A Surprise Visit to Victoria Falls

We were preparing to leave Savuti Camp and our host, Dylan Harriss had come up with a big surprise. We are going to make a little detour to Victoria Falls to vist one of his friend’s shop and factory. One of the perks of having a private charter!! We can change our plans!
The name of the shop is Ndau located at Elephant Walk in Victoria Falls and it lived up to it’s considerable reputation. I love any excuse to stop and shop for exotic gifts, so I was thrilled. I came out with crocodile bracelets and feathered earrings. Yay!
We were also delighted to visit the Colonial Grand Dame – Victoria Falls Hotel established in 1904 and beautiful. Recently renovated, if has that old colonial feeling- I hope to get back to stay there soon.
We were cleared to circle the Falls and I have never experienced such a spectacular sight. A wonderful memory we will all treasure. Thank you Dylan and Gavin.

View of Victoria Falls- Zimbabwean Side

What a thrill to buzz the Falls!!

Welcome to Dumatau Camp- Linyanti Reserve, Botswana

How can you top that welcome!!!!

Savuti Camp- Linyanti Reserve, Botswana

Next stop was Savuti Camp, again a Wilderness Camp, on the Linyanti Reserve ( northwest corner of Botswana). Savuti Camp is a wilderness area destination, far from the crowds and along the northern borders of this sandy, thorn-tree country. This is the northern most reach of the Linyanti river system, which in most years has been a barren, grassy gully. Four years ago, the water from the main river 17km’s away reached this and flowed down it creating a lifeline for the wildlife that has learnt to live in this harsh and forbidding zone. The result is a wildlife experience with a difference, and game drives are never sure what they will find. Tents were large and comfortable. Staff was outstanding; so friendly and happy to see us. They greeted us at the entrance with a song and dance, along with a wonderful bar and snacks. Love those gin and tonics out in the bush!!
Savuti is famous for it’s enormous elephant population. In dry season, one can see four to five hundred elephants at one time.

Another View from the Tent- Vumbura Plains, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Vumbura Plains- view from the Tent

Vumbura Plains- Okavango Delta, Botswana

Vumbra Plains is one of Wilderness resorts’ premier properties. Each of the suites has been constructed with a totally private view of the delta floodplains, and are shaded by ancient, tall Jackalberry trees. The rooms are all open-plan in design and have a sunken lounge, spacious bedroom, over-large shower (in-door and outside too), dressing area and writing desk. The outside decks have a comfortable sala, with large comfy cushions to snooze on and of course a small plunge pool for those torridly hot days! There is 24 hour electricity and bed lights for those comfy evenings with a book just before going to sleep in spacious softness, with percale sheets and duvets. In the winter months, a hot-blanket or a hot water-bottle are available. These cabins are a luxury indeed. All of the suites are linked to the main lodge by a raised wooden walkway at the back of the suites that allows the hippo and other game unobstructed access to the river, and allows safe access for guests too. The main lodge with a large fronted service area is spacious, has a dining area, a lounge and a seating area that is slightly separate from the main lounge.
A birdwatcher’s dream, one can sit out on their private deck and be totally entertained.
We took small boats down the river late one afternoon and had sundowners on the boats all tied together. Sunsets in Africa are unforgettable.
Game drives were terrific-hippos, lions, giraffe , elephant, Kudu, Oryx, ending with an incredible leopard sighting. I really hated to leave Vumbra Plains after a very short two days.

Water Lily – Okavango Delta

Lilac Breasted Roller- Vumbura Plains Camp, Okavango Delta Botswana

Leopard Tracking – Vumbura Plains Camp, Okavango Delta Botswana

Sunrise Botswana- Jack’s Camp

Tracking Lions

Lion’s Call

Jack’s has no electricity after 5PM so when we returned to our tents for bed, we had lanterns. An interesting experience for me, I had never turned on a lantern, and when I move it it immediately went out- plummeting me in complete blackness. Fortunately I could put my hands on the trusty flashlight that Africa Inscribed had supplied us, ran out waving it, and got one of the staff to teach me the ins and outs of lighting and shutting down a lantern. Another new skill.
Next morning I was awakened by a lion’s roar- what a wakeup call!!
Game drive and bush breakfast were in store. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day. Then we hopped back on our lovely PC12 and flew off to Vumbra Plains

Trance Dance at the BaSarwa Bushmen’s camp- Botswana

An afternoon with the Bushmen- Jack’s Camp, Botswana

We had the pleasure of taking a walk with the local bushmen. Some the new skills we learned were eating sour berries, catching small wildlife with a stick trap, and cleaning a scorpion’s eyes. As the sun was setting, the tribe went into a trance dance in a circle around a fire. A totaling memorizing experience, it depends on the tribal chief’s mood. He and 2 elders dance around a fire with the tribal ladies chanting. He works himself into a trance, contacting his ancestors. Watching the fire, under a canopy of endless stars, with the dancing and chanting is an experience I will never forget.

Not Shy!

Checking out the Meerkats- Jack’s Camp, Botswana

Jack’s Camp

First stop was Jack’s Camp. The camp, named after Jack Bousefield, a legendary pioneer of this region, is a permanent, tented camp built with considerable elegance, understated style and by the soft lights of the paraffin lamps in the evenings. There are animals and birds that live here, not found anywhere else. The tents are decorated with Persian carpets, old period furniture, beds with wooden headboards and decorative drapes. Hot water and flush toilets add a comforting touch and the drapes around the beds in the bedroom area keep out the Mosquitos at night. Safari Chic.

Private Charter- The Way to Go!!

Our Africa Inscribed Pilatus PC12NG- YAY!

Traveling in Style with Africa Inscribed

We are on a journey with my favorite safari operators, Africa Inscribed.
Dylan Harriss and Gavin Ford started the company five years ago, and are a force to be reckoned with, on the safari scene. Based in South Africa, AI specializes in white glove private travel. Gavin, recognized as one of Africa’s premier guides has been escorting adventurers for over 30 years. They come by their expertise the expensive way, spending at least 200 days a year exploring, and experiencing camps and lodges all over Africa. No detail is too small. They build strong relationships with camp owners and staff. We partner with Africa Inscribed to make sure our clients have the best personal private experience .

Johannesburg is usually an overnight because international flights land too late in the day to connect with another airline. I recommend at least one day in Johannesburg for a tour with Robin Binckes who will do a visit to historical sites of South Africa starting with a breakfast intensive history of SA. By starting with a historical background, the entire trip takes on a different meaning if you are staying in SA.

Water Lily – Okavango Delta

Heart Song Africa

Traveling in Africa is a love affair .
When I wake up the first morning in Africa, I find my senses tingling.
It reaches into your heart and turns on a switch. You are alive, senses are on high alert.
Adjectives come to mind: clarity, primal, life changing, striking a deep cord, it is like coming home to a warm place.

The Glorius Saxon Hotel – Johannesburg South Africa

Having breakfast at the divine Saxon Hotel where Pinky found fresh sliced mango for me. Their breakfast buffet was beautifully presented. An expression of five star ethnic African elegance”is how the Saxon described and the attention to detail is amazing. The Saxon is better know to many as the location where Nelson Mandela edited his biography.  I wish I had more time to spend in Johannesburg. Today we are flying off to Botswana – Jack’s Camp on the edge of the Kalahari desert.

Saxon Hotel- Johannesburg South Africa

Highlights of the Starwood Luzury Showcase- Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai

Highlights of the Starwood Luxury Showcase- Al Maha

Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa in the desert outside of Dubai. A member of Starwood Luxury Collection, this resort is quite intriguing. Offering over the top desert tented experience, the Al Maha is in a category by itself. Activities include camel trekking, falconry, dune driving, archery, and wildlife exploration excursions.

Highlights of the Starwood Luxury Showcase

Chatwal Hotel NY- a Virtuoso property

Westin Riverside Hotel Chicago

The Starwood Luxury Showcase was held at the Westin Riverside hotel in Chicago. I was delightfully surprised at the comfort level of the rooms and the service. Rooms were bright and pleasant, personnel exceptionally courteous. A large breakfast was served in the Club lounge.
This hotel hosted the Luxury Showcase and the food served was really imaginative and very tasty. Table decor was beautifully set.

Next posting will be the highlights from the Luxury Showcase

Thrilled to have a write up in Virtuoso Life! 25 Must see destinations: Tanzania

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Highlights of PURE: Song Saa- Over the Water Bungalow


Image courtesy of Song Saa

Highlights of PURE: Tiger Blue luxury cruising Indonesia

Highlights of PURE

Highlights of PURE

My focus was mostly on SE Asia and Africa, but I found some incredible new properties and Suppliers from all over the world.

Song Saa-Cambodia- At the top of my list.
Brand new 5 star luxury island resort off the coast of Cambodia. To get there one would fly to Phonm Phen and helicopter, or fly to Siem Reap and fly a shuttle.

Tiger Blue- Indonesia – a beautifully fitted Charter Junk that sails the Indonesian islands.
Some set dates for 2013. Really looks like a spectacular option for SE Asia.

Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio- Uruguay-
Artistic, food and wine experience. Fabulous property combines with its sister resort 5 minutes away on the beach.

Denis Private Island- Seycelles
a lovely private island alternative to North Island, and Fregate. Cottages looked very comfortable, and lots of activities.

In Any Event- UK
Darling ladies that are incredibly connected to any country house or higher up in the UK. They have behind closed door access to private gardens, homes, people,etc.

Baines River Camp- Zambia- Luxury camp located on the Zambizi. Lodgings looked upscale and delightful.

Selous Camps in Tanzania- More authentic Safari experience.

Castiglion del Bosco- Near Siena owned by the Ferragamo family, this villa is done so beautifully and elegantly one could move here.

Villa des Orangers- Marrakech- The place to stay in Marrakech

Camp Ya Kanzi- Chyulu Hills, Kenya- Highly environmental luxury camp with a huge focus on giving back to the tribes that surround them.

Tsawlu Kalahari Reserve-South Africa Relais & Chateaux Luxury Camp on the Kalahari Desert. Everything is carefully thought out. Game drive at your leisure- service is designed to revolve around the guests and their wishes.

Maison des Reves- Morocco- Extraordinary Kasbah and Desert camp experiences.

Westin Palace Madrid

Westin Palace Madrid

I am impressed with the Westin Palace. It does not feel like a large hotel.
The concierge personally called me in the US before I left to make sure my transfer times were correct.
Transfers went beautifully, I was met at the airport after baggage claim.
Nice driver, spoke perfect English, not too chatty.
The car was a brand new Mercedes or BMW. It was dark.
Check in was speedy because I am a Starwood member and there is a dedicated place for members to check in.
I made arrangements for dinner at the Rotunda- their restaurant. Traditional elegant restaurant with a huge stained glass dome covering most of the round room.
Drinks were well presented, it was the largest G&T I have ever been served.
The Lobby was elegant, large and welcoming. Furnishings were Spanish antiques.
I was given an Executive suite and the television had a welcome to me on the screen.
Room 406 had a mirrored foyer/hallway, leading into the bedroom.
The room was short walk from the elevator.
There was a small balcony and the door opened for fresh air.
Rooms were inviting, bright, and large – you could actually put on makeup in the bathroom. One bedroom wall was dedicated to closets that were mirrored with a traditional window pane paneling.
I loved the hallways done with dark wood, but well lit and the carpeting was an elegant Persian pattern.
A great mix of tradition with our modern lifestyle. Comfortable, and wonderful personal service.

View from my table at the Westin Palace Madrid

Having Andalusian Gazpacho, and Filet of Sole. Love this hotel and crazy about Madrid!!

La Mamounia better than ever- Marrakech, Morocco

This is the result! Cocktail Party for PURE at the Sofitel Imperial Palace- Marrakech

Spectacular party.

Breakfast Sofitel Imperial Hotel Marrakech

Marrakech

PURE Conference in Marrakech, Morocco

One of the most coveted conferences to attend is the PURE conference in Marrakech. The conference committee scours the world for the best of the best and it shows. All of the suppliers are top notch. Perfect for learning about new destinations, hotels, camps, destination management companies, and most importantly new experiences. PURE is about experiential travel. I am privileged to be going and I hope to share my experience with my clients and friends. They are the ones that will benefit as much as I will.

Stunning new hotel in Ireland, Ballyfin- picture courtesy of Ballyfin Ireland

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Highlights of Virtuoso Week

A record 3900 consultants and suppliers from all over the world attended Virtuoso Week in Las Vegas. 312,000, 4 minute appointments were accomplished, bring the travel world together for their annual meeting.
Always fun and absorbing, one departs with complete brain overload.
For me, it brings new and wonderful resorts, tour companies, travel ideas, and reinforces ones I already know about.
Some of the new properties I discovered were Upper House (a spectacular hotel in Hong Kong), the fabulous new hotel Siam from Bangkok, Ballyfin, a stunning new manor house hotel in Ireland. A very pleasant surprise was hearing about a hotel thy has been right under my nose, the St.Regis Washington DC. Right across from the White House, it is a gorgeous property.
Starwood hotels have unveiled some new properties and reopened some new renovations like the Gritti Palace in Venice, St. Regis Bahia Resort in Puerto Rico, St.Regis Bal Harbor.
I always return home completely invigorated and ready to share my new destination ideas and activities. The energy and passion during Virtuoso Week is highly contagious.

Recipe- Organic Pumpkin Soup from Six Senses organic chef, Sebastiaan Seegers

From Six Senses Yao Noi, guests regularly comment on a dish they won’t let him take off the menu – Organic Pumpkin soup – the most frequent feedback asking “what do you put in it to get it to taste like that?!” – his answer……..”nothing – just pumpkin, but FRESH pumpkin, just picked”.
The difference is freshness….

Here follows Chef Sebastiaan Seegers pumpkin soup recipe
Pumpkins 1kg, peeled, seeded, cut in 1” cubes
Butter 70 g
Fresh thyme 1 g
Salt 8 g
Pink peppercorns 3 g
Gently sweat on moderate heat all the above ingredients until completely soft, covered with a lid (do not colour) This will take approximately 45 minutes – stir occasionally to ensure it does not burn.
Vegetable stock 1200 mls
Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 15 minutes
Blend will in liquidizer until completely smooth
Pass through a fine chinois
Check seasoning, add freshly ground black pepper, adjust consistency if necessary with more vegetable stock.

Recipe from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok- Pomelo Salad

YAAM SOM O GUB GOONG GAI
Herbed pomelo salad with prawns and chicken

Ingredients for dressing
50 g prawn, minced
25 g chicken, minced
200 g thick coconut milk
8 g chili paste oil
3 g chili paste
5 g salt
10 g lime juice
14 g white sugar
8 g coconut sugar

Method
In a sauce pan, heat 50 grams of the coconut milk over a medium heat then add the prawns and the chicken to stir-fry until cooked. Add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to the boil then mix in the chili paste and the chili paste oil. Season with the salt, white sugar, palm sugar and the lime juice to taste.

Ingredients for pomelo salad
300 g pomelo segment, flaked
200 g dressing (from above)
40 g chicken breast, boiled and shredded
70 g prawns, boiled
8 g shallots, deep-fried
4 g garlic, deep-fried
16 g peanuts, deep-fried
2 g coconut meat, shredded and roasted

Method
place the pomelo in a bowl; add in the prawns and chicken breast. Mix in the dressing and toss well. Then add in the shallots, garlic and peanuts. Toss lightly. Sprinkle with coconut meat and garnish with coriander leaves and shredded big red chilies.

Recipes from the Road – favorite dishes from the Mandarin Oriental

I am incredibly privileged to have received recipes for my favorite dishes from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Sticky rice with Mangos and Pomelo Salad. Here is the recipe for sticky Rice with Mangos from Executive Thai chef Vichit Mukura – Oriental Baan Rim Naan. His bio follows.

The Oriental Baan Rim Naam
KHOW NIEW MAMUANG
Coconut sticky rice with mango
 
 
Ingredients for coconut mixture (part 1)
1.5​cups​thick coconut milk
170​grams​white sugar
8 ​grams​salt
1 ​leaf​pandanus leaf
 
Method
- mix thick coconut milk, white sugar, salt and pandanus leaf together in a sauce pan and heat them over medium heat until boiling. Strain them and set aside
 
Ingredients for sticky rice (part 2)
2​cups​raw sticky rice (Khiew Ngoo)
 
Method
- rinse raw sticky rice until the water is transparent and soak them for 5 hrs. at least or over night , then rinse well again and strain them
- on the stainless tray with cheese cloth, put the rinsed sticky rice on and wrap them with the same cheese cloth and bring to steam for ½ hr. until cooked
 
How to do the coconut sticky rice
- pour the coconut mixture (from part 1) in cooked sticky rice (still hot
​from part 2), then stir them until well mixed, cover them tightly ​about 15 mins
- remove the cover and stir them again, then cover about 15 more mins to be well blended
- served the coconut sticky rice with ripe mango

Fruit and cold cuts portion of the breakfast buffet- Yao Noi

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Cruising the Islands near Krabi Thailand

Entering a secret lagoon- Krabi Thailand

Khun Annie

Best Butler I have ever encountered – taking notes on our daily needs. Number 1!

Recipe from the Thai restaurant Ritz Phulay Bay – Krabi Thailand

The best Thai Soup -Chicken in Coconut milk, I have ever tasted.

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Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay – Krabi Thailand

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Ritz Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay- Krabi Thailand

A little slice of heaven, I think this is one of the most beautiful hotels and settings I have ever experienced.  It was filmed in the movie Hangover 2 as the destination for the “wedding”.  Service is far beyond anything I have encountered, and Asian service is legendary!
Our butler is Kun Annie( Kun is a reference of respect), and I would REALLY  like to take her home. She sees after our every wish, from laundry to boat tours of the islands, arranging transfers to our next destination, trips into the village,  and as insignificant as how to to how to operate the TV.  She appears at  our poolside sala with pen in hand to take notes for our latest wishes. Oh my gosh. 
The resort has three restaurants, a Thai, an International, and a Seafood restaurant. 
We dined in the Thai restaurant last night, and the Chicken soup in Coconut milk was the best I have ever tasted. Tonight will be the Seafood restaurant.  
One other observation: the music at the pool is outstanding sort of Buddha Bar- Cafe Costes compilations. Recipes are coming from Phulay Bay’s French chef and I will post them soon.

Ritz Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay- Krabi Thailand

Stunning resort! Ritz Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay – Krabi Thailand

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok- like coming home

It’s the little things: being welcomed with jasmine bracelets
Orchids all over the room 
The elevator attendant that punches your floor without being told.
Being called by name by everyone. 
Ice, our maitre’d at breakfast,  who always has a plate of mangosteens and fresh sliced  mangos at my place.
Eating breakfast on the river- watching the ever vibrant boat traffic.
600 count sheets
Local fruit placed in our room everyday.
The hall butler who runs to unlock our door before I can fumble for my key
The white chocolate elephant with candies and personally signed welcome notes.
The pool beverages constantly being refilled without being asked
Smiles on every employee 
The night note on our pillow with an orchid
Bright lights in the bathroom 
Unlimited refreshing bath salts

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Pool

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Welcome note from the Mandarin Oriental

White chocolate elephant- yum!!!

One of 8 buffet tables at the Mandarin Oriental breakfast

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Singita Sabora Tented Camp- amazing food quality from a tent!

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Singita Sabora Tented Camp

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Recipes from the Road- Singita Grumeti Camps

Singita Sasakwa- image courtesy of Singita Sasakwa

Singita Sasakwa- image courtesy of Singita Sasakwa

Recipes from the Road: Singita Grumeti Sasakwa

Probably the finest resort in East Africa, Singita Sasakwa is unrivaled in elegance.
Patterned after an English Manor House, Sasakwa sits over the Grumeti Plain offering magnificent views of game below.

Recipes from the Road- picture courtesy of One and Only Capetown

ROASTED PEARS WITH ORANGE-DATE PUREE, BRANDY ANGLAISE AND CRISP CINNAMON WAIVERS

9 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1 cup sugar syrup
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pulp and pod of 1 vanilla bean
6 medjool dates, julienned, plus 3 chopped
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup water
Pear-brandy anglaisse

Cook the pears with the sugar syrup, lemon juice and vanilla pulp and pod over medium heat for 10 minutes or until tender.
To prepare the dates: cook the julienned dates in orange juice until just warm. Remove the dates and reserve the juice. Dice 2 tablespoons of the dates for garnish.
To make the date puree, place 3 chopped dates in a blender with the water and the reserved orange juice. Puree for three minutes or until smooth.

Pear-brandy anglaisse
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cream
½ ripe pear, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons brandy

Dissolve the sugar in the cream over medium heat. Add the pear and simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the pear is softened. Puree the mixture and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the brandy. Re-blend just before serving.

Crisp cinnamon, ginger wafers
1 cup caster sugar
4½ oz golden syrup
1 stick plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
4½ oz plain flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Combine sugar, golden syrup, butter, orange juice and zest in a sauce pan over low heat until the butter has melted. Stir thoroughly, and then remove from the heat. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the golden syrup mixture and stir until well combined and smooth. Drop small teaspoons of the batter onto the prepared baking trays, leaving 2 inches between each one to allow for spreading. Bake for 8 minutes, until an even golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

One and Only Capetown- picture courtesy of O&O

Recipes from the Road- One and only Capetown, about the chef

A fairly new luxury hotel on the scene is the One and Only Capetown . I love the location, down by the waterfront. They have a particularily good children’s program and it lives up to the One and Only reputation for ultra Luxe accomodations. I especially like the villas that are separate from the main building. The restaurants are fabulous: Nobu- yes that one, and the widly popular Reubens.
REUBEN RIFFEL, EXECUTIVE CHEF, ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN

Internationally recognized for his award-winning restaurants in the Franschoek wine valley, Reuben Riffel opened the eponymous Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town in October 2010, serving up wholesome bistro fare made from locally-sourced produce.

Having defied tremendous odds in apartheid South Africa to become one of Africa’s top chefs at 35, Reuben has come a long way from his home in Groendal where he grew up with 12 siblings. Required to live in an area allocated to Cape Coloreds, a mixed-race ethnic group, Reuben first mastered Cape Colored cuisine through his family, a style of cooking that continues to inspire him today.

Beginning as a kitchen hand, Reuben worked his way up the restaurant ranks in nearby Franschhoek, opening his first eatery there in 2004 that was promptly named South Africa’s Restaurant of the Year. Six months later he was named the country’s Chef of the Year. In 2008 he opened a second restaurant in Robertson, which led to the opening of his third restaurant in at One&Only Cape Town alongside the legendary Nobu.

The author of two celebrated cookbooks, Riffel’s most recent debut, Reuben Cooks Local, takes readers on a journey through one of South Africa’s most well-loved culinary repertoires showcasing local produce from the sea, earth, orchard and vine highlighting the sheer abundance of fresh local produce in South Africa and the Cape.

In November 2011, Riffel partnered with South African Airways to prepare some of his signature dishes for the airline’s Premium Class customers.

One and only also has a spectauclar wine cellar headed by Luvo Ntezo,
internationally recognized as one of the Best Young Sommeliers in South Africa.

Recipes from the road: Spice Village -Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Southern India

From time to time I come across a particularly special food item and I ask for the recipe. We were in Southern India at Spice Village Resort. We were amazed at the quality of the food there, of course all organically grown,fresh from the garden, and totally wholesome. The menus were inventive and presentation was beautiful. This is a small out of the way resort, so we had not expected great dining and we were pleasantly surprised!! We were up for an early morning hike and these cookies were piled on a large platter for fortification. Divine! Thanks to chef PJ Aneesh
WHOLE MEAL CHOCOLATE & COFFEE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

BUTTER 175 GRAMS
BROWN SUGAR 200 GRAMS
EGG (OPTIONAL) 1 NUMBER
PLAIN FLOUR 70 GRAMS
BAKING SODA 1 TEASPOON
WHOLEMEAL FLOUR 70 GRAMS
BRAN 1 TEASPOON
CHOCO CHIP 200 GRAMS
ROLLED OATS 85 GRAMS
COFFEE POWDER 1 TEASPOON
MULTIGRAIN MIXES 100 GRAM

METHOD

CREAM THE BUTTER & SUGAR .FOLD IN THE EGG TO IT.
MIX TOGETHER REMAINING ALL INGREDIENTS AND GENTLY MIX IT WITH THE BUTTER-SUGAR CREAM TO MAKE SMOOTH DOUGH.
TAKE AROUND 10 GRAMS OF MIX & PRESS IT BETWEEN THE PALMS TO GET A MEDALLION SHAPE.
PLACE IT ON A GREASED TRAY. REPEAT FOR THE ENTIRE DOUGH.
BAKE IT ON 160 C FOR 20-22 MINUTES.
REMOVE FROM OVEN & COOL IT ON WIRE RACK.

Chef from Spice Village, holistic retreat in Southern India

The Dollar is at a new high! Perfect time to travel!

The Euro is trading at 1.27- lowest in two years. Now is the perfect time to plan that trip to Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Prague, Germany or anywhere the Euro is traded. Now the luxury hotel you have been dying to see is in reach! Restaurants are affordable again! Cultural offerings are possible! I would love to help plan your dream trip. It’s a great value opportunity!

Amanzoe- Picture courtesy of Amanresorts

Amanzoe- Picture courtesy of Amanresorts

Amanresorts to open another spectacular property this summer- Amanzoe!

Amanresorts, the ultra luxurious collection of beyond fabulous hotel resort properties will open another resort this summer- Amanzo’e.
This from Anamresorts:
Comprising a 38-suite resort and an Aman Spa, Amanzoe is Amanresorts’ third Mediterranean retreat – the Greek complement to Montenegro’s Aman Sveti Stefan and Turkey’s Amanruya. Drawing its name from the Sanskrit-derived word for ‘peace’ and zoe (pronounced zoi), the Greek word for ‘life’, Amanzoe is situated on a hilltop close to the quaint town of Porto Heli on the east coast of the Peloponnese. The resort offers almost 360º panoramic sea views as well as a private Beach Club in a picturesque bay.
If it is anything like the other carefully thought out resorts, it will be a smashing success! Can’t wait to see!

Wellesley Knightsbridge opening in London 2012

I am delighted to hear that Stefano Lodi and his team are opening a fabulous new hotel in London – December 2012.
Located on one of London’s most prestigious addresses in Knightsbridge is the site for a new 36 suite luxury hotel scheduled to open on 1st December 2012, which will parallel the very best of hotels in the world.
The Wellesley, is located at 11 Knightsbridge, managed by City and Country Hotels and is being developed by Rhimesong at a cost of £36 million, the property was formerly commercial offices.
The hotel will take on both a contemporary and classic style with interiors created by award-winning design experts Fox Linton, combining the building’s 1920s art deco history and glamour with stylish contemporary touches. In addition to its 36 suites, the hotel will incorporate a Cigar Lounge and Terrace, The Crystal Bar, The Oval Restaurant, and the Jazz Room.
Can’t wait to see!

Favorite destinations- Masai Mara Kenya

I am fondly looking forward to my return to SE Asia.

I have started to plan my semiannual return to Bangkok, another visit to magical Myanmar, and site inspections in Krabi and Phuket Thailand.  Myanmar is a really hot travel destination and I want to do a run on the fabulous Road to Mandalay- the Orient Express cruise on the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar. I also want to check the iconic Strand Hotel  and Governor’s Residence in Yangon. I am so happy to see Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake again. The people of Myanmar are so dear, and so happy to have guests again visiting their country. I am including some pictures from my last visit. Visas are necessary for Myanmar so I have sent off my visa application. One has to apply 3 months out. Weather will be hot and humid- yay!

Harvest time at Vina Vik

 

We are delighted to find that we have arrived at harvest time!
Harvest depends on the perfect time of grape maturation – four factors influence the harvest timing: tannins, chemical analysis , maturation, and sugar level.
Grapes at Vina VIK are a combination of Carmenere and Cabernet Savignon , Merlot,  Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. The Vina Vik winery aims to be the top wine in Chile – 100 points. They also strive to be the greenest and most organic in Chile.  Tonight they begin picking the grapes at 1AM while it is cool. 
Vina VIK  vineyard is located 2 hours above Santiago. The valley is spectacular- green, green, green- mountains circle all around . Our host is Gonzague de Lambert.
One fact I learned: sulfites are in all wines for a fruit preservative. Vik keeps the sulfiltes very low for a more natural taste. A good harvest depends on weather conditions, light, rain, soil, the subjective decisions made during the growing year and the timing for harvest. 
Cristian Vallejo is the winemaker; he along with Gonzague, make an invincible team. The combination of vast winemaking knowledge, dedication to detail for the year in- year out effort and passion for great wine is impressive. I have no doubt Vina Vik Vineyards will have the number one red wine, and it will be very soon

Explora Patagonia

I tried my panorama lense.

Room at Explora Patagonia

Explora Patagonia lobby

Singular Patagonia

Top Hotels in Southern Chile

 

 
Singular Puerto Bories  Patagonia 
We stayed at the brand new Singular property near Puerto Natales in southern Patagonia
It was a sheep processing plant built between 1906 and 1914, and closed during WW11 . It is family owned and operated. The architect kept the factory fittings in the main building and added contemporary rooms onto one wing. 60 rooms and suites are in the hotel.  Rooms are large and very spacious in feel. Windows are floor to ceiling Bathrooms are well lit and spacious. The decor follows the industrial chic direction of the factory. Walls are  metallic, ceilings were cement color. Predominant colors were earth tones with  grey and black. contemporary feel. Uncluttered and pleasant. Meals and We found the restaurant delightful. 
 
One goes to Patagonia to hike, kayak, fish, horseback ride, mountain climb, rock climb. I have never in my life seen such glorious scenery.. Two major parks, the Andes mountain chain, lake and glaciers are your focus  One plus for Singular is they cover all of the area including Torres del Paine National Park. They also offer speedboating to see the Seranno and Balmaceda Glaciers, Patagonia Fiords and Lago Azul     The negative is that it takes 2 hours to drive to the park, so your day starts early.  Singular offers three activity levels for guests and about 30 offerings of trekking, biking, horseback riding, fishing and boating, kayaking. All guided by an expert staff.  They can be half day or whole day activities. One major note: in the summer one will be contending with gale force winds on you hikes. Be prepared with wind resistant clothing. 
 
Explora Patagonia 
It is all about the view at Explora. You are situated right in front of the Devil’s Horns in the 
Torres del Paine National Park.  Explora is situated in the middle of the park. The view is beyond breathtaking.  They also offer three levels of activities and about 35 choices of things to do. So activites can more flexible, which can be very good because the weather is often highly unpredictable .They have a strict 4 night minimum,  Singular does not have that restriction. The hotel seems more like a lodge. Rooms are smaller and more simple, as well as small bathrooms. But it is all about the view and convenience of being right in the park.  Explora also offers meals, transfers and activities. 

At the bottom of the world

Pool Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

Lobby Grand a hotel du Cap Ferrat

Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat in St Jean Cap Ferrat

Another fabulous hotel I visited was Grand hotel du Cap Ferrat in St Jean Cap Ferrat. Old world service, gorgeous rooms and public areas, a delightful pool at the bottom of the property that can be reached by a finicular. A Terrace restaurant that was so peaceful. Gardens again were beautiful. Their spa was awesome by the way- it leads out into it’s own private garden.  They have also done fabulous renovations and I am posting pictures of some of the rooms.

Lobby Hotel du Cap-heaven!

Lunch selection Eden Roc

Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc

I had the distinct privilege of being invited to lunch at Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc during ILTM.  They are closed for the season, so I got to see all the new renovations to the rooms. Divine! Hotel du Cap is probably the Grand Dame of the Cote d’Azur. It is legendary for it’s beauty, service food and location.  The vistas are grand indeed.  Gorgeous old gardens, the hotel is set in 22 acres of pine forest. 
The following description is from Wikipedia which says it all:
Built originally as a private mansion Villa Soleil (Villa of the Sun) in 1863, the Hotel du Cap, in Antibes on the French Riviera, first opened its doors to guests in 1870.
Gerald and Sara Murphy, a young American couple who had expatriated to France in the 1920s, once rented the hotel for an entire summer, a unique event for the era as the French Riviera was not a summer destination at the time, but a winter escape for the wealthy. With the Murphys came many legendary writers and artists of the Lost Generation, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
The hotel was for many years famously known for not accepting any kinds of credit cards. Cash only was accepted though most guests wired money ahead of their stay. In 2006 this policy was finally dropped.
This famous 5 star property is composed of 3 buildings : – The Hotel du Cap. – The Eden-Roc. – Les 2 Fontaines.
Each year, the managing director launches renewations in order to offer the best prestations. In 2011, the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc has received 3 awards for “the best rooms”, “the best european resorts” and “the most immaculate service”, which are the resultats of years of work for the managing team and also all the staff; all dedicated to the well-being of their guests.
Lots of famous firms and celebrities came and still come to the Hotel in order to organize events or just to enjoy the Riviera’s pleasures. The key-word is discretion, and that’s probably the key reason of the success of this property “one of a kind”.
The location is almost perfect : the Cap d’Antibes is between Nice and Cannes, and there are a lot of splendid spots to discover. Inside and outside the hotel, guests enjoy several activity. For example, inside the Hotel, there are two clay tennis court, a Spa with “La Prairie” treatments, a overflow swimming pool with an astonishing view on the mediterannean sea, fitness, shopping, hair dresser and of course 9 acres of verdure.
Guests can also enjoy the amazing “cabanas” : hidden in the roc in front the sea, the cabanas are a wonderful place to enjoy the sun and the sea.
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Suite Hotel du Cap

View from suite 33. Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc

Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc

Carlton hotel Nice – all done up for Christmas!

Cap Estel, Eze France

Lobby of Cap Estel, Eze

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Bar Cap Estel. Not for the faint hearted- gin and tonic was 18Euros.

Gardens Cap Estel

View from my terrace. Cap Estel. Eze

On my walk Las Alamandas

Nice place to have margaritas

Plunge pool

Pillows on a bed Las Alamandas

Room inspection Las Alamandas

I found the rooms at Las Alamandas to be bright, spacious, and authentically Mexican. I felt a great sense of place staying there. Renovations had been done recently and everything was light and very colorful. There is a choice of 30 pillows, and the linens were quite fine. Most of the rooms have jacuzzis, some have
private plunge pools. All are either oceanfront or ocean view. All the bathrooms have been recently renovated.
The only drawback is the 2 hour drive fro PV to the property, but the owner is exploring the air shuttle service from PV airport, and the transfer would be 30 minutes.

One of the rooms

Casa Isabelle-las Alamandas

View from one of the villas Las Alamandas

Unspoiled luxury Las Alamandas

Entry Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas a little gem near Puerta Vallarta

They don’t have Hydrangas like that in the South

I always forget how green and fresh the Hamptons are in July.

I travel to Montauk each summer to visit a client and friend. We plan his coming year’s travel adventures. He has been to so many places, it is really becoming a challenge. We are looking for more and more unique and exotic places. I love a good challenge. He is showing, and doing a book signing at the Bridgehampton Antique show this weekend, so I get to help.
Each time we pull into the Hamptons, we are greeted with clean cool breezes, and the most amazing trees and flowers. It was 73 degrees at 6PM last night. A divine break from 95+ in Georgia. Everything is green and fresh. The colors of the hydrangeas are a feast for my eyes. We cannot grow them like this in the South. All the lawns are manicured and the houses are so charming behind the very large hedges.
Restaurants are fabulous. Last night we ate at Sarafina, really delightful Italian. Tonight it will be East by Northeast in Montauk- rated best on the village.

St. Regis Atlanta is offering a great Brownell Travel weekend rate.

The fabulous St. Regis Atlanta is offering a Brownell Travel weekend rate of $209.00 per night plus tax, till the end of the year. The rate can be reserved through any Brownell or Sterling Brownell consultant if rooms are available.

Cottars 1920′s camp

A good comment from Dylan Harriss of Africa Inscribed, about choosing a camp in the Maasai Mara

I think the most important thing when choosing a property in the Mara is it must be on a concession within the park….this will allow good game viewing with limited vehicles around as well as having the option of going into the actual reserve should the guests want. We really like Mara Plains and Cottars for this reason.

Tent 14 Olonana

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Olonana view from the bed

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Olonana Masai Mara- one of my favorite camps in Kenya. View from Tent # 3 deck

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Deck of main house, Sirikoi -Lewa Downs, Kenya

Sirikoi living room

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Sirikoi main house living room

Sirikoi Main House -deck and pool on north side

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Sirokoi / villa bathroom- fab new camp Lewa Downs

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Sirokoi/ Villa bedroom-Another fabulous new camp – this one in Northern Kenya, Lewa Downs

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View when riding at Ol Donyo

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Bathroom with huge tub Ol Donyo Wuas

Ol Donyo Wuas family suite terrace

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Ol Donyo Wuas family suite with plunge pool

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End of the day on the Mara

Leopard sighting.

Arrived Nairobi. Our guides: Gavin Ford and Dylan Harriss of Africa Inscribed

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Catherine Whitworth CTA

Riding in Kenya at Ol Donyo Waus

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On top of the Copties, Chyulu Hills Kenya

Thunderstorm boiling up in the Mara

Birds at Lewa House

Bedroom Sirokoi

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Sirokoi

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Sailing on a Dhow in Lamu

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Garden House Lamu Kenya

Morning sunlight on the crystal and silver -Singita Sabora Tented Camp Tanzania

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Bush Breakfast Grumeti Plains Tanzania

Fabulous stables at Singita Saskwa Tanzania. You should see the Tack room!

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Livingroom Singita Saskwa

Exciting new mobile tented camp at Singita Grumeti

Most glam Luxury tent at Singita Sabora Tanzania

Dining tent Singita Sabora Tanzania

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On top of the Copties , Chyulu Hills

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Last night in Tanzania-photo courtesy of Caroline Wallace