Marie France Van Damme, the woman behind the eponymous line of luxury resort wear, will be opening her first store in Hong Kong. This Hong Kong-based globe-trotter store will showcase resort wear, ready-to-wear and accessories collections in a sanctuary that draws inspiration from Marie France’s travels and immerses clients in her global aesthetic. Originally from Montreal, Marie France has lived in Hong Kong for over 20 years and to celebrate the opening of her store, she’s also happy to share her knowledge about what to do, see and eat while visiting her dynamic city.
Here are her fine tips!
Yin Yang. Located in the heart of Wanchai, it only accommodates 30 seats. All dishes on the menu are created by Chef and founder Margaret Xu Yuan, an ex-interior designer. They get their produce on a newly acquired organic farm and create their own fruit wines. A true farm- to- table Chinese cuisine.
The Intercontinental. If you go at sundown it’s beautiful. It’s actually where I met my husband- whenever my single friends complain about not finding someone – I tell them to go for a drink at the Intercontinental.
The beach. From Sai Kung Street you can take a Sampan (a boat) to nearby deserted beaches. Many people do not realize that 70% of Hong Kong is protected, so there is a lot of green space and deserted beaches.
Shanghai Street is fantastic for home goods- they sell understated porcelain pieces that are great for dinner parties or decorating the home. I love to get little trinkets here, many of these pieces when situated correctly can add an understated elegance to any home. IFC is a fantastic mall to go to if you are shopping for clothes. Stanley Market is next to the beach and is in the oldest part of Hong Kong. It is an outdoor flee market, great if you are looking for deals.
We can’t get enough of Mandarin Oriental properties since we spent a weekend in DC and stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DClast month. It was there that we had the pleasure of being driven around by Carlos in a beautiful black Mercedes with lavender scented hand towels. It was there that we ate Pastry Chef (and Just Desserts Finalist!) Michael Petersen’s amazing Eggnog Bread Pudding at their restaurant, Sou’Western (and didn’t regret each and every moment on the lips or hips). It was there that we were regaled with fantastic stories about living in Japan from Linda Beltran, their lovely Director of Public Relations. Yes, we were wooed and wowed and will always seek out Mandarin properties from here on out!
One of the best chefs in the world and a cooking show classic worthy of THIS sushi samurai!
Yes, it’s Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto! And… he’ll be showcasing his unique style and unsurpassed culinary talent at the newly created pop-up restaurant concept at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental from January 16th-18th, 2012. During this amazing three-day event, Tian and Di function rooms will be transformed into a dining room featuring elements that best reflect Morimoto’s mouth-watering, awe-inspiring cuisine. This latest pop-up restaurant initiative is designed to bring exceptional chefs, their restaurant concepts, and gastronomic beliefs to genuine food lovers in Hong Kong who might not have the time to travel and visit their reputable restaurants. We don’t just likey – we lovey!
Connoisseurs of fine cuisine can savour Morimoto’s truly exceptional 10-course gastronomic dinner using the world’s most exceptional ingredients, with a live cocktail sushi bar and freeflow of Ruinart Champagne, exclusively available for three nights. The dinner is priced at HK$2,888 ($371 USD) per person and 10% service charge. To make a truly authentic experience, for an additional HK$888 ($117 USD), guests can also enjoy a five-glass pairing of wine and sake from some of the most unique boutique sake wineries in Japan.
So, better book early to avoid disappointment and please… if you go, send us some photos so that we can feel proper food envy!
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.
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.
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 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 – 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.
Okay Angels, it’s time to fly by the seat of your pants. This one’s a bonafide winner. The price of a luxury vacation to Phuket and Hong Kong has been cut to $1599 — that’s over $1000 OFF regular rates. The offer includes 6-nights in 5-star hotels and flights on top-rated airline Cathay Pacific.
The new sale, launched on March 28th by Globotours, is significantly lower than similar luxury packages and includes valuable extras.
The offer includes: – All flights on Cathay Pacific: (LAX-Phuket, Phuket-Hong Kong and Hong Kong-LAX) – Monday-Thursday departures April 29-June 14 or Aug. 16-30 – Three nights at the Banyan Tree Phuket – Three nights at the Harbour Plaza Hong Kong – 90-minute massage at the Banyan Tree – Half-day Hong Kong Island tour – Daily breakfast – Airport transfers in Phuket and Hong Kong – Hotel taxes and service charges
Plus, for all bookings made by Wednesday, April 8 – that’s TOMORROW – A FREE air extension to Beijing can be added! I mean really… a shrinking economy has got to be good for something! Banyan Tree Phuket Guestroom
In case you’ve been flying coach on Continental, Cathay Pacific is 1 of only 6 airlines to receive a 5-star ranking in the prestigious Skytrax survey (Holla at your Boeing). The Banyan Tree Phuket was also named a “Top 10 Asia Resort” by Conde Nast Traveler, “Best Overseas Resort” by Luxury Travel magazine, and “Top 5 Asian Props” by the world renowned Jaunt Magazine. Harbour Plaza, Hong Kong
For more information and to book through Globotours: 800-988-4833. Agents are available 9AM-6PM PST. FYI – The reservation center is closed on Sundays.
Now make mama proud and please, stop ‘plannning’ to be spontaneous. It’s… embarrassing.