Traveling Zanzibar: Spices and Culinary Delights at the Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Culinary Discovery of Zanzibar’s Spices

Did you know that Zanzibar was one of the world’s largest producers of spices such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon in the 19th century, after the abolition of the slave trade?

Interestingly, culturally, little has changed in Stone Town over the last 200 years. The town’s unique blend of Arabic and African cultural influences originate from the 19th century when Zanzibar Island served as a center for the trade of spices. During this period, Zanzibar, also known as the “Spice Island,” was the most important trading hub along the east coast of Africa. Today, the streets of Stone Town are filled with rich aromas of spices, perfumes and local handcrafts.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar Pool

Park Hyatt Zanzibar Pool

Celebrating this unique history, Park Hyatt Zanzibar, situated on the beachfront in Stone Town, the historical center of the city and a designated UNESCO Heritage site. Park Hyatt Zanzibar is housed in two buildings, one of them Mambo Msiige, a UNESCO heritage building steeped in history, grace and mystique with roots dating back to the 17th century. Mambo Msiige is a typical Zanzibari mansion and an architectural gem, featuring intricate carvings and centered around a peaceful courtyard. The name alone meaning “not to be copied or imitated,” embraces true uniqueness. The new and purposefully built Zamani Residence of the hotel connects to Mambo Msiige, blending old history and contemporary charm, while embracing Swahili culture with a blend of Arab, Persian, Indian and European influences.

Relaxing in the Lounge

Relaxing in the Lounge

Park Hyatt Zanzibar provides the ultimate haven amongst Stone Town’s labyrinth of winding alleys, bustling markets, mosques and famed Zanzibari doors, featuring magnificent ornate wooden carvings that bring you back in time. The town’s key attractions are easily accessible by foot from the hotel’s ideal location, including Forodhani Gardens, the Old Fort, Old Dispensary, Peace Memorial Museum, Palace Museum, and the House of Wonders.

hotel rooms zanzibar

During this experience, discover the vibrant spices of this magic island through a visit to a local spice farm, where you can both taste and purchase. Afterward, return to Park Hyatt Zanzibar’s kitchens and embrace the art of traditional cooking with a Swahili cooking class. To finish, gourmet creations can be enjoyed as a sumptuous meal overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Not too shabby, indeed.

Prices starting @$280/night

Off the Beaten Path: Brunch in Chicago

Taste Savant

Brunch in Chicago is not simply a pastime. It is an art. Each Saturday and Sunday Chicagoans flock to the smart restaurants that offer the perfect cure: time to gossip about the week’s adventures, pure comfort food, and the hair of the dog. We like to have our perfect cure without the hour-long waits and unfortunately packed tables and head to these hidden gems instead:

Broadway Cellars

5900 N Broadway St

broadway cellars brunch

A little out of the way from the bustling streets of Lincoln Park and River North, this Edgewater joint is well worth the walk from the Thorndale station. Nestled in the middle of a neighborhood, there is no better place to sit and people-watch than on their tree-lined patio. Not only is the atmosphere the perfect mix of upscale and family-friendly, their portions are also generous and the menu is simply mouth-watering. With time-tested classics like Steak’n’Eggs next to innovative dishes such as Honey-Brined…

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NIZUC Resort and Spa – Mexico’s Sexiest Luxury Beachside Resort

Nizuc's Beach

Nizuc’s Beach

We’re obsessed with Mexico and won’t deny it. The array of different dishes from cochinita pibil to ceviche, the aqua colored waters off the Caribbean coast, and, of course, the nightlife. If you think it’s all Senor Frog’s and ponchos, you haven’t seen what this great country and her people have to offer. Enter one of our latest favorite indulgences: NIZUC Resort & Spa.

Once a base station for Mayan astronomers and a presidential retreat for world leaders, it opened in March 2013 on a 29-acre exclusive beachfront escape and just 15 minutes from the Cancun Airport on the secluded Punta Nizuc. Numerous artistic talents collaborated to create a destination that fuses a uniquely modern sensibility with an essentially Mayan ethos – a perfect blend of site-specific architecture and design that is evident throughout the property’s 274 suites and villas (most with private plunge pools), as well as its meticulously appointed public areas.

The resort’s amenities allow guests to customize their daily experience to range from sunning at one of the multiple pools (Adults Only and Family Friendly) to indulging at one of the six world-class restaurants including Mexican, Peruvian, Italian, Asian and a beachside Grill.  Or simply rejuvenate at the 30,000 square foot ESPA facility complete with male and female hydrotherapy areas and 10 indoor/outdoor treatment rooms. For the active set, paddleboards and kayaks await on the beach, while two on-site tennis courts and the nearby TPC Cancun are ready to test their skills.

Set within a paradise of protected mangroves and lush local foliage facing the white sands of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the second largest coral reef in the world – Nizuc is home to two secluded white sand beaches and is surrounded by the region’s natural wonders, archeological sites and amazing attractions including the world’s first Underwater Art Museum. Nizuc is a place to enjoy the luxe life where the warmth of the Mexican spirit envelopes each guest upon arrival and extends to every interaction from that point forward.

So what are you waiting for? The arrival of Quetzalcoatl?

Indiana’s Surprising Charms: The French Lick Resort

The French Lick Hotel

The French Lick Hotel – West Baden, Indiana

What a Wonderful World!

By Sarah Ivens

I nearly called this article ‘Weird and Wonderful’ for never have I stayed in a place so uniquely fascinating, bewildering and beguiling. Set off a leafy, twisty road in a hidden part of quiet Indiana, the French Lick Resort is as beautifully strange as it’s name.

As soon as I checked in at the enclave’s top notch hotel, West Baden, time stood still and I fell down the rabbit hole. Leaving modern cars, computers and cares outside, guests stumble into a gigantic glass atrium, the largest freestanding dome in the United States. A woman is playing the harp in one corner. A gigantic fireplace, big enough to hold 14ft logs, crackles in another. Clinking cups echo musically as an elegant English afternoon tea, complete with fine china and divine cakes, is served for the peckish. Pacing the ornate tiled floors are dapper looking gents clutching golf clubs, wearing big grins; while ladies doze on chaise longues under sparkling chandeliers, paperbacks resting in their hands.

There are no clocks, no televisions, no overbearing tour guides whipping people into action. Guests are left to be in the moment – or in 1902, when the resort first opened for business, with journalists of the day declaring it the eight wonder of the world.

The French Lick

The resort’s natural mineral water and spa baths were alleged to cure almost anything and had been drawing crowds to the area for 100 previous to that, but when the slick new owners started investing their fortunes at the turn of the 20th century, it soon became the place to be – a palace of parties Gatsby would have been proud of. Clark Gable loved it there, as did John Barrymore and Bing Crosby and from it’s opening to 1931, it ran like a dream. Amenities included a casino, a live theater and an opera.

Tomato juice was served for the first time ever at the hotel in 1917, invented by chef Louis Perrin when he ran out of orange juice and needed an alternative at breakfast for his demanding guests. When not dining, lucky guests had their choice of a natatorium, two golf courses, bicycling on a double-decked covered oval bicycle track that was the largest in the country, and horseback riding. To cater to their well-heeled clientele, the hotel even provided a bank, a stock brokerage and a trolley bus between amenities. Back then, the enchanting glass dome that had hypnotized me when I arrived was filled with palm trees and free range exotic birds.

Legend has it that today, at night, ghosts of depressed money men, not birds, have free roam of the atrium. According to locals, many of the country’s richest men were staying there, in bedrooms overlooking the lobby, the day of the Wall Street Crash in 1929, and decided to jump from their balconies rather than face financial ruin. The beautiful people were finished, and sadly two years later, so was the hotel.

But in the nineties, an Indiana local – who happened to have a few hundred million to spare – polished this sparkling gem back to life and turned it once again into a decadent resort fit for kings, queens… and Willie Nelson, who was a recent guest.

A Building with a View

An Enchanting Glass Dome Fit For a King… or a Traveling Band of English Misfits

Famous golf course architect Pete Dye designed his masterpiece and namesake course here in 2009, and it’s now a constant winner of top venue awards in golfing magazines and will play host to next hear’s Senior PGA Championship. The two spas, one at West Baden and one at French Lick, are homages to taste and tranquility, each possessing outdoor swimming pools, which provide perfect settings for a re-read of Tender Is The Night, and a cheeky swig of an Old Fashioned. The resort steakhouse, named 1875 after the year the Kentucky Derby first ran, is a haven of comfort food and worry-erasing wine, while supper up at the Pete Dye Mansion offers mouthwatering BBQ and sundaes overlooking rolling green hills and the 18th hole. Horse-drawn carriages can trot you back to your bed at night, or can deliver you to one of the many white rocking chairs lined up overlooking the fragrant English garden fountains, waiting to swing you to sleep at sunset.

The most remarkable thing about this decadent step back in time for me was remembering how to unwind properly. With patchy network reception and a plethora of old school pursuits to indulge in (anyone for billiards?), it was easy forget the mad dash of the world around me and slow down and relax. In my little slice of old Indiana, I found a new me. And I liked it.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

A View of Carmel-by-the-sea

A View of Carmel-by-the-sea

It’s no secret that September and October offer the best weather months of the year in Carmel-by-the-Sea with average highs of 72 degrees.  Add Indian Summer conditions to a sizzling lineup of food, wine and film festivals, and there is even more incentive for travelers to visit Carmel this fall as most events are within walking distance of the village’s more than 40 charming lodging properties.

Here’s a closer look at the festivals scheduled in Carmel during September and October so that you can get out and get in on the fun:

  • Taste of Carmel (Oct. 2-5).  Fresh from last year’s successful 25th anniversary, Taste of Carmel has announced a big expansion for 2014. Typically held for one evening, the event – presented by the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and Union Bank – will now be held over four days.  Festivities will begin with “The Royal Bash” on Thursday evening, Oct. 2, which will feature dozens of area restaurants and wineries offering food and wine, as well as live music, at the Carmel Mission Courtyard.  The event’s expansion will be evident beginning the next day with a food tour in downtown Carmel and a bicycle tour through Carmel Valley wineries.  Other Taste of Carmel highlights include a Winemaker Dinner, Dessert and Wine Tasting Lunch and several auctions.  For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 800.550.4333 or 831.624.2522 or visit
Carmel Plaza Courtyard

Carmel Plaza Courtyard

  • Carmel International Film Festival (Oct. 15-19). From an opening night concert, screenings of independent award-winning films, art shows, wine tastings and gallery crawls, to parties with filmmakers, composers and artists, it’s little surprise why the fourth annual event (formerly known as Carmel Art & Film Festival) attracts a diverse group of attendees and filmmakers.  More than 125 films will be screened over five days in unique venues, including Sunset Cultural Center, Golden Bough Theater, Cherry Center for the Arts, Carmel Youth Center Theater, Carmel Youth Center Auditorium, Carmel High School Performing Art Center, Carmel Beach, Devendorf Park, 13th Avenue Beach, Carmel City Hall, as well as multiple galleries and wineries.  For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 831.625.3700.
  • Days and Nights Festival (Sept. 25-28).  Founded and curated by Philip Glass, the festival returns with four days of performances at Carmel’s Sunset Cultural Center and in Big Sur.  Sunset Center highlights include the airing of a film, “Icarus At The Edge of Time,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27; and an evening of music and spoken word, “Ira Glass: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host,” at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28.  For the festival’s complete schedule and more details, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 831.626.3340.
  • Carmel Mission Fiesta (Sept. 28).  This year will mark its 50th year of the Fiesta, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28.  Located on the beautiful grounds of the Carmel Mission, the Fiesta will feature a barbecue, drinks, live music, arts and crafts, and games for children.  For more information, call 831.624.8322
Carmel hotels are some of the finest

Carmel hotels are some of the finest

It’s also never been easier to get to Carmel. Monterey Regional Airport (MRY), a 10-minute drive from downtown Carmel, has recently added direct flights to and from San Diego.  Other direct flight routes include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

From its incomparable white-sand beach to many choices of distinctive meeting venues and lodging properties, Carmel-by-the-Sea has it all.

Secret Agent Camp

Extreme Action Camp!

Extreme Action Camp!

People often forget that their kids are a lot like them… they want adventure and travel too. Well, today, summer camps are getting a makeover by catering to children and teens with extreme escapades and adventure. For example, Pali Overnight Adventures is now offering campers ages 9-16, from all over the US (and 17 other countries), a choice of a wild array of custom-designed camp experiences for a one-of a-kind summer experience. And, this year, Pali is offering even more unique and extreme camps than ever before: Secret Agent Camp (this would be my dream camp), Acting, Broadcast, Culinary, Dance, DJ, Extreme Action, Fashion, Film, Flying Trapeze, Girl Power, Hollywood Stunt, Leadership, Motorsports, Movie Make-Up, Rock Star, Wacky Science and Watersports Camp.

Stunt Camp

Stunt Camp

Comprised of 74 scenic acres in Running Springs, California, Pali Adventures is located near Big Bear Lake. It features a 10,000 square foot lodge, modern cabins with built in bunks and full bathrooms, and offers great grub.  In addition to their chosen specialties, campers can choose from 50+ afternoon activities including Archery, Skateboarding, ATV’s, Dune Buggies, High Ropes, Yoga, Manicures (how great is this?), Zip Lining (before the manicure), Jet Skiing, Sailing, Water Skiing, Water Trampoline, Karaoke, Paintball, Mountain Biking, EuroBungee and much more, really making Pali Adventures the next big thing for sleep-away camp.

(I need to find the adult version of this)

The sessions go from June-August and sign up is happening now – April.


Single Week Session – $1,865

Two Week Session – $3,600

Four Week Session – $6,900

5% discount applies to paid reservations taking place by Friday, March 21st