Loreto Bay, Mexico – Spa and Yoga Retreat

Step out from the protective shade of a thickly thatched palapa, greet the day with a sun salutation, and feel the warm rays carry over majestic mountains as they dance upon the glistening waves.

Say Namaste to Loreto Bay in Baja Sur, Mexico, the UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the western shore of the Sea of Cortez and home to The Mission of Our Lady of Loreto, the first of the California missions and the 300-year-old jewel of Loreto.

Imagine if Cabo was still the blush on the peach. This is Loreto Bay. No group of fanny-pack wearing tourists slamming shots, no waiting an hour in line for Customs. Here, you can do yoga, take in serenity, do a little whale watching, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and even explore some local cave paintings.

Accommodations are available in a variety of full-service hotels, charming inns, and privately-owned one- and two-bedroom condominium residences.

Conveniently positioned between the Sierra de la Giganta mountains, The Loreto Bay Resort, a 8,000-acre community, neighbors the quiet fishing town of Loreto and offers its newest escape: a three-night spa and yoga package introducing guests to the quieter side of Baja.
So check out three nights of luxurious guest room accommodations at the Inn at Loreto Bay; a full meal of healthy offerings, multiple yoga sessions with a certified instructor; one facial and reflexology treatment; a full one-hour massage; a choice of one manicure or pedicure with foot or hand therapy; one back and neck massage; and other relaxation services. And did we also mention… the resort is eco-friendly?
Alaska Airlines also announced an increase in scheduled service from Los Angeles to Loreto. The new scheduled service will double the number of seats flown into the destination on a weekly basis beginning November 9, 2008 via two flights (Sundays and Thursdays) with 144-passenger, 737-400 equipment, and two additional 70-passenger flights on Tuesdays and Fridays operated by Horizon Air.

$880/per person
Based on double occupancy and valid for travel now through December 20, 2008

Vaya con Gurus.

Tel: 1-877-522-9466

St. Barth’s Baby: The Hotel Guanahani & Spa

Nestled in the middle of the Caribbean Sea on a private 16-acre peninsula is just the piece of paradise you’ve been saving for. Catherine Zeta Jones, Paul McCartney, and P. Diddy… they’re all big fans of this laidback, yet so chic it’s elite, 8 mile island. With fourteen beaches, a year-round temperature of anywhere from 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and enough beautiful people to fill several clubs in NY and LA, St. Barths is simply one of those ‘Places To Go Before You Die.’

Jaunt Magazine’s hot hotel pick for honeymooners, the jet-set, and loaded families alike is The Hotel Guanahani & Spa, a charming, luxurious paradise with the only full-service spa on the island. Set amid lush tropical gardens in between two white sand beaches; one facing a reef-protected lagoon, the other facing the Atlantic ocean, Guanahani’s 68 rooms are all in bungalows facing the sea. Hollah! Or, to be a bit more hoity-toity (after all, we are talking about St. Barth’s) we say, “Bon Jour, Bebe!”

For the truly exclusive, try out the Butler Suites, each with a private pool, large dining area, and sun terraces with full views of the sea. All rooms are fashioned in modern Creole style – rare dark woods and pastel shades. Pampering is one of our most popular pastimes so that means, unwinding at the full service Clarins Spa and getting coiffed at Frederic Fekkai’s onsite full-service salon.

Since we’re also fans of more adventurous pursuits, we love their full range of land and sea activities including boat rentals, kite surfing, water sports and tennis. Hungry too? Not a problem, the superb global cuisine is overseen by world traveled, French Chef Philippe Masseglia, at the Guanahani’s restaurants, Le Bartolomeo, and L’Indigo. The Hotel Guanahani & Spa is also known for catering to families and couples, providing both Kindergarten and Junior’s programs free of charge, offering couples with kids a welcome respite in an idyllic setting on a coconut grove.
Hotel Guanahani Garden Suite

Room rates range from:
$462 to $7,327
360€ to 5,700€


Pst… a little fairy also told us about two other hot spots not to be missed:

Le Ti, located in Pointe Milou, where you can eat and party with a different theme every night of the week. On Mondays, you can feel like you’re in two places at once… St. Barth’s and Marrakesh with their ‘Marrakesh Party.’ On Tuesday night, the theme? ‘Night Fever’ and the dress code is appropriately ‘wigs and color.’ The owner, Carole, even goes retro on Wednesdays for the notorious Plastic Boots Party. Expect to dance on some tables. In a very Euro chic kind of way, of course.
Reservations are recommended: 05 90 27 97 71 or info@ksplaces.com

Maya’s is another local dining favorite. Elegant, yet beautifully understated, the menu boasts all the fresh fish and Creole cooking you can handle in a delicious and ‘uncluttered’ fashion.

So, if you’ve got the dollah bills or the Euros, this is how you ought to be spending it, nay?

We say, “Oui.”

Aromatic Journeys: Awaken Your Senses


Stroll past two sparkling white Rolls Royce Phantoms through the sliding glass doors into paradise. Inlakesh. That’s how the staff of this ultra-chic Cancun resort greets you. In Mayan it means, “We are different faces of each other.” And this is what it means to ‘Feel AQUA.’ At peace and one with the environment. From the custom aromatic oils pumped throughout the hotel to Watsu treatments, Ashtanga Yoga, Regional Cooking Classes and your choice of two superb restaurants, Siete and MB, home to James Beard Winner, Michelle Bernstein’s stellar boite…

This certainly ain’t your parents run-of-the-mill Cancun resort. Think the W’s modish elegance meets Ritz-Carlton’s flawless service. Fans include the likes of Paris Hilton, Kim Cattrall, and… me. When they say awaken your senses, they truly mean it. Right down to a nightly choice, delivered straight to your room, of six aromatic oils blended specifically for the hotel.


Intoxicating, sensual, and unique. Just like you. Sure, anyone who’s anyone knows about the Four Seasons Resort Maui, but do they also know about their brand-spankin’ new demi-blending scent analysis?


Through a discussion with your mélanger, along with an in-depth computerized test, personalized perfume sessions target elements of your personality and aspects of your health that directly affect the scents – and senses – you’re drawn to. Ajne Rare & Precious, the expert all-natural and organic essential oil perfumerie out of Carmel, California, is run by husband and wife duo, Jane Hendler and Rex Rombach, and Handler personally trains each mélanger at the Four Seasons Resort Maui to guide you during your prêt-à-porter fragrance consultation.

Hendler is one of the few accredited Certified Master Essential Oil Therapists in the nation and has been called the ‘Star Perfumer’ by US Weekly. Some of her clients have included Jessica Biel, Reese Witherspoon, Alanis Morrisette and Rob Lowe. In addition to owning their own lavender farm in Carmel Valley, Jane and Rex work with small growers from around the world to obtain the organic and sustainably-harvested fruit, flower, leaf, grass, wood, lichen, fungi and spice oils that Jane transforms into parfum, lotions and skin care preparations in her Carmel laboratory boutique. Hand-blending each formula to a customer’s specific needs, Handler also developed a signature scent for Four Seasons Resort Maui, Palena`ole, available at the Spa’s retail.

Custom blend and consultation from $250


So bring the sweet smell of vacation home with you.

Feel like a guided aromatic meditation? Might we recommend a personal aromatherapy session with Renate, the on-site Artist-in-Residence, at the Ojai Valley Inn’s Artist Cottage and Apothecary? This German beauty will guide your senses through a holistic journey of self-discovery in a variety of media, whether it’s pottery, painting, drawing, wreath-making, or, my personal favorite, scent. Allow for time alone or share the experience with your family and friends. I had the pleasure of being guided through an afternoon of aromatic self-discovery with my husband – who just happened to develop my current favorite anointment he lovingly called ‘Orchard Floor.’ It was the perfect experience to end a perfect birthday weekend. Each scent is composed of essential therapeutic oils which you can also introduce into lotions, gels and creams that will carry your own name. Also worth mentioning… The Personal Mandala class, another Signature Ojai Experience, recommended at times of transition or when seeking clarity. Quiet and introspective, with insightful feedback from your instructor, these sessions reveal a deeper meaning to what lies on the paper.

From $150


Part II: The Sweet & Spicy Souks of Syria

Part II of our newest Contributor, Singapore-based, Hajar Ali’s series, continues to give us a taste of the Middle East with her take on Syria’s sweet and spicy souks.

A trip to the Souk Hammadiyeh isn’t complete without a trip to Bakdash, an ice cream store that’s virtually an institution in Damascus. It’s the place for family get-togethers, couples going on dates as well as a celebratory venue for engagement parties.

Bakdash sells only one type of ice-cream, a delicious white concoction with a generous coverage of pistachio.

The souks were a maze of stores and my disoriented mind was unable to distinguish between the various souks. I recall travelling through various aromas of soaps and spices, staying with the Italian ladies as they negotiated over the silver jewellery, going through stacks of table linens and deciding which jallabiyas to buy for female friends and family members back home. In reality, the souks were divided into the Souk Al Hamidiyeh, the most prominent and most popular amongst tourists, the Souk Midhat Pasha, the Souk al-Bzouriyeh (as the area where the soaps and spices are to be found) and the Souk al-Harir. It’s probably best to enlist the help of a good guide who’d be able to bring you to Ghraoui, the manufacturers of the best dried fruits and chocolates in the world, if Paris Salon du Chocolat Awards are anything to go by…


Tony Stephan’s antiques store at No 156 is also renowned for having the finest quality at the best prices. With a range of textiles, mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, antique Bedouin jewellery, and intricate copper and brassware visitors have included dignitaries like Jimmy Carter and Nancy Kissinger. In addition, check out the ultra-chic Villa Moda, a boutique converted from a 17th century stable, stocking labels like Stella Mc Cartney and Azzedine Alaia.

The street food in Syria was amazing– a welcome departure from the mezze I’d been having for breakfast, lunch and dinner so far in Syria. Once, we’d stopped by a street stall to buy something resembling falafels and the store keeper had in turn plied us with slices of hot thin-crust pizza (so good we’d asked for the name, of which I can’t remember now) and vehemently refused our attempts to pay for the pizza. Travelling is one activity where you’d always gain more from your interaction with locals, the other travelers you meet along the way and the richness of experiences than what you’d be able to give in return, but Syria is one of the places where the feeling of taking more than what you give gets rather overwhelming.

Two days later, I temporarily parted ways with my travel companions- they were headed to the Krak des Chevaliers and I, having fallen under the spell of Zenobia, the Warrior Queen, was headed for Palmyra. We’d arranged to meet in Aleppo, staying at the Hotel Baron, which we’d all agreed would be an interesting choice of accommodation given the history behind it.

Hotel Baron, was, in its heyday, host to some of the most illustrious individuals of its time. Stepping off from the Istanbul-Aleppo train connection (which still runs today), were individuals like Agatha Christie, T.E. Lawrence and Charles Lindburgh

A fascinating jaunt into the past… and a welcome embrace to the future.

To be continued…