For the next few weeks I am going to post images of some of the destinations I have been privileged to experience. We are all dreaming of getting back on the road.
Looking to getting back on the road!
Hard not to love the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The Pink Palace never fails to please. Part of Dorchester Collection, the iconic hotel is better than ever. Undergoing selective renovation- of which I never saw or heard evidence, the hotel has kept the 1912 original decor but added all the 2019 conveniences. Staff is happy and welcome is warm. Beautifully led by GM Edward Mady, the hotel spins like a top. Can’t wait to return!
Hotel Selman, located about 20 minutes outside of city center is palace on 15 acres also home to an impressive collection of Arabian thoroughbreds. A place where the horses are as glossy as the 75 metre swimming pool. The stunning interiors were designed by iconic designer Jacques Garcia. The hotel’s aesthetic is best described as French Second Empire luxury meets Arabian tradition: lustrous chandeliers, purple and gold upholstery meld with ebony-stained tadelakt plasterwork and miniature monochrome zellige tiling.
My personal hotel favorites are Royal Mansour, La Mamounia, Mandarin Oriental, Selman, and Villa des Orangers.
Fes, the cultural heart of Morocco, has a special selection of small hotels.
Riad Fes is the largest luxury boutique hotel in Fez and is a member of Relais & Chateaux. The hotel comprises 3 old palaces that date back to the 18th century. It’s been opened as a hotel since 2001. It has 26 Rooms and it’s restaurant is considered one of the best in Fes.
A relatively new addition is Hotel Sahrai. Decor is more contemporary, the hotel has two restaurants- one French and one Moroccan. The hotel also boosts a rooftop bar with spectacular sunset views.
One of the most exotic and secure places to visit in the world is Morocco. The welcome and warmth of people in general is warm and from the heart. Hotels here are a dream.
Craftsmanship in leather goods, jewelry, fashion, textiles, furnishings, decorative accessories, lighting, and just about anything you can imagine buying, is excellent. A food lovers dream, the country is a choice place to sample French, and Moroccan influences.
Classical Grande Dame in San Sebastián.
Opened in 1912, the restored Hotel Maria Cristina has been closely linked to the history and cultural life of San Sebastian. We experienced gracious hospitality on a grand scale in the hotel.
Decorated in a sophisticated palette of greys and white, the rooms are a quiet haven of luxury, style, technology and a dazzling range of services which combined, make for an unforgettable stay.
The five year old Four Seasons Orlando is stunning. Quite the destination for families, it is a stones throw from Disney World. They offer complimentary fast track passes. More coming…
I am amazed at the scope and superior caliber of Natural Habitat Adventures. Among other things, they supplied our parkas, boots, charter to Churchill, and our viewing vehicles: polar rovers. The rovers were comfortable, roomy, and afforded us amazing up close and personal views of polar bears, foxes, birds. We were blessed with the ultimate guide, Justin Gordon, who regaled us with the area history and in depth lectures on the local wildlife. This has been one of the best educationals I have ever had the privilege of attending.
If you have a chance to travel with Nat Hab, jump on it!
Natural Habitat Adventures has set up headquarters at the hotel and there is where we pick up our heavy boots and Parkas
In October, polar bears converge in Churchill Manitoba, after spending the summer foraging in the countryside.
The rivers start freezing and the ice flows into the Hudson Bay. Polar Bears’ major food source are seals, and as the ice on the bay freezes over, the bears can get out to the seals. Churchill was founded in the 1600’s as a trading post for the fur trade by the Hudson Bay company. Located on the southwestern side of Hudson Bay, Churchill turns into the Polar Bear Capital starting around October.
Thanks to Natural Habitat Adventures, our Brownell group of advisors had the privilege of experiencing the adventure of a lifetime.
Benesse House was a hotel/ museum concept, started in 1992.
Based on the concept of “coexistence of nature, art and architecture.” Designed by Tadao Ando, the facility is built on high ground overlooking the Seto Inland Sea and features large large glass expanses that serve to open up the interior to the natural surroundings. In addition to exhibiting the painting, sculpture, photography, and installations in its collection, the Museum also contains permanent site-specific installations that artists have created especially for the building, selecting locations on their own and designing the works for those spaces. The hotels consist of Park- 47 rooms, Beach – 8 suites, Oval 6 rooms and 2 suites and the museum hotel- 8 rooms. Among the artists featured are Claude Monet- Water Lilies, Jean Michel Basquiat, James Turrell, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Yayoi Kushama, and Niki de Saint Phalle.
A marvelous addition to the Relais & Chateaux Japan collection is the beautiful Beniya Mukayu. Tranquil rooms with open-air baths in a hot springs hotel offering a garden setting, spa, and spectacular dining. The rooms have a traditional Japanese Mineral Spring tub. Located near the western coast of Central Japan, the drive offers spectacular coastal views.
Sasayuri-Ann is one of about 8 small villas and Ryokans we are going to experience. Owned by a village Buddhist priest, Tetsuji Matsubayashi, the villa was surpassed all expectations! Hosted by he and his family, we were most pleasantly surprised to have a flute serenade by his teacher- who plays all over the world. Then the topper was having dinner prepared by another friend, a Michelin Chef.
One checks in and gets an immediate sense of Kyoto. Japanese culture is on display in every corner. Rooms are luxurious with a floor to ceiling window view of the city. Japanese design with an extreme sense of luxury. Both 5 Star hotels in Kyoto, the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons are superb choices for an experience in Kyoto.
So many activity options for Edinburgh!
Touring Edinburgh Castle, sunrise at Arthur’s Seat- the highest peak of the hills in Edinburgh, walking Old Town and the Royal Mile, visiting the underground streets of Mary King’s close, sampling scotch whiskey,having a kilt made in your family pattern are all interesting experiences.
Visiting the Royal Britannia after hours is a special experience- we toured the ship and had tea.
Extraordinary private visit to Broomhall House was amazing!
The principal seat of the Earls of Elgin and Kincardine, Broomhall House and its surrounding estate has been looked after by 13 successive generations of the Bruce family, lineal descendants of King Robert the Bruce. The Earl of Elgin was famous for bringing the Elgin Marbles to Great Britain. Recently opened for private events, Broomhall House is a must see.
With artifacts found as early as the 1st Century. Edinburgh was established under Scottish rule in 960. To JK Rowling fans, Edinburgh has many structures that draw inspiration in Harry Potter movies. She has a home in Edinburgh, and wrote most of her Harry Potter books in Edinburgh.Edinburgh is a beautiful ancient city filled with clever shops, pubs, churches, charming gothic spires, castles, monuments and loads of amazing restaurants – from Michigan starred to simply good food. We were never disappointed.
Dramatically set on the ridge overlooking the Masai Mara, Angama Mara brings glamour and extraordinary comfort to the vast Park. The Camp is within walking distance to the burial place of Denys Finch Hatton, a fittingly romantic overtone to one’s sense of Out of Africa.
Here you can live it.
The Staff is well prepared to welcome us and tries to accomplish our every request.
Meals and drinks on the vast deck is just sublime. Rooms are huge with glass windows- floor to ceiling -to capture that dramatic view.
Sirikoi Lodge- Heaven on Earth – Lewa Downs Conservancy, Kenya
Beautifully managed by Tom and Nikki Hartley, Sirikoi aims to please. We think it is our favorite Camp. The staff is so warm and welcoming, food is amazing, and the setting is unforgettable. Main dining area is off the Lodge right next to a water hole. So there is always action right in front of your eyes. Decor is impeccable with an organic garden that rivals anything we have seen. All food comes directly from the garden. Sirikoi is a hard place to leave.
Both Relais & Chateaux and Virtuoso, Ol Donyo Was is an amazing Lodge in the Chyulu Hills of Kenya. One of the few Lodges with it’s own blind, Ol Donyo affords spectacular safe viewing of wildlife, up close and personal. Suites have huge glass doors open up to the plains and unforgettable views. The staff is highly trained and delightful. Our guide Elijah taught the children how to make bows and arrows out of tree branches. He was amazingly good with the kids. They hated to say goodbye. Perfect place for children on Safari, activities include horseback riding. The day of riding was a huge highlight.
What a thrill!!
We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the migration on the Grumeti plains.
We saw thousands of wildebeest, and zebras. I did not realize there was a such a sound factor to the migration- all those animals talking at the same time. We very lucky to see river crossings, and lots of interaction between the masses of animals.
Belmond La Residencia, Mallorca. Low key glamour.
On a island full of star hotels, Belmond’s La Residencia is the brightest.
Located in Deia, in the northwest mountainous area of Mallorca, Belmond la Residencia is the ultimate low key luxury destination. With leadership from Ulisses Marrieros, the resort spins like a top. With four restaurant choices, and the village of Deia a walk away, the hotel offers tempting options for all foodies.
Glamorous, classic, Belmond is the ultimate stop on Mallorca.
I had the pleasure of experiencing a new Villa Concept in Cape Town- In Residence. It is a group of extreme luxury villas that change the game.
Pieter Brundyn, founder of In Residence, is offering a complete concierge service – a support system for their guests. From transfers, to arranging touring, to helping with dinner reservations, chef, majordomo, butlers, security – you name it.
They offer an inhouse service to cover their guests every need.
We experienced Villa 5, a 5 bedroom villa, and Villa 1 ( pictures are coming in the next writing).
Spacious is not the word: Villa 5 is 14,000 square feet on 4 levels, serviced by elevator.
Villa 1 is 9,000 SF on 4 levels. Both Villas have pools.
It is the last word in privacy and elegant space.
And the villas decor and comfort are off the charts! Located in Clifton, a Cape Town suburb- on the waters edge, the views are jaw dropping.
For guests interested in over the top decor, service, ultimate security and privacy, In Residence is your best best.
Shambala Zulu Lodge is owned by the same family that has the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg.
Shambala is a Tibetan word meaning “peace on earth”. The Camp is built in Zulu Style- undaluting thatched huts. Huts that are very specious and comfortable with tall ceilings, and beautiful bathrooms. Attention to detail, down to crisp linen sheets, is delightful. It is a small place – 9 chalets. It welcomes a lot of heads of states and security is top notch. We can helicopter from Johannesburg or take a two and half hour drive up into the Waterberg Mountains- north of Johannesburg. A Malaria free zone, Shambala las 12,000 acres of private game reserve.
I found the staff to be completely warm and welcoming. My butler, Norman, anticipated every wish. I never had to repeat a request. Always there with a smile. The food was outstanding, by chef Tshepo. Probably the most inventive, beautifully presented and just great tasting meals I have ever experienced on Safari. I will dream about his homemade bread. Teamed with his wife, Elizabeth, the manager, the operation of the camp spins like a top.
Created in 1953 by Jamaica-born entrepreneur John Pringle,Round Hill been a favorite of celebrities for years. JFK and Jackie honeymooned in Villa 10. Oscar Hammerstein was the first owner of Villa 12. Alfred Hitchcock, Bing Crosby, and Adele Astaire were regulars—as were Bill and Babe Paley. Beyond that, Noël Coward, who was a frequent visitor, stayed in Villa 3.
Cottage owner, Ralph Lauren did a major renovation on the ocean front rooms.
RH is located on a 100-acre peninsula that was originally a sugar plantation. The cottages are built on the round hills, sloping down to the water . The British claimed Jamaica in 1629, the infuluence of their best traditions still remain.
With a year round temperate climate and nonstop access from most east coast airports, Jamaica is a perfect destination.
Unique to Round Hill, 27 private cottages combined with 37 sumptuous guest rooms offer a wide range of accommodation options. For weddings,the RH cottages, allow families and friends easy access for private celebrations, mingling with hotel rooms for group gatherings. It’s Old World Glamour affords one a delightful Colonial Caribbean sense of place.
At Round Hill the words past and present coexist not merely peacefully, but joyfully.
So many divine, exotic, stunning hotels, in Morocco. Marrakech alone has 6 prime properties: Royal Mansour, La Mamounia, Villa des Orangers, Amanjena, Four Seasons Marrakech, and Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. My absolute favorites are Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, then Villa des Orangers, then La Mamounia.
Fes boasts Riad Fes and Palais Amani, the grand Dame, Palais Jamais is under extensive renovation till end of 2017. Another must stay is near the desert, Dar Ahlam. Incredibly beautiful and the food is out of this world!
What an adventure! The utter silence! The serenity of the sand. Luxurious tented camps that had all possible comforts. I can check camel riding off the list. We hiked up to the highest dune on our vicinity. We watched a sunset and then the next morning rode to watch the sunrise. We had dinner in the main tent, entertained by a group of local musicians. Fun to listen to indigenous music. The fabulous food that comes from an isolated kitchen always amazes me. Wine was flowing- couldn’t have asked for more.
The Archeological Site of Volubilis,recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site near Fes. The remaining structures and mosaics tell the tale of a city that once thrived. The ruins that have been spared are beautifully preserved relics of Roman Life.
It is believed that this spectacular city was constructed around 40 AD and that it was built on an old settlement which dated back to the third century. It became the administrative capital of the area and was known as Mauretania. The extremely fertile lands that surrounded the city produced olive oils and grains that were exported to Rome. The region also produces a good Rose wine
I am traveling with Michael Diamond of highly touted Heritage Tours Morocco. They manage to ferret out all the divine behind the scenes restaurants, Riads, shops and sights that are a must see. Riads are homes with a central courtyard.
Fes, considered the cultural center of Morocco was a pleasant surprise. Heavily influenced by the French occupation from 1912 -1956, the city is filled with gardens. French is spoken liberally. Restaurants seem to have a strong French flavor. Part of the must see adventure is the Souk ( Market)
Hotels we loved in Ladakh and Bhutan. All had extraordinary staff:well trained, warm, welcoming and could not do enough to make us happy. Food was far beyond my expectations- especially at Chamba Camp, Amankora Thimpu and Uma Paro. The hotels were far more sophisticated than I expected. This region is a must visit on so many levels.
What an amazing experience! andBeyond India outdid themselves! Every detail was carefully thought out. The trip was completely seamless from the minute we stepped off the plane in Delhi and met with a big smile by Namgyal Wangchuk. Our shopping day in Delhi with Gagan was so interesting. We loved the restaurant Latitude, on top of Good Earth in Kahn Market. Great suggestion, Gagan.
The adventure in Ladakh was stellar, thanks to our resident expert guide, Dhammo. I found Ladakh to be an very spiritual experience. The art and monasteries were incredible. The tented camp is a must for any travelers to Ladakh, and the scenery is breathtaking.
Bhutan was glorious, culminating with our hike to Tigers Nest. Our experience was one of the most memorable we have ever had, and we will return. The people in each country were warm, welcoming and it came straight from their heart. I will not forget those big white welcoming smiles.
Tigers Nest Monastery
Perched 3,000 feet above Bhutan on the side of a sheer rock cliff, Tiger’s Nest is one of the most popular pilmagrages in Bhutan.
Padmasambhava, popularly known as Guru Rinpoche visited and sanctified Bhutan in the 8th century. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon.
Our eminently able &Beyond guide, Tashi Grugg, had us start the climb early in the morning. He has done the climb over 100 times. Sheesh!
Our 5th group member, Marisa Costa from NY.