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Still looking for an extraordinary private beach paradise for your winter holiday? We recently returned from Cuixmala (“the soul’s resting place”) on the coast of Mexico south of Puerto Vallarta. We can highly recommend Cuixmala, the palatial estate/ranch/farm of the late legendary Sir James Goldsmith, now run by his charming daughter, Alix, and her family. First, there is the setting: 30,000 acres of unspoiled land dotted with manicured gardens, palms, shimmering lagoons and golden beaches. Then there are the accommodations: they range from a majestic domed beachfront palace to luxurious villas to private casitas. Decorated with imported silks and precious antiques, each is staffed by a well-dressed staff who attends to all your needs, be it a frosty margarita or full dinner. Life at Cuixmala is serene and unhurried, full of laughter and spirited conversations, yet activities include all you could wish for: horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, fishing, boating, wildlife and bird watching, volleyball, tennis, surfing, and nearby polo and golf. Home of the ecologically important Chamela Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve, Cuixmala has an internationally recognized turtle protection program, just one benchmark of their devotion to the environment. Another is the fact that 85% of all their food is organic and produced on the family’s own farms and ranches. Cuixmala is ideal for weddings and special events and the entire property is often rented for celebrations. Want fireworks? No problem at Cuixmala. Need a massage? Talented therapists are close at hand. Don’t want to drive one hour from Manzanillo or three hours from Puerto Vallarta? They will charter a plane for you to land at their private strip. Or send their drivers and air-conditioned SUVs. Cuixmala is pure heaven for those who want the very very best. Xanadu? This is it. Because the family also lives there, and privacy is essential for all who visit, reservations are by application only. Call (866) 516-2611 or visit www.cuixmala.com for further information or to apply for a booking. If you have any trepidations about going to Mexico, let us allay them. Cuixmala is safer than safe with the finest security and no problems. That is why heads of state, royalty, and fussy globe trotters who want a hassle-free experience in solitude make this their Shangri-La. Alix Goldsmith and her family also own and run the incomparable, historic Hacienda de San Antonio, two hours from Manzanillo, set in the scenic foothills at the base of an active volcano. With a mild mountain climate, great cuisine and all activities, the Hacienda is a charming and indulgent way to experience Mexico at its very best, served by a team of devoted employees who know and love the house, its land and its guests. Visit www.haciendasanantonio.com.

 

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a transformed 15th century manor house with its reputation of nothing less than absolute perfection, more than fulfilled its promise to us. On arrival, we found sunny pathways lined with a profusion of lavender that perfumed the air. With high expectations we entered our suite. Ours was the Jade Suite, and we had planned on a brief afternoon nap. Well, brief it was not. We left the following morning and only because we had places to go and people to see. The kind of people and places that could not be changed or change we would have made just to linger and languish longer. We had succumbed. This was a suite that enveloped and did not easily let go. Hmmm? Like De Quincy’s opium dreams, our suite, with its Asian influence, seduced. We were on our way to Oxford and college again, with memories of our past studies there fresh in our minds. Our room, while studying DeQuincy years ago, in Oxford was actually the room directly below DeQuincy’s and we mention this as it was definitely NOT a Manoir suite and with this memory we were purring on entering our special world for the night. Our school days at Oxford were one thing but now this is the way to do Oxford, Le Manoir way. Our suite was done up in warm tones and burnt colors heavy with sumptuous silks, velvets and a draped boudoir. A television dropped from the ceiling directly above our bed and the garden views from our bedroom window were storybook. We made a note to explore them the following day as we couldn’t resist the lure of our suite. Our bathroom had a huge tub, walk-in shower and steam room complete with stone bench upon which to recline. We had finished our unforgettable lunch (more on the restaurant next month) and it was all we could do to slip into bed and luxuriate. Ah, yes, we were able to find room for the chocolates, fruit and port we found waiting for us on our dining table and we then tucked into a book about Le Manoir and read about their hopes to exceed expectations. Exceed they do and their expectations are high, pole vaulting high. Their hope is that a guest’s stay be a refuge from everyday life where perfection is found. Their hopes exceeded again. The gardens must be enjoyed. The kitchen garden is an incredible two acres of vegetables and herbs that sustains the two Michelin-starred restaurant eight months of the year. The Japanese tea garden offers calm, ponds and quiet. There is more: a wild flower meadow, a croquet lawn, a walled garden, all to be savored. If leave you must, Oxford and all that it offers, is at your doorstep. If a palace is more to your liking, you will find Blenheim Palace only 12 miles away. But we cannot imagine that Blenheim would treat you any better than the adroit General Manager Philip Newman-Hall and his very attentive, very polite polished team. Each room and suite has a story of its own and so time must be spent in the choosing. Many have their own terrace gardens and views of the grounds. The Dovecote, L’Orangerie, Lace, Blanc De Blanc are an exceptional few. Choose to your liking but choose you must. Do not miss the absolute heavenly experience of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a member of Relais & Chateaux and a jewel in the crown of Orient-Express. Visit www.manoir.com.

callavieThere is no doubt in our mind that Cal-a-Vie, just north of San Diego, is simply the best destination health spa in the country. After 26 years, this incredible place has continued to up their game and evolve, focused on getting better and improving in every possible way with hard work and the finest dedicated professionals. This is no small achievement as Cal-a-Vie was close to perfect before. Owners John and Terri Havens are committed to continually investing in the 200-acre property with great vision and we were wowed by the new elegant Garden Room (where we gathered each morning for coffee and watched television at night) with rooftop seating, a new pool, and impressive new treatment rooms. Time spent at Cal-a-Vie can be life-altering. First of all, you are surrounded with beauty, peace and happy guests. This is a paradise of health with a daily routine of classes, relaxation, massage and beauty treatments, camaraderie and laughter. Days begin with a morning hike (strenuous or easy), then a light, delicious breakfast. Then it’s on to your personalized schedule of fitness classes. (All guests are thoroughly briefed on arrival to determine their state of health and their goals.) We sweated-helped along by some of the most attractive and courteous instructors this side of heaven-through such innovative workouts as Cardio Blast, Total Knockout, Off the Wall Water Workout and Rowbics. The variety of fitness programs here is impressive (Latin Dance, Interval Training, Spinning, Aqua Jogging, Pilates, Core Pole Workout and much more) as is the instructors’ knowledge of fitness. After a creative light lunch, afternoons are devoted to facials, massage, scalp treatments-you name it-for Cal-a-Vie offers hundreds of body treatments. Cal-a-Vie’s approach can best be described as luxurious European spa style. There’s always a nutrition break in the late afternoon and the chance to do yoga (if you are lucky you will do this by candlelight in the 400 year-old chapel from Dijon, France that the Havens had taken apart in France stone by stone and rebuilt on the property) or more exercise and then all gather for hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 to sit at big tables and be elegantly served Chef Jason Graham’s fantastic gourmet cuisine. We never knew healthy eating could be so good or pretty as the chef always decorates his plates with fresh edible flowers. For breakfast one morning we dug into huevos rancheros with home made guacamole; lunch one day was multi-grain chicken salad; and for dinner-always three courses-we delighted in corn chowder followed by a roma tomato and white peach salad, then local white sea bass with lobster, English peas and yellow corn risotto. Yes, there are desserts but no wine. Dishes are redolent of fresh thyme, basil and rosemary, truffle oil and nuts, and no one is ever hungry here. Allergies and special requests are met with a smile. One night a week Chef Graham gives a cooking demonstration in Cal-a-Vie’s magnificent Orangerie which appears on a hilltop like a part of Versailles. On some evenings there will be a guest speaker or a magician to liven things up. But we usually can’t wait to get back to our pretty little Mediterranean-style villa (there are just 32 accommodations here and no televisions in the rooms) decorated in French antiques to read, bathe and drift off to sleep. It is entirely possible to visit Cal-a-Vie without bringing much luggage: they thoughtfully provide tons of clean gray workout attire for men and women and many guests never dress up further than this comfy gear. Fashion is simply not an issue at Cal-a-Vie. If you must buy something, Cal-a-Vie has excellent retail therapy: a boutique sells practically everything to wear, gifts, items for the home, and products. And an antique shop is in the works. Cal-a-Vie is a magic little world of wooded paths, lavender fields, vineyards and fountains. It is a lot like a small village in Provence with a most salubrious climate and ever-attentive staff for whom nothing is a problem. Let’s give credit where credit is due: gracious Manager Debbie Zie has been there for 23 years and orchestrates all of these details with grace and ease. There are so few places in the world where you can go to escape the pressures and stresses of everyday life, where you can feel strong and toned again and set your life’s course in a new positive direction. To say nothing of making a few nice new friends. Cal-a-Vie miraculously shows no sign of age, and that is something to cheer about. We have no doubt you, too, will slow down the aging process if you frequent Cal-a-Vie. Three nights at Cal-a-Vie are $3995, 4 nights $5295, 7 nights $8195 (including 16 spa treatments), all plus tax. Call (888) 373-8773, visit www.cal-a-vie.com and prepare to be nurtured, inspired and motivated. An ideal spot for mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, pals of all ages, families and just going solo.

GrandLienzIn picturesque southern Austria, near the Italian border, framed by Austria’s tallest mountain, the Grossglockner and the Dolomites, you will find the new and remarkable five-star Grand Hotel Lienz, as pretty as a Klimt painting. Surrounded by pristine stunning mountain scenery, if you close your eyes, you might imagine the Trapp family hand in hand skylarking about. Lienz, a charming and cordial medieval Tyrolian town, was settled in the Bronze age and is a fine spot if you are attracted to castles and historic buildings. With many hours of sunshine, unique mountain scenery and the region’s rich culture, Lienz is the perfect place to relax and simply enjoy life all four seasons of the year. Here a relaxed Mediterranean attitude towards life meets stunning mountain landscape. Where else can you sip a cappucino under palm trees while at the same time marvel at the steep, impressive Dolomite mountains? The attractiveness of this region was even appreciated by ancient Romans who built “Aguntum” here, the only Roman town in Tyrol. Numerous churches, frescos and museums tell of the history of East Tyrol. Many artists, galleries, living traditions and unique events make Lienz today a cultural treasure trove. The Dolomites are often referred to as the most beautiful mountains in the world. Soft green hills and woods open into rugged impressive rock formations. We know of few places with such an exclusive and authentic Austrian luxe atmosphere. Imagine soaring vaulted ceilings, delicate chandeliers, marble floors, crystal lamps, overstuffed sofas, large fireplace and gilded mirrors and you have a good picture of the décor here. A true five star hotel (and that means something in Austria), the family who owns the Lienz is proud of their gourmet cuisine, top drawer service, medical center of the highest level, and a spacious spa oasis. Comfortable junior suites (72 of them) plus four royal suites are all filled with natural light, oversized chaises and home-like touches. They are chic and stylish, elegant and spacious with silks, suedes, and damasks plus LCD televisions and high tech touches like WiFi. Large bathrooms have oval tubs, marble galore and silk shades. Not one, but two head chefs, Christian Flaschberger and Thomas Ebner prepare game, fish and meats with love and expertise, using only local products of the highest quality which the attentive staff serves on romantic terraces with beautiful views of the gentle Isel River or in the sleek fireside parlor. There are five separate, intimate dining rooms, all candlelit at night. An extensive wine cellar is filled with a unique selection of wines from all over the world. It is easy to find the perfect complement to the imaginative cuisine or a simple plate of charcuterie. The Lienz spa revolves around wellness, health and beauty in very harmonious surroundings. The indoor/outdoor pool is nicely heated. A state-of-the-art Medical Center administered by Dr. Peter Lechleitner and his team concentrates on health-promoting treatments from highly effective wellness programs for nutrition and vitality. The staff’s comprehensive knowledge and understanding are impressive. Among other therapies, offered are preventive medicine and checkups, homeopathic and acupuncture treatments for all types of ailments. Weight loss and wrinkle reduction are specialities. There is a serious focus on combining Western medicine with traditional Chinese medicine. The Dolomites are often referred to as the most beautiful mountains in the world. Soft green hills and woods open into rugged impressive rock formations. Experience the Lienz Dolomites by walking or hiking, mountain biking, or playing a round of golf. One of the real appeals here is extraordinary skiing. But this is not a place that draws the publicity-seeking glitzy set like Gstaad does; it is for quieter lovers of the very good life, ideally suited for a 21st century Habsburg. We are confident you will be treated well here as Elisabeth and Heinz Simonitsch, who for so many years established and elegantly ran Half Moon in Jamaica as one of the world’s top resorts, are firmly in command as part of the Westreicher family ownership here. The staff is thoughtful and unfailingly attentive and will meet your train with smiles at the station. Visit www.grandhotel-lienz.com.

cuixmala
We always admired the late Sir James Goldsmith for a unique brand of panache, financial savvy, leadership, stealth and intelligence. He was a memorable and much admired individual who loved life, romance, extraordinary women and his families. Now his famed tropical estate, Cuixmala, on Mexico’s seductive Costalegre, 90 miles south of Puerto Vallarta can fulfill your most extravagant vacation dreams. Cuixmala was created over two years and with 2000 workers by Sir James as a family retreat on a grand scale. Think 25,000 acres of rare habitat for endangered species (including jaguar), organic farms, boating in mangroves rich with birds, horseback riding through herds of zebra and antelope, mountain biking among boar, mundi and deer, ocean kayaking to spot giant sea turtles. Today a dazzling Goldsmith daughter, the dynamic Alix Maraccini and her husband, Geoffredo, carefully manage Cuixmala and accept a small number of visitors in search of nature, luxury and privacy, all in a rare harmony. Alix is a devout environmentalist and international social figure of charm and grace every bit as glamorous as her father. There is nothing quite like the life she has created for guests at this fantasy palace on the sea. Six coveted oceanfront bungalows are available from $1500 a night with a Presidential bungalow at $2000. A cluster of charming one, two and three bedroom casitas ($350 a night and up) share a pool, clubhouse and restaurant. But the jewel of Cuixmala is the octagonal La Loma, Sir James’s former cliff top lair on 2000 acres. You approach via a 5-mile-long drive and over a bridge and river. This 37,000-square-foot hideaway sits on an unspoiled beach amidst coconut plantations, mangrove swamps and grasslands. It is a cool white grandest of folly with soaring ceilings, quiet fountain courtyards, palatial in scope and within its own private nature preserve, filled by 270 species of birds and exotic animals. Yes, there are crocodiles, but safely off in distant lagoons. La Loma has a master suite of majestic proportions capped by a blue-and-yellow Moorish dome with panoramic views, and there are three additional deluxe bedroom suites plus living rooms, dining room, library, media room and office and three palapa-covered ocean view terraces. The staff includes butlers, waiters, chefs, laundress, maids, gardeners, pool men, concierge and security. The tab for this elysian indulgence: $9000-$15000 a night for the whole shebang (master suite, three other suites and six bungalows). The master suites alone is $3000 a night and the deluxe suites go for $1500-1800 per night. Dining at Cuixmala is an event with almost everything served produced by the estate’s organic farm or at their nearby organic ranch in the highlands. Seafood is caught daily off the shores. Cuisine is a mix of classic Mexican and international influences and magical feasts are often organized on the beach with candles, and picnics on the beach or lawn are a frequent treat. Wine lovers need not despair: Alix and Geoffredo know their vinos and the selection is excellent. Lastly, shoppers worried about withdrawal needn’t: there is a small boutique on the property which Alix nicely curates. There is also a grass landing strip if you have your own set of wings or want to charter in. James Goldsmith was one of a kind and his love of life spirit lives on at Cuixmala, a singularly one of a kind place of the best life and Mother Nature can offer. Cuixmala gives us that rare opportunity to revel in a patrician lifestyle known to very few, yet one touched family and fun, one alloyed with pure nature, yet an existence where every want and wish is met with gracious style. Cuixmala means “the soul’s resting place” and nothing defines the unparalleled experience one can expect here. Sir James, the ultimate perfectionist and arbiter of taste, would heartily approve. So do we. Visit www.cuixmala.com.


Set on 504 acres by the California Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach, Pelican Hill features 128 two-, three- and four-bedroom villas looking like a perfect picturesque Italian village with magnificent coastal views and an unparalleled array of appointments, immersing guests in the absolute finest of everything. There are 204 luxuriously appointed bungalow guest rooms and suites with private terraces; a rejuvenating five-star spa with a menu of the world’s most celebrated therapies; world-class restaurants including Andrea serving authentic Northern Italian cuisine; an iconic “Coliseum Pool,” one of the largest circular pools anywhere with tiered decks and luxurious cabanas; and Pelican Hill Golf Club with 36 dramatic holes by Tom Fazio, nearly all with ocean panoramas. Pelican Hill is perfect for a getaway or a longer stay. Their Villa Luxury Extended Stay Program is the ideal solution for a variety of home transitions. Come for a week, a month or longer during an extensive home renovation, restoration due to fire or water damage, a job relocation or long-term vacation. A turn-key program makes moving-in simple and takes the hassle out of finding a temporary residence. All of the two-, three-, and four- bedroom Villas are beautifully furnished, plus fully equipped down to the housewares and linens. An overview of Villa features: private terrace furnished with chaise lounges and a dining table with chairs, great room with wood-beam ceiling, casually elegant residential furniture, spacious dining areas and limestone fireplace. There is a kitchen with all cookware, small appliances, dishes, glassware, silverware, Wolf appliances, Sub Zero refrigerator and wine cabinet, granite counter tops and fruit wood cabinetry. The master suite features spacious bath with marble walk-in shower, deep soaking tub and double basins. Most secondary bedrooms have adjoining baths with marble walk-in shower, deep soaking tub and double basins. (Some offer double queen beds.) Technology includes 50 or 60” flat-screen television with DVD player in the great room, 45” televisions in bedrooms, wireless Internet, Bose sound system and MP3 port. All have in-Villa washer & dryer, private one or two-car garage, turn-key phone and utility services. The Luxury Extended Stay Program also offers complimentary services, such as concierge and personal grocery programs. And there is access to a world-class spa, fitness center, golf course, Coliseum Pool, in-room dining, coach services and more. Among the resort’s 128 Villas, the Extended Stay choices include two-bedroom residences starting from $7,500 monthly; three-bedroom residences starting from $15,000 monthly; and four-bedroom residences starting from $22,500 monthly. Visit www.pelicanhill.com. Pelican Hill was voted the #1 U.S. Resort for 2011, according to the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and also ENTREE’s top U.S. resort for 2010.

For the first time in its history, and with the official support of the Embassy of Brazil in France, the great Le Meurice Hotel in Paris launches its Brazilian Festival from September 12th to the 25th. Expect everything iconic, magical and fun including a gala evening presenting cuisine by the Meurice’s brilliant three-star Yannick Alleno paired with renowned Brazilian chef Samantha Aquim. A culinary week September 13-18 is planned with classic Brazilian cuisine. And Bar 228 is hosting a Brazilian fortnight from the 13th to the 25 with special cocktails and canapés. Let the samba play and the caipirinhas flow. Feathers are optional. Le Meurice, a member of the Dorchester Collection, 228 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, telephone +33 1 44 58 10 10, www.lemeurice.com.

 

uniworld
ENTREE has just returned from a spectacular cruise down the Danube River from Vienna to Bucharest and then on to Istanbul via Uniworld, www.uniworld.com, the boutique cruising company that stands head and shoulders above all others. We were on the beautiful River Princess, the 361-foot, smooth-as-silk floating hotel recently redecorated with such touches as a precious Coromandel screen, crystal chandeliers, marble baths, fabulous paintings, French balconies, residential linens, silks and cottons and all the touches one might expect at a Red Carnation hotel, which, after all, has put their unique imprint of perfectionist hotelkeeping and design style on this remarkable ship. The River Princess is staffed by a distinguished captain, alert and precision crew, eager-to-please staff and top chef and dining room servers. The cruise director and hotel manager were worthy of legend. We’ll tell you more in the next issue about the joys of a Uniworld cruise but, for now, we want to mention a few of the highlights of our trip, starting with London where we began our adventure: Bellamy’s Bruton Place, where we saw le tout Londres and ate and drank like Mayfair grandees; Tempo, a small, chic and superbly competent Italian spot on Curzon Street; Quilon, where we continue to marvel at the excellence of the chef’s take on Indian cuisine, inspired by the spices and curries of the South of his country; The Milestone Hotel which sits opposite Kensington Palace and is fit for a prince or princess hungering for a supreme culinary adventure in great comfort and style; Amaranto for an Italian-inspired feast at the recently reopened and dazzling “new” Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. Check out the red lacquer piano in the lobby bar and a spa that sets the standard for today’s luxe spas. More on each of these later. Other memorable highlights of our trip which we will cover in future issues: dinner at one-and-only regal Imperial Hotel in Vienna; a visit to the renaissance of an Art Nouveau landmark. The Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, exquisitely transformed with ultra-modern comforts, a thrilling combination of luxury and intuitive service with panoramic vistas of the Danube and the hills of Buda; fine dining at the Kempinski Cornivus Budapest; the Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet, created from a century-old neoclassic Turkish prison in the core of this fabled city—steps from the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Just 65 guest rooms and suites frame an open courtyard, where we were lavished in a beautiful atmosphere of personal attention and unprecedented ease; the exciting new Edition Hotel, Istanbul, where the Cipriani family runs an authentic Italian outpost of their famed restaurant and the spa has, among other novel bells and whistles, a snow room filled with fresh, you guessed it, SNOW! We flew British Airways whose Business Class called Club World allows you to leave the outside world behind in a heavenly cocoon. A delight to connect through their Terminal 5 at Heathrow and excellent, hospitable lounges in L.A. and London. Visit www.britishairways.com.

summer
Our scribbling brethren at The Sunday Times in London called dining at Summer Lodge in Evershot, Dorset “a novel feast in Hardy country,” and we totally agree. They raved on: “To call Summer Lodge flowery would be an understatement. It is an exuberant riot of pattern, magnificent curtains hung in dropping curves and fringes—but here, in Hardy country, it is a look that works. Even the four-acre garden is run along the same lines: wisteria, roses, nasturtiums and geraniums clamber up walls or cascade from window boxes. A gate through a yew hedge leads to the steep main street of Evershot, a hamlet so unspoilt it has appeared in several Jane Austen films. The fine Georgian listed house was enlarged in 1893, using plans designed by Thomas Hardy himself, then a local architect as well as an author. It all adds up to a romantic notion of a time long gone: wood paneling and fabric-covered walls, grandfather clocks, brass fenders and drinks trolleys. No wonder the grandees of Dorset feel at home here. But so does everybody else. Summer Lodge is luxurious without being ostentatious, a credit to the owner, Beatrice Tollman, who bought it in 2003 when it was a low-key country-house hotel. In 2006, after a two-year refit, it emerged as Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, with a world-class sommelier, Eric Zwiebel, poached from Cliveden. In the 60-seat dining room overlooking the garden, executive chef Steven Titman has taken the “home from home” concept of the hotel to create what has become his signature dish. His shepherd’s pie involves flaked shoulder of Dorset lamb, diced by hand, sitting in a ring of mashed potato and topped with light potato foam, sautéed savoy cabbage and slices of roast loin of lamb. The location is a good one for sourcing fresh ingredients. ‘There are a lot of little farms around here,’ says Titman. ‘I get seafood and scallops from Bridport, apples from Somerset, lots of local cheeses. One lady grows Queensland Blue pumpkins. I’ll drive over there, pop three or four of them in the boot of the car, and make soups and purees.’ Titman’s cheeseboard was voted best in Britain at the British Cheese Awards 2010. Another Signature Dish: roast loin of Dorset lamb with braised shoulder shepherd’s pie with savoy cabbage and rosemary jus. Diner’s Verdict: ‘Utterly sublime’ for traditionalists, this ‘sumptuous’ (in a ‘chintzy’ way) Hardy-country manor house not only has a ‘wonderful’ setting, but offers ‘excellent’ cooking and ‘elegant’ service; even the wine list is a ‘masterpiece.’” So, readers, get thee to Evershot and partake of this elysian getaway. Telephone: 01935 482000, web: www.summerlodgehotel.co.uk.

Lana and Peter de Savary have been at it again. On this occasion, they have been joined by two of their delightful daughters, Tara and Amber, and over the past few months have purchased and restored one of England’s oldest inns, the Old Swan and Minster Mill at Old Minster in the Cotswolds. The family has been hoteliers for over thirty years and has created some of the world’s best loved and well-known destinations including Skibo Castle in Scotland, Mount Cinnamon on Grenada and the St. James Clubs worldwide. More recently, Vanderbilt Hall in Newport, R.I. and the Cary Arms in Devon, England have both received rave reviews for their gastro-pub dining and stunning revamps. The de Savarys fell in love with the historic Old Swan & Minster Mill at first sight. We can see why. At the heart of the bucolic village of Old Minster and set in 65 acres of gardens and wild-flower meadows, the property is set on over a mile of the River Windrush but only a short drive from the historic university City of Oxford and just over an hour from London. Built 600 hundred years ago, the inn is a myriad of cozy dining rooms and snugs. Log fires burn in huge fireplaces, dazzling fresh flowers are arranged throughout and the smell of beeswax and polish pervades the rooms and immediately one feels at home and genuinely welcome. The 16 charming guest bedrooms in the Old Swan are all different; beautifully appointed with elegant, traditional furnishings and thoughtful de Savary touches throughout. There is no lack of modern comforts. Alternatively, guests can opt for the more contemporary rooms at the adjoining Minster Mill. The younger sister is only 200 years old and the rooms are smaller but cute and crisply fresh and all have great views of the magical gardens or river. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and the staff welcoming and enthusiastic. Dining is excellent and includes simply cooked gastro-pub dishes made from the very best local produce as well as the trademark de Savary “adult nursery dishes.” In the gardens, guests can enjoy both fly fishing and course fishing with rods on over a mile of the river. There’s a tennis court, petanque, badminton and croquet and an amble around the award-winning gardens and water meadows should not be missed. Riding and golf are both available locally. A new spa treatment room has been added, offering guests world-class treatments from Parisian brand, Yon-Ka. Over the coming months, a swimming pool, sauna and steam room are being built to create a full spa facility. The tranquil setting of Old Minster is ideal. Away from the more commonly known bustling market towns of Burford, Chipping Campden and Woodstock, the location is a great base for touring, giving easy access to Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham as well as Blenheim Palace. Visit www.oldswanandminstermill.com.


Very few of us will ever own 6800 acres of beautiful Montana ranchland, meadows, high ridges, alpine lakes and four miles of pristine river frontage. To say nothing of 50 horses, pure trout streams and a meticulously maintained resort. Luckily for us, Jim Manley, a New York investment banker who searched a lifetime for his dream property, does, and we can all be the beneficiaries by visiting and escaping to his peaceful Ranch at Rock Creek. The Ranch represents Jim Manley’s ideal of the perfect ranch universe. With elevations to 5400 feet and no grizzlies and no poisonous snakes, it is safe for all. Lush and forested, flowers like bitterroot and wild daisies pop in abundance everywhere. Imagine being 30-50 miles from any real evidence of civilization yet at the same time in a place where Mr. Manley and his attentive young staff have thought of everything to enhance your ranch experience—deliriously comfortable Western guest rooms and cabins, gourmet dining, a rejuvenating spa and an authentic saloon (the Silver Dollar where an upright piano and karaoke await late night revelers). This, plus great hiking, personally-fitted mountain bikes, a vintage stagecoach shuttle, Mercantile store (loaded with high end boots, clothing and jewelry), stables, pool tables, sporting clays, paint ball, a four lane bowling alley and archery. What doesn’t the Ranch at Rock Creek have? There are no televisions in the rooms (there is a large flat screen in a common living room) and no smoking (outdoors only). ENTREE has been at many dude ranches and frankly the problem we’ve had is that most have been rough around the edges. Ranch life does not have to mean giving up life’s indulgences. You will not be deprived of anything at The Ranch at Rock Creek. The linens are five-star, the beds are as comfortable as any Four Seasons could offer, and chef Josh can hold his own with the very best. The Ranch at Rock Creek is a one-hour drive from the Missoula airport (they will send a car to collect you, cost $300 round trip per room). The moment guests arrive, heart rates slow down. You have stepped back in time and off the beaten path. The décor is a blend of deep, chocolate brown leather chairs, geometric Indian carpets, Western sculptures, bentwood tables, antler chandeliers, twig lamps, chaps, spurs, vintage black and white photos and old books-just the kind of clutter you’d expect to find in the home of a wealthy rancher. Cowboy hats and slickers are hung everywhere. In the dining room always warmed by a crackling fire, an old sled sits in a corner, an ancient dial telephone awaits a call that never comes. It could be 1920. A guest need not bring anything to the Ranch but a willingness to enjoy life. A devoted, enthusiastic and totally knowledgeable young group of employees looks after every detail. The Ranch provides the highest quality boots, fishing tackle, shotguns, skis (skiing is just minutes away), parkas, waders, hiking shoes and guides for all guests. Horses are well trained and in excellent shape. At the heart of the property is a finely tuned hotel where careful thought has been given to anticipating every need and dream a guest might have and then exceeding their expectations. One example: in each room there is a basket chock full of toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream, and other thoughtful bath amenities. Menus are tailored each day to satisfy both the discriminating gourmet and the hearty eater, young and old. We ate eggs benedict at breakfast, crunchy chicken salad at lunch and Georges Bank Sea scallops, white shrimp and saffron risotto at dinner. All wines and cocktails are included and the deep no charge wine list is elysian: Gevrey-Chambertin, Drouhin Chablis, Stag’s Leap Cabernet, Antinori Chianti Classico, Penfold’s—all for the asking. A Reserve wine list has ever rarer selections like Romanee Conti at a surcharge. The Ranch feels like it has been there forever and harkens back to a sweeter, gentler, more innocent time of authenticity. Things here are what they should be. No smoke and mirrors, just pure fun and honest living. Special places are so few and far between. This is an ideal place for families to connect with goodness and each other. If you hanker to vamoose from the ranch, the colorful and turn of the century sleepy mining town of Philipsburg is just a half hour away. But no one wants to leave. There is something ravishing and intoxicating about being deep in nature, far away from all you know, yet enjoying the best wines, the freshest foods, the softest beds while cattle moo, horses whinny and a tall solitary cowboy strums the guitar and sings by the fire. We felt this at explora Lodge in Chile and at Bushmans Kloof in South Africa—this yin and yang of total peace and pleasure in a wild setting—and we felt it here at The Ranch at Rock Creek. Accommodations in the 9-room Granite Lodge and in a variety of houses and cabins including luxury riverside canvas cabins, all appointed in Western antiques and custom furniture, start at $800 per person daily, all inclusive. The Ranch at Rock Creek, 79 Carriage House Lane, Philipsburg, Montana, (888) 757-2624, www.theranchatrockcreek.com.

Quilon is a city in Kerala, India on the spice and jewel route of the Malabar coast. Quilon at 41 Buckingham Gate, just a tiara’s toss from Buckingham Palace in Westminster, London serves divine, award-winning South India coastal cuisine. It is here in an exquisite, refined atmosphere buzzing with excitement that executive chef Sriram Aylur wows the discerning crowd with his fusion of western culinary techniques and subtly-spiced eastern flavors. He specializes in the kind of seafood you would find in the Indian states of Kerala, Goa and Karnataka and his busy kitchen delivers consistently high quality. The cooking at Quilon is influenced by India’s hot and humid southern climate where abundant rainfall produces beautiful fresh fruits, vegetables and rice. Expect fire and intense tastes of nuts, dried fruits and exotic spices like curry leaves, mustard, asafetida, peppercorns, tamarind, fenugreek and chilies. This cuisine, most of the time, combines plain rice with Sambaar and rasam, dry and curried vegetables, meat dishes and an array of coconut-based chutneys and pappadums, dosas or uttapams. Dals or lentils also play integral roles. Vegetable oils like sunflower and canola are common with pure ghee being poured over rice. Even coconut oil is commonly used at Quilon. We tried top-drawer char-grilled prawns with ground Byadgi chillies, then marinated tilapia fillet wrapped in banana leaves. Crab cakes with ginger and curry leaves and green chilies were delicious as was the magical, spicy pistachio lamb shank, curry-soft and tender. We also happily sampled heavenly black cod, a spicy lamb shank and the freshest lobster with mango and ginger. Starters of seared scallops with coriander, raw mango and almond, and slow-roasted lamb shanks tinged with fennel and mint are equally impressive, as are the delectable breads. Quilon’s repertoire also extends to a tasty line-up of exciting vegetarian dishes including mango curry, and coconut with asparagus and beans. The set lunch menu is a comparative bargain at $35 for three courses. Overall, the food is a delight to the eye and the palate and the exciting décor a joy to behold. Quilon has an extensive international wine list (try the excellent Indian whites and reds) and a caring staff. This is not your Father’s Soho Indian restaurant, it well deserves its one Michelin star and should have two. It makes sense to spend your hard-earned rupees, pounds and dollars here for we do not think there is a better place in London for great Indian cooking in a ravishing setting. Quilon, 45-51 Buckingham Gate, London, Tel: +44 20 7834 66 55. It is also a good call to check out the five-star 51 Buckingham Gate next door to Quilon. This townhouse hotel has some of the sleekest suites in town, some just redone in subtle tones and fanciful furniture, many with first-rate kitchens, all with luxurious bathrooms. 51 Buckingham Gate offers private and discreet off-street entrance leading to 86 luxury one, two, three or four bedrooms suites, many overlooking their award-winning courtyard garden (where the hotel sometimes holds romantic operatic evenings). Here are world-class luxury accommodations—what we have come to expect from the Taj Hotel Group—combined with cool, contemporary interiors—sensual fabrics, limestone floors and muted color palettes create an oasis of calm and style. A cocktail avant or après dinner in their cozy bar is a very good idea. Say hello to the engaging and talented General Manager Prabhat Verma for us. Visit www.51-buckinghamgate.com.

 


Around the world in eight weeks, pampered pooches all. Disembarking in Cape Town from an over-the-top cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager, we eclipsed all of our new cruise buddies and fellow travelers who are not used to being eclipsed. ENTREE was met immediately upon arrival by the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa’s, Johan du Toit, Concierge Team Leader who was wearing tails and, along with our driver, a red carnation in his lapel. Ten suitcases later (we have good excuses for them, nah, maybe not strong excuses) we waved goodbye to our new best friends who were by now all watching and waving as we drove off. Not a one of their drivers had arrived. Most passengers had booked the hotels you would expect— lots of stars, well known, name-droppy. They weren’t met, we were. The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World, not only met but exceeded our every need and there were quite a few. We had luggage to be weighed and shipped and computer needs to be met. We wanted to make the most of our four days in Cape Town. Johan and his concierge staff gave us suggestions and we giddily accepted. We were not surprised when everything was organized perfectly. We flew from our hotel in their helicopter to Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. We had our faces painted while dining in treetops, listening to drums bathed in moonlight and firelight. Later, back at our hotel, we enjoyed African hot stone massages in outdoor gazebos complete with more tribal music and ocean views. Mandla was our masseur. He would be the one we would ask for again ... and we did. The hotel spa has a very Heffner-esque grotto feeling, dark and candle lit with small pools and swooning lounges. This was a perfect surrounding to relax in before or after treatments. We relaxed quickly as we had places to go. We grabbed a quick lunch at the Café Grill and a handful of ever-present M&Ms before a quick dip in our rock pool hideaway. We rode camels and galloped gorgeous horses along white sand beaches and out into the ocean. There were drives around the Cape with perfect lunch stops, penguin sightings and ostrich farms. Yes, we purchased more things to further challenge the skills of the staff at The Twelve Apostles. Again, they succeeded. The cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain was memory-making. Back again, to our lovely hotel we dined in their Azure Restaurant which offers a fusion of South African and European cuisine. Our meal was accompanied by the Sommelier’s Choice, a flight of wines specifically designed to accompany our dinner. Bouchard Finlayson’s Blanc de Mer was one lovely and perfect choice. Our corner table afforded views of a beautiful setting sun over the Atlantic Ocean. Dinner was preceded and followed with drinks in the Leopard Lounge. Again, we enjoyed the ocean vistas, but were now enveloped by leopard rugs, wonderful sink-into-pillows and of course, leopard themes everywhere. Here, colonial style meets London’s Blake’s Hotel. Or, better yet, The Milestone. Guests follow a fearless bold striped carpet down the hallways which proclaims, “We are not traditional.” Bathrooms have cool overhead showers, super lush towels wrapped in raffia and overhead blue lights, a clever touch for a calming and tranquil mood during the night. A sixteen-seat movie theatre offers four movies a day, popcorn and hot chocolate. You can also request your own private screening. Here, you stay to have fun. It does not conform and boasts many playful and unique touches. The hotel’s location, five minutes from Cape Town’s beautiful beaches, provides tranquility and yet is only fifteen minutes from the bustling and vibrant Cape Town city center and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Our suite was mountain-facing, not just any mountains but Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles Mountain range. The mountains are close enough for the athletic to hike to or for those less inclined there are picnic stops with hammocks. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service and do not forget their helicopter service, a fabulous few minutes to the waterfront. There are 55 deluxe guest rooms and 15 luxury suites. You have a choice of mountain facing, sea facing, and garden suites. The Presidential Suite has it all including a big wrap around terrace. Room 424 in a corner has very dramatic ocean views. The telephone number is +27 (0) 21 437 9000, and their website is www.12apostleshotel.com.


We spent a few louche days lolling about in Rome at the five-star Grand Hotel de la Minerve, www.grandhoteldelaminerve.com, and were well served by its superb location directly behind the Pantheon and near to the classic shopping streets of the capital.. The décor and atmosphere are very traditional—think ancient statuary, tapestries and stained glass. Rooms were large (rare for Italy) and well-equipped with high-tech goodies. Service was very Old World. Dining at the elegant La Cesta in the hotel was a treat with Italian and international cuisine by the talented chef, Fabio Vitale. In the spring the restaurant moves up to the Roof Garden where the views are bellissimo. Drinks at the Le Cupole bar adjacent to the lobby was perfect for barman Biago’s famous cocktails accompanied by the soft piano playing of Antonio. On balmier days this, too, moves up to the roof so we take our Americanos on the rooftop terrace overlooking all of Roma. A piazza in front of the hotel boasts a stirring 17th century obelisk by Bernini. We also spent time at the five-star St. George Roma which occupies the remains of a 16th century palazzo near the Vatican, www.stgeorgehotel.it. Located in a privileged spot on one of Rome’s oldest streets where the sound of church bells can be heard and the alleys are filled with antique shops, this is a simpler statement at less expensive rates with smaller but superb rooms, the popular I Sofia di Vial Giulia restaurant, garden, wine bar (120 wines on offer), cigar lounge, and, under 16th century original arches, a comforting spa with pool sauna, Turkish bath, gym and massage. We would call the St. George age-old charm with minimal-chic luxury. We would also call it absolute comfort. Both are members of World Hotels and la vostra chiave to the Eternal City, www.worldhotels.com. TourCrafters, the Italian tour operator known for its good deals has an office in Rome recommended these hotels. Visit www.tourcrafters.com.

The legendary Hotel Hassler Roma is regally set atop the Spanish Steps and features a panoramic view of the entire city. The Hassler has been Rome’s five-star lodging of choice for the world’s elite for more than a century. Since opening its doors atop the Spanish Steps in 1893, Hotel Hassler Roma, owned and managed by the elegant Roberto E. Wirth, has been a magnet for lovers in search of an exquisite and memorable romantic getaway. In 2010, the tradition continues, and this Valentine’s Day the Hassler welcomes couples with a special “San Valentino” package. The highlight of the two- or three-night offer is a Valentine’s Day menu specially created by Chef Francesco Apreda at the hotel’s Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant, Imàgo, arguably one of the most romantic spots in the Eternal City. Each of the 82 rooms and 13 suites is individually designed and adorned in authentic Italian accents. Highlights include the neighboring, Hassler-owned Il Palazzetto, a charming 16-century palazzo that offers a restaurant and wine bar with panoramic terraces, four rooms, and the International Wine Academy of Roma which offers wine-tasting classes with world-renowned sommeliers. The Hassler has just announced an exclusive Symphonic Nights package, inviting guests to attend a symphony by famed Maestro Claudio Abbado and the Mozart Orchestra. One of the most sought-after events in the Roman musical calendar, the symphony will be held on March 26, 27, and 29 at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, one of the oldest musical institutions in the world. The Symphonic Nights package includes: three nights in a Deluxe or Grand Deluxe room; two tickets for the Maestro Abbado and the Mozart Orchestra’s concert; after-concert dinner for two in the Hassler’s Salone Eva (includes starter, first course and home-made dessert); daily buffet breakfast in the Salone Eva for two. Prices, based on double occupancy, are from approximately $1,766 and the package is valid March 24-29. Visit www.hotelhassler.com.

Luggage Concierge is, in our opinion, the industry leader in luggage shipping. By using them, you will have a sure-fire way to avoid luggage stress and hassles. We have tried many of these services but find through personal experience that Luggage Concierge is the most dependable and cost-effective for reliable door-to-door luggage delivery. With service domestically and internationally, Luggage Concierge eliminates all hassles and makes travel enjoyable again. Whether shipping golf clubs or excess baggage, your bags are guaranteed to arrive safely and on time. This unparalleled reliability is backed by a powerful $1500 domestic insurance policy on the contents of each bag, and $300 per bag for international delivery. Luggage Concierge shipping provides total travel convenience—no more baggage fees, long lines, delayed bags, and heavy lugging. Luggage Concierge can accommodate same day bookings and handle baggage of any size. That means golf clubs, surfboards and skis, too. Call (800) 288-9818 or visit www.luggageconcierge.com. The booking process is streamlined to make arrangements quickly and easily. We trust this company 100% and so should you. Luggage Concierge will ship your bags to and from your destination without a hitch, allowing you to breeze through airports without the discomfort and inconvenience of carrying them.

Private air luxury for business and leisure travel has never made more sense than in this day and age of interminable delays, rude screening, lost baggage and unhappy flight attendants. That is why we welcome and applaud Air Platinum Club, a clever new concept that provides personalized services and amenities on an exclusive membership basis, all carefully designed to make the entire travel experience stress-free and totally luxurious while respecting costs. Membership in Air Platinum Club comes with hours on a well-appointed Gulfstream GIV SP jet which can accommodate 12 people for flights up to 10 hours, access to luxury watercraft, use of self-drive exotic cars, and stays at a dramatic beach-front condominium plus attentive concierge services. Annual membership packages begin at $163,000, well below standard charter prices. Air Platinum Club was conceived by founder and CEO Mickael Cohen, a highly-regarded pilot who has been a leader in the private air industry since 2001. Air Platinum Club is equipped to do it all. With its own perfectly-maintained fleet of planes, yachts, cars (chauffeured limos and self-drive high performance) and team of full-time highly-trained pilots, captains, crew and drivers (safety is the Club’s first priority), there are no hassles, no delays, no congestion when traveling Air Platinum-style. Luggage is discreetly cared for, an attendant remains at your disposal every minute of your flight and upon departure and arrival your car is waiting. In Miami, that may be a Rolls Royce Phantom or Cadillac Escalade ESV or, if you prefer, a speedy Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4-SV. Need a helicopter? No problem for Platinum Club members. The Club’s fleet of boats is in Miami and includes a Doral Alegria 50 and the Lazzara LSX Quad 75. Also available to members is a three-bedroom, three-bath condominium apartment at the posh Acqualina Resort & Spa on four and a half beachfront acres in Miami Beach. For more information, visit www.airplatinumclub.com. A special one-time “experience” package for those interested in joining, including a single round trip flight anywhere in the continental U.S., is currently being offered.

Bally’s Hotel and Casino has been entertaining guests for nearly 30 years at its prime location in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Owned by respected Harrah’s Entertainment, Bally’s is big with over 2800 guest rooms and suites. Yet we found rooms to be large, well appointed and in terrific condition and the service very personalized. In its main ground floor 67,000 sq. ft. casino attraction, guests will find high rolling excitement. In addition to gaming, Bally’s offers dining options that include their worthy Italian ristorante, al Dente, a classic steakhouse as well as numerous quick casual snacking spots. One excellent reason to stay at Bally’s is their critically acclaimed revue, Jubilee, an elaborately mounted music and dance extravaganza that harkens back to the feathered, sequined, long-legged beauties of yesteryear. Totally up to date, Jubilee is a larger than life, jaw-dropping production that has been pleasing crowds for over 25 years and reason enough to head for Vegas pronto. With over 17,000 shows under its belt, Jubilee is topless for most of its performances, but does offer a family show. Jubilee’s way over-the-top nostalgia enchants, titillates, teases and makes you laugh, all in one happy evening. There are seven acts, some of which gather 80 performers on stage at a time. With ticket prices from $52.50-$112.50, this spectacular is well worth it for the Bob Mackie costumes (or lack thereof) alone. ENTREE’s experience also included a soothing visit to The Spa at Bally’s for total indulgence. Reward your mind and rejuvenate your body with one of the relaxing services offered by a caring staff of certified massage therapists. Deep tissue massage, hydrotherapy treatments and mineral body wraps are but a few of the soothing services available to guests. Practice your backhand on one of Bally’s eight championship-caliber tennis courts. These upgraded areas are fully illuminated, so you can enjoy a singles match or a game of doubles either by day or by night. And you can leave Las Vegas a better player than when you came, as experienced tennis professionals are available to provide private or group instruction. Wade your cares away in an oversized, outdoor swimming pool. Highlighted by palm trees and attentive, poolside service, this is the perfect place to lose track of the day. Harrah’s Entertainment’s guests enjoy preferred access to two of the nation’s most beautiful courses, Cascata and Rio Secco, as well as premier golf instruction at the Butch Harmon School of Golf. Bally’s is also home to Bally’s Avenue Shoppes, a collection of over 20 stores and boutiques as well as various nightlife attractions including popular Sully’s Bar, the lively Indigo Lounge and the Tequila Bar and Grille. Bally’s is ideally located, adjacent to the Paris Hotel and a quick walk to Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and Planet Hollywood. Visit www.ballyslasvegas.com, (702) 967-4111. You can get often a room for as little as $45 a night these days at this wonderful hotel.

The idea of flying around the world in a private jet has always appealed to ENTREE. But the cost has always deterred us. Now here comes an admirable company called Travel Guild from Toronto that promises “legendary world tours at legendary prices.” And they are set to deliver an amazing 24-day world tour by Boeing 757 for only $27,495 per person sharing October 21 – November 13, 2009. We know of no better value in an around-the-world private jet trip. The flight starts in Toronto with the first night of this adventure in Vancouver with an introductory cocktail party of hors d’oeuvres and gourmet dinner; then proceeds to Kamchatka, Russia for a dinner and native dance performance and visit to thermal springs and Lore Museum. Then it’s off to Beijing for a BBQ lunch and Peking duck dinner plus a city tour that takes in Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Ming Tombs, visit to the Great Wall and a martial arts and dance performance. Passengers are then whisked off to Chiang Mai for authentic Thai cuisine with a traditional dance performance. Lunch at the Maesa Orchid Farm. Enjoy a Thai dinner with folk music, local tour and elephant demonstration plus elephant jungle ride. Travel Guild then flies to Kathmandu for a grand Nepalese dinner and dance at a local restaurant. A city tour and visit to Dunbar Square, Patan follows. Jordan is the next stop and Aqaba for lunch at the Basin Restaurant among the ruins of Petra. A feature will be a private lunch in the Bedouin Camp. There is a visit to Wadi Rum Nature Reserve, 4x4 trip and relaxation on the shores of the Red Sea. The tour continues to Istanbul and dinner at the Neyzen Restaurant with a gypsy performance and Turkish music. Dinner and show at the Keransaray Night Club. City sightseeing, Blue and St. Sophia Mosques, lunch cruise and Grand Bazaar visit. The jet carries the group then to St. Petersburg for a gala dinner with cocktails and folklore performance, city tour and visit to the Hermitage Museum. Finally, the last stop is Dublin for a farewell dinner at one of the oldest pubs in Ireland followed by live Irish music, dancing and sing along music. Guests are treated to city touring, Trinity College, Book of Kells, and Dublin Castle. The tour ends in Toronto. This is a luxurious and exclusive way to travel that few are privileged to experience, an extraordinary journey by private jet, visiting places you’ve always wanted to see or maybe ones you haven’t dreamed of yet—locations that can be difficult to get to any other way. Guests stay in first class hotels and eat at great restaurants. There are no worries about making a connection or about being sandwiched between two strangers on a long flight. It’s almost impossible to beat a holiday adventure that’s practically all-inclusive with your own aircraft. Travel Guild has been conducting private jet around-the-world trips for over 22 years and is a fully licensed tour operator and travel agency. They can handle all details. This is the ultimate vacation featuring cuisine at great restaurants, only flying during the day on your very own dedicated aircraft. It’s almost impossible to beat a holiday adventure with extensive planning and arrangements done for you, included tipping, baggage handling, most meals, transfers, experienced tour director and leaders, fantastic shows, dinner cruises, adventures and informative, guided sightseeing. Travel Guild has another itinerary and tour scheduled for March 2010. Visit www.privatejetadventures.com or call Ben Nierop, the company’s president at (800) 268-4284.

We greatly admire those who aim for perfection in hotelkeeping. The gentlemen and ladies who are responsible for the new Montage Beverly Hills have set their sights on the bull’s eye and hit it squarely. This hotel took our breath away. A legend the day it opened its doors, The Montage has it all: a superb, razor-sharp staff that is friendly yet never too familiar, finely-tuned guest rooms that are decorated with thought and élan, a beautiful tiled and candlelit inspired spa with candlelit plunge pool and innovative treatments, prominent in-house Beverly Hills barber and boutique salon, four restaurants of uncommon quality, and a setting that combines pools, fountains, gardens and stunning architecture to make for an atmosphere of splendor. At Montage Beverly Hills, details are everything: the valet car parker hands you your seat belt, a toothbrush is delivered on a silver plate, shoes are shined gratis by a man trained by London bespoke shoemaker John Lobb, an attendant stands at attention by the men’s room. A team of young smiling well-dressed interns imported from Europe is eager to help at every nook and cranny. Montage Beverly Hills features an array of dining options from casually elegant to highly refined. These welcoming spaces, intimate in nature and grand in design, were created as places to commemorate life’s best moments. They are the canvases on which are presented the hotel’s passion for inventive culinary arts, transforming the season’s freshest ingredients into delectable masterpieces for you to savor with selections from an extensive wine cellar. Gather family and friends for a special afternoon tea or enjoy entertainment and a nightcap in the Lobby Lounge. Close a deal over breakfast or brunch in the garden-side Parq, linger over lunch on the restaurant’s sunlit loggia or experience a romantic dinner as the sun sets. Escape to the rooftop for a zesty and healthy poolside lunch at The Conservatory Grill. Celebrate a milestone occasion in the jewel box that is Muse. Guests can also host a gala wedding in high Spanish Revival style. Or indulge in 24-hour in-room dining. Under the direction of Executive Chef John Cuevas, a talented team of chefs, managers, sommeliers and more is pleased to offer a wealth of innovative dining opportunities that reflect their deep commitment to creative culinary arts and winemaking. We enjoyed the chef’s tasting menu at the marble counter in Parq’s gleaming kitchen, a prix fixe indulgence paired with fine wines for only $50. This was a deliriously happy experience, dining in the privacy of the chef’s tables, complete with an exclusive view into the residential-style European kitchen. In one sense we are not surprised at all this: the Managing Director Ali Kasikci (whose own Lobb shoes are always polished to a mirror-like gloss) worked magic at the nearby Peninsula to make it one of the country’s finest and he has brought along his aide-de-camp the distinguished ex-Bel-Air GM Frank Bowling who graciously serves as Ambassador as he did at The Pen. Together, this smooth duo have done the ultimate in creating a hotel that does what everyone tries to do but few attain: create a hotel that is more than a hotel. Montage is a state of mind and a good one at that, a special place where all goes right, everything is in the place it should be, where all things taste good, smell good and feel good. Where happy, talented people serve you happily. After all, a hotel is more than just a place to sleep. Montage Beverly Hills is a great hotel full of spirit, one that shows us it honors our patronage and one at which we feel honored to be a guest. The finest hotels in the world aim for perfection. Elusive as that goal is, some manage to achieve it. But takes an exceptional manager and totally dedicated staff. Mr. Kasikci and his colleagues are precisely that ideal combination. Visit www.montagebeverlyhills.com.

Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico calls itself “the original fitness resort and spa,” and we agree. Each week, 140 guests are warmly welcomed to its 3000 private and secure acres of gardens, mountains and meadows for a wide array of fitness classes, hiking, swimming, spectacular fresh semi-vegetarian cuisine, cooking school, and informative classes focused on a longer-living, younger life. In a near-perfect climate at 1700 feet just 25 miles from the ocean, Rancho La Puerta provides the luxury of time and space plus a supportive, knowledgeable sharing community of professionals. We think a week here is heaven. Always innovating, the Ranch’s newest exercise program is Hydro-Fit aquatics with renowned aquatic fitness pioneer Craig Stuart. This program targets health and fitness, training and conditioning, therapy and rehabilitation for young and old in low-impact water workouts. Check out www.rancholapuerta.com; all-inclusive week-long packages start at $2795 per person, double occupancy. ENTREE can think of no more salubrious gift than a gift of health to yourself and your loved ones...and there is no better place for this than a few glorious days and nights at magical Rancho La Puerta.

Turkey is renowned for its hospitality and after a recent visit, we understand why. Visitors are warmly welcomed and locals are eager to share their love for their home, and that enthusiasm will soon have you falling in love with Turkey as well. This is a fascinating country that combines the East and West, past and present, with a history that dates back more than 4,000 years. It offers a wide variety of settings that will appeal to many travel styles—from a vibrant nightlife and dining scene that rivals New York City to beach resorts just as beautiful as the French or Italian Riviera (with the rich and beautiful jet-setters to match). History buffs will find more Greek ruins than Greece and more Roman archaeological sites than Italy. For outdoor activities there’s sailing, skiing and golfing. Our trip began in Istanbul, with a stay at The Marmara Istanbul, flagship property of The Marmara Hotels & Residences, Turkey’s most prestigious hotel group. Built on the highest of Istanbul’s Seven Hills, The Marmara Istanbul offers magnificent views of the Bosphorus, Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Our Club level room was very spacious with a large sitting area, marble tiled bathrooms and elegantly decorated in regal hues of gold and blue, but it was hard to notice details in the room when the views outside were so mesmerizing, especially during that period when dusk turns to night and the entire city skyline of mosque domes and minarets slowly light up. Add the haunting call to prayer of the muezzin and the scene is truly magical. Service here was exceedingly gracious and always professional. Hotel amenities include a spa and fitness room, business services and an outdoor pool (open from May to October). Club Rooms include complimentary breakfast in the Club Lounge with a lovely selection of breakfast items and even more jaw-dropping views. For dinner, head to the rooftop Panorama Restaurant for fine-dining and 360-degree views. Other dining options in the hotel include the Kitchenette featuring a brasserie menu, and the buffet-style Tuti Restaurant; both overlook Taksim Square, ideal for watching the passing parade. Afternoon tea, served daily in the Lobby Lounge, provides a break after a day of sightseeing. The Marmara Istanbul is well-located for exploring all of the city’s top attractions and vibrant nightlife. In the evenings take a stroll down Istiklal Street and be amazed at the activity going on late into the night (there’s a reason it’s called the Times Square of Istanbul). Here are many shops, cafes, restaurants and an excellent selection of clubs with live music. Great food abounds in Turkey, from its kebabs to the mezes and fresh seafood. A dining highlight is the Mikla Restaurant, located on the rooftop of another Marmara hotel, The Marmara Pera, in the Beyoglu district. Here Istanbul’s own celebrity chef, Finnish-born Mehmet Gürs, presents his Scandinavian take on Mediterranean cuisine with innovative dishes that blend techniques like smoking with the spices and flavors traditional to Turkey. Signature dishes include Cherrywood Smoked Lamb Loin, Pistachio Crusted Lamb Chops with Pistachio Puree and Pomegranate Molasses and “Hamsi” lemon crisp, a simple concept of fried bread with lemon and anchovy that in his hands becomes a whisper-thin bite of heaven. Tables can be hard to get, especially in the summer, so be sure to make a reservation. After a few days enjoying the sights and excitement of the city it was time to head south to Antalya, a seaside hideaway on the Mediterranean coast for some sybaritic relaxation and a stay at the world’s only revolving hotel. Set to rotate a full 360-degrees, all 24 rooms in The Marmara Antalya’s Loft building enjoy ever-changing panoramic views of the turquoise sea and Taurus Mountains-especially lovely in the winter when the snow-capped mountains provide a striking contrast to the guests in bathing suits by the pool. Rooms in the revolving Loft building were designed to feel like a contemporary beach house, blending the indoors with the outdoors to complement the magnificent views. The large guestrooms have whitewashed walls and bare cement ceilings, billowy white curtains, white beach style furniture, with splashes of bright pastel accent colors providing a playful touch. They’ve even put the bathtub right in the room instead of the bathroom so guests can enjoy the ever-changing view. One of our favorite features of the hotel is the Tuti space. Taking up an entire floor with floor to ceiling windows that look out to the pool and ocean, it’s an inviting and comfortable place for guests to hang out, relax, check e-mail on one of the computers, shoot pool, dine, and enjoy a drink. The focal points of the room are eight columns, each dedicated to a different activity. There’s a rock-climbing column, a culinary column, a library column, a technology column, and even a “graffiti” column for guests to leave their comments. It’s just part of the whimsical and fun ambience of the hotel, like the oversized clock in the lobby or the giant comb that points out the beauty salon. We could not visit Turkey without having a traditional hamman treatment. Within the spa of The Marmara Antalya is a beautifully designed hammam, intricately lined in blue, red and white hand-made mosaic tiles with individual wash stations of hammered metal faucets and marble washbasins. We put ourselves in the hands of the therapist who scrubbed, massaged, soaped and rinsed us with water of varying temperatures until we were thoroughly relaxed and squeaky-clean. There is also a 15-story main building with 208 guest rooms that have fixed views of the ocean or mountains. Hotel facilities include a private beach, a large pool and, in season, a man-made river for water sports. It’s hard to leave the hotel, but make sure you spend some time visiting the region’s archaeological and historical attractions. Antalya is home to many Ottoman-era mosques, the Archaeological Museum and the ruins of Perge, Aspendos, and Termsessos are an easy day trip. The Marmara Hotels & Residences: www.themarmarahotels.com, The Marmara Istanbul: 011- 90 212 251 46 96 or istanbul-info@themarmarahotels.com. Rates: doubles from $235; Club rooms from $340; suites from $765. The Marmara Antalya: 011-90 242 249 36 00, antalya-info@themarmarahotels.com; rates: Revolving Loft from $280; Main Building from $204. Turkish Airlines offers direct flights to Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul from New York’s JFK International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare. The airline also offers frequent service from Istanbul to Antalya and Bodrum. Telephone: (800) 874-8875 or www.thy.com.

Take our word for it: now is the time to visit India. Do not fear a trip there, embrace India in all its wonder. Things are safer than ever there. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the city of Mumbai and at the beautiful flagship Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, all is calm and visitors report security excellent. Taj has successfully re-opened the Taj Tower Wing of the hotel with 275 elegant rooms, six restaurants (Zodiac Grill, Masala Kraft, Starboard Bar, Souk, Shamiana, Aquarius Lounge), the pool, Jiva Spa, Chambers Club and the Rendez-Vous Ballroom. Of course, the magnificent heritage of the Taj Palace Wing sustained considerable damage and will require a considerable time of 10-12 months to restore but we urge anyone who has ever dreamed of a trip to India to go now while rates are pleasantly conducive and the welcome is warmer than ever. There is no hotel company quite like Taj with its romantic palace hotels, sleek business properties blanketing the country and its adventurous safari lodges. Under the stewardship of the incomparable Raymond Bickson who has expertly guided the Taj hotel empire through thick and thin, we expect Taj to flourish stronger and better than ever. For business or leisure, you cannot be in better hands than the loyal and do-anything-for-you Taj staff. Explore www.tajhotels.com to see the depth of this extraordinary company’s presence around the world.

New York, ah, what can we say about this beautiful, gorgeous, shining, hustling, powerful city that hasn’t been said already? A lot, it seems. We can start by telling you about our latest restaurant and hotel experiences. We spent two nights in the loving embrace of the beautiful Plaza Athenee, www.plaza-athenee.com, all one could ask for in a hotel, tree-lined East 64th Street location, fine cozy bar, excellent romantic restaurant, beautiful suites and rooms and the diligence of a top notch devoted General Manager, Bernard Lackner, who has motivated his staff to the highest levels. We had excellent dinners at Oceana, Arabelle, and Bruno Jamais. Lunch exceeded our high expectations at the great and legendary “21,” and ditto at South Gate, Felice Wine Bar, and Amaranth. But the highlights of our trip were dinners at Orsay, La Goulue and Brasserie Ruhlmann, three sexy gems owned by the dashing Jean Denoyer, who has been feeding New York’s privileged for over three decades and still looks like a leading man movie star. The service, cooking and settings at these three very civilized Gallic restaurants are outstanding. We had slightly disappointing dining experiences at Inside Park at St. Bart’s (an excellent homemade charcuterie plate but they need to pray harder for success, especially since they are next to a church) and Le Bateau Ivre (if we want to suffer French indifference, we’d be happier doing it in Paris) but not enough to dissuade us from trying them again in the future. We will write more about all of these restaurants in a future issue. Shows? Thanks to the Keith Prowse ticket agency (www.keithprowse.com) who got us great seats within hours, we saw Boeing Boeing, a funny but predictable farce and Speed the Plow with Jeremy Piven, a play that managed to bring David Mamet’s razor sharp words very powerfully alive.

ENTREE has always been about the magic of discovery. That is why we are excited to tell you about a recent and valuable travel find, the Marmara Manhattan, a luxury, extended-stay hotel on the Upper East Side close to fine restaurants, great shopping, museums, parks and schools. The Marmara Manhattan is low-key in nature, punctuated by high-profile design and the dramatic look of a sleek 32-storey apartment building. A sharply dressed doorman stands by the entrance to welcome guests. The atmosphere is very residential and quiet, as is the tree-filled neighborhood. Inside, the Marmara Manhattan explodes with a sun-filled genteel mahogany-paneled lobby, shining marble floors, Japanese courtyard, art gallery and congenial front desk and concierge. As you ascend in the elevators you become aware that the Marmara has no more than five one-, two- and three-bedroom suites per floor and each is designed with contemporary tasteful furnishings. Kitchens are modern and fully equipped. Bathrooms are marble and cutting edge. There are plenty of closets and some suites have Jacuzzi tubs. All suites have complimentary health club privileges plus daily housekeeping, cordless telephones, valet laundry and modem for fax and computers. The piece de resistance is the Marmara’s Penthouse Suite, a one-bedroom aerie that commands mesmerizing views of the city and the East River. Sun-filled and roomy, the suite has a large living room with a giant flat-screen television, modern eat-in kitchen, large regal bedroom and a thoughtfully planned bathroom (with sauna and Jacuzzi tub) the size of most New York upscale apartments. This penthouse has a glamorous wraparound terrace over the East River and is totally peaceful and private. The good news is that while the building normally specializes in long term stays (one month is the minimum), a number of suites can be rented nightly. And very few people know this. In fact, when we tried to secure a room for the New York Marathon and found each and every decent hotel booked to capacity in New York, the Marmara happily was able to accommodate us. The Marmara Manhattan is at 301 East 94th Street, (212) 427-3100, visit www.marmara-manhattan.com. Suite rates start at a bargain $319 a night. Tastefully decorated studios start at $4500 per month, perfect for a pied-a-terre, in-between apartment living or après-divorce indecision.

Few travelers will ever have the chance to live in a palace. And even fewer will get to stay with a real life Maharajah. Taj Hotels delivers both dreams with the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, India. This palace took more than 5000 men sixteen years to build. When finished in 1944, the palace became the world’s largest private residence, with 347 rooms. The architect H.V. Lancaster designed this grand home with a 105-foot Renaissance cupola in what could be termed Indo-Art-Deco style, without mortar or cement. The interiors for the palace were designed by Maples of London, however, in 1942 the ship transporting them was sunk by the Germans. As a result, the Maharajah employed the services of Stefan Norblin, a talented Polish interior designer. At the Umaid Bhawan Palace, guests can ride the Maharajah’s thoroughbred polo ponies, visit his antique car collection, and stroll in his private musem of pictures, arms, swords and other treasures relating to Jodhpur’s royal heritage. Less active guests can lounge by the pool, walk along the cool marble halls or visit the fragrant gardens. Guests enjoy drinks in the historic Trophy Bar and dine in the elegant private dining room, Risala, evocative of the gallantry of the Jodhpur Lancers. There’s pool and snooker, a collection of fine cigars and rare wines are brought up from the Maharajah’s cellar. For guests requesting it, the palace staff will organize a special fireworks display at night. From time to time, you can even catch a glimpse of the Maharajah himself who lives in a private wing of the palace. He is eminently agreeable and approachable, a true gentleman who is beloved by his people. Visit www.tajhotels.com.

In July, ENTREE took three weeks off to do some globetrotting, first to New York via a nice flight on JetBlue. We camped out at The Palace Hotel, as fine a Manhattan hotel as there is. Ate excellently at Molyvos, Philippe, Oceana and Bilboquet. We took in a show, In The Heights, which was fantastic. Prepared to pay through le nez, we went off to London on the wings of British Airways, whose Business Class in-flight cuisine and staff are a dream. We enjoyed a terrific stay at The Montague, close to the British Museum and were treated like members of the Royal Family. Dined in style on heavenly Chinese food at Kai Mayfair and downed superb fish and chips at bbar. We inspected the renovated Langham Hotel and were impressed not only by lunch there but by the energetic General Manager, Duncan Palmer. Then off to Venice where we were pampered by the legendary Cipriani Hotel in one of their newly renovated rooms. Any report that this proud Orient-Express hotel is not at the top of their game is erroneous. We toured Venice with the husband and wife team Mike and Karen Henderson of The Venice Experience and merrily broke bread at Oliva Nera, Cip’s Club and De Pisis at the storied Bauer Hotel. It was then onto the glam Orient-Express train for an overnight trip to Krakow. The train is a romantic travel experience to be savored with gourmet cuisine, remarkable service and elegantly inlaid cars. Arriving in Krakow, we headed for the intimate Copernicus Hotel, a small Relais & Chateaux member with indoor pool and fine dining room that we would highly recommend. Meals at Florianska, Wierzynek and especially Kawaleria were more than memorable. In Warsaw we were happy as clams at the MaMaison Hotel Le Regina, again with a sexy subterranean pool, terrific chef and serenely decorated rooms. A dinner at the elegant Belvedere set in a stately park with peacocks crowing is a must. So is lunch or dinner at Ale Gloria. On to Gdansk where we bunked down at Dwor Oliwski, a country manor deep in the forest, with refreshing indoor pool. Heading home, we happily stayed overnight in London at The Chesterfield just off Berkeley Square where we also dined on the best Dover sole in the land. Then it was back to New York and a splendid two nights at The Peninsula. We looked in at The Pierre where renovations are smartly underway. A superb steak at Strip House was hall of fame quality. Dinner at Adour and Benoit were out of this world. Heathrow Express and Eurail all contributed to the success of this adventure. Special thanks to Sarna Rose of Poland Culinary Vacations, www.polandculinaryvacations.com, for her excellent restaurant help. We will write more in depth on these hotels and restaurants but wanted you to have a brief outline in case London, Poland or Venice are on your calendars.

Brazil is an irresistible and complex country, a melting pot of cultures and language—Portuguese being a particularly challenging one to grasp. That is why we would not consider a trip there without consulting the experts at VIP Tour Group. President Mike Eiseman has made it his business to understand the nuances and subtleties of Brazil and its attractions—Carnival, new year’s eve, samba, soccer, capoeira, cachaca, music, exotic cuisine and beautiful people, not to mention its beaches, rivers, canyons, rain forests, jungles and waterfalls. Mike and his team know cultural Brazil, romantic Brazil and eco-adventure Brazil like no other company that we know of and their insightful packages to Salvador, Paraty, Buzios, Angra, Etnia, Nannai, Txai, Ponta dos Ganchos and Pantanal are superb for both value and excellence. VIP Brazil can take you fishing in the Amazon from a luxury yacht with a private chef or secure the best private island getaways and yachts in Brazil’s chic Mediterranean-like areas. Want to rent an exclusive villa in Trancoso or Buzios? Mike’s your man. Enjoy a culinary tour of Brazil’s best kitchens? Samba lessons? Call VIP Tour Group. Night life? They know all the best clubs and can get you in. Need reservations for Carnival? Here is the resource. Mike knows all the great hotels and hoteliers in Brazil and can assure the best accommodations. His enthusiastic guides are top notch, with connections that allow travelers privileged looks into places no other company can offer. Brazil is a very big country; local knowledge is the most valuable commodity you can have here. If you are planning a honeymoon or just want to see the best of Brazil in a very special way for the first or even the tenth time, call (800) 772-9188 or visit www.vipbrazil.com. Mike is also a reliable expert on Argentina, serving as ENTREE’s go-to expert in both Brazil and Argentina, as well as Traveler Overseas Magazine’s highly respected Man of Influence in these countries, www.traveleroverseas.com. Check out his site, www.viptourargentina.com.

By traveling with Poland Culinary Vacations, one can be sure that a Polish experience will be culturally rich, casually elegant, and truly unique. This company targets specially selected regions of Poland, teaching guests about the roots of regional fare and exploring how modern chefs are reinventing traditional dishes with contemporary cuisine ideals. Their world-class vacations enable you to indulge your foodie side with hands-on and demonstration-style cooking lessons and trips to local markets, farms, and festivals. Along the way there are also visits with Polish bakers, farmers, shop owners, and chefs to learn the secrets—and collect the recipes-of this outstanding culinary culture. Between gastronomic pursuits, including vodka and beer tastings, guests can take in art, architecture, and even sights on the UNESCO World Heritage List. To ensure relaxing and rejuvenation each evening, stays are booked in comfortable, chic accommodations ranging from charming hotels to genuine castles and palaces. The enchanting Malgorzata (Sarna) Rose, a native of Poland, now living in Montana with her American husband, personally designs each trip. Call toll free (888) 703-8130 or visit them online at www.polandculinaryvacations.com to book a memorable culinary vacation. Space is now available for trips running July 27-August 2 and August 10-August 16.

We have fallen under the spell of the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada, thanks to spectacular entrepreneur Peter de Savary, the legendary visionary who gave the world the magical St. James’s Clubs, Bovey Castle, and Skibo Castle. It isn’t often that one man can impact the destiny of a country, but Mr. de Savary is well on the way in warm and charming Grenada. This time he’s laid aside his Savile Row suits and Scottish tweeds in favor of white Caribbean linens and espadrilles and set out to transform this lovely little spice island with strong French and British influences into another St. Bart’s—or even better. Grenada is a sailor’s paradise, a place for adventure, a quiet oasis blessed by calm azure waters, soft empty beaches, contented people, and very few tourists. Grenada is what Barbados was 50 years ago—filled with dramatic natural resources and willing gracious Grenadians. Tourism is a recent phenomenon with only 1500 hotel rooms currently on the island. As we said, few men have the opportunity in their lifetime to help shape a nation, but de Savary is intent on just this. Learning to sail as a child on Grenada, de Savary never lost his love for the island’s green mountains, sub tropical rainforests, plantations, waterfalls, golden sands, and enchanting people. Besides his brilliant vision and driving dynamism, and always being accompanied by his little dog, Louis, and a Montecristo cigar, de Savary—like his countryman Richard Branson—is a man of innovative action. On Grenada, he has already transformed Mount Cinnamon Hotel into a cool, laid-back, fun, boutique oasis with white-washed villas, stunning ocean views, Savvys, a fine restaurant and bar, and an enchanting staff who happily meet all guests’ demands with a smile. At Cinnamon Hill, there is first class sailing, diving, snorkeling, spa, a divine private beach, and secluded pool. All accommodations at Mount Cinnamon are luxuriously spacious. Suites and villas have airy sitting rooms with kitchen and breakfast bars and breathtaking views from the outdoor living areas. Most of the bedrooms also have large balconies and all provide separate dressing spaces and uniquely styled, adobe-walled shower rooms. Designed with many thoughtful extras, all accommodation has laundry facilities, hairdryer, BOSE sound system, cable TV, crisp linens, and impressive artwork. Do take a look at the website, www.mountcinnamongrenada.com. The jewel in Mr. de Savary’s Grenada crown is Port Louis, a $500-million Mediterranean-style marina village with 300 slips for yachts and boats up to 400 feet. Grenada’s location means that unlike most destinations, this is a ‘year-round’ getaway, set outside the seasonal hurricane belt. Its proximity to the Equator ensures a temperate climate in the early 80’s (23-28 degrees C), which, with cooling trade winds, offers very comfortable conditions. It compares especially well with the more northern Caribbean which can suffer from quite cold and wet weather and is within the hurricane belt. At Port Louis there will be luxurious residential real estate, a health spa, and wellness center. A buzzing bar and restaurant is already the axis of social life on the island. Port Louis rises dramatically to the south of the charming capital, St. George’s, and is destined to become one of the world’s most charming and important lifestyle developments. Visit www.portlouisgrenada.com for more details on living and investment opportunities there.

What a find we came across in Costa Rica recently. Mead Brown Costa Rica Vacation Rentals deftly manages a collection of fully-serviced, handsomely-appointed Costa Rica luxury vacation villas and condos that provide first-class service tailored for discerning, sophisticated travelers. Your personalized experience begins at the lavish villas, elegant estates and posh condominiums located in and around Playa Herradura, at the world-class destination Los Suenos Resort & Marina, Playa Hermosa, Jaco, Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Costa Rica is not synonymous with luxury—in fact it’s been more a destination for those whose idea of adventure includes roughing it. But now people can have soft adventures by day and fine meals, spa services, golf, tennis and first-class accommodations by night. Los Suenos Resort & Marina is a family friendly destination with something for everyone. If its 200-slip international marina, signature billfish tournament series, challenging par-72 eco-golf course designed by Ted Robinson, Jr. and spectacular view properties aren’t enough, find repose at the private beach club with fountains, extensive free-form pool and swim-up bar. The four-star Marriott Hotel offers six unique restaurants, a 600-hundred acre rain forest preserve—like nothing in the world—tennis court, gymnasium and the Marina Village, including an art gallery, cigar shop La Casa del Habano, Arco Azul Salon and Spa, DVD rentals and Internet café. After “roughing” it all day, find yourself at the The Terrace Lounge, Dolce Vita Coffee and Sweets, El Galeon Restaurant and Martini Bar, Bambu Sushi and Asian Cuisine, Lanterna Ristorante Italiano, or The Hook Up Bar and Restaurant. If this all seems a bit “big city” stop by Costa Brava Orchids and Flower Shop, Scotiabank, Jimmy T’s Provisions fine foods and meats, Los Suenos Marine Supply Store, clothing boutique, and National Car Rental. Los Suenos is truly Central America’s premier destination resort and marina community. Mead Brown’s collection includes vacation rentals in the Los Suenos Resort & Marina communities of Veranda, Del Mar, Bella Vista, Terraza de Marbella, Montebello, Vista Tres Bahias and the Eco-Golf Estates. St. Regis is building its newest resort and residences adjacent to Los Suenos. But don’t worry, Costa Rica hasn’t lost its adventure spirit—still a wonderland for world-class sport fishing (65 world record catches have been landed in Costa Rican waters), horseback riding, surfing, hiking in more than a dozen national parks, birding (more than 850 species), zip line canopy tours, nature walks, five active volcanoes, mountain biking, white water river rafting (Class I to Class V), swimming, biodiversity, ecotourism and green travel. Travelers can experience it all. Visit Mead Brown online at www.meadbrown.com.

While not exactly the new (or probably the next) Buenos Aires, Medellin, Colombia is edging into a renaissance, brought on by dramatic drops in the crime that once devastated it. Thanks to an ambitious plan executed by the current mayor that focuses on programs for its poorest inhabitants, residents have seen both security and public life flourish in the last three years. Joining the small but growing band of northern tourists exploring “The City of Eternal Spring,” ENTREE descended on a beautiful, temperate valley carved straight from the fierce jungle. We enjoyed a short stay at Medellin’s simple, attractively modern Four Points Sheraton, while compadres from Bogotá raved about the more upscale Intercontinental nearby. We felt perfectly secure, dallying for hours at the lively Colombia Provoca food festival in August. This annual food fest jams with friendly and stunning upper-class minglers savoring renowned, unique local fruits, various regional cuisines and delicacies both home-grown and imported. We also truly treasured a trip through the personal collection that native son Fernando Botero donated to downtown’s Museo de Antioquia, within a park bearing his name and plump statues. Tours through Medellin’s improving slums by bus, subway, foot and recently introduced MetroCable were inspiring for the dramatic, hopeful changes within. This city also displays some very cosmopolitan tastes, especially in the trendy restaurants and bohemian bars of the exclusive El Poblado and Parque Lleras neighborhoods. In El Poblado we enjoyed a wonderful, creative gourmet meal at Herbario, its low-key, smartly designed lounge torn straight from the streets of Soho. A wild night drinking aguardiente at Mango’s midget-packed nightclub was tempered in the morning by a day-trip through the jade mountains of south west Antioquia, a blessed region strewn with distant waterfalls, heaven-scraping green cliffs, coffee orchards and traditional paisa villages and ranches. Slowly drifting down the river after a rustic meal of sausage, arepa and ajiaco, this slice of the Colombian countryside was as close to paradise as any we’ve seen. Affordable, agreeable, eye opening, under-the-radar and full of wonders both Marquezian and natural, Medellin and the state of Antioquia are treasures for the intrepid traveler. Herbario, Carrera 43D 10-30, Medellin, (57 4) 311-2537, www.elherbario.com; Sheraton Four Points, Carrera 43C #6 Sur 100, (57 4) 321-8088; www.fourpoints.com. Our visit would not have been nearly as smooth without our expert guide, Oscar Sanchez Gomez at Turixmo, (57 4) 266-2846.

Honduras is not exactly on travelers’ lips at most cocktail conversations. Usual references are to spectacular water sports, whale-shark spotting and pristine beaches found in and around the Bay Islands. ENTREE is pleased to report on an often over-looked attraction in this delightful part of Central America—the Mayan ruins in the Copan Valley. Our readers have maintained an ongoing curiosity about this Honduras site since our adventure to the Tikal ruins in Guatemala as reported in the July-August 2005 issue. Here are the details on our recent Honduras adventure: after arriving in San Pedro Sula (American or Taca Airlines), head for the small, picturesque town of Copan Ruinas, located less than a mile from the site entrance. This quaint fairy tale village with its cobblestone streets, friendly inhabitants and laid-back charm immediately puts visitors in a state of total relaxation. After throwing away your blood pressure medication, check into the classic Hotel Marina Copan. Let General Manager Miguel Martinez show you this delightful piece of history, the only full service hotel in town. If you like a view of red tile roofs with a mountain back-drop, be sure to request one of the newly-constructed balcony rooms. For $250 nightly, you can actually secure the Presidential Suite (be assured, similar digs in Europe would be north of $2000). Next, head outside the property to the Luna Jaguar Spa for a soak in natural hot springs and a world-class massage. The countryside ride is as relaxing and enjoyable as the destination itself. Returning to the village, stop at Xibalba’s Cafe-Bar, located one block from the hotel and just steps from the main square. On any given evening, the town’s movers, shakers, tourists, dogs and occasional drunks could appear. After a cocktail, you will be part of the scene in this intimate setting. Vicky, the young British bartender, also serves as information central. Treat yourself to the ruins with an English-speaking guide. The ruins are of particular interest due to elaborate artistic qualities not found elsewhere. Other experiences not to be missed are the Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve, Museum on the Square, Enchanted Wings butterfly garden and a tour of the Finca Santa Isabel coffee farm. Though you can stroll the village in 30 minutes, time spent here seems never enough. This peaceful, crime-free little slice of utopia constantly reminds us why the Mayans called this valley home for centuries. For everything you need to know about this adventure and more: www.mctours-honduras.com, www.hotelmarinacopan.com.

 

Love fresh smoked salmon? A highly respected Santa Barbara company called the Santa Barbara Smokehouse (good friends of ours) imports only the finest fresh Scottish salmon from pristine waters, which they then slowly smoke over oak and apple logs from the Santa Ynez Valley to yield a delicate, buttery smoked salmon. This is the smoked salmon the New York Times Syndicate called “the finest in the world.” This is a family-owned business, and owner Tim Brown smokes his salmon in small quantities in a traditional artisinal manner in a $4-million, state-of-the-art plant to supply some of the world’s finest hotels and restaurants. Santa Barbara Smokehouse salmon is thinly sliced and 100% Kosher. It is NEVER frozen. The family sells a limited amount of their smoked salmon to the public and ships by overnight delivery. For this reason, they would appreciate knowing your order for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s now so that they can serve you with their usual care. Tim is excited to announce that this holiday season he is introducing a traditionally smoke-roasted salmon, smoked at a much higher temperature and then hung by rope in a traditional brick kiln. Santa Barbara Smokehouse is the only company left in the U.S. that is still using this very unique approach that results in a salmon that melts in your mouth, perfect for parties and special dinners. This special side of salmon comes attractively packaged with the rope left on the side to show its authenticity. Please note that due to limited availability for this very special salmon, a week’s notice is required to fulfill an order at $99.95 a side plus $20 shipping. A regular side of mild smoked or rich smoked salmon, approximately two pounds, is $69.95 plus $20 overnight shipping. This is the best smoked salmon we have ever tasted. Call (805) 966-9796 to place an order.

Parting ruby-red beveled glass doors and colossal, Malbec-toned curtains at Buenos Aires’ outrageously in-vogue Faena Hotel + Universe is the closest ENTREE has come to sliding down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Adjusting our eyes through the dark-lit lobby of imposing, red-brick columns, magical images from our strangest steak-induced dreams seemed to thrive in every nook. When discussing the trendy new energy of Buenos Aires, the Faena ubiquitously comes in the same breath, a must-see poster-child for the revitalized spirit, optimism, and non-stop nightlife that is beckoning tourists in legions. With mega-stars and the super-foxy making second homes by the outdoor pool, along with a state-of-the-art gym, two fine dining options, and a very relaxing, service-oriented climate, it was nearly impossible to tear ourselves away, even to explore the bustling port of surrounding Puerto Madero. The Faena is fantastic and futuristic, yet still classically sexy down to the plumbing fixtures, in Philippe Starck-crafted rooms that push innovative, functional interiors into the highest stratosphere of imagination. Breakfasts of medialunas, empanadas, and farm-fresh eggs were enjoyed at cozy El Mercado, under the watch of Evita, Borges, and Maradona while the tango-tinged voice of Carlos Gardel soothed, educating us on Argentina’s national obsessions through a room packed with cultural gee-gaws. El Bistro restaurant, blinding in pristine whites, comes ringed with unicorn heads, red Baccarat crystal and gold-rimmed plates of elegant creativity matched with Argentina’s best stocked wine cellar. Evenings start and never end at the tastefully polished Library Lounge, where those who don’t get into the breath-stealing El Cabaret show and the town’s scorching hot-ticket nightclub, continue to mingle when not stepping by the pool for more glimpses of Bono’s speedo. The Faena Universe expands around Puerto Madero in a unique arts district that CEO Alan Faena and his charming, visionary staff are spearheading. Though we never seemed to awake from the strange and beautiful dream that is the Faena, we are thoroughly enchanted and await more fancy. Rooms vary from $500 to $8000 + IVA. Visit www.faenahotelanduniverse.com.

It could well be Southern California’s best-kept secret: Lake Arrowhead and the recently redone (in tasteful fashion, to the tune of $18 million) Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. Sequestered at 5,100 feet above sea level, in a distinctive alpine setting among the tall pines and birch trees on what is called “The Rim of the World,” this legendary resort—just 2-1/2 hours from Los Angeles—has long attracted entertainment stars, business moguls and lovers in search of the solitude of a lazy lakeside village. Lake Arrowhead harkens back to a simpler, more innocent time when barbecue grilled on the beach or dock together with moonlit walks or motorboat rides combined to fill a summer’s evening. Hot dogs are still on the fire here and kids still ride the carousel, go fishing and head for the ice cream store for a treat while their parents promenade around the lake, perhaps shopping in one of the scores of intriguing shops (our favorite is Wildflowers, a blissful flower store) that make up the village. The crown jewel of the lake is the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, a soaring, timbered, fireplace-filled refuge with mountain and lake vistas now managed by Peter Henry, whose reputation as the maestro of the Sonoma Mission Inn and the Cheeca Lodge & Spa assures first-rate hotelkeeping and warm hospitality. Mr. Henry and his young energetic staff work hard to provide a memorable experience at this family-friendly (and pet-friendly) resort with a notable restaurant called BIN189 serving up innovative dishes prepared by a young, talented chef, Stewart Redhead. A superb wine cellar is stocked with excellent California and international wines. The resort’s 162 rooms and 11 suites have been done up in earth tones accented by buttery leathers, deep soaking tubs and dynamic Indian prints. The big attraction here is an 11,000-sq.-ft. full spa, Spa of the Pines, with an array of massages, facials, and body treatments of extraordinary quality. In addition, there is a complete workout facility with daily aerobics, Tai Chi, Pilates, yoga and other fitness classes. The Spa also includes a beauty salon for manicures, pedicures and hair services. At the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa there is much to do: catch-and-release fishing excursions, movies, star-gazing experiences, hikes, cooking classes, boat rides on the resort’s comfy pontoon yacht or just lazy days by the pool or in a hammock. There is even a Love Letters Program supervised by the resort’s “Love Doctor” to encourage couples to get closer in touch. And, best of all, this is a place for all seasons: Big Bear and its ski attractions are just 30 minutes away. We recommend a visit now to this special spot on clean, crystal-clear Lake Arrowhead. And if you are planning a business meeting, it is ideal for small conferences. Nearby golf on a championship course at the country club is easily arranged. The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa has a laudable green, environmentally-conscious program in force to preserve its beautiful surroundings. This is a special place where one’s inner batteries can be recharged while embraced by nature and where the ever-present spirit of the Serrano Indians—who once walked this land—can be truly felt. Visit www.laresort.com, (800) 800-6792.

Argentina has long sat on a far corner of the world beckoning for global interaction. Those hopes have been answered in spades as Buenos Aires and the gorgeous open countryside that surrounds it have become one of the hottest tourist destinations of the last few years. Bridging the great distance is LAN airlines, without which a voyage to South America would be inconceivable to us. Experiencing LAN’s elegant premium business-class service, we get the best benefits of first and business class blended together at just the right price. After boarding, ENTREE raises our champagne flutes, selects a movie for our 15-inch flat screen, puts our chair in full 180-degree recline, pulls up a down comforter, and next thing we know, we’re touching down at the airport, ready for a five-dollar steak and a glass of Malbec. Of course, we make sure our flight attendant wakes us for a bite from a menu that boasts fantastic wines and sometimes just to have a chat with the charming and attentive flight attendants serving us. LAN is one of those amazing carriers with whom flying for nine hours is part of the fun, and we almost regret the flight being over so quickly. Every member of the LAN Alliance—LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador, LAN Peru and LAN Airlines—is part of the oneworld Alliance, the leading global alliance giving passengers access to extraordinary services and benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem mileage awards on all other oneworld carriers including LAN’S frequent flyer program, LANPASS, and American Airlines AAdvantage. Plus, mileage earned on LAN counts towards elite status qualification, and passengers get access to the 400-plus airport lounges worldwide offered by the alliance’s airlines for top-tier members. LAN flies non-stop from New York and Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile, with continuing service to Argentina and additional Argentinean destinations. Visit www.lan.com.

Are there many among us who don’t focus on the culinary when planning an excursion to France, Italy, or Spain? Searching out the top chefs or the most sought-after tables can reap reward, no doubt—but for a truly extraordinary experience, one that exceeds the usual ... consider a culinary vacation, a tour where you will shop with your chef at a local market, cook alongside him or her, enjoy the delicious product of your labor along with your companions, visit vineyards for tastings of the best local wine, perhaps see how olives are pressed into oil, or take an excursion into a medieval walled city. Making just this sort of “dream come true” experience a reality is The International Kitchen. Since 1994, Karen Herbst and her talented team have researched, visited, and experienced every one of their programs, creating dozens of cooking vacations for your enjoyment. Recently, we had the exceptional opportunity to visit a number of locations throughout the regions of Provence. We began at Hostellerie Berard, in the ancient hilltop village of La Cadière d’Azur. We tripped through the extensive garden with Chef Jean-Francois, plucking and enjoying the delightful fragrance of fruits and vegetables that would soon become part of our lunch. Through our learning to prepare sea urchin and producing our own fromage blanc sorbet, we created a spectacular luncheon, enjoyed with glasses of local wine on the sun-dappled terrace overlooking the garden and hillside. This IS what dreams are made of. After traveling through gorgeous countryside, it was on to Chateau de Berne and its Ecole De Cuisine. This spectacular spot, located on acres of landscaped property, includes its own orchard and winery. In our elegant room, we found a chilled bottle of their sparkling “Wild Pig” Rosé. After a tour of the winery, we joined Chef Philippe in the kitchen to begin dinner preparation. After wine and cocktails in the chateau parlor, we happily dined on our efforts. Then on to the village of Velleron, in the hills of the Vaucluse, to the incredibly quaint Hostellerie la Grangette. Owned by a delightful couple, you will feel like long-lost family. Chef Brigitte conducted our vegetarian cooking class, which provided our dinner, while her husband Jean (who had escorted us to the local market prior to our class) made sure we enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. In the Luberon area of Provence, we happily found ourselves at the Relais & Chateaux Abbaye de Sainte Croix in Salon de Provence. A morning in the bustling kitchen with chefs Jeremy and Tony provided specialized training in the art of foie gras preparation that will surely set your cooking skills in a most unique category. This chic property encourages the wish to spend contented days on this glorious hillside. This is but a small sampling of what a culinary vacation can be. These wonderful trips give an additional dimension and purpose beyond the ordinary adventure. The International Kitchen has thought of it all ... you can select an excursion that interlaces walking, biking, painting, language instruction or even Pilates. It promises and delivers a unique cultural experience, along with creating lifelong memories and enduring friendships. Be it lifetime dream or a group of friends getting together to celebrate a milestone birthday, you will not be disappointed. Visit www.theinternationalkitchen.com and prepare to be amazed by the glorious options that await you.

We happily met the ultimate Las Vegas insider recently. Steven Striker, who is best known simply as “Striker,” is larger than life, a gentleman dressed in impeccably crafted bespoke suits who speaks softly but carries a rolodex of connections that will knock your socks off. Striker’s company, Striker VIP, Inc., is the pre-eminent concierge service in Las Vegas built on rock-solid relationships and tailored for a discerning and demanding clientele. If you want the best seats to the hottest show, a table at an impossible-to-get-into restaurant, front-of-the-line treatment at the best club, prime fight tickets, a stretch Hummer or stealth Mercedes, a bodyguard or just a magnum of rare Romanee Conti, Striker’s your man. He is subtly elegant, professional and classy—rare attributes in a town of noise and brass. We did some checking up on Striker, also known as the “King of Connections:” all who have used his services, including the YPO, some Fortune 500 companies and several professional basketball teams, rate him as total blue-chip and a man of integrity. No less than Matt Lauer raved about him on The Today Show. Charming and totally dedicated to making his clients feel truly special, Striker is a man who truly cares. He has complete access to all Las Vegas has to offer and is a very high-touch sort of gent who works on a very private level. He will work to make your visit to Las Vegas unforgettable, be you one person or a group. This is a phenomenal gentleman offering a phenomenal service. Check out www.strikervip.com or call (702) 895-8426. Striker carries three cell phones (and a pocket full of Cohibas); one cell number is (702) 204-9392.

Our old friend, the British entrepreneur and yachtsman Peter de Savary, never sits still. First he gave us the glamorous St. James’s Clubs. Then came the glorious Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle and his delightful Southern Belle, The Cherokee Plantation in South Carolina, amongst others, but now he’s being the Brigitte Bardot of the Caribbean and bringing the world the St. Tropez of Grenada, Port Louis. De Savary himself admits that this is a real love affair with the wonderfully unspoiled island. Port Louis is set to become the ultimate maritime resort, club and village community, and now read it here first. Spectacularly set just on the outskirts of Grenada’s capital, St. George’s, the village and marina enjoy truly exotic vistas. The port offers residential and commercial ownership and investment opportunities, which include home-sites, apartments, a world-class marina, shops, restaurants and hotels. The first villas and apartments will go on sale in June 2007. These are in an outpost of Port Louis at Mount Cinnamon, located on the two miles of Grand Anse Beach, a short drive away from the lively marina. For those looking for an authentic West Indian plantation, celebrating Grenada’s hey-day as the primary spice island, head north to de Savary’s Mount Edgecombe Estate. Hike around the plantation’s trails; enjoy a swim hundreds of feet above the Caribbean in what has got to be one of the most spectacular infinity pools in the world. And that’s not all . . . 2008 will see the launch of Grenada’s first eco-spa at Tufton Hall, the fully restored ancient plantation home set in the heart of the tropical rain forest. For sailors, this has got to be a must. Well known as the America’s Cup Challenger, de Savary’s marina is set to become the chic, international gateway to the stunning Grenadines, with some of the most compelling dive sites as well as pristine reefs and islands to explore. For more information, telephone 1-473-439-0000 or visit www.portlouisgrenada.com; e-mail info@portlouisgrenada.com. Quote ENTREE to receive your complimentary copy of Grenada Life Magazine.

Just when we couldn’t face another seaside “getaway” assaulted by poolside techno music, tank-topped, baseball-capped frat boys in the dining room and screaming brats escaped from a Kid’s Klub, our eyes were opened to Costa Rica’s private paradise: Cabo Velas. Here, we choose the guest list ourselves. Four breezy, tropically elegant, pastel-colored ranchos can accommodate up to 16 friends, family or members of your admiring entourage. Cabo Velas is about an hour’s drive on challenging roads from the Liberia International Airport. However, we prefer to arrive via private charter, thanks to the property’s own airstrip. Once settled in, we spent a week swimming and playing on five private beaches of snow-white sand and galloped polite horses through 1700 acres of ranchland, filled with abundant wildlife, lagoons, mangrove estuaries and tropical fruit groves. Cabo Velas has a superb, caring staff who arranged deep sea fishing and a sunset picnic overlooking miles of coastline. They can also snag a tee time at a championship golf course nearby, visits to a great surf spot and excursions to local villages. A professional botanist is standing by to lead nature tours, while white-water rafting and hot springs are also close by. Meals are special at Cabo Velas, with fresh and healthy cuisine focused on fruits and vegetables grown on the property, fresh fish and locally farmed beef. Falling asleep to the sounds of crickets and crashing surf, we experienced that feeling we seek so often but rarely find—being in a perfect place in harmony with nature and, perhaps more importantly, with those whom we want to be there. Cabo Velas is a Sanctuare property, www.sanctuare.com, (866) 612-5980. Such a paradise does not come cheaply: the rate, including all meals, libations, transfers and excursions, for 16 guests for four nights, is $47,120.

ENTREE subscribers are constantly asking our staff members about travel to Egypt in light of the present Middle East hostilities. In order to solve this dilemma and armed with our readers’ queries fresh in our minds, we decided to revisit this fascinating destination. For the record, Egypt has generally enjoyed a “tourist-friendly” reputation, and Cairo has consistently been labeled one of the safest cities in the world. We are most pleased to report that there has probably never been a better time to visit this land of ancient wonders. As far as we are concerned, Egypt has gotten a “bad rap” of late due mainly to problems in neighboring countries. We found a remarkably peaceful society with tourist security a top priority at all locations. Even our motor trek across the desert from Hurghada to Luxor seemed almost unnecessarily secure. Our journey included Cairo, Giza, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Hurghada on the Red Sea. The balance of our agenda was spent cruising the Nile between Luxor and Aswan (150 miles). There really are no words to describe the remains of this ancient civilization along the banks of this storied river dating from 3,000 B.C. The absolute highlight of our experience was cruising and exploring the Nile Valley with Abercrombie and Kent aboard the luxury Sunboat IV, a floating 5-star piece of paradise. The luxe boat includes pool, fitness center, lounge decks, Internet, satellite TV, premium Egyptian wines and fine cuisine. Best of all, there were only 21 inhabitants to share these goodies. The 150-mile journey on this small, yacht-like vessel provided a rare combination of exploration and total relaxation. Our guide, Hesham Mansour, a 22-year veteran with A&K, is possibly the finest Egyptologist in the country. No hieroglyphic was left unexplained and his enthusiastic delivery will always last in our memory bank. A&K can also arrange complete tours tailor-made to individual preferences. Unless you have traveled to Cairo in the past, a stop at the Egyptian Museum is imperative. It is the world’s largest, and our must-see recommendations include the following: Tutankhamun Galleries, Royal Mummy Room and the mummified animals in rooms 53 and 54. While in Cairo, our hotel choices are the Cairo Grand Hyatt close to the museum, or Le Meridien, across from the fabulous pyramids in Giza. An excellent guide for this area is Mohamed Hegazey of the Egyptian Tourist Authority. For those who have experienced Cairo and want to head straight for the Nile, here is a suggestion: travel from almost any European capital to one of the resort cities on the Red Sea-Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada. After two or three days relaxing and shaking off jet lag next to this glorious body of water, head for the Nile Valley and discover the ancient attractions with renewed energy. Abercrombiekent.com, (800) 544-7016; Hesham Mansour, heshammans@hotmail.com; Mohamed Hegazey, mohamedhegazey@hotmail.com.

Any devotee of the late Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina’s great lyrical poet, will surely have harbored deep longings to visit Buenos Aires, that lively and passionate city of tango, gauchos and grass-fed beef. But put aside those clichés—Buenos Aires has a unique European grace and a diverting light-hearted Latin style all its own. Plus you will find it quite affordable due to the peso’s devaluation. The best address you could possibly find there is the new Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt, a hotel of historic splendor that raises hospitality in the “Paris of South America” to its highest level. Located in the fashionable Recoleta shopping and residential district, this hotel seamlessly integrates the old time glamour of B.A. with 21st century innovative design and state-of-the-art technology. The handsomely restored Palacio Duhau itself, built in 1934 by French architect Leon Dourge, is one of the few remaining palaces representing the city’s exclusive Portena aristocracy. Carefully integrated into this grand palace is a new building called Posadas that reflects the sleek future of Buenos Aires. An underground walkway and gallery showcasing local and international artists plus extensive blooming, fragrant gardens connect the two buildings. Rates for the 165 guestrooms and suites start at $410 a night. Twenty three accommodations, including eight suites, are in the Palace. These are our favorites. All rooms and suites have high-speed Internet and stylish, intimate décor. That is only the beginning. The wood-paneled Bar in the Palace has a 300-year old Normandy oak bar, a wood-burning fireplace, comfy brown leather wingback chairs and a terrace overlooking the gardens. The Galleria is classic with high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, original wood-carved doors and an exquisite star-patterned marble floor. Adjacent is the Library for light refreshments, reading or working. Restaurants include Les Salons with fireplace, the highest of ceilings and an original painted boiserie. Here is the perfect spot for tea, breakfast or light snacks. Enter the main restaurant through the Wine Library and prepare for extraordinary cuisine and the finest Argentinian Malbec wines. We love Gioa for modern Italian cooking and the best views of the palacio and gardens from the terraces. Not content with this perfection, the hotel has a unique cheese room offering more than 45 different varieties of Argentine cheese served by Maitre Fromagere Maria, who also brings tasty jams and chutneys to pair with the fromages. The Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt has an 8000-sq. ft. spa with an 82-foot indoor heated pool and treatment rooms for massage, etc. plus a fully-equipped gymnasium. ENTREE has never seen such old world charm and grace married to such up-to-date bells and whistles. And there is an educated, good looking crisply dressed staff that delivers gracious service on a very personal scale. Who is in charge of all this beauty, refinement and great hotelkeeping? A handsome gentleman named Christophe Lorvo, who speaks all languages and cuts a dashing swath through the hotel. Nothing misses his eagle eyes. He is like a symphony conductor, orchestrating everything perfectly for contented, discerning guests who include royalty, diplomats, celebrities and well-heeled travelers. Visit www.buenosaires.park.hyatt.com.