La Valencia Hotel: The Gem of Southern California

The La Valencia Hotel

The La Valencia Hotel

My parents took their honeymoon at the famous La Valencia Hotel, and never looked back. Just as it was then, it is now one of San Diego and La Jolla’s finest. It’s also pink. Can you really go wrong with pink stucco, palm trees, and blue skies? I’m sure you can actually, just not here.

With its rich, 87-year history, La Valencia Hotel looks to the future under new ownership and new management.  Having finished a complete room renovation in early 2013 and with many more updates planned – including a new French bistro and an elaborate spa — this 112-room vintage coastal retreat continues its role as a gathering place where generations of celebrations have taken place.  With its iconic tower, “La V” – as it is fondly known by San Diegans – is a landmark on Prospect Avenue, perched on a cliff above the sweepingly beautiful La Jolla Cove.

Talk about a pool with a view!

Talk about a pool with a view!

Built in 1926 during a revival of Mediterranean-style architecture, “The Pink Lady” is known for its beautiful courtyards, hand painted murals, exquisite Spanish mosaics, and stunning panoramic views of the Pacific. La V is also just steps away from a wide selection of luxury retail and dining options in the village of La Jolla.  Nearby attractions also include: Torrey Pines State Park, Scripps Ocean Institute, the Birch Aquarium as well as UCSD / La Jolla Playhouse, the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.

Hollywood stars, presidents, and my parents have stayed here over the years and, as a ‘thank you and come join us,’ right now they’re offering the Suite Savings Package and you’ll receive 25% off rack rates for a 700 square ft. Suite or a 450 sq ft private, Ocean View Villa plus complimentary parking and a bottle of premium wine.  So instead of $950 a night, you’ll pay $713 on weekends and $619 on weeknights for your own sweet La Valencia Suite or Villa.

www.lavalencia.com/packages

Reservations: 800.451.0772

Former Heads of State, CIA, & NASA Come to Crystal Cruises in 2013

General Michael Hayden

General Michael Hayden

Take sail, take flight!

Imagine this… The two-term former president of Switzerland, NASA’s lead flight controller for Apollo missions, and a general who was once the highest ranking intelligence officer in the United States Armed Forces. Now, imagine yourself hanging out with them while on a sophisticated exciting cruise. Yes, dreams do come true. These powerful men of sleuth and science will be bringing their considerable clout aboard luxury cruise outfit, Crystal Cruises, this year.  The guest speakers are part of a distinguished lineup of internationally influential, preeminent leaders set to present complimentary lectures and interactive Q & A sessions on several of the line’s ultra-luxurious voyages, including:

  • General Michael Hayden – The retired Director of both the CIA and NSA, and four-star U.S. Air Force General, brings a wealth of knowledge and intelligence from his nearly four decades of military duty and national service (September 19, Venice to Monte Carlo, President’s Cruise with Crystal President Gregg Michel);
  • Kaspar Villiger – Formerly the president of Switzerland, as well as the chairman of UBS Bank, Villiger is one of the world’s leading authorities on business, government and finance, whose influence and leadership has affected global economies (September 2, London to Barcelona);
  • Sy Liebergot – The lead controller at NASA’s Mission Control served during the legendary Apollo program (November 23, Miami to Rio de Janeiro);
  • Norm Mineta – The ex-U.S. Secretary of Transportation and congressman is also the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Medal for his civil rights efforts (September 11, Barcelona to Venice); and
  • Nando Parrado – The ultimate survivor, Uruguayan rugby player-turned-motivational speaker was aboard the ill-fated flight over the Andes that later became the subject of the film Alive (July 6, Istanbul to Rome).

The speakers join an already-extensive roster of leading experts set to enlighten guests sailing Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity in 2013, including a U.K.-based celebrity florist, award-winning photographers, show business veterans and a bevy of historians and professors.  Crystal often brings expert minds together on their “Ocean Views”- themed cruises, with speakers debating current issues with each other in a live panel that includes audience participation so we think this is pretty darn cool.

“Our guests are worldly, well-educated travelers who seek not only new adventures while on vacation, but also new information and perspectives on topics that affect the world we explore,” says Bret Bullock, vice president of entertainment.  “With such fascinating experiences and knowledge to share, these presenters are certain to spark some stimulating discussions on board.”

The Crystal Symphony

The Crystal Symphony

Bret, we’re so on board with you.

Crystal’s award-winning, luxe offerings always include a diverse selection of thought-provoking, scholarly, and sophisticated enrichment activities that provide extensive on-board choices for cultured world travelers so take to the seas and make your ocean-exploring adventure one for the mind and seas.

www.crystalcruises.com

Your Own Version of Downton Abbey in the English Countryside

Welcome to the Four Seasons

Welcome to the Four Seasons Hampshire

By Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large

It is a truth universally acknowledged that on a pretty summer’s day there is nowhere better to be than in an English country garden. Waves of bluebells dance in a honeysuckle breeze as butterflies glide from glittering stream to ancient oak tree. And, of course, there’s always a chance you’ll spot Peter Rabbit in the vegetable patch, or Winnie the Pooh taking a nap on a bed of nettles.

Many travelers are so drawn to the bright lights and big sights of London that the English countryside is lost for them. As a born and bred Londoner who finds herself able to breathe deeply during a flora and fauna-tactic escape past the suburbs and into the green patchworks of her homeland, I can’t impress on anyone what a mistake this is. It is beautiful, historic, literary and charming – all those things foreigners love about Downton Abbey wrapped up in a village cream tea and a meander down a cobbled street.

Don't you just want to kiss Matthew and talk about Papa?

Don’t you just want to kiss Matthew and talk about Papa while you stroll the green?

The Four Seasons have done a very clever thing, opening a resort a one hour drive away from their two city hotels, making it the perfect add-on for the culture vulture, theatre lover or weary business traveller. Leaving London behind, on a road that takes you past the old (the 1,000 year old Windsor Castle, the Queen’s favorite palace) and the new (fancy a ride on a space shuttle at Legoland, anyone?), you arrive at The Four Seasons Hampshire.

Your jaw will drop.

Dating back to 1728, the heritage-listed manor house around which the Hotel is built is much documented in historical texts throughout the centuries. With spectacular views over the Hampshire countryside, the Hotel’s resort-like facilities place the countryside’s finest pursuits on its doorstep. On-site facilities include a 14-horse stable, fishing lakes, clay pigeon shooting, narrowboating, nature rambles and tennis.  Add to this, the manor’s ancient association with high society – and in Henry VIII’s case, a royal scandal – and guests can experience a taste of Hampshire’s historical and cultural wealth before they even leave the Hotel grounds. You’ll feel very Lord and Lady Grantham, without the  need for a corset.

England Country Homes

Finish off your lovely trip with a nice soak

If you can tear yourself away from the spa and outdoor vitality pool, the picturesque surroundings will keep you very busy. In fact there’s so much to see you’ll wish you’d doubled the length of your stay. Just 30 minutes away lies Winchester, a traditional cathedral city with impressive boutiques and numerous museums and art galleries. Boasting a 1300 year unbroken succession of bishops, Winchester is home to the legendary ‘Arthurian’ Round Table, situated in the Great Hall of the old castle. The ancient capital of England has been inspiring visitors for centuries, including Keats, who wrote his Ode to Autumn, while staying here.

Hampshire is also littered with a wide range of beautiful historic houses that are open to the public.  Stratfield Saye is the estate purchased by a jubilant Duke of Wellington at the bequest of an adoring nation upon his return from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The house is still the home of the present Duke and Duchess of Wellington and exhibitions in the Hall and original stable block document the 1st Duke of Wellington’s life and triumphs.

Compete with Jane Austen history too

Compete with Jane Austen history too

Charles Dickens’ birthplace can be visited in Portsmouth, and having inspired writers for centuries, it is no surprise to discover that Jane Austen penned her literary classics Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility in the tiny Hampshire village of Chawton, a pretty fifteen minute drive from the hotel.  Now a museum documenting her life and works, many of the rooms in her 17th Century house have been preserved in their original state. You can see the desk and chair where she wrote, taking in the view from the window that inspired her. I mean, come on… How awesome.

And as 2013 is the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice, there is no better time to grab your beloved and get your Elizabeth and Darcy on over a romantic feast of English fare (try the divine if pant-bursting Hampshire Farmers’ Market Lunch every Sunday at the Four Seasons – a refined, edible exploration of Hampshire’s famous Farmers’ Markets) before burying yourself into a classic novel by the fire in the hotel ‘s library, and perhaps a sneaky doze, dreaming of Lords, Ladies and clotted cream.

http://www.fourseasons.com/hampshire/

Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large

Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large

 

Sarah Ivens, Editor-at-Large for Jaunt Magazine, is the founding editor in chief of OK! magazine in the US and a bestselling author in her native UK. Her writing has been seen in Marie Claire, Glamour, In Style and GQ. A born and bred Londoner, she currently resides in Los Angeles.

The Best Hostel Food Around the World

Tapas at the Oasis Granada Hostel

Tapas at the Oasis Granada Hostel – Lisbon, Portugal

Our friends at The Daily Meal love to keep us informed on the best of the best when it comes to food around the world. This time, they’ve done a great 20 best hostels around the world for food (since we know hostels can get a bad rap, and most of the time, that reputation isn’t unfounded). If a hostel serves any food at all, the best most backpackers can expect to find is some cheap white bread and bad coffee. For many travelers, this lack of decent food is hardly a point of contention. After all, eating pricey gourmet meals often isn’t an option for those traveling on a budget, and as long as the hostel is well located, safe, and free of bedbug sightings, what more could a backpacker ask for? A lot more, apparently, according to recent research.

Plus Berlin

Plus Berlin All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

A hostel meal will likely never reach the ranks of Michelin-starred dining or compare to the breakfast buffet at the St. Regis. However, some establishments are offering culinary delights such as barbecue, ceviche, poutine, and a burger that even the locals clamor over, and these are just a sampling of some of the excellent dishes found in hostel dining rooms around the world.  

Ceviche at La Hamaca Hostel - San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Ceviche at La Hamaca Hostel – San Pedro Sula, Honduras

For a minimal fee, guests at PLUS Berlin Hostel can enjoy an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and dinner in the hostel restaurant.  The restaurant’s manager, Diego, is Italian and takes pride in the quality of the food. Options range from pizza and pasta dishes to German specialties. The hostel’s well-stocked bar also serves cocktails to get you ready for a night exploring the neighborhood’s nightclubs.

The Green Tortoise

The Green Tortoise – San Francisco, CA

So what makes a hostel’s food stand above the fray? “Food is part of the cultural experience you get when you visit a foreign country,” explains Andres Poveda Solano, co-owner of Hostel Pangea in Costa Rica, while Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco provides hearty and healthy free breakfast every day of organic oatmeal and fresh fruit, and free dinner three times per week including dishes like pasta primavera and Thai curry.

The Menaggio Youth Hostel's Cooking Classes - Lake Como, Italy

The Menaggio Youth Hostel’s Cooking Classes – Lake Como, Italy

Good food at a hostel enhances the backpacker’s experience. One of the charms of staying in a hostel is the opportunity it offers to meet people from all over the world, and for these hostels, the dining room is one place where the magic happens. Whether you’re enjoying a hearty breakfast on a terrace overlooking the scenic French countryside or participating in a free tour with fellow travelers of a Spanish city’s tapas bars, the food at these top 20 hostels will create memories you won’t quickly forget.

The 20 Best Hotels Around the World For Food

What hostels have you stayed in that had great food?

By Michelle Kiefer

Springtime in Napa

Meadowood Napa Valley

Meadowood Napa Valley

Spring and Summer in the Napa Valley:  the air is fresh and fragrant with blooming wildflowers, vineyards are awash with green buds signaling another growing season, and afternoons are filled with bright abundant sunshine. We can’t wait to hit up our favorite part of California in the coming weeks! From hikes and golf clinics to a new bar at The Restaurant at Meadowood, this season’s happenings are a refreshing spring awakening. 

See

  • The Napa Valley Collects exhibition will showcase work from the region’s private art collectors at The Napa Valley Museum now through the end of May. The exhibition includes significant works sourced from throughout the Napa Valley, many never shown in public including pieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso. 
Golf Digest's Napa Valley Golf School

Golf Digest’s Napa Valley Golf School

Sweat

  • The Land Trust of Napa County offers hikes each weekend now through June. Ranging from low impact observation hikes to more strenuous hikes like Maggies Peak, which offers 360 valley views at the summit. Hikes are complimentary and are based upon availability.
  • The Chardonnay Golf Club has partnered with the Meritage Resort and Spa to offer Golf Digest’s Napa Valley Golf School. The one- or three-day intensive lessons are with a Golf Digest-certified instructor and are available starting at $1,499 per person.

Savor

  • The Restaurant at Meadowood’s new lounge and bar now offers a three-course menu for $90 per person, and “snacks from Chef Christopher Kostow”, a light tasting menu for $20 per person.
Delectable Dining at the Meadowood

Delectable Dining at the Meadowood

Sing (along)

  • The inaugural BottleRock Napa Valley music festival was May 8th-16th and featured over 60 artists and bands, including The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Zac Brown Band. Over a dozen comedians, including Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin, Wyatt Cenak, and Kristen Schaal will provide laughs in between musical sets. Day passes started at $139, multi-day passes at $329. Make a note to put this on your calendar next year.
A room at the Harvest Inn

A room at the Harvest Inn

Stay

  • Embark on a hot air balloon ride with Harvest Inn’s “Up, Up & Away” package.
  • Channel the inner artist at The Meritage Resort and Spa with the “Art of Relaxation” package, which includes an easel, paint, and brushes.  
  • Unwind at the Villagio Inn and Spa with the “Arts in April” package with a VIP Wine Tasting at V Wine Cellar, spa treatments, and a Champagne sabering session.                                                           

For more information about travel to the Napa Valley, including special offers and a full calendar of spring and early summer season events, visit www.visitnapavalley.com

The Morgans Hotel Group Breathes New Life into Their Digital Presence

Best Hotel Websites

Not unlike other major players in the digital hopsitality game like SLS South Beach’s new App or Conrad Hotels’ Conrad Concierge, now the Morgans Hotel Group, perhaps the first ‘Chic King’ in the hotel industry’s boutique sector with properties like the Delano (South Beach, Marrakech), Mondrian (LA, South Beach, NYC), Hudson (NYC), and Sanderson (London) to name just a few, has tapped New York-based digital agency, Firstborn, to partner on digital programming across its hotel properties, in addition to the development and re-launch of its global website. Firstborn will focus on creating mobile and web-based content geared toward enhancing the guest experience and promoting the brand’s boutique culture.  They’ll also be working to develop exclusive on-property technologies that will deliver a more personalized stay.  I’ll be curious to see what that entails, but I certainly have some ideas, if you need me, guys.  

Firstborn

Since mobile is clearly the new social for consumers, Kim Walker, Creative Director and Senior Vice President of Brand and Marketing at Morgans Hotel Group, said their goal to create “an enhanced presence that will provide better service, anticipate guest needs, and engage guests during every step of their stay.”  The real point here is that, when a guest chooses to stay at a Morgans Hotel Group property, they’re not just getting a place to sleep, they’re choosing to experience a unique culture.  This is a common trend in the hotel game and one that will only continue to become more competitive and innovative as hotels battle for the heads and beds. Earlier this year, Morgans Hotel Group also attempted to bring life and style back to the lifestyle game by introducing Back of House, a culturally rich blog that features curated content in the world of design, art, fashion, music, food and nightlife.  Through an extensive list of tastemakers, artists, and celebrities, Back of House wants to provide the kind of fresh, relevant material that makes guests feel on the cutting-edge of what’s current in the always-shifting cultural scene. Reminds me a bit of the 2010 launch of the LVMH blog, Nowness.com, which, after three years, appears to attract (according to Quantcast.com), approximately 184K UMVS (unique monthly views). Given the difficulty in growing a brand website or blog as a destination without daily content updates, a brilliant SEO strategy, and advertising support, it will be interesting to see how their content strategy develops and what they’ve set as KPIs to measure success.  That said, the brand is always one to watch with their tapped in style.

www.morganshotelgroup.com

Hot Spring & Summer Shades

While Cinco de Mayo (sadly) falls on a Sunday this year, we thought we’d share some hot specs so that at least we could look incredibly chic at each fiesta we plan to attend. Whether barhopping with our besties, doing the samba with our significant other, or hosting happy hour at our place, see the shades below from SOLSTICE Sunglasses which, we think, offer some of the sexiest and sleekest styles to complement every festivity (plus, these beauties from brands like Kate SpadeGucci, and Carrera will mask your Monday hangover after you finish celebrating one of the booziest holidays of the year). Drink responsibly!

Canta y No LLores

Three shots in and feeling brave? These transparent specs from Kate Spade and Carrera shield you from embarrassment after you join the in-house mariachi band to belt Cielito Lindo to your heart’s content.

sunglasses

Amor Prohibido

No need to learn a new language – these shades do all the talking for you.  Whether you’re enjoying outdoor tableside sangria with a cutie from the bar or dancing through the day and night, these bold and vibrant styles from Carrera add spice to your dating life.

Kate Spade sunglasses

¡Ay Caramba!

The perfect party host knows how to accessorize with these festive frames from Kate Spade.  Hang up the piñata in an outfit that coordinates with the surrounding red, white and green décor.

Herrera sunglasses

Como La Flor

Floral patterns are inspired by decorative folklorico designs. Embrace tradition with these styles from Kate Spade and Dior that accentuate your Bohemian side and are perfect through the summer!

Dior sunglasses