Venice? No Dubrovnik, Yes!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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.

Another Incredible Virtuoso Travel Week

4000 talented travel consultants, suppliers and press converge in Las Vegas one week each year to connect, learn and enhance their clients’ travel experience. The energy and passion for this travel connection is immense. Classes are offered by the top travel experts in the business- highlighted by Helen Nodland, and the always delightful Ann Scully. An active network called VAST offers an all day exposition to better learn about the latest and greatest offerings in the active travel industry.
We meet hotel General Managers, heads of hotel marketing, destination management companies, tour operators, safari operators, airline representatives, destination wedding suppliers, and sales directors from all over the world – 396 meetings over a four day period. We meet before the general meetings, at specialized luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners, in addition to the 396 presentations. By the time the week is over, I can say I am thoroughly ensconced in travel information. I came home energized, inspired, armed with the best information and fabulous new connections to enable me to make my clients dreams come true.

Stormy Weather – Beach Club -The Cloister


The Iconic Orient Express Monasterio- Cusco, Peru

I was just so pleased to finally see the spectacular Orient Express Hotel Monasterio. I had heard so much about it, and my clients all raved about the wonderful service.I know now why the service is so incredible: the GM Gustavo de Leon. He is everywhere and adores his job! I have never seen such happy employees and that comes from the top.
We had the privilege of experiencing an Opera Dinner at Monasterio the first night after a cocktail party in the gorgeous Chapel at Monasterio( the chapel in no longer consecrated). What an incredible setting! I have never seen anything quite as glamorous. All that gold!
We were entertained by the number one Soprano in Peru, and her husband. The duets were unforgettable. What an amazing memory. Monasterio offers that dinner each Friday night. I recommend it to anyone. I will be sure to put it into every itinerary I plan for Cusco. Rooms are bright and comfortable- decorated with serious paintings and antiques. Not monastic in anyway. Such a thrill to be there.

Nice photo of Shane Arrold at Machu Picchu

Orient- Express Regional Director of Sales, Asia Pacific
Our resident photographer
Notice the steepness of the terraces at MP

Gorgeous Cheetah- Madikwe Reserve, South Africa

Yes the clay is really that color!

Singita Boulders


Lobby – Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa


Incredibly soothing.

Entrance to Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge – buried in the Hillside



Stunning new hotel in Ireland, Ballyfin – picture courtesy of Ballyfin Ireland

Singita Sabora Tented Camp- amazing food quality from a tent!

Recipes from the Road: Malva Pudding- Singita Grumeti Camps

Singita Sasakwa- image courtesy of Singita

Singita Sasakwa- image courtesy of Singita

Recipes from the Road: Singita Grumeti Saskwa

Probably the finest resort in East Africa, Singita Sasakwa is unrivaled in elegance.
Patterned after an English Manor House, Sasakwa sits over the Grumeti Plain offering magnificent views of game below.

Recipes from the Road: picture courtesy of O&O Capetown


9 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1 cup sugar syrup
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pulp and pod of 1 vanilla bean
6 medjool dates, julienned, plus 3 chopped
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup water
Pear-brandy anglaisse

Cook the pears with the sugar syrup, lemon juice and vanilla pulp and pod over medium heat for 10 minutes or until tender.
To prepare the dates: cook the julienned dates in orange juice until just warm. Remove the dates and reserve the juice. Dice 2 tablespoons of the dates for garnish.
To make the date puree, place 3 chopped dates in a blender with the water and the reserved orange juice. Puree for three minutes or until smooth.

Pear-brandy anglaisse
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cream
½ ripe pear, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons brandy

Dissolve the sugar in the cream over medium heat. Add the pear and simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the pear is softened. Puree the mixture and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the brandy. Re-blend just before serving.

Crisp cinnamon, ginger wafers
1 cup caster sugar
4½ oz golden syrup
1 stick plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
4½ oz plain flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Combine sugar, golden syrup, butter, orange juice and zest in a sauce pan over low heat until the butter has melted. Stir thoroughly, and then remove from the heat. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the golden syrup mixture and stir until well combined and smooth. Drop small teaspoons of the batter onto the prepared baking trays, leaving 2 inches between each one to allow for spreading. Bake for 8 minutes, until an even golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

One and Only Capetown- picture courtesy of O&O

Recipes from the Road: One and Only Capetown- about the chef Rueben Riffel

A fairly new luxury hotel on the scene is the One and Only Capetown . I love the location, down by the waterfront. They have a particularily good children’s program and it lives up to the One and Only reputation for ultra Luxe accomodations. I especially like the villas that are separate from the main building. The restaurants are fabulous: Nobu- yes that one, and the wildly popular Reubens.
From One and Only’s bio page:

Internationally recognized for his award-winning restaurants in the Franschoek wine valley, Reuben Riffel opened the eponymous Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town in October 2010, serving up wholesome bistro fare made from locally-sourced produce.

Having defied tremendous odds in apartheid South Africa to become one of Africa’s top chefs at 35, Reuben has come a long way from his home in Groendal where he grew up with 12 siblings. Required to live in an area allocated to Cape Coloreds, a mixed-race ethnic group, Reuben first mastered Cape Colored cuisine through his family, a style of cooking that continues to inspire him today.

Beginning as a kitchen hand, Reuben worked his way up the restaurant ranks in nearby Franschhoek, opening his first eatery there in 2004 that was promptly named South Africa’s Restaurant of the Year. Six months later he was named the country’s Chef of the Year. In 2008 he opened a second restaurant in Robertson, which led to the opening of his third restaurant in at One&Only Cape Town alongside the legendary Nobu.

The author of two celebrated cookbooks, Riffel’s most recent debut, Reuben Cooks Local, takes readers on a journey through one of South Africa’s most well-loved culinary repertoires showcasing local produce from the sea, earth, orchard and vine highlighting the sheer abundance of fresh local produce in South Africa and the Cape.

In November 2011, Riffel partnered with South African Airways to prepare some of his signature dishes for the airline’s Premium Class customers.

One and only also has a spectauclar wine cellar headed by Luvo Ntezo,
internationally recognized as one of the Best Young Sommeliers in South Africa.

Amanzo’e- Picture courtesy of Amanresorts

Amanresorts to open another spectacular property this summer!

Amanresorts, the ultra luxurious collection of beyond fabulous hotel resort properties will open another resort this summer- Amanzo’e.
This from Anamresorts:
Comprising a 38-suite resort and an Aman Spa, Amanzoe is Amanresorts’ third Mediterranean retreat – the Greek complement to Montenegro’s Aman Sveti Stefan and Turkey’s Amanruya. Drawing its name from the Sanskrit-derived word for ‘peace’ and zoe (pronounced zoi), the Greek word for ‘life’, Amanzoe is situated on a hilltop close to the quaint town of Porto Heli on the east coast of the Peloponnese. The resort offers almost 360º panoramic sea views as well as a private Beach Club in a picturesque bay.
If it is anything like the other carefully thought out resorts, it will be a smashing success! Can’t wait to see!

Wellesley Knightsbridge opening in London 2012

I am delighted to hear that Stefano Lodi and his team are opening a fabulous new hotel in London – December 2012.
Located on one of London’s most prestigious addresses in Knightsbridge is the site for a new 36 suite luxury hotel scheduled to open on 1st December 2012, which will parallel the very best of hotels in the world.
The Wellesley, is located at 11 Knightsbridge, managed by City and Country Hotels and is being developed by Rhimesong at a cost of £36 million, the property was formerly commercial offices.
The hotel will take on both a contemporary and classic style with interiors created by award-winning design experts Fox Linton, combining the building’s 1920s art deco history and glamour with stylish contemporary touches. In addition to its 36 suites, the hotel will incorporate a Cigar Lounge and Terrace, The Crystal Bar, The Oval Restaurant, and the Jazz Room.
Can’t wait to see!

VinaVik with our host Gonzague de Lambert

I tried my panorama lense.

At the bottom of the world

Suites with plunge pools. Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

Pool Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat in St Jean Cap Ferrat

Another fabulous hotel I visited was Grand hotel du Cap Ferrat in St Jean Cap Ferrat. Old world service, gorgeous rooms and public areas, a delightful pool at the bottom of the property that can be reached by a finicular. A Terrace restaurant that was so peaceful. Gardens again were beautiful. Their spa was awesome by the way- it leads out into it’s own private garden.  They have also done fabulous renovations and I am posting pictures of some of the rooms.

View from suite 33. Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc

ILTM: International Luxury Travel Market

I am attending Intenational Luxury Travel Mart in Cannes this week and I decided to come in early to check out some highly regarded properties on the Cote D’Azur in France.
My first stay was at Cap Estel and it turned out to be as wonderful as all the feedback I had received from clients. 
It is located below Eze on the edge of the water.  The views of course are of the sea the rocky cliffs of Eze plunge straight down to the water, and the gardens are impeccable. Cap Estel was a large villa that was completely renovated into a very comfortable small hotel. It retains the intime homelike feeling.  It has sea view rooms and many suites ending with 2 four bedroom suites that would be perfect for a family. It is also perfect for a small wedding. The grounds are perfect for a ceremony and there are several places for cocktail receptions. The pool is an infinity edge and the views are to die for. Rooms are bright white with complimentary color highlights. Bathrooms are also large and bright and have a heated floor.  Service was very attentive and pleasant. I will be happy to return there.  I am enclosing some pictures of the property. 

View from my terrace. Cap Estel. Eze

Room inspection Las Alamandas

I found the rooms at Las Alamandas to be bright, spacious, and authentically Mexican. I felt a great sense of place staying there. Renovations had been done recently and everything was light and very colorful. There is a choice of 30 pillows, and the linens were quite fine. Most of the rooms have jacuzzis, some have
private plunge pools. All are either oceanfront or ocean view. All the bathrooms have been recently renovated.
The only drawback is the 2 hour drive fro PV to the property, but the owner is exploring the air shuttle service from PV airport, and the transfer would be 30 minutes.

One of the rooms -Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas a little gem near Puerta Vallarta

Sirokoi / villa bathroom- fab new camp Lewa Downs


Sirokoi/ Villa bedroom-Another fabulous new camp – this one in Northern Kenya, Lewa Downs


Bathroom with huge tub Ol Donyo Wuas