happy diwali from ampr

October 26th, 2011

Diwali, also known as Deepavali or Devali, is a holiday observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. Known as the “festival of lights,” Diwali is celebrated between mid-October and mid-November every year, as it is based on the luni-solar Hindu calendar. It is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji, but it is celebrated all over the world. While the story behind Diwali varies from region to region, as do the celebrations (which may include the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil, but can also involve fireworks, sharing sweets, and many other traditions and forms of worship) the fundamental meaning behind the holiday remains the same – to celebrate the victory of good over evil, to rejoice in the inner light (known as Atman), and to celebrate the reality in all things (Brahman).

For our friends who celebrate Diwali, we wish you a very happy holiday!

ten ways to avoid mainstream merriment

October 26th, 2011

Escape the humdrum of the holidays and leave behind the crowded stores, traffic, gift-wrapping, and tangled lights in exchange for a stress-free season at one of these 10 alternative spots. Whether it’s close by or halfway around the world, it’ll surely be unforgettable.

Enjoy the holidays stateside…

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Where: White Elephant and Jared Coffin House

What: A New England holiday

Why: Nantucket Island celebrates the season with Nantucket Noël, a month-long celebration that runs November 25–December 31. The highlight event is the Annual Christmas Stroll Weekend, December 2–4.  Stores, shops, and restaurants open their doors for shoppers (almost everything on the island is on sale!), carolers sing favorite holiday tunes, and Santa Claus arrives aboard a Coast Guard vessel. Steps from historic downtown, White Elephant is the perfect place to spend the weekend. For a longer stay, the Jared Coffin House is ideal. Open all season long and built in 1845, this historic hotel will have you feeling the spirit of the holidays.

When: White Elephant rates start at $195 per night from December 1–5. Jared Coffin House rates start at $155 per night during this special season.

Jump the pond…

Provence, France

Where: Hotel Crillon le Brave

What: A traditional French holiday experience

Why: Hidden in a tranquil town in France, Hotel Crillon le Brave is the perfect place to go for a peaceful escape. Festivities start on December 23 with a classical music concert in the local village church. On Christmas Eve, the hotel hosts an elaborate dinner that is sure to get guests into the Christmas spirit, who are also invited to celebrate the New Year with champagne in La Grange, the cozy bar, followed by a decadent dinner in the restaurant by a roaring log fire.

When: Holiday rates start at $329 dollars per night from December 23–January 2.


Salisbury and Canterbury, U.K.

Where: Onboard Belmond British Pullman

What: Festive seasonal journeys that rival the magical Polar Express (and you don’t have to go as far as the North Pole!)

Why: Hop on the British Pullman and enjoy the caroling in Canterbury or Salisbury’s world famous cathedrals. Following the concerts, guests are welcome to roam freely through the festive cities. With each excursion, they can look forward to a delectable brunch served with a Bellini on the outward journey and a four-course meal with wine and champagne on the way home. To make the trip even more unforgettable, upon return to London, guests visiting Salisbury may choose to stay overnight at The Goring, a luxurious hotel adjacent to Buckingham Palace, where Kate Middleton spent her last night as a commoner.

When: Rates begin at £350 ($550) per person and include brunch and a four-course dinner with champagne and wine. Dates for the Canterbury journey are December 6 and 13, 2011, and for the Salisbury journey, on December 15, 2011.


Paris, France

Where: Le Pavillon des Lettres

What: A cozy Parisian getaway

Why: The new Le Pavillon des Lettres is housed in a classic Haussman townhouse in the 8th arrondissement. The hotel features 26 rooms – each devoted to a letter of the alphabet and an international writer corresponding to that letter. Shakespeare, Baudelaire and Rousseau are among the authors whose quotes are elegantly scrawled on the walls en Français. Settle down in the hotel’s library, next to the fireplace, and spend the holidays relaxing and reading while sipping a sumptuous cocktail from the honesty bar.

When: Rates start at £250 ($345) per night.

Farther still…

Marrakech, Morocco

Where: Royal Mansour Marrakech

What: A Rockin’ Moroccan New Years

Why: Spend the advent of a new year in utmost relaxation unwinding in a private riad, a Moroccan style house decorated with luxurious hand-done tile work and mosaic-covered courtyard floors. Visit Royal Mansour’s own traditional-style hammam, while the children are entertained at the exciting Kids Club, before a luxurious meal with menus created by three Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno, or escape into the city of Marrakech for a bite while soaking in the unique rhythms of the centuries-old city.

When: Holiday rates start at $2,228 for a one-bedroom riad from December 15 to January 7.

As far as you can get…

Paro Valley, Bhutan

Where: Uma Paro

What: Ten days of exploration in this culture-rich Himalayan Kingdom

Why: With sweeping mountain views, there is no shortage of adventure at Uma Paro. Bring the whole family during Uma Paro’s 10-day holiday program and attend lectures on Buddhism, go for hikes in the Himalayas, watch an archery contest, or participate in candlelit yoga sessions. There will also be a special mask performance, a Bhutanese film night, and an evening of traditional music and dance. Children 12 and under who are sharing a villa with their parents stay free.

When: rates start at $330 until December 31, 2011.


Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Thailand

Where: Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa and Rasananda Phangan Island Resort & Spa

What: Two island experiences for the price of one

Why: For anyone wanting to get away for a week of relaxation and exploration before the holiday season kicks into high gear, the “Two Island Experience” package from Anantara is a perfect fit. The six-night island hopping adventure begins with a three-night stay at Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa on beautiful Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, to be whisked away by speedboat to the more remote yet infamous island of the full moon parties, Koh Phangan, for an additional three-night stay at Rasananda Phangan Island Resort & Spa.

When: rates start at $578 through December 20 and include accommodations, daily breakfast, speedboat transfer, and roundtrip airport transfers.


Bali, Indonesia

Where: Uma Ubud and COMO Shambhala Estate

What: A Balinese escape for the mind, body, and soul

Why: The holidays can be exhausting, so treat the family to a well deserved break at Uma Ubud. This exotic retreat overlooking a valley is the perfect place to unwind and explore with its lush forests, sweeping rice paddies, and COMO Shambhala Retreat spa. Nearby in the town of Ubud is COMO Shambhala Estate, a secluded, residential health retreat with a focus on wellness and relaxation. The Discover COMO Shambhala program allows guests to design their own wellness experiences at the retreat and is the perfect way to decompress during this stressful season.

When: Holiday season rates start at $290 per night from December 20–January 6 at Uma Ubud, and the Discover COMO Shambhala program at COMO Shambhala Estate starts at $1,400 for three nights.


Uttarakhand, India

Where: Shakti Kumaon Village Experience and Shakti 360° Leti

What: A unique getaway that’s far off the beaten path

Why: Experience the culture and beauty of India this fall with Shakti’s Kumaon village walking experience followed by a stay at 360° Leti, the boutique hotel set at 8,000 feet elevation.

When: Season is from October 1 until April 30, 2012.

A four-day, three-night Shakti Kumaon village experience is $1,307 per person, based on two or three adults, and includes accommodations, food and beverage, activities, English-speaking guide and porters, car at disposal, and roundtrip transfer between Kathgodam train station or Pantnagar airport and village houses, and taxes. Rates for a three-night, four-day package at 360˚ Leti start at $1,916 per adult, based on two traveling on a twin/double share basis. Rates include accommodation in a private cottage, all food and beverage, activities, English-speaking guide and porters, car at disposal, roundtrip transfer between Shakti Kumaon village experience and Shakti 360˚ Leti, and all taxes.


Chiang Rai, Thailand

Where: Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa

What: An elephant adventure in Northern Thailand

Why: For anyone seeking an unforgettable holiday adventure with the whole family, Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa’s Mahout Discovery package is just the ticket! Learn how to feed, bathe, and ride these gentle giants through the forest during a 3-day mahout training course. Perched on a lush hillside near the borders of Burma and Laos, the resort, so rich in culture, is a blissful escape for adults and children alike.

When: rates start at $342 per night based on double occupancy through December 31.

post-holiday detox

October 25th, 2011

Eggnog, pigs in a blanket, champagne, cookies… our indulgences during the holiday season. Dressed festively and attending holiday soirees, from Thanksgiving to New Years, we tend to stop paying attention to healthy eating (and living). Instead of simply resolving to treat the body with a little more TLC next year, be proactive. Here are some post-holiday retreats sure to jump start many a resolution.


Turks & Caicos

Where: Parrot Cay

What: An Ayurvedic escape for the mind, body, and spirit

Why: With its crystal clear ocean and mile-long stretch of white sand, this private island resort is the ideal place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and treat yourself to a customized, Ayurvedic Program. Pay a visit to Parrot Cay’s own Ayurvedic doctor who will recommend a special holistic treatment plan designed to rejuvenate the mind and body. Whether it is with yoga, a specialized diet, body treatments, detox, or meditation, guests are sure to leave the resort feeling rested and revitalized. The program includes all meals.

Rates for a three-night program start at $3,140 based on single occupancy and $5,009 based on double occupancy


Bali, Indonesia

Where: COMO Shambhala Estate

What: A stress-free vacation

Why: It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the pressures of work and home, especially during the holiday season. That’s why COMO Shambhala Estate, nestled in the heart of Bali, offers a Stress-Management Program specifically designed to relieve participants from the strains and anxieties of everyday life. The program focuses on the concepts and philosophies of Yoga, Chi Kung, and Tai Chi. Consultants craft a program incorporating meditation, outdoor pursuits, soothing therapies, and wellbeing lectures to ensure guests have the tools necessary to release built-up stress and to return home feeling revived and relaxed. The program includes all meals.

Rates for a three-night program start at $1,700 based on single occupancy and $2,600 based on double occupancy


Geneva, Switzerland

Where: La Réserve Genève

What: A four day anti-aging detox

Why: The holiday season, best known as the most wonderful time of the year, can also be one of the most stressful. Once the presents have been unwrapped, the giant family meals have been gobbled down, and the in-laws have finally left, treat yourself to a much needed post-holiday detox. La Réserve Genève’s Four-Day Better-Aging Detox Program includes a complete checkup and personalized action plan to restore the body’s balance and adopt a new, long-term, healthier lifestyle – just in time for the New Year! With full access to the spa facilities, inclusive healthful meals, daily sports activities, and a range of massages, wraps, and treatments, the stress from the holidays is sure melt away.


Si Kao, Thailand

Where: Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa

What: A restorative retreat in Thailand

Why: For guests looking for a guided and wide-ranging wellness retreat, the Body Detox Programme at Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa is just the ticket. Included in this package are private consultations with Naturopathic and Ayurvedic doctors in keeping with the resort’s specialized approach to wellness. A variety of spa treatments accompany these consultations, including detox massages, herbal heat treatments, and an Indian head massage. Participants are provided with a personalized diet program to take home so the wellness experience can continue long after leaving the resort.

Rates for a three-night program start at $753 based on single occupancy and $1,245 based on double occupancy. This package is also available for 1 night, 5 nights, and 7 nights.

see the world in these rooms with a view

October 19th, 2011


La Réserve Paris
Paris, France

La Réserve Paris sits in the heart of the city at Place de Trocadéro, letting visitors live like a Parisian – and a chic one at that. The stylishly furnished apartments provide all guests the comforts of home, with a view only available in Paris – the Eiffel Tower cuts the sky and behind it is a backdrop of the green Champs de Mars, often speckled with picnickers.

RATES: start at 2,590 euros per night (about $3,564) for a minimum stay of 3 nights.

Le Pavillon des Lettres
Paris, France

The penthouse suites at the new Pavillon des Lettres are a dream for bibliophiles. Each of the hotel’s 26 rooms is dedicated to a letter of the alphabet and a corresponding author. The two penthouse suites, Yeats and Zola, have beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, and Paris rooftops. Gaze out at the lights on the Eiffel Tower while reading Zola’s Nana from the room’s iPad – stocked with novels in several languages – or scan Yeats’ The Wind Among the Reeds that is printed on the wall.

RATES: start at 250 euros per night (about $347).

Victoria-Jungfrau Collection – Palace Luzern
Luzern, Switzerland

Founded in 1906, the Palace Luzern epitomizes the height of Belle Époque elegance.  While embracing the style of a true palace hotel, numerous renovations have brought the hotel into the 21st century with a fresh, modern aesthetic.  Overlooking Lake Lucerne, it offers a unique combination of Alpine scenery and proximity to the center of Lucerne, which is host to renowned music festivals, world-class museums, and many charming boutiques.  Sailing, golf, and skiing are all available nearby.

RATES: start at $308 for a City View Double Room.


Uma Paro
Paro, Bhutan

Uma Paro is in the extraordinary Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, sitting atop a tree-lined hill on 38 acres overlooking the town of Paro in the valley below. Situated on the country’s western border, the Paro Valley is one of the main cultural centers of Bhutan. Simply relax and gaze out at the unbelievable view, or join one of Uma Paro’s activities such as hiking or biking to the nearby monasteries or exploring the country through the lens of a camera.

RATES: start at $ 330 through December 31, 2011.

Park Hyatt Shanghai
Shanghai, China

Located in one of the world’s tallest buildings, a bathing experience at the Park Hyatt Shanghai is far from ordinary. Even with the heated floors in the bathroom, you’ll shiver at the thrill as you glance down at the breathtaking city from a window-side deep soaking tub. For the faint of heart, there is always the oversized monsoon rain shower, not a bad trade.

RATES: start at $391 for a Park King room.

Park Hyatt Beijing
Beijing, China

Park Hyatt Beijing illuminates the city skyline as a new landmark. Directly opposite the China World Trade Center and the striking new CCTV Tower, the hotel occupies the uppermost floors in the main tower of the Beijing Yintai Center — the tallest development on prestigious Chang’an Avenue in the heart of the capital’s Central Business District. The interiors of Park Hyatt Beijing have been inspired by classical Suzhou architecture and water gardens, and the hotel incorporates these Oriental aesthetics into a sleek, contemporary design.

RATES: start at $288 for a  Park King Room.

Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney, Australia

The iconic Park Hyatt Sydney will reopen in late 2011 after a seven month makeover and complete redesign. Located in the Rocks district of Sydney’s city center, the hotel has been reimagined by Melbourne-based design firm BARStudio. All rooms are being completely redesigned to enhance the guest experience and highlight the hotel’s harborfront location. Views of Sydney Harbor and the Opera House take on new meaning with a series of floor-to-ceiling windows throughout almost all areas of the property, including in The Dining Room, the hotel’s premier restaurant, completing the large-scale redesign.

RATES: opening rates starting at $871 for a City/Harbour King Room.

Shakti 360˚ Leti
Uttarakhand, India
U.S. Toll-free: 1 877 637 5665

At 8,000 feet in elevation surrounded by soaring peaks of the snowcapped Indian Himalayas, Shakti  360˚ Leti has some of the best views in India.  Each of the four en-suite cabins and the central lodge of this high elevation hotel have floor to ceiling windows, which means the views of the peaks and, in spring, the rhododendrons in full bloom, never disappear.  Described as “a contender for the world’s most remote luxury resort,” Shakti 360˚ Leti can be visited as an extension from the Shakti Kumaon Village Experience, or as its own destination.  Accessible by car or charter flight from Delhi, the fun getting there really begins with the hour-long trek into the hills.  But once you’re there, you won’t want to leave…  Forget your Blackberry, power down your iPhone, disconnect, and just breathe in the fresh mountain air while listening to the silence that surrounds you.
Season: October 1 – May 1

RATES: 3-night, 4-day package starts at $1,916 per person, double occupancy.  Rates include accommodations; all meals and beverages; activities; English speaking guide and porters; a car at your disposal, and all taxes and return transfers between Shakti Kumaon Village Experience and Shakti 360˚ Leti.  Flights are not included.  Minimum of a 3-night stay required.


Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

In the heart of the Liwa Desert just ninety minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport is Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, the newly built 206-room resort surrounded entirely by legendary red sand dunes. The Liwa is part of the Rub’-al-Khali, or Empty Quarter, the world’s largest uninterrupted desert. Built right into the sand, the resort is modeled after an ancient Emirati fort that rises out of the desert and evokes the rich culture of the Bedouins, the indigenous tribes people who roamed the desert for centuries. Get away not only from your everyday life, but this century altogether!

The rooms and suites spill off the main lodge like little villages, and all have stunning views of the ocher dunes of the Liwa. Hundreds of museum-caliber artifacts are on display throughout the hotel to provide more feasts for the eye, including the world’s largest collection of camel saddlebags used in desert crossings by the Bedouins throughout Arabia.  Offering all the comforts of modern luxury in a superbly unique setting, Qasr Al Sarab is more than just a luxury hotel; it is a window into the history and culture of a nation.

RATES: start at 2,100 AED from October 1-November 30, 2011, and at 1,900 AED from December 1, 2011-January 31, 2012.














uttarakhand takes a well-deserved seventh place

October 18th, 2011

In honor of World Tourism Day, the Wall Street Journal has recently named their Top 10 Tourist Destinations in India. Many of the top picks came as no surprise, like second-ranked Uttar Pradesh, home of the Taj Mahal. Tamil Nadu, which came in at number three, is home to the Meenakshi temple, a key tourist and pilgrimage destination. Meenakshi is an Avatar to the Hindu goddess Parvati, one of the few female deities to have her very own temple.

One of our personal favorites, Uttarakhand, took a well-deserved seventh place. Known by locals as “abode of the gods,” Uttarakhand is filled with holy Hindu cities and temples, many of which are considered the most spiritual places for pilgrimage and worship. Divided into two distinct regions, Garwhal and Kumaon, Uttarakhand’s Garwhal is the better known of the two, made famous for the many yoga retreats offered throughout the year that account for a large portion of tourism to the region. Garwhal is also especially famous for the pilgrimage city of Rishikesh, where several ancient temples line the sacred Ganges River that flows through the city.

The Kumaon region, Garwhal’s lesser-known neighbor, offers spectacular views of India’s natural landscape, like the twin peaks of Nanda Devi, India’s second tallest mountain. It is also the perfect place to spot some of the many rare animals that populate the area, such as the snow leopard. Off the tourist radar, Kumaon is the perfect destination for culture-rich Hindu experiences in the midst of some of the most stunning mountain scenery in the world.

Shakti offers travelers a chance to view this spectacular destination and see the local villages, ancient temples, and breathtaking vistas in person on daily private, guided walks, suitable for all ages and fitness levels with its Kumaon village experience, in season October 1 until April 30, 2012.

arabian nights and film-filled days

October 18th, 2011

Dying to intermingle with top film makers, talented movie stars, and the glamorous set? Hit the red carpet of the 2011 Abu Dhabi Film Festival! Since its debut in 2007, the eleven-day event has showcased the Arab world’s distinctive film culture as well as many international films. Festival goers will enjoy everything from romantic comedies to darker documentaries exposing the real societal issues affecting the Arab world. As a supplement to the film screenings, the festival offers master classes and workshops with top industry professionals like Todd Solondz, May Odeh, and Abderrahmane Sissako.

(Photo courtesy of http://www.abudhabifilmfestival.ae/)

cruise to québec city

October 17th, 2011

Québec City was recently highlighted in The New York Times as an enchanting city well worth a weekend visit, and Crystal Cruises couldn’t agree more.  Crystal Symphony is scheduled to visit Québec City 5 times during 2012’s New England/Canada season, including an overnight in the Francophone capital of the Canadian province of Québec.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Québec City’s old town is the only city in North America (outside of Mexico) that is still surrounded by its original city walls. Built by French and British armies, the old town city walls give way to an abundance of historical sightseeing, perfect for history buffs and those who simply appreciate the many delightful attractions that are seamlessly incorporated into the city’s century’s old charm

While Québec City boasts an incredibly rich history, the local innovation is similarly striking, and the city oozes a chic and modern scene that is reflected by the lively, friendly locals. With festivals galore, a burgeoning art scene, and a plethora of fashionable restaurants, bars, and boutiques, Québec City is contemporary energetic.

Take a look at 2012 Crystal Cruises all-inclusive voyages that stop in Québec City.  Act fast and take advantage of these best available fares before they expire on October 31!

New World Discoveries, New York to Montréal on Crystal Symphony, September 19 – 30, 2012 (11 days)
Calls: New York City; Newport, Rhode Island; Boston; Bar Harbor, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax; Québec City, and Montréal, Canada

Fares: 2-for-1 fares begin at $4,285 per person, inclusive of air. Fares do not include port, security and handling charges of $535.

Treasures of Canada, Round-trip Montréal on Crystal Symphony, September 30 – October 7, 2012 (7 days)
Calls: Montréal; Sept-Iles; Magdalen Islands, Canada; Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, France; Québec City

Fares: 2-for-1 fares begin at $3,055 per person, inclusive of air. Fares do not include port, security and handling charges of $340

New England Escape, Montréal to Boston on Crystal Symphony, October 7 – 14, 2012 (7 days)
Calls: Montréal, Québec City, Halifax, Canada; Bar Harbor, and Boston

Fares: 2-for-1 fares begin at $3,055 per person, inclusive of air. Fares do not include port, security and handling charges of $340

Crimson & Canada, Boston to Montréal on Crystal Symphony, October 14 – 21, 2012 (7 days)
Calls : Boston; Bar Harbor, Halifax, Québec City, and Montréal

Fares: 2-for-1 fares begin at $2,775 per person, inclusive of air. Fares do not include port, security and handling charges of $340

Autumnal Adventure, Montréal to New York on Crystal Symphony, October 21 – 31, 2012 (10 days)

Calls: Montréal, Québec City, Halifax, Canada; Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport, and New York City

Fares: 2-for-1 fares begin at $3,290 per person, inclusive of air. Fares do not include port, security and handling charges of $490.

more than just turkeys and touchdowns, nantucket thanksgiving

October 14th, 2011

Come celebrate Turkey Day in the same state as the Pilgrims (the Grey Lady isn’t so far from Plymouth Rock!). The island is full of charm in the fall; the summer crowds have dispersed, prices have dropped, and the middle moors are awash with vivid crimsons and purples. There’s no better setting for a tryptophan-induced food coma and a belly full of pie!


With Nantucket Island Resorts’ Hot Dates, Cool Rates promotion, rates at White Elephant for Thanksgiving weekend (November 23-27) start at just $195 and rates at Jared Coffin House start at $125. Both come with a $25 dinner credit on $100 spent or $50 dinner credit on $150 spent at Brant Point Grill as well as two $25 spa treatment credits at the White Elephant Spa.


White Elephant’s Brant Point Grill hosts a special Thanksgiving buffet with all of the comfort foods you’d expect at your grandmother’s house, without all of the cooking and dishes.


While football may be the traditional Thanksgiving game, golfers will be thrilled to know that post-pie they can go play 18 at Nantucket’s top-notch Sankaty Head Golf Club. This members-only club with coveted ocean views and links-style holes is open (for a fee) to anyone from October to May.


Nantucket’s own Cisco Brewers, known for its Whale’s Tale Pale Ale and other beers as well as its wine and distilled liquors, is a great place to come in from the fall chill. Taste a flight of beer, wine, or liquor and catch a brewery tour every day at 4pm.


Take part in a Nantucket tradition with the 10th Annual Cold Turkey Plunge! Every Thanksgiving morning, hundreds of brave souls gather on Children’s Beach and jump into the cold Nantucket Harbor. Prizes are awarded for best costumes, so be creative!


If you don’t want the Thanksgiving fun to end once you’ve returned home, here’s a recipe from Chef Fred Bisaillon of Brant Point Grill to help you hold on to that autumnal spirit.

Chocolate and Cranberry Herb Scones (makes 20 scones)


1lb +10oz Pastry flour

2tsp salt

1oz baking powder

3oz sugar

12oz cubed cold butter

2oz egg yolk

2oz egg

15oz heavy cream

6oz cranberries

6oz white chocolate chips

Zest of 1 orange

¼ tsp chopped fresh thyme


Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, and sugar. Add butter to dry ingredients, mixing on low speed with paddle attachment. In another bowl, combine the eggs, yolks, and cream, then add the egg mixture to the sifted ingredients and butter all at once, mix just to incorporate, then add zest, cranberry, chocolate, and thyme. Pat down dough onto the baking pan about 1” thick. Allow to rest in refrigerator for about 1.25 hours. Cut the dough into 4”rounds or any desired shape, brush with eggwash (one beaten egg, separate from the recipe above, plus 1 T cold water) and allow to sit for 5 minutes then repeat. Bake at until golden brown. About 15-18 minutes in a convection oven. Cool to room temp and Enjoy!



celebration in bhutan

October 13th, 2011

Big news from Bhutan – it’s another royal wedding! Today, the nation’s ultra-popular “Dragon King” married Jetsun Pema, a 21-year-old student and the daughter of an airline pilot. The marriage, first announced in May, was televised live across the country, resulting in widespread celebration. The colorful ceremony took place in a sacred monastery surrounded by the elated people of Bhutan. Find out more here!

celebrate the holidays around the world

October 13th, 2011

The holidays can be hectic with all that shopping to do and all those family dinners to attend. Give yourself a break this year and plan a festive vacation! Whether it’s a snowy escape, a sunny getaway, or an urban adventure, there’s something for everyone.

Where: Palace Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland
What: A Swiss winter wonderland
Why:  Taste world-famous Swiss Fondue and admire the breathtaking views of the snow-capped Alps from the windows of the oldest electric cogwheel-train as it climbs Mt. Rigi. Browse more than 45 stalls of holiday gifts and confections at the annual Christmas Market and wander the festively decorated medieval streets as carolers serenade in the distance during a winter escape to Lucerne, Switzerland. The Palace Luzern’s annual New Years Eve party will be the perfect start to 2012, and the hotel’s special New Years Eve package won’t break your budgeting resolutions for the new year!
When: The New Years Eve package starts at $844 (two nights, double occupancy) and is valid only December 30, 2011-January 1, 2012

Where: La Réserve Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
What: An enchanted holiday
Why: Spend the holidays at La Réserve Genève – explore the International Christmas Market, wave hello to Santa Claus at the Annual Electric Christmas Parade, and attend the annual Christmas Tree Festival where international artists display beautifully crafted sculptures and trees. For a special holiday evening, leave the kids with La Réserve Genève’s experienced babysitters, available for children aged 6 months to 13 years.
When: holiday rates start at $500 per night

Where: GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, Oracabessa, Jamaica
What: Who said the holidays had to be cold?
Why: Nestled on Jamaica’s north coast, GoldenEye Hotel & Resort was once the Jamaican home of author Ian Fleming and the site where he penned all 14 James Bond novels. Holiday festivities include dinner and entertainment on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a New Years Eve Extravaganza, Festive Afternoon Teas, and Champagne Cocktail Party. Guests can kick off the New Year in good health kindness of the hotel’s fitness and activity program, with offerings such as daily yoga, paddle boarding, and local runs through Oracabessa. Younger visitors can kayak, snorkel, or participate in the hotel’s coral restoration program.
When: Holiday rates start at $1,040 per night from December 15 – January 7

Where: Pacific Coast Holiday, Roundtrip from Los Angeles to the Hawaiian Islands
What: 14 days of culture, fun, and adventure aboard Crystal Symphony
Why: Leave the snow behind and tour the sunny Hawaiian Islands aboard Crystal Symphony. Sign up for private dance lessons, take a helicopter ride over Oahu, or discover the wonder of whale-watching near Maui. Children will love learning to snorkel, kayak, and surf in the beautiful, warm waters.
When: December 21, 2011 – January 4, 2012, two-for-one fares start at $7,050 per person, and include $500 per person all-inclusive “ As You Wish” shipboard credit, plus free, round-trip air and airport transfer from two dozen North American gateway cities (or generous air credit).  Restrictions apply.

Where: Park Hyatt Washington D.C.
A patriotic holiday
Why: Plan a Christmas visit to the Park, and start your stay with delicious homemade gingerbread cookies and Eggnog. For those revelers looking for the best place to bring in the New Year, the Park offers New Years guests two tickets to the hotel’s popular New Years Eve celebration in the Lounge. Extend the holiday cheer all winter long with the hotel’s Comfort and Joy package, which includes hot cocoa and fresh baked cookies to enjoy after braving the cold to attend the National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony on the White House grounds or visiting the National Christmas Tree, lit daily during December.
When: Christmas package rates start at $445 for the first night and at $245 for each additional night from December 22-26, 2011; New Year’s Eve package available December 27-January 22, 2012 (contact hotel for rates); and Comfort and Joy package rates start at $299 per night from November 28-February 29, 2012

Where: The Inn on the Alameda, Santa Fe, New Mexico
What: 26th anniversary celebration
Why:  Escape for a weekend at the Inn on the Alameda in Santa Fe, a city known for its dazzling luminaria displays! The Inn is turning 26 this year, and Santa Fe’s beloved and charming hotel is celebrating by offering a special anniversary rate.  Guests who stay at the inn for three consecutive nights between October 30 and December 12 will pay just $26 for the third night! To get in the holiday spirit, travelers can attend a festive Santa Fe Desert Chorale winter concert or check out the shops of the historic Santa Fe Plaza area.
When: Special rates start at $336 from October 30-December 12 (excluding November 23-26 and November 30 -December 5) 

Where:  Peninsula Spa by ESPA, New York City
What: A rejuvenating ‘spa-cation’
Why: New York City is never more alive than at Christmastime with tree-lit ice skating at Rockefeller Center, enchanting carriage rides in Central Park, and lavish window displays at Saks. For people looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, the Peninsula Spa by ESPA is offering a day-long ‘spa-cation,’ including a 60-minute treatment, a special lunch, and complimentary use of the pool and fitness centre.
When: Spa-cation package is available Monday – Thursday weekly for $285