29Apr

Chic Luggage

A basic black Swiss Army suitcase will do… but why? This chic luggage will make your travel experience more fashionable.

The Tumi Vapor is a great carry-on suitcase.

Tumi Vapor

Let’s start with Tumi – well made, not too expensive (as far as well-made luggage is concerned), and has stylish pieces for men and women.

The Tumi Vapor is my trendy pick. It features a hard shell, made of a lightweight, 3 layer alloy of ABS and polycarbonate. I love the colors this suitcase comes in – gold, gray, black, floral print, blue, and khaki.

The Tumi Vapor is a great carry-on suitcase.

Tumi Alpha Bravo

For a more utilitarian look, I like the Tumi Alpha Bravo McConnell International Carry-On. It’s made of soft and durable ballistic nylon and has wheels, top and side handles. It comes in black and khaki.

The Hideo Wakamatsu Tarapulin carry on is flexible, water resistant, and adjustable.

Hideo Wakamatsu Tarapulin Carry On

 

Hideo Wakamatsu makes fun carry-ons in bright colors. Half the collection features a hard shell, and the rest are made out of Tarapulin, a flexible, water and shred resistant material.

What I like about this piece is the adjustable straps that allow you to expand the deepness of the bag (great for people like me who have to stuff all their shoes into one carry-on). There are no heavy metal frames, which means it’s super lightweight.

J Crew collaborated with British luggage company, Globe-Trotters, to create this sunny yellow suitcase.

JCrew Globetrotters Yellow Suitcase

The collaborative collection from J.Crew and Globe-Trotter caught my eye. Specifically, the bright yellow trunk-style suitcase. Each of these bags are handcrafted in England by Globe-Trotter and are made of Vulcan Fibre, which they claim can withstand the weight of a 1 ton elephant! I probably won’t get to test that theory, but it sounds like it should travel just fine. This heirloom quality suitcase features leather trim and straps, wheels, and cotton lining.

The Louis Vuitton Pegase 65 is a classic piece of luggage.

Louis Vuitton Pegase 65

And last but not least, the classic, Louis Vuitton. The Pegase 65 is a great carry-on and will last for years. It’s made of the durable Damier canvas and includes several zipper pockets, a removable pouch, and garment bag. You can even monogram it!

28Apr

Haute Hotel: Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is one of the best Caribbean resorts.

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman

The acclaimed Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is a sprawling resort that covers the entire width of the island, about 145 acres. It is by far the best resort on the Cayman Islands! When you finally arrive, you’ll be served delicious lemonade in a tropical tiki hut. Then they will whisk you away to your guest room…

I recommend staying in one of the newly refurbished guest rooms, which now feature chic and modern design. These rooms are closer to the pool and offer stunning ocean views. The Ritz has thoughtfully scattered the ocean with fun toys, rafts, and even floating bars! I wish I was floating on a raft on the Caribbean with a cocktail in my hand right now

This European style resort is meticulously manicured and designed with marble, stone, and luxurious woods everywhere. The resort is split into two buildings, connected by a climate controlled catwalk that overlooks West Bay Street.

As an island resort, there are a variety of fun water activities to choose from, like snorkeling, sailing,and water rafting. You can explore the island and check out the Cayman Turtle Farm, where you’ll get to touch and swim with green sea turtles.

The Silver Rain Spa at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is a La Prairie Spa.

Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Silver Rain Spa

Taking in a treatment at the Silver Rain Spa, a La Prairie Spa, is a great way to relax. The Silver Rain Spa incorporates pure and rare ingredients and offers massages, body and facial treatments, hydrotherapies, and La Prairie anti-aging formulas.

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman’s premier restaurant, Blue by Eric Ripert, celebrates epicurean artistry in the grand tradition of Le Bernadin. The menu features seafood locally caught by Cayman fishermen. The wine cellar offers over 650 selections from all around the world.

Periwinkle is an elegantly casual restaurant that features a terrace and lagoon views. The menu offers simply prepared seafood, homemade pasta, pizza, and Mediterranean style cuisine. 7 Prime Cuts and Sunsets is a steakhouse and seafood & raw bar. 7 Prime also features a Cuban Cigar assortment and Sunday Prime Rib Dinner.

The golf course at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman was designed by Greg Norman. This 9 hole course features 8 holes on the water and a final island green. Caddie concierge service and golf  instruction is available.

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman implements an Ambassadors of the Environment program, which offers eco tours for kids, youth, adults and families.

Conclusion: Great for honeymoons, girls getaways, and family vacations! Beware of children.

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28Apr

Haute Hotel: Four Seasons George V Paris

The Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris is one of the most beautiful hotels in the world.

Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris

The Four Seasons George V Paris is one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. Located just steps from the Champs Elyees, it features restored and replicated 18th century furnishings and interior design.

The Four Seasons George V Paris offers stunning guest rooms.

Four Seaons George V Paris - Guest Room

The 244 guest rooms, designed in the style of Louis XIV, are available in a variety of sizes. About 25% of the guest rooms are suites, and many have spectacular Eiffel Tower views. The basic rooms – if you can call them basic – feature city or courtyard views, crystal chandeliers, and full marble bathrooms. The larger suites, such as the Empire suite, include sculptures dedicated to Napoleon and Josephine. You’ll be able to see the Eiffel Tower quite clearly from your private terrace, which faces this world famous landmark directly. There is also a living room, dining room, green marble bathroom, and guest powder room.

The Four Seasons George V Paris features a beautiful pool in the spa and fitness center.

Four Seasons George V Paris - Pool

The Four Seasons George V pool offers the ultimate experience in chic pool relaxation. The pool, located at the spa and health club, is decorated with trompe l’oeil murals of the garden of Versailles. The spa itself features muted tones with 18th century prints. The VIP treatment room includes its own whirlpool, sauna, steam room, and 2 massage beds. This spa is know as the best hotel spa in Paris!

The Four Seasons George V Paris features Le Galerie, a beautiful lounge featuring 19th century paintings and Flemish tapestries.

Four Seasons George V Paris - Le Galerie

Le Galerie is an elegant, peaceful lounge, decorated with Flemish tapestries, 19th century paintings and furniture. Le Bar overlooks the Avenue George V and features a beautiful mahogany and wood bar.

Fine French dining is available at Le Cinq, which offers incredible views of the hotel gardens and courtyard. The restaurant serves classic French cuisine and has won 2 Michelin stars.

The husband can play golf at the nearby Albatros course, which has hosted 8 French Open Tournaments and is an acclaimed European golf course.

Conclusion: The Four Seasons George V Paris is superior in its elegance, decor, and romantic atmosphere, right in the heart of Paris!

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23Apr

Haute Hotel: Ritz Carlton Moscow

The Ritz Carlton Moscow is one of the capital's finest hotels.

Ritz Carlton Moscow

The Ritz Carlton Moscow is located right off Red Square, on the city’s main avenue, Tverskaya Street. This Ritz features true Russian glamour and a few distinct services and amenities inspired by its region – like the Lobby Lounge’s vodka sommelier!

The hotel offers 334 spacious guest rooms (the smallest is 450 sq ft), and they will cost you…standard rates, depending on the season, are upwards of $1000 per night.

The Ritz Carlton Moscow offers a chic lounge, O2 Lounge, which offers amazing views of the city.

The O2 Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Moscow

The O2 Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Moscow features Faberge inspired lounge chairs.

The Faberge chairs at the Ritz Carlton Moscow's O2 Lounge

The Ritz Carlton Moscow’s O2 Lounge features views of the Kremlin, a sushi bar, oxygen bar, “Faberge” chairs, and chic design.

The premier restaurant at the Ritz Moscow is Caviarterra, whose menu incorporates the local culture. Enjoy Russian classics like caviar, borsch, chicken kiev, and beef stroganoff. The Petrus wine room has a collection of over 800 wines from around the world!

The ESPA Spa at the Ritz Carlton Moscow features a pool with an ice fountain.

Ritz Carlton Moscow ESPA Spa Pool with ice fountain

The ESPA Spa is a gorgeous facility that includes a pool with lounge chairs and ice fountain. Treatments utilize the latest scientific discoveries and effective European therapies.

22Apr

Top 10 Food Tours I Want To Try

A food tour is a great way to experience a new city and learn about its culture.

Go on a guided food tour to learn about a new city.

One of the best parts of taking a luxury vacation is going on a food tour! It’s a great way to sight-see and learn about your destination’s history. The following places are all on my travel to-do list, along with their amazing food tours…

1. Napa Valley: Gourmet Napa Walking Tour
It’s a 3 hour walking tour through downtown Napa with 8 tasting stops. Learn about the local history and meet organic farmers and boutique winemakers! By the end of the tour, you will have a curated list of expertly recommended recipes.

Tastings:

    - Coffee from one of San Francisco’s premier roasters

    - Oysters on the 1/2 shell from a renowned North America oyster producer

    - Excellent  California artisan cheese

    - Artisan salumi and chance to observe sausage production

    - Wine infused chocolate and brittle from local chocolatiers

    - Award-winning extra virgin olive oil

    - Handcrafted whoopie pies

2.  San Francisco: Gourmet on Hayes
Another 3 hour walking tour, this time of San Francisco’s trendy Hayes Valley. This tour features 7 tasting stops and will take you off the beaten path to what’s really hot on the San Francisco gourmet food scene. You will be taken to specialty shops and restaurants and experience the results of sustainable ingredients and fair trade partnerships.

Tastings:

    - Specialty teas at a Zen inspired tea lounge

    - Belgian fries with 22 dipping sauces!

    - Hand painted artisan truffles from a luxurious chocolate lounge

    - Rainbow assortment of Parisian macaroons

    - Gourmet imported cheeses and Russian River Sauvignon Blanc in a beautiful garden setting
    - Artisinal salumi
    - Gingerbread cupcakes from European style confiserie

3.  Aspen: Foodie Food Tours

Aspen is a great luxury ski destination and summer vacation destination as well! I love how Colorado is obsessed with local, sustainable ingredients and small farmers. This tour, called the “Off the Beaten Path” tour will do just that! You’ll visit locals favorite restaurants and specialty shops that you probably wouldn’t find on your own and mingle with restaurant owners and chefs.

Tastings:

The tasting stops are always changing, but may include Specialty Foods of Aspen, Boden’s Butter, The Restaurant, Sabra’s Deli, The Aspen Brewery, 39 Degrees, Ellina, J-Bar, and more.

Side-note: Whenever I visit Aspen, I stay at a Ritz Carlton Aspen Highlands vacation rental!

4. Miami: Little Havana Food Tour

I don’t often get the opportunity to try authentic Cuban food. Miami, one of the most luxurious destinations in the world, is just the place! This food tour will help you experience traditional Cuban cuisine by visiting family owned restaurants along Calle Ocho in one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods – Little Havana. This particular tour focuses on smaller, hole-in-the-wall places where you will learn the history behind dishes that have been handed down for generations. Meet local artists, watch cigar rollers, and see the famous Domino Park!

Tastings:

    - Specific dishes you will sample include coladita, mariquitas, masitas, moros, and guarapo juice

    - Learn the relationship between Spanish and Cuban cuisine

5. Houston: Where the Chefs Eat

I have always wanted to go to Texas for one reason – to eat! This tour showcases Houston’s mom and pop restaurants and introduces people to Houston’s culinary diversity. You know these restaurants will be good because they are all patronized by chefs on their days off. You’ll discover new restaurants and markets where chefs get their ingredients and experience true southern cooking.

Includes:

    - Gift bag

    - Free Saint Arnold’s beverages

    – Limo-bus transportation

6. New Orleans: Tasting Tour of the French Quarter

I regretfully admit that I have never been to New Orleans, but one of the main attractions for me is the amazing food (actually that’s one of my main attractions for just about any place). This tour focuses on the history and evolution of the city’s famous cuisine. You’ll tour select historic restaurants and discuss their culinary contributions, including the two oldest restaurants, Antoine’s (opened in 1860) and Tujague’s (opened in 1856).

Tastings:

    - Learn the difference between Creole and Cajun cuisine

    - Seafood gumbo, red beans & rice, beef brisket with Creole sauce, praline, muffulettas, turtle soup, and shrimp remoulade

7. New York: Chelsea Market/Meatpacking District Food & Culture Walking Tour

It would take days to try all the amazing food in NYC, but I would start with Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District! This tour gives you the chance to explore two of the oldest industrial areas that have become some of the hottest NYC destinations. The tour showcases mom and pop food shops, ethnic restaurants, a little boutique shopping, and the new “highline” elevated outdoor park. The tour is 3 hours long and features 6 specialty food shops (Chelsesa) and 1 restaurant (Meatpacking).

Tastings:

    - Amy’s Breads: Artisinal French/American bakery

    - Ronny Brook Milk Bar

    - Sarabeth’s Bakery: gourmet American bakery

    - Lobster Place: high-end fish market

    - Buon Italia: Italian specialty food

    - Chelsea Market Baskets: Gourmet specialty food store

    - Eleni’s: Classic American bakery

    - Macelleria: Italian steak house

8. Chicago: Bucktown & Wicker Park Food Tasting and Cultural Tour

The Chicago food tour should be great – Chicago has some of the best and most creative restaurants in the States. This tour features 6 tasting stops in the trendy neighborhoods of Bucktown and Wicker Park, where you will experience mom and pop specialty restaurants and one of a kind cafes.

Tastings:

    - Hot Chocolate: Chicago’s top pastry/dessert restaurant, a James Beard Award finalist
    - George’s Hot Dogs: Chicago style hot dog “stand”

    - Piece: Internationally acclaimed brew pub, New Haven thin crust pizza

    - Goddess and Grocer: Gourmet deli, local organic grocer

    - Sultan’s Market: Middle Eastern restaurant and authentic falafel deli

    - iCream: Custom ice cream, sorbet, yogurt created instantly on the spot

9. Boston: North End Market Tour

Boston’s North End is the city’s “Little Italy” and is filled with cafes, Italian bakeries, and authentic Italian restaurants. This tour will educate you on the history of authentic Italian food, Italian recipes, and where to identify and buy fresh ingredients.

Tastings:

    - Discover pasticcerias that offer the best biscotti, amaretti, sfogliatelle, cannoli and more
    - Visit authentic salumeria in search of the best olive oil, balsamic vinegar, olives, salami, cheese, prosciutto, and pasta
    - Visit an “Old World” candy store and smell 79 year old coffee

    - Tour an enoteca and learn how to select aperitivi to begin, wine to compliment, and digestivi to conclude the meal

10. Los Angeles: LA Latin Spice Food Tasting Tour

This tour will take you to places you wouldn’t typically explore in Los Angeles, many of which are hidden in the downtown area. Travel by foot and the Metro Gold Line through downtown LA and Boyle Heights & Mariachi Plaza. Learn about the Latin culture and traditions, and sample traditional handmade foods!

Tastings:

    - LA’s first tortilla factory

    - Taste time-honored family recipes

    - Visit a nationally renowned tamale restaurant

    - LA’s first birreria

    - Health consciuos pupuseria

    - Contemporary Latina cafe