Tokyo’s Best Luxury Hotel for Business

Hotel Chinzanso's Spa

Hotel Chinzanso’s Spa

Looking for a sexy hotel while doin’ business in Nippon? Look no further than the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, the iconic five-star flagship property of leading Japanese hospitality company Fujita Kanko. They’ve just announced that the hotel has been designated “Best Luxury Hotel, Japan, 2013” by Business Destinations magazine. The Business Destinations Travel Awards showcase companies whose products and services represent the pinnacle of the business travel industry.

Can you tell we're imagining going to Japan on business and then holing up in the spa?

Can you tell we’re imagining going to Japan on business and then holing up in the spa?

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo was re-flagged in January after 20 years as the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so (so you know that means ‘swanky digs’). Within six months of rebranding, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo was then awarded five Red Pavilions by The Michelin Guide. The hotel is best known for its historic heritage and its lush Japanese garden, home to various botanical species, birds and insects – extremely rare in the middle of Tokyo and reason enough to stay a few nights.

Mokushundo, one of their restaurants, where they specialize in stone grilled delicacies

Mokushundo, one of their restaurants, where they specialize in stone grilled delicacies

The hotel offers 260 rooms and suites; 12 restaurants (wait… 12? Yes, you read that correctly, 12); Tokyo’s largest meeting/banquet facilities (36 banquet rooms, to be precise), including one of the city’s biggest banquet rooms with a tiered-seating amphitheater equipped for simultaneous interpretation (impromptu Japanese theater, anyone?); oh, and did we mention it also possesses Tokyo’s largest hotel spa. Since we need plenty of space for our big personality to unwind.

And food... let's not forget food. This is at one of their many restaurants, Ryotei Kinsui

Beautiful, glorious food. This photo features delectables from one of their many restaurants, Ryotei Kinsui

As part of the renovations and upgrading started at the time of the rebranding, a new one-of-a-kind facility, Serenity Garden, was also opened on the hotel’s rooftop, occupying 16,145 square feet (1,500 square meters). With the scenic garden as a backdrop, the property is certainly one of Japan’s most prestigious venues, hosting international functions for royalty, state leaders, and you… yes, you.

http://www.hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.com/

From $280/night and up

Terre Blanche Named France’s Leading Resort

The Spa at Terre Blanche

The Spa at Terre Blanche

Located in the heart of Provence, just a 30-minute drive from Cannes, Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, a five-star Provençal resort in the heart of the Côte d’Azur, was recently named France’s leading resort of 2013 at the “Oscars” of the travel industry, the World Travel Awards. With 115 suites and villas that feature private terraces, better check this beauty out. Terre Blanche welcomes guests as if they were at home and boasts championship golf courses, a luxurious spa, first-class amenities and top-notch service, in a tranquil countryside oasis.

Faventia, The Restaurant at Terre Blanche

Faventia, The Restaurant at Terre Blanche

Hungry for luxury yet?Rates from 295€ in the low season for two people in a Superior Suite with breakfast included to 14,000€ in the high season for the luxurious Villa Terre Blanche (GASP).

http://en.terre-blanche.com

Retreating to Bali: The Floating Leaf Hotel

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

This just in from Asia. The proprietors of a new Balinese property recently reached out to us about an interesting little hotel in Bali called The Bali Floating Leaf Hotel. Described as a “peaceful retreat in a lush oasis in which to nourish, recharge and heal your mind, body and spirit, holistically,” they’ve combined ancient Balinese wisdom with modern convenience and luxury to offer a safe place for relaxation, personal enrichment and wellness.  If you’re looking for a true retreat, they’ve got just the sort of amenities you need; an open air yoga center with views of the Indian Ocean and Mount Agung Volcano, Bali arts and culture, photography, surfing, and an onsite Balinese spa.

A Room at the Floating Leaf

A Room at the Floating Leaf

Guests can look forward to an ultimate relaxation pool complete with waterfalls, hidden meditation areas and more. The grounds also feature an organic permaculture garden (hurrah!), as well as a large kitchen where their private chef will prepare delectable healthy meals, juices, and snacks with locally grown organic nutrient-rich food. And to top it off, world-class surf is steps away!

The Yoga Studio!

The Yoga Studio!

Floating Leaf Eco-Resort is rooted in a deep commitment to Bali’s environment; it’s people, and sustainable tourism so their eco-tourism efforts are aimed at conserving precious natural resources and diverting waste from landfills. They also strive to involve the community in deciding exactly which philanthropic efforts will be of most help and interest to them. Other projects include building water purification facilities, playgrounds, greenhouses and subsidizing local farmers so they can grow nutrient rich foods using traditional and organic methods. As they say in Bali, “Bagus!”

Currently offering soft launch opening prices for individuals and retreats, prices are are as low as $150 a night and some retreats for approximately $1000 for a week-long package.

http://balifloatingleaf.com

Dominican Dreaming: Step Back in Time in the DR

Casa del XVI

Casa del XVI Patio

Who wouldn’t want to step back in time for a moment to experience 16th century splendor? Even better on an island with crystalline waters and fresh fruit. Now, this can be had at the brand new Casas del XVI, a boutique eight-room luxury hotel opening in Santo Domingo’s emerging Ciudad Colonial in March 2014, with a soft opening slated for December 15, 2013. Nestled in the heart of the New World’s oldest city, Casas del XVI is the first hotel in the Dominican Republic comprised of an exclusive collection of newly renovated colonial houses, maintaining the integrity of the stunning, romantic architecture dating back to the 16th century.

Breakfast on the patio

Breakfast on the patio

With a focus on preserving the original architecture, celebrating the vibrant Dominican culture and drawing upon the area’s international influences, the interior of each house is decorated according to a theme relating to Dominican culture and sixteenth century history. A butler in each home makes guests feel like royalty, tending to their every need from daily a la carte breakfasts prepared in each home’s kitchen to endless excursions in Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A room at

A room at Casas del XVI

Possibilities are suited to a wide array of interests and include Old City guided strolls, tours of the colonial churches, a flavors of the city tour and tasting series at the area’s finest restaurants, a rum experience at the historic Ron Barcelo distillery, a golf challenge at the Las Lagunas Country Club, and a chocolate, clay and sugar tour. One word: YUM.

Pre-opening rates start at $225/night

www.casasdelxvi.com

Follow The Camino: A Unique Scented Journey To Santiago de Compostela

Camino-de-Santiago-Route

If you’ve never heard of it before, the Camino de Santiago is a medieval pilgrimage in Spain inspiring millions of pilgrims throughout the centuries. It has also been a unique source of healing for all of those who have walked it. Many pilgrims still use this pilgrimage as a way to balance their life, find some answers, or simply take some time away from the over busy life style we experience. So, a group called Follow The Camino decided to bring pilgrims a new way to experience the Camino, easing this unique Camino and transforming it into a scented spiritual journey.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

They’re inviting guests to follow the last part of the French Way, from Sarria to Santiago, the very famous last 100km of the pilgrimage with a unique Aromatic Camino Kit and the comfort and advice of their aromatherapy expert, Pam Conrad. Popular scented herbal examples in these regions include lavender, rosemary, thyme, bergamot, and eucalyptus, to name just a few. Connecting your walk with the aromatic plants and their gifts is a perfect way to fully experience your Camino.

Some Spanish food along the way...

Some Spanish food along the way…

As you walk the Camino Zen Aromatic, you will learn the benefits of aromatherapy to ease your Camino, but also to heal your mind in a natural way. The Camino Zen Aromatic tours will include Aromatic Camino Kits to support your journey as well as two experiential aromatherapy sessions with Pam, customized for physical, emotional, and spiritual support as well as aromatic education. Daily aromatips will be provided too.

A B&B on the Camino

A B&B on the Camino

This Camino Tour is priced at 795 Euros and includes 8 days/7 nights, rustic charm B&B accommodation, dinners, and transfers.

http://www.followthecamino.com/camino_zen_aromatic_trip83.html

These Sunglasses Can Pull a Small Aircraft!

Cool Sunglasses

These sunglasses can pull a small aircraft!

Yes, it’s true. We recently came across this interesting line a few weeks ago and had to check it out. After all, durability is of the utmost importance when it comes to travel gear. OVVO Optics designs exceptionally durable frames for any type of excursion a travel warrior may stumble upon.

Why we like them:

  • OVVO is a small and lovely family company
  • They use spacecraft technology to design frames composed of fused surgical steel and titanium, producing virtually indestructible eyewear
  • Stretched flat, OVVO frames can lift 90 lbs or pull a small aircraft
  • OVVO Optics’ screw-free hinge frames can withstand more than 300,000 rotations and reveal no changes in structure or appearance
  • OVVO eyewear is handmade in Europe (Germany and Poland)
  • As many as 65-85 steps are needed to complete an OVVO frame

Quality like this is particularly hard to find in a day and age when people are outsourcing to China and we like the fact that everything is manufactured in Europe through family owned factories.

http://www.ovvooptics.com

The Flavors of Trinidad and Tobago

Creole Bake & Shark

Creole Bake & Shark

Drawing on the powerful blend of cultures including Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Chinese, African, Creole and Indian, we just discovered that Trinidad and Tobago’s “foodie” scene is one of the best Caribbean destinations for curious gourmands looking to take their taste buds on a culinary world tour. From street food to fine dining, the destination offers visitors the chance to savor a unique and adventurous culinary style that offers tasty options, regardless of dietary needs—vegetarians to meat lovers and those in between.

Trinidad & Tobago Map

Trinidad & Tobago Map

Secret on the Side of the Road

For a unique culinary experience, visitors can to take the unbeaten path that leads to the side of the road.  Street vendors serve some of the most traditional, memorable and flavorful foods on the islands, including doubles, roti, various soups, pholourie and chowDoubles, one of the most popular street side delights, are made up of savory curried chick peas between two barra, or flat fried bread.  Perfect for breakfast, a snack or a late night treat.  When in search of the next meal, street foodies need look no further than a roti vendor.  Similar to an Indian flat bread, roti is filled with finely ground split peas, then wrapped with curried meat, shrimp and/or vegetables.  Trinis love their soups and many can be found enjoying a bowl of cow heel soup, one of Tobago’s most popular soups in addition to pig tail, fish broth and Creole corn soup, served piping hot with corn, coconut milk and dumplings.  Another favorite is pholourie, fried balls of dough that are incredibly versatile as they can be enjoyed sweet, with tamarind sauce or mango chutney, or savory with chandon benni (cilantro).  When in search of a sweet and savory combination, many Trinis reach for chow, sliced mango and pineapple marinated with chandon benni, garlic, salt and pepper.  The most popular spots to taste street treats include St. James, Port of Spain’s nightlife capital, and Queen’s Park Savannah.

Store Bay - Tobago

Store Bay – Tobago

Beach Eats

For the ultimate authentic taste of the islands, Trinidad’s famed Maracas Beach, often referred to as the bake and shark capital of the world, is not to be missed.  Trinidad’s signature dish serves up shark fillets seasoned with a tangy lime marinade, deep fried to perfection, then stuffed in between fried bread and spiced with choice of a seemingly endless number of toppings, including garlic, pepper, cilantro and pineapple.  Another favorite, alloo pie, a potato filling mixed with a variety of meats or vegetables in dough that is then deep fried, is one of the many quick delights you can buy from most of the street food vendors throughout the islands.  On sister island Tobago, Store Bay beach goers enjoy the island’s signature dish, curried crab and dumplings.  Visitors should note that there is no need for knife and fork, just fingers, some patience and napkins to eat the sometimes messy dish.

Flair - Trinidad

Cassava Stuffed Shrimp, a garlic butter cassava blend stuffed into jumbo shrimp presented on mojo slaw and Scotch bonnet-spiked tartar sauce, from Flair in Trinidad (c) CreOle

Fine Dining

With Caribbean food rapidly growing in global popularity, one of the islands’ most exciting movements in local cuisine is the emergence of haute cuisine where traditional Trini dishes are prepared in a trendy gourmet style.  In Trinidad’s burgeoning gourmet restaurant scene, patrons will find a variety of fine dining restaurants from international to local cuisine.  Chaude Creole, in particular, has given street food a haute makeover by serving French, Chinese and Thai influenced dishes in a gourmet tasting style.  Many of these dining destinations can be found on Ariapita Avenue, also known as “The Avenue”,  Woodbrook, St. Ann’s, St. Clair and around the Queen’s Park Savannah.  Other fine dining favorites include: FlairVeni Mange, and Aspara in Trinidad and Seahorse Inn and Café Coco in Tobago.

For more information on Trinidad & Tobago:

www.goTrinidadandTobago.com