Saturday, March 20, 2010

New York Stories...

I have a love/hate relationship with New York City. I hated living there (too crowded, too loud, too cold, too much for me) but I love visiting. I love the luxury hotels in Manhattan as well as the amazing restaurants--not to mention, some of my favorite people in the world live there. I love that there are so many different neighborhoods to explore, and so many options for a luxury hotel junkie like me to check out.

On this particular trip, I chose to stay for two nights at three very different hotels. Keeping in mind that we have clients with a wide variety of style, budget & neighborhood preference, I started my week uptown at the newly redone Surrey Hotel before heading down to the Meatpacking district (which didn't exist as a tourist zone when I lived in NYC. There I spent two nights at the members-only Soho House (which many don't know is also a hotel!) then crossed the street for a stay at the equally cool Gansevoort Hotel.

Loved The Surrey for its elegant uptown charm. The vintage-inspired, grey and white (with touches of black( decor is a refreshing change from your typical five-star hotel, and the unique furnishings, intimate ambience, and Duxiana beds makes it a winner in my book. The proximity to Central Park and Madison Avenue shopping are other selling points, as is the room service by Daniel Boulud.

Just as I was falling in love with The Surrey, it was time to head to the opposite end of the city for my SoHo House stay. Gotta tell you, I liked it equally as much--for totally different reasons. The personality of the small property rivals the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Lounge (which I love). Cowshed spa products and the dresser drawer filled with "minibar" items ranging from guidebooks to accessories to stationary offer much more than your typical bathroom experience + drink/snack set up. Platform beds, a red tub & quirky furnishings add to the fun ambience. Best part about staying here though, is the entree to the hip, members-only Bar/Lounge/Club, where free WiFi is a given and the atmosphere is perfect for everything from breakfast meetings to late-night cocktails.

For those who want to experience the happening Meatpacking district location but prefer a slightly different style of hotel than SoHo House can't go wrong at The Gansevoort. It's steps awway from Pastis (my fave bfast & late night dinner spot), has its own Exhale Spa (with yoga classes) on site, as well as a rooftop pool & one of the most popular night spots (Plunge) in town. Not to mention, I loved my Grand Deluxe room (pictured) with its oversized corner window nook that was a great spot to people watch & check out who's wearing what (as in, do I need an umbrella and/or rain boots). Overall, the chic decor is cool without being cold. The staff was super friendly and the location truly ideal for a "new to downtown" type like me, as the shops of 14th streets, the food & flower-filled Chelsea Market and area restaurants like Spice Market, Fig & Olive & The Standard Grill were all within a two minute walk.

For more information or to book your next NYC trip, contact us at 310.979.9036 or via email

Friday, March 5, 2010

A few of my FAVORITE spots...

What do Fiji, Bali, Mexico and St. Barts have in common apart from being a beautiful destination? Each is home to some of the most romantic luxury hotels & resorts we’ve uncovered in our worldwide travels! From private islands in Fiji to chic hotels in Cabo, here’s a look at some of our favorite spots on earth:

For the ultimate in luxury, romance, privacy and pampering, Laucala Island, Fiji is choice number one. A total of 25 villas, each hidden from the next, offers up the perfect hideaway for honeymooners seeking serious R&R in a setting that blends peacefulness with playfulness (think outdoor baths, huge wooden circular tubs, brightly colored rugs, handcrafted wood furnishings from Thailand, Fiji, Bali and beyond, as well as iPod docks, satellite TVs, fully-stocked bars & outdoor pools with separate living/dining space). Couples need never leave their villa if they desire; the 350-person staff is at your beck and call to deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though, it’s highly recommended to check out the Beach Bar, Seagrass Asian restaurant, The Plantation House, not to mention the incredible spa (all have ocean views). And what’s more romantic than horseback riding on a private beach? Did we mention you can also get married on Laucala? There’s a wedding chapel on site and all paperwork/ceremonies can be completed within four days. It’s the perfect spot for a total destination wedding takeover, or a honeymoon a deux. Managers Thomas and Maja Kilgore will ensure you feel like part of the Laucala family from the minute you arrive.

Another favorite property that oozes romance is Las Ventanas, in Los Cabos, Mexico. The chic setting (think lots of white against a backdrop of sparkling blue) coupled with stylishly designed, oceanview suites and an uber-friendly staff anxious to please and the recipe for romance is delivered without a glitch. There’s even a “Romance Director” on site who can pre-arrange special activities, private beachfront dinners, or even entire weddings.

Bali is another beautiful destination where romance is in the air, at modern beach resorts like Amankila to the more traditionally designed, Ubud-based hotels like Amandari. A perfect getaway might combine stays at the two Aman properties, both totally different yet equally special in their own right. While at Amankila, wake up to views of the stunningly blue Indian Ocean and enjoy a private beach club with boating and other watersports at your disposal. In contrast, Amandari in the heart of Ubud offers an authentic taste of traditional Balinese village life in a charming setting that’s lush, green and within close proximity to temples, amazing hikes, local shops and restaurants. The female general managers of both properties go out of their way to ensure honeymooners receive extra-special treatment, and in these two unique settings, it’s not difficult to keep the romance alive.

Last but not least, one of my all time faves in the Caribbean is Le Toiny in St. Barts. The property features just 15 private oceanview suites, each decked out with private pools, gorgeous furnishings, stunning views and access to the best restaurant on island (it’s here at the hotel). This is the kind of place you choose when peace and quiet top the list of priorities, as do top notch service, incredible cuisine, and proximity to the rest of a beautiful, beach-filled island.

For more information on booking getaways, honeymoons or weddings at any of the above resorts, contact Elite Travel International at 310 979 9036 or via email All clients of Elite Travel International receive the best possible rates as well as many exclusive VIP perks and value added amenities at each of these properties.