Archive | January, 2013

Luxury Honeymoon in Europe

Over a year and half ago I recieved a call from the soon to be bride of a family whose travel I’ve planned for years. The bride came from a high profile family and was marrying into an even higher profile family. The grooms family maintains serious residences all around the world. The couple explained that they didn’t want to stay at any of the family homes as they want to create their own special memory. They were in their 20’s, rich and beautiful. They wanted the luxury honeymoon in Europe for a month.

I knew the managers at the hotels I was sending them to so that part was easy. The couple were so enthuastic and amazing to work with. In fact, they were very low key. I didn’t have to worry about air tickets as they were using the family jet.

While they were on the Honeymoon I received a couple of very happy text messages. That really didn’t surprise me as anyone going on a trip that I plan is going to be happy. I was planning a trip for her parents and mentioned that I was going to call her daughter as I hadn’t heard from her.

The next day I got this email.

Hey Richard

My Mom mentioned that we hadn’t touched base after the honeymoon to let you know how it went! I figured I’d fill you in our experience – better late than never.

We are so glad we stayed in Paris for the first part of the trip, as we really did have a

Royal Monceau

Royal Monceau

lovely time there. The private bike tour you organized was an amazing way to see the city and all of its charming little enclaves and we absolutely loved the Royal Monceau! What a great hotel….It was certainly one of the most fantastic places I’ve stayed so I’m glad we took your advice and decided to go for something a little more contemporary when it came to that.

The Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc was spectacular and so classic. Our room was gorgeous and our experience there was very much what we had expected

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

from a honeymoon. Lots of delicious breakfasts on our private terrace and laying out by the sea. We also enjoyed the Ferrari as we made many excursons to small villages, where we bought ourselves a beautiful painting from a local artist.

On to the Splendido! I have to say that was one of my favorite places on the trip. I loved the history of the hotel and the simplicity of the little town by the sea. What a beautiful drive that was from the south of France to Portofino!

Bar at Hotel Splendido

Bar at Hotel Splendido

(Oh and they had the BEST Bellini I’ve ever had.)I actually thought Portofino was more charming than Positano!.
Having said that Le Sirenuse was a blast and we even met the owner one night at the bar. He bought us drinks, which was a really nice gesture. Also had a stellar trip to the spa there. I wanted to kick my new husband when we went to Capri
Le Sirenuse, Positano

Le Sirenuse, Positano

(remember, he really didn’t want to go there) because I truly loved it and could have easily spent more time
Fontalina - Capri Guide

Fontalina – Capri Guide

there. I will say the boat experience you arranged was probably the best day of the trip. Swimming through the grottos was amazing as was that restaurant you recommended by the sea….I think it was La Fontelina and it actually might have been my favorite meal of the trip.

Ravello was another charming place and I was so glad to be staying at the at the Caruso Hotel. It was the end of a wonderful month and the perfect

Hotel Caruso, Ravello

Hotel Caruso, Ravello

place to unwind.

Sorry for not sending a recap sooner but in a way I’m glad I waited this long because it has allowed me to relive our amazing time over a year after it happpened! It was truly such a beautiful experience.
Thank you again for making every detail of our honeymoon absolutely flawless and so perfect. Below is a photo of us all dressed up in front of the Hotel du Cap.

Sorry, I can’t publish the photo. They are a beautiful couple. You’ll have to take my word for it.

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Intrigue at Acqualina Resort

The past week in Aspen had been great. The boys loved it and were up every morning at 6 getting ready for ski school. This morning however I had other ideas but Mary wasn’t being very accommodating. “The kids are up and running around” “We have to get up” Mary said as she jumped out of the bed leaving me well….not happy. Mark and John were 8 and 10 and really getting to be excellent skiers. I loved being with them. In fact, once I got past the initial let down I to jumped out of bed. This was the best family vacation ever. We all got along so well and watching the kids ski was as exciting as watching the Winter Olympics for me. I love family life and want more kids. Not so with Mary. She’s only thinking of her career. She is a publicist and it had not been easy but things are looking up. I’m a writer and have written two mystery novels that were received well and one was actually selling very well since it had been on the New Times Best Sellers list for over a month. Trouble was I didn’t feel very inspired lately and my publisher was after me big time. The contract I was damn lucky to get required one novel a year and the drafts on the latest were past due. Mary seemed a bit distant this morning. “I think when we get back to New York you should go away someplace by yourself and get those drafts in. I like that we finally have money coming in and don’t want that to end. Anyway, I have a lot of work to do and I think a few days break from each other will be good for all of us.” What was she talking about? I don’t feel that way at all but I decided to go with the flow. I called our travel agent Heather at Classic Travel Service and asked her for an idea. “Some place warm for a few days and on a beach but not too secluded. I don’t like being myself at some small Caribbean resort.” She answered almost immediately and said Acqualina in Florida is a Virtuoso property and that I would love the place. We got back to New York on Tuesday and I left Wednesday morning. I was still a bit frustrated but eager to get inspired on the beach. I would knock out these drafts easily, even if I had to work all night. Acqualina Entrance

When the taxi pulled into the entrance of Acqualina I thought I had been beamed to the Mediterranean. I was thoroughly awed. The place was beautiful. I would soon learn how perfect it was for me. Heather arranged a spectacular one bedroom suite with a kitchen. Not that I would cook, but I was by myself and wanted to stock the place with nibbles and maybe a few bottles of my favorite white wine. I figured I would write, walk on the beach, come back and write some more and then chill out watching that big TV (I love big TV’s). All luxury hotels should have big TV’s. Acqualina got it right again. I loved this suite so much I want Mary to come down. Maybe we could make that third baby here. I called her. “Are you crazy? I told you I have a lot going on and I can’t get anyone to watch the kids if I did agree. Enjoy yourself and get those drafts finished”. The conversation ended. She was all business. Seemed like she was always just all business lately. I walked out on the terrace and marveled at the view of the Atlantic. The white surf hitting the white sand beach and beyond the blue green color of the sea was all too perfect. I could anticipate feelings stirring inside of me. Good time to take a jog I thought and quickly got my old fav jogging shorts and T-Shirt on and was on the beach in a jif. After about 40 minutes I got that runners high and dove into the surf. What a rush! I had worked out every day in Aspen and was on a roll. The run was perfect and just what I needed. My mind felt clear and I was looking forward to getting on my computer to do some work. As I ran back along that perfect beach and was in front of Acqualina I couldn’t help noticing an absolutely drop dead gorgeous dark haired girl coming out of the surf. She was wearing a white one piece bathing suit and her hair was slicked back. She looked like a model that was doing an ad except there was no photo or film crew to be seen. I thought to myself ‘there’s one lucky guy up there waiting for her’. I went to my spectacular suite and noticed that staff had come in to straighten up (not that it needed it) and there was a bucket of fresh ice. I smiled as I remembered telling the front desk that one of the things I really liked was having fresh ice delivered a couple of times a day. I took a shower and sat down at the computer. There’s a character in my latest novel, a beautiful woman, and I started to describe her using my memory of the dark haired girl coming out of the ocean. Only problem was my character was a murderess and I could hardly picture this girl as that. That’s showbiz, I smiled to myself. I got about 3 hours of work done and sat on my terrace admiring the late afternoon. I could get used to this. Acqualina is beautiful. I decided I would get dressed and go the bar and maybe have a quick dinner. I always love cocktail time in hotel bars. I had a new summer sports jacket that I hadn’t worn and I got a little sun jogging. I felt really good about myself and wanted to be in public for a bit. When I got down to the bar I was surprised how sophisticated this place was. Sure not the Miami I remembered as a kid but then again I don’t think they had anything quite like Acqualina when I was a kid. The handsome dark haired and very professional but friendly formal coated bartender asked me what I wanted and I just couldn’t resist. “I’ll have a Belvedere Martini with an olive straight up and very cold”. “No garnish in the olive please.” He was so cool he didn’t even blink but said “yes, if course”. A famous Ozzie publicist I know once told a bartender in Beverly Hills that the olives in a serious Martini should never have garnish in them. At the time I thought it a bit over the top but noticed in the years since that at all the best hotel bars it is the case. I smiled at myself again realizing I was so close to South Beach but so far away. I loved how I felt. I liked South Beach but at this point in my life I wanted something more formal, more grown up. Whoever thought up Acqualina sure knew what they were doing. I think I’ll start and finish my next novel here I thought as I was admiring the view. Then all of sudden as I turned there she was. The dark haired beauty from the beach sitting at a table drinking what looked like a Mojito. She was alone and God, she was gorgeous. She had her hair up and was wearing a white short linen cocktail dress that showed just the right amount of cleavage. No jewelry whatsoever. I didn’t want to stare and so quickly looked away. I thought it strange that she was by herself. I was imagining all kinds of things, after all I am a writer. Maybe she was getting over an affair that had gone bad. She didn’t look like she was suffering terribly. When I turned to look a 2nd time she was already getting up and leaving but not without me seeing those perfectly shaped tanned legs that were accentuated by very high heels. Her body looked perfect, not so thin but more shapely, under that white dress. She didn’t even give me a glance. Not that I noticed or wanted it but a little attention wouldn’t be so terrible. I wasn’t bad looking and in great shape and I did get a few admiring glances as I walked through the lobby. My new best friend, Brian the bartender, gave me that very male all knowing nod. I casually asked if she was a regular. He just smiled and said. “No, she’s been here before but now every night at the same time for the past 3 days. She has one drink, keeps to herself and leaves. She’s always dressed in white. One of the other guests tried to talk her up the other night, she was polite but distant. I’m sure he got nowhere.” I decided to have some Sushi and call it a night which is exactly what I did. BTW the Sushi at Acqualina was fresh beyond. I was full but not overly when I finished and actually looked forward to getting into bed. When I got back to my suite the bed had been turned down, my bathroom cleaned and a fresh towel replaced the one I had used, and yes, more ice had been delivered. I took my clothes off, walked out on the terrace and listened to the waves and felt the warm breeze on my naked body. I went inside and got into that marvelous bed and wrapped myself up in that million count bed linen and fluffy pillows and thought how life was good. I fell asleep thinking about how much I missed my family. Tomorrow I would get a ton of work done.

I got up around 6:30AM and was on the beach by 6:45. It was a perfect morning. The slight chill in the air felt great and as I ran the sun coming up already felt hot. It was going to be the perfect Miami winter day. I decided I would get a cabana by the adult pool. I could work there, enjoy the gorgeous pool, go to the gym, do some weights and come back for some laps in the pool and then work some more. But first I went for breakfast at Acqualina’s Il Mulino New York restaurant. The charming hostess asked for my name and room number and asked if I would be dining alone. As she seated me she remarked that I was the 2nd single person she seated this morning. Without even thinking I jokingly asked if the other was a beautiful dark haired woman. She looked rather startled and said that as a matter of fact she was. I said “and I bet she was dressed all in white”. She looked at me, smiled and said “Oh, you know each other” The answer was more of a statement then a question. No, I don’t know her I said in an awkward way. All of sudden I had this sort of creepy stupid feeling. This hostess will think I’m a stalker or something. I just smiled at her as she left. The next two days I worked my tail off and kept totally to myself except for the amazing staff that had become my new family. I was so enjoying this amazing suite overlooking the ocean. I went to the gym 3 times and got a really serious sports massage at Acqualina’a Espa spa. God I felt energized and wanted to go back to New York to be with my real family. I missed them. I called Mary 3 times in two days and she was always too busy. I was starting to get concerned. The conversation was great as long as we were talking about the boys but when it came to anything about us she clammed up. I asked the Concierge who could not be more pleasant and professional to get me a flight back to New York in the morning. I was cutting my trip short but ambivalent about leaving Acqualina. It was 6PM, the sun had just gone down and I decided I would visit my buddy Brian one last time. I was sitting at the bar having my usual when he looked at my iPhone and asked if he could take a picture of me. It occurred to me at that moment that handsome macho Brian maybe Gay. Duh! Hey, it was my iPhone not his. Maybe I want him to be Gay I thought. I felt a bit weird but said OK. “Stand there” he pointed and as went to move a bit there she was. I hadn’t seen her for two days and I was getting feels I shouldn’t. God, she looked even better. She was wearing slacks and a top that was all contoured to her perfect body and it was all white. It took a lot of control for me not to speak to her but as I turned back to Brian she was leaving. I was glad.

I did my Sushi thing again and was in bed by ten. I decided to have room service for breakfast as I was catching an 11AM flight. I had done so much work and my publisher loved the drafts I sent. He particularly liked this woman in white and said he couldn’t wait to see what was going to develop. I was laughing to myself when I fell asleep. I slept in without going to the gym or the beach and room service was right on time. The breakfast could not have been better. Acqualina seemed more like being in Europe to me that morning than Florida. Maybe, it’s because I had my first wonderful room service breakfast in Paris years ago. Anyway I enjoyed it and the anticipation of getting back to my family and Manhattan.

As I walked to the desk to check out and say good bye to my new friends at Acqualina I stopped short. There she was and walking right towards me. My heart jumped and I felt about 12 years old. She walked like a woman on a mission. Then as she approached me we made eye contact for the first time. She was wearing what looked like a winter white suit and she was carrying the matching jacket on her arm. Her hair was up again but this time she had a pair of stunning emerald earrings on and I couldn’t help but to notice that her eyes were the exact same color. I nodded but it was more of a school boy awkwardness that I felt. Her gorgeous smile at me was memorizing as she walked past without looking back. God, I was a mess!

The flight back was uneventful and when I got home the boys were there and all over me in about 10 seconds. I loved it and Mary actually seemed like she missed me. It was the first time we had been separated. I was raving on about Acqualina to the boys and Mary and promised we would all go back in the spring for a few days. I had called Heather at the agency and she said if we book before the end of January we will get one day complimentary. It’s called the early bird promotion. Mark grabbed my iPhone and wanted to know if I took any pictures. Yes, I did take about 10. He was eagerly going through my usual terrible shots (Mary always jokes about what a bad photographer I am) when all of a sudden he said “Wow, Dad this picture of you is so cool and who is that lady looking at you.” I had not bothered to look at the picture Brian took of me. There I was looking very movie star but behind and to the side was the lady in white clearly looking at me with a slight smile and looking just as beautiful as in life. Mary grabbed the camera but didn’t say a word. That night she said she really missed me and we starting working on our third.

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Where to Travel 2013 – Istanbul

The New York Times has released their list of the 46 Places to go in 2013.  We will be chiming in with our thoughts on their picks – and featuring some of our favorite hotels in these hot spots.

Number 10 on the list is Istanbul, which is one of our favorite cities, and I just returned from a great trip there in November.

While I expected to be impressed with the history and culture, I was really surprised and exhilarated by what a modern and thriving city it is. You can spend the morning touring the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, then relax in the hammam before shopping for designer clothes, having a gourmet dinner and dancing all night in a club with stunning views. It really is the perfect mix of old and new.

Whether or not to visit Istanbul is not a difficult question, the much harder decision is where to stay…

If you want to be within walking distance of the historical sites and the Old Town, the Four Seasons Sultanahmet is the only place for you. This 65 room hotel has impeccable Sultanahmetservice and the new roof terraces have unparalleled views of all the monuments. Guests here are allowed to use the pool at the Four Seasons Bosphorus, so you really can get the best of both worlds!

If shopping is your thing then look no further than the Park Hyatt in the chic Nisantası neighborhood. This hotel has gorgeous and modern rooms and is walking distance from the best shops and restaurants. If you want to escape the heat you can use their small rooftop pool, or try spending the day at Suada – an island in the middle of the Bosphorus with an olympic size pool, great restaurants and 360 degree views of  both the European and Asian sides of the city.

Finally, if you want to stay on the Bosphorus – you must decide between the Ciragan Palace Kempinski  and the Four Seasons Bosphorus. Ciragan has the best views in the city and all rooms have balconies. The grounds are magnificent, including beautiful gardens and a fantastic pool area. My only complaint is the bathrooms could use an update. The Four Seasons Bosphorus is elegant and grand Ciragan Palacewith one of the best spas in the world, however the rooms can be small and the best views come with an expensive price tag.

You can’t make a wrong decision – each property has its own unique and wonderful traits – just like this fantastic city.  Plan your trip to Istanbul today!

  

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Live Like the President at the Park Hyatt Washington DC

Our friends at the Park Hyatt Washington put together an incredible experience for the Inauguration!Park Hyatt Washington DC

In order to celebrate the 57th Presidential Inauguration – you can stay in a Presidential Suite with personal butler service and chauffeur-driven transportation from January 18-22 for the bargain rate of $57,000 – you will also receive the following:

 

• Daily turndown amenities, including Blue Duck Tavern’s
award-winning apple pie
• Exclusive opportunity to work with the Fifth Avenue Club
Stylist from Saks from Avenue Tysons Galleria to fill the suite’s
closets with several options to meet the guests’ potential needs
• Set of hardcover books highlighting American crafts, heritage
and art and a collection of photography from Park Hyatt hotels
worldwide
• Daily American breakfast for two
• In-suite tasting of cured meats, pinot noir and American
artisanal cheese for up to 12 guests, prepared by hotel’s cheese
specialist
• Five-course Chef’s Table dinner at Blue Duck Tavern for up
to 12 guests, specially written using ingredients from regional
farms to create President Obama’s favorite dishes
• Signed, magnum bottle of the hotel’s signature wine, a special
blend of Cabernet Franc, crafted by winemaker Jed Steele
• Two tickets to attend a live performance of the National
Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Arts along with a VIP backstage tour of the historic facility
• Personal pampering with an in-suite couples massage, facial and
deluxe manicure & pedicure
• Hand-made, Windsor-style timber rocking chair, like those
found at Park Hyatt Washington, engraved with guests’ initials
& Inaugural seal (this is perfect for the porch at your Hamptons house!)
• In celebration of the Inauguration and the opportunity to helps
those who serve America, the hotel will contribute a minimum
of $500 to the USO – everyone likes to give to a good cause 🙂

Be the envy of all your friends and and book today!! 

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