Africa Adventures Pt. 2

The second half of my Adventures in Africa were all about Azura Retreats!!!! These properties are truly one of a kind and essentially hand curated by the owners Stella and Christopher who pour their love and passion into each detail. You quickly learn about the sustainable practices, the purpose, and how each property supports the local community.

First off : Azura Benguerra

This stunning barefoot luxury resort off the coast of Mozambique was built by the local community. There are 20 Luxury Villas scattered along the coastline of the second largest island of the Bazaruto Archipelago all equipped with plunge pools and easy beach access. Perfect for both Honeymoons and Family getaways for those who want a genuine experience along the coast. Take a quick 2 hour flight from Johannesburg to Vilanculous, from there its just a short and picturesque helicopter ride and you are in paradise. Spend your days enjoying a private lunch on a white sandy beach, snorkeling, boating, stand up paddling, enjoying a massage and taking in the colorful African Sunsets. The staff here is so incredible they constantly go out of their way to curate your experience, setting up special beachfront Dinners, activities and little surprises along the way. When you stay at Azura Benguerra you get the opportunity to connect with the local children who are supported by the Rainbow Fund which has been put together by Azura. Rainbow Fund has built the first local school on the island and supports a variety of social and environmental projects in the local area. This is a place where you can really unwind, relax and connect with the island and its people.

 

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Next : Azura Quilalea

That exclusive private island experience you dream of exists off the coast of Northern Mozambique with just 9 villas and the most spectacular house reef just steps from the main beach. The uninhibited island is full of activities for guests including snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, SUP, and diving. Each villa is unique from the next, but all are fresh and breezy. You can take over the entire resort for an unforgettable wedding or celebration! This is also the perfect place for a digital detox!

 Surprise Bubble Bath on the Deck!

Surprise Bubble Bath on the Deck!

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Our Last Stop : Azura Selous, Tanzania

This is a must for those who love Hippos!!! Azura Selous is built along a river full of them!! The camp is extremely remote and very barefoot feeling. You truly get the feel you are out in the wild just you and the animals and the amazing staff at Azura. Along with hippos you will get out on safari and see lions, giraffes, zebras, impala, hyenas, elephants, lots of beautiful birds, and at times wild dogs and cheetahs. All 12 tents are spacious with private plunge pools. You can sit in your own private pool and watch the hippos bath out in the distance. Azura does it again with unique meal experiences... Our last evening we had a BBQ at a remote location in the middle of the park!! Reach out for more information on these incredible experiences!!!

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Africa Adventures Pt. 1

Africa - A land full of unique experiences and once in a lifetime adventures!

In September I traveled to Africa for two weeks to explore some of the most amazing hotels, experiences and destinations. I started my journey in South Africa at Kruger National Park where I stayed at the beautiful Singita Lebombo Safari Lodge. This experience was everything you could dream of and more! Being that up close to these wild animals in their natural environment was unforgettable. On top of that the modern and chic accommodations, amazing dining offerings, and the incredible array of South African wines that Lebombo offers to all of their guests truly makes for a one of a kind experience.

Here are a few photos, I highly suggest Singita Lebombo for any first time Safari Travelers looking for a luxury experience in the wilderness.

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Next stop :: Cape Town and Franschhoek

Cape Town has one of the coolest backdrops of any international city I have ever seen. In between the picturesque mountains and beautiful beaches lies an intimate yet bustling city, full of history and diversity. I got the opportunity to stay at the new Silo Hotel which is part of the Royal Portfolio and truly a design and architectural masterpiece. Each room is completely different and full of art and unique treasures. The staff was unbelievably friendly and they made this work of art feel like home! Also, the array of great dining options in this city is impressive. I have a ton of recommendations for your next trip!

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A quick stop in Franschhoek to experience one of the oldest wine growing regions in the world!

What a stunning place and the perfect addition to Cape Town. I stayed at La Residence which is also part of the Royal Portfolio and one of the most elegant experiences I have ever seen! The views from the rooms looking out towards the wine country are absolutely captivating! This is the perfect place to relax and indulge in the best of what the wine country has to offer! If you love wine, delicious views, art, and quaint towns this is a must see in South Africa!

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The California Riviera :: Santa Barbara

I spent January through June living up in the mountains of Santa Barbara between the beaches and the wine country.. AKA heaven. They call this area The California Riviera in reference to the placement of the mountains which mimics the French Riviera and is one of the many reasons you find such incredible wines all over the region. It's also the reason you have dramatic pink sunsets and morning mist which comes off the Pacific and dances along the mountain tops creating the most perfect environment for Pinot Noir grapes to grow. There are a handful of amazing hotels to choose form. My favorite being El Encanto. Perched just 10 minutes above town. The views from this property are incredible and it feels like you are miles away but its just a short drive to all the best spots to shop and dine. For a smaller more intimate property just a stroll from State Street, check out the Simpson Inn. Reach out to book and receive VIP perks and more of my favorite tips!

 Poolside at El Encanto

Poolside at El Encanto

 El Encanto Suites Sprawled out along the Hillside

El Encanto Suites Sprawled out along the Hillside

Some of my Favorite Restaurants in the City :

-The Lark, delicious and unique plates in the Funk Zone. Stop by Les Marchands beforehand for a delicious cocktail or a great bottle of wine on the patio.

-Sun Sushi, this is a newer restaurant with the best Sushi in town. It's much more casual then some of the other bustling Sushi Restaurants, the sushi is simple, classic, and fresh!

-Stop into The Public Market! The Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar and Corazon Cocina have some of the best food on State Street. Also stop in at Wine Plus Beer for a tasting!

-For the best Croissant and Cup of Coffee stop in at Handlebar, but be patient as there may be a line :)

 Sunrise from the Mountain Tops of Santa Barbara on your way to Wine Country

Sunrise from the Mountain Tops of Santa Barbara on your way to Wine Country

For the ideal Santa Barbara Itinerary be sure to build in a couple of days to drive out to the wine country. There are so many incredible wineries to visit including Andrew Murray, Rusack, Fess Parker and the list goes on. My best advice is to stop in at C'est Cheese and grab your favorite meats and cheeses for a winery picnic after you've had a tasting or two. It's the perfect afternoon to share with friends and loved ones amongst the vines!

 Zaca Mesa Winery

Zaca Mesa Winery

It's all about France... And a little bit of London too

I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, France this past year and attended a conference in December along with thousands of the best hoteliers, tour operators and trip planners in the business. It's always such a thrill to be surrounded by such inspiring and intelligent people who are the best in the biz. I was especially lucky when I was nominated as one of 14 Travel and Leisure "Rising Stars" of the entire industry. 

Below are a few photos from London, where it literally felt like in 3 days I checked out almost every hotel in this city of hotels... I stayed at the Corinthia which I think back on fondly for being so elegant and cozy.

After the Luxury Travel Conference in Cannes I spent a couple of memorable days in Mougins at the gorgeous Relais and Cheatueax property Le Mas Candilles. The hotel is in the midst of a tiny hilltop town with the French Alps in the distance and the most amazing collection of art. There are tiny galleries around every corner and an incredibly diverse display right in the center of town. The hotel hosts a Michelin Star Dining experience which is unforgetable.

Then it was off to Paris where we stayed at Espirit St Germaine, St James Paris, and Le Royal Moncaue. I wanted to experience different styles. So we sampled a quaint apartment style family owned boutique hotel- Espirit St Germaine, the infamous Chateau in the midst of the city- St James Paris, and one of the most iconic and modern hotels I have ever seen in my life- Le Royal Moncaue. I loved them all for different reasons!

 

 Corinthia <3

Corinthia <3

 Paris... I cherish you.

Paris... I cherish you.

 Saint James Paris and my soulmate AKA the room of my dreams.

Saint James Paris and my soulmate AKA the room of my dreams.

 Espirit Saint Germaine... and its cozy, cozy neighborhood.&nbsp;

Espirit Saint Germaine... and its cozy, cozy neighborhood. 

 The Beautiful Spa at Le Royal Moncaue

The Beautiful Spa at Le Royal Moncaue

Recently Traveled... Maui + Lanai

I never claimed to be good at blogging. I am good at planning trips, making pasta and a few other things...

Here are the remaining photos from my last trip to Hawaii covering : The Montage Kapalua, Ritz Kapalua, and Four Seasons Lanai. All different- each having a bit of their own magic. Inquire for more info ;)

 

 Montage Kapalua : Room View

Montage Kapalua : Room View

 Catamaran at Sunset

Catamaran at Sunset

 Montage Private Dining Experiences

Montage Private Dining Experiences

 Montage: swimming hole

Montage: swimming hole

 Montage Lagoon...

Montage Lagoon...

 Ritz Kapalua

Ritz Kapalua

 Ritz Lounging

Ritz Lounging

 Four Seasons Lanai.... Magic

Four Seasons Lanai.... Magic

 A real Beauty

A real Beauty

 I love FS Lanai

I love FS Lanai

 THE BEST ACTIVITIES ON LANAI!

THE BEST ACTIVITIES ON LANAI!

 This was a first!

This was a first!

 We had FUN!

We had FUN!

Recent Travels :: Hawaii

It's always such a pleasure to get back to Hawaii. This trip was especially exciting because I took the opportunity to visit Lanai for the first time and experience the newly renovated Four Seasons Manele Bay. I've always felt like each island has something so different to offer and this theory continues to hold true. It's easy for travelers to categorize Hawaii in simple terms and blanket statements that I often find a bit cliché. But I have to tell you I continue to find new experiences, a variety of hotels to meet every need, and a culture that has a story and a depth worth exploring.

First stop : Hotel Wailea

Key Facts : Adults Only, Relais & Chateaux, the food (yum), about a 4 minute drive from the busy Wailea beach scene, but with a beach club in the mix, exclusive feel

 The Pool

The Pool

 The spacious property

The spacious property

 The FOOD.. most of which is locally sourced or grown on the 16 acre property.

The FOOD.. most of which is locally sourced or grown on the 16 acre property.

 The Details

The Details

Andaz Wailea 

Key Notes : young + modern + hip, multi-level pool with amazing views, a place to socialize, meet other travelers and have fun, great shops!

 Simple + modern decor

Simple + modern decor

 Layers of pools + fun bars

Layers of pools + fun bars

 Lobby

Lobby

 Out front

Out front

Lumeria Maui

Key notes : for those seeking a wellness/yoga experience, beautiful lush grounds, 25 rooms, B&B vibe, great for groups

 The grounds

The grounds

 The vibe

The vibe

 Historic buildings

Historic buildings

Stay tuned for more to come!!!

Center Stage :: Rosewood Las Ventanas, Cabo San Lucas

Today I am inspired to post about Rosewood Las Ventanas for a few reasons. The first being some of my favorite clients are heading there soon to celebrate a milestone birthday and I am so excited for them! It's been incredible to see the service quality and staff especially the "Director of Romance" assist us with making their stay unforgettable. Secondly, Cabo is the best. It's been an enlightening experience traveling with groups of very well traveled agents from all over the country in the last couple of years. I'm always learning something new. A group of us were recently discussing destinations and if you could only pick one to go back to year after year where would it be? I was shocked by how many chose Cabo. I was so surprised because some of these agents have been all over the world and are not hopping down to Cabo on a quick flight like we can from say Southern California. Convenience was not the key reason to love this destination, rather it was all about the hotels, the service quality, the views, the food, the ambiance, the weather and everything else Cabo has to offer as a destination. And lastly, this hotel is a piece of art. I can never decide if its more beautiful during the day or in the evening candlelit to perfection and as romantic as can be.

Take Me to Mexico :: Casa Majani

Traveling to Mexico has always been one of my favorite things. There's just a special feeling you get when you arrive that can not be mistaken for anything else. This month I got to re-visit that special feeling and enjoy a few days in Punta Mita at the STUNNING Casa Majani. I love staying at great resorts, but this private Villa that operates seamlessly and in full 5 star fashion has left quite the impression. The property itself is an art piece with intricate stonework and beatuiful architecture. It feels like your own mini resort with 5 large bedrooms, dreamy "I never want to leave" pool, yoga room, and sparkling oceanfront views. The staff is warm and delivers some of the most incredible service I have ever experienced... along with some of the best food and drinks I have ever had South of the border. This is the perfect place to escape with your family or a small group of friends, especially if you value privacy, luxury, and exclusivity. Or looking for a spot for an intimate yoga retreat or wellness getaway?

Please inquire with me to find out more! 

June in The Capital

I went ahead and exchanged the beaches on the West Coast for a little city time on the East Coast this June and it was delicious!! I had a lot of friends recommend a lot of different restaurants and we did our best to hit all the best spots. Aside from the food, re-visting some of the most treasured monuments and historical landmarks in the United States is always memorable and humbling. And who doesn't love to pop into one of the Smithsonian Museums on their way from point A to point B for a quick visit?!

Now back to the food. Here are the most memorable spots that I would highly recommend for anyone traveling to D.C. :

Le Diplomat : When I think about eating out in D.C. this is what comes to mind. A popular weekend brunch spot, but also an everyday favorite. The menu is full of beautiful cheeses, fresh oysters, and classic French Cuisine. EVERYTHING is delicious, the atmosphere is casual, but classy and the service is fabulous. Do NOT miss it!

Rose's Luxury : Unique + artistic, the Menu is full of interesting ingredients and combinations I have never seen before like Pork Sausage, Habanero, peanuts, and Lychee in a salad. And not to be missed are the homemade pastas! Spicy Strawberry Sauce with Fresh Ricotta, anyone? Another notable detail- they donate 25 cents per meal served to WFP-USA to help feed a hungry child around the world.

Estadio : There are a lot of Spanish Tapas Restaurants in town, but this one is the best!! Do not miss the Tortilla Española or the Manchego Cheesecake. The friendly service will keep you coming back and the variety of dishes are sure to satisfy whatever you are in the mood for!

Iron Gate : Be sure to make reservations to sit outside, it feels like a Secret Garden. The cocktails are unique and innovative and the food is mindfully sourced and full of flavor. Inspiration for the menu comes from Greece, Sicily, Sardinia, and Southern Italy. 

Bula!

When you first arrive in Fiji you learn that Bula means hello.. Stay awhile and you will soon understand that Bula means hello, goodbye, have a good day, the sun is shining, buy me a drink, hope you are well, let's dance... And really anything you want it to mean! Like this phrase the destination is diverse, it's beautiful, and yet extremely simple. The islands are really about being present, the water, the sea life, the sunshine, and the sunsets.

For those looking for a place to rest, relax, and experience natural beauty and bright smiles... look no further.

Resorts we experienced : Royal Davui + Likuliku Lagood Resort

The Best of French Polynesia :: The Brando

There are many resorts in French Polynesia to choose from, but none quite like this, The Brando is in a playing field of it's own. The beauty of the island, the all-inclusive care free experience, and the genuine service is something you will not find at other resorts scattered throughout the islands. If you are looking for the best, here you have it...

Farmhouse Inn :: Sonoma's Best

Nestled in the heart of Forrestville surrounded by beautiful California wines is Farmhouse Inn. The current owners fell in love with Farmhouse when it was just a small restaurant and turned it into this dreamy hotel with 25 rooms & suites. Now with years of honor as a Michelin-starred restaurant and newly designed rooms it's an experience not to be missed. Many call this their home in wine country. It's just that kind of place that takes you in, sits you down and makes you want to stay awhile!

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Wine + Food + Forest Lovers Unite :: Meadowood, Napa Valley

I have been to Northern California wine country once before and remember vines and hills. But I have never seen anything like Meadowood Hotel & Spa. Over 250 acres of hills covered in pine trees, green grass, and lush vegetation. It was like walking through a pristine forest. What a beautiful place to stay nestled amongst tasting rooms, wineries and downtown St Helena. Their brand new $14 million dollar spa had the largest treatments rooms I have ever seen. Fireplaces throughout the property & in each room, delicious food, and scenery that makes you feel as though you are out amongst nature while still catering to all of your 5 star needs. This is the perfect place to take a loved one for a weekend of R&R, immerse yourselves amongst these gorgeous trees and don't forget to drink plenty of Napa Valley Wine!!!

As always, contact us for booking and VIP perks!

The Magical Maldives

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to the Maldives??

Now that I have been I can tell you it feels like a dream. Pictures can not match the feel of being out on an island surrounding with the most incredible blue waters you have ever seen.

Days are full of magical sunrises, lots of ocean swims, plunge pools, kayaking, snorkeling, private island trips, and scuba diving. If you are looking for a place to disconnect, relax, and spend time with a loved one... I can not think of a more magical place to do it!

Featured Hotel : The Six Senses Laamu , Voted #1 Hotel in the Maldives. Contact me for more info and special perks!!


Rancho Valencia :: A True California Gem

My favorite place to getaway and stay away.

When I think of Rancho Valencia I think of : cozy fires, incredible spa services, yoga classes followed by green juice delivered right to your mat, poolside lunches, delicious food, and fresh squeezed OJ delivered to your door every morning. I think of beautiful grounds, spacious rooms, and the feeling of comfortable luxury.

Looking for your next staycation or California retreat??

Aloha Dreaming

Lately all it takes is a quick glance at a photo or a simple feeling, smell or taste and I'm ready to get on a plane and get back to paradise.

Here are a few photos taken in Hawaii in the last year or so..

 Photo Credit : www.photoandiamo.com

Photo Credit : www.photoandiamo.com

 Four Seasons Hualalai

Four Seasons Hualalai

 Four Seasons Hualalai

Four Seasons Hualalai

I love a good story..

Who Doesn't? Yesterday I sat and listened to a new favorite. 

The story of Relais & Chateaux...

A non-profit company born in France dedicated to the art of dining. Turned into quite possibly the most incredibly beautiful hotel collection that ever was and ever will be. Certainly after an 8 course meal complete with wine pairings one needs a plush bed to lay one's head, right?

R & C was born as renowned chef's opened their hearts and chateaux to old strangers. Diners, lovers, travelers, who took on miles to arrive and to dine. To experience a piece of art, a piece of life... 

I think about this story and think about the company R & C has become, the beauty and delicacy of their properties and the heart behind it all.

And I can't help but fall...

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Featured Hotel by R & C : Le Couvent des Minimes Hôtel & Spa : Mane, France

September September.. Where did you go?

Well you went to Asia- First you went to Seoul and then to Bali... And then you made it to the Hawaiian Islands just in time for October.

As I recap on the last month or so of travels there is a subtle but strong undercurrent, gratitude.

My first trip to South Korea was a success. I was immediately drawn to the clean streets, friendly faces, and pleasant order of the city. I was lucky enough to stay at the beautiful Park Hyatt for a couple days. These days started with an incredible sunrise from the 24th floor.. the gym, the pool. and the spa captured my attention for hours each morning. The staff was exceptionally pleasant. We enjoyed the history, the DMZ line, the ballet, and the food.

Next : Bali and I finally meet.

Bali has been one of those places for me over the last few years. A place you know you need to get to ASAP because the second you heard about it... You just couldn't stop imagining what it might be like. I think my dear friend Zach says it best and I like to borrow what he told me when I asked him, "how long have you been coming here?"

He took a moment before he answered with something like this : Bali was my first international trip back in 1993. This place changed the trajectory of my entire life... He goes on to tell me a colorful story of one of his very first mornings in Bali. About how he's up early at 5:30AM walking down the road, checking the waves, getting ready to surf, excited.. And he sees an offering on the ground in front of him (if you have been to Bali I'm sure you have a very clear visual right now, and if you haven't you will after you go!). Frozen for a moment while looking down on flowers and a lit incensce showing a sign of gratitude or a simple offering to the gods... Blown away by the grateful and genuine spirited people of Bali, Zach has been spending months of each year there ever since. He added his own light and stories to the equation and to the beliefs that were already sprouting in my heart. This place is special- one of the most special in the world and I am so lucky to be here right now and really... I don't want to leave. 

It's funny having spent time in Asia this year for the first time ever. Two big international trips.. And I've come to realize even more that no matter where I go and how different the places might seem, we people are more alike then we are different. Always. And I am always so shocked when I pass by a mirror at the mall or airport and see myself sticking out like a giant giraffe- At 6'0 feet tall I don't quite blend in as well as I imagine, but it sure feels that way to me!

I have to say my trip to Bali went by fast, too fast. For me twelve days was just a preview. I was able to preview and stay at some incredible hotels. 

Including :

-The New : Mandapa, A Ritz Reserve in Ubud

-Amandari, Ubud

-The Ritz Nusa Dua, Nusa Dua

-Bulgari, Uluwatu

Each property is so special and I can recount all the little details as I type. The visuals are magical!!!! 

If you are interested in traveling to Seoul or Bali I would love to share with you what I learned.


Croatia : Beauty + Form

I love when new clients inspire new locations...

Croatia is one of those magical places that isn't on EVERYONE's travel to do list. Thank goodness. If it were, it probably wouldn't feel quite as special as it does...

A dear friend and co-workers just returned from Hvar and could not stop raving. The tune goes something like this : incredible, laid back and casual, inexpensive but amazing food, boats, island hopping, great wine, the coolest beach bars, and natural beauty for days. Go for a week in Hvar and then spend a few days exploring and viewing all the beauty by Yacht.

When planning for Croatia traveler's find it difficult to acquire the accommodations they seek. But not with us, we will get you situated just right. 

It's simply perfection, don't you think? 

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