November 30th, 2020
What’s Happening in Napa Valley
While it’s no secret that Napa Valley has faced some challenges this year, the region is open to visitors and the spirit is stronger than ever. The Glass Fire that broke out in September is now 100 percent contained and most of Napa County’s 45,000 acres of vine were not impacted. For those wondering how to help, the best way to support the community and its members is to visit. And the timing couldn’t be better. As harvest closes out this month, travelers will be welcomed with the start of Cabernet Season – the best time to visit for those in the know. From November through April, summer heat is replaced with perfectly mild temperatures – think warm days, cool nights, and blue skies. The pace slows down and foliage is at eye level as the vines become dormant along Silverado Trail. (Leaf peeping is not just on the east coast!) Brilliant yellow wild mustard flowers are scattered through the vineyards and along country lanes. During this time of year, visitors can more easily nab reservations at Michelin-starred restaurants. Greater access to wineries is another bonus with more opportunities to meet winemakers and receive impromptu glimpses behind the scenes.
What’s New in Wine (and Spirit) Tastings
These tastings are shaking up the scene in Napa Valley, with freshly designed spaces and new experiences with an emphasis on privacy. Napa Valley Distillery, the first distillery to open its doors in the city of Napa since prohibition, opened a new speakeasy tasting salon dubbed the ”Hollywood Room” with cocktails crafted from spirits made just a few feet away. The art deco-designed space is punctuated with tiki bar-like decor. Animal lovers will gravitate towards Oasis by Hoopes, where wines are accompanied by an animal sanctuary and regenerative farm. The outdoor space, which opened in October 2020, is dotted with airstreams, lounge areas made with recycled materials, a farm stand (with produce for purchase), as well as rescued chickens, pigs, and goats. Faust’s new tasting room, housed in a Victorian home originally built in 1878, opened in September 2020 following a four-year renovation. Known for their Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from organically farmed estates, the new space still features the original cellar from pre-prohibition era. And for travelers prioritizing privacy, Charles Krug, the oldest wine estate in Napa, opened five new private WIFI-enabled outdoor tasting cabanas on the winery’s picnic grounds and Trefethen is now offering a nightly after-hours experience permitting only one booking per evening – meaning guests have the whole estate to themselves. Space to watch: Yountville’s Baldacci Family Vineyards will open a new hospitality center in March 2021, featuring new private tasting rooms, a wine bar, and an outdoor patio overlooking wine country vistas.
Neighborhoods to Watch
Calistoga, the northern most town in Napa Valley – famed as a wine-meets-spa destination thanks to its geothermal waters – is in the limelight thanks to a crop of new hotels and multi-million-dollar resort renovations. Four Seasons Resort & Residences will open this winter with 85-rooms and an on-site vineyard and tasting room – a rarity in Napa Valley. As a nod to Calistoga’s wellness roots, the property will offer an eight-room spa with steam pods in which hammocks will be suspended above geo-thermal pools for guests to absorb the heated vapor. Coming soon, Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, originally built in 1952, will unveil a large-scale renovation. Considered one of the first resorts in Calistoga and known for its mud bath treatments, the property’s new look will include a Southwestern-inspired restaurant, House of Better. This December, Solage, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, will unveil a $30 million-dollar renovation overseen by architect Howard Backen – considered the creator of “Napa Valley Style” – and Los Angeles-based interior design agency Studio Collective. In addition to 11 new accommodations, Solbar - their signature restaurant – will double the size of the patio for outdoor dining and the new PicoBar, with light bites and cocktails, will sit next to an enlarged pool deck with contemporary loungers and cabanas.
Spanning three buzzy blocks in the heart of Downtown Napa, First Street Napa is an ever-growing hub for shopping, dining, and tasting. Known for its locally owned boutiques and independent restaurants and wineries, the district has recently welcomed a surge of new shops like C’est La Paire for chic boots and handbags; The Bennington Napa Valley for vintage finds; and Copperfield’s Books, a mainstay store returning to First Street. The first standalone tasting room dedicated solely to luxury California brandies, California Brandy House, will open on First Street on November 6, 2020 for outdoor tastings. The new concept will debut with two leading brandy portfolios, Germain-Robin and Argonaut. Visitors will be guided through tasting flights, including single-barrel samples that are only available at the tasting space. For those looking for something on the fizzier side, the first and only dedicated Champagne & sparkling wine lounge in Napa Valley, Be Bubbly, has just opened its doors. Over in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market (a 40,000-square-foot marketplace with an expansive outdoor deck along the Napa River), Bar Lucia opened this summer from owner behind Kara’s Cupcakes. Highlights of the bar include rosé and sparkling wines paired with seasonal bites. Founder Kara Haspel Lind named the bar after her great grandmother and her daughter, honoring the traditions passed down through five generations of women in her family. For those visitors who are overwhelmed with options across the region, a brand-new Napa Valley Welcome Center will open on November 12 as a resource for itinerary-planning. New technology will provide visitors insider tips in a no-touch manner, and a 16-foot video wall will offer a taste of Napa Valley travel inspiration to pedestrians along First Street through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Looking Ahead to 2021
Black History Month – February 2021
In honor of Black History Month in February, travelers to Napa Valley can explore the roots of BIPOC pioneers in the winemaking business and support local initiatives throughout the region. Leaders in the industry include Brown Estate Vineyards, which was the first Black-owned estate winery in Napa and is now best known as one of Napa Valley’s most well-regarded zinfandel producers. Neighboring Okapi Wines is a micro-boutique winery that produces just a few barrels of wine each year. Founder Dan Johnson limits its production to 300 cases per year to maintain sustainable farming practices. Carneros Resort and Spa is offering a Diversity in Wine Flight featuring four wines by vintners and winemakers of color. The tasting flight is available at two of their onsite restaurants with 10% of proceeds being donated to UNCF. To support diversity in the wine industry, Napa Valley Vintners, a nonprofit association representing more than 500 wineries in the region, has partnered with UNCF to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in subjects including grape growing and winemaking, with $1 million already invested into the program.
Women Winemakers are changing the way we drink wine (and beer!)
The month of March is all about celebrating women with International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021. As one of the top viticultural regions, Napa Valley is known for its sprawling vineyards, historic wineries and towns that dot the countryside. It is also home to many women who have made names for themselves throughout the area. To name a few, Elaine St. Clair is the only woman in the U.S. to hold the commercial title of both winemaker and brewer. Kathryn Walt Hall is the force behind HALL Wines and WALT Wines in St. Helena and has been in the Napa wine industry for almost five decades, having also worked as an attorney, community activist, and as the United States Ambassador to Austria. During her 40-year tenure in Napa Valley winemaking, Heidi Barrett, who known as “The First Lady of Wine” is behind California’s most notable cult wines, including Screaming Eagle, which has a starting price of $700 a bottle. Today she’s co-founder of her own label, Barrett & Barrett, where she continues to produce some of the top Cabernet Sauvignons.
February 19th, 2013
We are proud to announce andBeyond as our newest client. andBeyond is a leader in luxury experiential travel and a conservation pioneer offering well-heeled travelers diversity, escape, and natural heritage.
New & Noteworthy
- In the first private game reserve donation of rhinoceros to another country, andBeyond is translocating six white rhinoceros from andBeyond South Africa to Botswana. South Africa lost 668 to illegal poaching last year; Botswana offers excellent security systems to protect the endangered species.
- andBeyond is currently offering honeymoon travelers a 50 percent discount on the bride’s travel across all &Beyond lodges. Highlighted locations include: andBeyond Mnemba Island where guests can swim with dolphins and watch green turtles hatch before they swim off to sea; and andBeyond Kichwa Tembo, located in one of the richest and most diverse wildlife areas in the world.
- The Homestead at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal is now offering Yoga Safaris. Other speciality safaris include family, photography, birding, and wildlife tracking. (more…)
October 9th, 2012
When the Who’s Who on St. Barth wants the latest dish on where to go and what to see – Ashley Lacour is the man with the answers. And, when first-time visitors need advice on how to navigate the island, Ashley is the man they trust. He is part of the long tradition of in-the-know hospitality that is Sibarth, a luxury villa rental agency on St. Barth.
A St. Barth native and the son of founders Brook and Roger Lacour, Ashley has been named Managing Director of Sibarth.
In his new post, Ashley will oversee all Sibarth operations, including launching a new loyalty program for its clientele as well as creating a comprehensive island guide available to Sibarth guests that explores celebrated landmarks and uncovers every hidden gem. These services are in addition to the already expansive customer-focused offerings, including: an experienced, resident concierge team; the only on-site, full-time airport kiosk and arrivals specialists; and 24-hour response team.
Ashley brings insider knowledge of St. Barth that can only come from those who call the island home, not a business venture. “When our family business was established in 1975, my parents believed that villa rentals were the best way to preserve the charm and intimacy of the island, giving guests a genuine St. Barth experience and discouraging the development of large, impersonal hotels. I am proud to be a part of something so influential and so special in preserving this culture,” says Lacour.
While imitators have attempted to capitalize on the Lacour legacy and success, Sibarth continues as the heirloom brand. With Ashley Lacour now at the helm and a team of more than two dozen employees who live on the island and know it as their home, Sibarth ensures exceptional service and a personal touch.
“The mission of Sibarth has always been to offer our guests experience the real, authentic St. Barth. I am steadfast in my commitment to uphold our high standards of hospitality and continually exceed the expectations of our clientele,” says Ashley.
Favorite Sports: As a young child, Ashley learned to windsurf on the turquoise waters of St. Barth and remains passionate about the sport.
Favorite Hiking Trail: A very secluded trail to St. Barth’s natural pools accessibly lies at the west end of the beach at Grand Fond.
Favorite Job: Ashley was once the St. Barth island postman.
Favorite Practice: Having studied Holistic Healing, Ashley manages Sibarth from a place of balance and harmony.
Favorite Croissant: Locals are loyal to Petite Colombe in Lorient; best to arrive in the early morning.
Ashley continues to live on St. Barth with his partner in life and business, Kristina Popova, Sibarth Marketing Director.
More on Sibarth…
The Sibarth brand stands behind the quality of more than 150 exquisite St. Barth villas – ranging from charming one-bedroom hideaways to luxurious eight-bedroom estates. Villas are available island-wide, from the mountain tops of Lurin and Vitet to the streets above Gustavia to the beaches of St. Jean and Flamands.
September 28th, 2012
Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year, not only in Santa Fe but everywhere! The clear blue fall skies make the perfect backdrop and make every color seem more dramatic, from the burning gold of changing leaves to the flowering autumn perennials and the bright orange of falls favorite vegetable, the pumpkin. Every scene is breathtakingly beautiful, making it a photographer’s favorite season.
To celebrate its favorite season, the Inn on the Alameda is inviting photographers of all kinds to enter their autumn glories in its Facebook Photo Contest, where one evocative image will win its creator a two-night stay in a Deluxe King Room with a fireplace at the Inn! Simply post one colorful autumn picture on the Autumn Photo Contest tab, which will be activated and live on the Inn’s Facebook page beginning on Friday, October 5th. The contest runs for only 10 days, so be sure to get that photo up by end of day on October 14. The image with the most Facebook “likes” will win their own two-night stay at the cozy Inn in Santa Fe.
Now, put on your boots and fall jackets, grab your camera (whether it’s your iPhone or professional Nikon!), and start snapping some colorful autumn pictures!
August 29th, 2012
Alice Marshall Public Relations is pleased to announce Sibarth as our newest client. Sibarth offers luxury villa rentals in St. Barth, French West Indies.
Did you know that…
…tucked away on Rue du General De Gaulle is an artisanal rhumerie that will offer tastings to visitors?
…Fostokjian in St. Jean is the coiffeur of choice for parties and events?
…only on Sunday afternoons, La Gloriette on the beach serves fabulous Conch Fricassee?
Sibarth knows, because it is the St. Barth authority. Owned by island “natives,” it is the key for travelers looking for insider knowledge and access; insider knowledge that can only come from those who call the island home, not a business venture.
In 1975, Brook and Roger Lacour established Sibarth as the first villa rental company on the island, virtually the foundation of tourism in St. Barth. They saw villas as the best way to preserve the charm and intimacy of the island, giving guests a genuine St. Barth experience and discouraging the development of large, impersonal hotels.
While imitators have attempted to capitalize on the Lacour legacy and success, Sibarth continues as the heirloom brand. With Ashley Lacour now at the helm, with a team of more than two dozen employees who live on the island and know it as their home, Sibarth ensures exceptional service and a personal touch. From an experienced, resident concierge team, the only on-site, full-time airport kiosk and arrivals specialists to reservationists and 24-hour response team, Sibarth services are never outsourced. The Lacour’s have built a reputation for providing in-the-know hospitality.
The Sibarth brand stands behind the quality of more than 150 exquisite St. Barth villas – ranging from charming one-bedroom hideaways to luxurious eight-bedroom estates. Villas are available island wide, from the mountain tops of Lurin and Vitet to the streets above Gustavia to the beaches of St. Jean and Flamands.
Have a look: www.sibarth.com Are you planning anything related to the Caribbean, St. Barth, holiday travel? Would love to tell you more.
July 30th, 2012
The end of your vacation should leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to take on the world. Don’t let checking out the hotel on your way home negate all of that hard-earned relaxation, especially when you find those pesky “surprise fees” on your bill! We’ve put together a list of the top “surprise fees” to prepare you for your next vacation and help you to avoid checkout woes. Here are our top fees to look out for:
– Some hotels charge an extra fee for the use of a minifridge, even if you’re using it to store your own food. An alternative: Make your own mini-fridge by stocking up on ice from your floor’s ice machine and keep your items in this makeshift cooler!
– When staying in a big city or remote resort location, parking is a common issue. However, some hotels use a mandatory valet service. Your car may be more secure in the hotel’s garage; but if you don’t want to pay – look for independent lots in the area.
– It is uncommon today for a hotel not to have wifi. But some will charge you for access to log into their wifi connections. Our advice? It’s vacation! Maybe you can leave your laptop off and use the lobby computers for any emergencies.
Want learn about more hotel fees that may be added to your bill? Click here to read what SmarterTravel.com’s Caroline Morse has discovered!
May 29th, 2012
With the launch of American Airlines groundbreaking new route between JFK and Tokyo’s Haneda International airport, located much closer to the city center than the traditionally used Narita Airport and with much faster immigration, everyone is talking Tokyo these days. Now that the “Vertical City” is faster than ever to get to, head there to experience some of its popular summer festivities. Here’s the latest scoop of summer city happenings from Park Hyatt Tokyo:
Mark calendars for June 27, 2012, when Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine will host a special Brewmaster’s Dinner as part of the brand’s global series of seasonally and locally inspired culinary events. The event, held in collaboration with Kanagawa’s Sankt Gallen Brewery (renowned for its locally-produced craft ales) will offer a tasting menu of six-courses, each complemented by vintage labels, as well as a chocolate stout and a surprise ale from the brewery’s cellar.
Summer is the season of fireworks – especially in Japan. Almost every night, communities around the country stage lively firework displays to illuminate the night sky. The biggest and most popular of these is the Sumida River Fireworks Festival on July 28. During the festival, twenty thousand sets of fireworks will light up the Tokyo summer sky and the event also includes a competition for the best fireworks.
The Tokyo Sky Tree just opened as the world’s second-tallest structure. Standing at 2,080 feet, it takes about 50 seconds for the high-speed elevator to zip visitors up to the lower observation deck at 1,148 feet, and another 30 seconds to reach the higher deck at 1,475 feet. Don’t miss the vertigo-inducing glass floor!
On the last Saturday and Sunday in August, around 1.2 million spectators flock to city’s shotengai (shopping promenades) for the 53rd Annual Koenji Awaodori Festival. Over 12,000 participants from 188 groups of choreographed dancers and musicians will parade through the city streets in traditional obon dance costumes, accompanied by traditional Japanese instruments such as the shamisen lute, taiko drums, shinobue flute, and the kane bell.
Celebrate the end of summer by attending the September 2012 Grand Sumo Tournament. From September 9 – 23, wrestlers young and old from across Japan will come to Tokyo to partake in the event. Hakkeyoi!
April 30th, 2012
The effortlessly chic fashion line, Haute Hippie, and the highly-lauded Jamaica hotspot GoldenEye Hotel announce their collaboration and the creation of a new “All Things Gold” clothing collection. Inspired by Island Outpost’s flagship property and the simply stunning north coast of Jamaica where the hotel is located, the Haute Hippie designs will launch in time for Resort 2012.
The laid-back rocker-chic designs of Haute Hippie founder Trish Wescoat Pound are in perfect harmony with the simple, iconic Jamaica-style glamour that Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chris Blackwell has nurtured at the recently re-opened hotel. Their shared affinity for a relaxed approach to high style has resulted in this special “All Things Gold” collection, which will feature the vintage-inspired, yet modern vibe that both brands embody.
“So much of what inspires us is drawn from the places we travel and the music we listen to. The partnership with Chris Blackwell and GoldenEye is a true meeting of the minds – a sharing of aesthetics, tastes and influences,” said Trish Wescoat Pound, founder of Haute Hippie.
The “All Things Gold” Resort 2012 collection will be available later this year at Haute Hippie stores. The collection will also be carried on-site at GoldenEye and at its sister property Strawberry Hill Hotel, Spa & Gardens, which is set high among the Blue Mountains and offers breath-taking views over the city of Kingston below.
Haute Hippie draws from a myriad of cultures, genres, people and places, and embraces the lifestyle for which they design. More than just a line of beautiful clothes, Haute Hippie is an expression of a collective conscious, a common mindset and a shared worldview. It’s no wonder Wescoat Pound was inspired by Jamaica and GoldenEye following her recent wedding at the property. The hotel and its lush surroundings are steeped in old-Hollywood history – after all, it is the former home of author Ian Fleming and the location where he penned all 14 James Bond novels – yet thoroughly infused with the vibrant spirit of this most unique island. Set along the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, GoldenEye successfully pays homage to its rich heritage while offering contemporary luxury with an authentic Jamaican feel with brand new beach- and lagoon-front Cottages and Suites, swimming pools, and dining options.
About Haute Hippie
Founded by designer Trish Wescoat Pound, Haute Hippie is the expression of a love affair with clothing. From boy shorts to ball gowns, each piece in the Haute Hippie collection is inspired and designed by people who are passionate about the clothing they create. Haute Hippie embodies the spirit of the global nomad – blending vintage, urban chic and other cultural influences from around the world. The Haute Hippie woman is as comfortable exploring the jungles of Peru as she is the streets of New York; a true citizen of the world – comfortable in her own skin and free from the need to conform to trends. A believer in the democratization of fashion without compromising luxury, Trish infuses Haute Hippie with the same carefree – yet sophisticated – aesthetic that characterizes every aspect of her life. Founded in 2008, Haute Hippie is sold in over 100 stores across the United States and more than 40 countries worldwide.
About GoldenEye Hotel
GoldenEye overlooks the Caribbean Sea in the quiet village of Oracabessa Bay on Jamaica’s north coast. Built by the novelist Ian Fleming as his Jamaican retreat, GoldenEye is where Fleming wrote all 14 James Bond novels. Today, GoldenEye is an award-winning Island Outpost hotel. It is owned by Chris Blackwell, the Jamaica-raised founder of Island Records. Though built in 1949, GoldenEye reopened in 2010, following a two-year renovation. The hotel now encompasses Fleming’s original villa, three villas built by Blackwell, plus nine new Beach Cottages, two new Lagoon Cottages and six new Lagoon Suites. GoldenEye is sited on 52 stunning acres and is home to secret coves, breathtaking private beaches, tropical forests and a singular lagoon. Two new restaurants—The Gazebo and Bizot Bar—serve quintessential Jamaica-style cooking and signature cocktails mixed with Blackwell Fine Jamaica Rum. The FieldSpa is the home base for the fitness and activities program. Treatments are given by the water, in-your-own-room, or at a cottage named Royal Palm, at the lagoon-edge where open-to-the air treatment rooms are a sanctuary for massage, salt scrubs, skin brightening facials, herbal wraps, and energy work. A pioneer in a variety of green initiatives, GoldenEye supports the Oracabessa Foundation, which educates and encourages sustainable development within the community.
April 18th, 2012
Photos courtesy of Inc.com and Crystal Cruises
Crystal Cruises is surely doing their part to help make the world a better place. It all started in January 2011, when they introduced the “You Care, We Care” voluntourism program where guests and crew can be directly involved in worthwhile causes in the destinations they visit, including opportunities such as assisting with poverty relief, education, cultural preservation, environmental conservation, animal welfare, and more. In May, Arun Gandhi joins guests aboard Crystal Symphony for a Iberian Peninsula sailing.
Few names in world history evoke such powerful images of integrity, courage, social harmony, and – perhaps most of all – hope. Arun Gandhi carries within himself the same guiding principles as his grandfather, the legendary peace-maker and spiritual leader, Mohandas K. Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi. A speaker of international acclaim, Gandhi has spoken at hundreds of colleges and universities, and corporate and civic organizations. His unique talents and cross-cultural experiences have brought him before governmental, social, and educational audiences in countries all over the world. Arun is a cultural treasure, offering firsthand insights into one of history’s most influential leaders.
From May 9 – 21, 2012, join Gandhi aboard Crystal Symphony’s ”Iberian Journey“ sailing from Barcelona to London, with calls in Mallorca/Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, and Málaga, Spain; Tangiers, Morocco; Lisbon and Oporto/Leixoes, Portugal; and Bordeaux, France. You too can help make the world a better place!
January 17th, 2012
Photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com
Sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race have had quite the adventurous couple of months. After departing from their starting port in Alicante, Spain in October, they braved the treacherous Atlantic to Cape Town, Africa, narrowly avoiding potential pirate attacks in the Straight of Hormuz. From Cape Town, they set sail to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where they arrived last Thursday to the welcoming music of Coldplay.
After several in-port races in Abu Dhabi, the boats embarked on the next leg of their journey to Sanya, China, where they can expect some surprises in the water. While sailing the Malacca Straights, the second busiest shipping channel in the world, they need to be on the lookout for logs and other debris in the water that have the potential to cause disaster.
After Sanya, they will set sail for Auckland, Australia; Itajai, Brazil; Miami, USA; Lisbon, Portugal; Lorient, France, and finally, Galway, Ireland. After approximately nine months of racing and 39,270 nautical miles, there will only be one champion in Galway. We can’t wait to find out who!
For the most up-to-date information and updates on the race, visit www.volvooceanrace.com.