Stories for: International

Fragrance, InternationalDolce Vita

dv-eds--flacon-_-packAnnick Goutal is a legend in Paris, both for the charming and storied life she led, and for her impeccable house of fine fragrances. She was one of those women whom I fantasize about spending a day in the life of. Before opening her boutiques in Paris and New York, the beauty wore many (chic) hats including pianist, international model, antique furniture shop owner, and mother. In 1981, Annick opened her first shop on the Rue de Bellechasse in Paris, and instantly those in the know with an appreciation for couture fragrance became clients. I instantly became obsessed with the limited edition summer trio of scents named the Dolce Vita. The deeply sophisticated collection is inspired by Camille Goutal (Annick’s daughter) in collaboration with DJ extraordinaire and creative director Cecile Togni. This tribute to Italy tells a story of an olfactory journey into parts of the beautiful country. Eau du Sud instantly captured my heart and is my personal favorite. Upon my first spritz, I was taken by the vibrant layers of the citrus perfume, making me reminisce about warm summer evenings I spent al fresco in Tuscany. I prefer scents that are less flowery but confident and unique, which powerfully envoke nostalgia while giving off hope, which is all incredibly captured in this elegant and classic bottle.

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Food, InternationalSummer Spread

green-jar-boxJust in time for festive summer gatherings to kick into gear, I’m perfecting some simple recipes to serve, from girls night to a Saturday picnic at the vineyard. My go-to ingredient to make any simple dish zing is Maille’s limited edition mustard with Rosemary honey, made in the Pyrenées Mountains on the west side of the French Mediterranean coast. The fragrant condiment is such a zesty treat for the tastebuds that I love spreading it on a hearty wheat cracker as a snack. I savor the flavors as they hit, from the sweet Grand Cru honey from bees pollinating rosemary grown in rich soil and of course the Dijon mustard base ferrying these flavors forward. I love the creativity the veteran French house has shown a seemingly simple condiment, and has elevated it in a way that showcases carefully sourced herbs and ingredients.

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Insider's Obsessions, InternationalPalais des Thés

961-jardin-suspendu_3I’ve had a long love affair with Palais des Thés after gleefully discovering it many years ago in my Paris hotel room on the Left Bank. I recall fingering the delicate muslin tea satchel and taking in the deep, sweet, and herbal aroma of a finely crafted tea. Since then, I’ve found some way of bringing loads of it back from Paris, as I can’t imagine going for any period of time without it. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when Palais des Thés opened their first boutiques in New York. My love was renewed this spring with their new collection of herbal teas, which defy any notion of tea I’ve held in the past. Spring is synonymous with blooms, sun, fresh fruit, and the essence is captured beautifully in the bright orange tins. Upon opening the tops of the floral and fruity Jardins collection, the colorful dried fruits mingling with tea enchanted me with eyebrow-raising aroma. I’ve tried three well-rounded flavors so far, and have found each to have its own personality and can fit into and enhance the mood of the day.

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Food, InternationalPrintemps! A Taste of France

maille-760x428The French countryside in the spring is one of my favorite places to visit in person or in my daydreams. Picturesque lavender fields set against a perfect blue sky are paradise on earth, and the beauty and romance are never quite fully captured in pictures and words. I treasure each and every delicacy from France, whether it is gorgeous chocolate or a gooey cheese. This spring, French mustard expert Maille’s garden-inspired trio of mustards captures the spirit of France- the focus on the most beautiful and aromatic herbs and high quality ingredients. Michelin-starred chef Bruno Loubet  collaborated with Maille to create each flavor, drawing inspiration from his childhood garden in rural France. Maille has been the expert on all things mustard since 1747, and I still have the clay pot which years ago held my first tastes of the exquisite Maille condiment. I recall savoring every bit of it, and spread it on anything I could find. Who knew mustard could be so addictive? The new trio comes gift-ready in a beautiful box fit for the treasures it holds, and the three varieties include Mustard with Carrot and a Hint of Shallot, Mustard with Olives and Herbes de Provence, and Mustard with White Wine, Beet, and a Hint of Honey.

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Home, Insider's Obsessions, InternationalProject Rebel Walls

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I’m so excited to share with you the results of my project with Rebel Walls to transform a bedroom that badly needed a heavy dose of personality and whimsy. I absolutely love how it turned out, and it’s quickly become my favorite room in the house to relax in. A few weeks ago, I introduced the creative Swedish company which has taken upon itself to transform the way the world sees wallpaper. They encourage the inner artist and make it possible to design your own wallpaper or choose from their growing bank of texture and designs, with themes like travel, nature, and architecture. I adored the Bellewood paper at first sight, and now that it’s been installed, the effect on the room is even better than I expected. The description paints the background story:

There is something indescribably beautiful about a classic toile pattern based on small hand-drawn strokes painting up romantic scenes usually consisting of lovebirds ​talking in the shade. We wanted to create a modern toile but maintain the traditional craftsmanship. This inviting and a little mysterious forest ​are ​based on several toile designs where we only ​picked the trees from the romantic ​sceneries. If you want fill the woods with a love message of your own, you can always ​use our ​designstudio to carve your beloved’s name in one of the tree trunks.

The mural was custom fit to my wall, and the resolution and color are vibrant and sharp. I will admit that I had a professional installer come in, but the paper arrives with instructions and paste for the brave DIYers.

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Home, Insider's Obsessions, InternationalRebel Walls

cityI have a penchant for all things European, especially when it comes to design. The edgy, effortless cool resonates with me, and I’m excited to share my latest obsession, Rebel Walls. Wallpaper has never seemed fresher than when it comes from this cool Swedish company, transforming any space and endowing it with personality, a touch of nostalgia, or texture. If you weren’t already looking to upgrade a wall or splash some personality into your home, you will be after browsing the image gallery. Imagination takes flight, and I will be following up with a post about a special project of my own, so stay tuned.

I had a virtual sit-down with the creative director and artistic force behind Rebel Walls, Irene Gimmersta. I think you’ll be as smitten as I am…

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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, 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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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

Food, Hotels, International, TravelThe Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

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We have a longstanding love affair with the Ritz-Carlton here at TDO, and the latest property we ventured to, Hong Kong, is no exception. Opened in 2011, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is not only one of the newest properties in the portfolio, but it’s also the highest — and not just among other Ritz-Carltons, but of all the hotels in the world. Soaring 118 stories above the ground, the property provides a view –and guest experience –unlike any other. Needless to say, prepare to be wowed.

Located on the Kowloon side of the city, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong sits atop the International Commerce Centre (ICC), a notable office, commercial, and residential building that came up in 2010. Not only do hotel guests have fine dining and the best shopping right at their fingertips, (more importantly) the ICC is also one of the stops made by Hong Kong’s Airport Express Service. Now, if you live in the States like me, you’ll think that an airport shuttle is nothing to be impressed with, but in Hong Kong, it’s quite a different story. Finding transportation after arriving in a foreign land is one of the most annoying parts of traveling — but guests at the Ritz Carlton won’t have to worry: a twenty minute high speed train service will take travelers from airport straight to the hotel. Departing the property is even easier (though much sadder!) — simply board the Airport Express again, but this time, don’t even worry about carrying your luggage. You can simply check in and send your bags ahead of time directly onto the flight and enjoy a leisurely trip to the airport hands free. Mind blown? So was mine.

 

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