Thursday, December 17, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Now this sounds like a great vacation side trip, especially for a girlfriend’s getaway:
Wake up in a villa at Cap Maison in St. Lucia. Next, saunter down to the restaurant perched above the sea at the northern most tip of the island. Here, the Caribbean and Atlantic meet. Waves and dark coffee say, “Good morning.” Take Cap Maison’s motor yacht to Martinique. Arrive there about 9:30am for breakfast. Discover Fort de France as you shop Parisian style at the duty free boutiques (Chanel, Hermes) or “go native” and explore the local markets. Return to Cap Maison in time for an afternoon cocktail, poolside or on the beach, made with seasonal fresh fruit. Or, keep with the theme of the day and partake in the chef’s selection of French wine and cheeses. Take a nap, or perhaps read, back at the villa, again poolside. Yes. The villa comes with a pool…
Cap Maison reminds me of a combination of architecture you might find while cruising the Mediterranean–a little bit of Morocco meets Greece. Throw in some Southern Spain, add a little Malta. However the overall flavor of the resort puts you in Mexico. This may sound hodge-podge, but it works. The buildings are stucco, stark white, and their edges curve and slope caressing the sky. They say lack of sun can make you depressed. I wonder if boxy shaped architecture puts you in a bad mood too. Cap Maison would be the antidote for both.
The resort opened last year in time to celebrate British Airway’s direct service to St. Lucia. Jet Blue now has non-stop service from JFK too. It was the dream child of the Goblat family who lives on premises and wanted to parlay their adjacent landholdings into, “…the best of all the resorts we (they) ever stayed at.” The resort is comprised of 22, one, two and three bedroom villas. There are 49 keys; so guests have the option of staying in a private, adjacent bedroom to one of the villas. It’s deluxe and pretty much everything you could want from a swank resort.
My sunshiny moments…
• Wading in the roof deck pool of “My Villa” with views of the resort in the foreground and the sea in the background.
• Taking a sunset cruise on the resort’s motor yacht. (They offer a “Stay and Sail” package–cruise the Islands for three to four days and then stay at the resort.)
• Eating the homemade shortbread cookies delivered to my room upon arrival. They killed me.
• Bobbing in an ocean warmer than most pools. You could see your toes through the clear water and the beach cove setting reminded me of the make-out scene from, Here to Eternity.
• Sipping a passion fruit margarita that truly was the best I’ve ever had in my life. E-v-e-r.
• Dining…waves below, the soft, smooth taste of a lovely Chardonnay matching the smooth feeling of my skin post massage (Yes, they do have a spa.) And the food; we began with lobster consommé, then were presented with a Tapas plate of duck roulade and foie gras, but I can’t tell you about the last tasty morsel because I put my pen down to savor the food and the experience!
Friday, November 27, 2009
Dinner at East Winds is elegantly served with proper and traditional cutlery. I appreciated my fish knife and fork. I warned you about fussy service...
The only Steinway grand piano on the island is at East Winds and it is a fitting addition to the low-key, high taste, experience. Like the single camellia decorating the table, the Steinway accompaniment gives the atmosphere an element of simplicity and ease. You can literally hear the lapping sea beneath the music, coupled with the wine, linens and a candlelight dining, you feel like floating away! The palm frond roof overhanging this large round “beach hut” dining room, known as the Flamboyant Room is, to say the least, ideal–the food, fresh, flavorful and uncomplicated.
A rondoval room is a hexagonal shaped room. According to GM Leach, they’re found in East Africa and a few other West Indian Islands. East Wind’s rondovals are situated in the middle, low-point of the property, hugged by the botanical landscape. We were told that they often are blessed with a soft breeze. Nice, because these rooms do not have air conditioning. Nevertheless, they were my favorite of the three room categories East
Winds has to offer. And they were the least expensive! Until Christmas week these rooms are $470 per night based on double occupancy. Considering, this is an all-inclusive resort, with a boutique hotel feel, this is a very good value. The 30 rooms throughout the resort share a similar décor–tasteful, simple, with a touch of “stylish beach cottage” thrown in.
The Bamboo Lounge was the hippest room at East Winds. Guest can enjoy this lounge for evening cocktails or Champaign or a morning coffee. Again, it is a round room with built in “coves” for seating. The aqua and coral color combination of the upholstery fabric as well as the ratan furnishing work together to create an ideal contemporary “West Indian” design experience. Sit here, and you relax. Walk out to the beach and you escape...
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Gareth Leach, General Manager of East Winds Inn in St. Lucia told me that often his staff will tell him, “Don’t worry, you can go do something else.” He isn’t being plied with the cliché Caribbean phrase, “Don’t worry, be happy.” It is actually true; they will get the job done without him hovering. After 18 years at East Winds, Leach says, “I’ve always found St. Lucians to be very well motivated.”
Housekeeper, Merle Prospere, has been at East Winds for 20 years. Some of the gardeners celebrating their ten-year, or more, are familiar faces to East Winds guests returning again and again. One English woman I met was vacationing at East Winds for the tenth year in a row. Obviously the resort is serving up a vacation formula that works flawlessly for their clients, while keeping themselves contentedly employed! A first time guest, expressed, “It’s pretty near perfect!” This is what makes it so…
East Winds offers a very intimate, appropriately elegant, without being up tight, vacation experience. Recreation is basic, off the grid, and to my mind charmingly English–ping pong, shuffleboard, reading (there are books available in all the common rooms). If you’re a garden enthusiast, the grounds are lovely and one can identify tropical plants with the help of a printed guide. A new yoga space is available with classes twice per week. It is a large, elevated, open roof pavilion, with no walls on three sides and glossy floors. You can do your downward dog and see the
birds and blooms–feel the breeze.
While an East Winds vacations seems low-key and no-fuss, the staff does seem to fuss over you. A vegetarian may check out Chefs menu by 2pm. If there isn’t anything that peeks his or her fancy, Chef will meet with said vegetarian to create additional menu choices for that evening. Gluten free travelers can bring their own gluten-free flour and the East Winds kitchen will bake bread for them. Tea is served every afternoon. The swim up pool bar is self-service. Here, kids do love to “play bartender” but staff is alsoavailable to prepare a special drink or two or…. And I should mention that all alcohol, including Champaign, is included in the price of your room, as is all dining.
And a lovely dining experience it is! See my next post for further details on that front.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I feel like my life is something out of "Where In The World is Waldo" book. Today I'm on the island of St. Lucia, the Ladera resort, to be specific. This hotel's tagline is honest and accurate. It is way Above the bay below, situated on a steep hillside (small mountain, really) with views of St. Lucia's iconic Piton Mountains, left and right. It is Beyond any Caribbean fantasy I've ever had. Perhaps I'm not dreaming large enough! I've selected a few photos here to give you an idea of what this open-air hotel is like, but they don't compare to the real thing. Below are just a few reasons why I'm loving this spot on
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Prior to visiting The Basilica of Saint Anthony, known to the people of Padua as Il Santo (The Saint), two different friends on two different occasions told me of their emotional encounter with visiting "Saint Anthony." A good friend from my church in Pelham, NY told me that when he visited the Cathedral, he was moved to tears by the spectacle of believers praying on, and around Saint Anthony's tomb. He explained that written intentions and photographs are shoved in lattice work flanking the tomb. Even though he prepared me for the visual abundance of prayers, needs, intervention requests and devotions I would encounter, I was still humbled by the "crying out" of pilgrims quietly asking Il Santo for help. And I too, was moved to tears.
I saw a huge, muscular black man with palms and forehead touching the foot of Anthony's tomb, bowing in prayer. His stance of humility and devotion was moving... I saw countless pictures, especially of children, in the lattice work. Believers of every age and race were bringing their concerns to His alter. I was there in the evening just before closing. This turned out to be the best time to visit. I found this out a few days later when I returned at mid-day. Then, it was noisy, frenetic and busy with tourist. But my first encounter will be the one I will always remember. It doesn't take much for me to pray. I do it often. I was grateful to have the opportunity for some quite prayer and reflection in this semi-dark 13th century masterpiece of Roman and Gothic architecture.
Most Catholics will tell you that St. Anthony is who you go to to pray for lost things, either actual things, or lost hope, or faith. I am a Catholic, but raising my kids Episcopalian. This discussion is complicated and off topic for this blog. Visiting Il Santo did get me back to my Catholic roots. I relished the imposing grandeur and sumptuous artifacts filling the many sanctuaries of this Basilica, all dedicated to the glory of God.
What to Do:
Besides witnessing the faithful at Saint Anthony's tomb make sure you see The Chapel of the Relics (Treasury Chapel). My boy would have loved this. Here you'll find in a spectacular reliquary (a big opulent gold urn-type vessel) Saint Anthony's tongue! Above this is a reliquary of his jaw bone. Still another holds his voice box. Saint Anthony was known to preach with great fervor and learning. It is documented that he traveled thousands of kilometers preaching to tens of thousands of faithful. Perhaps it is fitting that these "vocal relics" remain in tact for both the faithful and curious to see.
If you feel called, visit the Blessings Chapel too. A Franciscan priest is available to bless visitor and pilgrims. It's a quiet, intiment chapel, not terribly intimidating and a blessing, said in Latin or Italian, can be good for the soul. Especially one that has been preoccupied by commitments of work or family.
What to Wear:
As with any Catholic Basilica the world over, do not wear shorts or no sleeves (I'm not sure if this applies to Saint Peter's in New York City, however). You may wear long pants and short sleeves. Dresses or skirts that are not too short are allowed. Many a faithful have been turned away from Cathedral doors by their attire, so consider what you are wearing before you go and dress respectfully.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Between Venezia and Vicenza lies the university town of Padova. From science to art, Galileo to Giotto, Padova says to visitors, "I am smart, accomplished, artistic and civilized. Look at me." One becomes dizzy trying to fathom the art, science and culture that this city has harbored over several centuries.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Where to go:
Located in the center of the Veneto Region, Vicenza is an architectural dream-scape. Connect with a narrative history of architecture at its finest. Take in that which is Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-classic and more. This "theater-city" is a must on anyones itinerary exploring the region.
What to do:
Get a guide. Ours was Monica Facchini. Monica and her colleagues will customize a tour for a group from one to 50 people. The tour may encompass Vincenz's "Pallidio" city center, as well as several of the 16 Palladian Villas in the Vicenza provence.
The breathtaking Teatro Olimpico is a must see. This is the first modern public theatre built and used during the Renaissance. It screams, Shakespeare. Palladio's design direction was to build a theater in the "Roman Style." Mission accomplished, and how! Commissioned by the Accademia Olimpica in 1555, an organization which still meets in the theater, Oedipus Rex is one of many plays you can see at Teatro Olimpico today (from Spring to Autumn, plan ahead).
Palladio did not live to see his full design executed, the architect, Vincenzo Scamozzi realized the Olimpico dream. Scamozzi's use of architectural perspective, creating the illusion of seemingly endless streets on the stage is extraordinary. As is his use of trompe l'oeil throughout the building.
Ever conscious of budgetary constraints, Palladio requested that all statuary to be made from stucco. Napoleon had a mind to rip them off, but was dissuaded when he found out they were not real marble. Sometimes it pays to watch your lira.
What to wear:
As I mentioned in older posts. Italian women are fashionable and sexy. Live your Sophia Loren fantasy, put on a Ferragamo scarf, grab a Furla bag, drape on some gold*, wear a push up bra and let Vicenza celebrate your architecture. (But wear comfortable shoes!)
*Note: Vicenza is a leading European gold industrial area with over 1,200 firms crafting traditional to modern designs...all in gold...hum...
Monday, November 9, 2009
I'm hounded repeatedly by Max Hartshorne of GoNOMAD to blog, blog, blog. It builds community around your passions, for me that's style and travel, it promotes your business, that's MyStylist and travel writing, and it hones your editorial and writing skills. Unfortunately, I drop the "blog plate" sometimes. Last week, case in point. So here I am again, endeavoring to spin more blogs about my trip to the Veneto Region of Italy. Obviously, I'm back home, laundry is done, kids can once again hear my familiar nagging voice. Will they ever hang up their wet towels?
Before I get started on the "stylishly special" things about the region, I wanted to share with you some basic and very useful information about planning a trip to Italy:
You should know about The Italian Travel Promotion Council (ITPC). This is a trade organization of reputable American tour operators in Italy. These tour operators offer the best and most creative solutions for designing a memorable trip to Italy, taking their customer's interests and passions into account. You may ask, "Why engage a tour operator? Why not craft my own tour using the internet?" Entirely possible. BUT many, many people do not engage a stylist to help them with their wardrobe. However, if they did, the outcome would be better (shameless plug, I know)! AND using a tour operator doesn't necessarily mean you'll be paying more for your trip (using a good stylist can save you money too).
A few interesting tour operators I met during my trip that I highly recommend:
• The Parker Company, Mario Scalzi is a big, burly, take charge guy who is going to rent you an Italian villa and take all your varied needs and wants into account while doing so.
• Perillo Tours, admittedly I was skeptical about this well know brand, but Steve Perillo and his Italian counterpart, know their stuff. They're proud of the company's history and they've got a gold mind of institutional knowledge clients can benefit from.
• The International Kitchen, I'm dying to try one of these tours. I personally enjoyed a lovely meal with these folks and if their hospitality at the table is as good as their tours, I'm sold. For anyone who loves to cook, eat and travel, check them out!
• Distinctive Journeys International, no-nonsense Anna Pappas-Carroll crafts high-end custom tours to give you access to places of style, "distinction," and taste.
As with any travel planning, check out the government sponsored tourist links:
• Italian Tourism and specific to the Veneto Region, Regione del Veneto
Expect several more MyStylist–Travel Advisories on the Veneto Region this week! And please comment!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Italian women are very sexy. There is a confidence in their sexuality that many, most really, American women just don't possess. Often, when American women want to "look sexy" they either hit you over the head with it or it's too controlled–they don't take any chances. The Italian women I've seen the last couple days (in Verona, Treviso, Padova and Vincenza) dress. They must think about what they wear and calculate the impression it has on everyone else and they probably take their clothing choices into account no matter where they are going or what they are doing. Furthermore, it is not just young women I'm talking about. Middle-aged women are every bit in control of their sexuality and fashion as the young college students I saw in Padova. They're pushing the envelope on what might be appropriate, in a good way. An American woman might get a "double take" if she dawned that faux fur belted vest (I bought one)... but isn't that the point?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
It's fashion week in New York City. On Wednesday I was within viewing distance of the Bryant Park tents. I've had my fair share of runway shows; under the tents, in showrooms, the Puck Building even West-side parking lots. It's fun to partake in the hoopla. I remember once seeing a New York Public Library security guard refusing Anna Wintour access to a show. I was secretly pleased. Finally, someone next to me said, "You really ought to let her in, she's really important." I think Wintour was sort of embarrassed, she smiled sheepishly. The guard dropped the velvet rope, glowering at us all.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Every pedicure should come with wine.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Slathering mud on your girlfriend's back truly brings a whole new meaning to, "we're very close." Can you happily grab globs of red mud, spread it all over yourself and your friend, bake in the sun until your skin resembles cracked clay and then vigorously slough it off (each other), resulting in a dipped-in-brown-sugar look, all while discussing the merits of raising children? One friend, re-entering single parenthood shared the challenges of growing two boys, while the other discussed coming to terms with her childlessness. I couldn't tell if the other women slinging clay were treading in such muddy waters, but that is what makes our friendship close, extraordinary really. If you're like us, Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa is a great place to rest, relax, and talk.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Champaign and Mimosas.
The golfers in my family, Mom, Dad and brother, Michael, say Temecula Creek Inn is the golfing venue in Temecula. Mom and Dad have golfed throughout the world and they had nice things to say about the course in comparison to some others in Southern California. Michael likes a nice place and Temecula “rated” for him. Believe me, that’s saying a lot.
Us Gals aren’t golfers, but we agreed that we should take it up as we sat down with plate number TWO. That
morning eating seemed to be our sport of choice!
Friday Night Lights at Temecula Creek Inn starts at 5:30pm with nine holes of golf followed by an upscale buffet dinner. Then try your swing at an additional three
holes of glow in the dark golf ($85.00). This sounds like a blast for a girlfriend getaway, as does some of their other events and packages.
We liked the understated ranch-like feel of the Inn. Villas overlooking the course seamlessly blended with the
greens. Nice, because all too often the architecture surrounding a course can appear out-of-place, like Tiger Woods jumping horses.