Sphatika’s Luxe Travel Kit

We are always looking for better, easier and smaller ways to save space when packing for that amazing vacation or even business trip.

While at an event in Los Angeles recently, I took a quick run through a pre -Golden Globes event at the beautiful Peninsula Hotel, scouting treasures that add an element of the new while ever seeking the perfect fit for our goal, the travel kit.

I found it tucked in a nook of one of the suites chock full of spa products. Now, I find spas the ultimate gift we give to ourselves at any given destination, but I was not fully prepared for the dream travel kit to be packaged in a small turquoise outlined white terry bag.

An array of treatment serums, masks, exfoliating creme, body gels and lotions were tucked inside, every one of them designed to do exactly what they said they’d do but with the added and most important detail that so personally appeals to me: No list of ingredients that are unrecognizable. Nothing synthetic, no petro-chemicals, no parabens, no lauryl sulfate and no animal testing. It is a company dedicated to a holistic skincare regime.

As I perused the  array of product, I was told about the Sphatika spa in New York City.  I made a mental note to get there sometime during the year, but could not ignore my readers who are always looking for products that travel and do the work! When I asked about traveling with product,  Salina, the lovely woman working at the event, lit up and pulled out a small white bag designed to tuck into place taking up so little room it shocked me.  The bottles hold no more liquid than is allowed on board and with the essential things needed to take care of skin business.

The kit holds 7 items and, though it doesn’t run cheap, is money well spent.

Retails $158

http://www.sphatika.com

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Wow… it’s Macau!

Macau. It may sound like the call of the wild and, for many a lusty gambler, it certainly might be, but for others, like our latest and greatest Jaunt Magazine Contributor, Sarah Ivens, it’s just what the spicy Brit ordered.

It’s easy to imagine Macau, the Chinese special territory to the south of the mainland, as the Vegas of Asia. And it truly is. All our billionaire buddies from the Strip have invested here (MGM, Hard Rock, The Wynn), turning this once quiet island into a glamorous destination – a hedonistic holiday away from the hum-drum.

But there is another side to it too – a side that is worth exploring and can add a much needed breather from the 24/7 showiness of life in the big hotels.

Macau is a world heritage site, filled with tiny village squares, walled gardens and a plethora of temples that act as beacons for the locals among the craziness. The most charming of all is the A-Ma temple at Barra Point. The temple is dedicated to the seafarer’s goddess, a poor lady who was refused passage on the boats of the rich ship-owners. Only a lowly fisherman took pity on her and took her on board.

The story goes that a massive storm brewed and every boat was wrecked except the fisherman’s tiny boat. When the fisherman and his charge got to shore in Macau, A-Ma disappeared, reappearing as a goddess on the boulder-strewn hill where the fisherman then built her temple.

The temple dates from the early 16th century and is an enchanting maze of tiny gardens and moon gates, winding paths leading up the hillside to various places of worship. The Chinese believe that god is not jealous, and that you should take all the good advice and good help you can get your hands on. Hence the temples here encourage worshippers to give thanks not only to Buddhist and Taoist gods, but to your ancestors and nature too. It’s a wonderful way to view the world and the A-Ma temple reflects that. Visitors are warmly received and photos are allowed. You can buy joss sticks from the temple keeper to light and offer your own prayers. At weekends you can watch a Lion dance, when local dancers dress up and perform the ritual of warning away bad vibes from the temple entrance and bringing the good luck in. It’s enchanting.

Back in a less spiritual world, the best place to stay in Macau is The Venetian. It’s the second largest building in the world (only a flower market in the Netherlands beats it), with beautiful suites, a see-it-to-believe-it golf course on the roof of the 8th floor and of course the ubiquitous mini Venice, complete with Gondola rides. Every high end store you can think of have set up shop here, happy to help the high rollers spend their winnings. While women can get pampered in the spa (where a cosmetic surgery clinic is opening soon – they really have everything under one roof here), soccer-mad husbands can check out The Manchester United Experience, an interactive museum that propelled my husband into a state of bliss. The Cirque do Soleil are in residence, with a new show called Zaia: which offers its own message about respecting Mother Nature and being kind and decent to your fellow man.

http://www.venetianmacao.com

Ivens, founding editor in chief of OK! Weekly in America, is the best-selling author of the lifestyle guides, ‘A Modern Girls’ Guide to…’ and the travel and adventure book ‘No Regrets’ (Broadway Books, $14).  A born and bred Londoner who now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, we’re thrilled to have this high falootin’ travel babe on board!

Eagle Castle Winery, Paso Robles

Managing Editor, Candace Poole, spent a busy week of Golden Globe hopping and reports back to us with her ‘treats from the suites.’

I’ve often said, “In my next life, I’ll grow the grapes that make all the dates in my life worthwhile.” For myself, a winery is a sacred place so, when I caught wind of the Eagle Castle Winery in Paso Robles, just a three hour drive from LA, I was planning my next trip. This particular winery is situated high on the hills of Paso Robles and looks like a path to heaven. A vintner is not only a seller of wine, but one whom truly wants to serve a product that pleases.  A unique person is one who desires to give their very best.

Meeting briefly with some of the staff from Eagle Castle, I was once again shown that the idea of serving is alive and well. Jeannie Beattie, the Marketing and Publicity Director, was warm and friendly, inviting me to taste the wines they were presenting at a pre-Golden Globes charitable gifting event called ‘Madison & Mulholland’ artfully put on by Jane Ubell-Meyer, CEO of Madison & Mulholland. The lively, fun-filled atmosphere was a welcome break from the usual flurry of celebs and throngs of journalists that frequent crowded Award Season Gifting Suites. Following my introduction to Ms. Beattie, I had a chance to meet with Executive Chef, Ryan Swarthout, from The Crown Room (located at the winery), a sweet young man who seems at top of his game. After feeding me a bite of Dungeness Crab Cake, I was all in!  An elegant woman nearby suggested to close with their 2007 Gold Medal winning Chardonnay ($18) as I made a mental note to drive up the coast for a taste of their 2008 Syrah Rosé ($14) which won BEST of SHOW – 2009 at the San Diego International Wine Competition. A bouquet of strawberries, spice, and a multi-award winning rosé… what’s not to love? I was also privy to the inside scoop on their 2008 Viognier ($25), reminiscent of a tropical breeze and pineapple with a hint of apricot to liven up the palette. The first in a series of new discoveries, I’ll be sure to re-visit.

More to follow on Paso Robles as, just like every frustrated writer, I’m long overdue for another Sideways-like adventure where I wax poetic about the virtues of Pinot Noir.

Eagle Castle Winery ~ A Flagship Winery on the Central Coast of California.

www.eaglecastlewinery.com

The Write Way To Travel

So many people say to us, “Jauntie, it must be so cool to be a travel writer!” Well, it is pretty cool, but we always tell them, “You too can be a travel writer. All you need to do is travel and write.”

Of course, then they want to know ‘How To Become a Rich Travel Writer That Jets Off to Amazing Places and Meets Other Amazing Travel Writers,’ but the truth is this… there are no rich travel writers! Making a living as a travel writer is another story altogether, particularly in the Digital Age when so much amazing information is available for free… online. Just like ours!

Plus, it’s not always as glamourous as it sounds. Sometimes, you’re stuck on a press trip with five weirdoes who complain about having to crack their own crab. There is no such thing is an ‘ideal job.’ That said, we came across a book that just might help your creative spirits soar.

After all, how often have you been stuck in an airport while your
 flight is delayed or waiting restlessly in the queue for
 your plane to take off? Air travel is notoriously
unpredictable and uncomfortable.

So, rather than compulsively texting or channel surfing, writing coach Jill Dearman, author of
Bang the Keys: Four Steps to a Lifelong Writing Practice suggests a productive and pleasurable alternative: write, traveler, write!
Bang the Keys is a like a writing workshop in a book. Dearman says, “Many writers feel liberated to bang out
 some quick, creative prose while traveling. The stimuli of
 being on the road is very energizing. There’s so much to
 see and write about, and it’s a great ‘in between
 time’ to tap into one’s imagination. And for those who don’t necessarily self-identify as writers, it’s a great time to just connect with the self, which is what writing
 essentially is, and tell their own stories, which may end up
on a blog or in a travel magazine.”
 
 Offering writing exercises that can be done while cramped into an airplane seat, all one needs is a notebook and pen or a computer and a desire to connect with oneself. 


In-flight exercises include:
 


•    FYI: Finding Your (Best) Idea, which
 allows you to play good cop/bad cop in your thoughts and
 pretend your idea is a suspect you are interrogating.


•    Three Minute Miracle Meditation,
 which involves meditation in an airplane seat and an open
 mind to reduce writer’s block


•    Quickies To Uncover Artful &
 Charming Keys To Structure, which has the writer bullet
 point the plot of their favorite story and examine it to
 apply structure to their own piece. 


Bang the Keys is
also filled with great reading about the craft of writing and the experiences of writers famous and unknown, living
and dead.
 


Dearman’s prose has been published in North Atlantic Review, Lilith, The Portland Review, New York Stories, and numerous other literary magazines. Dearman’s arts and culture features have been published in the New York Daily News, Time Out New York, Publishers Weekly, and many other publications. Her books, Queer Astrology for Men and Queer Astrology for Women (both from St. Martin’s) were on the gay best-seller lists for over a year.

www.bangthekeys.com

Design Your Own Jeans

We’re all about customization. In this world of look-a-like spray tans, extensions, clothes and shoes, having something made just for you is, well, a true luxury. To that end, we were introduced to an ingenious little idea that went by the name, IndiDenim.

IndiDenim is a website that allows you to design your very own custom denim jeans online.  You choose the exact details… from a variety of premium fabric and distressing options, to belt loops, hems, and pocket designs. No matter your shape or style preferences – www.indiDenim.com has you covered anywhere in the world (yes, they ship internationally too).

Using cutting-edge technology to produce custom-fit patterns based on information about body shape, your custom orders are stored in a personalized Digital Closet, so ordering new styles or making adjustments is just a few clicks of a mouse. We tried this service to see if it really did manage to make a jean that fit your exact body shape and we were thrilled at the results. We’ve always had a problem with jeans being too tight in the thigh and too loose in the waist. Constantly tugging at our jeans because they felt like they weren’t staying on, IndiDenim really did come to the rescue. Imagine having a jean that is fit to your exact measurements… it’s genius, we tell you, pure genius! Our butts never looked so good. They ask you such detailed questions that now we’re not surprised they seemed to know our bodies just as well as we do.  Though limited a bit on pocket styles (we’d love to see a luxe Gold or Silver stitching option a la Antik Denim) and skinny is still on the way (in fact, you can tailor the narrow style into a skinny jean by opting to take them in 1/2 inch to 1 inch through the calf), all in all… a perfect fit. Here’s a quick rundown of the options so start designing:

Several customizable styles, including the women’s classic slim fit (SoMa) and trouser jean (Presidio); and the men’s low rise (Mission) and classic fit (Potrero).

Premium American, Japanese and Spanish denims.

Wide selection of finishing treatments, from sanding and whiskering to heavy distressing with holes and scratches.

Your Digital Closet. Provides easy re-ordering and pattern storage – your size and style is always in stock.

The Perfect Fit Promise. Fit adjustments made until you’re happy.

Worry-free Shopping Guarantee. Full refunds accepted if you’re not completely satisfied.

Online Jean Builder. See your jeans being designed in real-time and make changes on the fly.

Design Vault. Shop styles created by other users and customize to your measurements.

Recycled Returns. In an effort to help the environment and give back to the community all returns and slightly damaged jeans are donated to various global organizations.

So really, you have nothing to lose. With a perfect fit promise and worry-free shopping, your hiney is bound to look tight!

Starting at $145

www.indidenim.com

Mayan Riviera: NIZUC

The commercial for the resort was created by the producers of 21 Grams and Babel. Yes, it’s true. The hotel better live up to the hype, eh?

Well, we’re pretty sure it will.

Set on 28 private beach-front acres, the NIZUC Resort Residence and Spa is the brainchild of hot hotelier Adrian Zecha. The ultra-luxury resort will stretch along the most beautiful coastlines of Cancun, Mexico and offer ‘an unrivaled travel destination for the discerning customer.’

It has everything one could think of moulded into a work of art by designers from around the world. Details offer modernity coupled with the vibrant touches of Mexican Mayan history. To that end, NIZUC is also selling residences: 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms with infinity pools, floor to wall windows, and views that will have you, well… standing still and taking them in all day and night.

The NIZUC resort also borders a 22 acre ecological reserve available to guests for nature walks, it’s own coral reef for divers, a Jack Nicklaus golf course, water sports, and, if you just can’t live without shopping, they’ll even offer a ‘luxury brand splash-your-cash adventure.’

Need we say more? It’s like a friggin’ movie.

www.nizuc.com

Total Sao Paulo

From hidden bars serving up $2.50 caipirinhas and tiny boutiques, to the best clubs and vintage markets, Total Sao Paulo: A Guide to the Unexpected (Unhinged Jaw Press) is the latest must-have travel resource for discerning creative types traveling to one of the worlds most up-and-coming cities. Written by Phuong-Cac Nguyen, an American journalist who has been reporting and breathing Sao Paulos pop culture/lifestyle beat for years, this paperback packs in places off -the-beaten track in 10 essential neighborhoods. Sprinkled among the candid, gorgeously shot photographs are also 11 easy-to-read, illustrated maps and 17 interviews with Sao Paulo VIPs who give the inside scoop.

Total Sao Paulo: A Guide to the Unexpected leads travelers through a rigorously edited list of Sao Paulos locally adored restaurants, art spaces, boutiques, street fairs, bars, clubs and other cant-miss sights, like the citys Red Light District and its version of Little Tokyo. The guide has a streetwise and clean magazine-style design (think Tokion, Wallpaper, or Nylon) and is written in a smart, edgy tone that makes it a speedy reference unlike any other travel guidebook about Brazil or South America on the shelf today. Its small, handbook-like size is convenient for on-the-go reading and has a sewn spine for extra durability. Thanks to a team that includes talented, locally based photographers and illustrators, travelers will get a truly first-hand experience of Sao Paulo through their eyes.

Retails for $26.99

www.unhingedjawpress.com

PS. A supplemental online Sao Paulo city guide will be launched in early 2009 at http://www.totalSPguide.com with profiles on hotspots, provocative features and a regularly updated happenings calendar.