This little luxury gem was such a lucky find that I had to write it up. Thanks to my buddy, Jessica, who heard about this spot from friends, it’s like staying at your wealthy friend’s private home along the Napa River, complete with a fridge stocked with sparkling (or flat) water and sodas just for you. Something between a luxury B&B and a spa, it’s right on the water, feels like a bucolic dream, and worth every penny with their pristine fluffy towels and chic modern amenities.
For a quick jaunt outside the city during Bottlerock, this property was quiet, luxurious perfection. I only wish I had more time to relax in front of the Napa River and enjoy the view with a good book in hand. Breakfast is included and had all the usual favorites for American – or European – palates. Scrambled eggs or chicken sausage, you got it. Oatmeal, croissants, or pastries, they have that too. Basically, they have everything you need if you’re looking for a B&B vibe that’s high-end and private. I’ll definitely be heading back on my next sojourn. They even have a complimentary wine tasting in the afternoon. Win win!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.