10 Hottest Places of 2015

1. Jose Ignacio, Uruguay

This small village on the southern coast of Uruguay is currently one of the chicest spots in South America. During our New York winter, the sun is shining in full force in Jose Ignacio. The scene is glamorous but laid back with sunbathers enjoying late lunches at superb restaurants.

Top pick: Vik Retreats Bahia, Playa and Estancia Vik

2. Puglia, Italy

The “boot” of Italy is one of the best places in Italy. From authentic dining, to wineries to sandy beach clubs – Puglia is a great mix of culture and relaxation for travelers of all ages. Biking is the ideal way to explore the region because of the flat landscape.

Top pick: Borgo Egnazia

3. Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos has been gaining popularity, and is back and better than ever. With hot beach clubs like Nammos Beach, with guests partying into the evening and restaurants serving fresh caught fish, Mykonos is for party people and sophisticated travelers alike.

Top pick: Santa Marina Mykonos

4. Montenegro

Montenegro’s rocky coastline is one of the most beautiful in the world. With no lack of history nor luxury hotels, Montenegro is one of this summer’s up and coming destinations.

Top pick: Aman Sveti Stefan

5. Kyoto:

Voted one of the top destinations by Travel and Leisure, Kyoto is both beautiful, exotic and serene at the same time.

Top pick: Ritz Carlton Kyoto

6. Ibiza

Ibiza is about so much more than nightclubs and famous DJ’s. The beauty of Formentera beach, the quality of restaurants and incredible villas on the island are cementing its place in the luxury travel market.

Top pick: Private Island Tagomago off the coast of Ibiza, complete with yacht.

7. Nicaragua

Rustic in all the right ways, Nicaragua provides adventure (biking through the rainforest), culture (visiting Grenada) and relaxation (beach) all in one.

Top pick: Mukul Resort and Spa

8. St Barth

Nothing new to the scene, St. Barth is still one of 2015’s top destinations. Providing the perfect mix of a European island with a laidback beach feel – It is the only island that has a reliable nightlife scene.

Top pick: Cheval Blanc Isle de France

9. Fiji

Known for its blue lagoons and pristine beaches, Fiji’s provides some of the best diving in the South pacific. With the opening of Laucala, Fiji has joined the ranks as one of the most exclusive places to visit.

Top pick: Laucala Island

10. Milan

With the world expo in Milan and new hotel openings, Milan is not only the center of Italian fashion but also an underrated cultural center.

Top pick: The Mandarin Oriental Milan

Posted on July 16, 2015 .

Just Back From...

Back in December, I had the chance to explore one of the most exotic and foreign countries I’ve traveled to; Thailand. A visit to Thailand is a once in a lifetime opportunity that should not be overseen or missed out on by anyone. It is the perfect place for all travelers. Whether you’re a beach bum, adventurist, or culture junky, Thailand has it all and is the place for you!

I was fortunate enough to visit four different places in Thailand and experience a little bit of everything it has to offer. My journey started off in Bangkok, the capital and bread-and-butter of Thailand. If you think Manhattan is the city that never sleeps, you obviously have not been to Bangkok! We stayed at The Banyan Tree Bangkok which has one of the best rooftop bars in the city! The hustle and bustle never ends and the music never stops! The highly populated city not only has great nightlife and restaurants, but there is also a ton to learn and see. The Grand Palace and Wat Pho are just two “must-see” highlights in Bangkok. The climax of my visit was when we took a Long Tail speedboat through the residential neighborhoods of the city which was an eye opener and culture shock!

Next, we went to Khao Sok which is a national park in Southern Thailand. This is where I scratched my adventure itch. We stayed 3 nights in at Elephant Hills in a luxury tented camp; one night in the jungle and two nights in a floating tent over the Cheow Larn Lake. At these camps you can do just about anything! We went from bathing and feeding elephants to canoeing and hiking through bat caves!

The third stop on my journey was Phuket, a completely different experience than the previous two. After a full week of adventure and touring, Phuket was the perfect beach spot to settle down, relax, and take it all in. The beaches of Phuket are beautiful and the tranquil sunsets cannot be captured in a photo. It is THE perfect place for honeymooners or families who are looking to visit an exotic beach destination. Phuket is even known for its amazing surf conditions so if you’re an avid surfer, Phuket should definitely be on your list! A highlight for me was taking out a boat for the day and visiting the surrounding islands with a quick snorkel in the Andaman Sea! It was also cool to visit Phi Phi Island where the movie The Beach, as well as many others, was filmed. We stayed at The Banyan Tree Phuket which truly captured the Asian sense of place.

Our last and final stop was the city of Chiang Mai. I loved Chiang Mai because it is a city mixed with culture and adventure. You can choose to stay in the heart of the city where you will have the Night Bazaar and the city center just outside your door, or you can stay just outside the city where you’ll have one foot in the action and one foot in a muddy rice field planting some rice! You will be able to go on some cool adventures like zip-lining through the jungle and hiking over suspension bridges. We stayed at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai which is a resort outside of the city. It offers a ton of activities on property (such as rice planting, authentic Thai cooking classes, etc) as well as off property. When visiting Thailand, Chiang Mai is definitely a stop you want to take. A visit to the Night Bazaar will not send you home empty handed!

Sadly, after an amazing 12 nights in Thailand, my journey came to an end but the memories and adventures I experienced will always make Thailand one of my favorite places in the world. Despite the long 18 hour flight, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Posted on May 18, 2015 and filed under JUST BACK FROM.

March Staff Picks

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Julie Danziger, Director of Luxury Travel Services

 Ajax tavern is everything those that have never been to Aspen dream it is, and those that have been to Aspen look forward to returning to. It is one of those places you can literally spend the entire day at! Located at the foot of Aspen Mountain, part of the Little Nell Hotel, this spot may as well have invented the word chic.   Image via  The Little Nell

Ajax tavern is everything those that have never been to Aspen dream it is, and those that have been to Aspen look forward to returning to. It is one of those places you can literally spend the entire day at! Located at the foot of Aspen Mountain, part of the Little Nell Hotel, this spot may as well have invented the word chic. 

Image via The Little Nell

Ajax Tavern at the Little Nell
Aspen, Colorado


 
 

Renee Fallack, Luxury Travel Concierge

 There’s nowhere in the world like Paris. Visit the Eiffel tower after sundown, go up to the 2nd floor and just take it all in.  It’s pure magic!  Image via  Pinterest

There’s nowhere in the world like Paris. Visit the Eiffel tower after sundown, go up to the 2nd floor and just take it all in.  It’s pure magic!

Image via Pinterest

Eiffel Tower
Paris, France


 
 

Estee Salem, Luxury Travel Concierge

 Fresh casual dining, great boutique shopping, the Bondi Iceberg pool and of course the beach. Nothing I want to do more than dive into that pool and nowhere I want to visit more the Australia.  

Fresh casual dining, great boutique shopping, the Bondi Iceberg pool and of course the beach. Nothing I want to do more than dive into that pool and nowhere I want to visit more the Australia.  

Bondi Beach
Sydney, Australia


 
 

Brit Healey, Luxury Travel Concierge

 Where Rio de Janeiro's young and beautiful hang out. Perfect for watching local surfers catch waves. There are people playing music and tons of independent artisans selling art, jewelry, etc. Amazing views of BOTH Copacabana & Ipanema Beach.    Image Source

Where Rio de Janeiro's young and beautiful hang out. Perfect for watching local surfers catch waves. There are people playing music and tons of independent artisans selling art, jewelry, etc. Amazing views of BOTH Copacabana & Ipanema Beach. 

Image Source

Arpoador
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


 
 

Sylvia Betesh, Luxury Travel Consultant

 Come early for a quiet meal right on the beach, stay late for when the dj starts and everyone is up dancing. Great music, great  people, and most importantly, incredible food. The menu includes fresh caught fish and vegetables from local gardens.  Nammos reopens for the season in April!  Image via  Nammos

Come early for a quiet meal right on the beach, stay late for when the dj starts and everyone is up dancing. Great music, great  people, and most importantly, incredible food. The menu includes fresh caught fish and vegetables from local gardens.  Nammos reopens for the season in April!

Image via Nammos

Nammos Beach Club, Psarou Beach
Mykonos


 
 

Jack Ezon, President

 An invigorating hike, followed by a refreshingly cold dip in the pristine sound and back home with a thrilling helicopter ride!

An invigorating hike, followed by a refreshingly cold dip in the pristine sound and back home with a thrilling helicopter ride!

Milford Sound, 
New Zealand


 
 

Joey Levy, Luxury Travel Consultant

 I would love to be in touch with nature.  I cherish the opportunity to observe and experience a destination where the natural environment is not affected by the human hand.

I would love to be in touch with nature.  I cherish the opportunity to observe and experience a destination where the natural environment is not affected by the human hand.

Pikaia Lodge
Galapagos, Ecuador


 
 

Allison Bishop, Luxury Travel Consultant

 Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s most famous streets & a great place for enjoying the most delicious sangria and lively street performers.

Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s most famous streets & a great place for enjoying the most delicious sangria and lively street performers.

Posted on March 11, 2015 .

December Hotel Crush of the Month

Gone is the Amsterdam of day’s past, known solely for the infamous Red Light district and a weekend of debauchery. The past few years have given us a glimpse into a brand new Amsterdam, a city that has truly become a destination hotspot in Europe. Whether your interests lie in cycling through the streets and getting lost among the canals, undergoing some exciting new gastronomic experiences, or immersing yourself in all the cultural highlights, Amsterdam has something for everyone. This city has definitely become a destination worth visiting (or revisiting), and The Conservatorium, the only place to stay.

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From the moment you step foot into the beautiful and awe inspiring lobby of the Conservatorium Amsterdam, it is impossible not to feel enamored. The Conservatorium boasts a rich history, originally built at the end of the 19th century as the Rijksportspaarbank, and has helped spark the regeneration of the Museum Quarter at the end of the 19th century.  In 1978 it became the home of Amsterdam's Sweelinck Conservatory of Music, and then finally reopened as a hotel in 2011.

This property is ideally located in the heart of the city's museum square (Museumplein) and the royal Concertgebouw (Concert Hall). It is close to the fashion district, down the block from Vondelpark and steps away from cultural destinations such as the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, and Van Gogh Museum. The tram is located directly across the street, making the quick trip to other areas in the city just as seamless. 

The building was designed by renowned Dutch architect, Daniel Knuttel with interior and furniture designed by Milano designer, Piero Lissoni. What makes the hotel really stand out are the unique and playful touches that can be found throughout the hotel. There are a line of tree that separate the brasserie from the lounge, a suspended staircase that goes nowhere, a bright red hippo that lives opposite the reception, and probably the most photogenic (and Instagram worthy!) touch, a beautiful string of violins suspended from the ceiling. All these touches give the hotel a comfortable yet cool feel, while still maintaining a strong sense of place. 

 The hotel itself is comprised of 8 floors, and 129 guest rooms and suites ranging from spacious superior room to penthouse suite. All the rooms have luxury linens, high speed internet (that actually works everywhere), and private bars. The rooms all have brushed oak flooring and beige furniture combining styles that are both modern and classic. The bathrooms have rainfall showers, marble tubs, and LCD mirror televisions. 

I had the pleasure of staying in the duplex suite last month, and thoroughly enjoyed the floor to ceiling windows, 2 spacious floors and 2 bathrooms! I was delighted with the mini bar selection, and loved that it was not your typical Pringles and M&M selection that you might find at a hotel chain. 

 I can't stress enough how warm and personable everyone at the Conservatorium is. From the doormen, to the housekeeping staff, front desk, to the waiters, I did not encounter one person that was less than amicable and helpful. Everyone is so welcoming, looking to enhance your stay in any way possible, and this is truly indicative of a well run and well managed hotel. 

 No quality hotel achieves this status without a strong food and beverage game, and The Conservatorium delivers with Taiko, the new Asian inspired hotspot by chef Schilo Van Coevorden. Their lounge/bar, Tunes Bar, another Amsterdam go to,  is an elegant and cool spot to enjoy classic drinks, exclusive cocktails and tapas. I love the vibe in this bar and with a DJ spinning on the weekends; it seems to always be the place to be. Located in the spectacular atrium, is the Conservatorium Brassiere and Lounge with floor to ceiling windows and a glass ceiling. The breakfast I experienced here was top notch. A must try is the chocolate cups with apricot preserves. And for those late risers, I love that they serve breakfast until 11am!  When I approached concierge for dining tips, I was impressed to be directed to their "dining specialist" who was extremely knowledgeable. He didn't recommend the touristy spots, but sent me to some amazing under the radar, local places, exactly what I was seeking. 

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The Conservatorium is also an excellent choice for meetings, events, even weddings. The shopping gallery includes a hair salon, high end luxury stores, and a cigar shop, La Casa del Habano, a dream for cigar aficionados. And no trip here is complete without a stop at their famous Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre and state of the art fitness center. There is a serene swimming pool located in the spa, as well as a whirlpool, hamman, sauna and Watsu pool and neon lit lap pool! Luxurious treatments such as hot seashell massage or jade tonifying facials are just another thing that sets this hotel one notch above. 

 If you are looking for a hotel that goes above and beyond, with amazing architecture and design, a welcoming and inviting staff, and the perfect location, you found the right place. Definitely crush-worth, the Conservatorium Amsterdam is the whole package. 

Who's Been To the Hotel:

 
 
 
 
Posted on December 4, 2014 and filed under HOTEL CRUSH OF THE MONTH.

Just Back From...

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting South Africa to visit some incredible hotels and experience the best of what South Africa has to offer. Please enjoy some of my personal photographs of my trip and maybe someday soon you'll be getting your own incredible pictures.

Posted on December 2, 2014 and filed under JUST BACK FROM.

Just Back from...

Taking a trip to Mexico is almost a right of passage for us New Yorkers. Many have been, remembering little – because either the time was spent enjoying the local Tequila or sitting on a beach.  

Visiting Mexico in 2014 is far different than what you may have experienced in the past, and even if it was a positive experience, it is worth taking another look at the country beyond it’s sun and sand.

Posted on November 19, 2014 and filed under JUST BACK FROM.

November Hotel Crush of the Month

As the temperatures dip this November, I am dreaming of the tropical paradise of Laucala Island in Fiji. Laucala, pronounced “lah-tha-la” is more than a hotel; it is an over the top private island experience that caters to the luxury traveler’s every need. With just 25 villas set amid coconut plantations, turquoise lagoons and deserted beaches, the experience is truly personalized to you. Your Tao (literally translated to “my friend” aka butler) will cater to your every need from setting up dining on your private beach to horseback riding through the rainforest (on the island’s own 8 Fijian horses).

Posted on November 14, 2014 and filed under HOTEL CRUSH OF THE MONTH.

Featured Destinations: New Zealand

New Zealand, home to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world! For anyone interested in incredible adrenaline pumping activities this is heaven. Anything from heli-biking, to sky diving, and river surfing. Bungee jumping was actually invented here. The best part is all of these amazing activities can be done with a postcard picture perfect backdrop.

Posted on September 30, 2014 and filed under FEATURED DESTINATIONS.