The future of luxury hospitality in DTLA is looking up. Way up. To train one’s gaze on the recently opened, 1,100-high InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel is to see new architectural eminence in the skyline.
All that gleaming glass and steel. The sky lobby on the 70th floor. The three-story light sculpture. The hotel is the very definition of elevating.
Part of the billion-dollar Wilshire Grand Center, the InterContinental Hotels Group flagship is a dominant figure on the scene, not only for its height, but also its address: 900 Wilshire Blvd. in DTLA’s historic financial and arts district, just blocks from Staples Center and L.A. Live.
Heralding IHG’s expansion west, the hotel has manifestly arrived—in style, and with resolutely Southern California qualities (indoor/outdoor space, aesthetic nods to L.A.’s celebrated subcultures), a boatload of refinements and a cosmopolitan quotient in relationship to its stature.
One is immediately taken with the hotel’s flashy façade, but inside finds an elegant contemporary interior tempered with a tastemaker’s touch—that of AC Martin, the design architect, architect of record and interior designer of the Wilshire Grand Center who conceived a sophisticated design expression for the hotel’s lobbies, restaurants, fitness center and rooftop lounge.
Meanwhile, the hotel’s 95,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting, conference and event space (21,100 of which belong to the Grand Ballroom) is a credit to the design collaboration between Martin and interior design consultant Wilson Associates.
Bringing substance to style is the InterContinental’s 889 handsomely dressed guest rooms and suites that one bypasses en route to the sky lobby, which unfolds a whole new type of check-in and check-out scenario with a magnificent view. All 110 suites are particularly swanky, graced with glass and outfitted with comfortable living areas, entertainment systems, Le Labo amenities and panoramas of L.A. Most coveted of all quarters is the Presidential Suite, which, at 2,500 square feet, is double the size of the average bungalow and sports a laid-back lounge area with roomy dining room, an actual piano, kitchenette, walk-in closets and soaking tub.
Indulgent down to its dining, the InterContinental is upping the gourmet game too, presenting five different culinary experiences. The Lobby Lounge serves updated cocktail and cuisine classics and, at night, adds a dash of L.A. glam with a vodka bar. In a warm, chic setting, Sora turns out made-to-order omakase or fresh-cut sushi on a conveyor belt, along with imported Japanese whiskey. For all-day delicacies, Dekkadance is an interactive international marketplace concept with everything from Neapolitan pizzas to baked goods.
Upscale steakhouse La Boucherie, an American meets French cuisine restaurant, brings private dining booths to the table as well as a wine tunnel with 1,200 labels to pair with an internationally sourced selection of prime protein and seafood. Finally is Spire 73, the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. Its fire pits, fountains and novel cocktails complementing the cityscape all conspire to make this a truly lofty concept for a hotel that is equally so.
So long as sky’s the limit, it might as well be limitless, too.
Los Angeles Downtown
900 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90017
As the first condo tower to hit DTLA in almost a decade, the shiny-new, glass-cubed TEN50 is attracting the lion’s share of attention, with more than 50-percent of the boutique high-rise’s 151 residences snapped up since sales began last April. But there’s still a chance to secure a spot in the HansonLA-designed, 25-story showpiece in the heart of the South Park neighborhood, with the results of its second phase now available for purchase.
“TEN50 will provide a confluence of structure and imagination,” says Arden Hearing, managing director of Trumark Urban, the project’s developer. “The building’s stunning architecture meets the street with action and life, softens toward the top, and includes a bold and contemporary design along the corner of Grand Avenue and 11th Street.”
Living options include stylish one- and two-bedroom residences ranging from 679 to 1,380 square feet, along with one- and two-story penthouses from 1,117 to 3,575 square feet. Prices are from the low $600,000s to $7 million, with construction set for completion by late 2016.
Designed by Handel Architects, TEN50’s classic and contemporary interiors boast a rich color palette and high-quality materials. Expect kitchens with Domus cabinetry, quartz countertops and backsplashes, and appliances by Bertazzoni, Liebherr and Bosch, along with bathrooms sporting porcelain tile, quartz vanities, Italian cabinetry, Hansgrohe fixtures and inviting walk-in showers.
Exemplary amenities complete the allure here. Homeowners are privy to the epicenter of the city, with The Broad museum, Staples Center, L.A. Live, Whole Foods Market, and numerous world-class restaurants and boutiques just steps away. An Apple flagship store also is expected to open soon.
Then there are all of the comfort creatures at home base. TEN50 features the country’s first drone-delivery-ready landing pad, along with “The Fifty”— an approximately 13,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor lounge complete with a pool, yoga garden, and dining areas with grills and fireplaces. Other offerings include a private screening room, conference center, fitness studio and spa.
“TEN50 will stand in a class of its own with a curated collection of amenities that promote overall wellness and a variety of communal spaces that bring neighbors together,” says Hearing. Definitely a ten-fold increase when it comes to luxurious urban retreats, wouldn’t you say?
1057 S. Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015 | 213.861.1050 | ten50.la
Written by Michelle Lyn | Photos Courtesy of Casa San Augustin, St. Dom and Michelle Lyn
Nestled on the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena de Indias, as it is formally known, is a South American gem that still remains a mystery to many Americans today. Emerging from the shadows of a less than desirable reputation, its home country of Colombia is now safer than ever to visit. The added bonus of a strong U.S. dollar makes this the perfect time to head south and indulge in the beauty of Cartagena.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the city’s historic ports, monuments and extensive fortifications, the best way to get your bearings in Cartagena is a guided tour through an operator like Guianza Express. One of the company’s most affable guides is Walter, who shares the history of the coastal city with visitors to acquaint them with notable sights, like the Cathedral of Cartagena, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, Iglesia de la Trinidad in Getsemaní and La Popa Monastery, situated atop the highest point in Cartagena that affords a sprawling view of the city down below.
The ideal base while exploring Cartagena is Casa San Agustin, a chic boutique hotel located in the heart of the city’s historic center. The swanky property is comprised of 30 rooms and suites—some with private plunge pools—that provide guests with modern, luxurious amenities and a complementary dose of Caribbean design.
Stylishly juxtaposing old and new, Casa San Agustin consists of three Colonial-era white-washed buildings, their architecture reminiscent of the city’s rich history as a 17th-century Spanish stronghold. Original frescoes and centuries-old wood-beamed ceilings in guest rooms complement ironwork beds, chandeliers and sconces specially commissioned by local artists to create a residential feel.
The property’s idyllic location allows you to set out on foot to explore Cartagena’s historic center, a vibrant walled city, complete with cobblestoned streets, horse-drawn carriages and pops of color in every direction.
A delightful way to kick-off your stay in Cartagena is with a rooftop drink at Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa. Order a limonada de coco—a national drink akin to a light, refreshing piña colada, but with coconut instead of pineapple—and take in the scenic view of Bocagrande and the Cartagena coastline.
Then, meander through Cartagena’s historic center, following your sense of smell to El Pandequeso, a bakery with lines out the door, where you can indulge in freshly baked, decadent pastries that are often filled with jam and mozzarella.
An exceptional spot for lunch is El Boliche Cebicheria, a tiny ceviche and seafood restaurant owned by a lovely young couple, Oscar Colmenares and Viviana Díaz. Located on one of the most picturesque streets in Cartagena, this is the place for a first-ever ceviche experience. The roasted sea bass with fried coconut rice also leaves such an impression, you might just find yourself imploring Viviana to share the recipe.
While away the afternoon shopping at local favorites St. Dom, a fashion, art and design house; Ábaco Libros y Café, a cozy nook for perusing art and books by the aromatic coffee bar; and Casa Chiqui, popular for home decor. A visit to Las Bóvedas, a vibrant yellow structure originally built as storage vaults for the military, is requisite. Eventually turned into jail cells in the 19th century, the structure is now a popular shopping stop, as the old cells house shops and boutiques with a wide array of Colombian art, jewelry and clothing.
Afternoon treats abound at sites like Gelateria Paradiso, Ciocolatto Pop-Bar and Se Volvió Prisprí. If a sunset cocktail sounds better, head to Café del Mar, a bar atop the historic center’s wall. Endless sea views provide the best spot for a sundowner, if you don’t mind rubbing elbows with other tourists.
A more laid-back option is El Baluarte Tasca-Bar, also atop the wall, but opposite Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa. Lounge music and candles set the scene as you relax and cocktail your way through the evening.
The only problem with the dining scene in Cartagena is the abundance of outstanding options. Alma, the restaurant located in Casa San Agustin, is an excellent choice with a warm staff. Handcrafted cocktails served in the courtyard, with live music and a three-course prix fixe menu for $25 USD might very well make it the best deal in town. Sister restaurants María and Restaurante Donjuán are next door to one another, with both offering a contemporary dining experience. The lighter menu is at María, and though Donjuán is naturally heavy on seafood, it also prepares dishes like Oxtail Stew as well.
For a more authentic Colombian experience, head to Candé, a concept that boasts its food is 100-percent Cartagena. Here, dancers weave in and out of tables in the cozy space during a nightly live show. Whether you’re able to spend a long weekend or an extended visit, Cartagena is sure to become a destination that captivates you from morning until night, leaving you wanting more.
Written by Jenn Thornton | Photos Courtesy of the Biltmore Company
Asheville, North Carolina, has always had its charms, enough to beckon aVanderbilt. When George Vanderbilt, a dandy of his day with bloodlines to industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt, discovered therugged beauty of its rambling outskirts, he purchased 125,000 acres of land and put upon it a grandiose French Renaissance chateau graced with gardens and farmland galore. When the grand-dame opened on Christmas Eve of 1895, she revealed herself a marvel—a symbol of terrific ambition, combined talents and exceedingly deep pockets.
The 250-room manse, which its owner dubbed his “little cabin in the woods,” isa reflection of Vanderbilt bravura—the largest private home in America designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, with grounds by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame. When finished, Biltmore House, with its bachelors’ wing befitting the needs of a proper hunting party, was where George Vanderbilt assumed the role of courtly country gentleman.
As a theater for Vanderbilt and his guests to flit about in all their Gilded Age glory, Biltmore House parades a full array of finery fit for a tycoon, from the glass-roofed Winter Garden to the gleaming oak Billiard Room. As a kind of castle in miniature, the house’s statuesque Banquet Hall soars with a seven-story ceiling that surveys a vast table and Flemish tapestries. The Music Room sings with true rarities; porcelain figurines and candlesticks made for Austrian Habsburg empresses. The elongated Tapestry Gallery displays a priceless portrait by John Singer Sargent, and the library introduces George Vanderbilt as a bibliophile fixed on Dickens. Here, along with nearly half of the master’s mammoth book collection is a fresco of The Chariot of Aurora, by Italian artist Giovanni Pellegrini, originally painted for the Pisani Palace in Venice.
While sumptuous suites and living spaces for the Vanderbilt family and guests swallow the second and third floors, respectively, the basement level is an homage to progress, with all that money could buy, including a colossal 70,000-gallon heated indoor pool with underwater lighting, a gymnasium with early forerunners to massage showers, and a bowling alley. Also lurking on this level is the artery of house operations—the servants’ domain. Technologically advanced for its era, this Downton Abbey double boasts a warren of spartan yet surprisingly cozy servant quarters that mark a step up in what was typical for those in service at the time. Several kitchens, a pantry with manual and electric dumbwaiters, and an expansive laundry room with adjacent drying room are also here. The dining area is robustly dimensioned, and the service entrance recalls provisions of epic proportions, from steamer trunks to 30-dozen eggs a week.
But it’s the gardens that give Biltmore House her famed flourish. Along with a snarl of outstretched trees buttressing bold blooms are age-old roots festooning columns and spidering up walls. Saunter these glorious, well cultivated grounds and beauty nesting in rich, well-tended earth abounds. The contrast between this lush setting and the imposing stone of Biltmore House makes the scene truly something to behold, particularly each spring, when more than two miles of pathways avail verdant forests, serene meadows and separate gardens dedicated to roses, shrubs, azaleas and more. As the showpiece, the conservatory cultivates exotic ferns, palms and orchids beneath its arresting glass roof.
Remarkably, given its magnitude, Biltmore House remained without a mistress until 1898, when George Vanderbilt married socialite Edith Stuyvesant Dresser. Admired for her countenance and cultivated ways, it was Edith who agreed to have the house safeguard a number of artistic riches from the National Gallery of Art at the behest of its director David Finley during World War II. (A former guest of Biltmore, Mr. Finley, fearing reports of German submarine activity along the Atlantic Coast, had been impressed with the home’s fireproof features.) But it was Edith and George’s only child, Cornelia, who played perhaps the most significant role in the future of Biltmore House, spearheading its public opening in 1930, en route to earning National Historic Landmark recognition in 1963.
Today, Biltmore House retains her title as a true American treasure.
Spring arrives with immense floral displays, featuring nearly 100,000 tulips, celebrating the legacy of the estate’s master horticultural planner Frederick Law Olmsted. Biltmore restaurants will feature special menu items, with the Winery offering wine seminars. March 19-May 26
Flowers to Wear: A Boutonniere & Corsage Bar
The Inn invites guests to watch or participate as a resident Biltmore floral design expert teaches a how-to in creating wearable flower creations. March 26, May 7, June 18
Easter Egg Hunt
The Easter Rabbit makes his annual appearance on Biltmore’s Front Lawn on Easter Sunday. Grand Easter Egg Hunts at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Children ages 2 to 9 attend the hunt for free when accompanied by an estate pass holder or a ticketed adult. March 27
Grape Stomp in Antler Hill Village
Adults and kids alike are invited to take part in this ancient maceration practice, long an important part of winemaking. A grape stomp souvenir commemorating the experience will be provided. Complimentary, no reservation required. Weekends May 14–Sept. 25
One Lodge Street
Asheville, North Carolina
Written by Michelle Lyn (Borough Market)| Photography courtesy of restaurants
Build an appetite, fill your pockets with pounds, and head to Borough Market for incredible eating and drinking in London’s most renowned open-air market, a treat for all the senses. Dating to the 13th century, Borough Market was shut down by Parliament in 1755, but a band of locals pitched in to bring it back to life the next year, and it has been a gourmand’s delight ever since. Countless stalls of cheese, honey, produce, chocolate and more can easily overwhelm, so come hungry and take advantage of all the samples. Must visit stall: Alsop & Walker cheese stall for their award-winning Mayfield semi-hard cheese with a creamy, sweet, nutty flavor BoroughMarket.org.uk
In the heart of fashionable Belgravia, The Goring is a quintessentially English luxury hotel that has been owned by the Goring family since 1910. Known for the best Afternoon Tea in town, this much-loved English tradition is served in multiple dining locations and, weather permitting, al fresco on The Veranda. Indulge in delicate pastries, scones and sandwiches served with the finest blended and first-flush teas from around the world—topped off with a glass of Bollinger Rosé Champagne and hand-picked strawberries while overlooking the bucolic gardens.
Tea service of choice: Bollinger Rosé Afternoon TeaeGoring.com
London’s cultural diversity shines through at this rooftop restaurant situated atop the Heron Tower in the financial district. A sexy sky bar where Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine come together 38 floors up, SUSHISAMBA boasts the highest outdoor dining terrace in Europe, with 360 degree views of London.
The dining room is encased in floor-to-ceiling windows, with strings of incandescent lights hanging at varying heights from an open bamboo ceiling. Views are impressive day or night, but sunset is not to be missed.
The music is loud and the food is delicious, making SUSHISAMBA an excellent choice for a night on the town.Dish to try: Yellowtail Taquitos SushiSamba.com
Known for art galleries and trendy cocktail bars, Fitzrovia is home to The London EDITION hotel, which hosts Berners Tavern, a glamorous art-deco space with vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling framed artwork. The opulent space was designed by Ian Schrager, and is perfectly complemented by the decadent food of Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, who cut his teeth under great chefs like Ferran Adrià and Gordon Ramsay.
The expansive dining room, with its ornate plasterwork ceiling, low, ambient lighting and vibrant bar area, make for a sultry date night. Must try dish: Chargrilled Chicken Paillard drenched in garlic chorizo butter and served with manchego and piquillo pepper BernersTavern.com
The walls of the Gallery are adorned almost edge-to-edge with strange, funny and often satirical child-like drawings. Food can be seasoned with shakers, including “dirt” (pepper), “dust” (salt) or “nothing” (true to its label, it contains nothing).
Although the dining room is pink and playful, the menu is not to be dismissed. Drawing on influences from Japan, Italy, Spain and Britain, dishes, like Escargots Persillade with cauliflower cream and black garlic, are all underpinned by French cuisine and leave guests wanting more.
Save room for dessert: Sketch Chocolat consists of a Guanaja biscuit served with crushed black currants and crunchy chocolate paper Sketch.London
Spend a long weekend indulging in fine wine, cheese and strolls along the Seine in the City of Light
Written by Michelle Lyn
Photography by Michelle Lyn and courtesy of Hôtel Plaza Athénée
There’s a reason why artists and writers have flocked to Paris to find inspiration for hundreds of years. The regal architecture, the rich tapestry of art blanketing the metropolis, the sense of grandeur and history that envelopes the entire city, and least not, the enviable culture revolving around food, wine and romance.
If on a first visit to Paris, visiting certain sights is requisite: the Eiffel Tower; museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay; the Palace of Versailles; the Avenue des Champs-Élysées; and Notre Dame. On subsequent visits, divert from the guidebook and, with an elementary grasp of the metro system, allow yourself to simply wander through the arrondissements (the 20 districts that collectively make up the city of Paris).
The Seine River, which cuts through the heart of Paris, serves as both a compass when navigating the streets and the most serene place to walk and take in the splendor of the city. The boquinistes—booksellers who line the banks of the river— hawk antique books, artwork and postcards, perfect for those wishing to bring home something authentically Parisian.
Cafes, also lining the river, are ideal spots for people watching and letting creativity percolate while pondering one’s own destiny. It isn’t hard to fall in love with Paris.
Here, a long weekend worth of reasons why.
The best way to arrive fresh for a long weekend in Paris is to take a red eye, flying in style—United Airlines’ Business First Class has flat beds and down comforters that will make you feel like you’ve woken up at a five-star hotel.
Live like a Parisian for a few days and rent a luxury apartment from A la Carte Paris. The outfit will pick you up at the airport, and then whisk you away to an elegantly restored hideaway in a desirable location.
Spend your morning perusing the local markets of Montmartre with a private chef from Cook’n with Class. Learn the nuances between French cheeses, breads and wines and fill a shopping cart with seasonal provisions that you will prepare together for a four-course meal.
Walk off lunch with a stroll along the Seine and dip into Saint-Germain-des-Prés’ Rue de Buci in the 6th arrondissement. The pedestrian-only street and alleyways are full of flower shops, chocolatiers and brasseries, perfect for an afternoon pint or glass of wine.
While further exploring the 6th, get lost in the labyrinthian Flamant, Paris’ version of Restoration Hardware, where you can find something unique for nearly every room in your house. Exit out of Flamant’s back door and onto a quiet street that leads to La Maison du Chou, a tiny pâtisserie that makes light-as-air cream puffs, filled to order with decadent fillings like salted caramel crème fraîche.
Continue your journey by exploring the Latin Quarter, winding through streets where maîtres d’s competitively try to lure you in for dinner. End the night with a nightcap at cozy jazz club Le Caveau de la Huchette.
After such a full day, sleep in a bit and then rub elbows with locals over a traditional petit déjeuner at Bar du Central, in the non-touristy 7th arrondissement.
Dedicate the day to shopping at the world’s first department store, Le Bon Marché, on the corner of rue du Bac and rue de Sèvres Le Bon Marché. The store, along with its culinary counterpart, La Grande Epicerie de Paris, are the cornerstones of shopping on La Rive Gauche, or The Left Bank.
Once you’ve bought more than you’d like to carry, seek out the Jardin des Tuileries and rest your weary legs with a picnic—or a nap—in the garden. One of the most expansive public gardens in Paris, it has been a special place for Parisians to celebrate, meet, stroll and relax for centuries.
Then, treat yourself to a Michelin-starred evening of indulgence at one of Alain Ducasse’s restaurants. At the newly refurbished Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée is a dazzling space, dripping with crystal chandeliers, serving contemporary French cuisine at its very best. Select delicate items like Refreshed Brittany Langoustines with Golden Caviar or Contentin Blue Lobster with Sea Potatoes and Homardine Sauce. At Le Jules Verne, snag a coveted seat overlooking Paris from the center of the Eiffel Tower.
Retire to Ô Chateau, Paris’ largest wine bar that offers 40 rotating unique French wines by the glass—it’s so unique that they don’t even share their wine list online. Test your wine knowledge with owner Olivier Magny in the underground wine cave.
Sundays are quiet in Paris, as many shops and restaurants are closed. The artsy Marais, however, is an exception. Sink into an armchair at Le Café Livres, while surrounded by shelves of books and enjoy a three-course brunch among the locals.
Venture out and explore the eclectic shops, and don’t be surprised if an impromptu costume parade stops you in your tracks. The Marais is full of artists, after all.
Leave the afternoon open for a few hours of relaxation at a world-class spa. The renowned Dior Institute at Hôtel Plaza Athénée touts a two-hour Dior Escape that is guaranteed to melt away your tensions. The spa at the Four Seasons Hotel George V features A Stroll Through Versailles massage—or, two-and-a-half hours of orange blossom scented indulgence.
Finally, cap off your weekend in true Parisian style with dinner at Le Violon d’Ingres, sampling some of their cult dishes like Foie Gras Seared Duck or Farmer Pigeon with Fondant Garlic Cloves for a classic French culinary experience.
All suggestions of course, but the reality is, every corner and alley in Paris surprises, and offers a treat for all the senses.
Brasserie in Saint-Germain-des-Prés (outdoor eating)
Dining room at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (silver booths)
Cheese lesson at Cook’n with Class (cheese spread)
Bar du Central
La Maison du Chou (creme puffs)
Slow breathing and deep stretching make for a mindful break from today’s busy world
Written By Constance Dunn
Illustration by Jay Brockman
Sunday evening yoga class at Harmony Yoga begins with a brief meditation, something calm to still pacing minds while setting up the next 90 minutes as a mini-retreat for weary bodies in need of a boost. What follows is a leisurely series of stretches, many seated and some held for five minutes—enough time to lengthen connective tissue and feel the body unfurl from a week spent hunched over a computer or a steering wheel.
Yin Yoga is a daydream of a class that’s ideal for those recuperating from illness or injury—or unaccustomed to the rigors of power yoga. Yet there’s plenty of benefit for athletic types keen to show their hamstrings some love in the form of the Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) or Pigeon Pose, which opens hard-to-reach hip flexor and rotator muscles, where resentment and other ill feelings tend to harbor. Class instructor Kitty Adams guides the group to breathe in deeply, and with the whoosh of an exhale, wipe their slates clean.
Yin Yoga Class
Sundays, 6:00-7:30 pm
901A N Pacific Coast Hwy, Suite #100
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Steeped in culture and class, Santa Fe promises Southwest sojourners a sophisticated weekend away.
By Jenn Thornton
Best Accommodations Ideally situated mere blocks from Santa Fe’s buzzing central Plaza, the Fairmont Heritage Place, El Corazon de Santa Fe, is home away from home with a collection of Southwest-style residences offering hotel services, from an accessible concierge to a fitness center to easy parking. Residences sport generous gourmet kitchens, sizeable master suites with sumptuous beds, kiva fireplaces and bathrooms that could moonlight as spas.
Best Cuisine Perched on the Plaza, all-day eatery Café Pasqual’s packs in patrons for all three mealtimes, but breakfast is most appetizing. Although not on the menu, Chorizo and eggs with green chile sauce is worth requesting. The pancakes, meanwhile, are too delicious to believe. For fast-casual fare, breeze in local favorite Tia Sophia’s for a breakfast burrito that will sustain you all day. Follow the lunch set to The Teahouse for a surprisingly good BLT and freshly made Strawberry Shortcake (one dessert is enough for two), along with about a million different teas. As for the abundant fine dining in town, many guidebooks crown Geronimo as the venue of choice, and while definitely a Santa Fe institution, much like The Pink Adobe and its legendary Steak Dunigan, local foodies favor The Compound (skip the wine list, savor the champagne) and The Shed—both James Beard Award winners. When it comes times for cocktails, the swoony La Fonda hotel stirs interest with its atmosphere, but carefree Cowgirl mixes a most delicious Mezcal margarita.
Best Culture As an arts mecca, Santa Fe sanctions creatives of all stripes. Nowhere is this more apparent than Canyon Road, which paints the town with a half-mile of galleries galore. Of these, top honors go to Morning Star Gallery—a masterfully curated repository of Native American artifacts and turquoise trinkets. For ultra-contemporary works, the Railyard makes the move toward modern. In the astoundingly rich museum category, the undisputed headliner is the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe’s high priestess of New Mexico Modernism, while the Palace of the Governors curates a maze of relics in a stunning example of 17th-century adobe architecture. Live performance hits a high note with Santa Fe’s world-renowned opera, which stages La Scala-caliber productions in an equally epic, open-air venue. And, in celebration of the city’s literary tradition, independent bookstores abound, like Collected Works, rife with local literature, and Downtown Subscription, with a sea of periodicals and the best espresso in town.
Best Shopping The heart of Santa Fe is its bustling central Plaza—and everything, from haute-off-the-catwalk boutiques to custom boots and luxury leather goods, is here. Elsewhere, Double Take takes fine consign to the next level with vintage looks and high-end Western boots. The galleries, eateries and boutiques along Canyon Road can always be counted on for luxury wares, while taking the scenic High Road to Taos—Santa Fe’s rebel cousin just under an hour away—produces a slew of beautifully-rendered, locally-made finds in small interesting shops.
The Peninsula Beverly Hills paints the town—with artist Alexandre Renoir.
WRITTEN BY JENN THORNTON
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE PENINSULA BEVERLY HILLS
It’s not every day that an opportunity to take a private art lesson from an instructor with bona fide bloodlines to famed French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir presents itself. Then again, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, which dreamed up this very scenario for the Peninsula Academy—its experiential collection of curated excursions—is not exactly in the business of the “everyday.”
Dubbed “An Afternoon with Renoir in Beverly Hills: An Artful Immersion,” this crown jewel of Academy offerings features artist Alexandre Renoir, of the Renoirs, one of the most celebrated clans in all of France. As great-grandson of an art-world master, the contemporary Renoir is a master-in-the-making, having been born into the family business (film auteur Jean Renoir is also a relative), but not trading on its name to make his way. Now, through the Peninsula Academy experience he currently fronts, Renoir reveals his artistic side to the aspirational few.
The immersion begins at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, where the hotel’s luxury car collects, then chauffeurs, guests to Ace Gallery for a private tour before the group saunters a short block to Revolver for another. From there, it’s off to Galerie Michael on Rodeo Drive, where Renoir shows his work in the gallery, then applies his savoir-faire to a discussion of painting and drawing basics.
“In an art lesson with me, the number-one thing to take away is fun,” says Renoir, remarking on his instructional style. “It’s more about exploring what piques your interest and how to convey that onto a canvas than it is about how well a guest takes instruction.” The aim, he says, is to “coax out” creativity and artistic ability already present. Then, it’s back to the Peninsula for Afternoon Tea with Renoir in The Living Room, which stirs conversation about art and the artist’s famous forebears.
Overall, “What I hope guests take away from an experience like this is that art, for all of its antiquity and noble expression, is still something that comes from within,” Renoir offers. “That it’s something that stems from life and from people… everyone with a creative spark has an expression to make.”
To art lovers innately curious but inevitably intimidated about expanding their artistic horizons in the presence of an instructor with the last name Renoir, he recommends taking the “do it for yourself” approach, citing the once criticized now highly celebrated van Gogh as an example of gumption leading to glory. “Just to be a little cliché—even a journey of 1000 miles starts with one step,” reminds Renoir. A good lesson, indeed.
$12,000 per person, BeverlyHills.Peninsula.com
Written by Jenn Thornton
Spa Photography Courtesy of Cesar Rubio
Farmhouse General Photography Courtesy of Farmhouse Inn
With deep roots in Sonoma County, the woodsy, award-winning Farmhouse Inn sits on six acres of storybook surrounds. Emerging this spring from an $8 million property-wide expansion and redesign, stewarded by sibling owners Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, in partnership with SB Architects, Myra Hoefer Design and Valley Crest Landscape, the jewel of the Russian River Valley is now absolutely glistening.
A product of its wine-country wilds, Farmhouse’s new look befits the world-class roost with a 15-year reign as one of the finest offerings in the realm of luxury boutique hotels. Doling out farm-to-table hospitality long before there was the term, the Farmhouse’s modern pastoral approach to its overhaul has introduced a slew of new extravagances, including nine top-grade accommodations, a sumptuous spa, verdant gardens and a refreshed pool area.
Pervading all is a sense of casual elegance and warmth. To this end, Catherine Bartolomei says, “Hospitality at Farmhouse is all about making guests into friends, and introducing them to our fabulous wine country lifestyle. Our hope is that they leave feeling connected, relaxed and longing to come back.” She, of course, never really left; the inheritance that Catherine and brother Joe now oversee has been in their family for more than a century. Thus, at the insistence of its fifth-generation farmers, winery and vineyard owners, Farmhouse emphasizes absolute sincerity—from gracious service to spoils in short order.
And do the “spoils” ever abound. In the culinary category, it starts with a decadent two-course, artisan country breakfast; moves to the Michelin-starred Farmhouse Restaurant, where Executive Chef Steve Litke churns out organic, sustainable, regionally influenced fare; and culminates in a sommelier-led wine and beverage program by estate Wine Director Allyson Gorsuch.
Beginning its own indulgent run is the Spa at Farmhouse Inn, a “farm-to-table” concept under the direction of internationally regarded spa consultants, Francis & Alexander, and a kind of 21st century homage to the site’s original 19th century barn. Melding simplicity with texture (rich woods, flashes of white, industrial touches), the spa oozes purity, right down to the double barn doors and open-air ceilings. Likewise, treatments, from massages to facials to aromatherapy, offer a similar air of naturalness, furthered by the presence of handmade artisan products and garden-fresh ingredients.
Bridging old and new elsewhere, farm hand housing of an earlier era is now cottage-style guest rooms constructed in historic style. These sophisticated examples of contemporary architecture and easy style offer earthy, unhurried allure. Featured are hand-woven textiles and country-soft trimmings; bathrooms awash in Italian marble gleaming alongside weathered wood; and a sea of glass luring in the lushness beyond.
Coinciding with the refreshed Farmhouse—and celebrating its official grand opening—
is the Spring into Sonoma package, which extends stays with a complimentary third evening. Those on a Monday through Thursday schedule will also receive a $160 spa credit or wine-country picnic with a bottle of wine. (Offer valid through May 31.) FarmhouseInn.com
Catherine Bartolomei shares her ideal day in Sonoma County.
9 a.m. Espresso at Taylor Maid Coffee, Sebastopol
“A little pick me up before I start my day at the hippest spot in the Russian River Valley is always welcome—The Barlow is Sonoma County’s newest walk-around outdoor market, featuring local wineries, breweries, restaurants, artisans and more. The coffee drinks at Taylor Maid are so good we use their coffee in the restaurant.”
10:30 a.m. Light hike at Armstrong Redwoods, Guerneville
“I love to stretch my legs at one of Sonoma County’s most beautiful parks. This old-growth redwood forest is 15 minutes from the Farmhouse Inn and has many hiking trails for trekkers of all levels.”
11:30 a.m. Terrace Tasting at Gary Farrell Winery, Healdsburg
“This Russian River gem sits on top of a ridge overlooking much of the western edge of the valley. Enjoy winemaker Theresa Heredia’s fantastic chardonnays and pinot noirs while enjoying the views. I always ask for a cheese plate!”
1:00 p.m. Hang out by the Farmhouse pool
“Pool time epitomizes everything I love about going on vacation—sunshine, water, relaxation and indulgence. Ask our team for a poolside menu; you’ll enjoy delectable snacks from our estate chef… and a selection of wines by the glass.”
2:30 p.m. Experience the Spa at Farmhouse
“I can’t pass up a spa any time I travel. I love our new spa, particularly our indoor-outdoor treatments. My new favorite may be the Roll in the Hay—
it’s seasonal, but certainly one to try this spring.”
5:00 p.m. Silver Service pickup at Farmhouse
“A personal car service is oh-so decadent, and I highly recommend it. Our team of concierges has found the best services in the area, and they regularly work with Silver Service. Arrive in style in their Mercedes S-class.”
5:30 p.m. Drinks at Spoonbar in the H2 Hotel, Healdsburg
“This trendy bar is well-known for their tasty cocktails and hip bar scene. I love a good old-fashioned martini, but you’ll find their custom cocktails eye-opening.”
6:30 p.m. Stroll Healdsburg Square, Healdsburg
“Downtown Healdsburg went through a major change about a decade ago—some major sprucing up, the introduction of new restaurants and shops, and a revitalization of the green have all made this a must see on any visit to Sonoma County.”
7:00 p.m. Dinner at SCOPA, Healdsburg
“Probably the most popular restaurant among locals and visitors alike, SCOPA is a fantastic Italian eatery right on Healdsburg square. Small and narrow, you get to know your neighbor as you enjoy arrancini and Nona’s chicken (one of my favorite dishes of all time!).”
9:00 p.m. Nightcap at Bergamot Alley, Healdsburg
“This hole-in-the-wall is hard to find, so ask a local. Their list of esoteric wines attracts all kinds of wine industry folks. Enjoy a glass of bubbles while listening to classic records on vinyl.”