11 May

Top 10 Luxury Honeymoon Destinations

Mystique Santorini is a great honeymoon destination in Greece.

Mystique Santorini

1. Santorini, Greece
This amazing destination was created from a volcanic caldera, whose rim now hosts luxury hotels. From this elevated point you can view spectacular sunsets and views of the Aegean Sea. If you head down the cliff you will find shopping, amazing beaches, delicious food, and local wineries. Don’t forget to explore the Akrotini, a prehistoric settlement preserved under volcanic lava.

 

Where to Stay: Mystique Santorini

Mystique is perched on the rim of the caldera and has an incredible infinity pool, luxurious cave-like rooms carved into the cliff, and relaxing neutral tones.

 

 

The Palais Amani is a beautiful hotel in Fez, Morocco.

Palais Amani, Fez, Morocco

2. Fez, Morocco

 

Fez is Morocco’s second largest city and is bustling with bazaars and shopping opportunities. In the town center you will even find snake charmers and fortune tellers! Go to Old Medina of Marrakech for rugs, leather goods, and other travel souvenirs.

Where to Stay: Palais Amani

Palais Amani underwent a 3 1/2 year restoration that brought its existing features back to life and added work from local artisans. The spa offers massages in a room overlooking the hotel’s garden, and the rooftop bar has great views of the city below. Each room has embroidered linens, luxurious bathrobes, and complimentary embroidered slippers.

The Cap-Est Lagoon Resort & Spa is a luxury resort in Martinique.

Cap-Est Lagoon Resort & Spa

3. Martinique

 

This unique island can be considered the Paris of the Caribbean. It’s upscale and has over 150 restaurants. The locals close shop at noon for lunch and always eat out, which has led to the development of so many restaurants. Their cuisine is a delicious blend of French and Creole dishes. There is also a good nightlife, shopping, and sightseeing.

Where to Stay: Cap-Est Lagoon Resort & Spa

This resort has contemporary villas with Franco-Caribbean design. The soft, minimalist decor and lagoon views create a super relaxing and tropical vibe!

Villa San Michele is one of the most luxurious hotels in Florence.

Villa San Michele, Florence

4. Florence

 

Italian food, wine, Renaissance art & architecture, just enough sightseeing, and Italian fashion – need I say more?

Where to stay: Villa San Michele

This facade of this amazing hotel was designed by Michelangelo. If that isn’t cool enough, it’s also located on top of the hill of Fiesole so it has views of Florence and the Chianti countryside. The hotel amenities have great views, too. The heated pool and the open air restaurant, Loggia, look out over the city.

The Shangri-La Hotel Paris was once the home of Prince Roland Bonaparte.

Shangri-la Hotel Paris

5. Paris

 

A pretty obvious choice, but a great one nonetheless! Amazing food, sightseeing, entertainment, shopping, and opulent hotels sound like a pretty great way to spend a honeymoon.

Where to Stay: Shangri-La Hotel Paris

The building that is now the Shangri-La Hotel Paris was once Prince Roland Bonaparte’s home (Napoleon’s nephew). It was recently resorted to its former glamour and offers some of the largest rooms and suites among luxury Paris hotels. Most rooms have Eiffel Tower, Seine River, or the Louvre views.

The Gansevoort Turcks and Caicos brings urban luxury to the tropical environment.

Gansevoort Turks and Caicos

6. Turks and Caicos

 

This is one of the most underdeveloped islands in the Caribbean, and the tourism industry mostly caters to an upscale clientele. They have some of the most beautiful beaches and several luxury resorts to choose from.

Where to Stay: Gansevoort Turks and Caicos

Experience modern urban luxury in a tropical setting. The 7000 square foot infinity edge pool is one of the hotel’s best features, and they also have the famous Bagatelle Bistrot.

 

The Missoni Hotel Edinburgh is a luxury hotel that incorporates Missoni's eclectic modern style.

Missoni Hotel Edinburgh

7. Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Edinburgh is a beautiful destination, offering rolling Scottish hills, castles, vibrant theater scene, hiking, and sightseeing.

Where to Stay: Missoni Hotel Edinburgh

This hotel is exactly what you would expect from the Italian fashion house. The hotel was designed with distinctive use of color, pattern, and textiles.

The Viceroy Bali offers luxurious accommodations just minutes from Ubud.

Vicory Bali

8. Bali, Indonesia

 

Bali is an amazing place with tropical beaches, forests, cliffs, museums, historical towns and temples. The resorts promote spiritual health and well being, and there is a general aura of tranquility. Definitely a place to get away from it all!

Where to Stay: Viceroy Bali

The Viceroy consists of 25 villas on a secluded ridge of the Pentau river, just minutes from Ubud, one of Southeast Asia’s most charming villages. The villas are super luxurious and offer everything you could need, including espresso machines and private pools.

The St. Regis Resort Princeville offers luxurious accommodations on one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands.

St. Regis Resort Princeville

9. Kauai, Hawaii

 

Kauai has everything a couple who loves the outdoors could need – tropical beaches, hiking on the Na Pali coast, and kayaking on the Wailua River.

Where to Stay: St. Regis Resort Princeville

Relax in the infinity pool overlooking Hanalei Bay, lay out at the private Pu’u Po’a Beach, or golf at their 2 courses.

The Anantara resort in the Maldives offer luxurious overwater villas.

Anantara, Kihavah, Maldives

10. Maldives

 

Experience white sand beaches, remote location, privacy, and delicious tropical food. The islands are located along the trading route of the Indian Ocean, resulting in an interesting mix of cultures.

Where to Stay: Anantara, Kihavah, Maldives

These overwater villas offer the ultimate tropical getaway surrounded by white sand, coconut palms, and reef waters full of marine life. The famous underwater restaurant is a once in a lifetime experience!

 

2 May

Mother’s Day Trip & Brunch

Are you taking your mom on a luxury vacation for Mother’s Day? These restaurants in popular vacation destinations feature decadent brunches that are sure to make Mother’s Day special for you and your mom!

San Francisco, CA

Foreign Cinema serves one of the best brunches in San Francisco.

Foreign Cinema Brunch

Where to stay: The Ritz Carlton San Francisco Residence Club

Urban luxury at Union Square, with direct access to the best shopping in the city!

Where to Brunch: Foreign Cinema

This theatrical restaurant offers delicious dishes such as homemade pop tarts with real fruit inside, balsamic fried eggs, and Dungeness crab croque monsieur. And of course since it’s in San Francisco, they have a ton of fresh seafood, including an oyster bar, mussels, prawns, and lobster. There are 3 dining rooms to choose from, the main space with the kitchen and bar, a lively courtyard where old movies are played at night, and a quieter art gallery space. A secret (delicious) item not on the menu: beignets.

Los Angeles, CA

The Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills serves amazing brunch.

Four Seasons Los Angeles Brunch

Where to Stay: The Peninsula

Classic Beverly Hills luxury in a great location.

Where to Brunch: Four Seasons Hotel (Beverly Hills)

The Four Seasons BH brunch is known for three things: serving a variety of delicious food, being expensive, and celebrity sightings. The service is impeccable and they offer a several food and beverage stations, including breakfast food, Bloody Marys, sushi/Asian food, cheese, and desserts. The Four Seasons is doing a special Mother’s Day Brunch, reservations highly recommended.

New York

Essex, located in the Lower East Side, serves amazing Sunday brunch.

Essex New York City Brunch

Where to Stay: Waldorf Astoria

New York elegance and an amazing location on Park Avenue.

Where to Brunch: Essex

Head to the Lower East Side to Essex, where you will find a delicious brunch for only $20 that includes 3 Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, or mimosas! This chic white, lofty space is the perfect place for a Mother’s Day Brunch. Enjoy classic brunch items, like the manchego mac & cheese, lobster benedict, Mexican Matzo Brei (scrambled eggs, tortilla crisps, monterey jack cheese, avocado, black beans and pico de gallo) and The Deep South (chicken fried steak, biscuits, eggs, and sausage gravy).

Boston, MA

Stella, located in Boston's South End, serves delicious brunch.

Stella Boston Brunch

Where to Stay: Ames Hotel

One of Boston’s newer hotels, featuring chic and modern luxury.

Where to Brunch: Stella

Stella offers simple Italian food and a cute atmosphere. The entire place is white and includes a great outdoor patio. Enjoy traditional breakfast foods, like bagel and lox, frittatas, parfaits, and eggs benedict.

Miami, FL

The Biltmore Miami serves a lavish Sunday Champagne Brunch

Biltmore Miami Sunday Champagne Brunch

Where to Stay: Biltmore

An iconic Miami hotel that has accommodated countless celebrities and public figures with superior service and elegance.

Where to Brunch: Biltmore’s Fontana

The Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Biltmore is a legendary affair that combines European flair with Latin flavor and Miami’s own unique style. There is live entertainment and a lavish buffet, including caviar, shellfish, smoked salmon, carved meats, fresh omelets, pastas, sushi, and a wall of spectacular desserts.

Scottsdale, AZ

Fred's at Barneys New York in Scottsdale offers a sophisticated Sunday brunch.

Fred's at Barneys New York Scottsdale

Where to Stay: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Modern luxury inspired by its stunning desert surroundings.

Where to Brunch: Fred’s at Barneys New York

Mom is sure to love Fred’s, which features a bright, open space with views of Old Town. Brunch is elegant and relaxing, featuring a Bourbon Street Brunch, bagels made from scratch, and live New Orleans jazz. The flavored iced tea and specialty cocktails are also delicious! A huge bonus of brunching at Fred’s is that it’s located in Barneys New York! After eating and sipping on mimosas, go to Barney’s for some Mother’s Day shopping.

Chicago, IL

Elate in Chicago serves a great Sunday brunch.

Elate Chicago Brunch

Where to Stay: Elysian Hotel

Where to Brunch: Elate

This rustic, modern, and casually sophisticated restaurant is adjacent to Hotel Felix, Chicago’s first LEED certified hotel. Brunch dishes at Elate include breakfast pizza, braised pork and egg tostada, and creme brulee pancakes. The special Mother’s Day prix fixe meal begins with a buffet of muffins, fruit, pastries and cheese. Guests can choose from 3 entrees, and finish with dessert. Don’t forget the bottomless mimosa for $20!

29 Apr

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!

28 Apr

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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28 Apr

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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Top 10 Romantic Getaways

23 Apr

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.

22 Apr

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

10 Mar

Haute Hotel: W Hollywood

W Hollywood Grand Staircase

W Hollywood Grand Staircase

The W Hollywood has an appropriate red carpet theme and a great location on Hollywood and Vine. Guests are across the street from the Pantages Theater and a few blocks down from the Chinese Theater. Lots of awards shows and premiers are held at the Chinese Theater, if you’re lucky you might get to see a few celebrities!

The W Hollywood features chic guest rooms.

W Hollywood Guest Room

The guest rooms at the W Hollywood are typical W – mostly white with lacquer accents and small pops of color here and there. Some of the things in the room (like the iPod dock or coffee table books) are for sale, which I personally find a little strange. The window seats are cute, I love sitting there in the morning and taking in the views of Hollywood. Guest rooms range from 400 to 1,660 square feet. The one I stayed in was 400, but the large suites look spectacular. I find the W guest rooms (and bathrooms!) to be on the smaller side, especially for the price. The room we stayed in at the Bellagio was half the price and three times the size! I guess they’re going for the modern look, but I could use a little extra space, especially in the bathroom. It’s kind of hard to get ready for a fabulous night out in a little tiny box!

The W Hollywood has a great lobby lounge, Living Room.

W Hollywood Living Room

The thing I really like about this W, especially in comparison to the San Diego W,  are the bar/lounge spaces. The Living Room is the lobby lounge and bar. There is a huge chandelier, grand staircase, chic lounge furniture and red carpet – great place for pre-dinner or going out cocktails.

W Hollywood has a great outside terrace lounge called Station.

W Hollywood Station

Station is an outside terrace adjacent to The Living Room and features fire pits, wicker lounge furniture, and a bar. You can order from a late night bar menu and their delicious cocktail list. My favorite is the bellini! They say they have a “reverse” bellini, which sounds great, but every time I visit, they never are able to make it. So I guess I’ll just stick with the regular bellini for now…

W Hollywood has a signature, restaurant, Delphine, that serves modern Mediterranean cuisine.

W Hollywood Delphine

Delphine looks much better in person than it does in the pictures on their website. I love the blue and white tile floors and neutral color tones. It feels very light and airy. They serve modern Mediterranean food with influences from France, Spain’s Costa Brava, and the Italian Riviera. I went for brunch and loved it, and saw that they also have a raw bar which I am dying to try next time! Supposedly they have a great Monday Happy Hour, with $1 and $2 oysters and $5 Sparkling Rose.

W Hollywood has a rooftop nightclub, Drai's.

W Hollywood Drai's

Drai’s Hollywood is the nightclub on the roof of the W. It’s definitely very Hollywood – a lot of people standing around and staring at each other. They also have pool parties on Sunday at the WET deck, which leads me to the next weird thing about this W – they don’t own their pool, and guests of the W have to stand in line and hope they are allowed in on Sunday, when Drai throws the pool party. I prefer the SLS pool, where it’s hotel guests only. But i guess if you’re going to go with the Hollywood theme, you should really go for it…

W Hollywood offers Bliss Spa, a modern spa that offers manicure, pedicure, spa and salon treatments.

W Hollywood Bliss Spa

If you’re someone with great discipline that works out on vacation, W has a great fitness facility, SWEAT. If you’re someone who prefers to get pampered, BLISS spa is the spot for you! They have jazz music, a brownie bar, movies while you manicure, saunas, 7 pampering rooms, and waxing and salon services. This mod mani-pedi lounge is the perfect place to treat yourself to some relaxing services while sipping a glass of champagne.

If you need to get to work, the 24 hour Business Center can accommodate all your work needs. They have PCs, Apples, and lots of other equipment so you can get it done and get on with your vacation!

W Hollywood also has a complimentary car service for short distance trips around Hollywood.

Check the site for special offers before you book, I noticed that they have deals like complimentary cocktails, 2 tickets to Pantages, and $100 credit at Delphine.

13 Jan

Haute Hotel: SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills

The SLS is a luxury boutique hotel in Beverly Hills. I go there often to eat at The Bazaar, or have some drinks at Bar Centro. Everything is innovative, playful, and modern. The unique design of the SLS is all thanks to world-renowned interior designer, Philppe Starck.

The SLS in Beverly Hills is a luxury boutique hotel known for its unique interior design by Philippe Starck.

SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills

Philippe Starck designed the guest rooms with soft neutral colors and lighting, and custom made modern furniture. 7 of the 61 luxury suites feature en suite gym equipment for privacy during workouts! For those who prefer a full gym, SLS does have a 24-hour fitness center available on site.

The Ciel Spa was designed with warm, white tones. There are 6 spa rooms with iPods at every bed so you can listen to relaxing music while you get a massage from one of their amazing massage therapists. Couples should check out the romantic couples suite, which features 2 side by side soaking tubs.

The Ciel Spa at the SLS was designed in warm white tones and features 6 spa rooms.

SLS Ciel Spa

The Altitude Pool Deck is for hotel and Ciel Spa guests only. Don’t worry about the LA party crowd taking over the pool on the weekends – only hotel guests get to enjoy the amazing views of Beverly Hills, private cabanas, chaise lounges, plunge and reflecting pool, Pool Concierges and Valets, and creative cocktails and food by Jose Andres.

The Altitude Pool at the SLS was designed by Philippe Starck and is for hotel and Ciel Spa guests only.

SLS Altitude Pool

One of the biggest draws to SLS is The Bazaar. With interior design by Philppe Starck and food by Jose Andres, you can’t go wrong. The inspiration for the design of the restaurant was a modern, European “Indoor Piazza.” The great thing about The Bazaar is that it is separated into four sections: Bar Centro, Rojo y Blanca, and Patisserie. Guests can experience each section and keep everything on the same bill – very convenient.

Bar Centro is the bar/lounge area right inside the La Cienega entrance. Bar Centro features high tables, huge mirrors, lounge tables, and private tables encase in mirrored walls.

Rojo is SLS Bazaar's more traditional dining room.

The Bazaar - Rojo

Blanca is SLS Bazaar's more modern dining room.

The Bazaar - Blanca

Rojo y Blanca are the 2 sections of the restaurant. Rojo’s setting and menu are inspired by more traditional Spanish tapas. Blanca is the more modern and adventurous section that also has an outdoor terrace. Andres has combined molecular gastronomy with traditional Spanish tapas to create a unique and luxurious dining experience. Ask for the tasting menu if you really want to be blown away!

Patisserie is a European inspired dessert bar adjacent to Bar Centro. The open kitchen displays plenty of delicious looking desserts, which you can eat at the tables next to Regalo.

Regalo is SLS’s take on the hotel gift shop. They have showcased luxury products from Assouline, Baccarat, D.L&Co. and Kiki de Montparnasse museum-style in glass cases. It’s fun to browse while you’re waiting for your dinner, drinks or dessert.

Tres is SLS’s brunch/lunch option. Modern, white, luxurious decor and a delicious buffet, à la carte, and tea service make this a really fun place to go on the weekend!

SLS also features plenty of guest-only rooms, lobbies, and entrances, so even though SLS is popular with Angelinos, guests can still feel a sense of exclusivity and privacy.

Guest Services at the SLS are definitely ahead of the curve, as far as most hotels are concerned. They even have an app, called GoSLSHotel, where guests can send service requests from remote locations! They also have a Pillow Particulars menu, concierge, room service, luxury house cars available for transport, and business center. Also, as guests of the SLS, you will have preferred treatment at SBE restaurants, nightclubs, and lounges throughout Los Angeles.

10 Jan

Christmas in Las Vegas

Last year, I spent Christmas in Las Vegas instead of going home to freezing cold New York. My boyfriend and I stayed at the Bellagio, and it was beautiful! Very festive and fun. There were lots of Christmas decorations and families – I was kind of surprised to see how family oriented Las Vegas was, but maybe it was due to the season? The restaurants were definitely less “happening” which was nice, in a way. Although the nightlife didn’t have its usual busy vibe, at least I didn’t have to spend the night trying not to spill my drink because people are bumping into me!

The Bellagio in Las Vegas decorated the hotel for Christmas.

Bellagio Las Vegas - Christmas Tree

The Bellagio in Las Vegas decorated the hotel for Christmas with polar bears made of flowers.

Bellagio Las Vegas - Christmas Decorations - Polar Bear

The Polar Bears were actually made out of white flowers, and the tree was huge. Living in California where it never feels like Christmas, I appreciated the fact that they went all out with the decorations! I really loved staying at the Bellagio. The rooms were huge, and I’ve seen some hotel rooms that weren’t as big as that bathroom.

The Mirage has a zoo that features lots of exotic animals, like these white tigers.

Mirage - White Tigers

We went to the zoo at the Mirage, where they feature lots of exotic animals, like these white tigers. They also had this adorable baby cub, who the trainer fed with a bottle. So cute!

The zoo at the Mirage has a white tiger cub.

Mirage - White Tiger Cub

We wanted to go somewhere with an amazing view of the strip, so we decided to go to The Hotel’s Mix Lounge, which I believe is on the 69th floor. It was totally empty, but the design was really cool and I could tell during high season it’s a great time. They have some tables outside the glass on the patio that are probably awesome during the summer. The Mix Lounge is adjacent to the restaurant Mix, which is all white and looks gorgeous.

The Hotel's Mix Lounge rises 69 stories above Las Vegas and offers an amazing view of the strip.

The Hotel - Mix Lounge

The Hotel's Mix Lounge features amazing views of the Las Vegas strip.

The Hotel - View of the Las Vegas strip from Mix Lounge

I was kind of disappointed by the new CityCenter – I had heard that it was supposed to be a mini city that had apartments, a hospital, and a school, but apparently they went bankrupt building it and now it’s just a mall.  However, it is a great mall! Love the sparkly Louis Vuitton…

CityCenter in Las Vegas has an amazing Louis Vuitton store.

Louis Vuitton at CityCenter in Las Vegas