal 1 opened in 1984 and needs modernization to accommodate the needs of a technology-rich, post-9/11 world. A major $509-million transformation of the 32-year-old Terminal 1 will improve its interior, its outdoor aircraft parking ramp area, and the traffic flow through the Central Terminal Area. The upgrades include: a new state-of-the-art, consolidated security screening checkpoint; a fully automated checked baggage inspection and sorting system; an integrated passenger waiting room/concessions program; refurbished arrivals/baggage claim area; replacement of the passenger boarding bridges; renovations to airline support office space; relocation of the main entrances towards the west end of the building to ease traffic congestion; new ramp pavement and hydrant fuel system improvements. A new, covered skycap area has already opened on the Upper/Departure Level while new restaurants and shops, and several new gates, have opened inside the terminal. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2018.

New Security Checkpoint at United, Terminal 7

New Security Checkpoint at United, Terminal 7

Terminals 7 & 8

This $573-million renovation promises to deliver a superior experience for customers at LAX. When completed, the project will refurbish virtually all the public space in the terminals and offer more of the conveniences and amenities that passengers value. The new-look terminals and gate areas will feature a modern design with relaxed and inviting spaces, including a variety of comfortable seating options and abundant charging stations for travelers’ electronic devices. The expansive ticketing lobby will incorporate the latest technology, such as self-tagging baggage kiosks. These technologies, along with an upgraded security-screening checkpoint, which includes new, automated lanes, will enable travelers to move quickly and efficiently from curb to gate. Seven lanes in the checkpoint, as well as a new United Club, are already in operation. The project is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Up-to-date construction alerts showing Central Terminal Area (CTA) roadway lane restrictions and sidewalk closures, as well as pedestrian walking map and helpful airline terminal finder, can be found at www.laxishappening.com. LAX has also joined with Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic reporting app, to provide real time traffic information on conditions inside the CTA and on nearby roadways, and parking structure availability.

Staying up-to-date with all the airport activities is easy, too. Traffic alerts and current airport conditions are posted on LAX’s social media sites at www.Facebook/com/LAInternationalAirport and www.Twitter.com/flyLAXairport.

While the construction work continues, LAWA is committed to enhancing the overall airport experience and improve guest satisfaction through a new training initiative for its workers and other airport employees.

No doubt, these are exciting times for LAX and the Southern California region. While the modernization projects are extensive and challenging, they are successfully progressing with innovation, the highest of quality and on-schedule. This total transformation of LAX has been designed with you and the future in mind. The goal is to make LAX a premier travel destination that will be ahead of the curve for many years to come.

Morocco – The Gem of North Africa

Morocco – The Gem of North Africa

 

Sahara Desert, Northern Africa

Sahara Desert, Northern Africa

Travelers to Morocco are filled with expectations formed from the many movies, novels and news based in the region. The Kingdom’s extensive heritage and culture, its food, architecture, landscapes and people, all of which combine to make it a must-visit destination for today’s travelers.

Upon arriving into the capital city of Casablanca, one realizes the small town depicted in the American movie has turned into a westernized cosmopolitan city. In the financial and commercial center, you’ll find international clothing brands, luxury hotels, and trendy restaurants and bars. The main cultural attraction is the Hassan II Mosque. Morocco’s largest mosque features gigantic titanium doors, huge chandeliers, and marble columns decorated with green and blue tiles which combine perfectly with the shades of the sea. If Casablanca is one of your favorite films, you can’t leave the city without visiting the famous Café Rick. Although not the original, it was designed to recreate the bar famous from the Academy Award winning movie.

As you venture south, visit Ksar of Aït Ben Haddou, a Berber fortress. The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Center is visually stunning and surrounded by huge walls. Its scale and splendor bring back memories of the many movies filmed there such as Gladiator, Alexander, and Babel. The fortress is near to the dazzling gorges of Dades and the deep ravine made by the river Dades, which is on the way to Marrakesh.

Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen

Another popular destination is Jamaa el Fna Square — the heart of the city of Marrakesh, especially at night. It is full of life, with vendors and visitors everywhere. Wandering around the streets, one discovers henna ladies — experts in hand painting. Henna art, originally developed to cool the skin and adorn brides, includes intricate designs with meanings such as joy and love. It is certainly the perfect souvenir that won’t take up extra room in your luggage. If you have a big suitcase, the market offers thousands of items including Moroccan lamps, carpets, spices, shoes, and the famous Fatima’s hand key chains. Be prepared to bargain, otherwise, you have not fully experienced Morocco.

In the heart of the Sahara, experience Merzouga, a spectacular oasis to relax and meditate. Merzouga is full of breathtaking landscapes, with sand orange shades and multicolor sunsets. An incredible experience is the slow ride through the dunes on a camel. After a day riding across the desert, take in the evening tranquility at the jaimas (Moroccan tent) in a magnificent tourist camp with suitable bathrooms and showers. Under a sky full of stars, guests enjoy a hearty dinner of local fare, accompanied with regional music and the rich tapestry of stories about the Berber people. Be sure to wake up in time to enjoy the striking sunrise and then head to the small village of Khamlia to enjoy Gnawa drummers in traditional costumes of white and red.

A must see is the city of Fez, which hosts the largest and oldest royal palace of the country. Although not open to the public, you can see the famous seven golden gates and admire the detailed reliefs and drawings framed with brightly colored tiles. The best of Fez is the Bab Bou Jeloud entrance, a UNESCO World Heritage medina (old downtown). Fez´s medina, the largest in the world, is actually a maze. It is easy to get lost, so hiring a tourist guide would be helpful. The city’s uniqueness lies in the authenticity of the traditional shops, tanneries, mosques, and bakeries — a mixture of colors and smells along the narrow streets with carts and donkeys transporting wares. It is impossible to leave Fez without buying a typical Arabic turban (keffiyeh), which includes instructions on the different ways to wear it.

Another “must see” stop is the town of Chefchauen, known as “the blue village” for the bright color of its medina houses. Walk the streets of alleys and arches, decorated courtyards and weavers’ and woodworkers’ shops. Before leaving the great country of Morocco, visit Uta el-Hamman Plaza to enjoy one last meal: a tajine of vegetables on a bed of cous cous accompanied with the typical thé a la menthe.

 

Loire Valley: Château Hopping

Loire Valley: Château Hopping

 

Gardens at Château de Villandry

Gardens at Château de Villandry

Must Visit Châteaux

Royal Château of Amboise
Set on the edge of the River Loire, the Château was a hot spot for royals in the 15th century. However the property fell into decline after King Charles VIII died. King Francois I was born and raised at Château of Amboise and Leonardo da Vinci is rumored to be buried in nearby Clos Lucé where he lived  in his final days.
www.chateau-amboise.com

Château of Clos Lucé
The smaller château of Amboise is where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last days working on theories and inventions. In 1516 da Vinci was invited by King Francois I to use the property as his living and working space. Today the space is dedicated to da Vinci’s theories.
www.vinci-closluce.com

Château of Cheverny
This elaborate château has been open to the public since 1914 and was one of the first family estates to open to tourists. The family who owns Château of Cheverny still live in a blocked off section of the main building with about two-thirds left open for tourists to view. Guests are treated to luxurious interiors, stunning gardens and even a pack of hounds for hunting. Make time to try the wine tasting experience at Maison des Vins de Cheverny located right next door. They serve excellent wine using cool wine distribution technology.
www.chateau-cheverny.fr/en/

Domain of Chambord
In 1519, King Francis I began building Chambord as a display of French power and artistic genius. With a unique double spiral staircase inspired by the designs of Leonardo da Vinci, the massive castle has been granted UNESCO world heritage status. One of the most unique Renaissance structures in the world, the architecture pairs medieval French with Italian Renaissance.
chambord.org

Château de Villandry
The gardens at Château de Villandry will leave you in awe. They are the quintessential castle gardens with six sections including the decorative vegetable garden; the ornamental rooms — configured to spark discussions on love, music and religion; the water garden; the herb garden and the maze. Enjoy the brand new sun garden featuring a pond in the shape of the sun, eight-point star and beds of orange perennials. Inside the castle are gorgeous rooms, clever nooks and crannies, all leading up to a magnificent 15th century Mudejar style room with a ceiling made of 3600 pieces of wood.
www.chateauvillandry.fr

foodx

Loire Dining

Bistrot de la Tranchée
103 Avenue de la Tranchée
37100 Tours
Tel : +33 2 47 41 09 08
www.charles-barrier.fr

Pâtisserie Bigot
2 Rue nationale
37400 Amboise
Tel : +33 2 47 57 04 46
www.bigot-amboise.com

Monument Café
Place St Louis
41250 Chambord
www.monument-cafe.com/chambord/

Les Archives
14 rue Edouard Grimaux
86000 Poitiers
Tel : +33 5 49 30 53 00
www.lesarchives.fr

Le Terminus
3 place de la gare
16000 Angoulême
Tel: +33 5 45 95 27 13
www.le-terminus.com

 

Château de Perreux

Château de Perreux

Where to Stay

Château du Breuil
This beautiful, relaxing château is a favorite for fine dining. After a day of sightseeing, an evening of terrific wine and fantastic food is just what’s needed.  Château du Breuil does not disappoint. This is a great place for corporate events or weddings.
Château du Breuil
23 Route de Fougère
41700 Cheverny
Tel: +33 2 54 44 20 20
www.chateau-hotel- du-breuil.com

Château de Perreux
A truly unique château, Château de Perreux is hidden away in the majestic beauty of the Loire Valley woodlands. The food and beverage program is magnificent and the on-site chef, Michelin star winner, Ludovic Laurenty stocks his kitchen with the best ingredients of the region.
Château de Perreux
36 Route de Pocé
37530 Nazelles-Negron
Tel : +33 2 47 57 27 47
www.chateaudeperreux.fr

Getting There

Air France flies direct from Los Angeles to Paris. From Paris take RailEurope one hour on the high speed train to the Loire Valley. It is easy to get around by taxi, rental car or public transport.

HILTON PARIS OPERA

HILTON PARIS OPERA

Where to Stay in Paris

Hilton Paris Opera was recently renovated and is spectacular. Located in the heart of the Champs-Élysées district.
www.hiltonparisoperahotel.com


Indian Arts in Santa Fe

Indian Arts in Santa Fe

intro

Santa Fe has been an arts and trade hub for millennium with Native Americans inhabiting the area for more than 2500 years. One cannot escape picking up tidbits of historical knowledge while meandering through a town filled with museums, galleries and landmark hotels.

 

Houser working on Warm Springs Apache Photo Credit: Lee Marmon

Houser working on Warm Springs Apache
Photo Credit: Lee Marmon

Allan Houser

Apache Indian artist Allan Houser is the godfather of Santa Fe art. His bronze sculptures set the standard for Indian art. His father fought with his second cousin, Geronimo, in the small band of Warm Springs Chiricahaus. They surrendered to the to the US Army in 1886 and Houser’s kin was sent to Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida and then to Mount Vernon Barracks, Alabama where his mother — Blossom — was born in the prison camp. The band of Chiricahaus spent 23 years in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and was eventually freed in 1914. Houser’s parents stayed in Oklahoma and became farmers. He was the first child born out of captivity. As Houser matured and his interest in art grew, he announced to his father he was headed back to the motherland of New Mexico to be an artist. His hard-working, life-scarred father was not impressed. He wanted his eldest son to stay and help on the farm. But Houser followed his path back to New Mexico and became the preeminent Native American artist of our time.

As you roam about Santa Fe, you’ll notice a certain style of sculpture — a Native American figure with unmistakable curvature. You see this style everywhere; Allan Houser started it. After leaving the family farm, Houser went on to create important pieces of art as well as become a founding professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts. You can visit Houser’s studio and take a tour of the sculpture garden in Santa Fe. His art is also in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

Allan Houser Sculpture Garden & Studio are open to the public by appointment. Call 505-471-1528 or email toursandevents@allanhouser.com

 

Native American ‘Origin Cuisine’

Native American ‘Origin Cuisine’

Dr. Lois Ellen Frank, born in New York City and raised in Long Island, is from the Kiowa Nation on her mother’s side and Sephardic on her father’s side. She started her career in photography and found herself shooting product shots for ad agencies in Los Angeles. One day an elder visited her on the set of her photo shoot. She was shooting some inane, not original, non-environmentally friendly product. The elder asked her if she was “sharing her poetry from within?” She thought long and hard, quit her agency photography job and became a chef.

Armed with culinary knowledge, Frank returns to the pueblo and educates Native American communities on changing their eating habits back to ‘origin cuisine’— the cuisine of their ancestors. Native American origin cuisine consists of beans, corn, and squash and make a complete protein, produced with natural fertilizer in an ecologically balanced planting and gardening system. All three vegetables grow in perfect harmony. The corn provides structure for the bean stalk to grow up, the beans provide nitrogen and fertilize the corn, and the large leaves of the squash plants protect the soil from too much sun and reduce weeds. Frank’s cookbook, which won a James Beard award, shows us how to cook origin cuisine; and just wait for the next one which is coming out soon.

www.redmesacuisine.com

Pottery at Santa Fe Indian Market

Pottery at Santa Fe Indian Market

Of all the art events in Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Indian Market is the most historic and most important. Since 1922, it has been the largest Native American Indian arts market in the world. Held every year on the third weekend in August, the entire town sells out, so book accomodations well in advance. The market features thousands of Native Americans selling original art. Held in the historic downtown plaza in the center of Santa Fe, taking up 14 downtown city blocks with over 700 artists booths. Not only is it big, it has high quality art, including a juried Native arts program where global buyers and collectors buy directly from artists. Native American art is beautifully crafted, holds special meaning and appreciates in value over time — a great investment and a beautiful addition to your personal art collection. From the thousands of traditional and contemporary handcrafted works, you will have a hard time choosing between the jewelry, pottery, sculpture, textiles, paintings, wooden carvings, beadwork and baskets in the show. While you’re at it, you can sample Native American food, music and films.

www.santafeindianmarket.com

 

Dan Namingha, Passage #43, Acrylic on Canvas, 48” x 96”, 2016

Dan Namingha, Passage #43, Acrylic on Canvas, 48” x 96”, 2016

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

A must-visit museum in the city of Santa Fe, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture tells the stories of Native Americans from early history to modern day art. Visitors enjoy thought-provoking exhibits such as Here, Now and Always that illustrates Native American history with life-size dioramas of living quarters — from tee-pees and hand crafted ladders, to modern day life on the rez, complete with insulin needles as a nod to the diabetes problem that plagues today’s Native Americans. Another lively program is the Landscape of an Artist: Living Treasure Dan Namingha. One cannot introduce Namingha (Hopi-Tewa) without including his artistic pedigree. He is the great-great grandson of Nampeyo, a famous Hopi-Tewa potter whose artwork is very important to Native American arts and uses ancient techniques passed down from the 1500s. Namingha’s work is mesmerizing and pairs ancient Native American symbolism with contemporary techniques.

miaclab.org

SAR – School for Advanced Research

It’s a huge honor to be awarded a fellowship at SAR, Santa Fe’s historic and preeminent academic institution. The Indian Arts Research Center archive at SAR is beyond belief and fills two grand halls with historic art including pottery, painting, textiles, carved figures, basketry and jewelry. In addition to serving the keeper of this incredible collection of historic Native American artifacts, SAR is a publishing house and educational institute. SAR offers fellowships for scholars-in-residence; week-long gatherings of scholars in advanced seminars; the annual J. I. Staley Prize for excellence in anthropological writing and residential fellowships for Native American artists. SAR Press publishes academic books developed from SAR’s programs as well as general-interest books on the Southwest and Native American arts.

www.sarweb.org

Kakawa

Terrific sweet treats can be found at Kakawa Chocolate House. Located near Canyon Road, the chocolate shop serves warm chocolate elixirs in the style of ancient Mesoamerican, Mayan and Aztec chocolate drinks. Take the flavor home and add two teaspoons of powdered chocolate to your daily coffee. In addition to drinking chocolate, Kakawa offers house-made ice-cream and truffles.

kakawachocolates.com

Than Povi Cottonwood Trading Post

There are no shortages of places in Santa Fe where you can pick up custom Native American art but a stop at Than Povi Cottonwood Trading Post is a great idea if you want to directly support Native American artists who live on a reservation. With a huge supply of jewelry, art, beadwork, pottery and wood carvings available, you’ll find one or several items to covet.

www.thanpovi.com

IAIA – Institute of American Indian Arts

If you really want a stellar arts education then look no further than the tribal college, Institute of American Indian Arts, located just outside of Santa Fe. While the university is small and very affordable, it has the latest educational technology, including 3-D printers and a dome-style filmmaking studio. In addition to traditional studio arts, students at IAIA can chose to study creative writing or cinematic arts. The school is open to non-Native students, it’s mission is committed to Native American and Alaska Native cultures. The collection of art from former students at IAIA is extraordinary and visitors are able to visit their museum in downtown Santa Fe. It is a must-see!

www.iaia.edu

 

Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino

Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino

Where To Stay

Located in downtown Santa Fe, steps from the historic Santa Fe Plaza, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi is an intimate world-class vacation retreat and New Mexico’s most lauded hotel. Since it was established in 1991, the Inn has set the standard for luxury and service among small city hotels. The 58-room boutique hotel unveiled a full guestroom re-imagination in 2014 to embrace a more modern, sophisticated aesthetic, while still celebrating the enduring creative spirit of the region’s Native Americans.

www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/inn-of-the-anasazi-santa-fe

Opened in 2008, Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino is located on and operated by the Pueblo of Pojoaque just north of Santa Fe. The architecture and design of the building itself lends further to this artistic vision. Art from Native contributors statewide, and from many different Pueblos, are displayed proudly throughout the casino, a museum-quality collection with its own curator and worthy of studied perusal.

www.buffalothunderresort.com

Getting There

Santa Fe is located 70 miles northeast of Albuquerque. Multiple airlines offer direct flights from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. Once there, visitors can rent a car or hire Santa Fe Valet and drive to Santa Fe. A car is not needed if visitors plan to stay in the downtown vicinity however you will need some form of transportation to explore neighboring Native American pueblos.

 

The Westin LAX Launches Surf Concierge

The Westin LAX Launches Surf Concierge

Couple going surfing off Waikiki Beach

Surf’s up at The Westin Los Angeles Airport, located less than two miles from LAX, the property now gives travelers the chance to ride the California waves. Westin LAX’s Surf Concierge can organize surf sessions between conference calls or new business pitches. And for international travelers looking for a productive way to spend their layover on the way to Tahiti, the Surf Concierge offers the perfect solution. Guests of all skill levels can book their Surf Concierge experience in conjunction with a one-night stay at the Westin LAX. Westin provides transportation to and from the beach along with a surfboard and wetsuit for each surfer. The sessions last 1.5 hours and are led by surf instructors from Campsurf, Los Angeles’ Premier Surf School, at El Porto in Manhattan Beach.

The program was created in response to the increasing number of millennial business travelers coming to the region for Silicon Beach, one of the world’s fastest-growing tech hubs. As their numbers started making up more and more of the hotel’s guests, Westin LAX General Manager Phil Baxter wanted to develop a program that allows these travelers to get the most out of their spare time.

The Surf Concierge also meets a different kind of demand: that of international travelers saddled with long layovers at LAX, a common hurdle that Westin hopes to help guests navigate. The program gives travelers an opportunity to make the most of their time in Los Angeles.

The Westin Los Angeles Airport

5400 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

310-216-5858

www.westinlosangelesairport.com

LAX Updates

LAX Updates

WOW air CEO Skúli Mogensen

WOW air CEO Skúli Mogensen

WOW air Launches Low Cost Service Between LAX and Reykjavik, Iceland

WOW air, an ultra-low-cost transatlantic airline from Iceland, launched west coast service in Los Angeles. The airline offers four weekly flights to Reykjavik, Iceland for low fares. WOW air´s 23 European destinations including London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Los Angeles World Airports Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint said, “We are honored WOW air chose LAX as part of its expansion into the U.S. market. Angelenos will benefit from having low-cost nonstop flights to Reykjavik — a new destination for LAX — and more options to the major cities of Europe.”

Swiss Celebrates First Boeing 777-300ER LAX –Zurich Flight

SWISS, the flag carrier of Switzerland, celebrated the inaugural flight of its newest flagship Boeing 777-300ER on its Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – Zurich route. “We are excited that Swiss Airlines’ new “flagship” Boeing 777-300ER aircraft has now joined the LAX livery family, providing long haul service from Los Angeles to Zurich, Switzerland,” said Los Angeles World Airports Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint. “The additional capacity and the airlines focus on customers’ air travel experience reflects our commitment to world class experience at LAX.” The totally-redesigned cabin interior of the new SWISS flagship offers comfort and aesthetics in all three seating classes.

XL Airways Launches at LAX with Nonstop Service to Paris

French leisure carrier XL Airways launched at LAX with nonstop service to Paris three times a week, operating at Terminal 2 with Airbus A330 aircraft. The new service to Paris will give passengers more opportunities to choose from during the busy summer season. All tickets include one piece of checked baggage, a hot meal and a snack. Passengers seeking a more exclusive experience can opt for Premium Galaxy class and enjoy comfortable reclining seats at the front of the aircraft, fine cuisine with premium wines, and personal entertainment on Samsung tablets.

Lessons from a Tibetan Buddhist Monk

Lessons from a Tibetan Buddhist Monk

Lama Paljor

Lama Paljor

When I first met Lama Paljor in person, night had fallen over the Kalimpong monastery and I was weary from nine hours of travel to the remote village in the Himalayan foothills. I bent to touch his feet, as is customary when meeting elders and spiritual masters in India. He stopped me, laughing and embraced me in a hug instead. This simple gesture of warmth spoke grandly about the man with whom I was to spend the next three days.

I was introduced to Lama Paljor through TRAS, The Trans-Himalayan Aid Society, when I started my business Tibetan Socks one year ago and was looking for a children’s education program to sponsor. Lama Paljor, through his private school, provides a free primary education to over a hundred children from the poorest families of his village in Sikkim.

Penjo Lo, as the younger monks affectionately call him, became a Buddhist monk at the age of thirteen. His parents were refugees from Tibet and fled to Sikkim, a small Indian state bordered by Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkim has a significant minority of Buddhists who have crossed from the Tibet border to escape Chinese oppression. High in the mountains, multicolor prayer flags silently sing “Om mani padme hum” into the wind, strung from nearly every house and hilltop. It is one of the most majestic places in India, but its villages are home to some of its absolute poorest citizens.

The Pema Tsel Academy, an English primary school offering free education and boarding for children from the severely impoverished local community

The Pema Tsel Academy, an English primary school offering free education and boarding for children from the severely impoverished local community

Ten years ago, Lama Paljor created The Pema Tsel Academy, an English primary school offering free education and boarding for children from the severely impoverished local community. Here, the altitude is so high and the weather so cold, not even sustenance level farming is possible, so the only available work for men and women is laboring on the mountain roads, the conditions of which are so abysmal that deaths from overturned cars are not a rare occurrence.

During my time in Sikkim, I witnessed men, women, and children breaking rocks by the side of roads, wielding heavy loads of rubble, all the while breathing in toxic diesel fumes from passing trucks. The pay for this labor is usually 7,000 Indian Rupees a month, or about $100.

The families are so poor they don’t have the time or means to send their children to school with a lunch. So Lama Paljor started a free lunch program for students, ensuring nutritious meals. Even though the Indian government promises free school lunch to all children in public schools, it is not unheard of for lunch money to go missing. Worse still, sometimes teachers don’t show up to teach at all.

Lama Paljor’s heart shines when he talks about his school and students. His face beamed as he showed me photos and videos of the children, smiling in their uniforms, reciting the alphabet and performing traditional dances during assemblies. The educational quality his school provides and the care for its students’ wellbeing is unique in rural India. With a solid educational foundation, these children can aspire to a better life than the one of hardship and backbreaking toil of their parents.

I spent a total of three days with Lama Paljor and was moved by his graciousness, patience, and generosity. He exemplified Gautama the Buddha’s wisdom in his compassion and awareness he brought to every subtle action: the way he lovingly folded his red wool shawl after removing it, his unsteady but graceful swaying gait.

What stays with me most about Lama Paljor’s character was his child-like innocence and wonderment, stopping to look at a tree and asking aloud how old it might be, his laughter and amusement when a tourist posed for photos mid zip-line. In the three days I spent by his side, he was always smiling, his eyes creased in a state of permanent joviality. At the same time, there was a deep calm emanating from the center of his being. He was perpetually unperturbed.

Lama Paljor has consecrated his life to creating a more peaceful and loving world. From his example, I have been inspired to double my efforts in making whatever small difference is possible through me. Each sale of Tibetan Socks we make provides 12 school lunches to the children at Pema Tsel Academy and it’s their faces I see when I work to build this business so that we can give and do more. The goal is not to make the most money, but to make the most good.

 

LIVE LIKE A MAHARAJA, Visiting India During Off-Season

LIVE LIKE A MAHARAJA, Visiting India During Off-Season

Leela Palace in Delhi

Leela Palace in Delhi

By Adrien Field  

“Atithi Devo Bhava” is a Sanskrit verse from the Upanishads which translates to “The guest is equivalent to God.” Indians take this message to heart, and exhibit incredible hospitality to visitors.

Visiting India off-season, defined as the summer months between May and September can mean deeply discounted fares on everything from hotels to airfare. Be prepared, however, for extreme temperatures: certain places like Delhi and Jaipur will be unbearably hot. But you can beat the heat by traveling to the North and South of the country, discovering India from top to bottom.

Delhi, Haryana

When the mercury in the thermometer is pushing 110 degrees Fahrenheit shortly after sunrise in the summer months, you won’t want to spend much time venturing out. Delhi itself is not the most attractive city for the casual tourist, but it is an excellent perch from which to begin your journey in India.

Situated at the top point of the “Golden Triangle” Delhi completes the tourist triumvirate comprising Agra (the home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur, the famous Pink City. Each are a few hours drive away from the capital, depending on variables like passing cow traffic and the fearlessness of your driver.

Within Delhi, there are several places worth visiting: The Lodhi Gardens are home to 15th century ruins spread over 90 serene park acres. There are treasures to be found among the markets of Hauz Khas Village, Lajpat Nagar and Dilli Haat.

Rooftop pool at Leela Palace

Rooftop pool at Leela Palace

Spotlight on Leela Palace

Delhi is a hectic city, full of pollution and noise. For the first time visitor, it can be overwhelming from the moment you step outside Indira Gandhi Airport. The Leela Palace takes away all the stress — you might even forget you’ve spent the better part of twenty-four hours in the air as you step into a BMW or Rolls Royce from its private fleet of cars available for airport transfers.

Opened in 2011, The Leela Palace has set a new standard for luxury in India’s capital. Boasting the largest standard guest sized rooms in Delhi, the Leela offers exceptional world class service and comfort, combining top-notch modern amenities and classical Indian heritage. With its architecture and art inspired by the Mughal dynasty of India’s past, the property will make the guest feel like a modern day Maharaja as you walk down its carpeted corridors scented with fresh floral arrangements.

With four distinct and award winning restaurants, one need not leave the grounds to let the taste buds travel. Megu offers Japanese cuisine with an extensive sake list, Jamavar serves North Indian dishes, The Qube is the spot for continental food and a fantastic breakfast served buffet style. Finally the marquee restaurant is the New York import Le Cirque. Chef Diego Martinelli has come with fifteen years of culinary excellence honed at Four Seasons outposts worldwide. His addition as head chef has infused the menu with inventive dishes — the lucky patrons only need to sit back and let him create a tailored dining experience not soon forgotten.

If you’re feeling frazzled after a day of exploring the city, the Leela is a welcome respite for the senses. Indulge in a spa treatment at the 12,000 square foot ESPA or simply watch the city below from the rooftop infinity pool.

Taj Kovalam

Taj Kovalam

Kovalam, Kerala

This southern state known in India as “God’s own country” is a veritable Garden of Eden. With unsullied coastlines that stretch for 370 miles and nearly year-round perfect temperatures, it’s a vacationer’s paradise. Unlike the well-established Goa to the north, Kovalam is a lesser-known destination and therefore quieter — you won’t find much of a party scene here, just incredibly lush, tranquil settings to explore. The flight from Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram is four and a half hours and then Kovalam is a short thirty-minute drive.

Backwater sailing is a unique attraction in Kerala and excursions can last for days should you desire to rent a houseboat. Lighthouse Beach is worth a visit for its sandy beaches and boardwalk lined with fresh, inexpensive seafood and tourist shops.

Spotlight on Taj

The Vivanta by Taj is the premiere luxury property in Kovalam. The 10-acre property sits above the bay tucked into a lush hill. The property’s 59 cottages with elephant grass thatched rooftops are located on the hill providing a relaxing atmosphere with ample privacy. Standard rooms are spacious, offering either a garden or sea view, and villas with private lap pools are also available. There is no question of not finding shanti, or peace, in this tropical oasis.

Spend all day down by the beach, lounge by the outdoor pool, or even play a round of golf on the 9-hole putting green. The Jiva Spa offers Ayurvedic treatments that can both relax the outer body and awaken the inner senses. Three dining options are available on-site, including Indian, seafood and continental options.

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

In order to beat the summertime heat of India, you’ll have to travel North into the mountains as the locals do. Shimla once was the summer capital of British India, when the ruling class decamped sweltering Delhi to the Himalayas for cool temperatures. It remains a unique attraction full of history and natural landscapes of unimaginable beauty.

Located 240 miles from Delhi, the best way to reach Shimla is by first flying into Chandigarh then taking a taxi for the remaining four hour passage through winding mountain roads. In this case, the journey really is nearly as great as the destination: at each hold-your-breath, hair-raising turn, the Himalayan views reveal themselves with increasing splendor.

Spotlight on The Oberoi Cecil

The Himalayan foothills of Northern India are full of resort hill stations, but few are as iconic or luxurious as The Oberoi Cecil in Shimla. Set in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas at 2,200 meters above sea level, The Oberoi Cecil is a charming heritage hotel located at the quiet end of Shimla’s famous mall. The restoration of the hotel to its original glory marks the return of gracious living, a tradition exemplified by The Oberoi Cecil since the days of the British Raj. A haven of luxury and comfort, each guest room at The Oberoi Cecil is a reflection of the hotel’s Colonial heritage.

English teas, fine dining at night, log fires, a heated indoor swimming pool, impeccable and personalized service and panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range, are some highlights of the hotel.

Should you desire to leave your cozy environs, adventure awaits in every direction and the hotel is happy to arrange transportation. A hot sulfur spring is located a two hour’s drive away. Nearby Kufri offers skiing (in the winter months) and yak rides.