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

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

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Marrakech

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.

Thai Chef’s Table- Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

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Mandarin Oriental Bangkok launches Chef’s Table

MANDARIN ORIENTAL, BANGKOK LAUNCHES BANGKOK’S FIRST EVER THAI CHEF’S TABLE AT SALA RIM NAAM
February 2012 – Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has launched an exclusive “Chef’s Table” at its’ iconic restaurant, Sala Rim Naam. The first time ever by a Thai restaurant in Bangkok, our 25 year hotel veteran Thai Executive Chef Vichit Mukura, also of the popular national TV program “Best Thai Chef”, will provide culinary connoisseurs or simply ‘food lovers’, a rare opportunity to experience first-hand the “inner” workings of one of the most dynamic gourmet kitchens in the world whilst indulging in first-class cuisine.
The Chef’s Table, set in the heart of the kitchen, allows diners a behind-the-scenes VIP pass to interact with award-winning Chef Vichit and watch the ‘Master’ in action as he prepares a bespoke, exclusive Thai menu based on the handpicked selection of the day’s freshest local and imported ingredients. “I personally select only the freshest produce for the enjoyment of guests. Quality is paramount and brings out the true flavours of Thai cuisine at their best,” said Chef Vichit.
Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed into the iconic, Grand Palace inspired decorative restaurant by Chef Vichit to enjoy a welcome cocktail and being personally escorted for a private tour of the kitchen before being seated at the Chef’s Table.
Throughout this unforgettable evening, Chef Vichit and his team of expert chefs will constantly interact with diners and present the assorted ingredients for guests to select and then gain their input into the planning of the evening’s custom crafted, personalised menu. Guests will enjoy informal master class style sessions throughout the duration of dinner, and watch and learn as Chef Vichit plates up deliciously prepared and authentic Thai fare right in front of diners.

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

Sticky Rice with Mango

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Fabulous new hotel in Bangkok- the Siam

The Siam, a spectacular luxury hotel that has just opened in Bangkok in June, lives up to all it’s abundant  hype.  A Bill Bensley design, it is a feast for the eyes. Owned by a prominent family in Bangkok, I heard Mr. Bensley was given carte blanche to do whatever he felt was appropriate. I have to say it is one of his best efforts. 
Mr. Bensley incorporated four of Jim Thompson’s houses with contemporary elements ( Jim Thompson – fascinating American character that single  handedly started the Thai Silk industry after World War 2 and disappeared in the 60′s after walking into the Malaysian jungle- www.jimthompson.com. A whole subject unto himself.) 
 One of the owners is a prolific antique collector; a popular actor and singer, his collection is seen everywhere.  As a former antique dealer, I was blown away with his enthusiastic , eclectic collection. The hotel even has a screening room.  On either side of the screen is a collage of old movie tickets on a pair of panels.  One of the restaurants, with highly regarded Thai cuisine, utilizes one of the  antique Thai houses. Food was excellent and the setting was delightful. Located on the Chao Praya, in the elegant Dusit neighborhood one is in a more peaceful part of the city.  The hotel is planning to take clients sightseeing by boat- the Grand Temple is nearby. Another interesting aspect of activities offered at the Siam is kickboxing. The hotel has a ring and lessons for guests in their ample, enormous gym.  As a  guest, one can take lessons, and if you stay long enough , you will become a proficient kick boxer!  Hmmm… 

Walkway Siam Bangkok

Screening room, Siam Bangkok

Note the “film” border on the floor and the collage of old theatre tickets on the sides of the screen.

Traditional side of the Siam Bangkok

Personal Plunge pool, Siam Hotel Bangkok

The Siam! Brand new luxurious hotel in Bangkok. Wow!!!

Part of the breakfast buffet- a gazillion jelly choices, all homemade! Yao Noi

View of Phang Nga Bay from the Hilltop Bar- Six Senses Yao Noi

Mesmerizing!!!!

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

Cruising the Irrawaddy River on the Road to Mandalay

One of the highlights of our visit to Burma is a cruise on the ship Road to Mandalay. 
An Orient Express owned operation that lives up to it’s elegant, amazing reputation. 
I have never seen any company work as hard at making your travel experience truly unforgettable, be it one of their hotels, trains or cruises. Nothing is overlooked, top notch at every point. Fine dining, spacious cabins, amazing service, spectacular in every way-as one would expect from Orient Express. We departed from Mandalay and sailed on the Irrawaddy River downstream to Bagan.  Delightful at every turn, it is an experience I heartily recommend.

Governors suite -Road to Mandalay

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Governor’s Suite – Road to Mandalay

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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

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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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.

Temple ruins Inle Lake, Myanmar

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!

Repost of our tiger tracking adventure

We are now in Ranthambore Preserve- the biggest and best of all. It was the hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur.The park was nationalized b y the Brisitsh and turned into a park in 1974. We had the distinct pleasure of meeting the first park director Fateh Singh rathore, who photographed the tigers in that park for 30 years. His driver for those 30 years had a son Salim Ali, and Salim was our guide. I would send any client with Salim unless he is off filming with a crew from BBC, National Geographic or Toby Sinclair. Toby did the film Land of the Tiger- a must see on National Geographic channel and it was our privilege to have him with us guiding the trip the all the way until he had to leave in VarNASI. He is off working on a film about the black Tiger at the present.
We sighted 2 tigers the first days at Ranthambore, and on the 2nd afternoon had an unbelievable adventure!

To be continued….

Suhail Gupta, me, Salim Ali, Martha Gaughen

Best tiger experience on the last day, last drive

Explora Patagonia

View from Explora Patagonia. Hard to beat

Explora Patagonia lobby

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. 

View from Explora Patagonia

Brownell weekend- best bosses in the world.

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Suites with plunge pools. Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

Pool Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat

Lobby Grand a hotel du Cap Ferrat

Suite Hotel du Cap

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

ILTM: International Luzury Travel Market

I am attending Intenational Luxury Travel Mart in Cannes this week and I decided to come in early to check out some highly regarded properties on the Cote D’Azur in France.
My first stay was at Cap Estel and it turned out to be as wonderful as all the feedback I had received from clients.
It is located below Eze on the edge of the water. The views of course are of the sea the rocky cliffs of Eze plunge straight down to the water, and the gardens are impeccable. Cap Estel was a large villa that was completely renovated into a very comfortable small hotel. It retains the intime homelike feeling. It has sea view rooms and many suites ending with 2 four bedroom suites that would be perfect for a family. It is also perfect for a small wedding. The grounds are perfect for a ceremony and there are several places for cocktail receptions. The pool is an infinity edge and the views are to die for. Rooms are bright white with complimentary color highlights. Bathrooms are also large and bright and have a heated floor. Service was very attentive and pleasant. I will be happy to return there. I am enclosing some pictures of the property.

Sunrise Shanghai

Bund View Deluxe room- Ritz Carlton Pudong Shanghai

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Club level Ritz Carlton Pudong-Shanghai

TV Radio tower Shanghai

A delightful stop at the Ritz Carlton Georgetown

After a 2 hour wait on the runway, any destination would be great, but I found that the Ritz Carlton Georgetown to be delightful. It was originally the incinerator for DC. Ritz bought it and renovated it in 2003. It still retains the 4 story tall chimney which is used for special parties and private dinners. Very dramatic. Lobby is industrial chic with a fireplace and comfortable seating. It is a small, more intime hotel and the service is impeccable. Everyone addressed me by name from Kerem the Front office manager, to Alice Lehimdjian- director of sales, and Catherine Hewitt senior sales manager. Rooms are large and bright. Bathrooms are huge. Mine had a soaking tub- yay! Colors ar subtle. You cannot go wrong with choosing this hotel if you want to be in Georgetown. On my way to Shanghai tomorrow.

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.

Tent 14 Olonana

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Olonana view from the bed

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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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Riding in Kenya at Ol Donyo Waus

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On top of the Copties, Chyulu Hills Kenya

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

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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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Last night in Tanzania-photo courtesy of Caroline Wallace

India …

I am assaulted with a riot of color in the the structures, cars, costumes and sari’s. The simplest worker on the road is colorful and elegant. There is a dignity and peacefulness with the people we meet. They are so happy to meet us- their smiles light up their faces.

Toby Sinclair, our illustrious leader, is a bottomless fount of information about Indian History. Toby tidbits: there is a connection with New England and Southern India. Ice was shipped from NE. It was packed in sawdust in the early 1700′s and was a huge industry. The ship took 6 months to get from new England to Madras. It was off loaded to an icehouse in Madras. There were icehouses in Calcutta and Bombay also. The ice came from “kettle ponds” in Massachusetts. Walden’s pond was one of the Kettle Ponds.

Taj Mahal Bombay

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of staying at the venerable Taj Bombay. I am delighted to say the renovation is perfect and it is ready for Primetime!! The colors are fresh and appealing everywhere I went, especially in the public rooms. The service was impeccable as only India can do it. I will place clients there with great confidence that they are in impeccable hands.

View of Dome -Taj Mumbai

View of the dome Taj Mumbai

Working our way through Southern India

I am assaulted with a riot of color in the the structures, cars, costumes and sari’s. The simplest worker on the road is colorful and elegant. There is a dignity and peacefulness with the people we meet.  They are so happy to meet us- their smiles light up their faces.
Toby Sinclair, our illustrious leader, is a bottomless fount of information about Indian History. Toby tidbits: there is a connection with New England and Southern India. Ice was shipped from NE. It was packed in sawdust in the early 1700′s and was a huge industry. The ship took 6 months to get from new England to Madras. It was off loaded to an icehouse in Madras. There were icehouses in Calcutta and Bombay also. The ice came from “kettle ponds” in Massachusetts. Walden’s pond was one of the Kettle Ponds.

PURE

I have the privilege of attending the PURE conference for the first time this year. I, for one, am thrilled!  Setting up appointments has been a most interesting learning experience, but more about that later. I will be staying at  villas des Orangers, la Sultana, and Kashbah tamadot.

PURE’s focus is experiential travel. Experiential Travel – As defined by PURE: ‘A journey away from home, involving a truly memorable and powerful experience (active, cultural, natural, social or spiritual)
 that will enrich a person’s life and improve the way they connect with both loved ones and with the world’.
 
 This is from their newsletter
PURE Life Experiences wants to keep you one step ahead of the latest travel trends and innovations in the travel business. As the world becomes more conscious of ethical and sustainable issues our aim is to embrace these factors and to help our members identify, manage and thrive from these challenges. As our conference speakers are getting excited about initiating a movement we want you to join us and be a part of it. PUREists around the world can learn how to be more ethical and sustainably advanced whilst also increasing profitability. It’s simply looking at things from another angle and understanding best practice.
 
PURE  is being held in Marrakech. Participating hotels are : 
Es Saadi Gardens & Resort
La Mamounia 
La Sultana
Naoura Lucien Barriere Hotel & Ryads
Royal Mansour, Marrakech
Sofitel Palais Imperial
 
I do a good deal of active and cultural travel, and meeting with that type of supplier would be very valuable and very informative

Site visit to Amangiri in Utah- Wow!!

View from a room

Pool at Amangiri wraps around a mesa.

Sight from a Mesa View suite

I was invited to visit the new Amangiri while I attended the Virtuoso Conference in Las Vegas.

 What a day! We started by being treated to a helicopter flight to the bottom of the Grand Canyon by Papillion Air. They are the ones that you want to contract for a helicopter excursion to see the Grand Canyon. Wow, wow, wow  is all I can say!!! Upon landing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Aman Resorts hostesses brought out the Champagne!! Veuve Clicquot no less- I love that orange lable!  Nothing short about those cute girls! We then flew on the the fabulous Amangiri Resort. We got to look at all the amazing rooms, suites and Spa. They are set up in the middle of the most gorgeous and emormous boulders in the desert. The most amazing views I have seen in a while. Most guests say that they did not stay long enough. There is so much to do.  Boasting one of the most dramatic landscapes in the USA with deep canyons and towering plateaus, the region has been home for centuries to the native Navajo and Hopi tribes yet is sparsely populated and presents the raw landscape for which the American Southwest has become famous. Activities include 

treks, guided hikes and biking

Amangiri guests may enjoy treks and guided hikes, customised rock climbing, via ferrata (fixed climbing routes) and canyoneering, as well as recreational and advanced biking. Our expert team of guides can teach guests the basics of GPS navigation, map reading, rope techniques and desert travel, as well as providing an introduction to the ecology, geology and human history of the area. For guests who are interested in a more in-depth study of this diverse environment, Amangiri will arrange for expert scientists, geologists and naturalists from the region to be available for tours and lectures.

boating trips

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, with the pristine waters of Lake Powell, slickrock domes and sandy bays, provides access to some of the most amazing scenery and geological formations on the Colorado Plateau, as well as numerous prehistoric cliff dwelling and rock art sites. Named in honour of Civil War veteran and explorer John Wesley Powell, the lake has almost 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) of shoreline. Boating day trips provide the ideal platform for enjoyment of the turquoise waters where guests may swim and kayak. For those who enjoy fishing, the lake is famous for its striped bass, walleye and largemouth bass.

archaeological tours

Guests may also experience the history and culture of the region with Amangiri’s natural history, palaeontology and archaeological tours which provide insight into species diversity, prehistoric occupation, Navajo storytelling, culture and art.

scenic tours

From hot air ballooning and scenic helicopter or fixed wing flights to equestrian adventures departing directly from the resort, guests have a unique opportunity to experience the area’s sweeping landscape, canyons, peaks and mesas.
Amangiri is the ideal launching pad to enjoy customised National Park and Monument Tours to the Grand Canyon’s North and South Rims, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Rainbow Bridge, Grand Staircase – Escalante, Vermillion Cliffs National Monuments and Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation – the largest Native American Nation in the US covering over 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles).

I am quoting their website.   http://www.amanresorts.com/amangiri/home.aspx

I am definately going back when I can really stay and explore the area.

Your travel wish list!

Between August 16 and 20, I will be at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for Virtuoso’s annual professional show, Travel Mart.
While in Las Vegas, I will have appointments with representatives from hundreds of Virtuoso hotels, cruise lines and tour companies.
The contacts I make during these meetings are the people with whom I work when you have special requests with Virtuoso properties around the globe.
Building these relationships is an integral part of representing you best.
I would love for you to help me make the most of this important trip.
Before I leave town, if you would, do a little dreaming!
Please send me a personal “wish list”, by email, with a few destinations you would like to visit over the next few years. This way I will be able to keep an eye out for your travel interests during my meetings. Also if you have specific questions for any properties, please share those and I will do my best to have them answered directly by their representatives.
Thank you for taking the time to send me your list.
I look forward to planning special trips for you after I return

 

Breakfast at the Chao Praya & Gerry’s favorite Maître d’ at the Oriental!

More on the magnificent Balinese hotels …

In spite of the ever growing traffic, and development, Bali still has that indefinable magic. The Balinese are still so happy to see us, the hotels are still amazing, the temples are still thriving, great restaurants are growing in number. Craftsmanship is incredible. Bali is one of the best places in the world to shop. For five star hotels, Amandari, Amankila, Amanusa, Four Seasons Sayan, Jimbaran and Bulgari are going strong. The most pleasant surprise was the Bulgari Uluwatu. Very glamorous really beautiful hotel. The bathtub was bigger than most hotel’s plunge pools. In the more moderate range was the Chedi Club- delightful, Uma- with a more health oriented clientel in Ubud, and the Legian Club in Seminyak. In a differnet category, the Tugu- chock full of antiques and more traditional, in Canguu.
I hated to leave.

Summer Specials at Rosewood Estates!

Wiggling your toes in warm sands amid cool ocean breezes. Stargazing from your own private plunge pool. Immersing in culturally vibrant cityscapes. Treasuring singular experiences with a special someone or the entire family. Making time to escape… With Rosewood Escapes enjoy: Our best summer rates + Complimentary daily breakfast for 2 CARIBBEAN – MEXICO – CALIFORNIA – NEW YORK – DALLAS – SANTA FE – ATLANTA – CANADA

Visit http://www.interactivesites.com/dartmail/rosewood160/header.jpg for details!

 Call Catherine Whitworth Sterling Brownell 706 7143766 catherinew@sterlingtvl.com

AAAAHHH Capella Resort Specials-A Brownell Exclusive!

Capella Resorts of North America are the brightest new stars in the Virtuoso collection. Capella has also tapped Brownell travel advisors to be among the first to sample and introduce their properties to our clients. Our most seasoned advisors have visited each of the resorts below and have returned truly WOW’ed by their spectacular service, views, food, amenities, interiors and access to local culture and activities. Take a look below at exclusive offers: Capella Pedregal (Cabo San Lucas) www.capellapedregal.com * CLASSIC CAPELLA * Indulge in a relaxing Mexican getaway at the beautiful oceanfront setting of Capella Pedregal with this weekend getaway package including breakfast for two and your 3rd night free. Rates from $475 for two nights, $0 for 3rd. Book Dates: Now – Ongoing Stay Dates: Now – December 18, 2010 * ESCAPE TO CABO * Take a break from the world with this four-night package featuring daily breakfast and resort credits from $100 — $350 per day. Fourth night free. Rates from $550 per night for 3 nights, $0 for 4th night. Book Dates: Now – Ongoing Stay Dates: Now – December 18, 2010 Additional Brownell-Exclusive Amenities Upgrade Upon Arrival subject to availability Daily Breakfast for Two per bedroom $100 Spa Credit * Traveling with a group or family? Capella Pedregal also has 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom casitas and villas that can accommodate up to 10 guests. Each come with full kitchens and your own private butler. Rates from $1500 per night for 2 nights, $0 for 3rd. Capella Ixtapa www.capellaixtapa.com * BUY 1, GET1 FREE! * Stay at Capella Ixtapa between now and May 31 and receive EVERY second night complimentary. Rates from $395 for 1st night, $0 for 2nd night. Booking Dates: Now – April 6, 2010 Stay Dates: Now – May 31, 2010 * LONGER WEEKEND ESCAPE * Escape to the peace and serenity of Capella Ixtapa with this four-night package featuring daily breakfast and resort credits from $100 — $250 per day. Fourth night free. Rates from $395 per night. Booking Dates: Now – Ongoing Stay Dates: Now – December 18, 2010 Additional Brownell-Exclusive Amenities Upgrade Upon Arrival subject to availability Daily Breakfast for Two One Complimentary Dinner for Two Capella Telluride www.capellatelluride.com * LAST-MINUTE Ski Package * Telluride is truly a skier’s paradise. This last-minute offer includes 4th night free, daily breakfast for two, and daily ski passes. Rates from $520 per night for 3 nights, $0 for 4th. Book Dates: Now – April 4th, 2010 Stay Dates: Now – April 4th, 2010 * SUMMER STAY * The only thing that rivals the excitement and stunning views of Capella Telluride in the ski season, is Capella Telluride in the off-season! EVERY weekend there is a festival to enjoy in Telluride. Jazz, Blues, Arts, Film and Blues and Brews festival! Rates from $260 per night for Summer stays. Additional Brownell-Exclusive Amenities Upgrade Upon Arrival subject to availability Daily Breakfast for Two per bedroom $100 Hotel Credit I’m ready to start planning as soon as you’re ready to get away! Catherine Whitworth An independent associate of Sterling Brownell Travel Telephone 706 714 3766 catherinew@sterlingtvl.com

India – as corrected by Toby Sinclair!

I asked Toby Sinclair my friend, guide and ultimate authority for all things India to correct a paragraph or two of my blog. It was so amusing, I am putting in the whole thing corrections and all. Corrections are in CAPS. Enclosed is a picture of him.
Let me start by saying that Tigers and Leopards are extremely elusive. Chances of seeing them are slim and none. The only consolation is that there are many many other fascinating animals to see in the parks. Chittle (CHITAL) deer and Samba (SAMBAR) Deer, Sloth Bears, White monkeys with black faces (HANUMAN LANGURS), Eagles, Kingfishers, Storks, cranes, and a large variety of predator birds.
At this time of the year game drives are very very cold in the morning. One needs glove, stocking caps, windbreakers, and fleece jackets. You can peel off layers, but it is really cold (WHEN YOU SET OUT IN THE HALF LIGHT BEFORE DAWN). The lodges supply hot water bottles and blankets, and you need al of it. You must have good binoculars and a long lens camera. Often the tigers and leopards are in brush and (BUT NOT NECESSARILY) far away. Afternoons get warm so you can take off layers. Drive can be very dusty, hot, and very very bumpy. There can be long periods of seeing nothing but beautiful jungle. Some jungles are teak, some are of a wood called Saab, and some are semitropical.
The parks we visited were Pench, Kahna (KANHA), Bangadavgarh (BANDHAVGARH), and Panna. We saw tigers and one leopard in the first three, and the last Panna was beautiful. There is an amazing temple complex called Khujahjo (AT KHAJURAHO)- I am slaying the spelling- that one should absolutely not miss when in Middle (CENTRAL) India. The Lodges were all different and each had it’s own personality: Baghvan, Banjar Toli (TOLA)- tented camp-Mahua Kohti (KOTHI), and Pasha Garh.
We are now in Ranthanbor (RANTHAMBHORE TIGER RESERVE) Preserve- the biggest (BY NO MEANS THE BIGGEST) and best of all. It was the hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur.The park was nationalized by the Brisitsh (NO…IT REMAINED WITH THE JAIPUR FAMILY TILL THE EARLY 1960S)  and turned into a park in 1974. We had the distinct pleasure of meeting the first park director Fateh Singh rathore, who photographed the tigers in that park for 30 years. His driver for those 30 years had a son Salim Ali, and Salim was our guide. I would send any client with Salim unless he is off filming with a crew from BBC, National Geographic or Toby Sinclair. Toby did the film Land of the Tiger- a must see on Nat Geo channel(6 HOURS FOR THE BBC/PBS) and it was our privilege to have him with us guiding the trip the all the way till he had to leave in Varanasi. He is off working on a film about the Black Tiger at the present.
We sighted 2 tigers the first days at Ranthambore, and on the 2nd afternoon had an unbelievable adventure! To be continued….

The last day …

For the last afternoon game drive at Ranthambore only Martha Gaughan,
Suhail and I visited the park. The rest of the girls stayed at
Vanyavilas.  Upon entering the second gate to the park, we had the privilege of meeting Salim’s father who was Fateh Singh Rathore’s driver( the 1st
director of Ranthambore National park). Salim’s father drove Fateh
Singh Rathore for 30 years, and they photographed tigers for 8 books.
As I wrote in the last blog, Salim’s father  looked at us and said”the
tigress awaits”. Which of course threw us into a fit of excitement.
True to his word and because Salim is such an instinctive guide, we
saw a rare happening- a tiger charging a Shambar deer!
THEN we followed the tiger(who missed the deer) 2 more times and that
video is also amazing.

Getting ready to tiger track – cold early morning

Getting ready to tiger track on elephants

Tiger sighting!

India … Highlights so far!

Let me start by saying that Tigers and Leopards are extremely elusive. Chances of seeing them are slim and none. The only consolation is that there are many many other fasinating amimals to see in the parks. Chittle deer and Samba Deer, Sloth Bears, White monkeys with black faces, Eagles, Kingfishers, Storks, cranes, and a large variety of predatory birds.
At this time of the year, game drives are very, very cold in the morning. One needs glove, stocking caps, windbreakers, and fleece jackets. You can peel off layers, but it is realy cold. The lodges supply hot water bottles and blankets, and you need all of it. You must have good binoculars and a long lense camera. Often the tigers and leopards are in brush and far away. Afternoons get warm so you can take off layers. The drive can be very dusty, hot, and very very bumpy. There can be long periods of seeing nothing but beautiful jungle. Some jungles are teak, some are of a wood called Saab, and some are semitropical.
The parks we visited were Pench, Kahna, Bangadavgarh, and Panna. We saw tigers and one leopard in the first three, and the last Panna was beautiful. There is an amazing temple complex called Khajurao that one should absolutely not miss when in Middle India. The Lodges were all different and each had it’s own personality: Baghvan, Banjar Toli- tented camp-Mahua Kohti, and Pasha Garh.
We are now in Ranthanbor Preserve- the biggest and best of all. It was the hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur.The park was nationalized b y the Brisitsh  and turned into a park in 1974. We had the distinct pleasure of meeting the first park director Fateh Singh rathore, who photographed the tigers in that park for 30 years. His driver for those 30 years had a son Salim Ali, and Salim was our guide. I would send any client with Salim unless he is off filming with a crew from BBC, National Geographic or Toby Sinclair. Toby did the film Land of the Tiger- a must see on National Geographic channel and it was our privilege to have him with us guiding the trip the all the way until he had to leave in VarNASI. He is off working on a film about the black Tiger at the present.
We sighted 2 tigers the first days at Ranthambore, and on the 2nd afternoon had an unbelievable adventure!
To be continued….

Toby Sinclair – Our world renowned tour guide!

One of the most amazing parts of this journey is our tour guide, the world famous conservationist, filmmaker and photographer, Toby Sinclair.  He was responsible for the India volume of the Planet Earth Series

More information about his experience can be found http://www.indiasafaris.com/the_photographer

Adventures in India … and so it begins!

I am en route to India with good friends and am thrilled!  We will be tiger tracking from January 21 returning February 15 and visiting five star properties throughout India.  Please follow along with me – I will update you daily with photos and videos of this wonderful adventure! 

cnn.com article “7 Trips you should NEVER book online!”

Fantastic article about the benefits of using a trusted travel professional on cnn.com by Christopher Elliott, Tribune Media Services. Very informative: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/01/15/booking.travel.online/index.html?hpt=Sbin

Exclusive: St. Regis Atlanta

Brownell and Sterling Brownell Travel were just given an extension to the exclusive weekend rate for St. Regis Atlanta. Good till the end of the year!!! $199.00 per night! Start planning your anniversaries and birthdays! Call your Trusted Travel Advisor at Brownell! To find more information about the hotel and location, visit their web site: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis/property/photos/index.html?propertyID=1714&iATANumber=#photo_section_1Link

2009 Africa and Tanzania

One of my very favorite adventures this year was an unbelievable trip to South Africa and Tanzania. Saw the Singita Grumeti Camps-Sasakwa, faru Faru, and Sabora, Palahala Lodge, and Lupita on Lake Tanganika.

A little TOO close!