Stories for: Hotels

Hotels, International, TravelCosta Rica Travel Guide

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As the weather gets cooler and your mind starts wandering to warm vacations, make sure Costa Rica is on your list of places to check out. The country, one of the most prosperous and safest in Central America, not only offers gorgeous scenery and relaxation, but an abundance of activities to satiate even the most adventurous member of your travel group. We recommend experiencing the Pacific side of the country–a providence called Guanacaste–which is renowned for its white sand beaches and surf, set against a backdrop of active volcanos. Plus, there’s no such thing as hurricane season here! Book your ticket into Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, and read on for all the things to see and experience.

Where to stay

Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, Costa Rica

As one of only two resorts on the posh and picturesque Peninsula Papagayo, the newly opened Andaz offers guests one of the most gorgeous stays in the country. Although it would rather bill itself as a “lifestyle” property instead of a “luxury resort,” the Andaz doesn’t skimp on a single detail, offering private open-air spa suites that overlook the ocean, indoor/outdoor walk in rain showers, multiple pools, complimentary minibars, and rooms outfitted with sleek and modern technology. The design of the property is inspired by the organic natural beauty of Costa Rica, and guests will often find themselves coexisting with the local flora and fauna–whether that’s sharing cocktail hour with a howler monkey or the road with a family of pizotes, a South American mammal commonly spotted in the region. Service here is friendly and attentive–but never pushy or invasive–and everything is accommodated with a genuine spirit that embodies Costa Rican pura vida.

All the rooms are spacious, but the best ones to book are in the Bay View category, which offer floor to ceiling views of the pristine waters of Culebra Bay, and a private furnished balcony from which to take it all in. Local design touches such as woven textiles and wood furnishing reflect the Costa Rican aesthetic, but modern amenities including floor light sensors and sleek tech products make staying here as comfortable and convenient as it is authentic. The architecture and interiors are minimalist and soothing, and while beautiful in their own right, do an exceptional job of highlighting the splendid natural beauty of the local terrain. If this all sounds like a feast for the eyes (and naturally, Instagram), you’re right…and you’re in luck because the resort-wide (high speed, really) WiFi means you can share every breathtaking snap on social media to your heart’s content. READ MORE

Hotels, Los Angeles, Spas & Salons, TravelA Lovely Way to Exhale

Zen Lounge

There’s nothing I love more than a good massage…seriously, it’s a struggle every day not to just schedule another one. When I win the lottery, I’m totally going to have a masseuse on standby and get one every single day. So, naturally, I love finding a great new place in my city where I know I can escape to anytime I need to de-stress.

Exhale Spa has locations all across the country, including three here in Los Angeles (Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice) and offers Core Fusion and Yoga classes, as well as spa services. When I got the chance to visit for a service, I had about thirty seconds of wondering if I should do something to burn calories, then I came to my senses and picked the massage. (I’m no fool!)

I visited the Santa Monica location, which is inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Wilshire Blvd near the ocean. If you’ve never been to the hotel before, you’re in for s treat: It’s gorgeous and luxurious and everything you would expect from a hotel in that area, so it instantly sets the tone when you enter. Once you check in, you change in the lounge, which has seating areas for relaxing and a chill vibe. If I hadn’t had an appointment I needed to get to afterwards, I would’ve definitely parked myself in one of the comfy chairs in my oversized robe and read magazines for an hour or two. (The above image is from the Zen Lounge in the Hollywood location, but it gives you a good idea of what the Santa Monica one looks like as well).

I booked myself for the sixty minute Exhale Flow massage, which is their signature full body massage. It involves what they call “choreographed waves of kneading” that are meant to open your muscles up, free energy blockages and relieve tension. It’s a technique that incorporates more lymphatic drainage than a traditional deep tissue, so it helps detoxify your body more and boosts your immune as well. All of that sounds very technical, but what really matters is how it feels and that answer is… amazing. I had been so tense over a work project that was having some unexpected problems and for that hour, I forgot all about anything but the fabulous massage I was getting. It was so, so relaxing with the aromatherapy oils that were used and I loved that my technician followed my lead–when I started a conversation with her, she was lovely to talk to, but when I was quiet, she was also silent so I could fully enjoy the massage. My only complaint?  That I didn’t book the ninety minute treatment because the one hour one was over far, far too soon.

It was such a nice treat in such a lovely setting, and if you live in Los Angeles, I highly recommend this location, especially because it’s so close to the Third Street Promenade, which means you can shop afterwards (the perfect follow up to a massage!)

To learn more about the Exhale spas across the country or book a treatment for yourself, visit www.exhalespa.com.

Hotels, TravelBanyan Tree Mayakoba

banyanVoyages by nature always transport you to a new world, but reflecting back on our time at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba, this concept came across on a whole new level. A zippy direct flight and 45-minute drive later, we arrived at the Riviera Maya Mexico but with a distinct feel of Asia. With luxury properties all over Thailand, China and Indonesia, the Banyan Tree’s Asian influence is much more than a veneer. Throughout the visit, I found my mind channeling Chiang Mai and Bintan while strolling through the immaculately manicured courtyards.

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Dining & Nightlife, Hotels, TravelBourbon Steak Miami

bourbonMiami’s epic energy and fun spirit remain unmatched, which is due in large part to its unique fusion of cultures. I’ve always loved spending time on Miami beaches, basking in the sun (while it’s snowing at home) and being entertained by the people watching. Sometimes on vacay, I’m in the mood for something a little more laid-back but still carries that Miami vibe. Enter Bourbon Steak, a restaurant by James Beard award-winning chef Michael Mina, located within the sprawling and elegant Turnberry Isle Resort. A leisurely drive from the flocks of partiers, this is one place that the glitterati will migrate to for a taste of the superb cuisine in an elite club atmosphere with well-oiled service. The stunning entrance through glass doors invites diners into the sleek dining room which seats 250 and feels like the beginning of an opulent dream.

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Hotels, International, TravelParadise Found: Eden Roc Cap Cana

mainWhen I couldn’t stand the bone-chilling cold any longer, escape for a long weekend to warmer climate was paramount. A very in-the-know little bird recommended the Eden Roc Cap Cana as the perfect getaway, the only Relais & Chateaux property in the Dominican Republic. Nestled minutes from the airport in Punta Cana, the resort’s transport whisked me to paradise faster than I could shed my winter coat. Privacy is the theme at the elegant boutique property, a resort of 34 beautifully designed suites, and more pools than you could swim in. From sharing no walls as each suite is free-standing with its own pool (and not a small plunge pool, at that!) to your personal golf cart to whisk you anywhere on the property, they’ve simply thought of everything. For a few days, I lived the stuff of dreams filled with luxury, sunshine, and lazy breakfasts.

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Hotels, TravelLe Toiny St Barth

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Famous for its real estate, yachts, and the uber-privileged jet set that inhabits both, St. Barth immediately conjures up images of glitz and glamour. As a first time visitor, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, though I imagined something like a Caribbean island version of the VIP room of a New York City nightclub—filled with celebrities and beautiful people, free flowing champagne, and an uninhibited energy that pulsates through the night. Though I was eager to visit—my social media feeds of editors and tastemakers were always filling my stream with gorgeous photos of the island—I was also a bit apprehensive. After all, without a network of friends who regularly vacationed on the island, I wasn’t sure if I’d fit in at such an exclusive locale.

I needn’t have worried. Immediately after landing in Gustavia, my husband and I were already being charmed by the customs agent (now, how often do you hear that from weary travelers?) and with nary a line in sight, we were out of the airport in under five minutes and chowing down our first taste of the island at nearby Maya’s-to-Go. It didn’t take long to discover that actually it’s the secluded untouched natural beauty, easy quality of life, and welcoming spirit that makes St. Barth such a desirable and luxurious destination–in fact, exactly the opposite of the hoity attitude that I had feared. Our ultimate destination on the island was Hotel Le Toiny located on the South-Eastern coast. I didn’t know it yet, but the property would turn out to embody all the wonderful qualities of of St. Barth I was quickly falling in love with. READ MORE

Hotels, TravelThe Viceroy Anguilla

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When I mentioned to my friends that I was planning a trip to Anguilla, the recommendation was the same across the board: “You must stay at The Viceroy!” Whether they had gone with family, friends, or on their honeymoon, it seemed like everyone had nothing but great things to say about the sprawling Kelly Wearstler-designed resort–and it only took about a minute on property to see why. If there ever was a case where a space could be at once jaw-dropping and impressive yet casual and relaxing, this would be it–the perfect cocktail for a luxurious vacation. READ MORE

Hotels, Spas & Salons, TravelUmstead Spa Organic Facial

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Revisiting my hometown is like spending time with an old friend- it brings back memories and creates new ones, all the while marveling at the latest changes. I grew up in North Carolina, which is now one of my favorite places to visit in part due to the burst of new restaurants, bars, museums and of course, southern charm. The pace is slow and friendly, and the air is clean- relaxation is paramount to my visits. This past trip included an experience I would gladly travel for again: an organic facial at the breathtaking Umstead Hotel and Spa. The spa itself has just undergone a comprehensive three month renovation, and I was amazed by the transformation. The 16,000 square feet of sprawling space spans two floors and takes its cue from nature, encouraging contemplation and relaxation. Natural elements of river rock, granite, bamboo, and glass have been incorporated into the updated design, which is fitting given the close proximity of the resort to the William B. Umstead State Park. During my spa experience, I fell in love with the textiles, locally sourced pottery and artwork which create the unique ambiance of the spa. The spa’s whirlpool is perfect for settling the mind and soul before or after a treatment. If the weather is warm, the quiet outdoor pool area is ideal for lounging and taking in the serene tree canopy and Carolina blue sky, which spa guests are privy to! READ MORE

Books, Hotels, International, Mom & Kids, TravelLittle Luxe Guides

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Traveling with the whole family doesn’t mean sticking to Disney and eating at McDonald’s! For the chic and adventurous set, having the little ones in tow opens up a whole new world of discovery. While researching for upcoming voyages, I’m always searching for a balance of fun, luxury, culinary adventure, and cultural knowledge. The hardest thing is knowing who to trust for well-curated recommendations–until now. The new Little Luxe City Guides are a godsend of valuable gems of information, and draw from the expertise of the original Luxe City Guides which have been popular with jetsetters for years. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bali are the exotic destinations in the Little Luxe family, and provide a trusted source of concise information, easily tucked into a carry-on bag! The accordion style guides are protected by a plastic cover and can function as a quick reference when abroad, or even a jumping-off point for doing research in preparation. It’s a time-saver shortcut to the best kid-friendly hotels and villas, interesting activities, and even cute kid stores, so you have a savvy insider’s point of view from the start. READ MORE

Hotels, New York, TravelThe Surrey Hotel

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I feel like I’m stepping into a New York fantasy as I walk into the cool monochromatic marble lobby of The Surrey Hotel. Suddenly I’m no longer that city girl schelpping bags from the subway (the bellmen already took care of those), I’m a more refined lady as I stand a little taller and move a little slower among my new immaculate surroundings. Located on the prettiest stretch of East 76th St between Madison and Fifth Avenues, The Surrey is every bit as elegant as its address would suggest: a 1920’s Beaux Art townhouse with a soothing muted color palette, luxurious furnishings, and Lauren Rottet designed interiors. But it’s Upper East Side posh with a decidedly modern attitude–and one that I love as I spot Chuck Close’s enormous tapestry of Kate Moss welcoming me in the hallway. 

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I’m not checking into The Surrey just for any ol’ occasion, however–I’m here to get ready for my wedding, and as with anything wedding related, there was a lot of thought put into this decision. First and foremost, I wanted a hotel that is photogenic, and every square inch of the Surrey certainly was. There’s not a bland corner to found on property–from the plush Bar Pleiades (described by my friend as the architectural interpretation of a Chanel bag) to the peaceful and artfully designed rooftop garden. The public and private areas of the hotel also house an impressive modern art collection, which adds interesting variety to the space. Rooms at the property are split into salons and suites with each one graciously appointed in neutral palette of creams, beiges, and greys lending a sophisticated and soothing feel to the space. Salons, which range from 330 to 570 square feet are single rooms outfitted with hand-painted wardrobe armoires, oversized desks, spacious sitting areas, and Duxiana beds complete with custom Sferra bedding. Suites, which can go up to 660 square feet, contain separate living areas, small kitchens, dining tables, soaking tubs, and private terraces. As a bride though, I’m going all out and zip up the elevator to the very top floor–The Penthouse Suite. READ MORE

The Daily Obsession draws from the expertise of a coast-to-coast editorial team offering dedicated readers reports of the most luxurious products and trends. We provide sophisticated and relevant angles on the latest fashion trends, must-have beauty products, insider interviews, travel destinations and of course, our current obsessions.

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