Melbourne: Art Hotels, Beer Hall Drinks, and Jazz

Melbourne's Jazz Festival (c) PiecesofVictoria.com

Melbourne’s Jazz Festival (c) PiecesofVictoria.com

Most people don’t know that Melbourne is well voted, time and time again, as one of the world’s most livable cities. With it’s impressive calendar of high profile events throughout the year, including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (May 30 – June 8, 2014), Melbourne International Film Festival (July 31 – August 17, 2014) Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival (November 4, 2014), and the Australian Open Tennis Championships (January 19 – February 1, 2015), it’s also the gateway to regional Victoria, with her deserts, alpine ski resorts, mighty rivers, great lakes, wildlife, and unparalleled spectacle known as the Great Ocean Road. At the same time, art and design groups are flourishing, alongside Melbourne’s natural beauty.

mark_schaller

For example, luxury boutique hotel group, Art Series Hotels is bringing their well-known art inspired concept to regional and urban cities around Australia in a compact & affordable way. First stop, Bendigo – the regional hub of art and culture – and the perfect location for the first studio inspired hotel.

Artist Mark Schaller, today regarded as one of Australia’s strongest mid career artists with his expressionistic, vigorous style, will join the fold. A founding member of the renowned Roar studios in the early 1980′s, his paintings and prints that have been acquired by major institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and National Gallery of Victoria. He’s the real deal.

And… we love the idea of the art studio hotel. No, we actually live for it. A hotel is the best possible location for an experience filled with art and design. To not simply to stay in a location, but to experience the vision and emotion of each designated artist while also on vacation. That is at least one meaning in life. If not the best one.

PS. The second Art Series Studio, Larwill Studio will open in Parkville, Melbourne in December.

Tonka

Tonka

If that’s not reason enough to check out Melbourne, you also have their unique dining and cocktail scene. We hear Adam D’Sylva’s Tonka is a throwback to his Indian and Italian heritage, featuring cocktails including the Darjeeling Fizz, Tonka Lassi and Miguel’s Milk Punch, while Cookie combines Thai food with its mantra of being a Beer Hall, Eating House and Disco to create the perfect environment to dine, flirt, sip and reminisce. The walls are adorned with murals and artwork from Melbourne artists, and the popular ‘kiss wall’ eventuated of its own accord and is now covered with scores of lipstick kisses amassed over the years.

Cookie

Cookie

Sounds pretty good to me.

For more information on things to do, places to go, and sights to see in Melbourne, click the link to for Travel Victoria’s website.

We also liked the list of Melbourne’s hot Jazz clubs on the blog, PiecesofVictoria.com. According to their blog, they said to check out, among others:

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, a Melbourne institution known for late night jams and dubbed by Lonely Planet as “the world’s best jazz club”. Located in a back alley off Little Lonsdale Street, the club has been around for more than 20 years.

25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne

Uptown Jazz Café, hidden up an unassuming set of stairs on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, there’s live music four nights a week and the stage is graced by a renowned list of local and international acts. There’s also a solid Japanese restaurant downstairs if you want to grab a bite prior.

177 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

 

The Woodstock Film Festival

Famous faces, fierce film and fabulous fall foliage. The summer season is barely upon us, but I’d like to draw your attention to a major event just north of NYC that will be a very special travel destination this autumn.

This year, the Woodstock Film Festival (WFF) will be held October 10-14, 2012 and for the first time there will be limited number of special packages at some of the region’s finest lodging that will include priority access for purchasing festival tickets, a key benefit since many of the events are in intimate venues and sell out quickly.

The Woodstock Film Festival was recognized as one of the top 50 film festivals in the world and regularly attracts major actors and filmmakers with connections to the beautiful Hudson Valley. Besides the iconic town of Woodstock, WFF takes places in many towns across the area, known for its scenic beauty, historic landmarks and picturesque towns including Rhinebeck, chosen for Chelsea Clinton’s “royal wedding.”

Hudson River Valley

Hudson River Valley (c) Chris Ramirez The New York Times

Hudson Valley is known for majestic mountains dotted by shops, galleries and restaurants featuring fresh local produce, home cooking and gourmet cuisine courtesy of graduates from the nearby Culinary Institute of America. A limited number of special WFF lodging packages with priority access for booking tickets at some of the region’s finest lodging such as The 1850 House Inn & Tavern, newly re-opened in Rosendale, recently remodeled with the amenities of a boutique hotel, the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, a Victorian stone castle resort set on spectacular cliffs with commanding views of the foliage and The Looking Glass Bed & Breakfast quaintly situated near the center of Rhinebeck with included wine tasting courtesty of Old Mill Wine & Spirits. Availabilty is limited, so attendees should consider booking before August 1.

Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House

This year WFF’s roster of more than 150 events will include an Actor’s Choice curated program where some of the many accomplished actors with ties to the Hudson Valley will spotlight a film and filmmaker that will include a screening and panel with fellow actors and filmmakers. “WFF is always a pleasure to attend,” said award winning actor and filmmaker Steve Buscemi, ”The talent that is showcased always amazes me.”Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo, Keanu Reeves, Ellen Barkin, Mark Ruffalo, Adrian Grenier and Edie Falco are among the accomplished actors, directors and filmmakers with ties to the Hudson Valley who have also recently attended.

The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast

The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast

Tickets go on sale in September, and the full schedule will be announced just weeks before. The venues are intimate and many events sell out quickly, particularly those with celebrity participants. Tickets can be purchased at box offices in Woodstock and Rhinebeck or below!

www.woodstockfilmfestival.com 

A Chic Pop Up Caribbean Cabana Camp? You betcha.

A Pop Up Cabana Camp!

Design Hotels strikes again! Papaya Playa, a Design Hotels Project, has developed a genius idea. For several months, they’ve been working with a small team on realizing an idea: a temporary “pop up” camp with 99 rustic cabanas on a 900 meter stretch of pristine Caribbean coastline in Tulum, Mexico!

Taking inspiration from the pop-up phenomenon happening around the world in the form of retail, art and gastronomy, they cleverly felt that now was the time to translate it into hospitality. So from December 6, 2011 – May 5, 2012, the Papaya Playa Project welcomes adventure seekers and creative souls to join them in shaping a temporary, and they think, extraordinary environment.

Simply. Chic.

Their idea was to create a transitory, yet culturally-rooted experienceCapitalizing on the natural environment and multicultural character of Tulum, they’ve put together an international team of real visionaries, each enriching the experience with their own food, music, design or wellness concept. They’ve got KaterHolzig of Berlin’s Bar 25 fame, 42°Raw, Mampapacola, as well as a spa incorporating Mayan shamanism. A playful communal concept is at the fore here – whether it’s spontaneous creativity at the amphitheater, beach jam sessions or inviting innovative companies to explore the ultimate green workspace.

The project may come as a surprise for those who associate Design Hotels™ with bold architecture and striking design. Fear not, that will continue to hold true, yet equally important are the intangible qualities – like the sense of community, connection and belonging, as well as the personality and vision – which make each hotel so one-of-a-kind. With this project they’re peeling off a few layers to expose the heart and soul of great hospitality experiences. Their ultimate goal?

To give guests a deeper understanding of what Design Hotels™ stands for, and why their Made by Originals core message rings true in so many shapes, places and forms.

http://www.papayaplayaproject.com

Bonaire’s Underwater Photography Class

Underwater Photography in Bonaire

For those who want a little education with their vacation, we came upon Divi Flamingo Beach Resort in Bonaire hosting a master class in underwater photography, July 7-14, 2012, led by renowned underwater photographer Stephen Frink.

For those unaware, Bonaire is actually a special municipality of the Netherlands, consisting of the Caribbean island of Bonaire and, nestled in its western crescent, the uninhabited islet of Klein Bonaire. Together with Aruba and Curaçao it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles. As Wikipedia points out, “The name Bonaire is thought to have originally come from the Caiquetio word ‘Bonay’. The early Spanish and Dutch modified its spelling to Bojnaj and also Bonaire, which means “Good Air”.

For this delicious photo/dive excursion, class participants will dive and shoot each morning and attend classes at the resort in the afternoon taught by Frink and his hand-picked experts in video and Photoshop® techniques.

Accommodations include deluxe beachfront room (double occupancy), daily breakfast, transportation to and from the Bonaire airport, five days of two-tank morning boat dives, unlimited shore diving, tanks, weights, weight belt and beach towels.

Eddie Tapp, well-known for his skills in Photoshop®, will be on location with Frink.  Tapp is a Canon Explorer of Light, as is Frink (the only marine specialist in this elite, international group of photographers). In addition to hands-on guidance on camera and computer techniques, participants will have their morning’s dive photography evaluated by the pros in the afternoon class session.

Divi Flamingo Beach, Bonaire

The Digital Master Class in Underwater Photography is a rare departure for Frink, who normally teaches this class in his home waters of Key Largo, Florida.  “Bonaire will be an incredible classroom for those divers wanting to improve their photography skills.  There are unparalleled photo opportunities there,” says Frink.  Bonaire is a world-class dive destination, presenting divers with ideal conditions for superb underwater photography in its clear, calm water that teems with fish.

Divi Flamingo Beach, a colorful and quaint beachside resort, offers 129 modern rooms – all recently renovated, restaurants, on-site casino, and the island’s premier dive operation with multiple boats, guides and dive shop.  The resort is also completely handicapped accessible. The resort is offering a travel package that assures a “picture perfect” vacation combining deluxe accommodations, dive guides and photography instruction priced at $1874 per person.

So snap some fishies, fellas!

www.diviflamingo.com

Girls Getaways to Italy’s Amalfi Coast!

Positano

Girls Getaways… get on it!

ItalyVacations.com has just created a dream trip for single ladies looking for an exclusive week long “Girls Getaway” combining great food, wine and scenery with lots of free time to shop, dine and explore two beautiful locations in Italy, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast.

The journey will commence with a three night stay at one of the oldest hotels in Italy, NH Porta Rossa, a four-star hotel located in the historical center of Florence. The first full day will be spent visiting three characteristic villages of the Cinque Terre, a unique area suspended on steep cliffs overlooking the sea and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The next day guests will embark on a full day tour of Chianti, an area known to have one of the best wines in the world and indulge in a fabulous wine tasting at a local farmhouse, followed by a traditional Tuscan lunch.

NH Porta Rossa

En route to Sorrento, guests will visit the city center of Naples to taste the original Pizza Margherita and enjoy a short stop in the picturesque town of Positano. In the evening, guests will arrive at Grand Hotel La Favorita, a four-star hotel situated on the corner of Sorrento’ s most famous alley ways where guests will embrace spectacular views of the gulf of Naples and the grand volcano Vesuvius. The next two days, guests can look forward to sublime shopping opportunities on full day excursions to the island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast. The last night in Sorrento guests will learn how to prepare a typical Italian Mediterranean dinner from a great local chef at Esperidi.

The view from Sorrento's Grand Hotel La Favorita

This hosted trip is $3,499 per person, double and is scheduled to depart the U.S. on Thursday, April 19, 2012 and return on Friday, April 27, 2012. The prices include all costs aside from gratuity for the guides: Round-trip airfare from New York (JFK) to Florence – return from Naples to New York on group flights; fuel surcharges and air taxes; arrival and departure airport transfers; three nights in a four-star hotel in Florence; four nights in a four-star hotel in Sorrento; seven breakfasts; first class train tickets from Florence to Naples; pizza lunch in Naples; cooking class with dinner in Sorrento; full day visit of Cinque Terre; full day visit of Chianti and vineyards; one day visit of the Amalfi Coast cities, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello; visit to Capri, with jetfoil to/from Sorrento; all hotel VAT taxes.

And let me just say… I did a very similar girls getaway to Italy when I was in my 20s and it was as amazing as I thought it would be!