Tag: "featured"

Iceland

Iceland

hedinsfjordur-auroraborealis-iceland

By Alexandria Ott

Located at Latitude 67 north, Iceland and its recent rise in tourism is befitting: With majestically milky hot springs, blistering and bright volcanoes, landscapes that resemble landing on the moon, unusual scapes for scuba diving and lava fields inhibited by Santa and his elves, this Nordic island has quickly become a top destination for American travelers. In fact, at any given time, more American tourists inhabit Iceland than Icelandic residents. With a surge in travel deals from the US to Iceland, journeying to this ancient land has become a must-do for travel connoisseurs and peace seekers.
skogarfoss-ferdamenn-vetur-folk-201-1
HEAD TO THE NORTH
With a quick flight from Reykjavik to the town of Akureyri, Northern Iceland gives visitors a picturesque look into the nation’s most treasured natural wonders. More familiar is South Iceland’s Diamond Circle, but what many don’t know is that the North also boasts a tour that will take you to Lake Myvatn, the Godafoss waterfalls, the geothermal area called Namaskard, the Jokulsargljufur canyon and much more.

Godafoss (Goðafoss), which translates to “the Waterfall of the Gods,” is a historical monument and stunning sight near ring-road 1. It is named as such from the ancient Viking story about Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi (Þorgeir ljósvetningagoði), an ex-Pagan Chief who converted to Christianity in AD 1000 by throwing pagan idols of Nordic gods into this waterfall as a proclamation of the new faith.

Lake Myvatn is one of northern Iceland’s most beloved stops. The lake’s birdlife is plentiful with fourteen different duck species (the most gathered in any place in the world) and a Bird Museum worth checking out. Myvatn’s Nature Bath is located just east of Reykjahlid, where guests can enjoy a warm dip in the relaxing natural waters. As the fourth largest lake in Iceland, the Myvatn region also offers visitors many hiking routes, if you’re looking for some cardio after your spa-like experience. The Yule Lads, figures from Icelandic folklore who are commonly identified as the Icelandic version of Santa Claus, also live in the Myvatn area at Dimmuborgir. “Watch out for the little elves,” say the locals.

Namafjall mountain (also known as ‘Namaskard’ or ‘Hverir’) is a geothermal area that looks as celestial as it is serene. With boiling and bubbling mud pools, this high-temperature area is often referred to as “Hell’s Kitchen” for the steam that rises from it and the strong sulfur odor caused by hydrogen sulfide. Take a walk on the Icelandic moon.

Jökulsárgljúfur canyon is home to the roaring and spectacular Dettifoss waterfall. Visitors can travel along the canyon and see the famous Hljodaklettar or “Echoing” Cliffs, named for their exceptional acoustics. Dettifoss is Europe’s most powerful waterfall and is situated in the glacial river, Jökulsá á Fjöllum, which is the second longest river in Iceland. The river originates in Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest glacier.
In the springtime, you can also see cliffs of the Tjornes peninsula and will be met by majestic puffins that nest in the area. While there, drive through the village of Husavik, which is the whale watching capital of Iceland, before heading back to Akureyri.
laufaskirkja-nordurland-sumar-2012-4-edit-1smalar-saudfe-(15)
WHAT TO WEAR
“If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Pack for all seasons and occasions when visiting Iceland, where the weather is often windy and unpredictable. Each day will bring multiple changes in temperature, so preparing for anything is the best way to stay warm and comfortable for your Nordic adventures. A beautiful day can rapidly turn into a windstorm so pack layers that will allow you to go from t-shirt weather to winter weather in the turn of a moment.

SNORKEL THE SILFRA
When you think of the most ideal places to snorkel in the world, your imagination might fill with images of tropical waters in Hawaii or Indonesia. What many may not know when planning a trip to Iceland is that it’s waters are some of the most clear in the world and offer a rare opportunity to swim between continental plates. Scuba divers and snorkelers are attracted to this freshwater beauty for many reasons but most its geological significance: The Silfra is located between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Offering exceptional visibility, there are three main dive sites: Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and the Silfra Lagoon. If you’re a newbie or first time snorkeler, this is a great place because the area is shallow upon entry. The “Ice” in Iceland certainly applies to the water temperature, which ranges between 36–39 °F but can be relieved with a dry suit. The lava rocks are constantly filtering the water so it is truly some of the clearest water in the world. It’s so clean that you can drink it while you are snorkeling. You will view underwater majesty for as far as the eye can see while staying more hydrated than you have ever been.
reykjavik-snjor-jan-2012-102-1-1
DO AS THE LOCALS DO
Four-Wheeling to Freedom: Ditching the tour groups can have its advantages. Trekking through Iceland’s highlands and mountain roads through Jeep Excursions can be the best way to break away. The best places to rent a four-wheeler and take off include:

Glymur waterfall (one hour north of Reykjavik): This amazing waterfall, which is the second largest in Iceland, empties into a giant canyon and with such a short hike, the reward is well worth the time.

Seljavallalaug is Iceland’s oldest geothermal swimming pool, which sits at the base of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Located in southern Iceland, this outdoor pool is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland (built in 1923) and gives you yet another excuse to relax in tranquil waters.

Landmannalaugar (meaning “the people’s pools”) is a steaming volcanic landscape in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands of Iceland. It is at the edge of Laugahraun lava field, which was formed in an eruption that dates back to 1477. With colorful mountains in the backdrop and cute shops in town, this is a great spot to break away and explore with your travel partner.

Relaxing in the isolated countryside is another way to live like a native. Chic cottages on Airbnb start at $53/night and can range from mossy spots that border lava fields to naturally heated hot tubs overlooking volcanoes. When renting in rural areas, you can also have access to fresh, local food including lamb or seafood and produce like strawberries, tomatoes and cucumbers. Dining in may be a better option for the pocket book as Iceland’s restaurant culture is infamously expensive.

If you are a music lover, then Iceland is a great place to follow major international acts like Foo Fighters, who are headlining this year’s Secret Solace. In addition to being home of major musicians such as Sigur Ros, Of Monsters and Men and Bjork, Iceland has a breadth of festivals to check out, depending on the time of year you are visiting.

Launched in 1999 in an airplane hangar in Reykjavík, Iceland Airwaves is the most well-known. The festival, which takes place in November each year, showcases the Icelandic rock/pop/electro music scene along with numerous international acts. Hard rock festival, Eistnaflug, has taken place annually since 2005. An indoor festival situated in a quaint little town on the Eastern coast of Iceland called Neskaupstaður, the lineup consists of 30-40 bands from Iceland and around the world. Dark Music Days is another festival that locals love, consisting of contemporary and new music and takes place at Harpa in downtown Reykjavík during the darkest period of the Icelandic winter. The festival was founded in 1980 by the Iceland Composers’ Society as a platform for Icelandic composers to present their work. Today, the festival is a platform for getting to know new music with an emphasis on Icelandic composers and performers.

Reykjavík Blues Festival opens with “Blues Day” in the city center every year and it usually takes place in March or April. It includes live blues in different downtown venues and highlights include surprise performances in the downtown city center. Blues clubs in the area also liven up and serve as the official after hour venues. The annual Reykjavik Jazz Festival is an increasingly prestigious event on the international jazz scene. The festival hosts performances in a variety of styles, from contemporary jazz and the avant-garde to Latin jazz, gospel and big bands. It features many acclaimed international Jazz players as well as Iceland’s leading Jazz musicians against a stunning backdrop of colorful mountains in the inspiring coastal town.

Finally, Secret Solstice is back in it’s fourth year, bringing “72 hours straight of never-ending daylight”, incredible live acts, and some of the most unique parties nestled in Iceland’s otherworldly landscapes. The 2017 lineup includes headliners Foo Fighters, The Prodigy, Richard Ashcroft, Pharoahe Monch, Foreign Beggars, Dubfire, and Kerri Chandler. With side events that utilize the beautiful and natural terrain, visitors of this festival can expect events such as performances in the Raufarholshellir lava tunnel system outside Reykjavík. Formed over 5,000 years ago during a volcanic eruption, the Raufarhollshellir cave system is a magnificent phenomenon of nature, which instills a sense of wonder in all who journey within it. And for the first time ever, guests can be part of this ultra-special concert, in this natural space.

WHEN TO GO
Visiting Iceland in winter can impede your adventures with a sliver of sunlight each day, but this is also when some of the best deals can be found. Tourism is most popular in the summer months where the month of June can see 24/7 arctic daylight. If you are looking to miss the high-traffic months of July and August, where the weather is best and most predictable, try booking your trip in the early fall months. This will allow you to enjoy all that Iceland has to offer before the snowy season arrives and even gives you the best chance to catch the enchanting Northern Lights.

Brussels

Brussels

Grand-PLace

Brussels
Equal parts tough and adorable, Belgian comic book icon Tintin and his faithful hound Snowy, brought the sophistication, style, and exuberance of Brussels with them on their adventures—and focused the world’s attention on this cosmopolitan city. That’s just fine with locals, who are proud to show off why their city of a million people is not only the capital of Belgium, but also the entire European Union. That means immersing oneself in the some of the world’s best beer, chocolate, waffles, and fries—served “in German portions, but with French finesse,” as the Belgian saying goes—all the while discovering gorgeous Art Nouveau architecture, vintage markets, puppet shows, pop-up parties, and comic book art.
French and Flemish may be on the tips of local tongues, but Brussels is a true polyglot, making it hard to find a person who doesn’t speak English. Commuting into the city is just as easy as communicating, with six hourly trains running from the airport to Brussels Central Station, and taking just 18 minutes. From there, a vast network of subways, trams, and buses weave through the tightly-knit neighborhoods. In many cases, your foot-power will be enough, starting with the city’s most famous icon, the Grand Place, just five minutes walking time from the station. Like most of Brussels’ primary sights, hotels, and restaurants, the Grand Palace is found in the City Center, or in easy striking distance in the surrounding neighborhoods of Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, Anderlecht, Laekan, and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. Tap into the pure spirit of Brussels at these ten sites:

Palais Royal
Théâtre Royal de Toone
The actors who take the stage at this theatre may be wooden in composition but not in expression, thanks to nearly two hundred years of history, starting in 1830, when Antoine (Toone) Genty founded this marionette theater. With more than 1,300 hand-carved figures in the inventory (each with its own tailored costume), there’s a huge cast of characters to draw from for spoofed-up classics, like Romeo & Juliet, Cyrano de Bergerac, and The Three Musketeers. The stage itself is nestled under angled eaves upstairs, but don’t leave without seeing the charming downstairs café and bar filled with vintage puppets, posters and an impressive menu of Belgian beer.

Belvue - Coudenberg
BELvue Museum and Coudenberg Castle
After fire engulfed the castle of Coudenberg in 1731, the 700-year-old residence of central Brussels soon disappeared from existence altogether, buried from view under the Place Royale and surrounding neighborhoods. It wasn’t until the 1980s that serious excavation commenced, and today, several parts of the ancient castle are open to the public, including stairs, passages, cellars, a chapel, warehouse, and the former Rue Isabelle. Flesh out the history above the ruins at the BELvue Museum, where two floors of striking exhibitions present the history of Belgium in a bright, modern way, with many interactive elements, including cartoons, making it fun even for those who generally hate museums.
Cantillon Brewery
Enjoy a sip of Brussels’ revered lambics, gueuze, and kriek beers, especially those concocted at this legendary brewery, the last of its kind in in the city. Opened in 1900, it is truly Old School, utilizing the original 19th-century equipment to produce the world’s original style of beer. Guided tours run every 30 minutes, taking visitors through the production floor, where antique belt-driven machines continue today, milling, mashing, boiling, and cooling the brew. Inhale deeply in the aging room, as the fruity, woody aroma of beer brewing in chestnut wine casks perfumes the air. Abundant spider webs don’t prosper from neglect, but rather are encouraged to keep the brewery naturally bug-free. The Brewery’s admission fee includes one glass of Cantillon’s coveted stock, but few visitors stop at just one glass.
Belgian Chocolate Workshop at Zaabär
Although you can’t actually dive into a vat of Belgian chocolate, it’s still possible to get up close and personal with it at this chocolate factory in the center of Brussels. Every Saturday afternoon (plus Wednesdays during school holidays), one-hour workshops facilitated by the chocolate maker instruct up to 30 guests in the fine art of making truffles, bars, and traditional “mendicants,” named after the four mendicant or monastic orders. There is plenty to taste, too, and your delicious creations are yours to take home…if you make it that far. Be sure to snap your selfies before slipping off your compulsory hairnet, apron, and gloves.

Mur Bande Dessinée Odilon verjus
Les Apéros Urbaines
When the mercury rises high enough on the thermostat, Brussels’ denizens love to get outside and celebrate the warm weather together, and some have converted this rite into an art. One citizen’s attempt to get a few friends together for drinks transformed into Les Apéros Urbaines, a festival of large scale “apéros” on Friday nights throughout the spring and summer. Enormously popular, each event attracts hundreds of locals to chat, drink, dance, and meet friends old and new. The pop-up parties travel throughout the city, and are found in parks, squares, rooftops, and forests during the season—always with the doctrine of “Simplicity, Happiness, Originality, Friendliness.”

Belgian Comic Strip Center
Belgium claims more comic strip artists per square kilometer than any other country, and the evidence is overwhelming — if not in your childhood memories of Tintin and the Smurfs, then in Brussels’ numerous venues for comic book art. The most important is the Belgian Comic Strip Center, where the rich history and production of the “ninth art” pack several floors of permanent and temporary exhibitions. The Grand Poohbah of comics and creator of Tintin, Hergé (aka Georges Remi) are featured in a dedicated area. The Center’s Art Nouveau home, a former textile warehouse built by Victor Horta, is a work of art itself, and the iron-and-glass ceiling bathes the contents in defused light. Outside the center, enjoy more of Belgium’s comic culture along the “Comic Book Route:” a path through the city marked by dozens of large-scale, comic-style murals painted on buildings.
Brussels Vintage Market
Fashionistas visiting Brussels should aim for the first Sunday of each month when the vaunted vintage clothing market opens its doors to nearly 2500 shoppers in need of retail therapy. The remedy is in ample supply, with 40 or more second-hand vendors, and more than 20 designers, filling the charming space in Halles Saint-Géry, a neo-Renaissance brick-and-wrought-iron former meat market. A central obelisk is the point from which all distances in Belgium are measured. Shopping for vintage clothes, furniture, tableware, and accessories, however, is only part of the fun. Meeting friends, snacking on delicious cakes, and possibly shaking your hips to the live music provide the rest — all with a retro flavor.
Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
Brussels’ passion for flowers culminates every two years, when one million artistically arranged begonias fill the Grand-Place with a “Flower Carpet,” stretching 250 feet. Equally coveted by budding botanists and stop-and-smell-the-flowers guests, is the annual opening of the sumptuous greenhouses on the grounds of the royal palace in Laeken, which lasts only three weeks every spring. Established in 1895 by King Léopold, the complex of art nouveau pavilions, cupolas, and arcades is capped by the massive, domed “Winter Garden,” filled with rare and valuable plants, many belonging to King Leopold II’s original collection. The gathering of camellias (over 100 species) is especially prized, as the largest and oldest of its kind in a greenhouse. Afterwards, head to Hallerbos Forest, located 10 miles southwest of Brussels. Here, an astonishing carpet of bluebells covers the forest floor every spring, as if from Arthurian fantasy.

Bourse - Beurs
Horta Museum
The “father of art nouveau”—Victor Horta—lived and worked in Brussels, endowing the city with many of its most beautiful buildings, including his private home and studio. Inside the tall and slender house are many exquisite examples of the style, including tile mosaics, stained glass, wrought iron fixtures, a spiral staircase, and furniture designed by Horta himself. Horta believed material and design should harmonize like a beautiful piece of music, and no one doubts he achieved harmony here. UNESCO called it a work of “human creative genius.”
Bois de la Cambre
On the eve of Waterloo, three miles to the south, British soldiers played a cricket match on the grounds of this park before marching to hand Napoleon his final defeat. The playing field, La Pelouse des Anglais, now makes up but one part of this 300-acre park at the edge of the Sonian Forest. One of Brussels’ favorite escapes, the Bois de la Cambre offers tons of green space, playgrounds, walking and bike paths, a theater, roller-skating rink, row boats, and even its own island, home to one of Brussels’ swankiest restaurants, Chalet Robinson, reachable by ferry only. Make your visit even sweeter – enjoy a Belgian waffle from one of the numerous food trucks.

Getting there – nonstop service from Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Brussels Airport (BRU) is available on Brussels Airlines (5 times per week) and United Airlines (daily).

India: Jammu and Kashmir: The Crown Jewel of the Indian Himalayas

India: Jammu and Kashmir: The Crown Jewel of the Indian Himalayas

church gulmarg_1By Adrien Field

There is nothing like the silence of the Himalayas. If you are quiet enough, you can almost hear the mountains vibrating, relaying an ancient message too profound to be conveyed in words. These majestic peaks are not just an unforgettable sensory experience, but a spiritual one sure to inspire wonderment and bring you face to face with yourself along the way.
Jammu and Kashmir is the Northern-most state of India and the crown jewel of its vast and varied territory. In his travelogues, British diplomat Walter Lawrence wrote of the land, “The valley is an emerald set in pearls; a land of lakes, clear streams, green turf, magnificent trees and mighty mountains where the air is cool, and the water sweet.” A skier’s paradise in the winter, this Shangri-La blossoms in the summer months, when its hill stations become a haven for those seeking refuge from the punishing heat further south. For the adventurous ready for the journey of a lifetime, replete with ancient culture, history and breathtaking natural beauty, the Himalayas await.
Summer is usually the hottest time to visit the Indian subcontinent, when the country is either sweltering in 110F heat or drenched in monsoon rain, however it is the best time to visit the Himalayas where the air is fresh and the landscape resplendent with spring blooms.
You will want to plan at least two weeks for this epic trip to see and experience as much as possible, as well as acclimate to the time difference and altitude.
The journey begins with a flight into Delhi, landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. At least a day to recover from crossing the globe should be spent in the Indian capital, though the sweltering summer temperatures will make leaving the air-conditioned environs of the hotel a daunting task. Instead, book a spa treatment to release the stress of travel and try to get on local time.
From Delhi, you’ll want to book a flight to Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir (in the winter, the capital moves to the city of Jammu). An hour in the air, the flight offers a scenic view crossing over the mountains below.

gulmarg mustard
GULMARG
Situated 34 miles West of Srinagar, Gulmarg is distinguished for being the best ski destination in India with annual snowfall averaging 46 feet and slopes that rival the Swiss Alps. In the summertime when the only snow can be found on the looming mountain caps, the land comes alive with vibrant blooms of lilies, daffodils, buttercups – a total of 21 different varieties of flora. In fact, the name Gulmarg actually means meadow of flowers.
Summer temperatures from June to August average highs of 68 and lows of 50 degrees with minimal rainfall. The town is situated 8,000 feet above sea level and a good place to begin to acclimate before traveling even higher into the mountains to the East.
The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa is the marquee luxury destination and the only 5-star hotel in Gulmarg, offering both traditional rooms and private cottages. The Khyber Spa by L’Occitane is an experience not to be missed. Indulge in customized treatments infusing locally cultivated herbs with traditional L’Occitane preparations and the purest waters from the Himalayas while immersed in enchanting views of the forest meadows and mountains.
Golfing has been an attraction in Gulmarg since the early 1900s when vacationing British colonizers came for the summers. Here, golfers can enjoy one of the world’s highest golf courses, with 18 holes spanning 7,505 yards of greens.
For nature lovers, Gulmarg is a paradise of wildlife protected within a biosphere reserve. Take a ride on the Gulmarg Gondola, one of the highest in the world extending 13,000 feet which reaches the summit of Mount Apharwat, covered in snow year-round. Trekking tours can be arranged with a travel guide or hotel concierge while local touts will be eagerly pushing pony rides. Alpather Lake is reached by the gondola then a short pony ride, and offers incredibly serene and mesmerizing landscapes. Used for ice-skating in the wintertime by locals, in the summer months it’s an ideal spot for an afternoon picnic.

gulmarg reflections
SRINAGAR
After a few days rejuvenating in the blissful nature of Gulmarg, travel back East to Srinagar, where you landed and plan to spend a couple days exploring this ancient city. Founded over 2,000 years ago, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir is situated around Dal Lake and surrounded by mountain peaks ranging from verdant tree topped hills to imposing icy behemoths. The city is as famous for its traditional Kashmiri crafts as it is for the panorama of colorful houseboats lining the waterfront.
Staying on a houseboat is a unique highlight of visiting Srinagar. It is recommended to stay on the river facing houseboats, which have a better view and are more easily accessed than the lakefront boats. These ornate wooden masterpieces came into existence because of a law that only native Kashmiris could buy land in Kashmir. As a result, houseboats sprung up as an alternative way to skirt the ruling and today are a tourist attraction and charming aspect of local life.
Taking a ride on a Shikara, a small hand-paddled and vibrantly painted long boat, is India’s answer to the Venetian gondola ride. These are used to ferry passengers along the lake and to visit the floating gardens where lilies and lotus flowers bloom from mid-July.
While Dal Lake itself offers infinitely picturesque landscapes, the Mughal Gardens are a place of contemplation amid immaculately maintained landscape of flowers and fountains. Constructed in 1619 by the Mughal Emperor as a romantic gesture to please his wife, the gardens continue to seduce with their classical beauty.
Srinagar is an ideal place to sample traditional Kashmiri food and shop for local handicrafts. Kashmiri cuisine centers around rice and meats including lamb, chicken and fish prepared in a variety of curries and spices. The most famous dish is called Wazwan, which is a 36 course meal, featuring between fifteen and thirty different preparations of meat, meant to be shared among four people and is central part of celebrations and weddings.
Kashmir is known for its high-quality hand embroideries which can be found on a wide variety of garments, accessories and home furnishings. Additionally, the name cashmere has come from this region, where fine goat hairs and woven together to make the softest shawls. The word pashmina is used interchangeably with cashmere in India so don’t get confused and come ready to bargain.

daisies
LEH, LADAKH
Two to three days will be enough time spent in Srinagar before you are ready for the final destination, Leh. Travel by road spans 422 kilometers and can take up to twelve hours depending on unpredictable traffic, which at any moment can be halted by a passing bullock cart or passing animal herd. There is one flight a week from Srinagar to Leh, but by flying you would miss the spectacular sights the road weaving through the Himalayas offers. Instead, take either a bus or a private taxi, both of which stop overnight in Kargil. A private taxi will cost around $360 one way.
Soaring high in the Himalayas at an elevation of 11,562 feet above sea level, Leh was once the capital of the Kingdom of Ladakh and shares a similar culture with its neighbor to the East, Tibet. To this day, Buddhism is the major religion in the region with prayer flags and monasteries a ubiquitous sight amid the backdrop of glacial mountains.
To live like Ladakhi royalty once lived, book one of the 6 rooms in the Stok Palace Heritage Hotel, built in 1820 and opened to the public in 1980 with the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Rooms retain their original craftsmanship and the royal suite is decorated in the hand painted motifs that the Namgyal King once gazed upon from his four-poster canopied bed.
There are a variety of day trips that can be organized from Leh to experience the vastness and majesty of this incredible land. Many places require foreign nationals obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) before visiting protected areas or sights near the Tibet border. Permits are granted the same day and can either be arranged through most hotels for a commission or by visiting the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Leh.
The fearless can rent a Royal Einfield motorcycle to explore the areas around Leh and drive on the some of the highest motorable roads in the world. This is the best way to experience the splendor of Ladakh — the sense of freedom on open roads cutting through mountains terrain at 17,000 feet above sea level is something that has the power to change your life.
Whether by car or motorcycle, the Pangong-Tso Lake on the border with Tibet is a top choice for travelers, often described as a Heaven on Earth with its clear blue waters reflecting a panorama of the surrounding mountains.  A four hour drive from Leh, it is advised to camp overnight, falling asleep to the whispers of the Himalayas.
Getting there – Air India offers nonstop capital to capital service, from Dulles International Airport to Indira Gandhi International Airport, three times per week, beginning July 7, 2017.

Hawaii: Craving the Elements

Hawaii: Craving the Elements

BIVB_0246By Carrie Bell
Hawaii was born of fire and of the sea, shaped and cultivated by wind and waves and a constantly moving earth, nurtured by a mineral-rich land, plentiful rain and, of course, endless sun. America’s archipelago — and the dramatic cliffs, lush valleys, flower-filled forests, tranquil coves, cerulean waters, gnarled lava fields and colorful beaches that are its trademark — are quite literally a product of their environment and at first glance, the six main islands seem fairly similar where tourists are concerned. All come stocked with sunshine, innumerable palm trees, poke proprietors, stunning swimming spots, hotels with ocean views and, perhaps most importantly, locals brimming with aloha spirit.

So when it comes time to pack bags and head for this no-passport-needed paradise, as 8.9 million people did last year according to the Hawai’I Tourism Authority, how does one pick between Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Hawaii (aka the Big Island), Kauai and Molokai?

It’s element-ary, my dear wanderers. Why not plan an itinerary that highlights the forces responsible for creating this delightful destination — fire, water, air and earth — and celebrates the primal connection between nature and the natives? (Malama ka ‘aina, which translates roughly to preserve and take care of the land, is one of the most important tenets of the Hawaiian culture.) Most flights from the mainland will deposit visitors on Oahu in the buzzing capital city of Honolulu, which offers many reasons to stay, not the least of which are the legendary strip of sand known as Waikiki and the utterly moving USS Arizona Memorial at the World War II Valor In The Pacific National Monument. But thanks to readily available, reasonably priced and ridiculously quick (an hour or less) Hawaiian Airlines’ nonstop flights between isles, Honolulu International is also an easy and convenient jumping off point to venture over to get a taste for what sets each of the hot tropics apart whether you’ve got a few days or a week to spare.

07183FIRE
Given the chain’s volcanic heritage, fire-inspired activities are a logical place to start when deciding how to fill your vacation days.

Seeing lava flowing from the ground, crashing and exploding upon impact with the Pacific, smoke billowing in big fluffy clouds is an awe-inspiring, near spiritual, experience no matter how many PBS documentaries you have binge-watched. There are many ways to accomplish this bucket list item on the Big Island in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Reserve a room or window seat for dinner at Volcano House, a historic hotel perched on the rim of Kilauea’s caldera, and watch as the still active Halemaumau Crater turns incandescent as night falls and a farm-to-fork and pole-to-palate meal is served. Early risers willing to splurge should book a C Big Island sunrise boat tour out of Hilo to get front and center with magma. A cheaper, but much more labor-intensive option is to rent bicycles from Kalapana Cultural Tours where Highway 130 ends, peddle three and a half miles one way and then walk out to a coastal observation area. To see red, arrive at dusk and ride back in darkness. Luckily, the rentals come with helmets, first aid kits and headlamps.

Sure, luaus are cheesy but they’re also a tourist rite of passage. Found on almost every island, a few standouts include Hyatt Regency Maui’s Drums of the Pacific, Aha Aina at Oahu’s Royal Hawaiian and the Kauai Luau Kalamaku (the name literally means flaming torch) held at KIlohana Plantation. After stuffing your face with kalua pork, lomilomi salmon and purple poi, the highlight will inevitably be the show’s fire-dancing portion.

Every Memorial Day, the Lantern Floating Hawaii festival has been held to honor those who’ve been lost in Oahu. In 2016, 7,000 glowing offerings were sent out.
Campfires are as much a part of camping as tents. Make s’mores using the Oahu-made Manoa Chocolate bars in some of the U.S.’s most picturesque sites to rough it including Pala’au State Park on Molokai or Lanai’s Hulop’e Bay. Beginners will love the toilets and grills. If you call it quits, the newly renovated Four Seasons is just up the path.

BIVB_0177

WATER
Most residents try to spend time in the gorgeous water every day and as a visitor you should definitely follow suit in your swimsuit. Dive headfirst into fun in myriad ways. The easiest being swimming or snorkeling from shore at popular places like Poipu Beach (Kauai), Hanauma Bay (Oahu) or Two Steps (Hawaii). Boat trips can get you away from crowds and closer to cooler fish, turtles and dolphins. Nana Kai often runs scuba, snorkel and free diving excursions to a sunken ship off Oahu and the locally nicknamed Electric Beach (where the power plant’s warm water outflow pipes attract big schools of vibrant fish). From Maui, Four Winds II charters deposits you at Molokini, a sunken crater that is home to 250 marine species and 38 different corals.

Find your inner Moana on a sunset sail around the royal lands of Keauhou on Hawaii in an authentic (yet updated)way-finder’s vessel captained by Eka Canoe Adventures. The small capacity also makes them the boat to board when you want to get up close and personal with the resident manta rays. With a noodle and a custom longboard equipped with handles and a blue light, your family floats on the surface while the graceful and gentle giants gorge on plankton and glide past your masked face.

And speaking of gentle giants, humpback whales migrate en masse to the region’s warm waters between November and April and create what islanders affectionately call “whale soup” in the ocean corridor between Lanai, Molokai, and Maui. During this time, pay extra mind to the car in front of you, as breaches visible from land are responsible for Maui fender benders by the dozens every year.

Learn board basics and how to ride waves at a surf school like Surf Hawaii on Oahu or with private lessons by Maui’s Zack Howard or Hawaii’s Kona Boys. Or if you prefer the safety of the sand, instead motor around Oahu’s North Shore, aka the Seven-Mile Miracle, stopping to shovel shave ice and see the pros hang 10 on the bananas swells of Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. Try your hand at paddling a traditional outrigger (canoe) at many resorts including the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina or Maui’s Grand Wailea. The California craze of stand-up paddleboard yoga has made its way from the mainland. Bend and balance daily with Oahu’s Yoga Kai or Maui SUP.

A plethora of waterfalls, blowholes and inland plunge pools let you get your liquid fix without leaving solid ground. Puukaoku Falls on Molokai is the eight largest in the world. Waianuenue in Wailuku River State Park outside Hilo is known for the many rainbows that form in its mist. Hike across basalt to see Spouting Horn on Kauai or the multiple-plumed phenomenon near the Lanai golf course.

11275

AIR
Most people would probably be surprised to know that it snows in Hawaii. Head into thin air on Hawaii for a snow day atop Mauna Kea and visit the observatories while there. Travel to the summit at 13,796 feet above sea level requires a 4×4 and a stop at the visitor’s center to acclimate to the attitude. As many rental car companies restrict access on that route, an all-day tour with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures is the way to go. Seeing one of the world’s most famous sunrises at 10,023 feet from Haleakala National Park on Maui provides a natural high. It now also requires a reservation, which can be booked up to 60 days in advance through the NPS, unless you go with a group. Maui Activities Store offers van service. But adrenaline junkies should opt to roll down on two wheels from above the clouds with one of their guides.

Another way to get a bird’s eye view is from a helicopter. To see Kauai’s Jurassic Park movie locations, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific (Waimea), the fairly inaccessible Alakai Swamp and the Na Pali Coast jump into a chopper with Safari or Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. BHH also flies many Maui and Molokai routes. This is also a great way to view the volcanic action on Hawaii.

Also feel the wind in your hair as you whip through an exhilarating zipline course, which like luaus can be found on almost every rock. Most offer combo packages that pair zips with kayaking, swimming or horseback riding like Umauma Falls (Hawaii) or Princeville Ranch (Kauai). Daredevils can also catch air parasailing (H20 Sports Hawaii in Honolulu), kiteboarding (Kite HI on Maui) or in one of Hang Gliding Hawaii’s (Oahu) motorized sky trikes.

12625

EARTH
Last, but certainly not least, the list of diversions offered on land is never-ending. It is a perfect place to hike, offering trails of all lengths and difficulty levels from the simple saunter to Lanai’s Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock) to the grueling (but visually rewarding) slog that is the rustic and slender 11-mile Kalalau Trail in Kauai. Many of Hawaii’s most famous geological landmarks like the Dragon’s Teeth rock formation (Maui) or Pele’s Chair (Oahu) are only reachable by foot.
There’s almost as much variety when it comes to beaches. They come in a rainbow of colors – red (Maui’s Kaihalulu is caused by an eroding cindercone rich in iron), green (olivine saturated Papakolea on Hawaii), black (Punaluu on Hawaii is a popular sunning spot for sea turtles as well), orange (Papohaku turns the color of Trump’s tan as the sun sets in Molokai) and run-of-the-mill white. Polihale Beach (Kauai) is commonly referred to as Barking Sands because individual grains there have microscopic porous holes that produce dog-like sounds when rubbed together.

Like to roll more than stroll? Take the ATVs of Oahu’s Kualoa Ranch, a popular film location (Lost, 50 First Dates, Kong Skull Island), out for a test-drive or trek through the 400 miles of unpaved roads on Lanai with a driver and a 4×4 that can be booked by the Four Seasons there or the Expeditions Ferry folks.

Or maybe, like most of the world’s travelers, you intend to eat your way through time off. Once you’ve eaten your weight in Maui Gold pineapples and fresh mangoes, do a deeper dive into Hawaii’s growing and diverse farm and food scene. You can visit the home of Hamakua Mushrooms, sample honey at Big Island Bees and see what makes Kona coffee so prized on Hawaii. Get tipsy at Maui’s Ocean Vodka organic distillery, Oahu’s Hawaiian Shochu Company and Ko Hana Rum or Volcano Winery and Kona Brewery (Big Island). Grab picnic supplies and edible souvenirs on any idle at Surfing Goat Dairy (Maui), Kauai Chocolate Factory or the Dole Plantation (Oahu), which also has a family-friendly maze.

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

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

 

Exterior of National Museum of African American History and Culture

Exterior of National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

By Patricia Szpekowski

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Seeking Sun – Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Seeking Sun – Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort

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

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

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

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort Lobby

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort Lobby

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

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

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

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

What’s New at LAX

What’s New at LAX

American Airlines

American Airlines

American Airlines Launches LAX > HKG

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

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

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

China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines

China Eastern Airlines Celebrates 25 Years at LAX

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

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

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

Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport

Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport

Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport

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

 

 

2017 Snow Report

2017 Snow Report

Heavenly Mountain Resort and Lake Tahoe

Heavenly Mountain Resort and Lake Tahoe

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

Northstar California Resort

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

Mountaintop Culinary Experience

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

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

Where to Stay

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

13031 Ritz Carlton Highlands Ct, Truckee, CA 96161

(530) 562-3000

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

 

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

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

New App

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

Eco Efforts at Squaw

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

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

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

DJ CAT at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe,

DJ CAT at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe

Heavenly Mountain Resort

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

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

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

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

 

Kirkwood Backcountry

Kirkwood Backcountry

Kirkwood

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

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

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

 

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth

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

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

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

Off Hill Culinary News

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

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

Big Bear

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

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

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

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

Revelstoke

Revelstoke

Canada 

Revelstoke

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

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

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

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

 

SunPeaks

SunPeaks

Sun Peaks

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

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

BeaverCreek First Tracks

BeaverCreek First Tracks

Colorado

Beaver Creek

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Omakase Sashimi Set

Omakase Sashimi Set

Kura Sushi

West Hollywood

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

Kura Sushi

8162 Sunset Blvd

West Hollywood, CA 90046

(323) 656-6347

www.kura-sushi.com

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, Ryan Tanaka 2016

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, Ryan Tanaka 2016

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

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

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

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

1705 Ocean Ave

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(424) 272-8700

oosantamonica.com

Football in Los Angeles

Football in Los Angeles

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

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

By Debbie Emery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Player Profile: Aaron Donald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds like the perfect football player to us!

 

Lima and Machu Picchu

Lima and Machu Picchu

Larcomar in Lima, Peru

Larcomar in Lima, Peru

By Dory Benami

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

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

Hotel B

Hotel B

Where to Stay

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

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

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

Pescados Capitales

Pescados Capitales

Lima’s Food Scene

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

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

Chez Wong 

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

Pescados Capitales 

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

Canta Rana

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

La Mar

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

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

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

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

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca

What to Do in Lima

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting There

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

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

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

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

 

Improving LAX

Improving LAX

Rendering of the Automated People Mover (APM)

Rendering of the Automated People Mover (APM)

 

By Patricia M. Szpekowski, APR

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

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

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

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

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

Automatic People Mover

Automatic People Mover

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

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

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

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

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

TBIT Ticketing Lobby

TBIT Ticketing Lobby

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

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

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

Land Access Modernization Program

Landside Access Modernization Program

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

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

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

New Terminal 1 Lobby

New Terminal 1 Lobby

Terminal 1 

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

New Security Checkpoint at United, Terminal 7

New Security Checkpoint at United, Terminal 7

Terminals 7 & 8

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

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

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

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

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

Morocco – The Gem of North Africa

Morocco – The Gem of North Africa

 

Sahara Desert, Northern Africa

Sahara Desert, Northern Africa

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

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

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

Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen

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

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

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

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

 

Loire Valley: Château Hopping

Loire Valley: Château Hopping

 

Gardens at Château de Villandry

Gardens at Château de Villandry

Must Visit Châteaux

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

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

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

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

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

foodx

Loire Dining

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

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

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

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

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

 

Château de Perreux

Château de Perreux

Where to Stay

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

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

Getting There

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

HILTON PARIS OPERA

HILTON PARIS OPERA

Where to Stay in Paris

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


Indian Arts in Santa Fe

Indian Arts in Santa Fe

intro

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

 

Houser working on Warm Springs Apache Photo Credit: Lee Marmon

Houser working on Warm Springs Apache
Photo Credit: Lee Marmon

Allan Houser

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

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

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

 

Native American ‘Origin Cuisine’

Native American ‘Origin Cuisine’

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

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

www.redmesacuisine.com

Pottery at Santa Fe Indian Market

Pottery at Santa Fe Indian Market

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

www.santafeindianmarket.com

 

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

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

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

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

miaclab.org

SAR – School for Advanced Research

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

www.sarweb.org

Kakawa

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

kakawachocolates.com

Than Povi Cottonwood Trading Post

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

www.thanpovi.com

IAIA – Institute of American Indian Arts

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

www.iaia.edu

 

Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino

Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino

Where To Stay

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

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

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

www.buffalothunderresort.com

Getting There

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