Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Moments In Resort and Hotels

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass is a showcase of Pima and Maricopa tribal heritage. National Geographic Traveler Magazine named this property to its first ever “Stay List,” described as a celebration of the “150 Hotels You’ll Love” in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. In partnership with this magazine, the Tourism Industry Association of America recently awarded the Resort the TIA Odyssey Geotourism Award for Sustaining an Indigenous Culture and Community.

One of the Resort’s unique features is their Cultural Concierge. It is a must that one connects with her to take a complimentary tour highlighting the history and culture of the Pima and Maricopa tribes that have inhabited central Arizona for more than 2,300 years. Her tour also interprets the significance of the many vibrant murals, pottery pieces, works of art and Native American stories found throughout the resort.

Aji Spa is a world unto itself. From the moment you enter, mosaic tiles depict the symbolism of the four directions: east for illumination, south for sandstorms that bring rain, west for the setting sun and north for the water of life. One of the signature treatments here is their Blue Coyote Wrap. The Spa Director, explained that this wrap is a metaphor for the spa as a whole – offering unique treatments and an environment where guests can free themselves from stress and return to a natural state of peace. Belen Stoneman is the Native American Healer for Aji Spa. In this role, she utilizes a sacred holistic approach to healing the mind, body and spirit through therapeutic massage.

Mind, body and spirit aligned – now let’s talk food. One of the nation’s most highly lauded restaurants, Kai, is the first ever Native American restaurant to garner both the AAA Five-Diamond Award and Mobil Travel Guide’s Five-Star Award. Kai’s Michelin-trained Executive Chef, Michael O’Dowd has worked diligently to learn traditional recipes and presents them in a new setting, thus paying homage to the past while weaving a new culinary future for Native American-inspired cuisine.

After dining – a peaceful stroll. The Resort has recently completed a two and a half mile Interpretive Trail that runs alongside the property’s storied Gila River. More than fifty signs detailing the culture, history and plant life of this river community can be found along the trail. Many of the signs focus on the vegetation that’s historically significance to the Pima and Maricopa people. The signs feature a picture of each plant and denote what it was used for and its significance to the Gila River People.

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass experience is one that blends a rich tableau of images and designs reflecting the beauty and mystery of the desert and its people. Belen Stoneman, this woman of Native American spirituality, says “The No.1 rule for me is that Creator God and the spirits do everything.” Here, indeed, everything is done with spirituality and authenticity. Dreams are caught in a web of stories that entertain, educate and inspire.

Carrying on the Dream Theme
Less than a half hour from the Wild Horse Pass is another unique and spectacular property:the Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Designed by architect Albert Chase McArthur with Frank Lloyd Wright’s collaboration, the “Jewel of the Desert” opened in 1929. Celebrities spent Hollywood’s golden years here; Marilyn Monroe loved the Catalina Pool, Irving Berlin penned White Christmas, and at the bar, the famed tequila sunrise was invented. Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned here and presidents from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush have been its guests. There’s glittering history around every corner on the property’s 39 glistening acres right in the heart of Phoenix.
As a long-time buff of all things Hollywood in the 40s, I was over the moon at the chance to visit this property and Wright’s designs and inspirations were icing on the cake. The Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Four Diamond property, is now modern and stylish though happily it still retains its original Gatsby-era feel.

In my brief stay, I nonetheless got in some memorable experiences: I had a deep, luxuriating massage at Spa Biltmore administered with a turquoise-sage muscle cream! and I dined at Wright’s Restaurant, gazing out at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve beyond. This was a special culinary repast that told the story of the Arizona desert with dishes that drew from the region’s heritage and culture. A short stint on the tennis court and then, too soon, this dream idyll was over. But – no regrets. By immersing myself in Pima tribal culture and meeting the beautiful, impressive healer Belen Stoneman, to being transported back in time for some glitzy Hollywood glamour and then enfolded in Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic architecture, my personal dream-catcher gathered a host of sweet reveries that I’ll cherish whenever I think of this magical Arizona visit.

Vietnam Checks Out Country’s Hotels

“If you’re only going to visit Vietnam once there’s no doubt this is the way to do it,” said Andrew Carroll, global head of sales & marketing at Exotic Voyages.

The journey begins at one of the South East Asia’s most storied hotels, Sofitel Metropole Legend, which first opened in 1901. Steeped in history, former guests include such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. In 2009 the property underwent such a dramatic restoration that it landed on Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot List – normally reserved for new hotels.

The property offers respite during a two-night stay with days spent immersed in the local food scene with everything from a market and street food tour to sampling egg coffee (a sweet, soft meringue-like topping over strong Vietnamese brew) in the cafe where the popular local drink was first created.

Guests then head north to Halong Bay, where thousands of limestone karsts pepper teal waters. Accommodation for the night is on a Paradise Luxury Cruise, a 41-meter-long boat with four spacious decks, a spa, Jacuzzi, restaurant and bar. In the morning the experience reaches new heights with a 25-minute seaplane tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Departing from the country’s French colonial past the traveler’s next stop is a stay at the country’s hottest hotel debut, The Reverie Saigon. Unapologetically opulent and quite unlike anything Vietnam has seen before, the design is all Italian with Italy’s best furnishing brands collaborating on the interiors. During the three-night, four-day stay in the city, guests visit Cu Chi, a vast network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war, and have the additional options including taking in the city by night with a Vespa tour.

The last three nights of Quintessentially Vietnam are at Amanoi Ninh Thuan, a secluded beach retreat near Nha Trang, where guests can unwind with complimentary water sports from sailing to snorkeling at the resort’s private beach, on the tennis court, or with a daily yoga and Tai Chi class. The special offer also includes a free upgrade to an Ocean Pavilion room, and a complimentary bottle of wine and Vietnamese dinner set for two.

The new package can be booked from January 10th to March 31st, 2017 with travel taking place between January and October 2017. Rates start at US$2,982 per person and vary depending on the month of travel. The US$1900 saving, off Exotic Voyages regular price, is based on two persons sharing accommodation. The offer excludes international and domestic airfares and meals and drinks not mentioned in the full itinerary.

The Shore Club is the first resort

The Shore Club is the first resort to position itself on the previously untapped Long Bay Beach. The early word on this $100 million development of oceanfront suites and luxury villas is “incredible.”

Stan Hartling is the developer who brought The Sands and The Palms to Grace Bay Beach. After personally living on secluded Long Bay, Hartling decided to go all in on this 2.5 mile-long beach located on Providenciales southern coast.
The Shore Club opened to rave reviews in December of 2016, and trailblazing guests are thrilled to find a property that is exclusive, serene, and accents custom amenities not found anywhere else. The resort features classic West Indies architecture, three restaurants, three pools, an oceanfront spa, a tennis court, and wraparound views showcasing a massive expanse of “only in Turks and Caicos” oceanfront.

Shore Club’s Grand Reveal
Turn right at the sign marked Shore Club and drive a half mile from Providenciales’ main Leeward Highway. You’ll surge with anticipation upon approaching the Shore Club’s elegant stone gateway. You’ll feel an airy spaciousness at every turn on this 25-acre resort. Your connection with abundance is evident inside the sprawling and high ceilinged welcome area and again throughout the property’s walkways.
New guests are escorted past the breakfast garden, Sui-Ren restaurant, Colonnade pool with its fire pit in the center, and on to their private quarters. Elevators are specific to your room, and the ride to your suite is one of eager excitement.
Once inside your chosen accommodations it’s time for the grand reveal. In each case, an ocean view for the ages. Here is where you’ll catch your first glimpse of what makes The Shore Club’s location on Long Bay so special.

Exceptional Balcony Views

Long Bay was Providenciales’ under-the-radar beach prior to Shore Club’s opening. There is one exception to Long Bay’s Cinderella existence. Kite surfers discovered, years ago, that the beach’s tradewinds and shallow water made it a perfect venue for vaulting airborne. Turks and Caicos Kiteboarding School is located about a half mile east down the beach from The Shore Club. The acrobatics of kiteboard enthusiasts make the Shore Club’s amazing ocean views even more extraordinary.
Grab a cocktail or your favorite book and settle in for something fantastic on your wraparound balcony. With nary a sound other than crashing ocean waves, it’s impossible to not watch the hypnotic choreography of kiteboarders in the sky. If you desire even further landscape imagery, about a mile west down the beach are riders on horseback under the guidance of Provo Ponies.

Choices, Choices, Choices
If relaxation is numero uno as to why you chose Turks and Caicos’ Shore Club, then prepare to unwind in Caribbean style. The Shore Club features three Dune Spa cabanas that are strategically placed to deliver awesome views of the Caribbean Sea. The cabanas are set up for both individual and couple-centric massage treatment sessions.
If all this relaxing stirs an appetite, realize that the Hartling Group went to great lengths in making the Shore Club a food lovers haven. The Sui Ren restaurant is the only one in Turks and Caicos to offer a menu that blends Peruvian and Asian-inspired delicacies.
When in Turks and Caicos, you may not want to leave the pool or beach. The Shore Club provides personal concierge, butler, and round-the-clock service for savoring food, cocktails, or Providenciales’ trademark sunshine.
For those who believe that privacy drives where you do or don’t go on vacation, The Shore Club’s forward-thinking design has A-listers in mind. Each suite has a matching air conditioned underground garage, a Caribbean first. Simply take your suite’s elevator to where your chariot awaits. In other words, the Shore Club has thought of everything for making your Turks and Caicos vacation a picture-perfect escape.

Spa Resort and Hotel hot

 The large spa resort is in Cancun, the popular and busy tourist epicenter of the Riviera Maya in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Just a short drive from Cancun airport, it’s situated in a strip of beachfront hotels.

We arrive at the driveway leading up to Le Blanc, an impressive blocky building of pure white walls, with silvery metal modern art sculptures of palm trees in a pool at the front. All that white could be intended to have a cooling effect in the Caribbean heat, but it also makes the hotel look fresh and modern.

Our bags are taken from the car and we check in, an instantly relaxing experience, with warmed beanbags placed around necks and shoulders, champagne flutes filled with coconut milk (more white) and a flower given to my girlfriend. The lobby is large and white, and feels slightly space age and spa-like, a long hallway leading to a gleaming white piano/cocktail bar. The whole place is bright and airy.

We pass the bar and take a lift up to the ninth floor. Of all the white spaces at Le Blanc, this is a favorite: the central triangular courtyard, lined with suites, has long white curtains cascading down the nine floors to a water fountain below, the creamy white walls of the corridors given an orange glow from big blocky cube lamps. It creates quite an atmosphere.

It’s no surprise by this stage to open the door and see a suite decked out in white, with creamy white marble flooring and white walls that look like it hasn’t been very long at all since they had a fresh brilliant coat. The bed – white, of course – is large and supremely comfortable, but in case it isn’t quite to our liking, there’s a pillow menu to request lavender, camomile, goose feather… Another menu offers aromatherapy for the room, with fragrances like lavender or vanilla and sandalwood. Large glass vases on either side are filled with dry branches that look sea-weathered and rustic.

The bedroom has a big TV, which connects up to devices, if, for example, you have own Netflix account. There’s an iPod dock too for music. The bathroom has another TV, this one embedded in the mirror, which is framed by brilliant white lights above a white marble sink. There’s white marble in the shower too, with Bulgari products across the board. The room has a sizeable hot tub too, which you can ask staff to prepare for you or run for yourselves. It combines well with a bottle of Champagne and a fresh bucket of ice.

By the bedroom’s large window, there’s a little table with a fine view out over the deep blue Caribbean sea and a long stretch of sand and hotels. There are far worse spots in the world to sit and drink a bottle of wine, or dig into the mini bar/fridge for Johnny Walker Black Label or Centenario tequila, all of the drinks included in this all-inclusive hotel.

Having arrived in the evening, we get to properly explore next day. The property has three swimming pools, but we spend the most time at the deep blue infinity pool looking out onto the beach and ocean. A swim-up bar is a fun place to order mezcal cocktails and pina coladas or try something new, while waiters also deliver snacks and drinks to the sunloungers. Gently clubby music playing in the background adds to the hedonistic feel. Occasionally, we wander down to the beach and spend time on the loungers on the sand or swimming in the ocean, joined by big pelicans who dive for fish or enjoy a relaxed float.

There’s everything you need at the hotel, so unless you’re taking a day trip to the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza, or to explore cenotes (sinkholes) or swim with turtles, it’s pleasant to just kick back and relax.

There’s no prize at this stage for guessing that the spa here is also white. After a shot of pineapple, apple and mint juice, I’m lead from the white front room into a calmer, dimly lit space, the candle-like lights flickering orange on the walls. There are menus here too, a choice of aromas (I go for almond) and a menu of music (I pick ‘Asian’), before settling in for an incredibly relaxing 50-minute holistic massage, with hot stones placed over a blanket first and then a firm massage from feet to back and shoulders. It’s relaxing enough that, after a few cocktails too, I nod off here and there.
At the end of each lazy day, we make our way past the piano bar, where a cellist plays a recital one evening, a solo saxophonist another, for dinner. There are three restaurants, all included in your stay, but in-demand Lumiere requires reservations.
popular and almost-full BlancItalia is brightly lit and all-white, with modern Italian food, from starters like an artily presented mozzarella and tomato salad with nuts and pesto to mains like a rich pasta stuffed with cheese with lobster and roasted tomatoes. My girlfriend particularly enjoys shrimp served on black ‘angel hair pasta’, flavored with grappa.