Maui’s Best Boutique Hotels

Paia Maui Paia Inn Boutique HotelWe’ve been looking forward to writing this piece for quite some time.  After visiting a few key boutique hotels around the great island of Maui, we had to share our findings on Maui’s best boutique hotels.  Sure to be a hot draw among honeymooners and hip trendsetters, is first on our list… The Paia Inn right in the heart of Paia town.  What can we say? We, along with Owen Wilson and Mick Fleetwood, heart Paia. In addition to our fondness for Cafe Mambo, Jacques, Flatbread, and all things Alice in Wonderland, we had to give a shout out to The Paia Inn, a quaint restored beachside boutique located in the heart of charming Paia Town, just steps from a 3 mile stretch of white sand beach on the stunning Northshore of Maui.

Paia Inn Deluxe Room

The newly renovated hotel, originally established in 1962, offers luxurious and comfortable rooms with modern amenities like complimentary WiFi (yay!), flatscreen TV’s, 500 thread count sheets, a chic lobby lounge, a garden patio, and private beach access. It’s not only one of the most fun spots in Maui, but with staff like beautiful Nina, you truly get some of that Aloha spirit.

Rates from $169/night

Another Maui gem, tucked less than two blocks from the ocean, is one of our favorite hidden boutique properties.  The Plantation Inn is one of Maui’s secret retreats, a boutique bed and breakfast and sister property of Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel.

Plantation Inn - Maui

Most people opt for the easy chain resort holiday, but those in the know opt for something a bit more… intimate.  With turn of the century architecture and charm, combined with modern amenities such as air conditioning and soundproofing, this quiet, private, setting feels like a Southern mansion in the heart of Hawaii’s happening Lahaina town. With only 19 rooms and suites, each with its own unique custom interior design, The Plantation Inn is also home to Gerard’s Restaurant, one of the finest French restaurants in North America. Romantic and comfortable, Chef Gerard Reversade’s Contemporary Island French Cuisine consistently earns some of the highest ratings in Hawai‘i.  Daily deluxe continental breakfast is complimentary and includes Chef Reversade’s gourmet French toast, Eggs Basquaise, homemade yogurt and special blend mueslix, bagels, lox and cream cheese, along with fresh fruit, Gerard’s special-blend coffee and tropical juices. Guests also receive a special discount on the set-dinner menu at Gerard’s. Also worth mentioning, guests have complimentary access to all of the hotel amenities offered at its sister property, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel.

Rates from $179/night

Honorable ‘Bed and Breakfast’ Mentions

Upcountry Bed and Breakfast

In Kula, otherwise known as ‘The Big Red House”

Rates from $125/night

Maui Moonlight Garden

Rates from $130/night

The Aloha Pualani

Rated TripAdvisor’s 2008 Traveler’s Choice

Rates from $195/night

For other private cottages and B&B’s, check out the website below. There are a slew of small privately owned homes/cottages/bed and breakfasts around the island, particularly Upcountry (Kula area), as well as on the Road to Hana.

Maui Bed and Breakfasts

Happy Surfing!

Aspira: Berlin’s Latest Design Hotel

Berlin Hotel Room - AspiraOn November 6th 2009, a new and unique refuge from the bustling city of Berlin will open behind the trees and noble façades of Berlin’s affluent Charlottenburg district: The Aspria Hotel, a 42-room retreat connected to a renowned 14,000 m2 state-of-the-art spa and sporting club.

Berlin-based designer, Michael Brown of NAU, redesigned the former industrial space and all accommodation – 39 rooms, 3 apartments and 2 conferencerooms – bears the signature of this up-and-coming design team. The result is an innovative series of calming, highly modern spaces, full of light and thoughtful design touches.

The generously sized open plan rooms have nearly 30 m2 of usable space, 3.5 m high ceilings and elegant furniture by German designers, Vitra and Walter Knoll. Guests enter their accommodation with a clear view of a panoramic window and a tailor-made pedestal bed that seems to float in the middle of the room. Along the length of the window stretches a desk with the same grey surface as the bed. It varies in height and can be used as a writing desk, a bench or an area to open suitcases. In order to bring natural light into the bathroom, frosted glass has been used extensively, separating the shower area and toilet from the open sink and dressing room. The lighting design, featuring Moooi and Linea products, allows for flattering ‘mood lighting’ or brighter, concentrated light for working, playing off elegant Vescom ‘Brora’ wallpaper on one wall and, in a special touch, a gold shimmering bedhead upholstered in ‘Sudden’ fabric from Kvadrat. Even the television has not gone without a rethink: the cutting-edge Philips Ambilight screens are ceiling-mounted at an angle that corresponds perfectly with the bed’s backrest.

Berlin Hotel Aspira PoolEqually as important as the rooms, however, is the hotel’s setting: in place of a standard lobby and a tucked-away after thought of a gym, the Aspria Hotel allows guests to take advantage of an impressive 14,000 m2 of fitness and wellness space. The spa has been extended and refurbished, adding a hamam, a salt inhalation room and a wave dream installation relaxation room to the saunas, whirlpool, the lap poolkneipp baths, and the amazing rooftop terrace. Treatments and massages by the professional spateam complement this range of almost endless wellness opportunities.

The result: the ultimate city health and wellness resort for that jaunt to Berlin.

Prices start at an über-reasonable  €89/night

Siena, Italy: Castel Monastero’s Fine Food & Wine

Siena, Italy Castel Monastero

There’s something sexy about an Italian hotel in Tuscany where you can learn how to cook and get a good rubdown.  Opening just a few months ago, in July 2009, Castel Monastero is a one luxury Tuscan resort not to be missed. Located just 14 miles east of Siena in the historic medieval village of Monastero d’Ombrone in the Chianti region of Tuscany. Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, the resort occupies a collection of stone buildings on a hilltop, dating back to the 11th century.

With two restaurants by multi-Michelin starred Chef Gordon Ramsey (and our personal favorite on the cooking show circuit), Castel Monastero is poised to take its place among the top destinations for Tuscan cuisine. A regular schedule of course in gastronomy taught by renowned chefs and wine experts is all part of the resort’s culinary experience.

In conjunction with Urban Retreat, The 10,000 square foot Castel Monastero Spa is dedicated to instilling calm through treatments and detoxification (and you’ll need it after all that great food and wine). The resort has one indoor and two outdoor swimming pools, as well as meeting space perfect for business events and weddings.

So we say, “Get thee to Tuscany!”

Gordon RamseyOr, as Gordon would say, “Why the f@-k are still sitting there for? Stop it with your pathetic excuses! Do you care about your life or not?”

And no one, and we mean, no one, wants to disappoint the master.

Starting at €380/night

St. Croix, Virgin Islands: Fall Travel Deal!

Virgin Islands Truck Bay

This just in from the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for travelers interested in an affordable Fall vacation in St. Croix (home of one of Jaunt Magazine’s closest cohorts, the illustrious Mundi Morning Male).

“St. Croix Fantastic Flight” Promotion

Perk: $150 per-person airfare credit and a fourth night free at participating hotels

Booking deadline: October 5, 2009

Travel deadline: November 15, 2009

Participating hotels: The Buccaneer, Carambola Beach Resort & Spa, Chenay Bay Beach Resort, Club St. Croix Beach & Tennis Resort, Colony Cove Beach Resort, Company House Hotel, Divi Carina Bay Resort, Hibiscus Beach Resort, Hotel Caravelle, King Christian Hotel, The Palms at Pelican Cove and Sand Castle on the Beach

How to book: Promotion must be booked through one of the participating tour operators – AA Vacations,, Delta Vacations, Expedia, GoGo Worldwide Vacations and Travelocity

About St. Croix – St. Croix is a unique island with a rich culture and colorful past, as evidenced by its Danish architecture, historic landmarks, vibrant botanical attractions, diverse culinary landscape, music and traditions. Visitors may choose to explore Frederiksted – a town replete with historical significance, embark on a culinary tour of Christiansted ’s outstanding restaurants, visit the island’s museums and public gardens, or sail to Buck Island, rated one of the world’s best snorkeling spots. The island also boasts the region’s only certified organic farm – The Creque Dam Farm – which hosts an array of fun culinary and sustainable-agriculture programs for visitors and popular “slow down” BYOB dinners.

For more information visit:

The Renaissance Re-Brand: Luxury Savings & Romantic Escapes

Paris Arc de Triomphe Luxury Hotel RoomFinally!  Renaissance Hotels, part of the Marriott group, is celebrating the launch of two incredible new hotels and a whole new look for the Renaissance brand.

On September 17th, they’ll be holding a simultaneous launch event in NYC & Paris to celebrate the opening of Renaissance NY Hotel 57 and the Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe, along with 9 days of exclusive packages at Renaissance hotels around the world.

These amazing packages are for purchase and bid, offered at a savings of 50% off, and include things like a holiday package in both Paris and New York with NYE in Times Square, elephant trekking in Thailand, backstage access at Oprah, tracing your ancestry in Ireland, celebrity chef experiences, and riding on a float during Mardi Gras, “These fun, incredible deals,” as Elizabeth Caminiti, Marriott’s PR Manager for International Relations, says, “speak to what Renaissance is all about… incredible experiences and discovery.”

Sample packages:

Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel

Sweet Suite in Paris, offered at $2,500, includes:

Three nights in a luxurious suite, VIP welcome including a bottle of Champagne upon arrival, in-room Indonesian massage for two, private cooking lesson with chef of Makassar restaurant, exploring Paris’ hidden treasures with insider’s tour with hotel Concierge, two tickets to “The Lion King”, and, get this… an unlimited in-room mini-bar!

Must stay before December 30th

New Orleans Luxury HotelsRenaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette HotelMardi Gras Spectacular in the Big Easy auction package includes:

3 nights in deluxe suite, a tasting menu at the Chef’s Table in the kitchen at MiLa, an exclusive viewing of the parades on St. Charles Street’s Intercon Stage with Bourbon Street balcony passes, a ride in the Krewe of Endymion Parade, ending the evening at the Endymion Ball in the Louisiana Superdome with limo transport. Not to mention… a couples massage at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, dinner at Le Cote Brassierie at the Renaissance New Orleans Art Hotel with a parade view, the Krewe of Bacchus Parade, front row seats at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, and breakfast for two each morning plus brunch at the famous Brennan’s restaurant!

Package available February 12-15, 2010

Other packages include:

The Blackstone Renaissance Chicago HotelBE Blackstone VIPs – Auction Package

Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & SpaRomantic Bliss at Koh Samui is offered at $950

The Shelbourne Renaissance Dublin HotelRoots in the Old Country: An Irish Special is offered at $950

Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & SpaA Hollywood Red Carpet Treatment is offered at $900

La Concha Renaissance San Juan ResortLiving LA VIDA: San Juan Style is offered at $1350

Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach Resort & SpaSun and Fun, In Miami Beach is offered at $2,700

Santa Barbara: The Four Seasons Biltmore Restored

Candace PooleBy Candace Poole

Writer/Contributor, Candace Poole, has traveled the globe from Hong Kong, Thailand, and Israel to almost every state in the great USofA. With an expert background in interiors, when reviewing five-star properties, she brings her fine eye to Jaunt Magazine.

Ty Warner is to historical property restoration what the very best plastic surgeon is to the rich and famous.  As my sister and I made our entrance to the Four Seasons The Biltmore in Montecito, the favorite haunt of our parents during their young marriage, the property met us with one of those wonderful remembrances of time having stood still.

Four Seasons Santa Barbara BiltmoreA glamorous escape to the 1930’s, you can almost imagine secret liaisons behind silk drapes and dark wood floors. There is good reason why this property is home to high-end weddings and romantic escapes.  I hadn’t been back in years so, on this assignment, Jaunt Magazine wanted to know, “Is the Four Seasons in Montecito really as romantic as they say?  Has the restoration truly held onto its integrity?”  The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

Mr. Warner, the current owner, has managed to show yet another side of his multi-faceted life.  The dazzling success of the restoration of the hotel (redesigned and improved by Reginald Johnson in 1927) has indeed been brought into state of the art amenities without one trace of the operation. No keloid scars, no surface pulled too tight. Even the approach from the street had been altered and it took me awhile to put the changes together.  Now the entire surface of the drive is brick and Santa Barbara sandstone and the valet parking area has been lowered to enhance the ocean views of Butterfly Beach.  There is a beautiful fountain designed by Ty Warner and Susan Van Atta.  Once inside, I was taken aback by the beautiful murals.  Over the front desk and the Concierge desks, in graceful arches, are beautifully rendered paintings of the Channel Islands.

Four Seasons Santa Barbara Guest RoomWe went to our room we were delighted with the detail of the Spanish Colonial Revival décor delivered with grace and dignity. The tiles reflected the subtlety of the fabrics and furnishings and we made special note that even the air vents of the room were sculpted cutouts in the plasterwork with the Spanish and Moorish influence of the building being honored.  There was not an unsightly metal vent to interfere with the flow of the space.  We were also shown a cottage on the property with its deep walnut floors and tastefully designed eclectic group of antiques and antique replications appropriate to the style of the original hotel.  Even the Asian influence, so part of the Arts and Crafts movement, was not ignored. Beautifully designed silk hand knotted rugs abound. In the past, there were long-term guests who lived in these cottages at the back of the property.

Four Seasons Santa BarbaraOur first stop after checking in was to the terrace of the Bella Vista Restaurant where we nibbled tuna tartar and rested our eyes on the beautiful Butterfly Beach view, the same gently rolling lawn to the wide boulevard and onto the beach that our parents enjoyed so long ago.  At one point, my sister exclaimed, “Look! Porpoises playing along side that boat in the harbor!”

It was a perfect welcoming to the bounty we were about to receive. Bella Vista’s comprehensive wine list emphasizes local Santa Barbara County producers, featuring big reds like a 2006 Babcock ‘Grand Cuvee’ Pinot Noir and an esteemed 2004 Curran ‘Black Oak’ Syrah, which could not disappoint the most sophisticated connoisseur.

While strolling the grounds with Gena Downey, the PR Director, she informed us of the many rare plants that abound the 24-acre ground.  There were gardeners everywhere, keeping things tidy and Mr. Warner again, has brought in an array of rare and exotics that are flourishing. From the Morton Bay Fig Tree, about 120 years old, to the 3,000 species of plants, it truly is a place of refined beauty and peace.  There is even an English country garden filled the various sundry herbs and flowers that are used by the chefs!

Four Seasons Santa Barbara PoolThe walk around the pool was yet another adventure in attention to detail.  The actual pool tiles, Tyles TM, were developed by Mr. Warner and we marveled at the effect of the special iridescent tiles of his own design as they spilled like a million diamonds on the surface of the water’s reflection.  Along side the pool, are two separate hot tubs of differing temps to please the desire of the guest.  State of the art technology allows for no chlorine!  Even the deck of Sweetwater sandstone is a first. It is the first natural stone to be approved by the health department.  The natural teak chaises were designed by Ty Warner as well (and trademarked as such, The Biltmore Chaise TM).

Four Seasons Santa Barbara Romance

When we were then shown the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, I knew where the action was.  While the hotel seemed so quiet and peaceful, the happy noise of young people splashing about in one of the largest pools I’ve seen at any hotel, I knew we were seeing the great effect of the changes made.  There were young families and couples everywhere and so many activities that a weekend would not be enough of a stay.  There is biking, boating, and beaching, and kids have their own special place for hanging out while their parents might be off on a tour.

If you’re imagining a perfect family or romantic get-away, it is here.

Dinner at the Tydes was the highlight of the stay.  We dined outside on the deck with its stunning view of the ocean.  As the Southern California sun set, the happy noise of diners surrounded us.  Our server, Frank Rios and Alessandro Rossi, the Restaurant Manager, performed beyond all expectation. With the Four Seasons, one receives nothing but the best service, but Frank was there for every need without breaking into our own private celebration.  Before we began, the chef delighted us with the compliment of the freshest Cucumber Soup. Absolutely perfect. I had the Sea Bass, floating on a bed of sweet garlic potatoes and spinach, with clams forming the moat. My sister had the duck and fennel pasta (she waxed poetic over it). It was, as she said, like ‘angels bathing in her mouth.’  The fennel was subtle and the hint of garlic was faint as to cause nothing false. Perfectly al dente and snapped with a punch.

Naturally, we wanted to appear to be civilized when the dessert menu arrived. That was a hard one! Everything sounded wonderful but we eventually decided upon a selection of tastes. Each one was, in all honesty, amazing. But now hear this, we had passed on the house specialty, being the greedy little diners we are, but they sent us one anyway. Perla, a white chocolate clam that opens when a warm raspberry sauce is poured across the mouth of it!  Inside sits on one side, a chocolate pearl, silver/white on the outside and deep mocha inside. Filling the other half shell is a beautiful tropical sorbet and tapioca. I wanted all of it to myself! It swam in a raspberry sauce and foam. It seemed almost wrong to eat it. We readily overcame that thought.

A perfect quarter moon hung low in the night sky and the light from the reflection on the water was out of central casting. I could not imagine what more to ask. It had to end and we did not cover nearly what is offered. The Spa was one goal we missed. We were able to view one room and I fixated on the Venetian plaster on the walls, so beautiful I had to keep adjusting my gaze to see it. Another visit can’t come soon enough.

So, whether you’re a swooning honeymooner or two sisters experiencing a special place that their beloved parents shared together, The Four Seasons Santa Barbara The Biltmore is one location not to be missed.

Rooms start at $525/night and starting November 1st, 2009 rates will begin at $375 for the winter season. 

Places to Eat In and Around Santa Barbara



Tupelo Junction

Backyard Bowls






Cafe Luck

Santa Barbara Wine Country


Root 246

Tenerife, Spain: Abama’s Wellness Retreat

Luxury Hotel Tenerife Spain Yoga RetreatMeet me in Tenerife!

This week we’re feeling Spanish. Maybe it’s our Latin heritage. Perhaps, it’s our Spanish friend, Maria, whose accent makes us dream of Sevilliano nights… either way, we’re all dreaming of Abama Golf & Spa Resort, a world-class destination spa on a cliff-top resort in Tenerife, Spain.  Yes, it’s operated by only the finest (The Ritz Carlton Hotel Co) and it’s a one-of-a-kind 5-star European beach destination located on the smooth slopes of the Pico del Teide volcano (the highest point in Spain).  An oasis of luxury, surrounded by banana plantations and its own beach; a sheltered cove of golden sand that meets the crystal waters of the Atlantic, we’ll say this much: The Resort includes 7 swimming pools, a private beach and Beach Club, a Tennis Club, Kids’ Club and Spa. With African influences and scents of herbal flower essences to complement the power of the ocean, we’re counting down the days (and the Euros) ‘til we pack our bags and go!

Tenerife Spa Resort Yoga Wellness ProgramOffering a new Spring/Summer 2009 Abama Total Wellness Program, a diagnostic programme that evaluates guests current health state, along with expert advice, the programme is individually tailored based on Abama Spa’s five pillars of Beauty, Rejuvenation, Relaxation, Revitalisation and Balance. Taking the stress out of planning a healthy escape with Spa treatments, healthy dining at the signature hotel restaurants, healthy cooking and nutrition workshops, and specifically designed wellness in-room amenities and mini-bar. Did we say… mini-bar?

The Abama Total Wellness Programme introduces guests to an orto-molecular consultation with an in-house fitness and nutrition expert to oversee and recommend a unique diagnostic approach to fitness and nutrition based on lifestyle habits, illness symptoms, diet and exercise.

Package and rate details:

The 7-Day Abama Total Wellness Premium Plan – An all inclusive and individually tailored 7-day full detox escape includes:

7 night Deluxe Room accommodation

Upgrade to ABAMA Deluxe Room with Ocean View

Full Board (tailored healthy meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner in Spa Café)

Personalised diagnostic with nutritionist and fitness evaluation

Complimentary in-room healthy mini-bar and amenities

6 Signature Rituals

2 Daily Treatments (grooming and/or massage)

3 Daily Fitness/Well-being Classes (total 24)

Nutritional Workshop

Daily Access to Thermal Water Circuit and Gym

5,250€ per stay per person

Tenerife Spain Luxury ResortThe 7 Day “A La Carte” Wellness Plan – A flexible “a la carte” plan tailor made for a of 7 days includes:

7 night Deluxe Room and Breakfast in La Veranda

Upgrade to ABAMA Deluxe Room with Ocean View

Personalised Diagnostic and treatments consultation

Daily Access to Fitness Classes, Thermal Water Circuit and Gym

1 Signature Ritual

1,515€ per stay per person

There are also 3 Day and 1 Day Wellness Discovery Programs available if time and money is tight.

So what are you waiting for? Tenerife isn’t going to come to you!