Star Search

Photographs: Courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air

California has lured travelers, fortune seekers and sun worshippers for generations. We can’t help but think that Audrey Hepburn may have gotten it wrong, and it’s actually California that’s always a good idea. With airline prices low and Southern California temps up, we suggest a Hollywood getaway. And we know where you should stay.

Beverly Hills Hotel
There may be newer and swankier hotels in the area, but the Beverly Hills Hotel (affectionately known as the Pink Palace) has always been, and continues to be, the place to see and be seen. The pink walls, red carpet entrance and stately palm trees have been there since before Los Angeles was even a city. It opened in 1912 and little has changed except the celebrities who call it their home away from home.

We sat down with the hotel’s director of guest relations, Steven Boggs, to get the real deal on what goes on behind those storied walls. As we tucked into the first booth at the renowned Polo Lounge, Dean Martin’s favorite, Steve fielded regulars stopping by to check in.

On the subject of things that have gone down at the Polo Lounge, he tells us that the staff has been “keeping secrets for 105 years.” In fact, the staff is so good at discretion, I almost missed Shaquille O’Neal—all seven feet and one inch of him—tucked into a private corner table. Which, we suppose, is one of the reasons so many celebs flock here.

Plenty of deals have been inked on the back of napkins in the dimly lit restaurant. But if you’re hoping to score one of the power booths on the weekend, you’ll need to have some pull with Pepe, whose title, Director of the Polo Lounge, doesn’t begin to cover his role as table arbiter and celeb soother. So, what happens when Leonardo DiCaprio wants the booth that Al Pacino reserved (they are both regulars)? Steve says he defers to Pepe.

You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to dine at the Polo Lounge, but you’ll definitely want to make a reservation.

If you’re looking for a less-expensive celeb dining experience, head downstairs to the Fountain Coffee Room. This old-time breakfast grill has only nineteen barstools and everyone waits in line for a spot. There’s no preferential treatment here. Steve chuckles as he talks about spotting Senator John Kerry (who was running for President at the time) standing in line behind Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and in front of Ellen DeGeneres. But keep your camera tucked away, it’s highly frowned upon—and flat-out banned at the pool.

Speaking of the pool, it’s reserved for hotel guests only so book a room (rates start at $695 in the off-season). Or really splurge and book one of the twenty-three bungalows on-property. Each is completely unique and all have the distinction of having been a short-term home to some of the most famous and wealthy guests in history.

In 1942, Howard Hughes bought up half a dozen of the bungalows and lived there on several occasions throughout the decades. The hotel accommodated his eccentricities, including his request for roast beef sandwiches to be delivered to a nook in a tree.

Bungalow No. 5 was a favorite of both Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor; it’s the biggest bungalow (four bedrooms) and features a private pool. The pool was built by Walter Annenberg because he and Mrs. Annenberg didn’t care for walking all the way to the main pool. (Bungalow rates are available upon request.)

Stay in Line

The Fountain Room is a low-key breakfast hangout. There are only nineteen bar stools and everyone waits in line, regardless of fame or Oscar ownership.

Women Who Wear the Pants
Marlene Dietrich refused to abide by the “women must wear dresses” code at the Polo Lounge. From then on, women were allowed to wear slacks.

Then & Now
The famous red carpet entrance has not changed since this photo was shot in the 1950s.

Pooling Resources
The Polo Lounge isn’t the only place where movie magic has happened. Legend has it that Leonard Bernstein came up with the idea for West Side Story in Cabana No. 3.

Blast From the Past
The pool scene at Hotel Bel-Air in 1951. The pool was originally the horse paddock at the Bel-Air estates. It has not changed since it was built except for the removal of the diving board.

The Hotel Bel-Air
The Hotel Bel-Air is equally well-known and as elegant as the Beverly Hills Hotel, just a tad more reserved and understated. (Think Jennifer Lopez vs. Meryl Streep.) There are only 103 rooms and suites spread across the twelve-acre property, leaving a lot of space for nature. A walk from your room to the restaurant takes you past bubbly fountains, tropical trees and hidden gardens. In addition to the iconic swans (who are almost as famous as the stars who have stayed here), the hotel has a new resident, Apollo the turtle, who simply appeared one day and is now the adored and protected hotel mascot. Smart turtle.

The hotel originally opened in 1946 and has hosted as many stars as the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Grace Kelly has a suite named after her, and Marilyn Monroe posed for her last photo shoot at the hotel’s pool. The sitting has been immortalized in the book The Last Sitting by Bert Stern.

The only thing new about the hotel are the suites that were built into the canyon hills during a 2011 renovation. The exterior maintains its old-world stateliness, but the interiors feature luxe amenities like TVs hidden in mirrors and automated toilets complete with heated seats. We recommend the Canyon Studio (starting at $1,400 per night). The room spills outdoors with a private spa pool and fireplace on the patio.

Grab dinner at the restaurant named after head chef Wolfgang Puck and there is a better than average chance that the man himself will stop by your table to ensure that the meal is to your liking.

Love Birds

Two of the famous swans who live at Swan Lake in front of the Hotel Bel-Air

Privite Idaho
Booths at Wolfgang Puck restaurant are secluded so that stars can easily enjoy a meal without anyone realizing they are there.



Plane & Simple

Photograph by ©stefano garau/

Think flying private is only for celebrities and trust fund babies? Though they might be the most obvious passengers, skipping the security lines and overly familiar pat downs is becoming more accessible for the rest of us.

The reasons to fly private are as numerous as the ways to do it. It could be an emergency that demands an overnight flight from a small airport; a snowstorm that cancels a flight, stranding desperate skiers; or simply the desire to travel in style to a blow-out birthday celebration.

Kim-Marie hops aboard VistaJet

If you need a jet and you need it now, but you don’t plan on making it a regular thing (though you may change your mind after seeing how the other half flies), you’ll need a jet broker. There are 2,500 different charter operators. We suggest checking out Magellan Jets. It offers on-demand charters that will meet your specific needs (this travel writer used them to book a flight from Jackson Hole to Joplin, Missouri—you won’t find that on a Delta itinerary). All of its charter planes meet such rigorous safety standards that it was the first private jet broker accepted by the Air Charter Safety Foundation.

While it’s hard to compare prices, an approximate quote for a flight from White Plains to Turks and Caicos on a Hawker 400XP that seats seven, is roughly $32,000 round trip. A single first-class Delta flight runs around $3,200, so it’s not that much more for a serious upgrade. Magellan also offers the option to buy a jet card and book flights against your balance.

If you want to fly private all the time but don’t want to take on the hassle of actually owning a plane (I mean, who does?), consider a jet club membership. Fractional ownership means that the whole plane is yours—no shared flights, just shared ownership.

NetJets makes life simple—you buy a Jet Card and book flights against the balance. A twenty-five-hour membership card on a light jet starts at $170,000. Need a bigger plane because the whole squad is coming? NetJets says it has the largest fleet of private planes and prides itself on making upgrading easy. Members can book and board in as few as four hours. Dogs are not only welcome—special doggy meals are offered. If paparazzi are a problem, NetJets will provide discretion and access to private entrances.

VistaJet is all over celebrity Instagrams. Spotted deplaning its distinctive aircraft? Will and Kate, George Clooney and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Flying private is already pretty swank, but flying VistaJet is even better. Its flight attendants are trained at the Butler’s Institute of London, its Nobu partnership takes in-flight fare up a notch and it even promises better cabin air. They pressurize at 4,000 feet versus 10,000, which means more oxygen, less exhaustion. The least expensive contract available is $600,000 per year for fifty hours of flying time. Membership requires a three-year commitment—shoulder-brush with Clooney not included.

With a membership to JetSmarter, no miles are clocked. You fly “free” as often as you want throughout the year. The catch? You’re sharing the plane with other members, itineraries can be limited and flights longer than three hours can cost extra.

There are two levels of membership. For $15,000 annually you can fly unlimited on scheduled flights that are under three hours. However, you can only book two legs at a time. So hopping from destination to destination needs to be booked as you go.

For $50,000 annually you don’t pay a surcharge for flights longer than three hours and you’re able to book four legs at a time.

There is a $2,500 initiation fee for the less expensive membership, but we have it on good authority that it can be negotiated.

Membership at both levels allows you to book seats on JetSmarter shuttle flights between cities or spend-up and charter a flight that suits your specific need but only pay for the seats you use. In addition to the regular flights, JetSmarter creates routes for popular events like SXSW, Art Basel and Sundance Film Festival.

Booking is done through the app. This service is perfect for the gadabout who is free to jet to Miami last minute to escape the frigid temps and doesn’t need a specific date or time.



Look Before Book

Above: Curtain Bluff is ready for you –  Photograph by Curtain Bluff

Over the last few months, I’ve visited several Caribbean Islands, and the question I get asked more often than “Who is watching your children?” is “Are the islands really okay after the hurricanes?”

The answer is that the vast majority of the islands are open for business. The Caribbean covers an area of over 1 million square miles. That’s almost one third of the entire United States. There are islands that are still recovering, and some may take a long time, but the media has left many travelers with the impression that the entire Caribbean has been devastated. Not only is this misleading, it’s damaging. The region supports more than 2.4 million tourism-related jobs and when travelers stay away unnecessarily, those economies suffer.

Left: Kim-Marie making sure the water is just right in St. Lucia
Right: Prince Charles on his recent visit to Antigua – Photograph by gettyimages/©Chris Jackson

On a recent visit to Antigua to review the recently upgraded Curtain Bluff Resort, there was another well-known guest on the island, Prince Charles. The Daily Mail reported that the Prince was “cheering up those in the hurricane ravaged nation.” The story left the impression that Antigua was seriously damaged. Laying under a palm tree with nary a coconut out of place, I realized how misleading this was. Antigua’s sister island Barbuda, however, was almost entirely destroyed. Curtain Bluff recently donated $100,000 to aid in the rebuilding of the tiny island.

For a little insight, we spoke to travel writer and Caribbean expert Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon. She tells us, “It will likely be months before the hardest hit islands like Barbuda, Puerto Rico and some of the Virgin Islands will be ready for visitors. But from the Bahamas to Tobago, the Cayman Islands to St. Lucia, there’s still a lot of Caribbean to go around. The best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean.”

Left: How St. Lucians commute to work; Right: Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
Photographs by Kim-Marie Evans

While there are about half the usual number of available guest rooms on the British Virgin Islands, the BVIs (along with St. Barths, St. Thomas and St. Maarten) will still host the Caribbean Regattas. Some smaller properties like Treasure Island and Sebastian’s were set to open this winter, but there has been no reopening date set for the Bitter End Yacht Club.

Yacht charter companies are also back in business. The Moorings, Marine Max Vacations and Festiva Sailing all reopened in December. So pack your swim trunks, book your flight and know that you’ll be doing a good deed, all while getting a tan and enjoying a mai tai.




Oh, Pourtland!

Above: The party is never too far away. 

Anyone who has seen the Portlandia episode where the diners refuse to eat a chicken dish until they are assured that their meal had lived a carefree and bucolic life might assume the writers are exaggerating for comedic effect. But where food comes from is no joke in this part of the Pacific Northwest. A locally famous chef was once arrested after starting a brawl over the pedigree of the pig in another chef’s dish. For lovers of fine food, craft beer and low-key wineries, head west and leave the Gucci and luxury cars behind. Here, flannel shirts are couture and bicycles are the mode du jour.

Portland doesn’t follow trends, it creates them. (There’s almost nothing you won’t find on tap, even tea.) There are more breweries than any other city in the world, but it isn’t called “craft beer,” it’s just beer. The locals say it’s better, and nearly every listicle of Best Places to Eat and Drink agrees. You could say it’s teamwork that makes everything happen. Local winemakers and distillers share barrels with brewers, inspiring a vast range of barrel-aged beers. Brewers collaborate with chefs, salt makers, honey producers and farmers, who provide ingredients that end up in one-of-a-kind beers. They even boast “beer-fed beef,” cows that consume the spent grain from the breweries. The Ex Novo Brewing Company lives out its motto of “Better Beer for the Greater Good” by giving all of its profits to charities with a social justice angle. Word is, the beer is as good as their mission.


The most Portland thing you ever might do is to book a seat on the Brewcycle, a fifteen-seat mobile party machine that makes stops at some of the most famous breweries. Yes, you really have to pedal; no you can’t drink while riding; yes, it’s as fun as it sounds. There are three routes to choose from, including the Dive Bar Route. With more breweries than any other city on earth, you have to narrow your list somehow.

No need to head to the gym after this unique tour.

Whiskey makers rely on the same unity of community as the breweries when it comes to creating authentic Oregon whiskey. Five years in the making, Bull Run Distillery’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey combines pure water from Bull Run Watershed and 100 percent malted barley from the Klamath Basin, aged in American char oak barrels sourced from Western Oregon. Grab a Portland Distillery Passport (from any of the participating distilleries or go to for complimentary tastings at eleven distilleries.

We’d recommend not hitting all of the eleven distilleries in one day.

With more than fifteen urban wineries in the city, Portland is one of the only U.S. cities that warrants an all-out wine-bar hop. The grapes are all locally sourced from the nearby vineyards in Willamette Valley and beyond, but the winemaking and tasting is all urban Portland. Hop on The Short Bus (that’s really the name) and embark on a journey through industrial warehouses, trendy tasting rooms and residential garages where winemakers ply their trade. Wineries on the tour include Clay Pigeon, Hip Chicks do Wine, Seven Bridges and Urban Crush.

Clay Pigeon Winery

Oregon Wines may not have the swagger of those from the hills of Italy or Provence, but the Willamette Valley was named Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2016.

The valley is home to over 500 wineries and is famous for its Pinot Noirs. They trade on the unique maritime climate and an aesthetic that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Naked Winery has an official mission statement to cut America’s divorce rate in half by encouraging couples to connect with a nightly glass of wine. (Grab a bottle of Foreplay and, well, you get the point.) At the Plum Hill winery, ride horseback through the vineyards and then unwind with a bottle of Mama Cask or Grapeful Dead.

The list goes on, so be sure to spend a few days in the wine country.

Considering Portland’s thirst for good coffee and appreciation for fine spirits, it was inevitable that these two worlds would collide. Local distillers have approached local coffee roasters in search of booze-friendly blends.

Eastside Distilling & Portland Roasting Coffee
Below Deck Coffee Rum

New Deal Distillery & Water Avenue Coffee
Coffee Liqueur

House Spirits Distillery & Stumptown Coffee Roasters
House Spirits Coffee Liqueur


Go glamping back in time at The Vintages Trailer Resort. These 1950s trailers will give you a serious dose of nostalgia, and they’re so inexpensive you can use all that extra cash on cases of wine. The resort is centrally located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, halfway between Dundee and Historic Downtown McMinnville. The trailers are grouped together in their own neighborhood within the fourteen-acre Willamette Wine Country RV Park. You’ll get all the amenities you’d get in a hotel: housekeeping, high thread count linens, luscious terry-cloth robes, a pool and hot tub. But you’d be hard- pressed to find a hotel that provides you with a propane grill, hip cruiser bikes and the ultimate Instagram-worthy stay. Rates start at around $115 per night.


Sleeps Three
Private Bath
L’Occitane Bath Amenities
Two Super Comfy Robes
Outdoor Patio Area with
Chairs and Table
Outdoor Propane BBQ
Dishes & Silverware
Two Cruiser Bikes
iPhone Dock
Small Flat-Screen TV


You might think Oregon’s best hotel would be in Portland, but Travel and Leisure readers voted The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg as best in the state. The hotel also ranks in the magazine’s Top Five for Best Wine Country Hotels in the world. The drive from Portland is just under an hour, and despite providing serious luxury, the hotel is also LEED certified. The hotel is home to seven acres of grapevines, fields and gardens, and in true Pacific Northwest style, the spa uses local berries, roses, wine and honey in the treatments. Rates start at $420 per night.



Rules to Fly By

The headlines about traveling overseas seem endless and contradictory. There’s a laptop ban. Wait, no there isn’t. Europe is mad at us so now we need visas. How do I get one? Was it just an attention-grabbing headline? Is it a rule? Here’s what you need to know and where to look online for the most current information.

Since March those flying from any one of ten Muslim-majority countries have been unable to keep their laptops in the cabin. Even a travel writer returning from covering a hotel in Dubai would need to relinquish her rose gold Mac for the fourteen- hour flight. However, the talk of expanding the ban appears to have been just that—talk. What did happen was that 280 airports that are the last points of departure for the U.S. complied with a Homeland Security directive to prove their ability to screen passengers for trace amounts of explosives. At the end of July, the TSA announced that travelers should expect to be asked to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in a separate bin. This includes iPads, e-readers, etc. Your best source for up-to-date rules (believe us, they change quickly) is

In March the E.U. released a statement that unless the U.S. lifted visa requirements for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania they would force U.S. citizens to obtain visas to visit all E.U. countries. This made huge headlines. Two months later they announced that visas would not be required for U.S. citizens, and they would seek other avenues for making travel easier for the five affected countries. Not such big headlines. On a related note, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert in May for all of Europe, citing potential risk of terrorist attacks. The warning is set to expire this month.

Of course you know that a passport is required for travel outside of the U.S., but what you may not know is that some countries require that your passport does not expire within three or six months of your arrival. The best place to look for current information regarding passport requirements is at Each country makes its own rules, which can change quickly.

Other big headlines have surrounded the change in ID requirements and the new verified driver’s license or “Real ID.” Go to for the list of documents you will need at the DMV to obtain a verified license. The law that will require this new license to fly goes into effect in January of 2018. However, Connecticut has an extension so the effect won’t be felt until October 1, 2020, when every traveler will need to present a compliant license or passport for domestic travel. A list of other acceptable forms of ID are listed on Children under eighteen will still not be required to have identification as long as they are traveling with a companion. Do you have a Real ID? If your license has a star, you do.




Stowe Away

Above: merkushev/

Over the years many ski resorts have claimed to be the “Vail of the East,” but thanks to a recent acquisition, Stowe Mountain Resort really is just that. Vail Resorts has been on a bit of buying spree as of late, acquiring Park City Mountain Resort in Utah and Whistler/Blackcomb in Canada, to name a few. We can see why Vail would want Stowe; in addition to bragging rights as the tallest peak in Vermont, the Stowe you skied growing up has gone seriously upscale.

Skiers have been frequenting Stowe since the 1930s for the steep vertical and bounty of nature-made snow. Back then the single chairlift was a technological wonder that meant skiers didn’t have to schlep their gear up the steep climb to try out the new fad of skiing. What started out as a one-run wonder now boasts 116 trails accessed by twelve lifts—including more mile-long lifts than any other resort in the East. The terrain ranges from serious beginner (a magic carpet complete with tunnel so tykes don’t get snowed on) to the thrill-seeker’s dream “Front Four” trails—National, Goat, Starr and Liftline.

Stowe has been redeveloping its base to rival iconic ski resorts such as Whistler and Beaver Creek since 2000. Where the base was once a long pop-up tent with few slope-side facilities, there is now a swank alpine village centered around a stunning 10,000-square-foot ice rink. When the sun drops behind the mountain, skaters twirl under fairy lights to the sounds of piped in music. The skating is free, and there are occasional performances by Olympic skaters.

Skiers (and boarders) can pop into The First Chair retail shop and get kitted out in the latest winter fashions and then tuck into the Skinny Pancake for a crepe and enjoy the village ambience.

Left: Stowe Mountain Lodge
Right: The Stowe Adventure Center, The place where the kids should be climbing the walls

Slip out of your skis and into your PJs at the Stowe Mountain Lodge. A couple can tuck into a studio for around $799 per night. Or bring the entire family and book one of the Front Four residences where you’ll have exclusive access to a private concierge, private check-in and daily continental breakfast. Rates start at $2,069 per night.

If the kids want to bring friends, consider the free standing Five Bedroom Homesite that easily accommodates ten guests with never-ending mountain views.

The relatively new Field Guide hotel is just down the hill from the Stowe Mountain Lodge (the town shuttle bus stops out front). The hotel has been completely transformed with a fresh take on ski style. Out with the heavy old wood and dusty velvet drapes and in with white fuzzy rugs, tree stump tables and sleek mid-century inspired chairs. The thirty accommodations range from standard rooms to apartment-like suites and stand-alone cottages (some are even pet-friendly). You’ll find lush lounge areas with vintage board games and fireplaces for enjoying après ski cocktails. Rates start at $159 for a standard queen room to $319 for a cottage suite. But be warned, with so few rooms and so much buzz, they sell out quickly.

With 116 trails, there’s no chance of getting bored at Stowe.

The Stowe Adventure Center is home to the mountain’s ski school, with beginner lifts nearby. A bonus for parents is the ability to drop little ones off without gear—the ski school will fit them with skis, boots, helmets and poles (for a price). No more hauling gear to the car at the end of the day; all equipment can be stored overnight. (Children, however, cannot be stored.) After 3 p.m. little skiers can burn off excess energy at Stowe Rocks—a climbing gym that mimics some of the nearby natural rock formations and features a 40-foot climbing tower.

Who would think that becoming a Vail resort would make Stowe less expensive? While the single daily ticket prices will stay the same or possibly increase (last year, skiers paid $124 for a one-day pass; $97 online), the pass deals are quite attractive. In fact, other East Coast resorts say they are dropping pass prices in an effort to compete.

For ten days at any Vail Resort (some blackouts apply)

Unlimited skiing, no blackouts, any Vail Resort (compare to last year’s Stowe Mountain season pass price of $1,860). The Epic Pass also includes the Epic Mix app that tracks runs skied, vertical feet and plenty of other data for the stat-obsessed skier.


The Stowe Mountain Club at Spruce Peak takes the pain out of skiing. Members who don’t live slope-side can pull into an underground parking lot where both car and skis are whisked away by valets. And there’s no jostling for bench space or fishing for quarters in a crowded locker room. Members enjoy swank private digs with leather benches and generous lockers. Skis can be stored overnight or for the season.

The stunning clubhouse overlooks the ice rink and offers private dining options that mean no hunting for a table while clutching a plastic tray. Members have access to the spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge, which even has a separate Kid Spa offering services like a Chillax session or a Toasty Toes Pedicure. Membership levels range in price and do not all require a real estate purchase. Guests can try out a membership by purchasing the Member for a Weekend package that includes accommodations, two lift tickets and a $200 spa credit.



Drink Up Buttercup

Above: Durant & Booth

With the Dapper Reserve Tasting at Durant & Booth, you’ll taste five limited-production wines, including some rare selections. Each wine is paired with local cheeses and charcuterie from Oakville Grocery.

The tiny wine tasting room is fairly new, having opened just a year ago, but it occupies one of the oldest buildings in Napa, the home of Frederick Durant. Durant and his partner Joseph Booth owned the neighboring Oakville Grocery and offered travelers “refreshments” during Prohibition. Sheriff Jack “The Dapper Deputy” Steckter conveniently turned a blind eye to these questionable activities and so his legend lives on with the tasting named after him.

In addition, Durant & Booth offers art classes inspired by its marbled wine labels. Cost: $40 per person (for the tasting)

Pro Tip: very few wineries offer free tastings, and those that do are not worth your time.

Durant & Booth


Though this experience isn’t new, it’s not well-known and is a must-do for any self-respecting Cabernet lover. Book the Barrel Blending Experience and you get to play winemaker. In this one-of-a-kind seminar, you taste barrel samples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals before blending your own bottle to take home. Should you really fall in love with your wine-making skills, you can order a case of your blend. Cost: $125 per person


It’s no mistake that this chateau has a very French feel. The winery was founded by Claude Taittinger of the famed Champagne-making family. Though the building is not historic (you would never know), it was inspired by the classic eighteenth- century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France—home of Champagne Taittinger.

Tour the grounds, dine on the patio or take a peek at the most fabulous factory ever—the one that bottles the bubbly. Book the Ultimate Chips and Dip Experience and you will get a table with a view and, if you’re lucky, Olga will wait on you and teach you about brut and late disgorged Champagne (Champagne that has been aged longer than usual). The winery is famous for its Le Rêve Blanc de Blanc. You can taste this and if you ask nicely, they’ll even pour you a few extra glasses.

This experience is designed for two guests. It includes three tastes of Domaine Carneros sparkling wines paired by Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, accompanied with gourmet potato chips (they tasted like regular potato chips to me, but when you put caviar on top, who cares?), toast points and crème fraîche. Pro tip: Don’t book any other tastings after this one, trust us. Cost: $350 for two people

Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Château @ Domaine Carneros Winery) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



Visit and for more information.



Wine Not?

Above: Napa in all its glory

Some places, like some things, are more than the sum of their parts. Napa Valley is a tiny thirty-mile dot on the map, yet it is to wine enthusiasts around the country what Wally World was to the Griswolds. Napa or bust. When most people refer to “Napa,” they don’t realize that the famed area is actually the sum of nine towns. Almost all of the wineries are family-owned, and every conversation with a winemaker proves that wine runs through their veins. We toured the area (it was a tough job, but someone had to do it) to bring you these not-to-be-missed experiences.

Two Birds/One Stone

Napa is home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants—the most famous among them The French Laundry and La Toque. But we highly recommend getting Two Birds/One Stone on your reservation list. The brainchild of acclaimed Chefs Douglas Keane and Sang Yoon, this yakitori-style eatery offers small plates that are as creative as they are accessible—from deviled jidori eggs and crispy Sonoma duck leg to wagyu short ribs and wok-roasted corn. As for the impressive wine list, you won’t find bottles listed by grape or region but rather by the winemakers who have created them specifically to be paired with the restaurant’s entrées. How’s that for local?

Las Alcobas

For the first time in seventeen years, there is a brand-new boutique hotel in Napa Valley. What was once a farmhouse at the top of a hill in charming St. Helena is now the entrance to Las Alcobas Napa Valley—the hottest hotel to open here in years. The interiors are by design superstar Yabu Pushelberg and the restaurant is helmed by celebrity chef Chris Cosentino, but at this hotel Mother Nature is the real superstar. Calling the rooms merely “Vineyard View Rooms” is to grossly undersell them. Many hotels offer rooms that are a “short walk” to a vineyard or have a dubious view where guests might spy a sliver of vineyard. Here, the deluxe rooms and suites overlook the estate and offer stunning vineyard views.

Las Alcobas

The Atrio Spa is as modern as the treatments are ancient. Choose from yin and yang balancing, naturopathic hydration, coffee body scrubs, and massages with origins from China, India and Thailand. A custom aromatherapy experience allows clients to co-create a therapeutic oil at the blending bar.

The hotel’s restaurant, the Acacia House offers a highly seasonal menu and is most certainly going to be on the list of hot eateries in Napa in the near future. In addition to the inventive dinner menu, the restaurant also offers picnic baskets filled with guilty pleasures like cold fried chicken.

Rooms start at $695.



Finding Atlantis

The typical advice to those contemplating a trip to the 141-acre Atlantis Bahamas Resort has been to book a stay at The Cove, the upscale hotel within a hotel at the sprawling water wonderland. But this month, the resort unveils the brand- new Coral at Atlantis, offering families an ultimate—and economical—option.

Here, a personal concierge is available to help you navigate the endless list of activities. Guest rooms offer a variety of games and tiny robes for the littlest visitors and in-room refrigerators can be prestocked—no more “hangry” meltdowns at check-in. Guests also have exclusive access to the cabana-lined pool featuring a swim-up bar serving kid-friendly cocktails.

A variety of immersive adventures give dolphin lovers the chance to spend time with the resort’s majestic creatures, many of whom were rescued during Hurricane Katrina. There is sunrise snorkeling, paddleboarding and glass bottom kayaking, all designed to let the dolphins do what they love—swim and play. (There are no tricks or posed photos.) Children too young to snorkel or kayak can “Rise and Shine with Dolphins” at 7 a.m. They’ll play beach games and splash in knee-deep water while the dolphins get ready for their day (experiences range from $25 for Rise and Shine to $85 for snorkeling).

The renovations are part of a larger overhaul of the entire Atlantis Bahamas Resort. The Beach Tower will soon offer all-inclusive stays and in July the Marina Village will be unveiled as a culinary destination, providing local chefs a platform to bring their cuisines to the resort. Rooms start at $329 per night.



A Shore Thing

It seems unlikely that a middle-aged Canadian man would be the visionary behind the sexiest new hotel in the Caribbean. But Stan Hartling just showed up to the Turks and Caicos party with the island’s new It girl—THE SHORE CLUB. The man behind The Palms on the famous Grace Bay Beach has turned a previously desolate stretch of beach into the new home of a world-class hotel.

Prior to the Shore Club’s grand opening in January, the only people you would find wandering the secluded Long Bay Beach were intrepid snorkelers and kite boarders. Now the area serves as a luxe hideaway for those in search of seclusion with every amenity.



Sea & Be Seen

Above: M/Y Grace overview – Cabins: 9 • Decks: 4  • Crew: 9 + 2 Naturalist guides

All yachts are boats, but not all boats are yachts. To be considered a yacht, a boat must be at least thirty-three feet long and used for recreation. But just as a Mercedes C-Class and Mercedes S-Class are both luxury cars, there are yachts and then there are super-yachts. A super-yacht needs to be longer than eighty feet and, well, it’s a safe bet you’ll know one when you see it.

If you’re in the market for a yacht charter, we’re going to assume that fun is at the top of your list. And that means toys. Forget wave runners. Today it’s about giant waterslides, Segways, movie theaters, helicopters, submarines, nightclubs, fully staffed spas and Seabobs (water scooters that you “drive” underwater, giving you the mobility of a dolphin).

Here, we’ve rounded up some over-the-top yachts that will float even the pickiest jet-setter’s proverbial boat.

Grace Kelly c. 1954Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Grace Kelly c. 1954
Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
To explore the Galapagos Islands in style, consider a private charter of M/Y Grace, a historic ship that has a rich history. It was used by Grace Kelly for her honeymoon, and is now owned by Quasar Expeditions. Guests not only enjoy the ultimate in luxury onboard, but have the ability to explore the pristine wildlife of the islands with expert guides. The ship sleeps eighteen guests. Rates start at $98,000 per week for private charter.


For those who want a “go anywhere” yacht, consider Legend. With thirteen cabins, nineteen crew and optional helicopter, submarine and snow scooters, there is literally nothing you can’t do. Legend can hold twenty-six guests, and since her hull is an icebreaker, she’s able to explore the more remote areas of the world, such as South America, Antarctica, Greenland, the Norwegian Fjords and the Arctic Circle. Weekly rates start at $484,000. Cost to add sub is $90,000 per week and $275,000 for a helicopter that seats up to five guests.

The Legend’s interior</em
The Legend’s interior

For the party of the century, charter Global. This 220- foot beauty accommodates twelve people and the toy list reads like an oligarch’s Christmas wish list. Available options include a helicopter, submarines, amphibious car, motorcycles, motorized bikes, jet surf, flyboard, Seabobs, kiteboards, windsurfers, dive gear and a decompression chamber. This is all in addition to the game room, deck pool and cinema. Global is based in the Bahamas and charters for a weekly base rate of $150,000.

Night view of the pool aboard The World
Night view of the pool aboard The World

Want to live on a yacht and circle the globe continuously? Consider buying a home aboard The World, the only residential community at sea. Apartments start at $1.7 million and go up to $16 million. Caveat: You must prove a net worth of $10 million to be considered for ownership. Guests spend as long as they want onboard, with the average owner staying three to six months. Since it launched in 2002, the floating city has visited more than 900 ports in more than 140 countries.

An apartment aboard The World
An apartment aboard The World

Looking for a little intrigue? Charter the yacht featured in the 007 movie Casino Royale. At 108 feet, the yacht bearing the movie’s name qualifies as a super-yacht, but is fast enough for a quick getaway topping out at speeds of forty-five knots per hour. It sleeps eight guests in five cabins, is based in Croatia and can be yours for a base rate of $68,390 a week.




The Year of You

We can’t be the only ones who start each New Year with a heartfelt promise to ourselves that this will be the year we will finally get in shape, eat better, manage our stress or transform our lives. According to statistics, 45 percent of us make resolutions but only 8 percent of us actually keep them. This month we highlight ten destinations that offer the chance at real transformation from the traditional (like weight loss and eating habits) to slightly less tangible (like enlightenment and self-esteem). We know that true transformation takes serious commitment but as they say, the journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step. Here’s your chance.

Mayflower Grace
It somehow seems fitting that the path to heaven is a short bucolic drive up North. You can drop the kids at school and be snuggled up in a spa robe ready for a massage in a little over an hour later. The Mayflower Grace is a luxury retreat with accommodations that are Downton Abbey-worthy (but with a 20,000-square-foot world-class spa.)

There are only thirty rooms and each will leave you feeling
like you’re visiting royalty. The spacious Grace Suite is filled with antiques and features a fireplace, a bed canopied in silk and your own patio.

The Setting
Mayflower Grace is set in the gorgeous rolling countryside of Washington in Litchfield County. (The fictional town of Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow was based on this picturesque town.) Take the Mayflower Trail for a walk through the forest or enjoy the outdoor pool in summer. The Shakespeare Garden is charming regardless of season or relax by the sun-drenched indoor pool before your spa treatment.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Sound Healing
For decades, people have relaxed and meditated to soothing sounds, including recordings of waves lapping, waterfalls and wind chimes.  Sound healing, also known as vibrational medicine, offers a spa experience without massage. The treatment is based on ancient Tibetan medicine that uses the sound and vibration of bowls to alter brain wave frequencies and induce a deep meditative and peaceful state. More than just relaxing, sound therapy is also used as a powerful pain reliever.

Classic rooms start at $525 and Grace Suites at $1,425. All spa services are priced separately.

The Lodge at Woodloch
There’s no need to fire up the jet for a world-class spa getaway. Both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure have consistently rated The Lodge at Woodloch as one of the Top Destination Spas in the World. Located in the Pocono Mountains, Woodloch is just a two-hour drive away.

Nature is woven into every inch of this spa, and the rooms are no exception. Each room has a private balcony with a view of either the lake or the rock garden waterfall. “The Lodge at Woodloch provides an escape from the real world while grounding each guest in the nature that surrounds us,” explains Robert Baldassari, general manager of The Lodge.

The Setting
The lavish 40,000-square-foot spa is a sanctuary for the senses. Choose from a nap by the fireplace in the Whisper Lounge or a therapeutic soak in the Aqua Garden. For a massage after your massage, swim under the cascading waters of the hydro-massage WaterWalls. Outside, Mother Nature serves up a spa experience with hundreds of acres of pristine woodland gardens, docks and waterscapes.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Forest Bathing
Statistics say that we spend 87 percent of our time indoors and 6 percent in an enclosed vehicle. Yet a growing body of research finds that spending time in the great outdoors has some very real medicinal effects. Despite the name, there is no nudity or soap involved. The goal is to simply spend time in nature with no particular goal. It’s not a hike, it’s about slowing down and being in nature. It might sound simple, and maybe even hokey, but science backs up forest bathers. Data from field experiments conducted in twenty-four forests across Japan (where the practice started and is known as shinrin-yoku) found that subjects who participated in forest bathing had lower blood pressure and heart rate and concentrations of cortisol—a stress hormone—when compared with those who walked through a city setting. Other studies have found a boost in immune function from forest bathing. It can’t hurt, right?

Rooms can be booked with a $125 per day credit toward spa services included or with services a la carte. Veranda rooms start at $329 for an a la carte package and $429 with spa credit included. All rooms include three meals per day.

Canyon Ranch, Lenox
Canyon Ranch started out in 1979 as a Tucson fat farm. It now has resorts with full spa services in Lenox, Massachusetts; Las Vegas; Turkey and aboard the Queen Mary 2. You could fly to Turkey or Las Vegas, but everything you are looking for is just a short and scenic drive up the Taconic Parkway.

Many of the rooms
at Canyon Ranch, Lenox, are just upside of spartan. At the high end they resemble a mid-priced hotel, but you’re not here for the room.

The Setting
At the heart of the Lenox campus is the century-old Bellefontaine Mansion surrounded by the lush Berkshire woodscape. The mansion was meticulously restored and now serves as the centerpiece to the wellness and spa programs. The grounds are an assemblage of rambling gardens with Adirondack chairs in quiet spaces.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Integrative Medicine
Visiting the doctor might not be high on your list of fantasy spa services. But for those suffering from chronic pain, diseases or other problems, a trip to the Canyon Ranch doctor can be life-changing. The integrative approach is personalized and blends Western medicine (they are all board-certified MDs), holistic medicine and Eastern therapies. Unlike a typical doctor’s visit that is rushed and usually results in a prescription, Canyon Ranch doctors will spend almost a full hour with each patient. They offer non-traditional laboratory testing and  recommendations and will follow up with your physician.

January through March starts at $1,650 per person for a two-night stay. There is no single-night option. All meals and a generous spa allowance are included in each package. If you are considering a medical visit, book the Optimal Living package, which includes additional medical appointments.

Omega Institute
Our very own editor describes her time at the Omega Institute as not only relaxing, but life-altering. Originally conceived as a “university of life,” the campus in nearby Rhinebeck has played host to world-renowned teachers, philosophers and change-makers including Deepak Chopra, Al Gore and Gloria Steinem.

If you are looking for a luxury spa experience, you will not find it here. Lodging options range from campsites to what are referred to as “deluxe cabins.” Some guests choose to stay off campus for more creature comforts, but those who bunk-in say the simple dwellings fit the entire experience.

The Setting
Wander through the many gardens, go for a hike or take a swing in a hammock on the shores of Long Pond Lake. The sprawling campus is only open from May through October. In the warmer months, guests swim and boat in the tranquil lake that is home to a few endangered species, including the adorable Blanding’s turtle.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Life-Changing Learning
Omega is loath to be called a “spa,” but it offers world-class spa services. Guests return year after year because of the inspiring workshops and access to big name thought leaders. Internationally known Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn will be leading several weeklong workshops in Rhinebeck in 2017. He is a well-known author and the founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction. (MBSR). The practice is becoming a mainstream way to help manage pain, stress and illness. In addition to weeklong conferences, daily workshops, weekend retreats and even online classes are available.

A deluxe double-room cabin is $594 per person for a two-night stay, a single cabin is $692. Guests who choose to stay off campus pay a $100 daily commuter fee in addition to workshop fees. Room rates include three meals per day and a variety of activities.

Arizona is so chock-full of spas that it’s a wonder anything happens here that doesn’t involve essential oils and a good massage. Miraval has a few things that set it apart, with the most famous being its Equine Experience run by Wyatt Webb, the man many believed to be the real-life inspiration for The Horse Whisperer (a claim Wyatt denies).

Lodging options range from cozy rooms to decadent villas that spill out into the desert landscape. Rooms are grouped into six villages and feature sustainably sourced materials.

The Setting
Miraval is a desert oasis near Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains. Guests have unlimited access to the hiking, biking and challenge courses on the sprawling landscape. Those looking for more extreme experiences can go rock climbing at nearby Mt. Lemmon (they swear no experience is necessary) or stay close to home and indulge in one of the three swimming pools.

Don’t-Miss Experience
It’s Not About the Horse
This experience promises to help you rediscover the life you were meant to lead. As bold of a statement as this might be, devotees of Wyatt tearfully recall the lasting change this therapy has made in their lives. Guests are invited to choose a horse (though you’ll quickly learn the horse chooses you) to work with. Riders take note—you never actually get on the horse. This is about interacting with the animal in order to understand how our internal dialogue
and preconceived notions impact our successes and failures in life. Wyatt gently and wisely guides participants through the journey of understanding their patterns of learned behavior. Daily classes as well as four-day workshops are offered.

Rooms start at $525 and include $175 in spa credits and all meals; rates for a villa start at $2,500 per night.

Mii amo
Mii amo is a haven within the spectacular luxury resort Enchantment, with only sixteen guest rooms and suites bordered by the red rock canyons for which Sedona is so famous. This spa can truly call itself a retreat: It’s the kind of place where people are urged to write down their worries and discard them, literally and symbolically, in a wicker basket. (The staff promises they burn them.)

Lodging ranges from the fabulous to the sublime. Every casita has its own outdoor patio and the Mii amo Luxury Suite has its own massage suite.

The Setting
The location is splendid both physically and spiritually. Inspiration for the spa came from the stark beauty of the surrounding Boynton Canyon and the rich history of the local Native American tribes and their traditions.

Don’t-Miss Experiencee
Inner Quest
Reflective of Native American ceremony and ritual, this treatment utilizes elements sacred to Native Americans and was developed by tribal elders for the resort. Therapists are trained specifically for this treatment and blessed by the elders. The treatment is a combination of ritual and guided meditation. During the treatment you are wrapped in the Circle of Life blanket, which is used to create the warmth of a sweat lodge. The therapist will burn sweet grass to cleanse the room while leading you through deep guided meditation.

A three-night stay starts at about $1,200 per night for a standard room. Rooms can only be booked for three-, four- or seven-night stays. Meals, two spa treatments per day and even a robe (yes, to take home) are included.

Cal a Vie
Cal a Vie is one of the poshest spas in this roundup. Not surprisingly, it’s a celeb favorite. Here you’ll rub elbows with the likes of Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey during yoga class. The heady mix of the lush surroundings, programs that are entirely tailored to you and four-times-a-day maid service make Cal a Vie a hidden gem—a really fancy hidden gem.

There are only thirty-two villas on the property and each is a retreat in and of itself. After a day of hiking and exercise, collapse into a memory foam bed dressed in Frette linens. Enjoy the view of lavender coated hills from your private sundeck. A private villa is included in every spa package; shared accommodations can be requested if you want to share with your bestie.

The Setting
Think of an elegantly rustic Mediterranean resort full of antiques in a fairy tale setting just north of San Diego. Now add a 400-year-old candle-lit chapel, lavender drenched hills and a classic orangery, and Cal a Vie is as much a dream as it is a destination. Did we mention the 5-to-1 guest to staff ratio?

Don’t-Miss Experience
Personal Growth
For Old Greenwich’s Katrina Bischoff, the life-altering aspect of Cal a Vie wasn’t a massage or nature therapy, but simply the daily hike that every guest is encouraged to take. “The first day it’s only a mile, by the end of the week you are hiking five miles, sometimes so straight up that you can touch the ground in front of you.” She left the spa with a changed perspective about herself and her abilities. Another activity that has stayed with Katrina years later—the midnight yoga class she took in the candlelit chapel.

The smallest package is a three-night stay that includes meals, room and two spa treatments for $4,275 per person. And now we know why it’s a celeb favorite.

The Ranch at Malibu
Looking for a results-oriented, no-messing-around spa experience? The Ranch is for you. Whether you want to lose weight, shed inches or just get in shape, this is the place. The program is “no options,” meaning you don’t choose between classes, you are given a schedule for the week (you can’t come for less than a week). The Ranch’s mantra? “Health is the ultimate luxury.”

The program is limited to sixteen guests at any given time. Each guest enjoys one of the  private cottages, which are described as “rustically simple.” And it’s worth noting that you won’t find a Nespresso machine—caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol are all verboten here. 
A key component of the program is serious detox.

The Setting
Set on an historic working ranch three miles above the Pacific Ocean, The Ranch at Malibu spans 200 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. The sprawling grounds are designed to be rustic, yet refined and feature an open-air kitchen, certified organic garden, pool, jacuzzi and a massage “village.”  It’s designed to be a sequestered environment with no cell service and limited Wi-Fi.

Don’t-Miss Experience
A New You
Guests visit The Ranch for physical transformation and most achieve it. Women and men routinely lose 3 to 6 percent of their body weight during the seven-day program. Days are tightly scheduled, starting with gentle Tibetan chimes waking you up at  5:30 a.m. Stretching and breakfast are followed by a four and a half hour hike. The menu is vegan, yet delicious, and designed to help guests lose weight. The program is described as a luxury boot camp, emphasis on boot camp.

From January to June the weekly rate is $7,200 and July to December is $6,800. All meals are, of course, included.

Rancho La Puerta
Rancho La Puerta is the oldest destination spa in North America, changing lives since 1940. Though it’s technically in Mexico, it’s really just three miles across the border in sunny Tecate (visitors fly into San Diego airport). Return guests cite the ranch’s soul and its ninety-four-year-old founder, who is likely its most authentic advertisement, as the driving force behind their passion for this charming old-school resort.

There are eighty-six storybook casitas, and no two are the same. They are all decorated with handmade tile, Mexican folk art and colorful weavings. Some can accommodate three guests and all open onto gardens and large sun-filled patios.

The Setting
In addition to the Mediterranean-style gardens, olive groves, ponds and fountains, Rancho La Puerta boasts the most extensive on-site hiking program of any spa, anywhere, with over twenty-five miles of trails.

Don’t-Miss Experience
The Kitchen That Sings
La Cocina Que Canta is the heart of the organic farm and the place where lasting change happens. If you’ve always wanted to change the way you eat but didn’t know how, this is the place to learn. They’ve been growing organic food and serving up an almost vegetarian diet since long before it was trendy.

Reservations are restricted to one-week packages; prices start at $4,050 for a single and $3,550 for a double, per person. All meals are included; spa services and cooking classes are à la carte.

Tabacon is set in the lush rainforest on the west side of Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano. The hotel and spa at Tabacon is not a traditional destination spa but with eighteen natural hot tubs, we think they deserve representation.

All of the over 100 modern rooms have views of the surrounding rainforest. Many feature tubs and showers fed by the volcanic hot springs. Rooms can be booked for just one night and children are welcome (children not allowed at the spa or Shangri-La gardens).

The Setting
A river fed by natural hot springs winds through the massive spa property, which is just a short distance from the hotel. In addition to the tranquil pools and cascading waterfalls, there is a thermal waterslide courtesy of Mother Nature. At the spa, treatments are rendered in open-air bungalows.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Hot Springs
The healing powers of hot springs have been used for thousands of years; they contain a variety of minerals, including calcium and sodium bicarbonate. The water at Tabacon is 97 percent rainwater and 3 percent magma (the fluid that forms lava). When you bathe in it, your skin soaks in the minerals, which promote better sleep and overall health. Not to mention it feels amazing.

Rooms start at $380 per night. Spa services are priced separately; day passes for Thermal Spas are available for nonguests.

Rocky Mountain High

It’s All Uphill

At Monarch Mountain in Salida, Colorado, several uphill runs have recently opened. Yes, you read that correctly. The sport is also known as “skinning” or “ski touring.” Basically you hike up the hill you want to ski, no lift ticket required. (You can also hike to the Continental Divide on skis with special gear—bindings that free your heels and climbing skins that grip the snow.)

Aspen Snowmass has published an uphill guide and offers lessons and rentals to encourage skiers to head north, literally.

At Four Seasons Vail, you can hoof it to the top before the slopes open. Its Dawn Patrol program pairs guests with a guide for a pre-sunrise ascent and return downhill to breakfast at the resort. Note that not every mountain has embraced this trend; some actively discourage it. Look for a resort that has an established policy.

The uphill climb in Aspen
The uphill climb in Aspen

Hike, Shmike

In Telluride you can skip the liftlines by hopping in a chopper, sort of the opposite of earning the hill by hiking it. The three-day Heli-Ski Camp combines two days of heli-skiing training at the resort and one day of taking on the remote slopes and bowls of the San Juan Mountains. You don’t need to be a double-black-diamond monster to join in the fun, but you do need to be able to ski any typical blue run, be comfortable on all types of terrain and, most important,
be in great shape. Price tag for the three days is just over $2,000, massages for sore legs not included.

Here Kitty, Kitty

Colorado ski resorts have the largest concentration of snowcat skiing in the U.S., but Steamboat Springs gets the nod as “best cat skiing” by the go-to skiing site Powderhounds. Skiers head into backcountry via a “cat,” which is a large grooming-style machine. Steamboat gets over 500 inches of powder annually, and these Powdercats will get you steep and deep. They promise that you’ll get at least eight runs in at around 12,000 vertical feet. Breakfast, lunch and a photographer (so you can impress your Instagram followers) are all included.

Cost is $600 for a seat, $6,000 for the entire cat, which holds twelve guests.

Tricky Situation

At Copper Mountain you don’t need snow to work on your tricks. If you’ve been looking to take your freestyle or snowboard moves to the next level (let’s be honest, we’re most likely talking about your kids), check out the ultimate sports training center—Woodward Copper Barn. Having just undergone a huge renovation, the Barn’s indoor trampolines, jumps, foam pits and ramps will help you kick your skills up a notch—safely. The Barn offers a variety of programs for all ages, from weeklong camps and private lessons to day passes and drop-in sessions.

A Copper Mountain School student takes the tricks he learned indoors to the great outdoors
A Copper Mountain School student takes the tricks he learned indoors to the great outdoors

All Aboard

Traveling in and out of snow country can have its bumps.
The new Winter Park Express train from Denver’s Union Station to Winter Park Resort (the closest ski resort to Denver) cuts out the dreaded mountain drive. The Amtrak-operated service runs on weekends and holiday Mondays through March 26. The roughly two-hour ride one-way (from $39) means you can make it a day trip and be back for a 7 p.m. dinner reservation. Or stay for a ski week and train it back to the airport. The historic ski train started in 1912, but stopped in 2009 when the train was sold. Service was just relaunched last November.

The Winter Park Express
The Winter Park Express

Skiers Only

Skiing has a long and storied past. There are primitive carvings of skiers from 5,000 bc. The Swedish army fought battles on skis. And it has been the sport of the elite for decades. In contrast, a dude who wanted to surf some snow invented a snowboard in 1964. Skiers and boarders have been battling for the powder ever since.

For the hard-core skier, only a mountain that eschews boarders will do. “Snowboarders just ruin the moguls, they carve the mountain differently, it’s not fun to ski with them, and the sound the boards make scraping off all the powder is just awful,” says Greenwich resident and avid Mad River Glen skier Tasha Nagler. Hers is a sentiment heard often around the fires at these three enclaves where snowboards and their riders just aren’t welcome.

1. Alta
Alta, Utah
For those who consider themselves “real skiers,” Alta is the only place to ski out West. This powdery heaven has a fiercely loyal clientele who are not there for the après ski scene, they are there for the legendary runs piled with deep, light powder and fall lines never marred by the wide swath cut by snowboarders.

Alta gets an average snowfall of 500 inches and often as much as 700 (that’s higher than a four-story building). And this is not just any snow, it has crossed the mountain range and Salt Lake, leaving it light as a puff of powdered sugar. From Alta’s Point Supreme, with an elevation of 10,595 feet, skiers drop into the stuff of dreams. Unlike East Coast ski runs that are narrow and bordered by trees, skiing in Alta is a joyride through the vast and most breathtaking terrain Mother Nature has to offer.

The resort is in Little Cottonwood Canyon, not far from Salt Lake City but a world away from the glitz of Park City. Though the terrain is challenging enough for an Olympic level athlete, there are miles of beginner and intermediate runs. If you have a snowboarder in the family (it’s okay, we understand), Snowbird is next door and will welcome them with open arms.

2. Deer Valley
Park City, Utah
For the skiing purist looking for a luxurious winter adventure, Deer Valley gets you. The slopes here are favored by celebrities and powder junkies alike. Where Mad River and Alta eschew swanky lodges and fur-trimmed skiwear, Deer Valley embraces it. A ski concierge will whisk your sticks from car to mountain without you lifting a finger, gourmet food is easier to find than chicken nuggets, and every lodge has a well-stoked fire to snuggle up to between runs.

The Montage hotel recently opened the mega posh Veuve Clicquot yurt, set conveniently between the Ruby Express and Empire Express lifts. Skiers simply clip off their skis and step into this luxe hideaway decorated by the team at Gorsuch with fur throws, hide rugs and other fabulousness. A glass of bubbly will set you back $32, $39 if you’re a rosé fan. If that bothers you, this mountain is not for you.

3. Mad River Glen
Fayston, Vermont
You likely know Mad River Glen for its iconic slogan: Ski It if You Can. Here you won’t find fast chairlifts, ski butlers or a heavily logoed crowd. In fact, it’s the only ski area in the country on the registry of historic places and has one of only two single chairlifts in the country. (The other is at a resort in Alaska, reachable only by plane or snowmobile.) The not-for-profit mountain still adheres to the frugal aesthetic of its founder, Roland Palmedo, who believed “a ski area is not just a mountain amusement park. It is a winter community whose members, both skiers and area personnel, are dedicated to the enjoyment of the sport.”

What Mad River Glen lacks in flash, it makes up for in substance. It boasts the best expert ski terrain in New England with 2,000 vertical feet in just one lift. Ninety percent of the snow is nature made, and the black diamond runs are never groomed.

Snakes on a Plane?

You can’t fly with a full-sized bottle of shampoo, but you can snuggle up with your pet pig. Don’t have a pet pig? Borrow one. CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg did just that when investigating the nuances of registering Emotional Support Animals (ESA). Passengers who can prove that their animal—be it pug, turkey or pig—is necessary for their mental health can fly with them in the cabin, regardless of size or ridiculousness.

All that’s necessary to board the plane with any animal you deem important to your well-being is a letter from a mental health professional, which Peter says was easily obtained online with no actual doctor visit. “We wanted to find out how easy it was to pass an animal off as a support animal, so we had an intern borrow a pig and use an online service to get a mental health letter. With his $150 letter in hand he boarded the plane with a four-month-old potbellied pig named Valley.”

Some airline passengers take advantage of a law meant to protect the disabled, says Greenberg. Many want to avoid the fee for flying with a pet (it’s cheaper to get an ESA certification letter than to pay for your pet each time you fly) or bring an animal that would not otherwise be allowed in the cabin, like the woman who recently made news for flying with her twenty-five-pound turkey.

Though many animals are reportedly well- behaved on flights, a Delta attendant told us that he’s seen it all, and answered the question we’re all wondering. Yes, the biggest problem is “number two.” Not only are the animals relieving themselves in the cabin, passengers expect the flight attendants to clean it.

A close look at various airline policies reveals that almost any animal can be declared “necessary for mental health.” They do draw the line at snakes however, so that’s comforting.

Flight attendant and author Heather Poole has seen it all. On a recent flight she complimented a passenger on her companion dog only to be told: “Don’t look at him, it makes him anxious.” Wonder what the policy is on support animals for support animals.


Hamlet, a seventy-pound potbellied pig flies with Megan Peabody. The passenger once battled anorexia, and says Hamlet is important to her recovery.
—KTNV, Action News

Jason Ellis, owner of Gizmo, a four-year-old marmoset, easily made it through security with the monkey on his shoulder. However, he neglected to let flight attendants know about his companion. They understandably became alarmed when they saw Gizmo peeking out of Ellis’ shirt mid-flight.
—USA Today

Blind passenger Dan Shaw traveled from Boston to Chicago with his seeing-eye miniature horse, Cuddles. Shaw chose a miniature horse as a guide animal because horses have much longer lifespans than dogs. Since Cuddles wouldn’t fit under the seat in coach, he, of course, flew first class.

When Jodie Smalley flew from Seattle to San Francisco to spread her husband’s ashes, Easter, her pet turkey, tagged along. Jodie said the turkey had been her support since her husband’s passing. Easter wore a custom diaper on the flight.
—BBC News


“With his $150 letter in hand he boarded the plane with a four-month-old potbellied pig named Valley.”
—Peter Greenberg, CBS News




Island Time

Above: Boldt Castle, Thousand Islands


Islands have held a mystical pull for travelers through the ages. The isolation and serenity that come with infinite borders of water and wind hold an allure the mainland just can’t match. This month we take you around the corner to a world where wealthy industrialists staked claim on their own fiefdoms, to the Pacific Northwest for whale watching and down the Virginia coast to an island where ponies are king, queen and court.

Singer Castle, Thousand Islands
Singer Castle, Thousand Islands


Newport’s Millionaire’s Row may get all the publicity, but during the Gilded Age, a cluster of islands just five hours from New York City drew captains of industry. These titans didn’t build mere mansions; they built grand castles. Some 1,800 closely spaced islands lie in the stretch of the St. Lawrence River between New York and Canada. Most visitors arrive to any of the surrounding communities by car and tour the islands by boat. Some islands only count wildlife as occupants, while others are almost completely covered by family homes. Some islands have granite cliffs; others are tiny, with one the size of a living room and nothing more than one tree. (Only those that are above water year-round and have at least one living tree qualify as islands.)

Two castles worth visiting are the Singer and Boldt castles. The Boldt castle resembles a sandcastle complete with fairy-tale drawbridge. Hotelier George Boldt holds claim to having brought Thousand Island dressing to the public when he instructed his maître d’ at the Waldorf to add the local recipe to the hotel’s menu.

The 100 year-old Singer Castle was once a hunting lodge for Frederick Gilbert, president of Singer Sewing MAchine Company. The castle still has many of its original furnishings, artifacts and secret passages. If Singer Castle seems too magnificent to leave, you can book an overnight stay in the property’s Royal Suite (Sunday through Friday, $860; Saturday $945. Sleeps six).

San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands


Leave your flip-flops behind and pack your hiking boots for a visit to the San Juan Islands north of Seattle. Nature lovers flock to the three largest islands, Lopez, San Juan and Orcas. These islands have no palm trees or coconut drinks. Instead they offer the untouched beauty of the sea and forest. Visit lavender and alpaca farms or watch pods of orca whales pass in front of your kayak. Orcas Island, often called the Emerald Isle, is arguably the loveliest of the main islands and also the busiest. But busy is a relative term. This pastoral community has no traffic lights and no fast-food restaurants. Stay at Doe Bay or Rosario Resort; Rosario is the more luxe option on over forty acres of waterfront property. Doe Bay appeals to the naturalists (the hot tubs are clothing optional).

San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands
Assateague Island wild ponnies
Assateague Island wild ponnies


This small island off the coast of Virginia is home to hundreds of wild ponies. The leading theory on how they became rulers of their own land is that they were the sole survivors of a Spanish galleon that crashed off the coast 400 years ago. Here there are no saddles, barns or human residents. The island is a national wildlife refuge and has no overnight accommodations except for campgrounds. Most visitors stay on neighboring Chincoteague Island with its tiny downtown. The government allows the horses to live on Assateague with the caveat that the herd is kept to no more than 150 ponies. The tradition of penning and then auctioning ponies to thin the herd draws thousands of visitors every July, some to buy ponies, some to just enjoy the accompanying carnival and festivities. To get the ponies to auction, so-called saltwater cowboys actually round up the herd and all the new foals on horseback and guide them as they swim across the narrow channel from Assateague to Chincoteague.
The pony swim is an incredible spectacle that can’t be seen anywhere else.

Assateague Island lighthouse
Assateague Island lighthouse

Photographs: Hamidreza; Singer Castle by Ad Meskens; Orca by Jim Maya; Lighthouse by Dough4872; others contributed



Last Vegas Baby!

There are many destinations where you can arrive with kids in tow and just wing it. Las Vegas is not one of them. The key to a family-friendly Vegas getaway is doing your research. (No one really wants their kids to learn about
what “stays in Vegas.”)


The Bellagio is classically elegant and almost out of place on the strip. The pool complex feels more old Hollywood than MTV spring break. There are five different pools to choose from, with chaise lounges and cocktail service as far as the eye can see. Though they don’t specifically cater to children, kids are welcome and only hotel guests have access to the pools, which keeps the crowd exclusive. From the spectacular fountain display out front to the sprawling interior gardens, the Bellagio just feels like a breath of fresh air. Fresh, luxurious, expensively scented air.

Don’t believe the reviews that say this hotel is not kid friendly, they clearly have never taken a child for a stay. This super trendy hotel has chic suites with comfortable velvet sofas, Froot Loops on the room service menu and colored pencils on the desk. There are three pools with floating loungers. A walk through the casino feels like a visit to Monte Carlo circa 1964.

Farther off the strip you’ll find the Four Seasons to be the hotel most welcoming to children. In addition to its legendary white-glove service, the hotel offers babysitters and a trail for walking with tikes or strollers without the risk of stumbling over last night’s party passed out on the pavement. The Four Seasons has a lush private pool for lazy days of floating and napping. Right next door, however, Mandalay Bay has built a huge aquatic playground with 2,700 tons of real sand, a lazy river and giant wave pool. Guests of the Four Seasons enjoy access to this party, without having to stay there.



You can leave your hotel at noon, experience the Grand Canyon and be back in time for an early dinner. How can you not love Vegas? Most helicopter services will shuttle you directly from your hotel to the nearby air terminal; from there you fly directly to the Grand Canyon for a bird’s-eye view of the canyon, Lake Las Vegas, Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and the Strip. Not afraid of heights? Go for a stroll on the Skywalk, which is suspended more than 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. Many tours include time on the ground for a picnic, or at the very least, souvenir photos.

This iconic French circus has set up tent in Vegas since Mystere opened there in 1993. The classic show is still running at Treasure Island and is a family favorite. The show features babies, clowns and the expected acrobatics. They have recently opened rehearsals to the public for a free peek on the weekends. Visit the website for details.

Visit Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. It’s North America’s only predator-based aquarium and houses 2,000 animals. In addition to sharks, kids can get up close and personal with sawfish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles and lots of other exotic species.


The best place for lunch with kids is Mon Ami Gabi, a little French bistro on the sidewalk at the Paris hotel. They can enjoy the view of the Bellagio fountains, and Mom and Dad can enjoy good wine and great food.

For dinner, head over to Caesars and the Forum Shops. The hokey Fall of Atlantis statue show has been a kid pleaser since 1964, and it was recently revamped to add fireballs and other spectacular effects. (Sadly, kids never take to heart the cautionary tale being told about sibling rivalry.) The notoriously tough-to-get-into Rao’s of New York has recently opened a restaurant in Vegas. The wait to get into the original Rao’s is anywhere from five years to, well, never—you’ll have considerably better luck at this location. After dinner hit another famous New York City outpost, Serendipity, for a world famous frozen hot chocolate.


Cabs in Vegas are expensive, and the lines to catch them are long. Car rentals are reasonably priced, and there is valet parking virtually everywhere.

Do not ever walk the strip with your kids, day or night. There is a sidewalk in front of the Bellagio fountains that is not completely dodgy. Walk that, nothing else.

There is a local’s secret VIP parking spot, it’s called VIP Valet, just past the self- parking structure on Frank Sinatra Drive at Caesars. Cash makes you a VIP and there’s never a wait for your car.

Do not be fooled into thinking you can walk from one hotel to another. these properties span hundreds of acres each. And it’s hot, so hot.

The Wynn might be a swank hotel, but it doesn’t allow strollers. So unless you want to carry your tot everywhere, don’t book here.

The Bellagio
The Bellagio


Getting Schooled

Above: Sea Island


Sea Island in Georgia is more than just a Forbes Five Star resort and golf course, it’s also the home course for some of the world’s most famous players like Matt Kuchar, Jonathan Byrd and Davis Love. All can be seen working on their strokes at any given time. Golfers looking to elevate their game head to Sea Island for the personalized instruction and the legendary Golf Performance Center, where the instructors have developed golf exercise protocol for the top 100 tour players for over two decades.

When guests arrive at Sea Island, they are evaluated with the proprietary Player Performance Index that uses 3-D motion capture to assess long game, short game, putting and fitness. The results are the basis for a highly personalize program created for each player.

Sea Island offers a variety of lodging choices, from high-end homes to budget stays at the Inn at Sea Island; accommodations are not included in the price of golf camp.

Two-day programs range from $1,625  to $3,200.

Butch Harmon Golf School
Butch Harmon Golf School


Butch Harmon’s school in Las Vegas offers something for everyone. Butch is best-known for having been Tiger Woods’ golf coach from 1993 to 2004. He uses what he knows about playing and teaching pros like Ernie Els, Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson (to name a few) to create one of the most sought-after programs in the country.

Serious players can learn from Butch himself. The three-day program includes instruction on all aspects of the game, club fitting, on-course instruction, and limo transfer to and from Caesars Palace. $6,000 per person.

The staff school option offers instructors trained by Butch and students play on the same courses, Rio Secco and Cascata. Cascata has been named the No. 1 course in Las Vegas. These programs offer the same training, minus Butch, and accommodations at the less swank Paris Hotel.

$1,500 to $2,500 per person for a two or three-day camp.



This school at the Trump National in Doral offers the most high-tech options of any program we reviewed. Jim McLean himself provides hands-on instruction at every camp (he is one of the most successful instructors of all time, having trained PGA and LPGA winners Tom Kite and Cristie Kerr), and they analyze your swing with the same technology used to make the movie Avatar.

In addition to Jim’s skill, players get the benefit of the Gears 3D mapping technology, TrackMan launch monitor analysis and BodiTrak mats. These technologies break down every aspect of a golfer’s swing.

The three-day player school includes two rounds of golf at Trump National Doral and nineteen hours of instruction with Jim McLean. School includes daily breakfast and lunch. Players stay at Trump National Doral, lodging not included. But if you ask, wthey’ll throw in a limo. $4,695 per student.

Jim Mclean Golf School
Jim Mclean Golf School


West Virginia

The Greenbrier is more than a famous golf course. Here you can play four different courses and receive private instruction from legend Lee Trevino.

It has hosted golf royalty, including Hogan, Snead, Palmer and Nicklaus, among others. It’s also home to the most historic golf course in the country, the Oakhurst Links. Step back in time where golfers don turn-of-the-century golfing attire, which includes knickers, tall socks, caps and ties. The club provides hickory shafted clubs and Gutta Percha balls. Play conforms to old-style rules—if a piece flies off your ball, you continue with the largest chunk that can be found.

Instruction takes place at the facility featuring a 60,000-square-foot practice tee. Swing instruction is enhanced by video swing analysis, TrackMan launch monitors and T.O.M.I. putting systems.

The two-day program is $1,200 per student and includes nine hours of golf instruction and a complimentary round of golf on arrival day. Private lessons with Golf Professional Emeritus Lee Trevino are $2,500 for nine holes or $5,000 for eighteen holes (three players max).

Greenbrier Golf Academy
Greenbrier Golf Academy



Sail Away

Imagine waking each morning to a different tranquil view, your chef has the coffee on and you shake off the remnants of a night well-slept with a dive into a sea of the bluest water. Chartering a yacht to explore the British Virgin Islands is easier than you might imagine, and more affordable.

This archipelago of sixty islands was once ruled by pirates and is now the playground of the rich and famous, and suntanned and aimless alike.

Check in for a night’s stay is on a first come- first served basis at the coveted moorings close to each resort.
Check in for a night’s stay is on a first come- first served basis at the coveted moorings close to each resort.


They might be British but you’ll be hard- pressed to find fish and chips in this Caribbean paradise. The collection of Her Majesty’s islands is just east of Puerto Rico and easily reached from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke
Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke

There are as many private beaches and secret snorkel spots in the BVI as there are choices of rum. We narrow it down to a few can’t-miss spots.


This collection of sky-high boulders is the BVI’s most popular tourist attraction. These lava leftovers from up to 70 million years ago form a series of grottoes that flood with seawater. Arrive by boat and swim in for a day of sloshing through tidal pools, clambering over boulders and squeezing through narrow passages for the reward of pristine sugar sand beaches. Go at sunrise or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.


Described by The New York Times as one of the best beaches in the whole of the Caribbean, Anegada lives up to the hype. The eleven-mile-long island is one of the least visited of the British Virgin Islands, partially because it is so remote. Anegada is about fifteen miles north of Virgin Gorda—itself a backwater in the sparsely populated island chain—and is a flat coral island where mile after mile of beach extends in undeveloped solitude.


Consistently listed as one of the best snorkeling spots in all of the BVI, this collection of rocks is little more than a stop off between Peter and Norman Island. Only accessible by boat, the snorkeling and nearby caves at the Indians are legendary. You’ll see almost every variety of reef fish and crustacean, as well as schools of harmless jellyfish in the summer. Sea fans and corals of every hue dot the walls. Arrive early for a mooring.


The tiny island may be only a mile long, but it’s chock-full of casual beachfront luxury. Moor just offshore and in the morning, paddleboard in to the Cooper Island Beach Club for a latte. The charming town square offers lightning fast Wi-Fi, excellent beach attire shopping and gelato, all in about 500 square feet of space. Not only do yachties love it. So do sea turtles, and there is a better than average chance of swimming with a few. (Turtles, not yachties.)



This legendary bar enjoys almost mythical fame. There is really no way to reach the bar—or the laundry line for your soaked Washingtons—without getting wet, hence the name,

A stop at this floating bar that mostly resembles an abandoned pirate ship is a must for bragging rights and Instagram cred. There is also a dubious restaurant, which is most famous for the late- night debauchery that ensues.

Cooper Island
Cooper Island


Pirates Bight sits on the hauntingly beautiful Norman Island, which is said to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. It is the only commercial venture here. Sail in for a lunch of lobster salad and stay for the famous cannon shot at happy hour.

Work with a reputable charter company like iYachtClub out of St. Thomas. This family-owned business has a stellar reputation and provides white glove service. You’ll need to choose your boat, number of days and whether you want to sail Bare Boat (no captain or crew), Captain Only, or Full Crew (chef and meals included). Prior to setting sail, the boat will be stocked with all your favorite food and drinks. Prices for a fully crewed boat start at around $2,000 per night and vary based on size of boat and season. Fair warning: The “Festive Season” of Christmas to New Year’s books up months in advance.

For information or reservations go to or call direct 855-924-8252.




Surfer Girl

As I struggled to lift my hulking board onto the roof of our surf jalopy parked on a narrow street in Nicaragua, I wondered if I was in over my head, literally. I was about to embark on a week-long journey at the all-women’s surf camp Chicabrava. I was about to live like all the surfers do—and celebrate my forty-ninth birthday doing so. Here there are no buff surf butlers to help, just a tiny blonde instructor from Germany named Stef. This trip was about girl power.

catching a wave is easy, standing up is the tricky part
catching a wave is easy, standing up is the tricky part

Picture a surf camp and you likely conjure images of fit young women with Victoria’s Secret-worthy thighs and perfectly tousled hair. The owner of Chicabrava, Ashley Blayloc, explains that nothing could be further from the truth. “We get women of all shapes, sizes and ages. I’ve even taught grandmas to surf.” The name Chicabrava translates to Brave Girl.


Guests arrive with a wide array of skills, but share a singular goal, to master the pop up (surf slang for standing up on your board) and ride a wave. The camp is located in San Juan del Sur, a famed surf destination where the sun always shines and the winds are always perfect. It’s the destination of choice for beginners and diehard surfers alike.


Accommodations are sparse. It’s not about the room; it’s about the waves. There are two houses to choose from, Surf House in town and Cloud Farm, which sits high on a hill with sweeping views surrounded by a working farm. The rooms are shared, mosquito nets are included, and meals are eaten family style. For everyone who has ever wanted to go back to summer camp, but with rum, Chicabrava is a dream come true. Instead of a chilly lake, however, you have an infinity pool and someone else makes your bed.

Mornings start early with classes on wave theory and how to perfect the pop up. After the first few days, they add the thrilling (and embarrassing) aspect of video review. While it’s hard to watch yourself wipe out, often many times in a row, there is no better feeling than seeing yourself ride a wave.

Kim-Marie (far right) with her fellow surfers
Kim-Marie (far right) with her fellow surfers

On the first day, on the first wave, I popped up like a pro and rode all the way in. It turned out to be beginner’s luck and was followed by at least three dozen wipeouts. While waiting for waves (Mother Nature is frustratingly unpredictable) I had hours to chat with the instructors. The only local turned out to be an anomaly in Nicaraguan surfing, a sport that is almost entirely male. Being surrounded by other women, one who had only recently learned to swim, and emboldening instructors was an inspirational soup that is hard to define. When I finally rode another wave all the way to shore three days after my beginner’s luck, I jumped off the board and burst into tears. I didn’t see them coming. I cried for joy, for exhaustion, for making my instructor proud, for turning forty-nine on a surfboard and surprising myself.

Chicabrava San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Starts at $1,300 for one week, and includes accommodations, meals and surfing



The Lap of Luxury


Guests of Oberoi Udaivilas in India are whisked to this traditional Mewari palace across the waters of Lake Pichola via private boat from the airport. Guests have described the hotel, which sits on former hunting grounds along the shore of the lake, as deserving seven stars. It’s no wonder— the dome and arches, illuminated at night, reflect on the waters; the rooms are tucked in private walled courtyards and feature Victorian bathtubs, Indian decor, and views of Udaipur, an ancient city that was carved into the desert landscape by Mewari royals in the sixteenth century. For those who really want to go over the top, book the Kohinoor Suite with a 20-meter private pool.

Suite with semi-private pool, $1,000 night; Kohinoor Suite, $11,000 night


Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul sits at the historic crossroads between East and West, a city of minarets with remnants of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires at every turn. The grand dame of the city, Ciragan Palace Kempinski, is perched on the European strait of the famed Bosphorus River. Guests can take in the sights from the heated waters of the hotel’s infinity pool right on the strait’s shore. Some hotels describe themselves as palatial—this property actually is a former sultan’s palace. The grounds are perfectly manicured with gazebos and palm trees, live music fills the air, and Turkish afternoon tea in the Gazebo lounge is a must-do.

One-bedroom Sea View Palace, $3,300 night; Sultan Suite, $32,000 night


Built in 1928, The Peninsula is Hong Kong’s oldest hotel. Affectionately called “the Pen” by locals, the place drips with colonial decadence, from the palm-filled lobby where guests nibble on petit fours at teatime to the string quartet in the gallery. The iconic property has earned so many “Best Hotel in the World” accolades that printing them would take the entire page. Perhaps the ultimate sign of the hotel’s classic pedigree is that guests are chauffeured around
in custom Rolls Royces, sleep in modern state-of-the-art rooms, dine in exquisite restaurants (Gaddi’s, a legendary French restaurant and the Verandah) and are provided impeccable service by bellboys in white pillbox hats and uniforms (guests of the Peninsula suite enjoy 24-hour butler service). What more is there to say, really?

Superior Suite, $1,000 per night; Penninsula Suite, $18,000 per night



Destination Bermuda

Think Bermuda is all about tourists riding around on scooters? Think again. It’s decidedly more hip than you may realize. The island is full of history, beauty and, yes, adventure

Bermuda has more shipwrecks per square mile than anywhere else in the world. It is one of the few places where divers can explore wrecks dating from the 1600s until as recent as 1997. A Confederate blockade-runner, Mary Celestia, sank there in 1864. Bermuda recently made international headlines after a cache of previously unknown treasures—including still-sealed wine and perfume—was uncovered. The historic perfume found was meticulously recreated by Lili of Bermuda and a limited edition is being sold to the public.

2 Bermuda is not a lone island, it’s made up of 181 islands, islets and rocks. Most are uninhabitable, but eight are linked by bridges and causeways forming the Bermuda we know. Though it’s only twenty square miles, Bermuda has thirty-four of what some call the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Cliff jumping is one of the most popular sports on the island. Climbing junkies rave about the deep-water solo diving in Bermuda. What exactly is deep-water soloing? We’re glad you asked. It’s a form of solo rock climbing, practiced on sea cliffs at high tide where the climber’s only protection is the water below. If you possess nerves of steel, go cliff jumping at Admiralty House Park, which was recently named one of Men’s Journal’s “20 Most Adventurous Beaches.”

Golf first came to Bermuda in the late 1800s when British Army officers brought their clubs to the island. Today, Bermuda boasts the highest concentration of golf courses in the world.

Though it’s often included in the list of Caribbean islands, Bermuda is actually in the Atlantic Ocean directly east of Charleston, South Carolina. In fact, most of the limestone in Charleston comes from Bermuda.

The thirty-fifth America’s Cup will be hosted on the Great Sound in June of 2017. Oracle Team USA has set up its home base there and is currently on the water training to defend the cup.

St. George Bermuda, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town was named after the legendary dragon slayer and patron saint of England, St. George. Today about 65 percent of the buildings in the town are pre-1900. It is the oldest continuously inhabited town of English origin in the New World.

In June 1980, John Lennon docked his yacht in Bermuda. Not having written a song in almost five years, he sailed from Rhode Island looking for inspiration. During his almost two-year stay, he wrote twenty-two songs including those that would make up his final masterpiece, Double Fantasy. The title was borrowed from a flower he saw at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens.

The iconic Bermuda shorts were originally borrowed in the early twentieth century from the British military’s uniform for hot climes.

10  Humpback whales pass Bermuda in the spring on their way to northern feeding grounds. Lucky observers can see them breach, fin slap, wave their tails, and sometimes do the back float.



You Did What?

Above: Departure Timetable –

Even the savviest jet-setter can make simple travel mistakes. We’ve seen frequent fliers turned away at the gate for passport issues and watched grown men scream at an automated answering service over booking mix-ups. Start the New Year right and resolve to travel like a pro.


Just checking your passport’s expiration date is not enough. Check that it is valid for six months after your return flight. Countries like China, Russia and the UAE require six months, and twenty-six European nations require passports to be valid for three months after travel. Make sure you have at least one blank page in your passport. Some countries will not allow you in if they have to stamp a page that is already marked. (We have no idea why.) If you find yourself with an expired passport, you can shell out $60 to cut new passport processing time to two to three weeks. But if you’re planning to board a plane in less than two weeks, make an appointment at your local passport agency by calling 877-487-2778. And, of course, ensure that you have the proper visa for the country you are visiting. Remember that you must be ticketed exactly as your passport reads or you won’t be allowed to board your flight. (Visit for a list of destinations that require the extra six months and visas.)


Phone battery dead? Phone lost? No Internet connection? Good luck finding your hotel, car reservation, etc. Create and print a list of pertinent phone numbers, confirmation numbers, addresses and flight information. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your passport and health insurance card.


Yes, we’ve all heard that exchange rates at the cash windows in the airport are awful. What’s worse? Getting in a cab with no cash and wandering around a foreign country looking for a cash machine.


You never know when you might be forced to gate-check your hand luggage. Place your jewelry, iPad, camera, house and car keys, medication, and anything else you can’t live without in a removable pouch inside your carry-on. This way if you must surrender your carry-on to a flight attendant at the last minute because the overhead bins are full, you can remove the smaller bag and keep an eye on it beneath the seat in front of you.


A robot can’t help you when you miss your flight, your luggage is lost or the hotel doesn’t have your reservation. (Really, the list goes on and on.) The travel agent is not dead and is your best resource when something goes wrong. If you’re a DIY-er, at least book directly through the hotel and airline.



Water, Water, Everywhere

Above: The Maldives: Jumeirah Resorts

Dreaming of a real vacation? The kind where you can’t be reached by cell phone or postal service, where there’s no to-do list other than choosing your hammock carefully and reminding your butler of the time you’d prefer your bath drawn? The Maldives are the ultimate getaway, and with a list of five-star resorts to choose from, doing your homework is half the fun.

The Maldives are a collection of almost 1,200 individual islands situated in the Indian Ocean. And since there is only one resort per island, and there are 100 of them to choose from, choosing the right resort for you takes some thought.

Some resorts offer nothing more than the time and space to contemplate life, albeit from an overwater villa with stellar service. If you can’t sit still, this is not the vacation for you. Other resorts have house reefs, defined as a coral reef that can be reached by free swimming directly from the resort’s beach. Still others allow you to surf or offer deep-sea fishing excursions. Research the activities at your desired resort to ensure the right fit for you.

The size of the resort will also give you an indication of the vibe. Big resort? Enjoy parties on the beach. Small resort? No one will bother your long slumber in a quiet hammock. Be aware that even the intimate resorts can offer a variety of activities—you’ll just be doing them solo.




This island retreat is just a quick twenty-minute boat ride from the airport. With eighty-nine rooms, multiple restaurants and two different kids’ clubs, this is the better choice for families or travelers who are looking for a little nightlife.

The accommodations range from beach villas to overwater homes. Many Maldivian resorts offer the quintessential bungalows, but this resort offers seven homes that are accessible only by boat. Once inside, these two-level houses with private pool and sun deck become your own personal oasis.



This tiny idyll is reached by a one-hour flight from the capital of Malé. With only thirty-eight guest accommodations, the remote retreat is a superb spot for the traveler looking to escape it all. Guests are greeted in the open-air lobby at the end of a jetty that stretches out over the Indian Ocean. The resort is divided into two distinct areas, the main resort island and the more exclusive Ocean Pearls. The latter is a group of villas set apart from the main island. This village of overwater suites is accessible only by boat, but guests can stroll the wooden walkway that connects the villas to the swimming pool, spa treatment rooms and restaurant. The Ocean Pearls offer total seclusion without sacraficing decadence. However, the on-island beach villas are also quite private and luxurious. Each of the beach suites has its own pool just steps from the sand, separate living rooms and beds that are literally three-times the size of a standard king.



THE 411


The best way to reach the Maldives from New York is to fly Emirates through Dubai, a fabulous destination in itself.
Malé is a four-hour flight from Dubai; from there you board a boat, seaplane or domestic plane to reach your final resort destination.
Author’s note: Business Class on Emirates almost qualifies as a vacation in itself.

Though it is a Muslim country, alcohol at hotels flows freely. Just dress conservatively when flying through the capital of Malé.

This is one of those vacations that fits in the “last chance tourism” category. Some of the islands sit a mere four feet above sea level.
In April 2012, the Maldivian President stated, “If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be underwater in seven years.” It is almost guaranteed that the Maldives will not exist by 2100.



New & Noteworthy

Above: Goldeneye Resort by Christian Horan photography

James Bond might be sixty-two years old, but he’s a seriously hot ticket. The new novel GoldenEye, written by Matthew Parker, profiles Bond creator, Ian Fleming’s life in Jamaica after he discovered the island during a World War II mission. Fleming built his original home in Jamaica and penned all fourteen of his Bond novels there.

As the latest Bond film, Spectre, opens this month, the namesake of Bond’s first mission, the GoldenEye hotel is unveiling twenty-six flashy new beach huts. The GoldenEye hotel was one of the first built in the region, and with its recent multimillion-dollar renovation, remains one of the hippest. Its storied past includes guests such as Michael Caine, Kate Moss, Quincy Jones and Johnny Depp. All of them have planted trees at the resort following a tradition started by Anthony Eden, England’s Prime Minister in the 1950s.

The resort’s current owner, Chris Blackwell (of Island Records fame), discovered reggae legend Bob Marley and keeps the historic hotel from venturing into clubby stuffiness. (All accommodations feature a Logitech Squeezebox sound system that is equipped to channel any genre of music from around the world.)

Guests can walk, swim or kayak right up to FieldSpa, GoldenEye’s open-air spa cottage by the lagoon. There are two pools. The main fresh-water infinity pool lies at the far end of the beach, in front of Bizot Bar. There is a smaller saltwater pool by the ocean, where the hotel hosts torchlit dinners.


New & Noteworthy
The Aman brand is world-renowned for marrying earthy glamour with five-star luxury. On December 15 Aman will open the doors to the ultimate Caribbean hideaway hotel—just twenty-five casitas in the untouched wilds of the Dominican Republic. Unlike many resorts in populated Punta Cana, Aman is located on the north coast, a much less developed area known for its beautiful natural landscapes.

The Amanera will not only be the first luxury brand in the Dominican, but the first fully integrated golf experience for Aman resorts. The Playa Grande Golf Course offers golfers the chance to play ten holes directly on ocean cliffs; in fact the course has the highest number of oceanside holes in the Western Hemisphere.

The guest rooms are all free-standing one-bedroom casitas with ocean views and outdoor terraces, and roughly half have private thirty-two-foot swimming pools.

At the heart of the resort lies Casa Grande, which offers jaw-dropping views and houses an open-air bar and lounge, library, and cigar bar, and leads to the signature restaurant. Beyond the restaurant lies the curved swimming pool with daybeds dotting the water’s edge. The resort’s beach club, the Club de Playa offers casual dining, water sports equipment and a children’s club.

The Room to book
The two-bedroom Bay View Casa enjoys the resort’s most stunning cliff-side location, with panoramic views of the ocean and Playa Grande beach. To ensure uninterrupted views, the living room and dining room walls are all glass.

Rooms start at $850 per night


On the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, a brand new Marriott opened its doors and announced a new chapter in the long and troubled saga of Haitian history. The result of a philanthropic partnership between Marriott International; The Clinton Foundation; and leading global service provider Digicel Group the six-month-old Marriott is the only internationally branded hotel in Haiti.

Prior to its opening, former President Clinton announced, “This new hotel project will stand as a symbol of Haiti’s recovery, providing much-needed jobs to the Haitian people and encouraging foreigners to visit, invest and work in Port-au-Prince.” The investment shows that “Haiti is open for business and on the path to economic recovery,” said Clinton.

The reviews are in, and they are fabulous. A recent Trip Advisor review: “Tastefully luxurious, with a beautiful open lobby and dining areas, and authentic Haitian art everywhere, including in the guest rooms.”

The new resort is as much about boosting the local economy as it is about hospitality. Priority in hiring was given to unemployed Haitians, regardless of experience. Even the soap in the guest rooms is made by a small women’s business in Haiti. In the on-site restaurant, the chicken comes from a farm in the mountains outside of Port-au-Prince, and tilapia hails from a nearby fish farm. While most Marriott properties sport a Starbucks through a company partnership, this one instead features Haiti’s own Rebo brand.

Rooms start at $125 per night

New & Noteworthy

Lobby at The Mariott, Haiti

Spooky Stays

Above: Hotel del Coronado

The Eagles were right, there are some hotels where guests check in but they never leave. Many hotels trade on their haunted cache. The Stanley Hotel in Colorado, which was the inspiration for the movie The Shining, has guests lining up to book Room 418 in hopes of a visit from the other side. Redrum anyone?

We asked author Jamie Pearce, founder of Historic Haunts Investigations, why some guests seem reluctant to leave, even hundreds of years later. “One reason spirits might stay at a hotel is because they may have died, committed suicide or were murdered there. If they died of natural causes, they might hang around because they don’t realize they are dead or just aren’t ready to go on yet. If they committed suicide, they might hang around because they are scared of what they face in the afterlife since they ended their own life.” She says that most ghosts mean no harm and in fact, can be helpful. “We investigated the Jekyll Island Hotel, and the spirit who haunts this one room wants to tidy things up. He even folded up our newspaper.”

Since the likelihood of “enjoying” an actual haunting is fairly slim, here are a few supposedly haunted hotels you’d want to visit—spooky or not. After all, there’s no need to give up creature comforts just because you want to commune with ghosts.

Haunting included but not guaranteed


Finished in 1888, the hotel, affectionately known as “The Del,” was the largest structure outside of New York City that was electrically lit. Thomas Edison himself supervised the installation.

Shortly after the hotel was completed, a beautiful young woman named Kate Morgan checked in under an assumed name and spent five lonely and lovesick days waiting for a man who never arrived. Kate was found dead on an exterior staircase leading to the beach with a gunshot wound to her head, which the San Diego County Coroner later determined was self-inflicted (some skepticism still surrounds this finding).

According to Christine Donovan, The Del’s historian and author of the book Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, Kate is a relatively harmless ghost. “She generally limits her activity to fleeting appearances and inexplicable antics,” says Donovan. “Guests in Kate’s room report everything from breezes that come from nowhere to having to deal with a television set that turns on and off by itself.”

But, more dramatic tales have also been told. Such as the time a young couple— away for a romantic Valentine weekend—experienced a string of supernatural occurrences, culminating in their covers being ripped off in the middle of the night by a ghostly apparition. In a brilliant marketing move, the hotel claims that the vast majority of paranormal activity actually occurs in the retail shop (seriously). The hotel doesn’t publish Kate’s room number, but guests can request her room at check-in. Rooms start at $425/night.


The hotel that has become synonymous with Hollywood debauchery opened in 1929 and has played host to iconic stars like Errol Flynn and Marilyn Monroe, but will not go on record as being haunted.

However, rumor has it that the ghost of actor and comedian John Belushi, who took a fatal overdose of heroin mixed with cocaine is still hanging around. Belushi was discovered dead in Bungalow 3, which remains the site of many strange occurrences. The most notorious of which occurred in 1999, when a family temporarily moved into Bungalow 3 while their house was being renovated. The family’s two-year- old son was often found laughing and giggling by himself. When asked what he was laughing at, he would respond, “The funny man.” When his mother was leafing through a book of celebrity guests of Chateau Marmont, the boy pointed to John Belushi and exclaimed, “The funny man!”

If you are looking for adventurous luxury, a poolside bungalow starts at $2,200 per night.


New Orleans, with its history of voodoo, vampires and ghosts, boasts a long list of haunted hotels. To be deemed the “most haunted” is truly noteworthy.

Originally built as the first school in the city, the building that currently houses the Place d’Armes hotel was completed in 1725. When it burned in the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788, the school’s headmaster and many of the young students were tragically killed. This has fueled one of the hotel’s greatest legends, as many people believe that the deceased headmaster and schoolchildren still roam the halls as friendly spirits.

Reports of footsteps, children’s laughter and the sound of furniture moving in unoccupied rooms are just the beginning of reported paranormal activity here. Resident ghosts include a young girl who asks where her grandmother is before vanishing into thin air, and an elderly bearded man dressed in Victorian garb who gives a friendly nod of acknowledgment before he disappears.

A call to the front desk confirmed that the hotel doesn’t like to officially be known as haunted, but that “many guests seem to think so.” The helpful clerk suggested asking for a room in the Chartres Street Building, where, off the record, chances of spooky encounters are better.

There are over thirty stories on Trip Advisor about personal haunting experiences. This from a guest who says she stayed in Room 216: “I heard a little girl crying last night for a few seconds when she was standing by the vanity…This morning the housekeeper came to our room and I asked her if there are any ghosts in this hotel…She said people in this room hear things… ‘People hear the baby cry or a piano playing in this room and room 217 next door.’”

Another couple swears there were mischievous children ghosts who were keeping them up at night. “To try to get some sleep we bought marbles for them to play with and each time we left the room or each night the marbles would be moved and spread out.”

Whether you experience a haunting or not, the Place d’Armes is a recently renovated enchanting collection of restored eighteenth- and nineteenth-century townhouses and structures surrounding what many say is the most beautiful courtyard in the French Quarter, Jackson Square. Rates start at just over $100 per night (Halloween is probably already sold out).




Working the System

Want to get an upgrade next time you check into a hotel? Or a seat in first class where you might actually get a blanket? Here, a few tips.

Nobody is going to upgrade you in your sweats unless you’re a Kardashian, and even then maybe not. When you check in to a hotel, be polite. Even a mogul will not get that suite upgrade if he’s acting like a jerk.

Hoping for an upgrade? Ask. Would you like a room on the concierge floor? Ask. Would you like a patio, a room on a higher floor? Ask. Oh, and never take the first room offered.

Book through Virtuoso Travel Agent, American Express Platinum Card or the hotel directly. Do not book through an online discount site. If you find a great price online, ask the hotel to match it; they will. Don’t negotiate with the general manager, talk to the sales manager.

Even if you aren’t looking to pile up nights for a free stay, most brands offer perks such as special discounts and free breakfasts—simply by joining. Picking an airline and sticking with it will get you better treatment. Gone are the days of upgrades just by sweet talking the agent.

Hotels would rather sell a suite at a discount than let it sit empty. Ask at check-in if there are any upgrades available. This is also true of airlines; you can often purchase a discounted upgrade during online check-in or at the counter.



Raising the Bar

Sasha Petraske lets us in on what the cool kids are drinking and where they’re doing it

We sat down with SASHA PETRASKE, one of the most influential barmen in New York City and the creator of the ultra-hip and exclusive MILK & HONEY. When he launched the ’20s style speakeasy fifteen years ago, he was widely credited with making cocktails cool again. Since then he’s been on a winning streak with new bars all over the world, from THE VARNISH in Los Angeles to THE EVERLEIGH in Melbourne, Australia. His next creation, THE FALCONER, is due to open this August in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

7 Questions for the MIXMASTER

1 How did you reach such iconic status?
Pure luck. Opening a cocktail bar in 1999 was like being a computer programmer in the ’80s. You didn’t have to be great, you just had to be there.

2 What makes a great bartender?
The ability to put one’s ego aside and be of service to other people first.

3 Where do you go for a night out in NYC?
Dutch Kills in Long Island City.

4 What are your three favorite drinks to serve and consume?
Old Fashioned, the Pisco Sour and the Archangel—an Aperol, gin and cucumber cocktail by Michael McIlroy, owner of Attaboy.

5 If you could make one trend disappear, what would it be?
Flavored vodka, and now, even worse, flavored whiskies!

6 Who do you think is the most iconic bartender in NYC?
Well, one can’t play favorites with one’s own kids, so I would have to remove all my bartenders from the running. That being said, Kenta Goto, formerly of Angel’s Share, currently working on his own project in New York.

7 What’s the hottest cocktail trend you see right now?
Aged Cachaca [popular Brazilian spirit] in cocktails, sometimes aged in hardwoods rather than the usual oak.



Where to…

A quick guide to the popular spots where Greenwich goes to summer


“The Vineyard” is New England’s largest island with plenty to do—from exploring miles of beaches to taking a spin on America’s oldest working carousel. Being bored on the Vineyard isn’t an option.

Hit the surf
Locals agree that Aquinnah Public Beach (Moshup Beach) is the best spot to catch a wave. They advise arriving early to get parking and beware that although it’s illegal, nudists gravitate to this beach.

Watch the sunset
It’s a vigorous climb to the Edgartown Lighthouse, but a $5 fee will earn you the best view in Edgartown.

Sip a cocktail
Enjoy a Lookout Rum Punch at the beloved Lookout Tavern. This Vineyard staple sits high on a bluff and has sweeping views of the waterfront.

Build a sandcastle
Small waves, low dunes and lots of seashells make Joseph Sylvia State Beach popular with families. The beach runs between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown and is called “Bend-in-the-Road Beach.”

Steal a kiss
Grab the brass ring and sneak a smooch on the Flying Horses Carousel. It’s the nation’s oldest platform carousel and has been designated a national landmark.

Shop for souvenirs
Midnight Farm is the indie-chic boutique owned by Carly Simon. The eclectic and high-end goods draw celebs and locals alike.


If the Hamptons conjure images of over-the-top mansions and red-hot sports cars, you’re only half right. There is so much more to this stretch of beach towns at the eastern end of Long Island.

Hit the surf
Locals in Southampton swear by Meadow Lane, Road G; it’s where all the surfers hang out. They even have surf lessons and surf camps (try Flying Point Surf Camp). Looking for a spot in Montauk? Ditch Plains is a tried-and-true surfer destination.

Watch the sunset
Described as a dive bar with a jukebox, Montauket has the unlikely distinction of also offering the best sunset view in Montauk. Or go upscale in Sag Harbor and score a waterfront table at Bell and Anchor; the sunset is a nice accompaniment to the lobster and raw bar.

Build a sandcastle
Head to Mecox Beach Jobs Lane, Bridgehampton. For those who have yet to land a Bridgehampton Racquet & Surf Club membership, a $15 parking fee will buy you and your kids all necessary amenities for a day at the Mecox just next door.

Steal a kiss
The Parrish Art Museum occupies an unlikely setting more akin to a farm stand, but inside visitors enjoy world class contemporary art. Steal a kiss and post it on social media; unlike many museums, photography is allowed.

Shop for souvenirs
AERIN at 83 Main Street in Southampton is owned by Aerin Lauder, who has been coming to the Hamptons since she was a little girl. Her personally curated collection ranges from sandals to jewelry to unique objects for the home.

The 31 foot Friendship Sloop "Endeavor",  sailing off the coast of Nantucket,  provides excursion sailings to a group of visitors to this tranquil island
The 31 foot Friendship Sloop “Endeavor”, sailing off the coast of Nantucket, provides excursion sailings to a group of visitors to this tranquil island


Whether you arrive by ferry or flight, the inviting little island of Nantucket feels a world away. Now a getaway for the rich and famous, this former whaling town still retains the authenticity that made it the setting for Moby-Dick.

Hit the surf
Beginners can take lessons at Cisco Beach with Nantucket Island Surf School. Hanging ten not your thing? Try the less- exhausting stand-up paddleboarding.

Watch the sunset
Whether you hit Galley Beach restaurant and bar for dinner or drinks, be sure to stay for the sunset. Reserve a couch and tuck your toes into the sand as you watch the sun slip into the horizon. Try the Seaside martini, made with Hendrick’s gin and cucumber.

Sip a cocktail
No need to wait for sundown to enjoy a cocktail. Head out to Cru located at the end of Straight Wharf for a midday Bloody Mary. Or to Jettie’s Beach Bar for oysters and a cold beer.

Steal a kiss
Bonfires are technically illegal but seem to be commonplace. Kisses are best stolen with some heat and s’mores on the side.

Build a sandcastle
Though Children’s Beach sounds like the perfect spot for a sandcastle, locals recommend Jettie’s Beach, which also has gentle waves and a playground but features more space, oh, and cocktails.

Buy a souvenir
Nothing says “Nantucket” like an authentic pair of Nantucket Reds. Take home a pair of the iconic pinkish chinos from Murray’s Toggery Shop on Main Street.

Southeast Lighthouse on Block Island, Rhode Island, at sunrise.

Southeast Lighthouse on Block Island, Rhode Island, at sunrise.


Just twelve miles off the coast of Rhode Island, you’ll find the tiny and utterly charming Block Island. Described by The Nature Conservancy as “one of the last twelve great places in the Western Hemisphere,” this pint-sized retreat packs a huge punch with 200-foot cliffs and miles of unspoiled beaches.

Hit the surf
Beginners head to the first section of Crescent Beach, a three-mile beach that offers up gentle waves. Serious surfers head to Mohegan Bluffs and Black Rock Beach; beware that access and surf conditions can be perilous.

Watch the sunset
Pack up your lawn chair and wine and get ready for a rare sunset view on the East Coast—one where the sun dips true west into the ocean. Head down Dories Cove Road to find a private spot on the beautiful beach tucked away in a cove.

Sip a cocktail
Enjoy a cold one on the wraparound veranda at the historic Atlantic Inn. From your wicker chair, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Old Harbor and the ocean beyond. Kids in tow? Try the neighboring Manisses Inn; while you enjoy the blackberry martini made with native blackberry puree, the kids can check out the exotic farm animals at Justin’s Farm and Garden (think fainting goats and yaks).

Steal a kiss
Head to Sandy Neck, the northernmost tip of the island where the two ocean currents meet. On a clear day you can see the Connecticut and Rhode Island coastlines, and even catch a glimpse of the Newport Bridge, plus lots of beautiful boat traffic.

Build a sandcastle
The three public beaches that comprise Crescent Beach make up a long, wonderful strip of public shoreline that is filled with families, but never as crowded as beaches on the mainland. Pack the sand toys and enjoy views of town and the cliffs.

Shop for a souvenir
Pop in to Block Island Trading Company to take home a unique treasure, from a bracelet engraved with the island’s coordinates to cocktail glasses etched with the island map. Can’t get there? It has the only year-round online gift shop.


Luxury Tastes

The modern trend of agritourism is decidedly old-school—getting back to the basics, the land, the food, the culture. The hottest destinations are authentic working farms and vineyards. But we’re not talking about milking cows here. These chic outposts offer guests the chance to try their hand in the kitchen, with ingredients plucked from the farm moments before, all while sipping first-class wines. No need to sacrifice creature comforts; these getaways offer unsurpassed luxury and service.

Tuscany, Italy

Here’s a working farm and wine estate that is so indulgent, there is almost no reason to leave the grounds to enjoy the best in Tuscan food and wine. This luxe rustic retreat Conti di san Bonifacio owned by Count Manfredo and his wife, Countess Sarah, is about sixty miles from the Pisa airport. However, they welcome guest arrivals by helicopter from Rome.

Rent the entire seven-room resort and live out your Under the Tuscan Sun fantasies. Enjoy local wines at an al fresco table dressed in crisp white linens by candlelight, or the staff can arrange a trip to nearby Montalcino, which is famed for its Brunello wines.

Foodies can learn to make traditional Tuscan food at a cookery class on property or just enjoy the sublime dishes served up by Chef Elisa Barsotti. She creates classic Italian dishes—osso buco, wild boar alla cacciatora and tortelli Maremmani (a Tuscan dish with ricotta and spinach)—using organic ingredients.

Those looking for culture can tap the hotel guide for personal tours of cities including Florence, Pisa and Siena. Sun worshippers can decamp to Castiglione della Pescaia beach around half an hour from the villa. The hotel can also help organize boat trips, sailing lessons and diving. Rooms range from $370 to $650 per night and include breakfast.

Provence, France

With rolling hills of lavender and stands of sunflowers—that inspired Van Gogh—Provence is home to arguably some of the best vineyards in the world. We suggest the wine villages of the Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Nimes and the Pont-du-Gard. All are easily accessed from Avignon, which is just a train ride from Paris.

Book the Domaine De La Forge, a private 250-acre island estate just ten minutes from Avignon. The stunning seven-bedroom villa set on the Rhone River was owned by the Knights of the Order of Malta during the French revolution in 1789. When you book through Hosted Villas, you get a private host and chef. Rates start at $26,800 per week.

For those who prefer Dordogne, book Chateau Valandraud with views overlooking the rolling vineyards. This working vineyard near St. Emilion is actually home to a master winemaker. Half of the villa is for guests, the other half houses the owner’s wine- fermenting tanks, cellar and, of course, the many secrets that go into making a premier Dordogne cru. Booked through Hosted Villas with a private host on hand, the six-bedroom villa starts at $18,850 per week.

St. Kitts, British West Indies

On Kittitian Hill in sunny St. Kitts Belle Mont Farm is more than a resort. It’s a food movement. Founder and visionary Val Kempadoo is trying something revolutionary for the Caribbean. Almost every acre of the property is edible, even the golf course (which is mowed by goats). The cart path is planted with tropical fruit trees and passerby are invited to enjoy those with the “pick me” signs.

During the day guests are encouraged to forage in the farm that is terraced with a view of the ocean below. French Chef Cristophe Letard then turns the eggplant, tomatoes, basil or whatever else you fancy into an inventive meal that evening. Every ingredient is local (you won’t find foie gras on the menu). Even the wine list is a fresh take on organic. The Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron is curating a collection of natural wines.

Though the property officially opened in December, it is still under construction. The main restaurant and nine holes of the golf course are open. Guesthouses are built in the style of Caribbean farmhouses and feature al fresco bathrooms. Guesthouses start at $2,500 per night, villas at $8,200. Food, beverages, spa and golf included.


Oh, How Suite It Is

Hey, what’s $50,000 a night when it comes to love?

Four Seasons

The Ty Warner Penthouse perched atop the Four Seasons New York is North America’s most expensive suite at $50,000 (plus tax) per night, and one of the five most expensive suites in the world. And although it’s a sprawling 4,300 square feet, don’t invite your entourage—there is only one king bed. The hotel will allow one rollaway for a child, however. Have more than one child? You’ll need to choose.

What You Will Enjoy

  • Spectacular 360-degree city views from one of the four glass balconies
  • Calfskin leather walls, semiprecious stones in the Zen room waterfall, and sinks carved from crystal
  • Fabrics woven with platinum and 22-carat gold to snuggle under while watching a television that features every channel–in the world
  • 24-hour personal butler
  • A Bosendorfer grand piano in the library (Burt Bacharach not included)
  • Unlimited use of the chauffeured Rolls Royce
  • Personal trainer on-call
  • A private elevator to whisk you to the 52nd floor
  • Unlimited spa treatments and unlimited international calls
  • All meals, champagne and wine

St. Regis

The recently renovated Presidential Suite at The St. Regis New York is the second most expensive suite in New York City at $35,000. In addition to a swell night’s sleep, you get bragging rights that prior guests include Salvador Dali, Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon. Sex and the City fans will recognize the suite from the celebrated series finale. The penthouse suite is 3,000 square feet and features three bedrooms and four full bathrooms.

What You Will Enjoy

  • Floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Fifth Avenue, 55th Street and Central Park
  • One-of-a-kind commissioned artwork and vintage books on the library bookshelves
  • 24-hour English-style butler service
  • Use of the hotel’s custom Bentley Mulsanne (subject to availability)

The Plaza

For those who travel with a personal chef (you know who you are) The Plaza Hotel’s Royal Plaza Suite is for you. The dining room seats twelve of your nearest and dearest to enjoy a meal prepared in the state-of-the-art kitchen. Even Eloise would be green with envy. The Royal Plaza Suite is $30,000 per night.

What You Will Enjoy

  • En-suite gym with state-of-the-art fitness equipment
  • A grand piano in the living room
  • The ultimate in privacy, the suite can only be reached by private elevator
  • One of the most prized views in Manhattan—Fifth Avenue and the legendary Pulitzer Fountain
  • A butler to keep your private bar stocked and draw your bath upon request. Hello Arthur.

The New York Palace Hotel

The Midtown hotel offers two of the chicest suites in the city, and for the relative bargain of $25,000 per night. The Jewel Suite and the Champagne Suite both offer 5,000 square feet and three levels of opulent living. You might recognize the Jewel Suite; Oprah shot interviews in these gorgeous digs.

What You Will Enjoy

  • A complimentary, original Martin Katz Diamond Ring, worth $2,500, upon check in.
  • An art collection that includes a floating jewelry display worth $1.5 million dollars
  • Champagne, white roses and Michel Richard white chocolate diamond truffles
  • A rooftop terrace with outdoor spa
  • Maître d’étage service. This means they will get you whatever you want, whenever you want it. Really.

Really, Really Friendly Skies

There was a time when flying meant white gloves and spit-shined shoes. The “air hostesses” were hired based on their looks and the uniforms were smart. It’s oft lamented that the golden age of air travel is behind us, but is it? Coddling luxury that includes silk duvets, butlers and tuck-in service can be yours—for a price.


With Dubai as its hub, Emirates flies to some of the most coveted destinations on the planet. With regular service departing from JFK to destinations as nearby as Paris and Milan and as far-flung as Ho Chi Minh City, catching a flight in your private suite doesn’t have to mean a trip to the Middle East. How swank is first class? On the A380 Emirates offers shower spas. Yes, showers at 30,000 feet. The attendant even warms the floor before you step in. Meals are served at your leisure on Royal Doulton bone china. A first-class flight from JFK to Milan averages $ 7,000.


For those who crave more privacy and comfort than a mere first-class suite with a sliding door can offer, Etihad has debuted “The Residence” on its A380s. This apartment in the sky has a large bed (with high thread count linens, naturally), a living room, en suite bathroom, a 32-inch television and, of course, a butler and personal chef. All first-class passengers also have the option of utilizing the personal chauffeur service that will pick you up at home to make sure you get to your flight in style. All Etihad flights connect through Abu Dhabi. Prices aren’t published for flights in the Residence category. But with business class between Abu Dhabi and London running at $12,000, we’re guessing if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Old Favorites

U.S. carriers haven’t put showers in the sky, yet. However, they are making a play for those who prefer a more refined voyage. American, Delta and United have all recently begun offering full lie-flat beds on coast-to-coast trips. JetBlue has even jumped into the game and is upping the ante with private suites in their new MINT cabins, and the fares start at $599. You might not get tuck-in service with Egyptian linens, but you also won’t have a child kicking the back of your seat.