Stories for: Travel

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

Hotels, New York, TravelHampton in the Fall at c/o The Maidstone

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Ahh, The Hamptons. The hamlet at the very end of Long Island is always in the media and on the travel list of the chic jet-set for a good reason: it really is incredibly beautiful and relaxing. But like any place that gets a little too popular, it can start to lose a bit of its natural character during peak season, which is why my favorite time to visit is actually the fall. So with foliage in full bloom and the weather still considered warm, I headed out for a weekend of relaxation and rejuvenation (and of course, an obligatory visit to the beach).

My favorite town in the collective “Hamptons” is East Hampton, with its charming town center, pristine beach, good restaurants, easy access to wineries, and overall calm atmosphere. It’s not as rowdy as its neighbor to the west, Southampton, and still more refined than its sea-side neighbor to the east, Montauk–but within easy distance to either town so you can still party or surf to your heart’s content. My idea of a good time in the Hamptons however, involves neither activity–I am getting away after all–so I prefer to eat, drink, and be cozy.

Luckily, I was staying at c/o The Maidstone,, a quaint Scandinavian lifestyle hotel right in the heart of East Hampton. With a restaurant serving some of the finest Scandinavian food I’ve ever tasted, a cozy lounge with cocktails that rival the best in Manhattan, and Hastens luxury beds in every room, the hotel immediately met all my Hampton vacation requirements and more. READ MORE

Hotels, New York, Spas & Salons, TravelShibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel

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For New York City dwellers, few things are as important to our well-being as simply getting away. Of course there are the obvious options — jaunts to the Hudson Valley or the Hamptons, but starting off a weekend of relaxation by sitting in traffic always seemed less than ideal. Instead, I prefer to search for sanctuaries in the city — whether a hidden restaurant or a quiet bar to enjoy a cocktail overlooking snowy streets — where I can retreat to at any time. My latest discovery is the Shibui Spa, a tranquil Japanese-inspired spa located in the luxurious Greenwich Hotel.

Walking into the hotel, I immediately feel a sense of calm and privacy. There are no travelers rushing about or too many staffers greeting you at every turn. Instead the concierge smiles and directs me to the spa — a short elevator ride one floor down — where when I arrive, the receptionist already knows me by name. The spa artfully blends luxury and tranquility, with a heavy emphasis on Japanese design and treatments. The focal point of the spa is a lantern lit pool (one of the largest I’ve seen in the city), which is surrounded by a 250-year old Japanese farmhouse, artfully constructed using antique Japanese craftsmanship. Here guests can lounge and enjoy tea or dried fruit before or after their treatments. READ MORE

Hotels, TravelSouthern Sanctuary: Kiawah Island Resort

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On the drive to the gem that is Kiawah Island Resort just outside Charleston, South Carolina, I fell in love with the South all over again. The sun twinkled through the towering trees and hanging spanish moss to create a fantastical charm that simply cannot be found anywhere else. The resort is built on an island 10 miles wide, lined with wide scenic beaches and is one of the world’s premier destinations for golf (the Ocean Course is a past host of the PGA Tournament), thus making it my husband’s favorite place on earth. Accommodations can be custom tailored to visitors’ needs, from the award-winning Sanctuary Hotel to gorgeous houses ranging from traditional to contemporary that can be rented by the night (perfect for our next visit with our daughter!). The Sanctuary is an elegant mansion overflowing with graceful decor from sumptuous fabrics to soaring windows, inviting the panoramic ocean view in. The resort has won several Conde Nast Travel awards, including #1 Resort on the U.S. Mainland and #1 Island in North America. The top-notch service of the resort is a testament to their recognition, with someone always eager to be of help, whether in the pools or restaurants. READ MORE

Hair, Hotels, Miami, TravelSummer’s Last Hurrah: James Royal Palm Miami

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As soon as I sauntered into the James Royal Palm on South Beach, I felt like I was transported back to 1963, where I might turn a corner and run into Don Draper on assignment. Everything from the coffee bar in the lobby to the green-on-wood entrance to the Florida Cookery restaurant screams retro chic. The beachfront location affords prime views and service, so instead of running to the action, it comes to you. This 1939 Art Deco classic recently underwent a top to bottom renovation, preserving the original aesthetic with a modern sensibility.

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The original green-glass reception desk has been perfectly preserved and restored, and now serves as the coffee bar while art installations throughout the hotel are a nod to Miami’s famous modern art scene and deserve a double take when passing through the halls. Dapper gentlemen and ladies at the front desk direct guests to its 393 guest rooms and suites  My go-to source for happening hotels, Conde Nast Traveler, has taken notice of its gorgeous makeover and featured the James Royal Palm on its 2013 Hot Hotels List! Speaking of hot, the hotel’s club SL draws the beautiful young Miami crowd in with its earth-shaking sound system, so guests need not worry about traveling to find the action or bump elbows with a few celebs. READ MORE

Hotels, Mom & Kids, TravelThe Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

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“Hello, Pretty!” was the welcome we got from Amelia, the friendly blue and green parrot whose main gig is being the mascot of the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. We recently took a short flight to the Florida property for a long weekend–now that we have a little one tagging along on our travels, short flights and a relaxing atmosphere are sine qua non. A 40-minute drive from Jacksonville airport and we were right on the beach, enjoying the waves and warmth. The hotel is nestled among rolling sand dunes, and several boardwalks connect to the private beach, where the crew is eager to help you get settled and entertained. 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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Hotels, TravelRancho Valencia

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There are fewer places more relaxing to me in this country than that beachy/resort area around San Diego. The city is apparently the birthplace of California, and the best representation of that that sunny, active, free-spirited, life-is-good vibe that I always associate with The Golden State. So it was not only appreciated, but much needed after a particularly stressful beginning to summer (and some travel plan hiccups), that I started my first vacation of the year right in the midst of that beautiful Southern California landscape. Last week, I finally checked out of crazy New York City and checked into Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, just north of San Diego. READ MORE

Hotels, TravelBostonian Weekend: XV Beacon

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I have a deep-rooted sentimental love for Boston, the city where I met my hubby in school, courted, and went to the chapel to get married! The picturesque city holds such historic charm and beauty that a nostalgic sheen seems to embrace the whole city. Every time we go back for a visit, we gleefully revisit old favorites and discover new ones to add to the list. This past visit brought us to the refined and elegant XV Beacon Hotel, which won us over with how well it nestled its way into our perfect Boston experience. The location could not be better for exploring the city and its best neighborhoods, and is an easy ride from the airport on the T. Within minutes of checking in, we were walking (skipping, almost) down the hill to Charles Street for shopping and coffee. READ MORE

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