Friday, October 30, 2009


As if you really needed an extra-good reason to donate to breast cancer research, here's one that's hard to beat: Small Luxury Hotels is donating a FIVE-NIGHT stay at any of its worldwide properties. Yes, you heard correct. The ONLY thing YOU need to do for a chance at winning this incredible free luxury vacation valued at $2,500 is to donate $25 or more, by Monday (my birthday) to my chosen cause.

Here's the scoop: Having lost my dad way too young after a long cancer battle, my efforts to raise money for cancer research (specifically the Breast Cancer Research Foundation) are done in his memory. These efforts also honor my mom--a two-time breast cancer survivor. Her ability to live with this dreadful disease--once a likely death sentence--is largely due to the tireless researchers funded by Evelyn Lauder's Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

My primary reason for choosing BCRF as my charity of choice is because nearly EVERY penny raised goes straight to fund the research for the CURE.

My only birthday wish this year is to continue to raise $$$ for BCRF, which like all charities, takes a hit in tough economic times. Helping BCRF fund the research needed to find a CURE in our lifetime is the best birthday gift any of my friends, colleagues, associates & loved ones worldwide could possibly give me.

With over 500 independent hotels in more than 70 countries, the choice of experiences that Small Luxury Hotels of the World offers is infinite. Whether it is a romantic hideaway, safari lodge, city sanctuary or spa retreat, with Small Luxury Hotels of the World you will encounter only the very best as you "Experience the World". **Terms and conditions apply.

Entering the contest is SIMPLE. Just click here for details and to enter: REMEMBER: Anyone who donates more than $25 to my BIRTHDAY BREAST CANCER CAMPAIGN is automatically entered to win. Winner will be chosen at random on my birthday, Monday November 2 at 5 pm PST so get your entries in as soon as possible!

Of course, please do me a special favor and support our amazingly generous friends at Small Luxury Hotels by fanning them on Facebook and following them on Twitter

Thank you, and don't forget to click here to donate and earn a chance to win this fabulous free FIVE-night stay at any of the 500+ Small Luxury Hotels in the world!!

Questions? Email me:, find me on Facebook and on Twitter at

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Peruvian Adventures

No doubt, Machu Picchu is a must see when in Peru but if you don't take time to explore other regions of this fascinating country--like the Colca Canyon (where I'm pictured w/friend Samantha Steckbeck)--you are truly missing out! My first (and surely not last) visit to Peru was a study in a whole different world--one where locals work & live off the land, and where a form of simplicity we never see in the States still exists.

Sure, the city of Lima--where our journey began--is a bustling, growing city. But like any major city it's one of extremes...from the upscale residentials areas like Miraflores to the poorer ethnic neighborhoods. Despite the contrasts, the city is a beautiful one--bordering the Pacific Ocean and boasting its unique architectural style. And, there's no denying that Lima well deserves its moniker the "Food Capital of Peru." The sophistication of the award-winning chefs (Nobu Matsuhisa is half Peruvian!) coupled with the diversity and quality of the food--most freshly grown--is just amazing. Lima's definitely on my list of cities to return to, and recently renovated, all-suite oceanview Miraflores Park Hotel is certainly where I'll stay again (hey, if it's good enough for Depeche Mode, whose bandmembers were in house the night we arrived, it's surely good enough for me!).

From Lima, a short LAN flight took us to Cuzco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire located in southeastern Peru near the Sacred Valley of the Andes. At 11,000 feet, the World Heritage Site's altitude is not for the faint of heart (be sure to book an oxygen-enriched room at the 16th century monastery-turned-Hotel Monasterio). Highly recommend spending a day here adjusting (and sipping coca tea) before taking the famous Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu for the day (or night, should you desire to enjoy the setting sans tourists late eve or early morning). The train ride is just over 3 hours, and includes a meal, drinks and entertainment each way. Should you opt to spend the night, the Orient-Express Hotels-run Sanctuary Lodge is the obvious place to do so. Next time I visit I'll stay the night for sure, if only to have time to join the outdoor yoga class (complete with Machu Picchu views!).

Be sure to leave atleast three or more nights at the end of your trip to experience Peru at its finest & most authentic in the Colca Canyon. One of the most visually stunning destinations I've encountered in my travels, Colca Canyon in the Andes is one of the deepest canyons in the world at 10,725 feet. Las Casitas Del Colca, now topping my list of all-time favorite hotels, is well worth the three-hour drive from the "White City" of Arequipa for its luxurious private casitas (each with backyard terrace/plunge pool, outdoor showers and incredible views--not to mention, frequent visits from the live-in llamas!) and the unbelievable food (most of it grown right on property under the watchful eye of fabulous General Manager Cesar Torres). A visit to hotel's gorgeous Spa Samay for a massage with Giovanna is a must, as is an early wake up call for the hour-long scenic drive to witness the Cross of the Condors. Other than that, nothing is mandatory in this part of the world where it's commonplace to see donkeys and alpaca crossing the roads, families working in the farms and local childrens greeting you with a sonrisa (smile).

Other Peru tips: Drink a few Pisco Sours (the signature drink of Peru), enjoy the fresh local cuisine, and be sure to stop in at the local markets (especially in Cuzco) to pick up hand-knit alpaca scarves, hats & sweaters (I scored a gorgeous sweater for only $10!). Chat with the locals (in Spanish if you can) and be sure to book plenty of downtime at each of the fabulous Orient-Express hotels mentioned above. At Las Casitas, optional activities include horseback riding, cooking lessons & baby Alpaca feedings!

A full Peruvian itinerary can be easily arranged through Orient-Express' Peru Experiences, complete with amazing private guided tours (it's a must to schedule these with my personal favorite tour guide Jack Bytton). One of only 2,500 Jewish people in Peru, Bytton (who lived in the States & worked as a guide at New York City's Holocaust Museum) has an infectious personality and a passion for showing every one of his guests the BEST OF PERU. The South American country is one I cannot wait to visit again, and highly recommend you too will add it to your list of destinations you MUST VISIT SOON.

The best way to travel to and from Peru, of course, is on LAN. The comfy business class seats with lie-flat bed capabilityare among the best in the sky, and the airline's entertainment system tops all others for variety & quality of movie/tv/music choices. Nonstop flights from both coasts with convenient departure/arrival times are another bonus!

For more details, or to plan your visit to Peru, please contact us at 310.979.9036 or via email at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Me & Montana: Love at First Sight

Montana's long been on my wish list of spots to visit. After a recent visit to The Resort at Paws Up, it's now on my list of places to return to time and time again. To say I loved The Resort at Paws Up is putting it mildly. Located about 40 minutes from Missoula, MT, this four-year old property is one of the most unique resorts I've ever visited. There's a huge WOW factor when you walk into your gorgeous three-bedroom Estate Home-- each with two floors, fireplace, huge deck w/hot tub, and stunning views of the Great Outdoors....and the aptly named "Big Sky". I enjoyed these views from nearly every room in the house, including my master bath (outfitted with heated floors, double-head rain shower & huge jacuzzi tub).

Built on a 37,000-acre former working cattle ranch, The Resort at Paws Up is the perfect spot for families as well as adults looking to indulge their inner-kid. Anyone who ever spent time at summer camp (as I did!) will adore this grown-ups version, albeit with a full bar and much more fun activities than we had growing up (ie, ATV rides, horseback lessons, fly-fishing, river rafting & spa treatments in heated tents!). Speaking of tents, if you're truly looking for the luxury camping experience, opt to stay at Tent City or River Camp...a small complex each of 6 tents (the latter front the Blackfoot River and has two 2-bedroom tents!).

It's not just the accommodations & activities that make The Resort at Paws Up so special. The owner's own love for animals results in a very pet-friendly environment (dogs are welcome, and they even have a dedicated weekend in April called Wine & Bitch Festival for those who, well, love wine & dogs...).

The Resort's dedication to amazing food and wine is apparent in the extensive wine list as well as the phenomenal meals we had at Pomp, the main dining room (formerly the cowboys' cafeteria). Also loved the hearty breakfasts at Trough, the casual dining spot adjacent to Tank, the cozy, fireplace-heated bar/lounge where I highly recommend the signature "gingeritas".

Rates vary throughout the year, with best values available October & after Jan 5 through May. (NOTE: These are terrific time periods to plan a group/high end incentive program!). There is also still an opportunity to book a fabulous XMAS vacation (5-night minimum) at Paws Up, inclusive of sleigh rides, Santa visits, Xmas-trees & all sorts of special family-focused activities. It's a great option for extended families, especially those who relish the idea of a traditional, snowy holiday vacation!

Should you prefer a spring time visit, consider joining us for the First Annual Elite Travel Gals' Getaway to Paws Up April 14-17 or 14-2, 2010 (both a 3nt and 7nt package available). Our discounted Virtuoso rates start at under $300/night (based on 4 ppl in a home) inclusive of all taxes and meals, plus a $150 activity credit (for those who book by year's end)! I'll be there for sure, with atleast one of my dogs in tow...hope you'll join us!

For more information on vacation options at The Resort at Paws Up or the Elite Travel Gals' Getaway, contact or phone 310 979 9036.