Ahh… Virgin Gorda’s Villa Aquamare

A Villa with a View

This one will make you wish you could re-marry all over again. Or, for those who haven’t settled on where to go for that big birthday, destination wedding, or family get together, check this out. Villa Aquamare’s new “Royal Arrival Package” offers a dramatic way to arrive in high style at the ultimate luxury villa enclave in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Aquamare, set on the scenic Western coast of Virgin Gorda at Mahoe Bay along half a mile of pristine beach frontage, consists of three 8,000 square-foot private villas.

Gorda never looked so good

Designed and constructed specifically as elite villa vacation homes, with multiple ensuite master bedrooms, spacious living areas and professional-grade kitchens, Aquamare is the new benchmark for luxury villa rentals on one of the B.V.I.’s quietest and most exclusive islands. Guests who book a seven night rental at one of Villa Aquamare’s lavish 8,000 square-foot five-bedroom beachfront homes will receive a round-trip private air charter transfer on Air America Caribbean, one of the most trusted charter airlines in the Caribbean. This astonishing $2,500 value, at no additional cost, includes VIP Meet & Greet service at both airports, speeding guests to the departure gate without the need to pick up luggage or enter TSA security. It’s the only way to go for A-List Hollywood celebrities, rock stars, and the well-heeled who are used to – and can afford – a luxury getaway that commences on the Jetway. Sighhh…

Want a bathies?

Using Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, the famed nine-passenger planes originally designed to transport the Queen of England on her visits to small islands around the Caribbean, Air America Caribbean will transport Villa guests in a similar royal fashion. Aquamare guests will be flown on a non-stop flight from either San Juan International Airport (SJU) in Puerto Rico to Virgin Gorda, BVI (a 40 minute flight) or from St. Thomas international airport (STT) to Virgin Gorda, (a 20 minute flight). At journey’s end lies Villa Aquamare, three private beachfront villas sequestered on Virgin Gorda, the crown jewel of the British Virgin Islands. Each villa offers five bedrooms, infinity pools, spacious living areas, gourmet kitchens, complete privacy, and discreet five-star service.

Sleeepiesss?

But The Royal Arrival Package offers guests more than just an opportunity to arrive in style. It eliminates a long layover, allowing the flexibility of tailoring the charter flight to fit the arrival time on a major carrier – and therefore maximizing precious vacation time. The round-trip island transfers and VIP service, valued at $2,500, are good for a maximum of nine guests.

Here’s the skinny:

“Royal Arrival Package”

Valid from January 10th-April 30th, 2012, based on renting all five bedrooms in one of Villa Aquamare’s villas for a week-long stay. Weekly Package rates – $23,500 are based on seven nights and a maximum of nine guests.

www.villaaquamare.com   

Casa de la Flora on Thailand’s Khao Lak

Casa de la Flora

Take me to Casa de la Flora! For a beach holiday among lush vegetation in private unspoiled surroundings, Casa de la Flora is one of Design Hotel’s finest. With 36 glass-front villas to the azure waters of the Andaman Sea, it’s located on Thailand’s Khao Lak, and all eco villas feature private pools and secluded patios.

Their sexier than thou pool bar

There’s also the resort’s amazing pool bar (see above) with double loungers and La Arunya restaurant, which offers excellent Thai and international cuisine. Great weather, beach yoga, island hopping from one sun-kissed beach to another using the resort’s private yacht (a romantic dinner onboard is a must for couples), and exploring the lush jungles along Khao Lak’s wild rivers…

What more do you really need?

www.designhotels.com/casadelaflora

Oliverio at The Avalon Hotel – A Christmas Dinner Deal in LA

The Pool View at Oliverio - Avalon Hotel, Beverly Hills

I’ve spent a lot of great times at The Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. It’s a bit of an institution for people who live and work in LA. Wedding parties, holiday soirees, girls drinks, a Friday night hoping that someone interesting just might be at the bar, a perfect date night because there’s just the right amount of quiet time… and people watching. After all, it is LA.

A few poolside nibbles

With that in mind, and as we near the holiday time, Angelenos… check it. If you’re anything like us, you probably left holiday plans a bit to the last minute. And, if you’re young, single, married, or dating, and looking for something nice, fun, and low key (with the prospect of meeting interesting people in the same place), look no further than this Christmas deal.

Enjoy a special pre-fixe Christmas Menu for $54/person

artichoke soufflé or seafood brodetto
black truffle veal ravioli or clam orecchiette
colorado lamb chops or mediterranean seabass
chocolate bread pudding or pumpkin pie

~prosecco, coffee/tea~
complimentary valet included

At Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills

http://www.avalonbeverlyhills.com/dining/christmas.pdf

Executive Chef Mirko Paderno

Check it out and Buon Natale!

Melanie Brandman is… The Travel Curator

She’s something of a 007 in heels… ready to hit the tarmac. She possesses that rare blend of friendly, fierce, and intelligent. And, of course, if she’s going to advise luxury hoteliers, she must also be lethally… stylish. She is… The Most Interesting Travel Curator in the World. She is… Melanie Brandman. Yes, anyone who’s anyone in the luxe travel world knows this stunning powerhouse and she’s always fascinated us for a variety of reasons. Namely, we admire women-on-top who carry-on a smile with business savvy to boot.
An eighth-generation Australian, Brandman spent her childhood in Melbourne and Sydney and, although she’s been calling NYC home for a number of years, she began her 20+ years of public relations experience with positions at Vogue Australia, and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts,  Sydney and London. Eventually, she settled in New York City where, in 2001, she established The Brandman Agency. Today, her agency counts itself as one of the major competitors in the global luxury travel market.

La Mamounia - Marrakech

Now, Brandman brings passion to her latest project and one that gets our attention… a travel website called The Travel Curator, for the traveler who craves exciting, unique experiences. The site – Melanie’s virtual diary of sorts – is designed to cut through all of the clutter of your average travel website; instead, giving people who love travel all of her tried and tested favorites, as well as word-of-mouth travel tips and favorite must-do’s. She’s all about what’s new and what’s now, places to go, and where to go once you’re there. This upcoming month The Travel Curator will feature London and each month in the Salon Section, a celebrity or influencer will be interviewed.

Melanie Brandman - The Travel Curator

So we asked Melanie: Out of your impressive client roster, what are some of  your favorites?

La Mamounia in Marrakech — Perhaps the most iconic hotel in Morocco, La Mamounia re-opened in late 2009 after a magnificent 3-year makeover, under the direction of star designer Jacques Garcia. There are two things that I love most about this hotel:

1) It’s historical significance. Since its original debut in 1923, La Mamounia has hosted the “who’s who” of international royalty, politicians, celebrities and the jet set

2) The design. The hotel fits perfectly into it’s surroundings, thanks to its contemporary Moroccan design. The breathtaking mosaics and moldings make you feel like you are in the city center (yet surrounded by peace and privacy).  The hotel has expanded with 136 guest rooms, 71 Suites, and three incredible Riads. Their spa is something like 27,000 sq feet, every inch of it divine, as is their iconic pool, which I love for people watching. I would, and often do, recommend this hotel to anyone in search of the very best.  www.mamounia.com

Villa San Michele - Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele in Fiesole, Italy — Once a Franciscan monastery, this flagship Orient-Express hotel is located on an ancient hilltop and features facades done by Michelangelo himself. It has perhaps one of the most epic views of any hotel I have ever stayed, a rare bird’s-eye view of Florence (one of my all-time favorite cities). It’s tranquil, it’s sophisticated… the service, the gardens, and white-glove room-service (especially for breakfast) are impeccable. www.villasanmichele.com

InterContinental Hong Kong's Superb Rooftop

InterContinental Hong Kong – Everything about this hotel is dramatic, in all the right ways. When I stay at this hotel, I feel as though I am right on top of the water, like being on a yacht in the middle of one of the world’s buzziest cities. The Presidential Suites, if you can sneak a peak, are not to be missed. The service and the butlers and the staff in general are beyond accommodating. And you don’t even need to leave the hotel to eat or drink, if you so choose — Nobu and Alain Ducasse’s Spoon are two of many superb dining options on property. http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/hongkong

So there you have it, straight from the 007 of bespoke travel. For more of Melanie’s insider travel picks and monthly interviews with top designers and celebs, check out her website, The Travel Curator, it’s one to watch.

www.thetravelcurator.com

Secretly Chic: Mid-Century Modern Vacation Home Rentals

The Kauffman Home - Palm Springs, CA

We recently met an architect who we queried about modern and boutique home rentals with stunning architectural elements. She gave us a few links to websites that we knew we needed to share, so here you go:
If It’s Hip, It’s Here Blog
Mid-Century Palm Springs
Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO.com)
Search “modern” on: http://www.vrbo.com
Boutique Homes
Modern Sarasota
This link below is actually a real estate site in Sarasota, Florida, a surprising hub for mid-century modern architecture – and the town is charming. Her friend has the “in” on all of Sarasota’s modern houses for sale and can arrange rentals of as-of-yet unsold homes. Apparently, Sarasota is a great place to unwind and is secretly cool town too.
Happy vacation home rental huntin’!

The Strand Hotel NYC: New Year’s Package

The Strand NYC

This New Year’s Eve, the 177-room Strand Hotel NYC on West 37th Street in the heart of New York’s fashion district, has announced its value-added New Year’s Eve celebration – The New Year’s Eve Fashion-Ganza.  The package offers fashion forward guests an opportunity to ring-in 2012 En Vogue in the fashion capital of the world without completely breaking the bank. Well, we’re not saying it’s cheap, but we will say, priced at an all-inclusive $799/per room (for a couple), the package features:

A Room at The Strand

Live entertainment, deluxe king room with view of the Empire State Building, flowers upon arrival, valet parking, a four-course chef tasting menu for two prepared by Executive Chef and star of Food Network’s Chopped, Kelvin Fernandez, a bottle of champagne, party favors, and special Midnight toast.  If priced separately, the package would total $950; a cost savings of nearly $200.

Happy New Year!

The package is exclusive of tax, gratuities, service charges, and can’t be combined with any other offer. It’s also limited so if you’re looking for an all-in-one exclusive and romantic one-on-one New Year’s with your honey, you can reserve it by contacting the hotel at reservations@thestrandnyc.com or (212) 484-1024

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