Is the “36 Hours in…” phrase trademarked by The New York Times? I hope not, because I had only that amount of time in town last weekend, and I want to tell you what I did: Read more…
“Where should I say in Palm Springs?” People ask me that a lot. I like to think this is because I always look so well rested and have such a glowing all-over-even tan. But it’s probably just because I’ve been out to the desert a zillion times, love it, and have stayed just about everywhere. Here’s my quickie guide for where to stay in Palm Springs and why. Read more…
I’m hardly breaking new ground here, but after dozens of visits to the desert over the years, I finally stayed at La Quinta Resort & Club. Love!
I found myself at La Quinta near Palm Springs on assignment, covering the terrific TEDActive conference. It’s actually been kind of a cold winter by L.A. standards (tiny violin, I know), so when I pulled in to the resort — with its vibrant flowers and palm trees against the striking mountain backdrop — I truly felt like I’d been transported to some kind of paradise after only a couple of hours in the car. You’d have to be deeply jaded not to be at least a little bit awed by the density and drama of the colorful blooms that line grounds of the massive property. Read more…
Those of you who know me personally know how infrequently I find myself without words. It’s not really my thing. But the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan will do that to a girl.
On our recent trip to Bali, we had limited time (as usual — sigh), and decided to spend it in the jungle area around Ubud, versus hustling to also see the beach at Nusa Dua, for instance. We loved Ubud (read: I’m obsessed with it) and spending our days there was the right choice. One thing we did do for variety, however, was to split our time between the Viceroy Bali and the Four Seasons. We’d drooled over the Viceroy and had to be pried away from it — and then when we saw the Four Seasons, we felt we’d died and gone to heaven a second time. Read more…
When I married my husband in 2010, we agreed that travel would be one of our very top priorities over the first couple of years. With only two blank pages left in my passport since then, I’m proud — and totally thrilled — at how many incredible places we’ve seen. And in the process of travel, we’ve been privileged to stay in some of the most jaw-dropping hotels in the world. That said, it takes kind of a lot to blow our minds these days.
Tuesday night (after a fatiguing day of travel that began in Nha Trang, then Saigon, Kuala Lampur, and finally Denpasar in Bali followed by a 90-minute airport transfer), we were introduced to the Viceroy Bali — and I was promptly rendered speechless. Read more…
Ho Chi Minh City might be described as an assault on the senses, a characteristic I do not mean as a negative judgement, because the city’s pervasive wafting smell of street pho and banh mi and its palpable energy is an incredible thrill. The constant honking of horns feels more januty lifestyle than indication of danger. And it’s relentless. And so alive.
To cross the street in Ho Chi Minh involves a leap of faith that flies in the face of that oft-repeated childhood teaching squarely built into the American lexicon, and also to the American understanding of personal welfare: “Look both ways before you cross.” Instead, you mustn’t look at all, but simply muster your confidence, from a deeply counterintuitive place, and step out into the undulating sea of motorbikes and cars as if in a high-stakes, real-world game of Frogger, without hesitation or show of fear. On our first night in town, each successful crossing felt like a triumph worthy of quiet celebration.
All of this is to say that the new An Lam Saigon River, a private residence turned lodging property comprised of 15 private villas, feels like the best kind of study in contrast just outside the madness.
Located just a 20-minute speedboat ride away from the well-traveled tourist sights of HCMC’s District 1, the property feels all retreat and serenity.
In the absence of a reception desk, each guest is assigned a personal on-call butler. Ours, Annie, was utterly gracious and perfectly attentive and present without a hint of overbearing. Sounds fancy, and totally was, but we did score a deal on the flash-sale site Vacationist.com that made it doable.
Our well-appointed and spacious villa had a private pool, but we preferred the common pool for its exposure to more sun. And indeed, “common” felt like a misnomer, given that we didn’t see more than four other guests anywhere on property during our two-day stay.
Vegetation hangs and vines daintily with impossible lushness throughout. We enjoyed a superlatively serene sunset from the alfresco lounge overlooking the flowing Saigon River, with its occasional lazy barge or boat floating past, and its steady stream of lush, unanchored greenery that meanders along with the current.
And so, it was when our speedboat whisked us so pleasantly along the water into the center of things that we truly appreciated the extent of the contrast. And of the value, and the privilege, of perspective for a life richly lived.
You and hubby are so good at getting away that I figured you would have a good tip on a romantic, chill, place where the two of us can go, sans baby, for one or maybe two nights while we are in Los Angeles. Any ideas?
[Pasadena-bred gal, now a resident of Zimbabwe on diplomatic business, so a bit out of practice with the local stuff (But Zimbabwe! How cool is that?!)]
Dear Pasadena Bred,
Oh my gosh, yay. Romance and vacations are two of my favorite things. I totally got this one. Here are three (of so very many wonderful) ideas for weekend trips within driving distance of Los Angeles: Read more…
There’s no place I’ve ever been that’s quite like Istanbul. It feels so very far away (in fact, it is very far away). The assault on all senses is so powerful and relentless, and Istanbul’s towering minarets and spice-filled bazaars are places I shall not soon forget. Especially not because our hall closet, where we stashed our souvenirs, shall probably forever smell like a potent mix of curry, cinnamon, and cumin.
Anyway, this post is to offer a review of an incredible place to stay while seeing the sites. The Neorion Hotel is a true gem of hospitality and comfort, all at a fine value (a bargain, even, you might say).
We checked in on my birthday and were greeted with a birthday cake complete with candles! I was so touched. Really made me feel special so far from home. And you know how you (I) get all sensitive on your (my) birthday if people don’t recognize with appropriate fanfare. Read more…
We visited Rio the last stop on our — completely kick-butt — South American vacation, which also included Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls. The Porto Bay Rio Internacional hotel is right off Copacabana beach and it towers over the city, which means the views are excellent. There’s also a pool on the rooftop, which is a nice escape from the busy (and exciting) beach below, where the hotel rents chairs and umbrellas free for the use of hotel guests. Read more…
For context, we visited Iguazu Falls as part of a three-leg trip that began with Buenos Aires, included the falls in the middle, and ended with Rio de Janeiro — a fabulous one-two-three punch I would recommend to anyone. We did the whole thing in eight nights (three-two-three) — the American way! — and didn’t feel rushed or tired.
When we pulled into Puerto Iguazu around midnight after our flight from Buenos Aires was delayed, we weren’t sure what to expect as far as the safety of the town. We would eventually learn it’s a quaint little place with kind people and even its own mini (but lively) restaurant row. That said, Puerto Iguazu is not fancy. For fancy, stay not at the Sheraton in the park on the Argentine side of the falls, but at the Hotel das Cataratas in the park on the Brazilian side, which looked lovely.
Anyway, for about $100 USD, we got a simple but clean room (much larger than the one we’d come from in Buenos Aires), and two daily breakfasts (also no frills, only pastries, cereal, coffee, juice). Read more…