mui ne? we just may!

May 31st, 2011

The coast of the South China Sea and its glorious beaches, picturesque peaks and rolling dunes is calling! Named after the Mui Ne fishing village, Anantara’s first Vietnamese property, Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa, is set to open this fall.

Only two hours northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne is a budding destination, new to the scene since 1995, when thousands flocked to the beaches to watch the solar eclipse.

The resort will evoke the traditional charm of a coastal village and will be comprised of 89 rooms, suites and villas, either set within lush tropical gardens or featuring views of the sea or lagoon.

robb report recommends espa at the leela palace kempinski udaipur

May 31st, 2011

Robb Report is no stranger to the finer things, so everyone knows to take heed of their Best of the Best. Check out ESPA at the Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur!

Best of the Best 2011: Spas: Espa at the Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur

June 01, 2011

On the shores of Lake Pichola, Espa at the Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur (+91.294.6701.234, opened in February 2010 as the 18-?year-old Espa brand’s first Indian outpost. Away from the congestion of Udaipur’s city center (where elephants and buffalo have the right-of-way), the spa features eight tented treatment suites, some with private pools.

Each treatment begins with an aromatherapy steam, followed by a reading to decipher one’s Ayurvedic dosha, or body type. Based on their reading, guests can choose a customized therapy that fuses Ayurvedic and European techniques, or select from the treatment menu. The four-hour Royal Knights of Rajasthan therapy ($238) involves a facial, an aromatherapy massage, and a padabhyanga—a deeply therapeutic leg and foot massage. Posttreatment, guests can retire to the spa’s lake-view Relaxation Roof Ter­race.

By Jordan Porter

picture perfect

May 31st, 2011

Capture the beauty and essence of majestic mountains, lush forests and ancient monasteries on a seven day tour through scenic Bhutan. COMO Uma Paro Resort is offering this amazing “Through a Lens” excursion June 22nd-29th. The unique experience is available to photographers of all skill levels, as guests will be guided by a skilled photographer through the distinctly different valleys of Paro and Punakha for a series of location shoots and once-in-a-lifetime moments to be caught on film.

After long days of capturing the splendor of Bhutan, guests will return to their comfortable lodgings at Uma Paro and a charming hotel in Punakha with accommodations provided on a full board basis. Guests can also enjoy complementary use of the swimming pool, library and gym at Uma Paro, as well as a 1-hour daily Yoga class.

For more information and a full itinerary, visit

more than just the essentials

May 24th, 2011

The beautiful, yet rugged, terrain of the mountains surrounding the Paro Valley of Bhutan was no match for the COMO Approach Team at Uma Paro.

Last week, the team delivered 60 pairs of shoes to the orphans at the Neyphug Monastary. Though the trip was indeed an extensive operation, all was worthwhile when the team saw the children’s smiling faces.

They also traveled to Kela Goemba to deliver toiletries to the nuns living in the monastery as part of the Master Card “Purchase with a Purpose” project. This project supplies an essentials package containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and more to this and other remote locations around the world.

What’s next for the COMO Approach Team?  Help pay for a recent loan to buy a car the nuns of Kela Goemba desperately need for emergencies. The efforts of the team are in line with COMO’s commitment to the local communities, culture and environment.

ampr fyi: we put the soul in costa del sol

May 24th, 2011

Spontaneous travels are my favorite, so when I had the last minute opportunity to jet off to Morocco and the southern coast of Spain for a week of relaxing with friends I couldn’t resist. (Isn’t that what tax refunds are for anyways?)

Four flights and 24 hours of traveling, I arrived in Malaga, Spain, with the adrenaline and excitement of the trip erasing any jet lag. The next six days were filled with sunning on the golden beaches in Costa del Sol, swimming in the (freezing) Mediterranean, sipping Sangria and San Miguel on cobblestone streets, and touring the most charming historic towns… all while picking up a few Spanish phrases along the way, à la “Soy de la Gran Manzana” (I’m from the Big Apple!)

After a whirlwind, amazing trip, below are some highlights and recommendations for travelers venturing to the Andalusia region of Spain.

Ronda, Spain

The hidden town is worth the 45 minute, incredibly winding and slightly nauseating drive up the mountainous terrain. We immediately headed to the outdoor café, Buenos Aires, (don’t be confused by the name) and indulged in ice cold gelato, energizing cappuccinos, and the most delicious churros, served with a side of melted chocolate for dipping.  (Five girls have quite possibly never been so excited.)  After frolicking around in the ‘Corrida Goyseca’, the oldest bullring in Spain, we took in the most breathtaking views of El Tajo Canyon (a memory that I hope created a wrinkle in my brain).

Insider’s Tip: There are many clearly marked paths that take you eye level with Puente Romano, the famous bridge that spans the canyon in Ronda. Venture down the one less traveled (identified by the the broken gate… don’t worry, it’s safe!) at sunset with a bottle of wine for the most private, jaw -dropping view of the historic landmark. 

Tangier, Morocco

If you can handle the one-hour ferry through the choppy Mediterranean, then be sure to make a detour to Tangier. We booked with Siad Tours – which I couldn’t recommend more highly for those traveling to the northern tip of Africa. During our private excursion we rode camels along the beach, rocked the Kasbah and shopped at local spice markets. An incredibly eye opening experience when walking through parts of town where running water and electricity are considered a luxury.

Insider’s Tip: Don’t spend the 200 euros on the Moroccan mirrors you’ll find in all the shops. Instead, buy authentic painted tiles in the market and create your own piece of artwork at a sliver of the cost.

Granada, Spain

The area is well-known for The Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace that look out onto the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains. The fine details and architecture of the palace are remarkable, especially as the property dates back to the 11th century. The grounds are complete with endless flourishing gardens filled with sprinkling fountains, blooming roses, perfectly shaped shrubbery, and secret passageways. Be sure to buy your tickets at least a week in advance because they often sell out.

Insider’s Tip: If you’re feet aren’t blistery tired after touring The Alhambra (ours were, but we endured the pain!), hop on the local bus (only 1.30 euros) and head into town. While walking around, you’ll pass calligraphers who set up shop on the street and will elegantly scrawl your name in Arabic for one euro.

As told by Lauren Wintemberg

l’art du maroc

May 20th, 2011

Field trip to Morocco! Ditch the regular trip to the local museum and check out the modern art on display at Royal Mansour. In addition to the dazzling array of mosaic tile work and intricate designs adorning the property completed by the top local artisans, Royal Mansour Marrakech is now showcasing local artists in another way. The grand property, nestled within the medina walls, is hosting its first art exhibition this month, furthering its commitment to feature the very best of Morocco – both the classic and the new. Comprising a collection of striking images shot by French-Moroccan photographer, Leila Alaoui, the portraits pay homage to the painters, sculptors, and photographers who have created the works that currently line the walls and corridors of the hotel. Each black and while portrait captures the intriguing interaction between an artist and his work.

Following this inaugural exhibition (up until the end of June), Royal Mansour will continue to welcome the country’s top artists to the hotel, providing a unique platform to showcase their works to the hotel’s international clientele. These temporary exhibits will join the permanent art collection of the hotel, scattered among the public spaces and the riads, of 80 contemporary Moroccan artists.

put down the chew toy, pick up the calendar

May 20th, 2011

Paws at the Park Happy Hour

Summertime means hot dogs, and not just the delicious ones soon to be grilling in the backyard!  Starting this June, Max, Buddy, Daisy, and Princess are welcome to bring along their human plus-one to cool off with some refreshing libations at Park Hyatt Washington DC’s Paws at the Park Happy Hour. Monthly pet-friendly happy hours will benefit the Washington Animal Rescue League, the oldest animal shelter in the District of Columbia. This series of events kicks off Wednesday, June 8, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on the hotel grounds adjacent to the lobby. Mix and mingle with hotel guests and area residents, and their pets, and maybe even make a forever friend – adoptable dogs from the League will also be in attendance.

Pricing: For $12, attendees will receive two drink tickets for beer and wine, plus complimentary dog treats. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to the Washington Animal Rescue League.


Dates: June 8, July 13, August 10, September 14 and October 19 (with special Halloween-themed costume contest for dogs.)

Paws at the Park overnight Package

For those who cannot bear man’s best friend’s guilt-tripping looks while packing for a weekend getaway, Park Hyatt Washington’s Paws at the Park overnight package offers two- and four-legged guests alike the ultimate in luxury. Dogs will be treated to their own take-home dog bed, dog bowl with water, and tasty dog treats, while their owners will receive a copy of Doggie Aficionado magazine and the book First Dogs: American Presidents and their Best Friends.

Pricing: Rates start at $449 (including a non-refundable pet fee).


marvelous eats in the middle east

May 19th, 2011

We love falafel from street carts just as much as the next New Yorker, but there’s no beating true authenticity. On May 15, Park Hyatt Jeddah kicked off a two-week long Lebanese food festival at Nafoura, the hotel’s resident Mediterranean restaurant. Catered by Chefs Fouad Hamka and Habib Al-Mualem, “Flavors of Lebanon” will offer a daily array of traditional Lebanese cuisine through May 27.

The Lebanese practice of meze, a selection of small plates served for lunch or dinner, makes it easy for diners to sample a wide variety of dishes. Feast on tabouleh, fatoush, shish kebab, baba ghanouj, and kibbeh along with Lebanese olives, salads, and cheeses, while enjoying Nafoura’s breathtaking view of the Red Sea. Sahtayn! (Bon appétit!)

no more pencils, no more books…

May 19th, 2011

“What am I going to do with them for three months?” is the question weighing on many a parent’s mind.  We’ve gathered up the best kid-friendly locations – no mouse ears required!

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa


Where: Chiang Rai, Thailand

What: Elephant Camp

Why: Kids eight years and older can learn how to care for the endangered Thai Asian elephants at Elephant Camp under the tutelage of skilled mahouts who will teach them how to feed, bathe, and ride these gentle giants.  Guests can contribute to helping their elephants with a donation to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Anantara Golden Triangle’s charity.

Summer Perk: Summer is, contrary to popular belief, a lovely time to visit Northern Thailand, as the short bursts of rain cool the air and keep the flora lush and green. And there are deals to be had and far less tourists to contend with!

Rates: Anantara Golden Triangle offers a special Mahout Discovery package that includes accommodation in a room with daily breakfast and a three-day mahout training course. Rates for this special package begin at $402/night (not inclusive of taxes) for a Deluxe Room, double occupancy (children under 12 sharing a room with parents are free of charge and receive 50% off the daily breakfast).



Where: Treasure Beach, Jamaica

What: Caribbean fun

Why: Kids have a variety of activities, such as a mosaic tile workshop led by the artist who is largely responsible for the unique mosaic design found throughout the property as well as watercolor painting classes. There are interactive cooking lessons to teach aspiring young chefs Jamaican cuisine, trips to stunning waterfalls where kids can jump from a rope swing Tarzan-style into the water, and Farm Tours where they follow the food from farm to table.

Summer Perk: Book four nights at Jakes and receive the fifth night free.

Rates: Starting at $95 per night for a garden room


Where: Ladakh, India

What: Little ones in Little Tibet

Why: Outfitter of bespoke village walking tours, Shakti introduces children to snow-crested landscapes untouched by Western influence through a culturally-sensitive tour replete with colonial-style creature comforts. Guides lead guests on walks and activities such as monastery visits, rafting, and sightseeing between Himalayan villages, while porters supply day packs with lunches.* Families retire to Shakti’s fully staffed (and thoughtfully renovated) homes rented from villagers. Kids as young as six will love riding the region’s indigenous two-humped camels, while older ones may prefer to raft the Upper Indus, one of the great rivers of India.

Summer Perk: The weather is consistently sunny and dry on this high altitude plateau.

Rates: A seven-night walk with customizable itinerary and luxury homestead accommodations starts at $530 per night/per person, based on two to three adults, including meals, activities, guides, and ground transportation. A two-night Shayok River Rafting Journey offers ‘glamping’ in luxe-bedded tents; Western-style loos and showers is an optional add-on. Children between three and 16 will pay 50% of the adult rate.

White Elephant Hotel Residences


Where: Nantucket, MA

What: Classic New England Summer

Why: Kids can enjoy the surf at the nearby Children’s Beach and Jetties Beach – both beaches have swing sets, slides, and climbing equipment. There are also numerous activities such as whale-watching, fishing, biking, golfing, and bird-watching. The cabanas by the new members’ pool come equipped with pool toys, towels, and sun screen, and after a day at the beach, children can eat from their special menu at the delicious Brant Point Grill.

Summer Perk: Can’t beat the charm of Nantucket or the miles of beaches surrounding the island.

Rates: Starting at $350 in June for a King room with the Hot Dates/Cool Rates promotion

Crystal Cruises


Where: Alaska

What: Family friendly programming, excursions, and eats

Why: Crystal Symphony offers children’s programs and activities on select sailings including the Fantasia playroom and the Waves arcade, complete with a Sony Playstation® 3, Nintendo Wii™ and Xbox 360™. A daily newsletter, tailored by age group, provides details on kid-friendly activities, like sushi making with Nobu-trained chefs, bridge and galley tours, ice cream parties, scavenger hunts, and Computer University@Sea® classes.

Summer Perk: The Alaska Summer Series has allied with the National Park Service where Park Rangers come aboard to teach children about natural history; kids and teens can even become Junior Rangers!

Rates: Children 11 and younger pay 50 percent of the minimum fare when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Throughout the year, the line occasionally sets special promotions in which children can sail free when sharing a room with two adults.


Royal Mansour Marrakech


Where: Marrakech, Morocco

What: Joujou Kid’s Club

Why: Along with the idyllic playroom, everyday there is a schedule of events including an Arabic course, arts workshop, writing games, modeling clay, swimming pool games, dress up, and reading. Parents can also arrange for outings around Marrakech, including camel rides through the Palmeraie.

Summer Perk: Take the whole fam to check out the Festival National des Arts Populaires where Berber music, folk dance, and street performers fill the streets of Marrakech and provide wonderful – and free – entertainment.

Rates: Rates for a full individual riad start from €1,650 per night.

Parrot Cay
Where: Turks & Caicos

What: Caribbean fun

Why: The resort introduced children’s offerings based on input from guests, with a range of tailor-made activities including shell painting, tie-dying T-shirts, making necklaces from fossilized shark teeth, organized scavenger hunts, and sailing trips around the island. These activities are particularly popular since they allow the kids to make friends with others on the island.

Summer Perk: Now through October 31, with the Extend that Summer Feeling offer, guests at Parrot Cay get four nights for the price of three or seven nights for the price of five, including breakfast. AND kids eat free all summer!

Rates: Starting at $450 per night for a Terrace Room

La Réserve Genève

Where: Geneva, Switzerland

What: La Petit Réserve

Why: Children can explore the world of La Petite Réserve and let their imaginations run wild. The property features a creative ensemble of tree huts and an open air playground on the beautiful lawns.

Summer Perk: La Réserve Genève’s exquisite wooden speedboat is the perfect way to get out on the lake and take in the Swiss scenery and the city views.

Rates: Rates start at $682 for a superior king room

GoldenEye Hotel & Resort

Where: Oracabessa, Jamaica

What: James Bond-style Family Vacay

Why: The watersports program at GoldenEye is supervised by trained lifeguards and will teach children about water safety, snorkeling, jet skiing, and kayaking, and expose them to the amazing undersea world of extraordinary creatures and corals. Kiddies can carve coconuts, embark on nature walks, learn bonfire building and fishing with Ramsey (who has worked on the property since the days of Fleming), or stay up to stargaze with Brian, resident astronomy buff.

Summer Perk: Families save 46% off high season winter rates.

Rates: Starting at $448 per night for a Lagoon Suite

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

Where: Beaver Creek, Colorado

What: Teen & Tween treatments at Allegria Spa

Why: Tweens and teens can ditch the ‘rents for some much deserved pampering at the Allegria Spa. Eight-12 year olds can indulge in the ‘Diva Deluxe,’ which includes a bubbling footbath, nail and toe art, a primadonna updo, and sweetcheeks makeup application. 12-16 year olds can recreate their favorite makeover scene with the Uptown Girl package, which includes a cranberry orange scrub, Swedish massage, teen facial, and makeup application.
Summer Perk: Fridays at the Park, a free weekly event with snacks, live music and activities for kids and the whole family.

Rates: Diva Deluxe- 70 minutes for $125, and Uptown Girl- 120 minutes and $250

como shambhala estate joins virtuoso travel

May 17th, 2011

COMO Hotels and Resorts’ luxurious COMO Shambhala Estate has been accepted into leading luxury travel network, Virtuoso®.  The destination wellness retreat is known for its all-encompassing approach to well-being.  As COMO Hotels and Resort’s flagship property, it provides a total, 360-degree experience closely tailored to each guest’s needs, starting with an individual consultation before embarking on a three-, five-, or seven-night wellness program.  Enveloped by secluded jungle outside of Ubud, COMO Shambhala Estate is the ideal place to escape the tumult of everyday life and focus on oneself.

Wellness Programs include the following:

  • Discover COMO Shambhala – Guests define what they want to get out of their time at The Estate, whether it be post-natal fitness or to improve athletic performance.
  • Ayurvedic – An ancient healing science for body and mind, Ayurveda addresses specific conditions with focused prescriptions. Our Ayurvedic Doctor will recommend an holistic, all-natural treatment plan depending on the individual’s Prakruti (constitution). The prescribed therapy plan could include a detox, body treatments, special diet, Yoga, and meditation. To achieve maximum benefits, the Doctor will also recommend a follow-up program as well as education about preventative healthcare measures.
  • Cleansing – Working on the premise that the liver, bowels, kidney, and skin are the body’s most effective detoxification organs, The Estate’s consultants will encourage good nutrition and daily elimination to improve lymphatic circulation and keep these organs in top working order. Appropriate herbal cleansers may be recommended to help restore the liver, GI tract, and digestive system.
  • Get Fit – The program incorporates wellness consultations, fitness assessments, and daily personal training.  Some sessions are conducted outdoors to further inspire workouts.  Guests may be introduced to the disciplines of yoga and Pilates to tone both body and mind, or be encouraged to go deeper into their existing practice.  Guests will leave with personalized maps of how to reclaim their bodies, armed with core techniques needed to boost an active lifestyle.
  • Stress Management – Stress depletes mineral levels in the body, which can cause mental instability, fatigue, and disrupted sleep cycles. The focus is primarily on experiencing various mind and body techniques based on the concepts and philosophies of yoga, Chi Kung, and Tai Chi.  The Estate’s consultants will put together a plan comprising relaxing therapies, outdoor pursuits, and wellbeing lectures.  Whether to learn meditation or to explore unresolved issues from the past, this program will support the pursuit of a more balanced self.
  • Rejuvenation – The exclusively designed program includes a facial treatment course combining COMO Shambhala’s PURIFY products and Guinot preparations.  The Estate’s Resident Nutritionist may also provide enjoyable nutritional solutions for improving weight, energy, skin, hormonal, and digestive health as well as food intolerances and allergies, all of which contribute to the ageing process.