Puerto Vallarta Deal: CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa

CasaMagna Puerto Vallarta

The beach at CasaMagna Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa

Who doesn’t dig a beachfront escape and the mountains? It’s part of the reason why we love California, but even Cali doesn’t always have the warm water you might expect. Enter: CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, located on a sandy strip between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay. A charming, friendly town with an authentic Mexican vibe, Puerto Vallarta offers a vibrant culinary and arts scene, highlighted by local festivals such as the Puerto Vallarta Gourmet Festival and the Guadalupe Processions. Puerto Vallarta’s 21st annual Festival Gourmet International, taking place November 16-22, will feature the best of the best eats in and around one of Mexico’s most surprisingly foodie friendly destinations. Festival-goers have a chance to enjoy 6 nights of wine, cocktails, live music, and jazz at Puerto Vallarta’s culinary hot spots.

The “Puerto Vallarta, Table for Two” package at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta includes oceanview accommodations and a chance to savor the Gourmet Festival Menu at the resort’s Mikado restaurant, with breakfast for two each morning at one of the hotel’s restaurants.

Rates start at $239 /night with a 3-night minimum stay.

Tequila Tastings at CasaMagna

Tequila Tastings at CasaMagna

One of only a few resorts in the world with a proprietary brand of tequila, CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta also grows its own blue agave on property in the cactus garden. Audrey Formisano, the resort’s tequila sommelier and an authority on the highly sophisticated and remarkably wide variety of tequilas, teaches guests about the history of tequila in the Jalisco region. Weekly tequila tastings are offered in La Cava wine cellar as an extension of the Secretos de la Familia program. The experience was developed to increase guests’ knowledge of and appreciation for tequila. The presentation includes the history of tequila (the mythical origin of the drink was by “Mayahuel,” the goddess of tequila and “Quetzalcoatl,” her eternal lover… I mean, how sexy Mexi is that?), and, of course, the newest technologies for tequila processing. The tastings are complimentary for members of Marriott Rewards and $15 for all other guests. Additionally, the resort offers more than 60 brands, representing 114 tequilas by the glass.

Regular hotel rates start at a steal: $119/room, per night.

So say, “Salud,” and get your tan on.

www.puertovallartamarriott.com

5 Top U.S. Culinary Adventures

Mirbeau Inn and Spa

Mirbeau Inn and Spa at The Pinehills – Plymouth, Massachusetts 

These days, we in the mood for easy luxury. Perhaps we’re getting accustomed to comfort, perhaps we need to be waited on hand and foot, perhaps… we just won’t settle for mediocre. We want more!

So here are five properties in the US that promise to tickle your taste buds and treat you well:

1.      Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills (Plymouth, Mass.): Guests with a penchant for foraging can join Executive Chef Stephen Coe at nearby Plymouth Rock Oyster Farm for a tutorial on picking and shucking oysters. Groups of up to 12 are privy to a farm dinner thereafter including oysters, scallops, lobster, saltwater corn and prosecco ($75 per person). The program launches today and continues through early autumn.

1,000 Islands Harbor

1,000 Islands Harbor Hotel – Clayton, New York

2.      1000 Islands Harbor Hotel (Clayton, N.Y.): Another off-site adventure awaits in upstate N.Y., where guests head out on the St. Lawrence River to fish with Captain Jeff Garnsey.  The day’s haul is then cooked over a hardwood campfire for a traditional Shore Dinner (a Clayton staple since 1872). In a single cast iron skillet, Captain prepares salt pork sandwiches and fried fish, followed by French toast, served with local maple syrup.

Chatham Bars Inn

Chatham Bars Inn- Chatham, Mass.

3.      Chatham Bars Inn (Chatham, Mass., on Cape Cod): Not every culinary moment can or should be planned. The oceanfront resort’s luxury fleet stands ready to whisk guests to sea for big game sport fishing, among other leisure pursuits. (The biggest guest catch was a 350 lb. blue fin tuna.) When opportunity strikes, Executive Chef Anthony Cole will greet boats at shore and immediately filet fish for fresh sashimi, served gratis to guests on the beach with the fisherman’s OK.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Kaiseki Canapes

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Kaiseki Canapes – Cary, North Carolina

4.      The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, N.C., outside Raleigh): Herons’ seven course Kaiseki dinner by Executive Chef Steven Greene begins with a spectacular tableside tea ceremony (this video captures the wow-factor of the process). The drink is served in custom dishware by potter Ben Owen, whose large-scale works are showcased throughout the art-centric Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond hotel. This unexpected start to the dinner experience is a perfect complement to the “source local” mentality at The Umstead, which relies heavily on N.C. products and produce from its own garden and nearby farm.

Sanctuary

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain – Scottsdale, Arizona

5.      Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Scottsdale, Ariz.): The “Mi Casa, Mi Chef” package takes the relationship between diner and chef to new dimensions. From the arresting vantage point of Sanctuary’s Mountainside Estates, guests work hand-in-hand with a Sanctuary chef (like Food Network star Beau MacMillan) to plan and execute their customized dining experience, letting the day’s best fruits, vegetables, fish and meat dictate the menu.  They join the chef in the kitchen of their private home, working side-by-side to prepare the feast. In-home spa treatments take the package over-the-top.

Hot Town, Summer in Miami

Miami at dusk (c) Robin Hill

Miami at dusk (c) Robin Hill

No longer known for just its sand and surf, Miami has moved beyond its reputation as a winter destination for snowbirds. The growth of Miami as a cultural destination has turned the city into a thriving year-round retreat with much of the attraction focused on the transformation of its urban core. With the addition of the new Museum Park, plus more than 400 restaurants, 20 hotels, 30 cultural organizations and 2.5 million sq. ft. of retail, downtown Miami has come to the forefront as one of city’s top attractions. While the winter usually receives all of the media attention, the summer is a great time to visit Miami like a local. For any summer coverage you may have in the works, please consider the Miami Downtown Development Authority’s top picks for a “hot” Miami experience this summer.

Mandarin Oriental Spa - Miami

Mandarin Oriental Spa – Miami

1. Go all artsy: See the hip side of downtown at PAMM Third Thursdays, a free outdoor live music series overlooking the bay at the new Perez Art Museum.
2. Be a foodie: Take a culinary road trip through the streets of downtown on the cheap with Miami Spice, a seasonal program that features a pre-fixe menu for just $39 at participating restaurants. Be sure to check out our favorite Toro Toro at the iconic downtown hotel, the InterContinental Miami.
3. Take time to relax: Experience the best spas in town for just $99 with Miami Spa Month, another seasonal program that features some of the best spa experiences in downtown Miami at a fraction of the price. Our top pick is the Kundalini Journey treatment at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental. Tell them we sent you!
4. See the characters: Enjoy downtown Miami’s most talked about seasonal series, the Summer Shorts at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
5. Listen to the sounds: Sure the Miami Sound Machine brought the beat to this city, but it’s the American Airlines Arena and Bayfront Park Amphitheater that keeps the music going. Together, they have a fantastic lineup this summer featuring Sublime  on Aug. 15

Toro Toro

Toro Toro

To top off the round-up, we can’t forget to mention all of the public transit options in downtown that make it easy to get around and explore the destination. To take a break from the heat by hopping on the free downtown street trolley or the popular Metromover to see the sites of the beautiful city.

For more information: www.miamidda.com

A Fresh Finnish Food Festival

Fresh Finnish Food

We love the Slow Food Movement and we really love the Nordic region. All that smoked fish and dill… we’re in. So what’s better than having a bit of both? Slow Food, Travel, Finland… We’re just not sure it can get any better! To that end, local producers, upscale restaurateurs and food aficionados from all walks of life are getting together at Slow Food Festival in the village of Fiskars, Finland on October 1st – 2nd 2011. Only an hour’s journey from the Finnish capital Helsinki, up to 10,000 Slow Foodies are expected to attend this year’s fresh food fest!

First class fairly produced food can be tasted and experienced in numerous forms at Slow Food Festival. The eco-gastronomic market will feature products from organic farmers of sheep, beef and pork, as well as fishermen, food artisans and restaurateurs. Food-themed exhibitions, panel discussions, debates, photography and lectures are part of the programme. Cooking demonstrations and tastings are a given, and live animals will be on show.

Renowned Swedish food author Mats-Eric Nilsson and Ambassador of Nordic Food (What a great title!) Michael Björklund will be entertaining crowds, while German-born Christine Linder of Svartå Manor talks about hunting and preparing game (we’re game). Niko Tuominen, ex-chef at the famed restaurant Savoy in Helsinki, will also prepare tasty desserts from local berries and goat milk (among other delicacies). Yum, yummers. Look these blokes and birds up!

Transport from central Helsinki to Fiskars and back is arranged on both days of the festival.

A little bit about Fiskars village: Best known for the former Fiskars Bruk, an ironworks founded in 1646 that later developed into the Fiskars company, making quality design products ranging from kitchenware to gardening tools, today, the factory is a budding centre of Finnish art and design. So, in addition to being a place of residence for many artisans, artists and designers, the factory area is also a popular tourist destination.  Oh… and did we mention how much we love Finnish design? Clean, pure genius just runs in their blood.

A little bit about  Slow Food: A global non-profit organization founded to promote the production of quality food, local traditions and environmentally friendly agriculture, has more than 100, 000 members in 153 countries.

Slow Food Festival: http://bit.ly/qagMmZ

Fiskars village: http://www.fiskarsvillage.fi/en/

Slow Food Helsinki chapter: http://slowfoodhelsinki.com/; International: http://www.slowfood.com

Finland travel and tourism online:

www.visitfinland.com

www.twitter.com/ourfinland

www.facebook.com/visitfinland

Take Me to Paris

The Stunning Mandarin Oriental, Paris

What  do you think is one of the most prestigious addresses in Paris? Would it surprise you to learn that it’s one of our favorite hotels, The Mandarin Oriental, Paris?

With the Garnier Opera, the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens all close by, this week, we wanted to spotlight this beautiful hotel for it’s original and magnificent Art Deco façade because it’s recently undergone an artful transformation complemented by super chic, contemporary interiors.

Making this one of the most glamorous, and truly Parisian experiences in the city,  the hotel’s 138 luxe rooms are some of the largest in Paris, providing all you design-savvy Jauntophiles with elegance, space and light. The design combines Parisian sophistication, with art deco details and, of course, a few oriental touches. Working with the foremost international names in architecture and design, architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte supervised renovation of the building, facade and patio, Sybille de Margerie imagined the interior design and decoration of the rooms, spa and public spaces, and Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku lent their talent to the bar and restaurants. The hotel’s vast indoor garden of oriental inspiration (check this masterpiece of indoor/outdoor beauty out!) was created by Wilmotte & Associés, in association with the landscape artists François Neveux and Bernard Rouyer.

Le Renovation!

But they didn’t stop there. Mandarin Oriental, Paris ‘designed to satisfy every gourmet desire’, is also led by Executive Chef and Culinary Director Thierry Marx. Two restaurants, a “live cooking” counter (j’adore), a bar, Cake Shop and Garden offer a variety of different settings and moods where guests can savor a unique experience each time they visit (tres cool).

Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx

This gourmet restaurant was intended as an intimate cocoon for diners.  Its design forms the perfect backdrop for Chef Thierry Marx’s menu that pays particular attention to shapes and colors, textures and temperatures, and is an invitation to experience new sensations. What we like?  Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx offers a choice of menus comprised of nine or 13 dishes to choose from, including classics from the Chef’s repertoire, such as Tomato Iceburg, Soya Risotto, Calf’s Sweetbread Spaghetti and No-Bake Warm Chocolate Cake.

Mandarin Oriental, Paris - Cake Shop

Camélia’s light-filled space and continuation of the landscaped inner garden reflects Thierry Marx’s wish for a menu of simple, instinctive dishes focused on individual ingredients used in French cuisine that are also influenced by Japanese culinary traditions.  For a unique dining experience, guests can choose to sit at the “live cooking” counter in the center of the restaurant which seats seven, or La Table du Jardin which seats six to eight guests. We sure love the “live cooking” experience. Mandarin Oriental, Paris also pays tribute to its location and Saint Honoré – the patron saint of bakers and pastry-makers – with a delicious collection of classic French pâtisseries with a modern twist in their Cake Shop.  These delicacies can be enjoyed at teatime in the Camélia restaurant or the Gallery area of the Lobby, or beautifully wrapped and taken home.

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/paris/dining/

But we can’t forget… Le Spa!

Mandarin Oriental, Paris Spa

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Paris

Entirely devoted to well-being and relaxation, the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Paris offers a holistic experience and sanctuary of soothing, revitalizing experiences that extends over two floors and includes seven Spa Suites of which three are double suites for couples. Covering 1,281 square feet on the first floor, a fully-equipped fitness centre affords a plunging view of the pool.  For outdoor sport, guests can enjoy a morning run in the Tuileries Gardens, one of Paris’ most beautiful parks and just minutes from the hotel.  The Group’s Signature Therapies and product line were specially developed with anti-aging Orchidée Impériale treatments and exceptional facial therapies by Guerlain (one of our personal favorites since the days we used to go through bottles and bottles of Shalimar).

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/paris/spa

Europe: Last Minute Luxury Deals

Hotel Martinez - Cannes

Procrastinating summer-trip planners, here’s a last minute luxury hotel steal for you — 30% off on 21 luxury hotels through Concorde Hotels & Resorts! Concorde Hotels & Resorts, the leading luxury hotel group (à la trendy Hotel Martinez in Cannes), is offering up to 30% off on stays from June 1 to  October 31, 2011. Travelers can choose from 21 four- and five-star Concorde hotels throughout Europe, Egypt, and Tunisia. Concorde’s luxury hotels are offering this sweet deal (otherwise known as their “Summer Offer”) for in-the-know readers of snazzy websites like Jaunt Magazine so call reservations at 1-800-888-4747 and visit the links for more info.

The Palais de la Mediterranee

We suggest a swanky beachside getaway to the Hotel Martinez in Cannes or Le Palais de la Mediterranée in Nice. A popular celebrity destination, each year the glamorous Hotel Martinez welcomes guests to bask in the sun at its private beach and ocean-side Zplage bar along the famous Croisette (starting rates at $304/night), while Nice’s Le Palais de la Mediterranée overlooks the Mediterranean Sea on the illustrious Promenade des Anglais.

The Hotel Martinez has also just revealed its highly anticipated new Prestige Vue Mer Suites. The latest in the property’s multimillion-dollar renovation project, the thirty new suites maintain the unique Martinez art déco style while upping the glam factor. Taking full advantage of the hotel’s ideal location on the Croisette, Cannes’ bustling beachside avenue, each “Prestige Sea View” suite offers breathtaking views of the Bay of Cannes and the Mediterranean.

Hotel Martinez Renovations

Acclaimed Parisian interior designer March Hernich was given carte blanche in the large-scale redesign. Hernich sought to merge roaring-twenties-style décor and elements of modern, clean 1930’s lines with contemporary design aesthetic and amenities. Walk-in closets, and two white-marble, black-mosaic–incrusted bathrooms, Hollywood-esque king-sized beds with a mother-of-pearl quilted headboards, desks trimmed in beige leather,  mahogany dining tables, and silver chairs facing large seaside bow window all round out Hernich’s calming, beachy shades of beige, champagne, and turquoise to create modern elegance with a tinge of decadent 1920s. Integrated seamlessly, all of the rooms also boast state-of-the-art technology and LCD screens.

Up the coast in Nice, party at the Palais, where you can whet your whistle on bubbly or peruse a vast collection of classic and contemporary art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Take a stroll in Vieux Nice, sunbathe at the pool terrace, and then check out the hotel’s sauna and Turkish bath… please. (Starting rates at $254/night.)

Offer subject to availability and good until Oct. 31st, rates listed above reflect US dollar to Euro rates on the date of June 3, 2011. For more information or to book the “Summer Offer” call reservations at 1-800-888-4747 or visit http://www.concorde-hotels.com/en/promotions/summer-2011.aspx.

Doing Business. Croatian Style.

Hotel Lone's Sexy Pool

Check it out, ballers! Hotel Lone, Design Hotels™ first member in Croatia, is now open. Okay, yes, we’re obsessed with Design Hotels, but we’re also obsessed with Croatia. Not only did we rub elbows with the ex-PM’s daughter in Grad School (talk about a stunner!), but we also think Croatian men are hunks. So, what better reason to hit the road, Jack, then to head to the 248-room property located in the picturesque Mediterranean town of Rovinj, in the exclusive Monte Mulini neighborhood. Built to resemble a sleek white ocean liner floating on the hillside, the hotel also offers a range of places to wine and dine including three restaurants, three bars and… you guessed it… a night club. It also features a Mediterranean-inspired wellness center, a 600-seat auditorium and nine other meeting and conference spaces with state-of-the-art technology (since those of us who’ve had to put on events know just how critical good A/V equipment can be). So we say, Hotel Lone’s design focus, together with first-rate event and leisure facilities, create the perfect symbiosis of work and play.

Hot Tubbin' It at the Hotel Lone

As Design Hotels explain, “The ancient woodlands and wave-lapped coves of Croatia’s Adriatic coast have long been attracting sun-hungry tourists, leaving business travelers with no choice but to seek refuge elsewhere. Now though, after years of meticulous planning, there’s a proper design-focused place for them to stay in. The Croatian architectural firm 3LHD teamed up with Studio Numen and freelance conceptual artists to create an exterior and interior that ooze tailor-made design.

Wrapped by the emerald trees of the Zlatni Rt forest, and marked out by seductive minimalist curves, Hotel Lone is a conference hotel with a difference. Owned by Croatian hotel company Maistra Inc. and just a 10-minute walk from one of the most picturesque towns on the Mediterranean, Rovinj, it bends away from the coastline in a distinctive Y-shape, which means all 248 rooms and suites have views of the island-speckled coastline. Some of the hotel’s six meeting rooms benefit from this unusual profile, too, with high ceilings and wide spaces giving guests the freedom to think.” And, when you’re off galavanting around Europe for work and play, that’s exactly what you need.

The Swanky Spa

Locally grown rosemary, lavender and olive oil only add to the temptation of the Mediterranean-inspired wellness spa, while the open-plan lobby – decked in mirrors and cool white stones – allows the outstanding natural beauty of the surrounding area to flood inside. The project, led by Croatian architect Silvije Novak of 3LHD and inspired by the typology of 1970s Croatian hotels, brings the idea of terraced hotels with large lobbies to the scene and all rooms have spectacular sea or park views, with a dramatic hotel lobby opening up towards the sky with an atrium spanning six levels.

Hotel Lone's Infrared Spa

From Gastronomy to Wellness
With seven restaurants and bars, each with a different concept and cuisine, the hotel is a must-visit for food and wine enthusiasts. A la carte restaurant “L” offers traditional Croatian cuisine and over 200 old and new world wines. “ON” focuses on Mediterranean and central European cuisine through buffet and live cooking stations. Restaurant “E” features traditional Eastern cuisine infused with Mediterranean flavors; a highlight is the seafood tapas.

The Wellness Center boasts eight treatment rooms, some with large glass walls with stunning views. The offerings are varied including facial and body treatments, massages, invigorating baths and sauna with scented steam, Finnish, Turkish, salt and infrared sauna options. Infrared, what? That’s right… infrared sauna. We don’t skimp on our suggestions now, do we?

Inside the Wellness Center is also a gym, an aerobics room, a relaxation room, water beds, experiential showers and a swimming pool with hydro-massage therapy. There is also a specially designed space dubbed “sunken room” where guests float on hydro massage beds and chairs. LOVE sunken rooms. You too?

A View from the Hotel Lone

Bespoke Art and Furniture
Hotel Lone also features a collection of furnishings from renowned designers like Patricia Urquiola, Richard Schultz and David Rowland. Specially commissioned visual art installations can be found throughout the hotel’s public spaces. “We wanted guests to feel comfortable in vast spaces without being intimidated,” explains Croatian artist Silvio Vujicic. On the walls as well as along the lobby, spatial mixed media installations draw guests into the story and concept behind Hotel Lone. The rooms and suites are also decorated with graphics by Vujicic. As a screen-printing, textile and mixed media impresario, Vujicic drew his inspiration from Istrian cultural heritage and 15th century frescoes.

Location and Rates
With a private location near the sea of the Golden Cape Nature Park, Hotel Lone is surrounded by the historical Mediterranean Park Forest Zlatni Rt and is a 15 minutes walk from Rovinj’s historic town center and marina.

Rates range from EUR 186 – 1813.

The hotel is currently offering a 3 for 2 Summer Special. Available for a short time only, from now until September 1, 2011, guests booking three nights will only pay for two. 

www.designhotels.com/lone