Roman Beat

I returned from Italy last Monday. To my surprise I was still charmed with Rome- the narrow cobblestone streets, plaster walls, the many piazzas, the Roman ruins, the varied architecture and bohemian order.  I adored returning to the Pantheon and its perfectly constructed rotunda; biking through the Borghese Gardens; exploring the MAXXI museum, and walking for hours and then more. And of course the food- Roman artichokes; sea bass crudo with fresh peaches and toasted pine nuts; hazelnut & pistachio gelato! 

After a few days in Rome I spent a week in southern Tuscany visiting dear friends who had rented a home in Capalbio- a small rural town northwest of Rome, not far from the beach. The house itself was stunning and I am officially obsessed with Venetian plaster instead of marble tile in my shower!! We ventured to the nearby Grosseto and then onto Siena to have a late lunch on the Piazza del Campo. Siena had just celebrated their Palio horse race two days before- so the fan shaped piazza was still packed with dirt covering the brick and cobble stone surface beneath. After a few Aperol spritz's we loaded our brains with some Sienese history and nuances of their black and white striped marble cathedral.  

I filled my days sleeping late, morning cappuccinos overlooking the countryside, attempting to make fig jam from the fresh figs trees on the property, late lunches with a variety of cured meats, salads & wine, daily swims in an infinity pool overlooking the sea and sundowners under pink and purple skies. The best of all- spending time with my adorable, energetic and inquisitive godson all the while being surrounded by my loving friends and their adoring families.  

Aside from being on vacation, I can't help but ease into the pace of life there, as if I had always been there. It's the pace of life, the colors, the sunshine, the food, the charm, the warm days and nights and all its beauty that resonate with me.  What I once mistook as a feeling of a past life is more about having found a place where my own natural rhythm is perfectly in sync with this country's natural rhythm.  As I am tuning more and more into the energetic flow of homes and the items we fill them with, I am becoming more aware of the larger macro energy of cities & countries and how everything has it's own unique beat.  

Parisian Heatwave

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of venturing to Paris for a few days. In spite of the heatwave and temperatures well into the high 90's, I still enjoyed my time there!

Palais de Tokyo
At the Palais de Tokyo I explored Celeste Boursier-Mougenot's Acquaalta which is running until mid September. Patrons row individual flat bottom boats over 3' of water into darkness while melancholic music plays in the background, evoking Venetian floods. While I would have preferred more upbeat classical music, it still had a very strong affect on me and was roused at the mere execution.
 
Monsieur Bleu
I stumbled upon this restaurant at the back side of the Palais de Tokyo. It is hands down one of the most beautifully designed spaces. The color palette, mix of materials and scale succinctly spoke to one another. I adored the vertical plaster relief walls, simple vertical sconces and brass clad vestibules. Joseph Dirand designed the space- genius and gets five stars in my book!

Palais Galliera
At the recommendation of my friend Alex Winokur, a fashion executive, I went to see the Lanvin Exhibition and it was well worth it! I was mesmerized at Jeanne Lanvin's use of color, materials and lines.  Each dress and coat was impeccably designed, one more beautiful than the next. Sadly no photographs are allowed but trust me, if you have the time, go!

Le Richer
My Parisian friend informed me that restaurants are legally only allowed to lower the temperature by 10 degrees from the exterior temperature. I felt like I was sitting in a sauna, but fully clothed. This led me to blow out the candle at our table, much to the chagrin of our waiter! Litmus test: if one can appreciate a meal while sitting in their own sweat, this restaurant must be doing something right.  

My Bags Are Packed

If I had to insist on one thing for traveling it would be a 4-wheel suitcase. Still in awe that it took designers and consumers so long to figure out four wheels were better than two! I always carry a scarf to keep me warm when they jack-up the AC and find it comes in handy to wrap around my head when I am snoozing- a disguise so no one can see me drooling!

Summer Travel

While I love to travel, I have found planning it on my own can be quite time consuming. I wanted to share a few of my favorite travel agencies, advisors and internet sites that have been useful in making the planning process more expeditious, seamless and enjoyable.

For Luxury Travel

Smart Flyer is a global luxury travel firm that focuses on both corporate and leisure travel. Their clients range from A-List celebrities to business executives and families. I was introduced to Susan Duffy, their head point of contact in charge of client development, through a dear friend while skiing in Colorado this spring. Once I met her I was sold on SmartFlyer. They were recently named one of the World's Top Travel Agent's by Travel + Leisure. I find there is great value in being able to put my trust in someone who is adept at getting what I want while at the same time offering reasonable, if not bargain prices. Smart Flyer has a stock pile of great relationships with some of the top hotels so they get their clients the same, if not better, discounted rates. They are an amazing company- the one we all want o have in our rolodex. Contact, Susan Duffy who can guide you through the process.  Susan@smartflyer.com

For US Travel 

I met Elan & Norman, two of the founders of Excursionist, 4 years ago on a puddle jumper flight to Siem Reap to see the various Khmer Empire temples including Angkor Wat. They were in the process of launching their company while doing field work in South East Asia. Excursionist works with travel agencies, advising them on trips filled with great hotels, tour guides, cooking classes and access to some of the top restaurants world wide. Last June they helped organize my trip to Spain which was fantastic. Right now they are focusing on US travel, bringing their attuned eye to American soil.

For Active Travel

I took one of Erica’s Escape To Shape retreats a few years ago, which was paired with one of my favorite work-outs, SLT. It was a weekend at The Surf Lodge in Montauk. Erica not only offers great work-outs in stunning, often exotic, locations, but she also brings in her own chef so the food is always delicious and nutritious. 

Additional Tips

Tablet has some of the best listings for boutique hotels which is always my preference over staying at larger hotels. I like to cross reference the hotels on Tablet with TripAdvisor to make sure that the often staged hotel photos are on par with snapshots taken by recent travelers.

 

Casa Magna, Tulum

I ventured back to Tulum, Mexico in late January with some friends and stumbled upon this little hotel while walking on the beach. Back in the day it was Pablo Escobar's villa.  Casa Magna is the prefect get-away hotel, fabulous to host a party with friends or even an intimate wedding. The new owners have done an amazing job sprucing up the place with their bohemian yet sophisticated decor.  They do not have a website up yet, but check them out here. The photos don't do it justice.  Note: Amasala's Melissa Perlman had originally renovated the villa so don't be fooled by the old website which is still up on Google.  

Casa Magna Tulum
Casa Magna
Casa Magna, Tulum Mexico

While I was content to sit on the beach reading, my friends Sarah & Taylor were venturing about Tulum.  Thanks to their curiosity, they showed me the best of Tulum.

  DINING OUT

  • Pre-dinner drinks at Casa Jaguar- try their house mezcal served with an orange wedge, or their tamarind margaritas which have a perfect tangy sweetness. 
  • Dine at Hartwoodowned by former chef from Vinegar Hill in Brooklyn, who recently opened a new restaurant in the meatpacking, Heartwood
  • For a refreshing fresh pressed green juice served in a glass milk bottle head to Pousada Margarita.  While their food is overpriced their antipasto of pickled cauliflower, olives, almonds and focaccia is a nice accompaniment.
  • For great local cuisine, head into town to Loncheria el Aguacate a few blocks off the main drag in Tulum.  If you have any dietary restrictions, the owner/chef will make you anything you want.  He's friendly and boisterous and looks like he should be in one of Fernando Botero's paintings.  
  • For late night cheap, tacos at Antojitos La Chiapaneca.
  • If you can't get to Tulum anytime soon, head to Narcissa for their awesome tequila cocktail appropriately named Fly Me To Tulum.

 RETAIL THERAPY

 MOVING ABOUT

  • Work up a sweat Sunday nights at Le Zebra with salsa dancing on the beach.  
  • Rent bikes and head down the dirt road marred with potholes toward the biosphere.  After a few miles there will be a parking lot on the right- follow the walking path which will lead you to the most tranquil thatched roof pergola overlooking the bayside of the biosphere (see below).  A little heaven on earth.  If you're hungry or thirsty there is a restaurant not far on the ocean side that has great tuna ceviche and hummus.  
  • If you want to venture off the Tulum peninsula, go snorkeling at one of the local cenotes. The dripping limestone formations make for a surreal & enchanting underworld. I would advise to avoid swallowing any water while in the bat cave...guano!! 
tulum
tulum 2