Category: Travel & Hotels

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

Beautiful Monterey for Nature Lovers

Beautiful Monterey for Nature Lovers

bs_pfeifferbeach1_kerrickjames_seemonterey.com

Located north of Los Angeles is the Central Coast of California. Consisting of Big Sur to the south, Moss Landing at the center of Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz to the north, notable points along the bay include Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove and a peninsula of land filled with famous golf courses such as Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. The south side of the peninsula is Carmel Bay, the focal point of Carmel-By-The-Sea -— a picturesque town of understated luxury. The south point of Carmel Bay borders Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and inland is Carmel Valley where wineries, spas and world-class hotels pamper their guests. Inland from Monterey Bay is Salinas — an agricultural town made famous by John Steinbeck novels such as Of Mice and Men, East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath. Running alongside the valley of Salinas are the Santa Lucia Highlands, where delicious California pinot noir grapes are grown and used by winemakers such as Pisoni Estates.

Moss Landing

Moss Landing

Excursions for Nature Lovers

Horseback riding on Salinas River State Beach with Monterey Bay Equestrian Center is a great way to bond with magnificent horses while enjoying the view of the bay. The horses are healthy and guides encourage a safe canter or gallop. An exhilarating ride on the beach is a perfect way to take in the splendor of the bay.

Elkhorn Slough is full of stunning birds, playful otters and bellowing seals and sea lions. Safari tours begin at Moss Landing as wildlife enthusiasts board a pontoon boat and aquatic wildlife experts lead the tour, explaining the geography and history of the area. The slough is called “Elkhorn” because it is shaped like a half of a huge elk horn. Elkhorn Slough is protected space offering wildlife a safe environment with plenty to eat. In addition to a safari tour on the pontoon boat, kayaking will bring you up close and personal with the birds and aquatic life of Elkhorn Slough.

Monterey Bay Aquarium is best for kids, a fun way to entertain the little ones and teach them about conservation and aquatic life. Located deep into the heart of downtown Monterey and surrounded by old cannery buildings, walking in downtown Monterey feels like stepping back in time to a Steinbeck novel.

Whale watching is a highlight of any trip to Monterey. Princess Monterey Whale Watching offers trips twice a day, morning or afternoon. We recommend the morning tour and be prepared for all kinds of weather and possible motion sickness. Because of changes in our climate, whales who used to travel south for food are staying in Monterey Bay and making this area their home. Humpback and Grey whales are glorious creatures and come right up to the boat. When we visited we spotted a huge pod of dolphins. There must have been over 100 dotted throughout the water. The photo opportunities on this tour are extensive and worth getting queasy on the boat.

A visit to Monterey is not complete without a hike in the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. It’s an easy hike, available to all levels and ages. If you really want to learn about the area then book in a guided hike with Big Sur Guides. Owned and founded by Los Angeles native  Stephen Copeland, the hiking operation treats participants to “insider” information about the park and the history of the area, including the hippie days of Big Sur. The views on the trail are stunning and leave you in awe of nature’s wonderous beauty.

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

 

Cuisine 

The food and wine in and around Monterey is world class. Wineries and farms dot the landscape deep into the Salinas Valley and up into the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Must Visit Farms

Artichokes are a major crop in the area and Pezzini Farms is one of the only family owned farms left. They have an adorable farm shop on the property selling various artichoke products. You’ll also find a food cart with a range of cooked artichokes including steamed, barbequed and fried.

Most consumers are familiar with Earthbound Farms products. Founded in Carmel Valley, they have become huge and supply Costco, Whole Foods and many other grocers with various leafy greens. At the site of their original 2.5-acre farm is a farm shop and community outreach center. The farm shop is a terrific place to grab lunch — of course they have a salad bar, or you can build a sandwich or enjoy homemade soup. Educational tours for all ages are an effective way to teach about healthy eating decisions.

Wine

The city of Carmel-By-The-Sea is tiny and incredibly cute. A number of wine tasting rooms have opened, and wine enthusiasts can purchase a Wine Tasting Passport. The passport includes seven passes to be used for tastings at participating tasting rooms. Some of the outstanding wine features selections from Alexander Smith, Wrath, and Scheid Vineyards.

Folktale Winery is new to Carmel Valley and they are out to impress the community. The space used to be Chateau Julien. The new owners have updated the grounds, bringing the classic space up to modern standards. Folktale Winery offers artisanal snacks served with delicious wine in a beautiful courtyard with live music. An onsite private residence is available to rent for special occasions, weddings or corporate retreats.

In the vicinity of Monterey are the Santa Lucia Highlands where Pinot grapes are grown and wine is made. Plan a full day of wine tasting with visits to Hahn Estate to experience the 2013 Lucienne Chardonnay Lone Oak Vineyard which is a beautifully crisp Chardonnay unique to Monterey County. No visit to the Santa Lucia Highlands would be complete without a visit to Pisoni Estate. They produce some of the very best pinot noir in California. As you make your way back to Monterey stop in at Scheid Vineyards to try their delightful bubbly.

SNOW REPORT – 2016

SNOW REPORT – 2016

The El Niño year has started off with great promise, dumping huge amounts of snow on the mountains of California, Utah and Colorado.

Powder day at Mammoth. Photo by Corey Rich

Powder day at Mammoth. Photo by Corey Rich

PARK CITY, UTAH

The new Quicksilver Gondola opened in Park City making it the largest ski resort in United States. Park City also launched Miners Camp Restaurant. Construction on Quicksilver and Miners Camp began in the summer of 2015 as part of a $50 million improvements campaign to connect Park City and neighboring Canyons Resort. Now, a quick, 8 ½ minute ride on Quicksilver is all that separates guests from experiencing hundreds of trails across Park City and Canyons Village.

Miners Camp, located at the base of the Silverlode Lift, replaces the old Snow Hut and offers guests a cozy escape from the slopes. The new on-mountain restaurant features 500 indoor seats and a fresh menu highlighted by local ingredients, daily specials, handmade flatbread pizzas, Mediterranean dishes and local beer.

Park City appointed Manual Rozehmal as Executive Chef of The Farm. To complement Rozehmal’s hire and the newly expanded resort’s debut this winter, the food and beverage program also refreshed menus across various dining locations, including The Farm, Murdock’s Café and Red Tail Grill.

Rozehmal is originally from a small village in the mountains of Germany. He started professionally cooking at age 15 at Le Méridien in Munich through a three-year apprentice program while he also attended culinary school. He received his culinary fundamentals from his grandfather, who took him hunting for mushrooms in the morning, and from helping his grandmother cook dinner with the foraged produce. After receiving his culinary degree, Rozehmal continued cooking in Germany and Switzerland until moving to Dana Point, CA to work as a junior sous chef with world-renowned Chef Michael Mina at Stonehill Tavern. Missing the mountains from his hometown in Germany, Rozehmal was drawn to Park City.

Rozehmal’s background has inspired delicious additions to Park City’s restaurant portfolio, including made-from-scratch soft pretzels with house-made caraway mustard, as well as hot potato soup with cabbage and grilled sausage.

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA

Benefiting from a uniquely high elevation, Mammoth’s ski season is the longest in California, starting last year on Veterans Day (Wednesday, Nov. 11). With 7 months of snow the norm, there’s plenty of time to eat, drink, and experience everything that Mammoth Lakes has to offer.

Breweries
Après favorite Mammoth Brewing Company continues to expand its new tasting room, opening an upstairs seating area that will expand capacity, allow for private group events and live music.

Lodging
The New Holiday Haus Hostel offers budget-minded travelers a new lodging option in Mammoth Lakes. The comfortable and modern rooms, kitchen and common areas are located on Main Street, walking distance from the Village Gondola, restaurants, bars and nightlife.

Restaurants
53 Kitchen and Cocktails is Mammoth’s newest eatery in the heart of the Village. Fuel up for a day in the mountains with a good breakfast, and cap the day off with an artisanal cocktail and a selection from a diverse dinner menu. The stage and expansive dance floor also make 53 the destination for live music and entertainment well into the evening.

When Skadi closed its doors two years ago locals thought the restaurant was gone for good. “Back by popular demand” is an overused cliché but it certainly applies here. After spending the intervening years hearing from Mammoth Lakes’ locals about how much they miss the eatery, Chef Ian Algerøen reopened the doors at Skadi. Now located on Berner St. near the Village, Skadi is back to offer authentic high alpine cuisine.

Located inside Bleu Handcrafted Foods, the Tasting Bar offers customizable tours of cured meats, artisanal cheeses and the beer and wines that best complement them. Served atop Bleu’s custom Charcuterie hanger, it’s an excellent après experience, particularly for groups. The culinary tour is curated by Bleu’s knowledgeable staff and updated regularly. Reservations are recommended.

Activities
Five nights throughout the season, Woolly’s Tube Park hosts Electric Tubing and transforms into an electric circus in the forest with DJ’s, drinks (adult and otherwise), food, glow sticks, laser lighting and of course, snow tubing.

Tamarack Full Moon Tours are available every full moon this winter (and the evenings immediately before and after). Naturalist-led tours of the wilderness surrounding Mammoth Lakes take on a whole different feel; the snow on the trails and surrounding mountains soak up the moon’s glow, allowing for comfortable visibility and an unforgettable experience. Guests can cross-country ski or snowshoe the two hour tour, which finishes with drinks and s’mores around the iconic fireplace at Tamarack Lodge.

Sonnenalp Resort of Vail

Sonnenalp Resort of Vail

COLORADO

Beaver Creek
The Osprey Fireside Grill  has opened at The Osprey at Beaver Creek, in the heart of Beaver Creek, CO. As part of the upgrade and rebranding, there is a brand new post oak and peach wood-fueled custom smoker outside The Osprey Backyard, adjacent to the Strawberry Park lift, and six new beer taps that will offer guests rotating beer flights, complete with local Colorado brews.

Telluride
Telluride Distilling Company, Telluride’s first distillery, offers  two types of rums, whiskey, and vodka. The equipment and processes used have been developed in-house and create a truly hand-crafted product. The tasting room is open Thursdays and Fridays from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Vail Resorts
EpicMixTime, an expansion of ski and snowboard app, EpicMix, uses anonymized, crowd-sourced Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals to estimate lift line wait times. Using breakthrough technology, EpicMixTime calculates and displays up-to-the-minute lift line wait times at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

Where to Stay
The Sonnenalp Resort of Vail is located in the heart of Vail Village. Known throughout the region for its elegant European-style spa, the Sonnenalp features a relaxed seating area surrounding the fireplace. Hotel guests can store ski equipment in air-circulating lockers at Mountain Adventure Center, next to the Vista Bahn, the main ski lift out of Vail Village. The Sonnenalp Ski Shop offers adult ski rentals and accessories, as well as snowshoes and crosscountry skis. Guests of the Sonnenalp may request the use of the hotel’s Lexus sedans or 4-wheel drive luxury utility vehicles for transportation needs during their stay.

 

Northstar California Resort

Northstar California Resort

 

TAHOE, CALIFORNIA

Squaw Valley
A full-service, luxury resort in an idyllic mountain setting, Resort at Squaw Creek rests at the base of Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and just minutes from California’s North Lake Tahoe. This AAA Four-Diamond is ideally situated to offer access to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, now accessible with one lift ticket. The dramatic lobby, through its floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooks a cascading waterfall and the breathtaking Sierra Nevada Mountains. 405 luxurious resort rooms and suites, complete with resort-style kitchens, fireplaces and LCD flat-screen TVs, comfort guests in mountain home ambiance.

Northstar
With record levels of snow already blanketing Northstar California Resort’s mountain, guests and day visitors alike can enjoy a unique après-ski offering: The Champagne Experience, which includes champagne by the glass or the bottle with oysters on the half shell, available Friday – Sunday throughout the ski season at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.  Adjacent to the Champagne Bar is an authentic 6-passenger Silver Green Gondola, cabin number 14, which is one of the 160 gondola cabins, originally constructed in Veryins, France during 1986 by Sigma. The unique gondola has LED lighting inside, a Bose sound system and Bluetooth capabilities. Guests can relax in the remodeled interior, listen to music, have a drink or use the gondola as a fun backdrop for photos and selfies.

 

Amangiri – Southern Utah

Amangiri – Southern Utah

A visit to Amangiri is everything you expect -— truly spectacular and serene. Set in the visually stunning region of Southern Utah, Amangiri is surrounded by epic views and vistas. 

Amangiri Desert Lounge at Dusk

Amangiri Desert Lounge at Dusk

The long road leading to the resort is completely isolated. The property has a modern design, and is small and intimate. You won’t find a lot of action on the property and that’s the point. The vibe at Amangiri is a mix of Southwest and Asian influence. Every room looks out at the desert and they are built at different angles so each guest is afforded supreme privacy. Guests come from all over the world to experience Amangiri. The property draws celebrities, rock stars and New Yorkers. Despite the upscale clientele, guests are generally decked out in jeans and boots.

Must Do List:
Tour Slot Canyons with a Navajo Tour Guide: Your guide will share the history of the area, old Navajo tales and introduce you to majestic scenery.

Horses and History Dinner at Raven’s Nest: Raven’s Nest is a natural amphitheater located 45-minutes by horse from the resort. After riding over on horseback, guests meet Wally, a local Navajo elder, who shares traditional Navajo stories. A campfire dinner is served under the stars.

Via Ferrata: The “iron road” is assisted rock climbing for all levels. Using vertical steel rungs attached to sandstone walls, guest experience guided assents.

Private Cooking Class with Chef Anaya: Learn to make tamales with chef-led instructions on making masa and stuffing cornhusks.

Amangiri Swimming Pool

Amangiri Swimming Pool

The Spa
The Spa at Amangiri is a huge draw. There is a marvelous steam room, cold plunge and a special water treatment designed to combat jet lag. Guests float on their back in a very dark, deep cavern for thirty minutes in complete darkness. It’s supposed to be the equivalent of getting three hours of REM sleep, and is perfect for international travelers looking to reset their internal clock.

Art Program
Amangiri partners with German artist, Ulrike Arnold, who does an annual three-month residency at Amangiri. Arnold sets up her easel by the caves and uses pigment from the earth and rocks in her paintings -— she literally uses the pallet of the region.

From the nightly turndown gifts, to the superb level of privacy, to the magic-like service, Amangiri is a spectacular destination.

Getting There
LAX to Phoenix to Page, AZ. Upon arrival in Page, Amangiri guests transfer the final 30 miles in a house BMW.

Amangiri
1 Kayenta Rd, Canyon Point, UT 84741
435-675-3999
www.aman.com/resorts/amangiri

Dubai & Abu Dhabi: The Evolving Hub of Middle Eastern Culture

Dubai & Abu Dhabi: The Evolving Hub of Middle Eastern Culture

Four Seasons Dubai

Four Seasons Dubai 

Destination Dubai 

By Frank DiMarco

Gliding silently above the Dubai desert in a hot air balloon, one contemplates centuries of Bedouin tribal movements from coastal fishing and trading areas to desert oases and date farms. Suddenly a group of Emirati falconers come out for a morning hunt with the treasured birds, a reminder the old culture has strong traditions. Emirates oil made its debut into the world marketplace after WWII. Prior to then, there weren’t many modern buildings. The magnitude of construction today is boggling to behold.

The 16-hour non-stop flight from LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal on Emirates Airlines takes an extraordinary route over Greenland, Central Russia and over the Arabian Gulf with Iran to the east and Iraq to the west. Emirates flies the wonderful, double-decked A380 Airbus providing a clean and comfortable ride with seat-back video screens and three exterior camera views. Upon arriving at Dubai International Airport, passengers enjoy a multi-story waterfall.

Dubai

Dubai

You must visit the old Souk (market) area which includes souks of gold, spices and flowers. Located along historic Dubai Creek, which divides the Deira and Bur Dubai sections of the city, these souks are filled with dazzling intricate gold treasures. Barrels and bins display spices from Iran, India and other exotic locations and fill the air with tangy aromas. The view along Dubai Creek has mosque minarets and wind towers on the skyline. Ride through the quay on a traditional water taxi and imagine the atmosphere of the early trading days when small vessels would ply the waters bringing trade to the souks. The sounds of call to prayer add to the mystical feel. In this older part of Dubai, there are interesting museums: Coffee Museum (remember, coffee originated in this part of the world), Dubai Museum and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding are all worth a visit.

Dubai is a melting pot of cultures with workers from a myriad of origins: Philippines, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Africa, Europe and elsewhere. New buildings and infrastructure construction draw people looking for work. The diversity of faces, accents and styles are a feast for the senses. Expats from all over the world are employed at new hospitals, colleges and sports and tourism facilities.

The man responsible for Dubai’s smart vision and impressive growth is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He is hands-on and an involved ruler, often seen driving through Dubai without ceremony. In contrast to the astonishing architecture and development, Sheikh Mohammed encourages sustainability and stewardship of natural resources, including such diverse projects as seawater desalination, solar power and even a sea turtle rehabilitation facility. His extended family’s leadership and his close ties to other Emirati leaders, including Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Kalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is positioning the UAE to a future less dependent on oil.

Dubai

Dubai

The modern architecture that comprises the Dubai skyline is stunning. The Burj Kalifa — 163 floors high and currently the tallest man-made structure in the world — dominates. The observation deck is on the 122nd floor and provides an impressive view of Dubai, the man-made islands offshore in the Gulf and the desert to the west. Combining a visit to the Burj Kalifa with a trip to the Dubai Mall can be a full day, especially staying for dramatic lighted fountains in the evening. The Dubai mall contains a ski slope, an aquarium and about 1,200 shops.

On the coast, along Jumeirah Beach stands the iconic Burj Al Arab, with its one of a kind sail-like architecture, heliport and restaurant appurtenances.  Viewed from any direction, one just wants to stare at this 5-star hotel, built on an artificial island. Further southwest, the causeway to Palm Island Jumeirah takes off and winds around the sand-made island. Rocks hauled from the mountain areas near Oman protect the island. From air, Palm Island looks just like its name (and can be seen from space). This is one of the world’s largest man-made islands with sprawling villas and resorts. The view back towards the shore from Palm Island’s wide promenades is equally impressive with new buildings by the Dubai yacht harbor seemingly springing up weekly.

Dubai

Dubai

You must visit the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, located just an hour from Dubai. The Grand Mosque is a trip highlight. The scale of the mosque is awesome. Inside, the mosque is at once opulent, intricate and holy. Adhering to tradition, women must be covered and abayas are provided at no charge. Guides take groups of visitors though the mosque and describe construction details, history and rituals of worship. As well as the Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi will soon have a branch of The Louvre and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi.

Dubai is trying to get it right for the future. Leadership knows the end of oil is right around the corner. Reinvention is key. A solid, sustainable infrastructure is in place for this growing destination as well as a firm commitment to the safety and security of Dubai’s citizens and visitors. Dubai will host The World Expo 2020 and, based on the progress being made, it promises to be a big success.

Chile – Enchantment on the Other Side of the World

Chile – Enchantment on the Other Side of the World

Santiago

Santiago

 

By Lisa France

There are very few places left on the planet where we can travel and feel as if we are truly far away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, while also feeling the ease and comfort of our own homes. The Chiloé Archipelago, a group of islands off the coast of southern Chile, is a destination to quench the thirst for this particular pleasure. This area is rightly described as enchanting, special and magical.

Santiago

There are no lack of activities in the city. The trouble is choosing which of them to enjoy. To see an expansive view of the city, trek out to the second highest point in the metropolis, Cerro San Cristobal. Atop the famous hill sits a 22-meter high statue of the Virgin Mary. The view of the city is spectacular from this vantage point. In addition, the park is lovely for hiking and drinking a distinctive Chilean beverage called mote con huesillo, which is a non-alcoholic drink made of dried peach liquid mixed with wheat. It is a summertime staple of Chile, so much so that there is a well-known saying, “It’s more Chilean than a mote con huesillo.”

A visit to Santiago would not be complete without a visit to the capital square, La Mondea Presidential Palace. It feels more like a village center where anyone can visit and not feel the concern of secret service personnel. Just a small stroll away from “Chile’s White House” as it were, is one of Santiago’s current claims to fame, the Metropolitan Cathedral, where Pope Francis did his Jesuitical Studies. In and around Plaza de Armas, there are many cosmopolitan shops and cafes among a plethora of street vendors.

Where to Stay
Torremayor Providencia Hotel 

The rooms are large with picture windows affording an expansive view of the city. Many of the rooms have a view of Coastanera Center which is the tallest building in Latin America and the second tallest building in the southern hemisphere. The hotel has a rooftop pool, a cozy bar and a solid breakfast which comes complimentary with room bookings. Located in central Santiago.

W Santiago

The architecture is stunning with a delightful combination of modern speckled with hints of the old world. Vaulted ceilings, mood lighting and fireplaces are comforting while also hip. Dine at Terraza for a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon or smoky, spicy, short ribs paired with Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon.

Where to Eat
L’Astaria

Enjoy the ceviche with a lovely Chilean Sauvignon Gris from Leyda with enough fruit and mineral to create a burst of new flavor. For a main course try the Antarctic Hake paired with Chardonnay from De Martino. Alone they are amazing, but paired, divine.

Bocanariz

Over 30 wines by the glass and 300 different bottles are available

Chiloé

Chiloé

Chiloé

The Chiloé Archipelago is composed of 30 islands, which can be accessed from Santiago by air. LAN now has flights to Chiloé with a quick stop in Puerto Montt. This part of Patagonia, with rolling hillsides and lush green pastures, is reminiscent of the United Kingdom. As in the countryside of England, there are farms, sheep, horses and cattle roaming around the Chiloten roadways.

In general, the island is quite colorful. From the unique cemeteries, where the Huillinco people bury their beloved dead in bright small homes after passing, to the 18th and early 19th century churches, the array of colors light up the partly cloudy skies while also aiding water navigators to locate their ports.

Huillinco Cemetery

Huillinco Cemetery

Where to Stay
Hotel Parque Quilquico

This is an eco-friendly hotel that promotes sustainability — there are even goats on the grass-covered roof. These folks mean business when it comes to using every single resource on the property. Most of the vegetables served are from the garden out back. Decorations, furniture, carpets and other furnishings for the hotel were chosen for their cultural significance. The landscape is stunning. The buildings are embraced by trees, which are sacred to the indigenous Mapuche people. It was paramount to architect Edward Rojasa to incorporate as many native constructs into the hotel as he could, as well as to protect the land. The view of Dalchanue Channel can be seen from nearly every room. The rooms vary in size, but the cottages are a favorite. They are perfect for families or friends traveling together — spacious yet homey.

For dining at Quilquico, order the pulmay, which is one of the native dishes of Chiloé. Each area of Chile has a variation on this dish, but the one at Quilquico is out of this world. The broth! It’s a wonderful combination of salty chunks of pork, clams, mussels, chicken and potato accents that gave rise to a delightful soup.

Tierra Hotel Chiloé

At first glance one may think the structure of the hotel doesn’t quite fit in with the Chilote culture. The hotel could resemble some sort of hip, celebrity owned Malibu home, but upon closer evaluation, it’s evident this hotel was built on the banks of the Rilán Peninsula with great care and consideration for the cultural history. In addition to paying tribute to the rich culture, Tierra takes it a step further by creating a space which is not only visually stunning, but it manages to be contemporary comingled with rustic. There is not an angle on the property that isn’t photogenic.

Curanto Cooking

Curanto Cooking

Dining at Tierra — Curanto!

Curanto is a traditional method of cooking where a fire is made in a pit with large stones. Once all of the wood has burned, the stones are akin to coals. Layers of food are placed atop the stones with mussels, clams, crabs and lobsters placed first. The nalca leaves separate all layers. Foods that require the most time to cook are on the lower levels, while vegetables and breads are towards the top. One hour later there is a feast for more than twenty people. A fine Coyam, an organic red blend from Colchagua Valley, enhanced the smoky flavors.

Activities

At Tierra there are many excursions to choose from which are included in the price of your room.

Tour of Chelín

The Church of Chelín is one of the 16 churches of the Chiloe Archipelago which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a result, this, and the other churches are taken apart, literally, shingle by shingle, named, numbered and restored. It takes years to complete the restoration of these churches, but the result is visually stunning.

Sea Kayaking in the Bay of Quehui

“Ocean view” has an entirely new meaning when gliding alongside these cool tropical-like islands in a kayak. There is a delightful quiet and freedom on the edge of the Patagonian waters that allows you to detach from the tech and frenzy waiting back home.

Chilean Wine

If you can afford the time, we recommend you head out to nearby Cousiño Macul Winery. Founded in 1856, Cousiño Macul is the oldest family run winery in Chile and continues to produce limited quantities of fine Chilean wines. Enjoy a tour and tasting. Be careful not to drive too far east or you will end up in Argentina. Chile is a fascinating place in that it is home to so many climates and this is why wine does very well there.

Getting There

From LAX there is nearly a direct flight on LAN, the national airline of Chile, to Santiago. We had a short layover in Lima, but it’s negligible. Get a window seat if you can. Outside you will either see ancient craggy mountaintops piercing the cloud ceiling on the eastside, or see the endless Pacific to the west.

Art, Food and Culture on a Swing Through Three European Destinations

Art, Food and Culture on a Swing Through Three European Destinations

Barcelona

Barcelona

By Lucinda Anderson and Frank DiMarco

BARCELONA

Neighborhood Overview
Grácia neighborhood is in a great central location — vibrant and away from most of the tourist hubbub.

Grácia Dining
La Pubilla: The food is fresh, indicative of the Catalan cuisine, and the place is filled with happy locals having long lunches.

Rooftop Bar at the Casa Fuster (A gem of a hotel designed by Catalan architect Luís Dominic i Montaner): Time your visit for “the magic hour” when the sun gets low and, while there doesn’t seem to be a dress code, one feels more comfortable in “going out to dinner” attire.

Cafe Godot: Dependable and very friendly, with a good wine list (the wines of Catalunya are delicious — look for the Priorat label on the bottle).

Parks & Culture
The Picasso Museum is remarkable for its breadth of coverage of the artist’s life.

Stroll down to the nearby 14th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Del Mar. The Basilica of Santa Maria Del Mar can best be enjoyed sitting quietly in a nave or a pew and contemplating the soaring stone arches and intricate sun lit stained glass windows.

Park Guell, designed by Antoni Gaudi, is the famed architect’s idea of a whimsical place for people to stroll with clever winding paths and the expected Gaudi notes of color and tile.

Parc de Collserola, at nearly 20,000 acres, sits like a mantle along the tops of the hills surrounding the city. Sometimes referred to as “the lungs of Barcelona” its abundant green forests support habitats for an enormous number of species of plants and animals.

At Palau de la Música Catalana, the art nouveau theme pervades the entire building and the magnificent stained glass dome is breathtaking. Attend a performance in the main hall and enjoy its acoustics, which are praised by performers from all over the world. Guided tours provide some insight into how the Palau was built.

Hospital de Sant Pau is one of Barcelona’s World Heritage sites. It was built between 1901 and 1930 and wandering the gardens among the modernist buildings is an experience not to be missed.

Eating & Drinking
The outdoor restaurants by the Basilica of Santa Maria Del Mar are decent and fairly priced. We recommend Santa Maria del Mar Café for their great octopus!

Travel Tips
Buy the Barcelona Card, which offers multiple benefits such as public transportation and many discounts at tourist attractions.

Bus Turístic is a great value. For the price of a 24-hour ticket, you can ride around, getting on and off all day to get a thorough idea of the layout of Barcelona and how to plan your daily outings.

Lézignan-La-Cebe

Lézignan-La-Cebe

BEZIERS

Located in the heart of the Languedoc wine region, there is the small village of Lézignan-La-Cebe. It is a food lover’s paradise located in Southern France where you can go to a different market everyday.

Food & Villages
Locals go to butchers and small farms to get just the right cut of pork or a chicken, knowing just how it was raised. There are also wonderful fishmongers in Pézanas, just up the road, where fish is bought off the boat in Sète in the dark hours before dawn. Delicious croissants are available at the adjacent bakery and across the street at the coffee store where a complimentary cup is always offered. The organic fava beans and other produce is lovingly tendered for sale nearby in the town of Gignac.

Sète is where you’ll find commercial fishing vessels that come and go from the blue Mediterranean Sea and where the famous Water Jousting has been celebrated since the mid-1600s.

Moureze offers unique rock formations and hardy hiking trails up to excellent viewpoints. This is a quiet village and very picturesque.

Salasc is a charming small town, minutes from Moureze, where you’ll find beautiful hills.

Canals in Amsterdam

Canals in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM

Holland is a charming country full of gracious, direct and humorous people. Most speak English, sometimes better than we do.

Neighborhood Spotlight
The newly fashionable Oud-West neighborhood is easily accessed by tram from Central Station.

Boat Tours
The iAmsterdam card gives you access to boat tours on either the Blue Boat Company (departing near Museumplein) or the Holland International Canal Cruises (departing near Central Station). These tours — in boats with glass tops — give riders a fantastic sense of Amsterdam’s canals and how the Dutch figured out how to manage the sea and build a city. The boat skippers are an interesting bunch too; they navigate the canals as well as inform passengers of sights passing by.

Culture
At the Van Gogh Museum you will find other artists’ work on exhibit and an extensive collection by Van Gogh.

The Rijksmuseum (the National Museum of the Netherlands) is newly renovated and houses a very good range of Dutch masters including Rembrandt’s famous “Nightwatch”.

Rembrandt House on Jodenbreestraat near Nieumarkt is also a must visit and free with the iAmsterdam card.

The Stedelijk Museum houses a large collection of modern art and designs. Don’t miss “The Beanery” in the Stedelijk.

Visiting the Anne Frank House is time well spent. Some improvements in accessibility have been made but the house remains essentially as Anne Frank experienced it, with the nearby church bells she wrote about still audible in her family’s hiding place. Advance tickets are recommended.

Eating & Drinking
Café de Jaren on Nieuwe Doelenstraat has a unique location at a busy canal intersection. Grab a table outside and watch the parade of boats going back and forth.

Foodism on Nassaukade is simply remarkable for what they can put out of a small kitchen. They offer exceptional food with good portions and reasonable prices including their wine list.

Travel Tips
The 72-hour iAmsterdam card provides you with unlimited bus and tram travel and mostly free or meaningfully discounted entrance to most museums.

“Mind the Bikes”
Bikes rule in Amsterdam and give it much of its character, as do the canals.

RAIL EUROPE

The new TGV line from Barcelona to Beziers takes approximately 2 hours. The TGV generally cruises at around 200 mph between cities and their reservations system is easy to use.

All Images by Frank DiMarco