pay homage to the cheese pope in switzerland

June 26th, 2009

courtesy of craig lee for the san francisco chronicle

courtesy of the san francisco chronicle


This month, Gourmet profiles Rolf Beeler, dubbed the Swiss “Cheese Pope.”  Beeler is a finisher who works with artisanal cheesemakers around Switzerland to cultivate, age, and coax their products into something transcendent.  As the magazine mentions, French Laundry in California and Gramercy Tavern in New York both import his cheeses.  And thanks to the cutting-edge buyers at Whole Foods, you can serve Rolf Beeler’s Emmental and Gruyère at your own dinner parties.  Trace any of these imports back to its root and you’ll find a farmer who can tell you the name of the cow from whence it came.


Just as lobsters taste better after a day spent on the Nantucket beaches, there’s no better way to appreciate a cheese’s terroir than after a meal accompanied by Swiss wines in the heart of the Alps.  The Michelin-starred Jasper at the Palace Luzern and the Jungfrau Brasserie at the Victoria-Jungfrau in Interlaken both feature Beeler’s cheese.  The chefs always include Beeler creations in their dazzling cheese displays as well as their recipes.  Even if you managed to resist the fondue, you can’t - and shouldn’t – decline a nibble of Hoch Ybrig after dinner.

cure wrinkles at met london

June 24th, 2009

On July 1, 2009 the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa in London’s Metropolitan hotel will introduce a new Dr. Perricone “Wrinkle Cure” day program (£175) to complement the doc’s anti-ageing facials already on offer.  The package includes the following:

  • The Perricone Performance Facial - the spa’s Perricone specialist consults with guests to tailor a treatment to address specific concerns and skin needs – whether it’s fine lines, sagging, puffy eyes, or simply a lack of radiance. The 75-minute facial includes cleanse, tone, mask and treatment applications using Dr. Perricone’s patented formulas as well as his specially designed light lymphatic massage technique to promote younger and firmer skin.
  • Perricone MD Anti Oxidant Lunch – inspired by Dr. Perricone’s recommended recipes, the lunch menu includes wild Alaskan salmon served with baby spinach and raspberry salad as well as a supercharged “super berry’ smoothie.
  • Perricone Gift Set – to continue results at home, take away a copy of The Wrinkle Cure, Dr. Perricon’e NY Times Bestseller, the Wrinkle Cure recipe guide, and a Superberry and PEP blend sachet.

Wanting the Perricone experience on this side of “the pond”?  COMO’s island retreat in the Turks & Caicos, Parrot Cay, also offers a variety of specialized Perricone treatments – making paradise that much sweeter.

Spa Room at Met London and Dr Perricone (from

björn-jour stockholm, farvel københavn!

June 19th, 2009

Crystal Cruises is showcasing the best of the Baltic this summer with its 7-day cruise, “Northern Getaway,” aboard Crystal Symphony. Departing Copenhagen August 5 en route to Stockholm, Symphony calls in Tallinn, Estonia, spends three full days in St. Petersburg and overnights in Sweden’s capital. Experience the highlights of Nordic culture with Crystal Adventures, and tour a former Soviet prison in Tallinn, visit the Hermitage Museum and Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, or take a night hike through Bornsjön Nature Reserve outside of Stockholm.

As part of the Europe Celebration promotion, fares for this itinerary are reduced up to $750 per person depending on room category. In addition, guests will receive a $500 per person spending credit, good to use towards virtually anything on board! Fares start at $3,505 per person, double occupancy, and include port, security and handling charges.  As with all Crystal Cruises, fares include all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, enrichment classes, transportation to city centers from most ports, Broadway-style productions, daily movies, afternoon teas, and much more.

in to africa

June 17th, 2009

desert view from room

As easily as Meryl Streep and Robert Redford fell for each other in 20th century Kenya, Thailand-based luxury resort and spa developer, Anantara, makes its historic entry into North Africa, announcing the development of two unique hotels in Morrocco.  Anantara Marrakech Resort & Spa and Anantara Mogador Resort & Spa, are both scheduled to open in 2011.

In addition to its expansion into Africa, Anantara debuts its second property in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, this fall. With 206 rooms, suites, and villas, Qasr Al Sarab will be the company’s flagship property in the U.A.E.  In 2011, Anantara Al Madina A’Zarqa will open outside of Muscat, Oman, along the peninsula that bears its name.

Expansion seems to be the name of the game for Anantara, as in 2008, the company launched four properties in Asia and the Middle East: in April, Anantara Seminyak opened in the fashionable Island of the Gods district in Bali; in October, both Anantara Phuket on Mai Khao beach and Anantara Desert Islands on Sir Bani Yas off the coast of Abu Dhabi opened. In December, Anantara Si Kao along Changlang Beach south of Krabi opened, making it the company’s fifth resort in Thailand. In March, the company unveiled its newest addition to the family, Anantara Baan Rajprasong Serviced Suites, located in central Bangkok, making it the first of its kind for the Anantara group. For a list of all properties, please visit

walk the walk

June 17th, 2009

NTPL/David Levenson

NTPL/David Levenson

To truly understand any locale, one must walk it. Whether you stroll, jog, hike, or simply meander, walking is the best way to soak up a new destination (not to mention it works to reduce our carbon footprint!).  Through foot-guided tours, one can experience a location’s rare wildlife, spectacular views, geological marvels, and historical landmarks.  So this summer ditch the car and grab some sneaks and enjoy some of the National Trust’s gorgeous walkways as a member of The Royal Oak Foundation. ­­­­


hen weekend at the halkin

June 16th, 2009

The wedding season is here; just take a glance at the calendar to see weekends into September blocked off for “I do’s”.  For those brides-to-be who still have a few weeks or months to go, it’s time to take a break from invitations, registries, and seating charts; to leave the florist calls for Monday; and to gather the girls for a London getaway and indulging in “Brides Maid-up” at The Halkin.  Think of it as one last fling before the ring!



cheers to park hyatt

June 12th, 2009

Besides the weather, we’d like to think the party went off without a hitch. Wednesday night at the swanky midtown leisure palace, the Core Club, AMPR and their 100 closest friends toasted Park Hyatt hotels. While the terrace was unused (except for a rumored impromptu after-party) the chic space buzzed with chatter about recent openings, upcoming plans, and all things travel.

Sommelier Marcelo Rebole from Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires kept the Malbec flowing, while Master Sommelier Fernando Beteta from NoMI at Park Hyatt Chicago topped off the champagne flutes.  “On the wagon” guests got a boost from the beautiful Brazilian nutritionist, Patricia Teixeira, enlisted by Park Hyatt this year to help launch its Healthy Living menu. Teixeira brings to Park Hyatt her experience as a sports nutritionist for Real Madrid during the Beckham era (we tried to abstain from asking about his personal habits!). The eleven General Managers who flew in from around the world were probably fiending for a bit of her Anti-Jeg Lag drink. But from Shanghai to Tokyo and Zurich, they kept their cool and worked the room in top form, keeping the media on their toes.

See you next year!

meeting martha stewart

June 10th, 2009

Cost of membership to The Royal Oak Foundation?  $55 per individual, $90 for a family. Martha Stewart personally serving  you local hard-boiled eggs on the grounds of her impeccable, self-sufficient farm?  Priceless.


A lucky group of Royal Oakers arrived at Ms. Stewart’s 153-acre farm last Thursday in Westchester County, New York for a garden tour to cap off the Foundation’s Spring 2009 Lecture and Tour series.  To their surprise, Martha herself jumped onboard to lead and film the tour for an episode of The Martha Stewart Show!  The icing on the cake: Martha also blogged about the exciting event, giving a thorough account of the day’s activities, complete with drop-dead gorgeous photography of her property and her special guests.   The filmed segment will air next season; stay tuned and we’ll try to give a heads-up so everyone can set their DVRs!

bhutan or bust! deals from como’s uma paro

June 10th, 2009


We’re constantly dreaming of a getaway to the kingdom of Bhutan … days filled with trekking to ancient monasteries, mountain biking from one village to the next, and learning to channel the residents of a country whose GDP is measured in happiness.  With these deals from COMO Hotels and Resorts’ Uma Paro – combined with the summer sale on Druk Air (Bhutan’s official carrier) – now is the time to hop on the next flight to “the land of smiles.”


whale shark tours with rosewood mayakobá

June 10th, 2009

This summer, guests of Rosewood Mayakobá can be within kissing distance of the largest fish in the world.  Weighing in at an average of ten tons and measuring up to forty feet, whale sharks ‘summer’ in the Yucatán, where they feed and mate and lounge around (an enviable way to spend summer vacation, we must say).  These beasts are gentle: they feed only on plankton and glide along at a speed of 3 MPH.

From June 1 through September 30, Rosewood Mayakobá will host “Whale Shark Tours,” in which guests will be taken out into the ocean by private yacht to search for the fish.  Once a whale-shark is spotted, a personal guide will take pairs of guests into the water to swim and snorkel alongside the fish.  Somehow this seems more exhilarating than swimming with dolphins, no?

Nightly rates for “Whale Shark Tours” (rates include tax and service charge, as well as full breakfast):

Lagoon Suite                                                                                       $960.00

Deluxe Overwater Lagoon Suite                                                 $1,150.00

Island Deluxe Overwater Lagoon Suite                                     $1,530.00

Beachfront suite                                                                             $1,720.00

To book, write or call 984. 875.8000