Category Archives: December Travel

Vermont after some snow 

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This is an after pic of VT after some snow !  

   
 

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Vermont – Ski season 

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We decided to take the kids for a winter break to try out skiing for them and snowboarding for us.

This is what the 25 Th in Manchester , Vt looked like.  
It was 65 degrees. We went to the playground ! 

Luckily we have snow covered peaks now. Will post a picture later.

👏🏼😀

Day 5: La Samana

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Day 4: was started off by us rushing for breakfast. One of the joys of vacation is not putting an alarm , though sleepy heads like us can really sleep 10 hours straight!
We made it ( barely) and then I went for a site inspection.
The villas here surpass any villa hotel properties that I have seen. Not only are they immaculate , but the super high ceilings just lends a very airy and spacious feeling to the 3 and 4 bedroom.
They all come with your own butler as well.

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The villas all have huge terraces and balconies. No direct beach access though. All rooms and bathrooms were equal in size too.

The other room that I liked was the one bedroom terrace suite. I saw the one that Donatella Versace stayed at.
I love the layout of this room.
It was a terrace outside the room , a sunken step down living room to the right and bathroom and bedroom to the left.

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We then went to Marigold to walk around and we ate lunch at a little shack by the beach. We ate “Lolo” which is bar-b-que. it was delicious.

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OE hotel is going to do a huge renovation of the lobby and restaurant starting August 1 st and from the sounds of it, it will be neat and also ready in 2 months !

Villas in off season cost $2000/ nt which is a bargain if you get a few friends to join you.
So let’s talk about your next vacation. 🙂

Day 4 St. Barth and check in at La Samana

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We woke up late as we watched “Safe House”. The hotel had a nice selection of movies on demand.
Breakfast was at Indigo. It was nice. After breakfast we lounged at our pool , then went for a couples spa treatment at the Clarins Spa.
The massages were good , though the few annoying things were that
A. The room was so brightly lit it was a little weird for the massage.
B. the outdoor shower in the private massage room didn’t have shampoo or anything so you had to use the communal ones.
C. Face wash, face cream were all missing. It was really not up to par with a 5 star hotel spa in terms of amenities.
D. In a hotel there are always snacks at a spa , lemon/ cucumber water etc. all that was missing.
E. the dressing room consisted of 2 sinks , 1 changing room and 1 toilet.
This was disappointing , for the money they charge they need to be more tuned in to what’s needed.
We had fun though and we then made our way to the airport.

We grabbed lunch at Maya’s to go. A great cute place for salads and sandwiches.

We got to st. Marteen by 4 pm and rented our car. It’s so different than St. Barth that you can’t even compare. This island has casinos and it’s very big in feeling.

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Checked into La Samana and ate dinner downtown at Bamboo – average food. Great ambience.
Our room at the hotel is a renovated 1 bedroom suite. Beautiful water 🙂

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Hotel Guanahani Check in, hello Toiny for site inspection: day 3

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So, we had breakfast at Isle de France ( it was continental not American ). We then relaxed on the beach and then packed up and headed to our next destination .
The hotel Guanahani (http://www.leguanahani.com/ ) was opened in 1986 and since it sits on the reserve the waters are very calm and ideal for snorkeling and wind surfing.
We are staying the serenity suite room #1. It’s a 2 bedroom suite with a private pool and a view of the ocean. It has2 bathrooms , a steam room , 2 showers , a jacuzzi , kitchenette and it’s split level. Heavenly. So perfect for friends or families traveling together.
I don’t know why more people don’t travel here till time of year. Weather is better than in the winter months and the prices are 50% off. We will return here as its just spectacular.

Pics of the Serenity Prestige suite, # 1.

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The spa here is managed by Clarins. Rooms have been renovated since 2011 and still ongoing.

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THE ADMIRAL PRESTIGE SUITE- 3 bedroom with wrap around terrace

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I saw the Marigold suite. Same as ocean front rooms on cove side. This is 2 bedroom.

Ocean bedroom suite with pool. 6 like this. Pending renovation.

3 bedroom villas ( admiral being my favorite ) Along with the serenity room where we were staying.
Some rooms are renovated , some are not.

Beach front 1 bedroom
Ocean prestige suites

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Hotel Toiny (http://www.letoiny.com/États-Unis) site inspection was this evening. It is a 15 villa property. All have private pools. The rooms are French Colonial in feel. The restaurant Le Gaiiac features innovative French cuisine with a Creole influence. Its the first Relais Chateaux property in the Caribbean to receive a Grand Chef Distinction. This property is for someone who is seeking a quiet place to relax, here is no direct beach access, there is a short drive to the nearest beach, but its not as soft and powdery as the other beaches on the island. It a great surfing spot though.

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Pistachio financiers, chocolate macaroon and a citrus bite

The restaurant manger, has just arrived from NYC/ CT. He used to be the manger at Alain Ducasse, Essex house, in NYC. The hotel has planned a $1 mill renovation of the restaurant . ( It could do with an update). The chef is a Michelin star chef.

The food was the best that we have eaten on the island. I HIGHLY recommend it!! A MUST go to , for anyone visiting St. Barth.

Good bye Eden Rock, Hello Christopher hotel, check in at Isle de France: day 2

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So, we slept well last night in our gorgeous duplex. 🙂 We were up by 9 am, ready to go to eat breakfast. It was a vast, scrumptious spread of fruits, cheese, breads, egg, bacon, chicken sausage, home made jams, fresh pressed juices, all while overlooking the beach! 🙂 Some last minute packing and then soaking up the sun in our beautiful terrace at Eden Rock. The breakfast was just super.

We left, and as always, were lost again. I had a lunch meeting with The GM at hotel Christopher. http://www.hotelchristopher.com ( the pictures on the website have not been updated since the renovation, so perhaps my pictures sell the property better.) I would not sell this necessarily to families with young kids, as I think young kids do enjoy the beach and direct access is great to have. There are 2 beaches very close to the property that one can access. It’s a great property- very contemporary, but not cold in feeling. They have 13 rooms that have a small terrace that overlooks the Ocean. Very spacious, beautiful rooms, decorated in Asian/ Italian influenced styles. The Ocean Suites, were just spectacular- on the 2nd floor, bright, great views and unobstructed views of the Ocean. The spa is one of the only ones on the island that has treatment rooms facing the ocean. Now, thats a perfect spa ! Also, some great promotions at the property- credit for your stay to be applied daily towards food or spa. The more you stay, the more you earn. One of the more affordable rooms on the Island, but the only draw back, is that it doesn’t have a beach. It has a super large infinity pool, great views, 2 fantastic restaurants. I really liked the hotels and I had happy clients return!

After lunch, we checked into Hotel Isle De France (www.isledefrance.com/ voted 4th most beautiful hotel in the Caribbean, by Conde Naste readers) and did a site inspection. The hotel is very open in feel. As soon as you walk into the property, you feel like you are on the water, it just has a very tranquil feel. The rooms are all white and light grey.

A 3 bedroom suite # 43

We decided to try dinner at Taiwan hotel, restaurant Parci. They were orignally only serving to hotel guests, but recently have

allowed other guests. It was a great recommendation.

It’s taken close to 2 hours to upload the pics and post all this, so till tomorrow night, bon nuit! 🙂

Have you been to either of these hotels? what did you think of them? share your thoughts and feedback with me.

Eden Rock St. Barth- Day 1 of 5

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Eden Rock St. Barth- Day 1 of 5

St. Barths- info:

A luxuriant villa and an immaculate beach. Leisurely dinners alongside movie stars and supermodels. A vacation could be worse.

But wanting a vacation on St. Barthelemy and having one are different things. This island’s beauty, luxury and exclusive company come with a steep price tag. And should you have what it takes for a holiday on St. Barthelemy, a word of warning: If you are lucky enough to recognize a celebrity behind a pair of sunglasses, don’t expect to collect an autograph. Those breaking the island’s law of studied nonchalance will likely be deported.

St. Barthelemy (better known as St. Barts or St. Barth) first came into the spotlight back in the 1950s when David Rockefeller and a few other prosperous individuals built holiday homes there. Slowly but surely, jet-setters from two continents followed suit, and St. Barts was on its way to becoming the fashionable getaway for the rich and the famous.

They don’t choose St. Barts for the company, though that’s certainly part of the allure: The beaches are secluded, the water is warm, and the landscape of hills and ravines is lovely. The island is sophisticated yet laid-back, with a decidedly French ambience. The people of St. Barts are adept at providing comfort, quiet and security to their well-heeled visitors.

The island has an area of 8 sq miles, it’s small! 🙂

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We got here on the Jet Blue flight from NYC to St. Marteen and then took a small commuter plane ( 10 m) to St. Barth. The landing is quie like coming down from a rollercoaster! It’s really not for the faint of heart!

1st Stop today, was a stay at Eden Rock, http://www.edenrockhotels.com ( Part of the Relais Chateaux affiliation).

This hotel was built in the 1950’s and it has only changed hands once. The English couple that purchased it, David and Jane Matthews, wanted to make this their home, but they ended up converting it into a hotel. They are not from the industry and this is their only hotel ! It’s kind of nice that it’s an independent boutique hotel. This adds to the charm of the place. it feels homey, as all art, fixtures etc have been picked by her.

They have been re-modeling it and in 2010, bought some more property along to beach, to build some more modern, beach villas. The beach is great, powder sand, great snorkling, padding, kayaking around here and the waters, are just so clear- turquoise blue!

They have 7 different categories of rooms. The rock side, is more for couples, more romantic. The beach side, is more for those who want to see and be seen, families etc.

This hotel is barely 5 minutes from the airport. Maps here are terrible, signs and directions even worse. We were lost for an hour, till we eventually found it! 🙂 Hotel does have a pick up chauffeur service.

Since we arrived at lunch time, we decided to try the beach restaurant, “SAND BAR”.It’s a Jean-George restaurant, so we were expecting a fantastic meal.

1stly- the menu was very odd, for the beach setting. It’s to hot to sit out and eat salmon, or fresh fish.

2ndly- the fresh fish sanwich was average, my chicken palliard salad was unevenly cooked.

Overall, we were disappointed, but figured , it was just lunch, we would give the ” ON THE ROCKS” restaurant, ( JG fine dining) a try.

Part of the afternoon was spent doing a site inspection and then we relaxed in our amazing suite. 🙂 In the evening, we drove our red mini convertible to the town of Gustavia, which has some fantastic high end shopping, interesting stores, restaurants, bars and a great place to look at yachts.

Our room, was a Fregate Suite, (premium room), it was a duplex, with 2 terraces and outdoor showers, and a jacuzzi over looking the water. HEAVENLY!! 🙂

Our Terrace-- we had 2

Some pics of town:

For dinner, we returned to our hotel, to try ” ON THE ROCKS”. We just got main courses, as we had a late lunch.

The menu is french-asian fusion. For me, the fusion, means neither here nor there. I love French food and I LOVE Asian, but what I love most in my food , is big, bold flavors.

We got the scallops with ponzo sauce and noodles- it was ok. I got the salt and pepper lobster, with green chillies, ginger and napa cabbage. Sounds good right? it was ok… the seafood was cooked well, but the flavor profile for me, was just disappointing. I have eaten much better food at 1/2 the cost.

The view of the water, overlooking the Bay of St. Jean, was very pretty though.

My bucket list of places one MUST visit!

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My bucket list of places one MUST visit!

Argentina- Mendoza: South America’s napa Valley

The old colonial section of Mendoza, Argentina, was destroyed by fire and earthquake in 1861, so there’s not much that’s unique to see in this city 610 mi/980 km northwest of Buenos Aires. It is, however, a bustling place with leafy boulevards and a wonderful climate, thanks to its location at the foot of the Andes.

The main attractions are the weekend artisans market on the Plaza Independencia and the 170-acre/69-hectare San Martin Park. However, the surrounding area also is worth seeing—beautiful Andean scenery (including Aconcagua, which at 22,835 ft/6,960 m is the highest peak in the Americas).

The country’s best ski resort, Las Lenas, is in Mendoza province but is actually six hours away from Mendoza city. Nearby is the Christ the Redeemer Statue and the Puente del Inca, a natural stone bridge 150 ft/45 m long and about 90 ft/25 m high. Mendoza is also the wine capital of Argentina (there’s a nice wine museum and hundreds of vineyards), and winery and tasting tours range from routine bus itineraries of the most commercial wineries to intimate top-shelf tastings in historic bodegas.

Recommend these hotels:

Park Hyatt Mendoza – www. mendoza.park.hyatt.com

Las Cavas – www.cavaswinelodge.com

Entre Cielos – www.entrecielos.com

CHILE

If you are into hiking/ nature, then Ushuaia is another great place, south of CHILE.

Most consider Ushuaia to be the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia’s port is a common stopover for visits to Antarctica.

The port itself, at Avenida Maipu 510, is wholly given over to commercial shipping. Passengers disembarking there generally head straight for the city proper, as there are no tourist facilities at the port terminal itself.

The city grew around a prison, whose prisoners helped to build the town and the foundation for theTren del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Train), the southernmost railway in the world. The railway connects visitors to Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Other attractions in Ushuaia include wildlife (penguins, birds and orcas) and nearby ski areas. The ski areas often keep the lifts running in summer for hikes to a nearby glacier.

The city experiences misty and foggy conditions for much of the year, so rain protection is a necessity for visitors. Be aware that the city also experiences strong winds. Warm clothing is necessary even in summer months, when average high temperatures don’t rise much above 47 F/14 C.

HOTELS:

Ushuaia: Los Cauquenes – www.loscauquenes.com/en

If you want to explore Patagonia region, here are some hotels:

CHILE :

Punta Arenas/Patagonia region: 

Explora en Patagonia Hotel Salto Chico – www.explora.com/explora-patagonia/hotel-salto-chico

The Singular – www. thesingular.com

A cruise can be a great idea:

Cruceros Australis – www.australis.com

BRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—sensuous, chaotic, sophisticated, open and friendly—is one of South America’s gems. The Cidade Marvilhosa (Marvelous City), as Brazilians call it, displays a unique blend of contrasts: old and new, tremendous wealth amid crushing poverty, an urban metropolis nestled around mountains and a huge forest.

All of Rio de Janeiro is symbolically embraced in the outstretched arms of Cristo Redentor, the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain.

The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio, making it the first South American city to host the Olympic Games, and tourism to Brazil is expected to increase significantly. Rio will also be an important host city to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The finals are expected to be played in an upgraded Maracana stadium.

Rio is undergoing major infrastructure improvements, in efforts to upgrade its transportation system and adopt environmental initiatives in preparation for the Olympics. According to the Brazil Tour Operators Association, hotel capacity will more than double. Football stadiums are being rebuilt, world-class sports facilities are being designed, and the historic quarter and port area are being rejunvenated.

Rio de Janeiro plays host to what some call “the biggest party in the world” during the four-day holiday that is Carnival, which takes place just before Lent in February or Early March. Street parties take place throughout the city and the colorful samba schools parade through the city’s Sambadrome to the sound of heavy drum beats.

But if the buzz of the city becomes too much—during Carnival or otherwise—there’s always an easy escape: to the beautiful coast or to the lush Tijuca Forest that surrounds Rio de Janeiro’s mountainous slopes, where you can hike, bike or jump under a waterfall.

Hotels, my fav is Fasano!

Caesar Park Rio – www.caesarpark-rio.com

Copacabana Palace – www.copacabanapalace.com.br

Hotel Fasano Rio – www.fasano.com.br

Hotel Santa Teresa – www.santa-teresa-hotel.com/en

The St. Tropez of the southern hemisphere:

Buzios (east of Rio)

Buzios (pronounced BOO-zee-ohs) is a pricey, attractive resort area jutting into the Atlantic on the Cabo Frio Peninsula 125 mi/200 km northeast of Rio de Janeiro. The resort is made up of three settlements (Armacao, Ossos and Manguinhos) surrounded by nearly 30 idyllic beaches ranging from long, wide and crowded sweeps of sand to small secluded coves. Watersports include surfing, windsurfing at Ferradura (Horseshoe) Beach, snorkeling (Joao Fernandes and Joao Fernandinho beaches) and swimming. Sunbathers can avoid tan lines at Azeda and Azedinha, the resort’s two topless beaches.

A tiny fishing village completely off the beaten track, Buzios was “discovered” by French actress Brigitte Bardot when she was touring the area in the 1960s, and it has been popular for years with wealthy Brazilians and Europeans. Development is continuing at a controlled pace: New buildings have a height limit of two stories and are designed to blend in with local surroundings—a neat trick for million-dollar villas in what was once a fishing village. Most lodging is in small pousada-style accommodations. Book as far in advance as possible, because it can get busy.

As befits an upscale resort, there are many fine shops and excellent restaurants (international and Brazilian cuisine). Be sure to sample grilled fish, fresh from the sea, on the beach—it’s a special, inexpensive treat.

Hotels:

http://www.viladeste.com.br/english/index.asp

https://www.casasbrancas.com.br/?

No trip to Brazil is complete, without a trip to Iguassu falls.

It’s fantastic if you can see it from both sides, Argentina and Brazil.

Stay at the National park, private off hours access, with Orient Express

http://www.hoteldascataratas.com/web/ogua/hotel_das_cataratas.jsp

Another idea, is to go WEST of Rio, to Paraty. There are no beaches here, but its gret for hikes. A trip to a beach is a 10 m boat ride.

Hotel:

http://www.casaturquesa.com.br/casa_ing.asp

To be continued…. 🙂

December travels

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Now is when the panic sets in- December is almost here, and the hotels is not booked.

So many choices and questions- all inclusive or not? 7 night minimum, or 10? Plunge pool or not? Kid friendly? adults only? compulsory gala-dinner or no?

I am read to roll up my sleeves and answer all these questions! So whether is the Caribbean you are looking at, or Mexico, or Christmas markets in Europe, lets talk!