Category

Travel

ONE on ONE

by Mayi de la Vega

Aspen Summer

By | Art, Culture, Dining, Travel

It’s that time of year when my Aspen reveries turn reality. After Florida’s busy season (that seems to get longer every year!), I like to escape to the mountains with my family and fiancé Rich for some well-deserved R & R. The majestic views alone instantly relax me, though I also look forward to getting out in nature and experiencing all the shops, restaurants, culture and events. Here’s a list of new places and fun activities to explore when you’re in town.

Stay

Ideal for personal and corporate events of all kinds, the family-owned Aspen Street Lodge is available for full buyouts only. Accommodations offer a lot of variety, from a two-bedroom penthouse with a full kitchen to nine traditional hotel rooms with a mix of bunk beds, double queens and single kings. Guestrooms feature smart-tech systems and connect to at least one other guestroom for families traveling with small children and other needs. The extensive array of amenities—rooftop, heated pool and hot tub, fire pit, terraces with Aspen Mountain views, game room and outdoor grill and pizza oven—leaves nothing to desire. Sounds like heaven.

Attend

Aspen Art Museum’s annual summer gala ArtCrush takes place August 3-6. Along with AAM’s new director Nicola Lees, co-chairs Amy Phelan and Jamie Tisch, and 2021 Aspen Award for Art honoree Mary Weatherford, the benefit includes silent and live auctions by Sotheby’s. Bid on more than 45 artworks by artists such as Oscar Murillo, Rita Ackermann and Weatherford; Sotheby’s senior international contemporary art specialist Michael Macaulay conducts the live auction of eight lots during the gala at Aspen Skiing Company’s Buttermilk ski area on August 6. Panel discussions, a classical music art performance, tastings and a Pine Creek Cookhouse hike are also part of this year’s extended festivities.

Eat

New restaurants focus on several types of cuisine from the Basque Country (Joonas) to surf and turf (Catch Steak). Italian imports are also making their mark. Based in the West Village, Dante NYC returns for a second collaboration with the Surf Lodge. The partners had such a great time with their winter pop up at the Snow Lodge, that they relocated to the Chefs Club at the St. Regis Aspen Resort through next spring. While Surf Lodge books live music acts, Dante helms the menu’s seasonal fare. Items like whole grilled branzino and a peach, heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad lean to the lighter side. Complete your al fresco repast with a summery spritz within Dante’s famous cocktail collection.

I’m also delighted that a familiar name from South Florida is opening soon—hopefully by August! After running their super successful Casa D’Angelo locations in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Aventura, restaurateurs Angelo and Denise Elia are expanding to Aspen.  The couple brightened up the space formerly occupied by Piñons with white oak interiors and Western décor. In addition to signature Italian dishes, the menu increases specialty items (caviar, bison, crudos) that appeal to the Aspen palate. Known for sourcing the finest ingredients, they also plan to celebrate Colorado’s excellent meats, dairy and produce.

Shop

Aspen is as famous for its galleries and designer boutiques as its ski slopes. Balenciaga’s year-long pop up debuted in July, while Prada’s traveling, experiential activation “Prada Outdoor” comes through town from July 29 to September 7. The interactive shop encompasses mountain-friendly gear (tents, frisbees, stainless steel water bottles) and men’s and women’s activewear and accessories (shorts, backpacks, sporty sandals).

While Peri.A devotees wait for its new Los Angeles store to premiere later this summer, they’re hitting the Aspen outpost in droves. Owner Peri Arenas stocks her pint-sized space with coveted labels for women’s fashions and fine jewelry. Her roster features Casablanca, Ikkim’o, Marni, Peter Cohen, Colville and Marie Lichtenberg, among dozens of gems. Don’t hesitate if you fancy something, since it will be gone in a flash!

After popping up in South Florida and the Hamptons during covid, international art galleries next followed their clientele to Aspen. Paris’s Almine Rech operates here through September 12. Catch its back-to-back shows “Genesis Tramaine: Worship Works” and “Wes Lang: Endless Horizons.” Los Angeles-based Honor Fraser displays a meta solo show of Richard Pettibone’s replications of Andy Warhol’s iconic soup can series. London’s White Cube pops up in a 19th-century building through September 5. Works by Tracey Emin, Magnus Plessen, Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley, Theaster Gates and Isamu Noguchi, among several established artists, are exhibited throughout its summer program titled “Correspondence.”

Pack Your Bags

By | Dining, Travel

It’s time to start traveling again and visit new spots and old favorites.

Now that places are starting to open up, and people are on the move again, many of us are excited to resume traveling in some form. It may just be a quick staycation in Florida, or somewhere within the U.S., but it will feel like a true luxury regardless. Here are some resorts that I hope will inspire you to book a trip. We all deserve to have a little wanderlust these days.

Western North Carolina’s cool mountains and streams have always been a refuge for Floridians come summertime. Under new ownership by several families, including the Bealls behind Tennessee’s ultra-luxe Blackberry Farm, High Hampton resort and club in Cashiers, N.C., has been fully renovated and upgraded. The once private hunting lodge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, transitioned to an inn during the early 20th century. Its recent makeover preserved or meticulously replicated its beloved, historic details like the shagbark siding, while adding modern conveniences such as central heating and air (making it able to operate year-round for the first time).

Dining is elevated too. More spacious outdoor dining areas highlight stunning views of the lake and mountains when dining at the Tavern for casual fare and the Dining Room, whose elegant cuisine is helmed by husband-and-wife chefs formerly at Blackberry Farm. Beyond local ingredients from trout to farm produce, guests of the inn’s 12 rooms and the resort’s 47 cottages can partake in a summer camp’s roster of activities. Golf the Tom Fazio-designed course, take a dip in the pool, hike 15 miles of trails, learn the latest court craze, pickleball, or meander the gardens and arboretum. Relaxing is highly encouraged as well, so don’t feel guilty having a spa day or reading a book on the front porch.

The Reform Club in the Hamptons hamlet of Amagansett invites guests to discover its indoor and outdoor vignettes like one would explore a friend’s countryside manor. You might come across its tea house, billiard room or orchard designed by Marders, one of the East End’s premier nursery and landscaping services. There’s so much to see and do without leaving the property, though you’re within walking and biking distance of Main Street should the mood strike.

Choose from three cottages, seven unique suites with private outdoor seating areas, or the 21 House with four en-suite bedrooms, multiple fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen and its own sprawling yard.

The wellness concept promotes healing and winding down. Along with a spa, it offers regularly scheduled workouts by well-known instructors such as the Agdal Method and Skyting Yoga in its sunken garden. The hotel staff is also happy to arrange private catering by local chefs or pack a picnic for the beach.

People absolutely fall in love with the Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection, in the Connecticut countryside. The impeccable grounds, décor and spa, a partnership with the Well, are just a few reasons why guests return season after season.

This year’s big news is the arrival of April Bloomfield, an English chef and winner of the James Beard award for Best Chef: New York City who spearheaded the gastro-pub movement in America. The hotel selected her to pioneer its “Friends of the Mayflower” series, which invites creatives from various disciplines to participate in onsite residencies. The chef-in-residence oversees farm-to-table fare for the Inn’s dining spaces, the Tap Room and the Garden Room, a whimsical, greenhouse-inspired wonderland designed by Florida girl Celerie Kemble. Casual dishes include deviled eggs, burgers and New England clam chowder, but Bloomfield also prepares four-course tasting menus based on seasonal bounty.

High Hampton
Reform Club
Mayflower Inn

Miami, Mi Amor

By | Art, Culture, Events, Fashion, Florida Finds, Interior Design, Real Estate, Travel

An ode to our vibrant city’s many charms and its new chapter.

Miami is my home. It’s where I grew up, received my education, discovered my career, built my business, raised my family and invested my time and energy into the community. I’m not alone. People have been seduced by its charms going back to early settlers at the turn of the 20th century. They love to vacation here, too, and attend tony events like Art Basel, but many are just discovering our best-kept secret—that it’s also a great place to live and work. Florida has been one of the fastest-growing states for years, and the pandemic has compounded the trend, especially in South Florida.

Every day I hear about a new company, celebrity or mogul relocating to Miami, or at least strongly considering it. Mayor Francis Suarez has been very vocal about collaborating with big tech and startups to establish headquarters or open satellite offices here. He even exchanged words with Elon Musk, who’s already put down roots in the Sunshine State with his SpaceX program.

Goldman Sachs is also scouting South Florida to potentially relocate its asset management arm. The firm’s openness to leaving Manhattan makes sense with the shift to WFH, which should continue post-pandemic for reasons beyond saving significant costs in leasing office space. Other factors for saying, “Yes,” to Florida are our residents’ tremendous wealth; tax incentives including no state taxes, and gorgeous weather to cater to clients on the golf course. It’s really kind of a dream situation for Goldman Sachs.

As an entrepreneur, I can also vouch that Florida offers a favorable climate for businesses of all kinds. Miami attracts a lot of people who are company founders and work for themselves. I always enjoy hearing my clients’ stories about how they worked hard and would like to enjoy the good life now but still stay in the game. The city was built on this independent spirit from visionary developers to the large population of Cubans who came here to be free and flourish.

Besides Miami’s professional opportunities, people are pleasantly surprised about how family-friendly it has become. There are numerous private schools to nurture every child’s personal needs and interests, and several of our neighborhoods offer coveted, A-rated public schools that parents strive to enroll their children.

Local institutions foster our young minds, too. In addition to the new Frost Museum of Science, our plentiful art museums, botanical gardens and even shopping districts provide regular kids’ programming. Sports and an all-around active lifestyle are very accessible to all ages. Indoor and outdoor soccer fields, skating rinks, private and public clubs for sailing, swimming, rowing, tennis and golf, and abundant parks and nature preserves are available to our kids.

Healing nature is just one key element in our growing wellness scene. New residents soon learn that Miami shed its party stereotype a while ago. They partake in yoga and meditation classes and dine on plant-based cuisine at stunningly beautiful wellness centers like The Sacred Space in Wynwood; run and bike Miami Beach’s lengthy beach path, and grab paddle boards and kayaks for a day on the water. Being outdoors is rejuvenating, especially now, and Miami excels in this advantage.

These are only some of my brief initial thoughts on why we’re a hot spot now. And I didn’t even touch on all of our incredible culture. There’s so much to love.

 

Feeling Florida

By | Florida Finds, Travel

I’ve always felt blessed to live in a state that has so much to offer. We have culture and nature in spades, and how fun is it to jump in one’s car for a quick road trip when the mood strikes? The quieter months are a great time to get out and explore this beautiful part of the country. Here are a few spots that top my list, and make sure to say hi to our Sotheby’s friends if you go. (I’ve included links to affiliates’ web sites here.)

Boca Grande

The legendary Gasparilla Inn & Club reopens for its 107th season in October. Multi-generational families return year after year for its old-fashioned charm from the front porch’s rocking chairs to pastel, preppy décor. Its current stewards are doing a tremendous job in ensuring its placement within the Historic Hotels of America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As if one of my favorite West Coast getaways couldn’t get any better, its Gulf-side accommodations debut in winter. The Beach Cottages’ spacious residences feature full kitchens, elevators and two to four bedrooms. A new fitness center opens beforehand. Doubling its size makes room for a yoga studio and exercise pool as well as a Zen garden and pickleball courts to meet demand for the fast-growing pastime.

Visitors can still dine at the inn’s multiple venues in the meantime. The Pink Elephant serves dinner nightly and lunch on weekends. Popular items are Thai-spiced, tempura-fried grouper and signature, rum-laced ice cream cocktails for an after-dinner drink and dessert in one. The Outlet restaurant and Inn Bakery are more daytime options.

https://the-gasparilla-inn.com/

Bonus Tip: If you want to know where the tarpon are biting, call captain Tommy Locke. The champion fly-fishing guide and sixth-generation Floridian also helps clients catch good eating species such as snapper, grouper, pompano, redfish and trout from his ultra-nimble Chittum skiff. I’m hooked.

http://www.tommylockeoutdoors.com/

Pop by Gulf to Bay Sotheby’s, too.

https://www.gulftobaysothebysrealty.com/eng

Marco Island

Another fantastic destination on the Gulf of Mexico with big news is the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. Its $320 million renovation premiered last year for a much more luxurious experience in line with Florida’s elevated hospitality scene. The top-to-bottom revamp introduced an adults-only tower, Paradise by Sirene, with 94 rooms and suites, rooftop pool and beach butlers. Its exclusive Tesoro restaurant’s spacious deck overlooks the Gulf for a Greek Isles vibe.

All guests are welcome at the new 10K Alley, a mega-entertainment zone with games for kids of all ages. The property also offers two nearby golf courses and is in the midst of replacing the turfgrass at its 36-hole Hammock Bay Golf Course designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. The $4.8 million project wraps up in October. The Robert Cupp, Jr.-designed Rookery at Marco course is available to play now.

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mrkfl-jw-marriott-marco-island-beach-resort/

Pop by Premier Sotheby’s, too.

https://www.premiersothebysrealty.com/

Florida Scenic Highway 30A

Dotted with new urbanist developments like Seaside and Rosemary Beach, this stretch of the Florida Panhandle wins accolades for its chic design mixed with laidback lifestyle. Home rentals range in all sizes, and every good and service are within walking distance to ditch the car upon arrival. Grab a beach cruiser and your beach chair and spend quality time with family and friends on one of the world’s most gorgeous swaths of sand.

In Seaside, browse the latest titles at Sundog Books, try on new swimsuits at Ophelia and share a bottle of vino and tapas at 45 Central Wine & Sushi Bar. In Rosemary Beach, sip stiff punch drinks on Pescado’s rooftop deck, shop Southern tastemaker Ashley Gilbreath’s home selection at Parish, and play tennis on the Racquet Club’s green clay courts. Both communities have outposts of Amavida Coffee & Tea for a caffeinated pick-me-up.

https://seasidefl.com/

https://rosemarybeach.com/

Pop by Scenic Sotheby’s, too.

https://www.scenicsir.com/

Paradise Found

By | Florida Finds, Travel | No Comments

 Little Palm Island Resort & Spa reopens with the rest of the Florida Keys for the ultimate tropical escape.

Adorable Key deer, epic sunsets and some of the world’s best fishing are just a few reasons why the Florida Keys remain a top travel destination decade after decade. Closed to non-residents during the pandemic shutdown, the tropical archipelago reopened June 1. As a South Floridian, I’m grateful to have this healing haven in my backyard. There are so many exquisite resorts to stay from Key Largo to Key West, but Little Palm Island Resort & Spa stands out at this particular moment.

Not only did the four-acre luxury property owned by Noble House Hotels & Resorts debut its multimillion-dollar renovation in early March, but its very nature is tailor-made for social distancing. One must take a boat or floatplane to access the private oasis a couple miles off of Little Torch Key. The resort’s ferry can fetch you, or there’s complimentary dockage for 10 yachts. In addition to checking into one of 30 new thatched-roof bungalows, the entire resort is available for rent for extra-safe precautions—talk about the perfect setting to celebrate a wedding, graduation, family reunion and other milestones. Rates start at $250,000 for a 3-night minimum stay.

Though it’s tempting to bring the whole crew, Little Palm is known for couples’ getaways. The new dreamy décor picks up a West Indies thread, while some suite categories feature outdoor copper soaking tubs. It also gets a lot of points in the romance department for SpaTerre. Being shuttered since 2017 gave the spa team extensive time to research innovative treatments. Their new menu touches on beneficial discoveries in the wellness industry such as CBD-infused products and rose quartz stones. Several types of massages further include the Madrugada, where guests are submerged in water at sunrise. Facial fans can try the Biologiqué Rechérché Experience, which uses Cryo Sticks and microcurrent therapies.

With the redesign, the owners brought on Daniel Ganem as executive chef. Miami gourmets will recognize his name as formerly with the Betsy, an elegant boutique hotel in South Beach. He’s already become best buds with local farmers and fishermen for an eclectic, healthy menu that touches on the region’s international roots with Latin and Mediterranean influences. If you can’t visit quite yet, he shares the recipe for the resort’s signature welcome drink below. One sip of the Gumby Slumber, a refreshing summer cocktail anywhere, and you’re transported here in your mind until the real thing.

Little Palm Island’s Gumby Slumber

Ingredients: 

  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 1 part cranberry juice
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • 1 part Parrot Bay Rum
  • Fresh coconut