Serious Summer Whites

It’s easy to crave simple and refreshing white wines in the summertime as the mercury rises. In fact, I am all about crisp, clean and refreshing wines this time of year—especially as a cocktail or apéritif before dinner. There is nothing like that $15 bottle of Sancerre that you discover at your local wine shop and stockpile, by the case, for the rest of the summer. But then there are times when you want something a little more complex Continue reading

6 Easy Rooftop Bars in NYC

Like any good idea in New York City, once it’s out, everyone wants in. The proliferation of rooftop bars and restaurants in NYC has been a great thing, as many hotels, restaurants and building owners have realized just how valuable their rooftops really are. Continue reading

Vows and Braus

Sierra Nevada Honors The Origin of Oktoberfest With Contest for Beer Loving Lovers 

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. will kick-off its annual Oktoberfest celebration with an expense-paid “royal wedding” at the festival for one lucky beer-loving couple. The celebration harkens back to the very first Oktoberfest, which was held in Munich in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Continue reading

Business or Pleasure in Charleston

Travel has never been more a part of our lives than it is today. And business travel is no exception. Even in the age of WebEx, Bluetooth and iPhones—which connect us to our clients and coworkers 24/7—the business world still has a hankering for travel.

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The Beekman Hotel

An architectural gem hailed for its iconic nine-story atrium and pyramidal skylight, The Beekman unites some of the world’s greatest talent, including the sophisticated design of Martin Brudnizki and the culinary cachet of restaurateur and chef Tom Colicchio. Continue reading

Where to Stay, Play and Eat Gourmet in Bermuda

Stay:

Rosewood Bermuda in St. George’s on the north end of the island is steeped in history. Formerly known as Rosewood Tucker’s Point (the adjacent Tucker’s Point Golf Club has been around since 1932) when Rosewood Resorts took over the management of the 88-room Tucker’s Point in 2011 the new resort sits atop one of the highest hills on the northeastern end of Bermuda, next to Castle Harbour and with ocean views from almost every room and window.

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Rather than opt for a minimal contemporary look, Tucker’s Point remains true to its location with rooms decorated in a Georgian colonial look, complete with canopy beds, wainscoting and freestanding tubs. The resort has an impressive four pools (considering its relatively small size), including a 25-meter lap pool and another reserved for adults. Not so much a complaint as a caveat: while the resort has an enviably large beach (unlike many Bermuda properties), it’s a five-minute shuttle ride away. On April 1, Rosewood Bermuda reopened after a four-month, $25 million makeover. Formerly known as Rosewood Tucker’s Point, the reimagined resort welcomes guests with an elegant lobby anchored by a new bar and lounge, plus an atrium courtyard. The 92 rooms and suites are now residential-style retreats that reflect the island’s English colonial heritage. Dining-wise, the resort’s signature restaurant reopens as the Island Brasserie; A refreshed Beach Club features a restaurant inspired by the island’s fish markets (plus an updated bar and new luxury cabanas). Wellness junkies will appreciate a modernized Sense, a Rosewood Spa.

 

If some laps in the pool or splashing in the surf don’t constitute sufficient exercise, guests at the resort also have access to the Tucker’s Point Club. This 18-hole course was originally laid out in 1932 and then redesigned in 2002 by Roger Rulewich, former chief designer for Robert Trent Jones.  Greens fees start at $205 through mid-September and $225 after. What’s more, guests of Tucker’s Point also receive playing privileges at the renowned Mid Ocean Club, which consistently ranks among the world’s top 100 courses. Originally designed in 1921 by Charles Blair Macdonald, the historic course was enhanced in 1953 by architect Robert Trent Jones

 

The Reefs, a villa only resort in Southampton is also a great stay if you can afford it. The beloved fixture on Bermuda’s South Shore since 1947—and which Conde Nast rated #1 in the region (including Bermuda, Bahamas and Turks & Caicos) not long ago—is family-owned and operated by the Dodwell family, native Bermudians whose passion for island living and gracious hospitality has delighted generations of loyal guests. Nestled in a pink sand cove surrounded by Bermuda’s wind-swept limestone cliffs, The Reefs echoes the island’s enduring elegance, blending it effortlessly with a youthful, make-our-own-rules spirit that charms friends old and new.

 

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A less expensive alternative to Tucker’s Point and The Reefs, The Fairmont Southampton, right down the street from The Reefs is a great deal with a great location. If you can get by the size and color—affectionately known as the “pink elephant” due to it’s size (400 rooms) and light pink facade—the Southampton has a ton to offer at a very reasonable rate. Fairmont’s Private Beach Club is situated on one of Bermuda’s finest beaches, a secluded private cove with Bermuda’s signature pink sand.  The cove is somewhat protected from rough water due to a large rock just a short swim out (you can walk to it during low tide). It also happens to be an easy and convenient location to put on your snorkel and mask and see some of Bermuda’s beautiful fish. If you want a larger beach, the world-famous Horseshoe Bay Beach, a curved stretch of pink sand that connects to other South Shore Beaches, is just steps away. The Southampton also has two pools including a kid’s pool with a slide.

 

Of course, the most talked about resort right now in Bermuda right now is the newly built (2017) The Loren at Pink Beach. The first hotel built on Bermuda in a decade, The Loren has raised the bar among the island’s resorts with posh yet minimalist rooms and suites which bring a new level of elegance and style to the destination. This seaside resort embraces the clean and modern aesthetic of an urban boutique hotel resulting in a set of sophisticated retreats with endless ocean views.

 

 

Play:

Wide shot from back of new Tee on 16th hole of Port Royal Golfcourse

 

If you’re not staying at Tucker’s Point (and you’re not a member or don’t know one) then Mid Ocean is not an option. But many will argue that the prestigious Port Royal Golf Course is just as good—and easily as beautiful. Originally designed by famed course architect Robert Trent Jones in 1970, the Port Royal Golf Course of Southampton Parish underwent a $14.5 million refurb back in 2009. It now features resewn fairways and tee boxes, a new irrigation system and a grandiose clubhouse.  Although the course has incredible ocean views, at 6,842 yards, it is also Bermuda’s longest and perhaps most challenging course so beginners beware. (Non-members can book a tee time at Port Royal Golf Course up to seven days in advance. The course is public and open to all players daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.). But be prepared to pay hefty greens fees and book well in advance.

 

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For a less highfalutin activity, and one that is completely free, the beaches in Bermuda are a top-of-the-list activity. Whether your beach time is of the more active nature (walks, swimming, frisbee) or the less active (sunbathing) there is no place on Bermuda more pristine to waste the day away than Horseshoe Bay Beach. Always ranked among the top beaches in the world, it is easily on par with the best stretches of sand in the Bahamas and Caribbean.  

 

Eat

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To say Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelson’s namesake restaurant Marcus’ in the Hamilton Princess Hotel is breathtaking would be an understatement. Arrayed with modern art from the hotel’s owners, including original pieces by Andy Warhol, Liu Ye and Nelson Mandela amongst others, the space is visually striking, The signature restaurant occupies the former Gazebo Room, once a grand ballroom, offering a central bar and views of the ocean. An open kitchen creates a show all in its own, with chefs creating Samuelsson’s specialty including Jerk Pork Belly, and tantalizing Fried Chicken & Waffles. Additional dishes pay tribute to Bermudian culture, such as Grilled Bermuda Onion and Fish Chowder Bites among others. The restaurant features a full beverage menu with signature and classic cocktails, a well-rounded selection of wine and beer, and a new spin on a local favorite, ginger beer-based Darker and Stormier.

 

mickey's

 

The only true beach bar and bistro on the island, Mickey’s Beach Bistro—or just “Mickey’s”—on Elbow Beach is loved by locals and visitors alike. Sip an island cocktail prepared by Bermuda’s best bartenders while listening to the waves break and gazing at the wide open Atlantic. Their eclectic menu and versatile wine list rounds out a great overall experience—a must stop while on the Island.

 

For cheaper eats, head to Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy (in Hamilton and in St. George’s) for what many—including Marcus Samuelson himself—believe to be the best fish sandwich on the island. The traditional Bermudian fish sandwich — deep-fried and served on raisin bread with lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce, coleslaw, and perhaps a touch of hot sauce and some sauteed onions — is one of the best fish sandwich anywhere.

 

Drink

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Bermuda is a unique island in that it has many of the characteristics of the tropical islands in the Bahamas and Caribbean but it is undoubtedly subtropical—it is on approximately the same latitude as the Carolinas. So while the peak season in August and September may feel balmy and lend itself to island (rum) drinks, much of the year is more temperate. This, combined with the fact that Bermuda is a British territory, steeped in British culture and cuisine, results in food and drink options that are just as much pub fair-oriented as they are beach bar.

 

A less formal option than Mickey’s, Sea Breeze, also located at Elbow Beach Resort and positioned just above the famous stretch of sand, is an open-air terrace, with stunning, panoramic views of Elbow Beach’s pink sand and the wide open, blue atlantic waters. It’s a wonderful spot in which to enjoy cocktails from the bar, an aperitif before dinner or drinks under the stars.

 

Over in the more bustling Hamilton Parish lies The Swizzle Inn, a landmark known as Bermuda’s oldest pub and favored by both locals and visitors. It also happens to be the birthplace of Bermuda’s original Rum Swizzle, the deliciously potent national drink made with Goslings Black Seal Rum, Barbados Rum, Triple Sec, pineapple juice, orange juice, Bermuda Falernum, and Angostura Bitters.

 

For more British style pub fair, head to the The Frog and Onion Pub which calls an old barrel making building home and is also attached to the Dockyard Brewing Company. This authentic British-style pub was created in 1992 by a Frenchman (Frog) and Bermudian (Onion), hence the name. The historic Cooperage, completed in 1853, was converted to five storehouses in the 1940s. With the pub serving great comfort food, it pairs perfectly with an ale from Dockyard Brewing Co., Bermuda’s only microbrewery. Featuring 5 different types of beers and ales, it is a favourite destination of locals and tourists alike who wish to sample artisanal beverages of exceptional quality.

 

 

 

 

 

Napa Nuances

I love Napa Valley in the off-season, when the hills, a parched straw color for much of the year, are lush green from the fall and winter rains and cooler temperatures. And that is exactly how I found it on my most recent trip, with picturesque green hills rising above the grapeless, valley-floor vineyards. Continue reading

Five Sparkling Roses for Valentine’s Day

Much like its still wine cousin (rose),  sparkling rose and rose Champagne strike a soft and delectable balance between sweet, dry and earthiness that sets it apart. And of course the color only adds to the allure—especially on a certain day in Mid-February when the red and pink color spectrum reigns supreme. 

Here are five rose sparklers I love this Valentines Day:

Roederer Estate Brut Rose, NV—$28

This 56% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay blend, produced by the renowned French Champagne house Louis Roederer but in California (Anderson Valley), has been a favorite value wine of mine for years. In fact, I actually used to sell it when I briefly worked for a wine distributor many moons ago. It was so popular it had to be allocated, or bundled with the higher-end offerings that Roederer produced—a little trick that distributors and suppliers (in this case Maisons Marques and Domains) like to use when they know they have a winner. Mouth filling, elegant and sweet—but not too sweet—this festive sparkler has a beautiful red hue and comes in at a great price point considering the producer (Louis Roederer also produces Cristal).

Schramsberg Brut Rosé, 2017—$45

Another great value from Northern California, driven by bright, flavorful Pinot Noir grown in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas (a few small lots of Pinot Noir are fermented in contact with their skins to add depth and subtle color to this unique sparkling wine). Aromas of strawberry and orange peel dominate the nose while grapefruit, darker berries and a little toast lead to good structure on the palette. This versatile sparkling wine has a bright, clean finish and can be enjoyed any time of year with a variety of foods.

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé—$45

Blended with 90% red grapes (45% pinot noir /45% meunier) and 10% chardonnay, this sparkler is on the sweeter side for a Brut yet very well balanced. Think strawberries and cream; this light, salmon colored rose is perfect with desert—or as desert.

Frank Family Brut Rose, 2016—$55

Frank Family quietly has four sparkling wines offerings. And while it may not be a core competency I think it’s a testament to the diversity and willingness to experiment with new ideas that is prevalent in Napa and Sonoma today.  While all four of their sparkling wines—Blanc de Blancs, Rose, Rouge and the Lady Edythe Reserve Brut—are all delicious, the Brut Rose is my favorite.  Made in the traditional French method where the secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle, the wine then rests on the spent yeast cells for two and a half years before disgorgement. The 2014 Brut Rosé is lively yet balanced, with alluring flavors of strawberry and orange creamsicle and framed with just enough toasty oak notes. Side note: Frank Family has been recognized in national publications for leading the effort of “grower-champagnes” in the United States—Marylin Monroe used visit the winery from time to time to get her fill of bubbles.

Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé—$60

Madame Clicquot created the first blended Rosé in 1818 by adding some red wine to Yellow Label champagne. The result was Veuve Clicquot Rosé, a fruity and full-bodied expression of the Veuve Clicquot style. If you love their yellow label it’s time to try the Rosé. Made using 50 to 60 different crus, the cuvee is based on Brut Yellow Label’s traditional blend, 44-48% Pinot Noir, 13-1 % Meunier, 25-29 % Chardonnay. This wine has classic Rosé Champagne aromas of ripe strawberries integrated with more vibrant notes of grapefruit and lemon singer. Perfectly quaffable with desert it is also a great wine to have as a cocktail or aperitif before dinner.

An Insider’s Take On The Surging Demand For CBD Oil

I recently attended a trade show promoting various spa and wellness brands at none other than the Rainbow Room atop NYC’s Rockefeller Center. The boutique show—hosted by the Green Spa Network, a nonprofit trade association that provides education, resources and gatherings for the spa and wellness industry—represented my first glimpse into the burgeoning market of CBD oil. Continue reading

Derby de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo—the Mexican holiday to commemorate their victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862—and the Kentucky Derby—the most famous horse race of the year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY—fall on the same day this year. In case you are not aware, this would be Saturday, May 5th.
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Best of Las Vegas—Old and New

When gangster Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo in 1946, it was the first large-scale casino-hotel project on a quiet stretch of Nevada desert. Today, Las Vegas is anything but quiet, with massive casino-hotels stationed like giant soldiers on the world-famous Strip. Continue reading

Best Hotel Bars In Miami

Miami is known for its hotels—dating back to the 60’s when Sinatra, Martin and the rest of the Rat Pack frequented town. Not much has changed as many of the choice bars in town still remain inside Miami’s posh hotels. While caribbean themed bars may emanate throughout other parts of the sunshine state, Miami’s bar scene is much more sophisticated. Continue reading

Hotel For The Holidays

From rooftop terraces transformed into enchanting winter wonderlands to charming, artisan markets selling handcrafted novelties and gifts, hotels from Vancouver to London are pulling out all the stops to offer one-of-a-kind holiday pop-ups, festive events and even a few deals to guests and locals alike this winter. Here are some of the most festive (and luxurious) holiday experiences in the US, Canada and Europe.  Continue reading

New York’s Pierre Hotel – A Jewel on Central Park

With its newly renovated Rotunda Room, reimagined Perrine restaurant, long history and international appeal, the iconic Pierre Hotel is the perfect place to stay if visiting New York City this fall 

The U.S. Open is an international event, with an international crowd, played in an international city. If you’re in New York over the next few weeks to watch some tennis or you live in New York and enjoy a little people watching and the patronage of this great tennis event – the Pierre Hotel is a must visit place. Continue reading

Master a Mole and More in the City Travel + Leisure Rated #1 in the World

San Miguel de Allende, a rather little known colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands mostly known for its baroque Spanish architecture, just recently received the prestigious accolade of #1 city in the world by Travel + Leisure. So what is so special about San Miguel de Allende? T+L cites the authenticity, cost effectiveness and great restaurants among the many draws, all while—according to one reader—“maintaining its Mexican heritage, culture and charm.”

Here’s a quick review of San Miguel de Allende; where to stay, what to do and, according to our own John Newton, why a certain cooking school might be the biggest attraction of all.

 

Casa de Sierra Nevada

 

The grand dame of San Miguel de Allende, Casa de Sierra Nevada is a cluster of historic buildings at the centre of the city. With cool, leafy gardens, stone arches and traditional wooden doors surrounding pretty courtyards lit by lanterns at night, this charming luxury hotel offers the ultimate Mexican experience. While the interior, like many San Miguel hotels, is all about carved headboards and bathrooms in traditional blue-and-white Talavera tiles, their are also more contemporary options that shake up this hill town.

 

Hotel Matilda

 

The 32-room Hotel Matilda celebrates the arts scene of San Miguel with a gallery like atmosphere that is focused on the works of three emerging Mexican artists: Aldo Chaparro, Nacho Rodriguez Bach, and Bosco Sodi. Photographs by Mexico City’s Eduardo Zaylan hang on the walls of the guest rooms. Don’t worry, however: the scene is chic and celebratory, not studious, from the hopping Bar Matilda to the 4,700-square-foot spa. In celebration of its opening, all rooms are $195 per night, including breakfast, through the end of the year.

 

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende

 

Meanwhile, newcomer, luxury boutique hotel Rosewood San Miguel de Allende reflects the artistic traditions of an enchanting historic town, while still providing the amenities you would expect from the Rosewood brand. Surrounded by natural beauty and history, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is ideally placed for experiencing this fascinating colonial town. Guests are invited to explore local vibrant fiestas or the town’s colorful streets lined with churches, gardens and galleries at their own pace. Guests can appreciate the art of craftsmanship at galleries such as Fábrica La Aurora to discover stonework, papier maché and hand-blown glass masterpieces.

 

Wine Cellar at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende

 

Bathroom at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende

 

If you have ever wanted to master a mole or be able to prepare pitchers of agua fresca for your next holiday party, the chefs at the Sazón Cooking School at Casa de Sierra Nevada can guide you through the process.

Students of the day-long Market Tour and Class program begin with a guided visit to the markets of San Miguel de Allende, a postcard perfect 500-year-old colonial town outside Mexico City. The hotel’s chef, the charismatic and engaging Paco Cardenas (who, thankfully, speaks flawless English) explains the differences between habaneros, poblanos, and other chiles of the Mexican kitchen as well as basic shopping Spanish with opportunities to sample cheeses and other ingredients.

Students then return to the Sazón school, located in an 18th-century home near the hotel, and don their aprons. Hands-on lessons in preparing traditional Mexican dishes follow, with the results consumed at the end of class. During our visit, the favorite dish of most students was a nopal salad, made from the cactus plant of the same name, but what is on each class’s menu is determined by the ingredients at their peak of ripeness and available at the market. Other classes (which cost 600 pesos) focus on the country’s regional cuisines and signature dishes.

While classes are open to visitors who aren’t guests at the hotel, a stay at Casa de Sierra Nevada is a highlight of any visit to San Miguel. The Orient-Express property has 15 rooms and 22 suites, decorated with Spanish colonial–inspired furnishings, and distributed among four different colonial mansions and the larger Casa del Parque, a few minutes walk from the hotel. If you pay a month in advance and stay at least two nights, you’ll receive a 10 percent discount on any stay at Casa de Sierra Nevada, including the Sazón Culinary Package, which includes one market tour and one cooking class.

Not to be outdone Rosewood San Miguel de Allende has launched it’s own cooking school. At Los Pirules, a new, immersive outdoor cooking venue overlooking the city of San Miguel de Allende, guests use local Manchego cheese, fresh salsa and herbs picked from the hotel’s garden to create a sizzling queso fundido prepared in a traditional, heated stone bowl or molcajete, a technique that can be traced back to the Aztecs.

While San Miguel de Allende might have something for every type of traveler we’re pretty sure foodies—especially traditional Mexican food aficionados—will enjoy themselves thoroughly in this quaint, authentic and now famous, Mexican city in Mexico’s rustic central highlands.

Medicinal Margaritas

Who says margaritas have to be calorie-laden affairs that do nothing more than get you buzzed while shooting your blood sugar to the moon. From the heart-healthy unsaturated fats found in avocados to the ancient healing properties of traditional Mexican ingredients such as xoconoxtle cactus fruit and damiana herb, superfoods are finding their way into cocktail shakers of mixologists around the world. Continue reading