Hot Opening: Montage Los Cabos

 

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Los Cabos, Mexico

 

When the much-anticipated Montage Los Cabos opens on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula this May, it could be the resort that helps transform an entire region into a luxury destination. Offering rare recreational opportunities courtesy of its prime beachfront location on Santa Maria Bay, it will also extend opening advantages exclusively for bookings made through an advisor affiliated with leading global luxury travel network Virtuoso®Virtuoso® is one of the leading international travel agency networks specializing in luxury and experiential travel. A by-invitation-only organization, it comprises over 1,000 travel agency partners with 17,500 elite travel advisors in more than 45 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

Guests who stay between June 1 and December 15, 2018 will receive a daily $100 USD resort credit as well as these complimentary benefits:

  • Upgrade on arrival, if available
  • Daily full breakfast for two guests
  • Early check-in/late check-out, if available
  • One-way airport transfer for bookings in Beachfront Suites and above
  • WiFi
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Santa Maria Bay

On 39 waterfront acres, Montage’s first property outside the U.S. will provide walk-in access to the region’s finest swimming, diving, and snorkeling. Located on the Golden Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, the resort will honor the destination’s tradition of indoor-outdoor living. Its public spaces and its 122 expansive guestrooms and suites will frame the surrounding Baja desert and serene waters of the Sea of Cortez. Montage Los Cabos will feature native materials and an earth-tone color scheme to blend with the striking setting. The resort will offer an enticing blend of recreation and relaxation, including two pools and two tennis courts, along with access to The Fred Couples Signature Golf Course. Guests can also take part in wellness programs and enjoy treatments at the 21,000-square-foot signature Spa Montage and fitness center. Younger visitors will enjoy Montage’s immersive children’s program, Paintbox.

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Montage Los Cabos Guest Room

Montage Los Cabos will also feature an abundance of dining options where you can enjoy the region’s abundant seafood (our favorite!) and innovative use of fresh local ingredients. For you romantic types, the resort is aiming to be the perfect site for destination weddings with 5,100 square feet of indoor event space and more than 30,000 square feet of outdoor space.

So check out how to book the Montage Los Cabos through Virtuoso directly online or visit https://www.virtuoso.com/advisors# 

 

LuxeFIT: Get Fit While You Travel

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Founder, Loren Ann Mayo

Two young businesswomen have found a way to combine their passion for travel and healthy lifestyles through a brand-new venture, luxeFIT. The company offers week-long luxury fitness retreats to exotic destinations, arranging workout sessions and activities, nutritious cuisine prepared by a private chef and opportunities for socializing and fun – all in a luxurious private beachfront estate setting.

LuxeFIT blends fitness, nutrition, adventure and the opportunity to explore new and exciting destinations worldwide. Our fitness adventure experts coordinate all-inclusive, week-long luxury fitness retreats to exotic destinations, offering workout sessions and activities, healthy food prepared by a private chef and opportunities for socializing and fun – all in luxurious villa settings.

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Co-Founder, Holly Morris

LuxeFIT blends fitness, adventure and nutrition with the opportunity to explore new and exciting destinations worldwide. The first retreat is slated for April 30 – May 6, in Barbados.

Activities will include yoga, paddleboarding, snorkeling, surfing and water-skiing, with numerous social opportunities — as well as free time — throughout. Excursions will be available to explore Harrison’s Caves, tour Mt. Gay Rum Distillery, shop in Holetown and more. It’s a great group for people who want to sweat it out every day and meet like-minded people and have fun in some of the most beautiful places on earth!” luxeFIT co-founder Loren Mayo says, “Retreats aim to be a place where guests feast on delicious, healthy cuisine, exercise in spirited and challenging sessions with top trainers, experience the sights and sounds of the area and, ultimately, return home looking and feeling better than when they left.”

Just as food typically plays a central role in any travel experience, healthy eating is at the core of a luxeFIT adventure. One of the founding principles of luxeFIT is to provide wholesome, delectable, locally produced meals for guests to enjoy. The accommodations feature a private chef, who will offer meals that meet guests’ nutritional needs, while taking great care to develop menus reflecting the culture of the destination. 

The two launched luxeFIT in November 2016, engaging Mia Duval, an Orangetheory fitness instructor in Sarasota, FL, as head trainer for the venture. Beyond the Barbados retreat, the duo is exploring additional options in the Caribbean and Mexico.

“From invigorating workouts to gourmet fare, this program is designed to nourish and energize our guests on every level, offering the perfect blend of cardio, rest and relaxation,” said Morris. “It’s paradise with a purpose — a better, more balanced you, in less than a week!”

Retreats are all-inclusive — all but airfare is included. Guests will enjoy six-nights in either a 5-Star villa or luxury condo, freshly prepared meals with an emphasis on local cuisine, fitness and yoga sessions, the ability to work out with a first-rate fitness instructor and round-trip transportation to group activities.

luxefit.co

An Insta-Worthy Spa Guide

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The Cove, Shore Lodge – McCall, Idaho

The Cove, Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho
Set on the southern glacial waters of Payette Lake and tucked into Idaho forest, The Cove at Shore Lodge is a retreat that embraces the outdoors, with sculptural fir tree logs lining the lobby and a tranquil stone hallway leading to intimate treatment rooms. The spa’s unique indoor/outdoor saltwater immersion pools – lined with local granite boulders and affixed with antique copper water pumps – pay homage to Idaho’s plentiful natural hot springs. Nature-based massages, facials and body treatments are performed using a holistic and organic skincare line, tailored to meet the needs of both serene pleasure seekers and active mountain enthusiasts.
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Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui

Mandara Spa , Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui
Located on the beautiful southeast shore of Maui, Mandara Spa truly embodies Maui’s natural beauty and sense of aloha in every aspect. The Mandara Spa is located on the lobby of the resort, overlooking the serene Hawaiian waters, Molokini crater and the island of Kaho`olawe.  The 9,153 square feet facility features twelve treatment rooms, some of which are Ocean view single treatment rooms and deluxe couple’s suites for facials, body treatments and massages. A welcoming relaxation area, steam room, lockers and showers is privately located in the center of the spa; separated for men and women. The spa also has a full service salon for hair, make-up and nails.
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Miraval Life in Balance Spa, Monarch Beach Resort – Dana Point, CA

Miraval Life In Balance Spa, Monarch Beach Resort – Dana Point, CA
Situated on the idyllic coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point, California, the newly opened Miraval Life in Balance Spa at Monarch Beach Resort is a state-of-the-art oasis and the only Miraval location in California. Renowned for its “Life in Balance” philosophy, innovative programs and wellness activities, Miraval Life in Balance Spa offers an expansive spa experience inspired by the resort’s oceanfront location. The spa offers more than 70 of the signature treatments developed at the company’s flagship Miraval Resort & Spa near Tucson, Arizona, each designed to “awaken the senses, create balance and promote a sense of well-being. You’ll also discover an entirely new catalog of services created specifically for Monarch Beach Resort,  featuring California-inspired ingredients like crystal salt stones, algae, and marine mud.
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Ventana Inn, Big Sur, CA

The Spa at Ventana, Ventana Big Sur, CA
The Spa at Ventana is a refuge from the stresses of daily life. Start your journey with a hot cup of organic tea or cool fruit-infused filtered water before you wander down to the outdoor clothing-optional amenity area. Like that? Clothing optional! Let the heat of the Japanese Baths and Dry Sauna gently unwind your muscles. Relax by the heated pool and take in the natural beauty that is Big Sur. The Spa at Ventana embraces the magical “Essence of Big Sur” introducing two new dreamy experiences to reinforce Big Sur’s reputation as a sacred site and healing vortex. The Lavender Dreams Experience is an 80-minute, head-to-toe spa experience combining the calming elements of Wild Lavender with earthy minerals, concluded by a luxe foot and pressure point scalp massage in a nourishing cocoon. Also, a new  50-minute Mineral Body Scrub stimulates circulation and leaves the skin soft and hydrated (and even safe for expecting mothers), featuring an exhilarating thermal salt exfoliation applied in a two‐step treatment and mixed with a guests’ essential oil blend of choice.
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Carmel Valley Ranch, CA

Spa Aiyana, Carmel Valley Ranch, CA
The spa spans 10,500 square feet and has 11 treatment rooms, most of which have private outdoor terraces. There are three couples treatment rooms, grouped in the same wing, allowing them to be sequestered for private functions, such as pre-wedding and birthday spa celebrations. The spa also features private men’s and women’s locker rooms, with steam saunas, as well as a co-ed Relaxation Lounge and Fitness Center. Treatments in the spa are each based on one of four specialized gardens, Lavender, Herb, Aiyana and Alchemist, which use the invigorating, restorative and relaxing energy found in the natural world. Services also include massage therapies, body therapies, advanced and organic skincare, visible results oxygen fusion, nail care, and waxing.
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Hacienda AltaGracia, Costa Rica

Auberge Spa at Hacienda AltaGracia, Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica
Central America’s largest spa, the 20,000 square-foot Auberge Spa comprises indoor and outdoor treatment rooms – some featuring soaking tubs and private outdoor gardens, locally-inspired facials and body treatments, a panoramic pool, state-of-the-art fitness center and steam and sauna rooms. Untouched by tourism, the resort is located in the purest valley of what is the last unexplored area in Costa Rica, AltaGracia offers a true retreat surrounded by untainted beauty.
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Castello di Casole – Tuscany

Essere Spa
Originally the estate’s wine cellar, Essere Spa offers a serene setting within one of the most dramatic spaces on the property. Barrel-vaulted ceilings and restored stone walls create a theatrical setting accentuated by long views across an expansive valley. Essere Spa, meaning To Be in Italian, brings one into harmony with body, mind, spirit, and all that is Tuscany. A full treatment menu is inspired by local ingredients – rosemary, grape and olive oil – with products from the renowned brands Comfort Zone and Germaine de Cappuccini. European spa and wellness experts offer an extensive collection of traditional and modern therapies. Pools and steam rooms, a spectacular couple’s treatment suite with deep soaking tub and shower, and luxurious private outdoor gardens promise to at least make you feel like Italian royalty.

What’s New in Napa

News from the Vines: What’s Cropping up in the Napa Valley this Season 

Meadowood Napa

An Arial View of Meadowood Napa

SLEEP

1.       Just Completed: Five new Harvest Suites in the Harvest Cottage were just completed in September at The Carneros Inn. The new suites make for a total of 800 square feet of indoor living space, as well as 400 additional square feet of private outdoor patio space, which includes an outdoor soaking tub and fire pit. www.thecarnerosinn.com

2.       Just Opened: Meadowood Napa Valley just debuted their new 14,000 square-foot, all-suite spa on November 2, 2015, with eight treatment suites, each offering forest views and a private environment for relaxation. Each spa suite features a private bathroom, steam shower and daybed. www.meadowood.com

3.       Just Completed: Calistoga Hot Springs finished its extensive renovation project in June 2015, including a redesign of the guest rooms with spa-inspired bedding, pebble and Italian porcelain tile showers, kitchenette upgrades and High Definition LED televisions. The focal point, though, are the four geothermal heated mineral pools, with travertine tiles, new pool furniture and vine covered arbor niches. www.calistogaspa.com

EAT

1.       Just Opened: The team from Ca’ Momi debuted their new Osteria on October 13, 2015, with a full bar of Ca’ Momi wines, house-made spirits and beer and a menu of authentic Italian specialties like their certified Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) and Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani pizza. Ca’ Momi Osteria; 1141 First St., downtown Napa; www.camomiosteria.com.

2.       Just Opened: Launched by AvroKO and chef Matthew Lightner (who received two Michelin stars when he oversaw the kitchen at Atera in NYC), NINEBARK opened in October 2015 in downtown Napa with California-focused, market-forward cuisine using innovative techniques like smoking with local hardwood and shrubs and marinating in herbal, fruit and floral broths. 813 Main St.; www.ninebark-napa.com.

3.       Upcoming: Opening late 2015, Tannery Bend Beerworks will brew and serve their own beers, born from a unique collaboration between a brewer (Matthew Cromwell) and a chef (Tyler Rodde) within blocks of downtown Napa. An upcoming crowdfunding campaign be established to engage members of the community. www.tannerybendbeerworks.com

4.       Upcoming: Miminashi, Napa Valley’s first and only “Izakaya-style” (Japanese pub) in downtown Napa, is set to open this month by chef and owner Curtis Di Fede. The menu will feature classics like Kara-age (Japanese-style fried chicken), binchotan grilled porterhouse with uni shiso butter and the space will focus around an open binchotan grill.

DRINK

1.       Just Opened: In the center of Yountville, K. LAZ WINE COLLECTION opened on October 7, 2015 by former Dean & Deluca Wine Director, Kerrin Laz. The 12-seat tasting room and retail shop features a curated wine collection, local Napa Valley landscape photography shot by Kerrin and fresh flowers and terrariums from nearby Evermore Flowers. www.klazwine.com.

2.       Upcoming: JaM Cellars is coming to downtown Napa this winter, with wine flights, by the glass and by the bottle programs available for Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cab and Toast Sparkling, plus several guest wines and special releases only available at the downtown tasting room. Designer Richard Vonsaal is creating a unique space with reclaimed materials and contemporary twists. www.jamcellars.com

CELEBRATE

1.       Flavor! Napa Valley – March 16 – 20, 2016: A five-day celebration featuring farm-to-table cuisine, world-class wines and culinary star talent, with local and celebrity chef demonstrations, intimate winemaker workshops, Grand Tastings and exclusive experiences that bring out the best flavors of Napa Valley. www.flavornapavalley.com

2.       Superbowl 50 – February 7, 2016: In celebration of the Bay Area’s hosting of Superbowl 50, Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, is offering a “GAMETIME” package for Superbowl weekend. The package includes a one-night stay in a Maison king room, GAMETIME welcome party snacks paired with a bottle of former pro Dick Vermeil’s Proprietary Red, wine tasting for two at Vermeil Wines in Calistoga or Napa, a GAMETIME sampler in the Bistro & Bar, a $100 resort credit and a 10 percent discount on any 60 minute service at Auberge Spa (including the GAMETIME sports massage and “heat-to-toe” treatment). The package starts at $898 and is valid through Feb. 12, 2016.

Your Istanbul Travel Cheat Sheet

Istanbul at Dusk (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

Istanbul at Dusk (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

Turkey, the site of two wonders of the ancient world, is a present-day marvel – the cradle of many civilizations, the very center of world history and a modern republic which, at times, struggles between embracing the relics of her past and a forward-seeking future. A country of fascinating contrasts, antiquity is juxtaposed with the contemporary, the familiar with the exotic, and sun-swept beaches beckon less than an hour away from snow-capped mountains. Everywhere, however, visitors say they are often treated to the extraordinary warmth of the Turkish people. Istanbul is the most popular 1st stop for those visiting Turkey and it’s a clear winner among people of all nationalities and religions. If  you only have a few days or a long weekend, here’s a quick cheat sheet of the Top Things to Do and See in Istanbul, to soon be followed by the Wonders of The Turkish Coast.

The Bosphorus

The Bosphorus

What to See

In addition to the well known sites of the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, two years ago, Istanbul was rated Travel + Leisure‘s #1 European city to visit, so, to celebrate Staff of the Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF) compiled a list of the 10 places every visitor to Istanbul must experience which we wanted to share.

  1. Sip the best Turkish coffee at Mandabatmaz
  2. Browse the sustainable, locally-made, high-end contemporary Turkish goods at Armaggan Emporium
  3. Indulge in centuries of Anatolian culinary tradition at NAR Gourmet and NAR Restaurant
  4. Absorb the work of Turkey’s greatest contemporary artists at Istanbul Modern
  5. Hop on a Bosphorus ferry to Kadikoy for people watching and Alinin Dondurmasi’s famous ice cream
  6. Experience the centuries-old tradition of raki and fresh fish at İsmet Baba in Kuzguncuk
  7. Relax in the pleasure of a traditional Turkish hamam bath at Cağaloğlu Hamamı
  8. Shop the collection of critically acclaimed Turkish designer Simay Bülbül
  9. Soak up the sounds of Turkey’s thriving jazz scene at Nardis Jazz Bar
  10. Enjoy cocktails and conversation in Münferit’s quiet garden before returning inside to dance until dawn with locals
Istanbul (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

Istanbul (c) Ritz Carlton Istanbul

The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul

A few years ago, we stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul because we always know we’ll get top-notch service and food, but Istanbul has several fantastic properties that are unique and special (Note: Ciragan Palace). The Ritz is located at one of the most exciting cultural crossroads in the world in a city that bridges the continents of Asia and Europe along the banks of the Bosphorus Strait. From the outside, it may look like another skyscraper, but once inside, international recognition for its commitment to exceptional levels of service becomes clear. You’re not simply told where the Ladies room is located, you’re escorted there, after being offered some warm Turkish sahlep, a delectable sweet warm drink reminiscent of yogurt and cinnamon. The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul was voted “Best Overseas Business Hotel 2009” by readers of Condé Nast Traveller UK and it’s no surprise. It’s about as stress free as you can get. In addition to 244 rooms and 23 suites, there are 57 Ritz-Carlton Club Level rooms (since I’m obsessed with the Club Level) and The Ritz also offers the award-wining Laveda Spa that includes ten treatment rooms including a not-to-be-missed Turkish Hammam where you will feel transported back in time, dreaming of the days of Suleyman the Magnificient.

Ritz Carlton Couples Hammam

Ritz Carlton Couples Hammam

At the Laveda Spa, the experienced therapists apply the miraculous methods of massage and skin care with Aromatherapy Associates offering all natural plant oils and the high-end line of Carita products. Apart from that a variety of holistic massages like the relaxing “Sultans Royal Six Hands Massage” applied in synchronization by three trained artisans, there are also exclusive body treatments like the “Hot Chocolate Seduction”, “Caviar Therapy”, “Milk & Honey Bath,” or an intoxicating wine therapy called “The Gift of Bacchus,” all infused with natural ingredients.

The Indoor Pool at the Ritz Carlton Istanbul

The Indoor Pool at the Ritz Carlton Istanbul

The indoor pool, the biggest of all indoor hotel pools in the city, is another alternative for more sporty activities or a few lazy laps. You’ll have the feeling of soaking under the Turkish sky when swimming in the mosaic pool as twinkling “stars” on the ceiling illuminate the pool area and highlight the impressive architecture of the Byzantine period of Istanbul.

But perhaps the most stunning section of the Spa is the authentic Turkish Hamam modeled on the 16th century Baths of Roxelana. The Hamam ritual entails a process of complete surrender to scrubbing, washing, and relaxation where you enter a private hamam room and lay a warm slab of marble. Once there, you’re exfoliated and cleansed like a goddess with copious amounts of warm and cool water, followed by a thorough body wash, and a bubble massage where the therapist creates clouds of bubbles with the use of a special towel that surrounds you like a daphine-scented cloud (an exotic flower from Western Asia).

This was, in many ways, the highlight of my luxurious vacation.

Ritz Carlton Cooking

Ritz Carlton Cooking

After our Turkish Hamam, we headed to the Ritz Calrton Istanbul’s Çintemani restaurant for dinner, an exciting autumn menu designed to celebrate local seasonal produce and showcase a unique approach to the culinary traditions of Turkey. Highlights on the autumn five-course degustation menu from then Chef de Cuisine, Ali Ronay (now at Raffles). His menu included Turkish puff pastry with pumpkin and pomegranate, lamb from the Thracian region and Turkish pancakes, while the à la carte menu was a whirlwind journey around the country’s regional flavors from Thracian beef fillet, prawns from Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, tuna and octopus from Dardanelles, veal from Balikesir, and chicken from Bandirma on the Sea of Marmara. The fusion of local flavors and innovative cooking techniques made the dishes so unique and mouth-watering that I can honestly say I’ve never quite tasted food like this before. Prawns were infused with Turkish Raki brandy, Bosporus bonito fish was prepared in traditional tomato and onion ragout, while mullet from Dardanelles was dressed with virgin olive oil from Bodrum. Innovative techniques included lamb prepared à la sous vide (a method of cooking vacuum-packed food in a plastic pouch at a set temperature often in a water bath) and cheesecake created from Aegean curd and seasonal pumpkin.

Now are you hungry to check it out?

Rates from $269/night

www.ritzcarlton.com/istanbul

Other amazing places to stay in Istanbul:

  • Kempinski Ciragan (truly historic and palatial)
  • The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul (can’t go wrong with the always solid Four Seasons)
  • Pera Palace (a Jumeirah property so expect proper opulence)
  • Georges Hotel Galata (a unique boutique property with an intimate vibe)
  • Hotel Ibrahim Pasha (another boutique property in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on a quaint quiet street)
  • The House Hotel Nisantasi (a smaller elegant modern hotel)

Bars and Restaurants to check out:

  • 11:11 (open Wed. – Sat. this hotspot is owned by the son of one of Turkey’s famous singers)
  • Public (where you want to people watch and party)
  • Poseiden (one of the top fish restaurants in Istanbul with classic mezzes & raki in an upmarket terrace atmosphere)
  • Casita (late night peruhi aka. vegetarian Turkish pasta with yoghurt & mint… yum!)