5 Great Girlfriend Getaways

Dubai’s Shopping Mall

Our friends at Friendly Planet Travel, a leading full-service group tour operator that specializes in high-quality tours to international destinations at affordable rates, has just told us about a five new packaged deals that revolve around exploring, sunbathing, shopping and dining… perfect for a relaxing trip with the girls.

Dazzling Dubai & Bangkok: this 9-day tour starts at $2,299 and takes the ladies to the epicenter of modern luxury in Asia. From world-class shopping and dining, to fascinating culture, it may be hard to convince the girls to come home!

Some leather bags in Florence

Leather bags in Florence

Incredible Italy: this 10-day tour from $3,099 takes travelers through Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome and more for a true taste of the flavors of Italy. Travelers will enjoy the charismatic Italian countryside, the celebrated wineries and see Italy’s most famous art – not to mention enjoy world-class shopping! If you love leather, the shops in Florence give you plenty of choices when it comes to handmade items such as wallets, belts, gloves, jackets, briefcases, and shoes.  Most of the leather shops are in Santa Croce and San Lorenzo, but Florence is also famous for two outdoor markets between Piazza San Lorenzo and Via Nazionale along the Via Dell’Ariento.  The other market is known as the Mercato Nuovo which was built in the 16th century and is located under a logia a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio.

The Springs Resort - Costa Rica

The Springs Resort – Costa Rica

Captivating Costa Rica: this 7-day tour starting at only $1,179 is the perfect getaway for girlfriends looking to soak up the sun! The tour takes travelers to explore the tropical rainforests and jungles, cloud forest, volcanoes, mountains and more that define Costa Rica.

Kenya Safari Express: this 8-day tour from $2,299 takes girlfriendson the ultimate African Safari. Savvy travelers and novices alike can check Kenya off of their list of dream vacations. With abundant wildlife and lavishly gorgeous, incredibly photogenic landscape, travelers will enjoy the teeming cities and exotic wildlife that Kenya is known for.

Taste of Ireland: this 7-day tour from $1,799 takes travelers through Dublin, Kerry, Limerick and Kilkenny. The ladies can enjoy the quaint Irish towns, explore the rolling green hills and end the day enjoying a pint of Guinness and Irish music.

All Friendly Planet Travel tours include round-trip airfare, deluxe hotel accommodations, many meals, comprehensive sightseeing and more so check them out and tell ’em we sent ya!

www.friendlyplanet.com

Hollywood Heartthrob, Patrick Muldoon, Tells Jaunt Magazine His Favorite Hot Spots

Patrick Muldoon

Patrick Muldoon

Sexy surfer, hot actor, multitalented musician, Days of Our Lives soap star, and, of course… fan of all things travel and adventure, Patrick Muldoon makes a guest appearance on Jaunt Magazine and we couldn’t be more thrilled. With a mug like his, how can he not make us look good too? To that end, he travels a lot like we do: freewheelin, exotic, and family friendly (as in… he’s even got peeps in Croatia!).  In his early years, Patrick was an avid surfer, who could always be found riding the waves of the beautiful southern California shore. Growing up with a lifeguard as a father in the waterfront district of San Pedro, the ocean has remained Muldoon’s secret pleasure. He attributes his laid-back attitude and calm demeanor to his devotion to the sea and sand.

Muldoon is also well known for his role in STARSHIP TROOPERS with Denise Richards and Neil Patrick Harris, and he played the evil “Richard Hart” on Melrose Place, of course.

Rumored to be dating Denise Richards again, Muldoon will next be seen in the indie horror thriller SPIDERS 3D set for release later this year. In short, since he’s charming, witty, and an absolute character, it makes complete sense why he would tell Jaunt Magazine a bit about himself, where he loves to travel, and why. So, say, “Hiiiiiii, Patrick!”

1.    How did you end up in Hollywood?

I was actually born in a small town called San Pedro, which is located about 20 miles south of Hollywood close to the LA Harbor and I commuted to Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

2.    What do you like or dislike about Hollywood?

I dislike when people tell me that they hate the people here (in LA), yet they are actually one of those people. Hollywood is a place where people immigrate from all over the world to make it into the entertainment business and then when they finally get here, they complain about the business itself.

The thing I love about Hollywood is that “There’s No Business Like Show Business’. You have to love the challenge and if it’s tough going, that just means you have to get better at what you do, and there is always room to grow….If you don’t like it, go home!

The crystal clear waters of Saharun beach on the Croatian island of Dugi otok

The crystal clear waters of Saharun beach on the Croatian island of Dugi otok

3.    What is your favorite travel or surf destination and why?

I love going to see my family in Croatia, specifically the island DUGI-OTOK. There’s no surf there, but the visibility of the water is 50 feet and you can see the bottom of the ocean which is so beautiful. To get to the Croatian island of Dugi Otok, you have to take a ferry from the mainland either SPLIT or ZADAR. My family (my mother is Croatian) is from a village called BRBINJ (on the island of DIGI-OTOK); there are no real restaurants, but during the summer, it is very popular place for yachts to dock. ZADAR is a beautiful coastal city that has a lot of restaurants and a great tourist destination. SPLIT is a great destination in the summer for tourists as well and there are also a lot of boats, shops, and restaurants to visit.

I usually only surf locally here in Los Angeles….there is a break off of SUNSET & PCH, which is my favorite because it’s the least crowded. In addition, if I’m down in the South Bay area I’ll surf ‘Royal Palms.’

Royal Palms San Pedro Surf Spot

Royal Palms San Pedro Surf Spot

4.    Where do you stay when you go there? What’s your favorite restaurant and why?

If I’m visiting Croatia, I’ll stay at my family’s house, or a hotel in SPLIT called The Park Hotel or (Hotel Park) ­– the restaurant is fantastic and the fish is always fresh because it’s pulled out of the Adriatic Sea daily. The restaurant also has outdoor seating available and it’s located right on the beach.

giorgio baldi

Giorgio Baldi Grilled Shrimp… are perfect after riding the waves

Locally in Los Angeles, after a long day of ‘carving my name into the waves’ I like to visit an Italian restaurant called Giorgio Baldi in the Pacific Palisades…for the best Italian food in the world – but don’t try to walk in with board shorts on,  cause they won’t let you in!

5.    Have you ever had a crazy surf trip or a really romantic fun surf/travel experience?

I once went with a former girlfriend to Kruger National Park and we stayed at the Pondoro Game Lodge for a safari experience. If you ever decide to visit, don’t go off the premises, because you WILL get eaten by lions!

6.    What is your dream for 5 years from now? Where do you want to travel? 

I like the whole George Clooney vibe… make great movies, live in a mansion on Lake Como, Italy and switch up my hot model girlfriends every six months (kidding ;).

Sure you are, Patrick! Meanwhile, we’ll be sure to catch your hotness in SPIDERS 3D since we hate spiders, but we wouldn’t mind watching you for a few hours. And, if, for any reason at all, we don’t get to see you in the theaters, we’ll catch you catching waves at Royal Palms or lounging somewhere seductive off the Croatian coast.

Marrakech on my mind

The Great Getaway Medina

The Great Getaway Medina

Located in the heart of the meandering streets of the souk, The Great Getaway Medina is the perfect picture of what one might hope for on a trip to exotic Marrakech. An intimate six-room property, housed in a former Riad, the magic begins the moment you enter the grand circular courtyard with high columns and arches, detailed craftsmanship and fluttering white curtains.

Nothing like sitting in the floor in style...

Nothing like sitting on the floor in style…

The style is carried throughout the rest of this intimate abode with jeweled tones on walls and handcrafted furniture dotted around. But up on the roof is where it really feels like Aladdin’s paradise with views of the ornate historic part and the Atlas Mountains, and the aroma of spices wafting from the grill. Choose from kebabs or fresh seafood to Moroccan staples such as beef tagines with dried plums or home style terrines.

Marrakech on your mind too?

From 150EURO

http://www.designhotels.com/the_great_getaway_medina

An African Safari and Luxe Beach Yoga? That’s right!

OMMMMM

Yes, we’re a bit crazy about Africa and we also dig yoga. So, new for 2012, travel specialists Scott Dunn have launched an exclusive Tanzania safari and Mozambique beach yoga itinerary. Pairing up with Vamizi Island’s brand new yoga retreats in Mozambique and Selous Safari Camp in Tanzania, this package offers the very best in sexy African adventure and holistic luxury.

For those wanting to explore lesser-known southern Tanzania, the Selous Safari Camp offers the perfect sophisticated safari experience. Situated within an open palm forest on the shores of Lake Nzerakera (say that three times fast) in the Selous Game Reserve, you can go on daily walking and boat safaris in one of Africa’s least known, yet wildest, conservation areas. And, after discovering the wilds of Tanzania, why not revive, restore and rejuvenate on Vamizi Island, an ultra-luxurious private beach lodge on the Quirimbus Archipelago, Mozambique? Well, don’t mind if I do!

Me.Wants.To. Go.Here.

Celebrating the launch, you’ll enjoy morning vinasa yoga on the shoreline followed by a freshly-prepared juice or smoothie from the island’s ‘natural pharmacy’ and an evening session against the setting sun – both hosted by renowned instructor Claire Finlay. This exclusive package also offers the chance to sample reviving spa treatments, take to the seas to catch surf-fresh tuna sashimi and dive the island’s azure waters. Does that sound Om-azing or what?

The exclusive Tanzania Safari and Vamizi Spa Retreats package is only available for limited weeks in 2012 from $6,310 per person. Valid for the weeks commencing March 1 and November 6, the price includes three nights at the Selous Safari Camp on a full-board basis with daily safari activities and five nights at Vamizi Spa Retreat on a fully-inclusive basis to include twice daily yoga sessions, one spa treatment, dive and fishing trip per stay. The price also includes taxes, domestic flights and transfers so get on it!

http://www.scottdunn.com

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

The Explorateur’s Exclusive Getaways

Friends, families, freewheelin’ babes and badasses… our swanky friends at The Explorateur – an insider travel concierge of sorts – wanted me to share some sweet news about a few very exclusive trips they’ve added to their repertoire for the Fall. Tell them our Editor-in-Chief, Layla Revis, sent you if you sign up to their newsletter. That way, they’ll treat you extra nice 😉

Just Chillin in Tanzania

A bit about The Explorateur. We heard about them when we were working with Small Luxury Hotels of the World and their Founder came highly regarded. We needed some tips on Croatia and we were told that he was the guy who made an art of arranging yacht trips around the Croatian coast. So what is The Explorateur? A unique forum filled with fabulous insider information (sorta like us). They also arrange exclusive offers at the world’s most unique and interesting hotels, shops, and restaurants around the world much like the travel agent you *wish* you had. Their ever-globetrotting editorial team blends their collective decades of experience in the travel industry with savvy insider knowledge of the world’s most eclectic finds. Stylish, yet unpretentious, they help guide travelers with a hint of wanderlust.  The team has the scoop on anything and everything a traveler needs to know. And, if they don’t know, like us, they’ll travel to find out.

TANZANIA-  6 Days, Stunning Explorations- starting at US $1500 per person, double occupancy

Itinerary includes:  Begin at Kilimanjaro for an overnight at Kia Lodge and option to explore the mountain, followed by  a drive the next day for a visit to Lake Manyara, game drive for phenomenal animal viewing + 1 night at Migunga Tented Camp including all meals, transfer to Serengeti for an early morning game drive and visit to Olduvai Gorge + 2 nights at Ikoma Tented Camp including all meals, transfer to Ngorongoro Crater for a gorgeous crater exporation tour and overnight at Crater Forest Lodge, all  meals, followed by early morning transfer back to Arusha.

My Chateau or Yours?

FRANCE – Spectacular New Years Experience at Chateau de la Barre- 1295 Euro per person, based on 12 sharing.

Mingle with royalty and get treated as such when you round up 12 friends to share the chateau as guests of Comte and Comtesse de Vanssay in their Loire Valley chateau.

30 Dec- Get treated to a champagne reception and visit of the chateau followed by cheese and vintage wine tasting supper in the billiard room in front o fthe monumental XIVth century fireplace- enjoy chocolate and port wine in your room.

31 Dec- Explore the remarkably restored old city of Le Mans, stage set to many films followed by festive New Year’s Eve dinner in the XVIIth centrury grand dinign room of the chateau with all the family silver and crystal- usher in the new year at midnignt with champagne in the Grand Drawing Room underneath the ancestral portraits

01 Jan- Renaissance day- visit famous Chenonceau castle with a new year’s day lunch feast at Leonardo da Vinci’s home served as if you were in 1530- or a private lunch in XVIIth century Chateau Chene de Coeur hosted by the owners

02 Jan- Depart with a special present from Chateau de la Barre

PLUS- Daily English breakfast and afternoon tea, fresh flowers in room, wine tasting at nearby winery built into a Xth century limestone cave

Kda-oo naH, pray-uhH 'euy (Translation: "Oh God, It's Hot")

CAMBODIA –  Hotel de la Paix – Siem Riep’s most stylish hotel set against some of the world’s most spectacular ancient sights

Explore this incredible land in the comfort of this stunning art deco hotel starting at US $275 per night- and receive the following lovely treats to enrich your stay:

– Welcome drink and cold towel on arrival
– Daily gourmet hot breakfast buffet
– Wireless Internet access in all guestrooms
– Daily turn-down service with treats
– Pre-loaded iPod with music and narratives on Cambodia, which may be taken on outside excursions
– Access to undercover Khmer inspired swimming pool
– Access to award winning Spa Indochine

So take a jaunt, check out The Explorateur, and let us know what you think (just don’t make us too jealous when you go on and on about that trip to Chateau de la Barre or Tanzania!

 The Explorateur 

Jamaica, Mexico, Africa, France… I see your underpants!

Casa Sandra - Holbox Island, Mexico

We thought that title might get your attention. And hey, who knows? Maybe a trip to these hot spots might make you go wild and throw your undies to the wind. With that in mind, when we think of our favorite hotels, we’re often reminded of our favorite loves – their faces, their smells, and, of course, their names.

What’s in a name, you ask? We think quite a lot. After all, people wouldn’t be singing my name to me if my parents hadn’t fallen in love over a little Clapton. To that end, naming a person – or a hotel suite – certainly makes a statement. Names might evoke a famous figure, locale or emotion. So, teaming up with her Wanderlogue bloggers from AMPR, Andria Mitsakos, lifestyle publicistdesigner and wanderlista, spotted five suite names from around the world that have caught her attention enough to spend a night… or two.

Here goes:

Illusion SuiteCasaSandra, Holbox Island, Mexico

Owned by Cuban screenwriter, painter and full-time artist, Sandra Perez, CasaSandra on Holbox Island is a reflection of her love for the arts. She has lined the walls of the 20-room whimsical, beachfront retreat with original works—hers and other Cuban artists. She has personally designed the furnishings and named the rooms after her inspirations: Ilusión (Illusion), Amanecer (Dawn), Sentido (Feeling). No illusions here, the spacious and well-appointed Illusion Suite is dripping with whimsical details.

Jamaica's Geejam Hotel - Port Antonio

Drum & Bass: Geejam, Port Antonio, Jamaica

A signature suite, housed on the ground floor of this tiny gem hotel’s recording studio (some pretty famous artists have slept here too), Drum & Bass is a music head’s most far-flung fantasy. Brazilian cherry wood foldout panels turn the Geejam room into a virtual outdoor veranda. Almost a room in itself, the oversized bathroom is furnished with a steam shower and a Philippe Starckbathtub. Foldout windows give way to an oceanic panorama. You can literally soak in the tub to the sound of the waves.


Tintswalo Atlantic - Cape Town, South Africa

Robben Island SuiteTintswalo Atlantic, Cape Town, South Africa

Perched on stilts above a pebbled beach at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, Tintswalo Atlantic is an exclusive lodge with ten richly appointed suites, each with views of the Atlantic Ocean. Freedom is undeniably embraced in the gleaming Robben Island Suite as it pays tribute to South Africa’s esteemed leader and Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela, who was liberated from what is now one of UNESCO’s heritage sites.

Charlie Chaplin Suite: Hotel du Palais, Biarritz, France

Originally built in 1855 by Napoleon III as a summer mansion for Empress Eugenia, Hotel du Palais has always attracted the rich and royals over the years including Leopold II, Stravinsky and Frank Sinatra. Plush Imperial suites are now named after these bon vivants as an honor of their frequent presence and their work to society. Without too many words, the Charlie Chaplin Suite brings much joy, similar to what its namesake screen legend offered to his audience.

The Beach in Front of Pink Sands Resort - Harbour Island, Bahamas

Yellow Heron Cottage: Pink Sands, Harbour Island Bahamas

Pink Sands’ 25 pastel colored cottages are nestled on 20 intimate acres along the famous Pink Sands beach on stylish Harbour Island. The resort may have a hot designer (Barbara Hulanickiof Biba fame)—and even hotter celebrity guest list—but this resort is all about privacy. It’s also a haven for birds, Pink Sands acreage is an official bird sanctuary approved by the Audubon Society. The Yellow Heron cottage pays homage to the property’s natural inhabitants.