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.
Category Archives: Luxury travel
At the Beverly Hills Hotel, Everyone is a Movie Star
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!
Morocco- Haunting Images
Morocco – Exotic, Glamorous and Friendly!
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.
Maria Cristina Hotel, San Sebastián Spain -Top choice!
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.
Hotel Hassler- Updated Glamour
Dispatch from Rome: lovely experience with the Hassler Hotel. Established in 1939 by Oscar Wirth, guests feel the family atmosphere and service immediately when entering the lobby. There is a sense of pride and sincere welcome from the doorman to the desk. I had the privilege of meeting the present President and Managing Director, Roberto Wirth and his son, Roberto who is the heir apparent. Many staff have been there for as long as 30 years. Service is impeccable refreshed decor is bright, contemporary and luxurious. The location, at the top of the Spanish Steps is perfect. The Hassler added a small group of rooms hidden beside the Spanish Steps – Il Palazzetto – in 1999. Roberto acquired Il Palazzetto with the intention of expanding the brand name of the historical hotel located two steps away at Piazza Trinita dei Monti. He wanted to unite his hospitality skills with his love for good wine, and established Il Palazzetto.
Il Palazzetto includes the Wine Bar on its two panoramic terraces overlooking the Spanish Steps, four boutique hotel rooms and a special location for memorable private events.
Noteworthy London adds Paris to its tour offerings.
The ultimate tour designer, Noteworthy, has added Paris to it’s repertoire.
Always known for top guides and imaginative touring, we were blown away by the insider knowledge of our guides and special entrances in Paris. Fast track Louvre and behind doors at the Sacre Cour were just a drop in the bucket to what Noteworthy can offer clients in Paris and London. It is all about their personal connections and the access is brilliant. Most importantly their activities are FUN! We never stopped laughing.
Laulhere is the last great Beret shop in the city, totally dedicated to making the hat most identified with France. We were treated to a beret making demonstration and got to choose a beret for ourselves. Typical clever noteworthy experience.
Le Bristol Paris- Where The Magic Happens
Legendary iconic hotel, in the heart of the fashion, design, and art district. Hôtel Le Bristol opened in 1925. Owned by the Oetker family, who also own among others,Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, Chateau Saint-Martin,and Brenners Park, the hotel clearly reflects a family vibe. Managed by Leah Marshall the hotel brings a freshness and energy not often seen in a royal, palace hotel. Staff are all happy and the welcome is from the ear. No wonder the client return rate is around 63%. They sincerely make you feel at home. No stuffiness here. Rooms are large, bright and comfortable.
Beautifully Designed -Ritz Carlton Dorado Beach
World renowned architect, Bill Bensley, designed the Dorado Beach property for Ritz Carlton and this is definitely one of his best. No detail was left untouched. It is a thoughtful, powerful product with a perfect sense of destination. The spa a particularly special scene and a must destination for any Ritz Carlton guest.
San Juan is Up and Running on All Cylinders – now open Ritz Carlton Dorado Beach
Polar Bear Adventure – first stop Winnipeg
Natural Habitat Adventures has set up headquarters at the hotel and there is where we pick up our heavy boots and Parkas
Polar Bear Capital in October- Churchill Manitoba
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.
Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee Top Choice for Summer Break
Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee is offering a offering a series of concerts and fireworks on selected Sunday nights this summer.
Next concerts are Sunday, July 29: Jon McLaughlin
Sunday, August 5: Nathan Angelo
Sunday, September 2: Ansley Stewart (Labor Day Weekend)
Ansley Stewart and friends will be closing summer in style by playing hits from the 70’s through today. As one of Atlanta’s top cover bands, Stewart and friends will have you rocking the night away.
The Ritz Carlton on Lake Oconee is an easy to reach in the southern US. A great choice getaway for kids, Ritz is emerging as a top family destination.
Offering an extensive kids program with Junior Explorer, Spy Camp, and Field day, along with multiple lake and pool activities, the resort aims to please. The new and improved Ritz Kids Program is based on the Four Pillars of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society:
Water: Emphasizes the importance of sea life and health
Land: Encourages exploration and discovery
Environmental Responsibility: Promotes our role in the health of our planet for the future
Culture: Exposes young minds to a variety of art forms, including music, local customs, history and cuisine[new and improved Ritz Kids Program based on the Four Pillars of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society:
Water: Emphasizes the importance of sea life and health
Land: Encourages exploration and discovery
Environmental Responsibility: Promotes our role in the health of our planet for the future
Culture: Exposes young minds to a variety of art forms, including music, local customs, history and cuisine
A few of the different activities they offer at their vacation resort include: nature hikes or scavenger hunts, fishing, making pine cone bird feeders, shooting hoops on their court, exploring their tree house playground or performing plays in their Pollywog Theatre.
Definitely worth a visit!
Budapest- A Beautiful Surprise
The Austro-Hungarian monarchy of the Danube came into being in the year 1872 when the three separate settlements of Pest, Buda and Óbuda (literally “Old” Buda) were united into one city. Occupied by the Soviets until 1989, Hungary saw the end of communism and political freedom through the collapse of the soviet system. Heavily bombed in World War 11, the city has recovered and restored it’s major attractions with careful sense of it’s bountiful history.
Another food, music, and artistic haven, Budapest is a must visit destination.
Vienna – Nirvana for Food Lovers
Small cafes and a confectioner that was patronized by the Emperor
Vienna is packed with options for Michelin dining, small cafes, shops that offer desserts, pstries,confectioneries, coffee selections that have a minimum of 4 different ways. The choices are everywhere
Restaurants we love:
Steirereck im Stadtpark is the top choice for a memorable but pricey dining experience in Vienna.
Ranked number 10 in the world, Chef Heinz Reitbauer, traditional Viennese cuisine with a twist was one of the best dining experiences ever.
Rouge Bar, Sacher Hotel romantic, relaxing, impeccable service. Impeccable all around.
Fabio’s – Vienna’s top rated Italian
Nautilus Naschmarkt -if you are visiting Nashmarkt, this seafood restaurant is a delight.
Iconic Hot Springs Destination, Baden Baden is in Full Bloom
Kyoto – Cultural Heart of Japan
Japan – Amazing Ancient Culture
Japan- amazing ancient culture!
Polite, respectful, serene. We are finding the people of Japan to be warm and welcoming! I am privileged to be on a 16 day journey planned by Windows to Japan. Today we are in Kyoto at the incredible Four Seasons Kyoto. Typically the FS service is over the top, and this hotel was perfect.
Golden Pavillion Kyoto[/caption]
To Do Edinburgh
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.
Rocco Forte Balmoral- Top Choice for Edinburgh
Hotel clock lit red to honor their veterans
Rocco Forte Balmoral Hotel is a no brainer for one’s hotel choice in Edinburgh
The stately five star Grand Dame opened in 1903 and has been greeting Queens, Kings, statesmen and celebrities ever since.
Situated by Waverly Station, hotel porters meet guests at the train station, and whisk them from the station hall to the reception desk in the hotel in no time. The award winning hotel is brilliantly managed by Richard Cooke. Mr. Cooke has the hotel spinning like a top. Staff is happy, enthusiastic and completely engaged in providing each guest with a top notch experience. No wish is too difficult to accomplish. The tireless Mr. Cooke seems to be everywhere. The standard starts at the top and it is quite evident this hotel is run beautifully.
Interesting aside- JK Rowlings wrote her last Harry Potter book on premises, and her suite is marked by a purple door. She was a regular guest.
Edinburgh- a Must Visit!
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.
Villa 1 Nettleton Road, In Residence Cape Town South Africa
Villa 1 is more intime: 4 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, a study, kitchen, dining area, and pool. 9000 square feet. On 4 floors, upstairs bedroom views are as stunning as Villa 5 Nettleton Road.
Impressive New Villa Concept in Cape Town – In Residence
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.
Views from Shambala Zulu Camp
Shambala Zulu Camp South Africa
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.
Round Hill -Jewel in the Caribbean Crown
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.
Le Souk Fes
Morocco: Exotic, Elegant- The Magic Continues!
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.
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.
Thank you And Beyond India!! Amazing Adventure!!
Out able guide in Bhutan,Tashi Druk, head of AndBeyond India Suhail Gupta, and Payal Mehta, head of operations in Bhutan. Not in the picture, but should be, is Kabir Pradhanwho planned the overall adventure. Thank you all!
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.
Our First Hike in Bhutan -2 hours up the mountain
View along the way- puff puff.
Half way point – beautiful Stupa with prayer Wheel.
Changangkha Lhakhang Monastery
Destination: Changangkha Lhakhang
Built in 12th century, Changangkha Lhakhang is oldest temple in Thimphu. It is hovering over a ridge above Thimphu, Bhutan. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo who came to Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet chose this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue.
Top hotel choice for Delhi- The Lodhi. WOW!
I am in Delhi with &Beyond India. Hard to beat &Beyond India’s accomplishments. A complete service, travel company with personal connections that enable you to experience your every travel wish.
Because the Oberoi is closed for renovation, they suggested the Lodhi. And what a spectacular suggestion it was!
Service is above any standard I have seen, sleek elegant rooms, amazing Spa, two restaurants- On the Waterfront, is one of the top in the city. A completely divine hotel.
Delhi is a beautiful vibrant city, full of countless historic sightseeing and shopping options but all I want to do is hang out at this beautiful hotel!
Lake Manyara Tanzania
Chi Lin Gardens -Hong Kong
We are looking for new sites in Hong Kong and my friend Devin suggested we see Chi Lin Nunnery and Gardens. Just opened a year ago, the gardens are a beautiful depiction of a Tang Dynasty garden and has amazing replicas of Tang Dynasty structures, built in teak wood. A beautiful oasis smack in the middle of Kowloon. If you are in Hong Kong, you should add it to your list.
Ode to Devin Gwie
A Tour Guide professional for over 20 years. Devin has personal connections in every city and country in SE Asia. He knows every top restaurant, hotel, hidden shops you might want to know about, the best tailors, jewelry makers, pearl sources, who is reputable, etc,etc,etc. He can untangle any red tape, get you Into to places you can’t, handle high maintenance clients from famous entertainers, to the wife of presidents, to royalty -in a word the man to know in SE Asia. And he is exceptional with groups. The ultimate professional, with a wonderful sense of humor – my favorite guide, Devin Gwie.
Four Seasons Hong Kong – one of the Best!
Opened in 2009 with not one but two Michelin rated restaurants, the Four Seasons Hong Kong lives up to it’s impeccable reputation. An example of attention to detail: we arrived at midnight and found in our room a mound of finger sandwiches with a card saying “in anticipation of your late arrival we prepared a light snack for you”. I left my camera on the desk and when I returned, the cleaning service had left a packed lense cleaning cloth. Everyone seemed to know our name. Adapters in each nightstand. Little details that mount to flawless service. At 399 rooms, 54 of them suites, the hotel did not come off as a large hotel, there was a sense of space and peace. Located on the Central side of HKG the location was convenient and easy to reach for walking. We sampled their amazing Cantonese Restaurant, Lung King Heen and agreed it deserved it’s stars. The hotel has 2 pools and a club level on the top(45th) floor- Club lounge is open to all who book a suite.
Dispatch Hong Kong
Back in one of my favorite cities: the divine Hong Kong. Ever changing, the city seems to be thriving- cranes and bamboo scaffolding everywhere. Still retaining it’s soul of exotic British outpost, it is delightful to be poking into my old haunts. I am checking out the fabulous Four Seasons Hong Kong. I also visited the spectacular Upper House. Reviews to follow.
Dock entry to LPI- a little bit of heaven
Situated on 5.5 Acres of private island, in the lower Florida Keys. It is about 40 minutes from Key West Airport. You are taken to their main admission Lodge, then transferred by boat to the Island. It is a favored enclave for luxury travelers. 15 thatched roof bungalows, featuring 30 suites-ranging from 550 SF to 1000SF -offer ultimate privacy and romance. The island is never inhabited by more than 60 guests.
View from Little Palm Island
Sitting at the bar with a nice glass of champagne- ahhhh…
Another Small Resort Gem- Little Palm Island
The flight from Atlanta took an hour and a half. Poof! Before I knew it, I had landed in another bit of paradise. Tropical bungalows, recently updated with a Caribbean Colonial feel- lots of shutters – were a haven. Breezes blowing, palm fronds moving gently in the wind, I couldn’t believe how quickly one could just stop, kick back and relax.
Two of Pucic Palace’s fine staff, Sanja and Nermin. The tone is set by their terrific manager Mirjana Kovacevic and all members of the staff I came in contact with were above par. From darling Pia the guest relations manager, Alem the day duty receptionist, Zrinka the night duty receptionist, and Stribor the guest doorman. Enthusiastic, engaged and always helpful. They made my stay a memorable experience, and I want to visit again.
View from my window – Pucic Palace, Dubrovnik Croatia
Old Town Dubrovnik
Venice? No Dubrovnik, Yes!
Perfect location setting for the HBO series Game of Thrones, 6th Century Dubrovnik is a delightful surprise.
Dubrovnik bears a striking resemblance to it’s neighbor, Venice. Ideally placed on the Adriatic coast, Dubrovnik is a beautiful stone village. The old town is set inside a fort wall that is one and a half miles around. You can walk the entire wall.
Entry- Nijinsky Suite Hotel de Russie
The Terrace is enormous with panoramic views of Rome.