Villa Buena Onda: Luxury and Privacy on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

Villa Buena OndaSome places you enjoy while you are there. Other destinations stay with you long after you have come home. Villa Buena Onda is one of those places that does both.

We arrived at dusk, happy to see Villa Buena Onda on the hill above the road. VBO, as locals call it, is an adults-only boutique hotel with eight spacious, well-appointed guest rooms. The hotel is ideal for couples who want a quiet get away in a low key setting or for families and friends who want a house where they can be together for an extended stay.

After a long drive, we had dinner, unpacked, settled into our room and called it an early night. We pulled the curtains shut, set the air conditioning to a comfortable temperature, climbed into bed and quickly fell asleep.

We slept through the night and awakened much later than we usually do. First thing we did when we got out of the comfortable bed was to pull back the curtains so we could see if there was a view.

We walked onto the balcony outside our room. It might have rained last night because the air smelled fresh and clean. We

Collection Baglioni, A Special Way to Experience Italy

Relais Santa CroceItaly abounds with gorgeous five-star hotels, yet, most are either international brands or run by outside management companies. Not so with Baglioni Hotels.

This family-owned and operated luxury hotel group has mastered the art of welcoming guests into founder Roberto Polito’s extended family.

After years in the hotel business, Polito went out on his own in 1974 with a single property in the Italian port town of Punta Ala in Tuscany. Named Hotel Cala del Porto (now Baglioni Hotel Cala del Porto), this five-star hotel and Relais & Châteaux property was the childhood home of Polito’s children, including his son, Guido, who now helps manage the company from his home in Milan.

“Guests really perceive that there is a soul behind the brand,” says Guido Polito, referring to the six properties in Italy, two in France, and one in the U.K. “We select our staff first based on their attitude and then skills because you can always teach skills, but not an attitude. It’s important the staff feel passionate about the brand and share our values,” he continues, “which is to treat guests in an authentic, friendly and caring way.”

Indeed, all the properties exude a warm,

A Visit to the Los Cabos International Film Festival

The Boca Raton Resort & ClubCelebrities come and go from Los Cabos on a regular basis making it a favorite A-list vacation hotspot like St. Bart’s, Aspen and St. Tropez. But the glamour factor intensifies during the annual Los Cabos International Film Festival each November.

Described as the “Cannes of Latin America,” the program curated by the Festival’s team gathers the most outstanding features from the world’s most important film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Toronto, and Berlin, just to name a few, and presents the world’s best films to Mexico.

This year’s festival attracted Hollywood heavy hitters Liam Neeson, Jared Leto, and Ewan McGregor who was presented with the 2015 Protagonist Award for Excellence in Acting at the closing night ceremony. The four gala evenings from November 11-14th included screenings of ‘Demolition’ starring Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Carol’ starring Cate Blanchett, ‘Remember’ starring Christopher Plummer, and ‘Steve Jobs’ starring Michael Fassbender.

The backdrop of the festival is the Cabo San Lucas marina filled with glimmering yachts including Kismet, one of the world’s most expensive, owned by billionaire Shahid Khan (owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Ocean Blue owned by Tommy Hilfiger. All the glitz and glamour is here

Save Money and Add Adventure this Holiday Season

With the holiday season just around the corner, you find yourself hard pressed to choose a holiday best suited to your needs and desire for adventure. You chose to visit the usual places last year, and those tourist filled attractions caused more stress and frustration than fun. Rather than set yourself up for another predictable trip, consider the benefits and adventure brought with the choice of cycling. From the wine trails of Provence to the cities of the Czech Republic, there are no limits to the level of fun you find in this perfect choice forholiday. Even if you have a significant other or family to bring along, these holidays are exactly what you need in order to enjoy your holiday from the first day to the last. Consider the factors included in a cycling tour.

Self-Guided for Your Convenience

Unlike tours targeted at a large audience, your cycling tour is self-guided from start to finish. The enjoyment of the beautiful landscapes, rich culture, and friendly locals of any location is taken at your pace. Your level of fitness has nothing to do whatsoever with your choice of cycling holidays. Since tour companies understand no

Hotel greenwashing dirties eco-friendly reputation

Hotels across the globe are increasingly encouraging guests to embrace green practices. Yet while guests think they are supporting the environment by shutting off lights and reusing towels, they may in fact be victims of “greenwashing,” a corporation’s deceitful practice of promoting environmentally friendly programs while hiding ulterior motives.

Greenwashing practices, such as a sign that reads “save the planet: re-use towels,” coupled with claims of corporate social responsibility, have soiled the trust of American consumers who are increasingly recognizing hotels’ green claims may be self-serving. This could cause hotels to lose valuable repeat customers.

Writing in the Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Washington State University hospitality researchers Imran Rahman, Jeongdoo Park and Christina Geng-qing Chi investigate the consequences of greenwashing in the lodging industry and suggest ways hotels can establish credibility in consumers’ minds.

Their paper, “Consequences of ‘Greenwashing:’ Consumers’ Reactions to Hotels’ Green Initiatives,” comes at a time when as many as 79 percent of travelers worldwide agree that implementing eco-friendly practices is important to their choice of lodging. Research shows a majority are willing to boycott a company if misled.

Causes of consumer skepticism

The researchers surveyed over 3,000 consumers to see whether recognizing a hotel’s hidden motive of

Where to Play Golf Eco Style

Revered as one of the world’s most iconic resort destinations, The Breakers located in storied and glamorous Palm Beach, FL, USA, boasts a rich history rivaled only by its own penchant for constant reinvention.

Fusing the relaxed formality of the French Riviera and seaside charm of the Italian coast with the timeless grace of Palm Beach, The Breakers is now entering its second century of enlightened family ownership. A pioneer in the luxury hotel segment, The Breakers invests an unrivaled $25 million each year in its ongoing revitalization and renewal, including the implementation of a number of ecologically-friendly practices to conserve resources and protect the environment. The Breakers continues the tradition of excellence begun by its founder, Henry Morrison Flagler, in 1896.
Ocean Course. Photo Credit: Nile Young Jr.

Ushering in a new era of casual sophistication, The Breakers’ innovative, eco-minded initiatives have permeated not only the guest experience, but also its workplace. Long before “going green” became mainstream in the hospitality industry, The Breakers initiated a formal policy requiring its 2,000 associates to sign off on sustained guidelines to cover waste management, energy use reduction and water conservation. As a pioneer in the luxury hotel segment, the “Green” Team at this

A Luxury Food Tour in Tuscany

Italy has long been the vacation destination that is the ultimate foodie haven: each region boasting its own delicacies based on tradition and a rich agricultural scene. Tomatoes in Puglia, the famous Cotoletta in Milan, and Bergamo’s very own comfort food, polenta. Travel to Tuscany this fall for the food and wine experience of a lifetime: a 6-day retreat organized by Italy Customized at Villa La Palagina, exploring the culture and cuisine of the Tuscan region.

Villa La Palagina has all the quaint charm that Tuscany has to offer. Overlooking the lush valley and olive groves of the Tuscan countryside, you’ll find a little piece of history in this once monastery for Vallombrosian Monks. You’ll enjoy your first day at the Estate tasting specialties of the region: locally made meats and cheeses, bread and wine. You’ll not only taste the delicious foods of Tuscany from wild boar sauce to a traditional soup called Ribollita, but you will also learn their history, how they are made, and why they have become such big food staples in the region.
Truffle Hunting

Another unique experience that this food and wine tour entails is a day dedicated to truffle hunting, something you may only have the

Five of the UK’s Best Wedding Venues

Finding the right location for your wedding is one of the most important activities when planning your big day. This won’t just be where you say your vows, but where you celebrate with friends and family, so everything needs to be as perfect as possible.

Here are five of the most enviable venues across the UK for a little inspiration:

Allerton Castle

A Grade I listed stately home, Allerton Castle boasts 45 bedrooms, an 80-foot Great Hall, and stands within 6 protected acres of North Yorkshire countryside. Built in the nineteenth century by the Lord Mowbray, Segrave, and Stourton as a testament to his monumental position within the aristocracy, the building’s gothic styling defies description.

You’ll enter the Great Hall from the exquisite double staircase, and make your vows beneath the magnificent beamed ceiling, surrounded by carvings, balconies, and the light streaming down through stained glass windows. Afterwards, retire to the Conservatory of Memorial Gardens to celebrate.

Sefton Park Palm House

Built in 1896, and taking inspiration from The Crystal Palace, the Sefton Park Palm House is a wedding venue like no other. This three-tiered dome conservatory is filled with over 300 plants from more than 50 countries, making it one of the most exotic venues

Best Romantic Fireplace Destinatio


With the colder months approaching, we compiled a list of the best destinations to enjoy a romantic getaway while keeping warm with a stunning fireplace and kindling the sparks.

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, San Diego, Calif.

With over 70 fireplaces on-property, Rancho Valencia offers a variety of indoor and outdoor fireplace on-property for guests to enjoy. Located outside of Rancho Valencia’s signature restaurant and bar, The Pony Room, are outdoor fire pits where guests can take in the views out the floor to ceiling window overlooking the resort’s picturesque croquet lawn bordered by lush canyons and mountains. In addition, each guest casita on-property offers an indoor fireplace with many of them including outdoor fireplaces as well on the private patios.

The Wigwam, Phoenix, Ariz.

The Wigwam has a total of 29 fireplaces and fire pits on-property for guests to enjoy, located outside of some of the rooms for private use, in dining areas, and in the hotel’s lobby. The main lobby features a fireplace that has remained a centerpiece of the redesigned living and lounge area since 1918. Now celebrating their 85th anniversary, The Wigwam has kept to its roots by providing ways for guests to enjoy

The Designer Behind the World’s Most Stunning Swimming Pools

Principal Designer at Denniston Architects – Jean-Michel Gathy has been responsible for many of the most iconic hotel swimming pools and water features in the world.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Dominating the city’s skyline is the world’s largest rooftop pool designed by Jean-Michel Gathy. It offers a spectacular oasis with the 150 metre-long infinity pool which is one of the best spots from which to look out over Marina Bay Sands itself. The gorgeous infinity pool is built on a platform above three buildings which is 650-feet up and it is the largest outdoor pool in the world at this height.

Point Yamu Resort by Como, Phuket

The contemporary design of Point Yamu by Como makes use of a simple color palette such as white and turquoise inspired by the surrounding waters and emphasis on texture and tiles. Point Yamu offers a breathtaking 100-meter infinity pool overlooking the panoramic views of Phang Nga Bay.

Park Hyatt Sunny Bay Resort Sanya, China

Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay evokes the feel of a private mansion by the sea, comprising five swimming pools including a 115-metre outdoor pool; a 25-metre indoor pool; a children’s pool; a family pool; and a pool within the Spa. The

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, A Magical Place

There is a magical, other-worldly quality about Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. You feel it the minute you pass through the double-door entrance, greeting a wall of glass just yards away through which Paradise Valley in Scottsdale unfolds.

This can’t be Arizona. It’s green and there are palm trees. But turn around and take in the tumble of red rocks of Camelback Mountain. The scenic counterpoint is riveting. That’s Sanctuary: expect the unexpected.

Everything about the resort celebrates and complements the spectacular setting. Nature’s blues, oranges, yellows and greens find their way into the striking plantings around the resort and into sophisticated furnishings in 105 casitas and suites and five private homes that stretch across 53 acres. The accommodations inspire you to relax and savor the views. There are 69 Mountain Casitas, 41 of which are Suites ranging up to 1,500-square-feet with wood burning fireplaces and outdoor terraces. They share a sleek, spacious and contemporary design sensibility with 12 Camelback Casitas and Suites, which are distinguished by their perch high into the resort’s namesake mountain, granting premium views of the aptly named Paradise Valley beyond.

Another 24 spa casitas offer an oasis of repose, surrounding the Sanctuary infinity-edge pool and intimate spa. Here again,

Grand Luxury at the Grand Hyatt New York

The spacious, ultra chic lobby is your first hint that you are about to embark on a special experience. Affable, attentive staffers welcome guests with open arms, broad smiles and inquisitive minds. “How can we assist to make your stay enjoyable?” they inquire.

The Grand Hyatt, New York, is ideally located on 109 E. 42nd St. and is conveniently connected to the transportation hub of Manhattan, Grand Central Station. Known for being one of the busiest train stations in the world, Grand Central is a fantastic destination for shopping or to pick up a souvenir. Popular shops and boutiques include the Apple Store, Banana Republic, Aveda, Hermes, and Kenneth Cole. Grand Central is home to several great restaurants, including Café Spice, Oyster Bar, and Manhattan Chili Company. Famous for its beautiful Beaux-Arts architecture, Grand Central Station should be on everyone’s “must see” list while visiting the Big Apple. Other notable landmarks within walking distance of the Grand Hyatt include the Theater District, Times Square, the United Nations and the magnificent New York City Public Library.

For a truly indulgent experience, reserve a premier suite that offers more space than most New York City apartments. These 1,000 to 1,400 sq. ft. suites provide

Scottish Luxury at the Inverlochy Castle Hotel


With winter right around the corner, discerning skiers are making plans for elaborate, upscale vacations to exotic destinations. “Go where the celebrities go,” is often their mantra.

When skiers normally think of Europe’s great mountain ranges, Scotland likely doesn’t come to mind. However, both the terrain and snow conditions compare very favorably to some of the more famous ski resorts around the world. In fact, over the past few years Scottish ski areas had deeper snow than most Alpine, Pyrenean and Rockies resorts.

Of Scotland’s five ski areas, Nevis Range is the one to visit if you like to beat the crowds. Nevis is also home to the Inverlochy Castle Hotel, widely considered one of the world’s most opulent ski area hotels. Celebrity guests have included Sean Connery, Elton John and Mel Gibson.

Built in 1863, Inverlochy is uniquely located in Nevis amongst the glens, lochs and mountains of the West Highlands of Scotland. “At Inverlochy we have placed particular emphasis on marrying the elegant surroundings and atmosphere of the hotel with a warm welcome along with friendly and efficient service,” says Jane Watson, hotel manager. “Every detail for your comfort and enjoyment has been carefully considered.”

The

A Getaway to The Cove Eleuthera

For newcomers booking a vacation at The Cove resort on the island of Eleuthera, it’s reassuring to know there’s a friend waiting to whisk you from the North Eleuthera airport to your posh Caribbean retreat.

This Cove ambassador could be Jerome, it could be McNeal, or it could be Trish. You won’t realize it at the time, but whoever guides you to your new Bahamian retreat is on a personal mission to win you over.

These Cove team members are as passionate about their workplace as they are about the 110-mile long island of Eleuthera. The reason for this exuberance is obvious once you step upon the elevated platform looking just beyond The Cove’s pearl-white welcome area.

A Cocktail of Island Luxury

Before Jerome, McNeal, or Trish motor you by golf cart to your luxurious vacation accommodations, you’ll be handed a refreshing Bahama Mama cocktail to quench your thirst. This beverage is the perfect elixir to compliment your initial glimpse of The Cove’s oasis of palm trees, hammocks, restaurants, and 57 whitewashed bungalow suites.

After you’ve been at the resort just minutes, you’ll realize that you’re keeping time with the palm fronds swaying from the ocean breeze. This tradewind tempo, aided by another long sip

Jean Michel Gathy Architect of the World’s Most Beautiful Resort Spas

These days we never speak of a luxury hotel without speaking of its spa. Specializing in this sector for more than 30 years and the inspiration behind some of the most beautiful hotels in the world, Jean-Michel Gathy is an authority of ultimate spa architecture.

He is faithful to his elegant, luxury style without a hint of ostentation and has designed veritable temples to well-being, which have become destinations in themselves.

Chedi Andermatt & Residences in the Swiss Alps

Situated in the authentic Andermatt resort in the midst of regeneration, Chedi Andermatt is preparing to celebrate its second birthday. The development pays homage to traditional Swiss architecture with a whiff of contemporary elegance, and it has become the new chic chalet emblem. The magnificent spa extends over 25,833 square feet and contains a 115 foot indoor swimming-pool, a huge outdoor heated pool, thermal baths, Finnish saunas and hammams as well as a state-of-the-art gym. The spa also offers yoga courses anda boasts 10 massage rooms for pampering with top-of-the-range organic SpaRitual, ila REN and Alpienne products (traditional local remedies).

Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro

Aman Sveti Stefan is an exceptional jewel welcoming guests to its 50 rooms on the island and eight unique suites in

Pampering Made Perfect at The Point

We are in the Adirondack wilderness, driving a winding road with snow covered pines forming a narrow passageway. Ahead of us, an intricate gate fashioned from logs and branches and spelling out ‘The Point.’

After punching in a code, the gate opens very slowly as if to say “Take a deep breath. Relax. Let the wonders of this very special place envelop you.”

We’ve arrived at The Point Resort in Saranac Lake, New York – the last of the Great Camps of the Adirondacks considered by many to be the premiere resort in the country and Conde Nast Traveler’s highest-rated property. The Point is consistently honored with one of the hospitality industry’s top awards: the Forbes 5-Star designation for “…flawless service and the finest of amenities. Staff are intuitive, engaging and passionate; they eagerly deliver service above and beyond the guests’ expectations.”

From the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the great depression, Gilded-age magnates built magnificent mansions made of logs and collectively called the Great Camps. The Point was built as a private retreat for the William Avery Rockefeller family between 1930-33 by the prominent Adirondack camp architect William Distin. It is situated on a 75-acre peninsula jutting into

Journey Through the Centuries in Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Indeed, Old Saybrook is a journey through centuries of time. A quiet, picturesque, Colonial shore town, it’s where the River meets the Sound, (Connecticut River and Long Island Sound) and it also happens to be one of “The Last Great Places.”

In the 1990s, The Nature Conservancy rallied enormous financial and community support around conservation with its call to save “The Last Great Places.” The happy news is that this enchanting destination has done just that. Here one finds over 100 homes designated with historical significance and15 National Register Historical Landmarks.

Beloved actress Katherine Hepburn first came to the town of Old Saybrook in 1912 when she was five years old. Her family’s house, in the borough of Fenwick, became her refuge from the demands of her career; she called it “paradise” and it was here that she retired in 1997. In 2003 the town of Old Saybrook restored the Town Hall and Hepburn’s family allowed the hall to be named after her. “The Kate,” as it is affectionately known, is dedicated to music, opera, dance, comedy and children’s theater, as well as a summer camp for kids.

During my visit, I took the 10-mile scenic Loop Ride from

The Volcano Above, the Mineral Waters Below Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort in Costa Rica

A member of The Leading Hotels and The Leading Spas of the World, Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort is a quiet oasis of luxury with 5 Star comforts on the boundary of one of Costa Rica’s wildly beautiful nature preserves.

Located in the middle of a rain forest, the hotel and resort give guests an intimate connection with the natural surroundings. Walk outside and look up. You can’t miss it. The Arenal Volcano, a smooth sided, flat topped massive pyramid of dark earth, towers above. Tabacón, the short-hand name for the hotel and spa, takes its life blood from the volcano.

The Arenal Volcano is no postcard relic. The volcano lives and breathes. Lava flows on the western side. Underground magma pushes up from the Earth’s core and heats the streams flowing through the resort.

A three to four hour drive from Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, Tabacón is easily reached by bus or car. My wife and I were picked up at the airport by Hjalmar, our guide and driver from Costa Rican Vacations. Driving through the countryside we passed a great variety of landscapes.

If you enjoy Hawaii without the high rises, you will love

A Visit to Es Saadi Palace in Marrakech

The aura is pink, the aroma predominantly mint.

This is Marrakech – the pale rouge city of labyrinthine souks, fertile gardens and historic mosques where time stands still over an aromatic glass of mint tea.

For centuries it has been the beating, vibrant heart of Morocco.

Exploring the medina, bound by ancient red sandstone walls, is one of the highlights of a stay in Marrakech.

The approach is dominated by the landmark Koutoubia mosque, dating from the late 10th century with four golden orbs at the top of the square 69-metre minaret.

From there you can cross into the narrow alleys and passages that form the ancient medina, dating from the same period and created by Berber dynasties from the south of the country at a time that Marrakech was the country’s capital and Africa’s key trading hub.

Marrakech medina flea market

Mosque, market, bathhouse and tea-shop; these are the institutions of the souk but its social fabric too, where people meet, converse, wash, pray and while away the time.

The narrow maze-like alleys are lined with stalls selling lanterns and ironware, potteries, spices, leather goods, textiles, souvenirs and traditional Moroccan foods.

The medina has numerous exits but many empty out into the main square of Marrakech, Djemaa el

Winter Pools Keep Las Vegas Hot

In Las Vegas, pool days never have to end, not even when summer is over. Among several pools that remain open year-round, ARIA Resort & Casino’s Sky Pool transforms its luxurious summer offerings to keep guests cozy during their winter vacation.

Created exclusively for Sky Suites’ guests, the newest retreat on the Las Vegas Strip takes the hotel’s Forbes Five Star services poolside with unexpected indulgences befitting the season. Instead of serving summer refreshments such as chilled towels or smoothie shots, wintertime guests can enjoy the heated pool along with warm towels and complimentary hot chocolate, warm cider or hot tea delivered every 90 minutes.

Additionally, there are other world-class pools across Las Vegas that are staying open for guests looking to take advantage of Sin City’s mild winter climate, including:

 

    • Mandalay Bay: Moorea Beach Club sheds its “toptional” dress code as it becomes the resort’s main pool for winter guests. Cozy fire pits are lit for guests to toast marshmallows with S’mores kits available for purchase.

 

    • ARIA Resort & Casino: The two main pools are open during the winter season with cocktail service available in the well-appointed cabanas.

 

    • Vdara Hotel & Spa: The boutique, non-gaming hotel keeps its main pool available all year.

 

  • Bellagio: The

Best Trails for National Take A Hike Day

WEST COAST

Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, MX

Rancho La Puerta is the original “fitness resort” and spa welcomes some 140 guests each week to its 3,000 private acres of gardens, mountains and meadows in Baja California, Mexico. All facilities and land are for the exclusive use of guests who come for an entire week, Saturday to Saturday, or partial-week stays of three or four nights. It’s a unique escape for women and men offering over 80 fitness classes including TRX, yoga, pilates and advanced hiking trails as well as spa treatments and therapeutic sessions. Hiking is a very big part of the Rancho La Puerta guest experience. Most guests do some sort of hike before breakfast each morning. Rancho La Puerta is located in the mountains and the guided hiking trails are a five minute walk from the resort, offering over 50 miles of hiking trails. Options include a two-mile hike through an oak grove with undulating terrain, a nine-mile mountain hike, and everything in between. A few standout hikes include:

• Organic Garden Breakfast Hike – A four-mile round trip trek over rolling hills to La Cocina Que Canta, the Ranch’s culinary center and organic six-acre farm. Enjoy a garden breakfast, followed