Sunday, March 7, 2010

Not Your Average Canal Ride

Picture this: You've been transported to Thailand, the Venice of the East. Water transportation is prevalent, but just any old boat won't do. You want to stand out from the crowd. You've got to travel in style, of course!

This might possibly be your best, most impractical, yet oh-so-alluring option...

The boat comes from the very exclusive Inspirations collection from the Conran Shop. It's maker, Ben Fowler, created the boat from the inspirations of the illustrious Sir Terence Conran himself. Fowler is just one of several designers from across the globe to create unique pieces from Conran's favorite inspirational images.

By the way, the boat is on sale for $4,225. You probably don't even want to know what the original price was! To find out more about the boat, Ben Fowler, Terence Conran, and more please visit:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This cheeseburger is disgusting. I can barely allow myself to eat it.

In reality, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It's something I would normally eat and usually enjoy, but in this moment I'm feeling jaded. Where was my starter? What about the fresh squeezed juice of the day? And where is Alfredo, with his peaceful demeanor and soft spoken voice, to tell me what the fresh catch of the day is? Alright, I can admit it. I'm spoiled! Three-course lunches and dinners will do that to you, even after only a few days. And I owe it all to the Verana hotel.

Verana, located in Yelapa, Mexico, encourages a five night stay, and upon my arrival I understood why. It's not the most accessible place, so staying a bit longer than just a weekend will make it worth the trek. And I do mean a trek. You literally have to travel by air, land, AND sea to get there!

After flying into Puerto Vallarta, take about a 30 minute cab ride south, and upon reaching the town of Boca de Tomatlan, you hop on to the Verana boat and take another 30 minute ride along the coast until you reach the dock. There, you will be greeted by the host who will guide you up the hill on a "leisurely" hike to (finally) reach the hotel! Note: depending on your fitness level, "leisurely" may also mean strenuous!

Upon reaching the hotel property, our welcome reception consisted of freshly squeezed lemonade, homemade chips with three different dips, and cool, aromatherapy-infused towels to wipe our faces with. After signing the registration paper, we were off to our room!

Verana has only eight houses. They are all built, decorated, and orientated, uniquely and separately from one another. Each one is private, yet completely open to the jungle at the same time. The open-air style doesn't always involve complete walls, let alone four of them.

The shower doesn't have a door or curtain, but don't worry, you don't need one! Every architectural detail allows the guest to live harmoniously with nature. And with minimal impact to the environment; all toiletries provided are organic and handmade by the Verana spa staff.

Entering each house feels like stepping into a dream world of seclusion; no televisions, no telephones, and no computers. Complete separation from the outside world, yet camaraderie is easily just a few steps away.

Such socializing is most prevalent at cocktail hour, the magical time when most guests come out to mingle about an hour or so before dinner. And the food? Well, as indicated before, the food is exquisite! Every meal is different, delicious, and centered around whatever was caught from the ocean that day. The chef, a Yelapa native and ten-year Verana staff member, is able to cater to any dietary needs. Breakfast and lunch each have an extensive list of choices, while the dinner menu is fixed. And as I said before, both lunch AND dinner are comprised of three courses each. Believe me, you will not go hungry!

If you worry about being bored, don't! The hotel has plenty of activities and excursions that can be arranged. From on-site activities such as yoga, one on one cooking classes with the chef, and spa treatments galore; to off-site excursions such as fishing, kayaking, a waterfall hike, or a picnic on the beach.

Not to miss: the Starlight Aromatherapy Bath. After dinner, your hot bath will be ready for you, decorated with some 100+ candles. The place is then yours for the night!

Verana does have electricity, albeit sometimes sporadic, (you are in the jungle remember!) It's really not necessary though. The hotel supplies each room with a small, LED flashlight, which comes in handy when making your way back to your casita after dinner. Upon returning, you'll discover that while you were enjoying your evening repast, the maid-staff has already come around to light all the candles in your room. If it were possible, the entire experience just got even more breathtaking than the first time you set your sights on the amazing view! I simply can't wait to go back!

Find out more on their website, and don't miss their captivating promo video!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Zebra in Mexico?

Featured Destination:

This "zebra" has class and style!

Self-proclaimed as "jungle-chic," this hotel is definitely one to escape to.

"Ocean view" is often synonimous with spending more, but at La Zebra you not only get the view, you also get the ocean and the beach to go along with it, right outside your rustic little hut's door. Even better, it comes without sticker shock.

If the simple white walls and thoughts of laying in a hammock all day start to stir up feelings of cabin fever, never fear! Relaxing isn't the only thing available to do here. There are plenty of activities whether on-campus or nearby.

Foodies will delight in the property's restaurant and tequila bar, as authentic food and drinks are the stars.
Fresh squeezed lime ceviche, tender lamb slow cooked in banana leaves from the brick-lined BBQ pit, and a margherita made without mixers or heavy machinery. That's exactly what your palate can look forward to.
Salivating yet?

As for adventure-seekers, the hotel offers salsa lessons, and there are plenty of tours to take nearby such as fishing, kiteboarding, and scuba diving. The hotel is also only 7 km away from the Tulum Ruins.

Just one thought for caution: "jungle-chic" IS synonimous with rustic! The rooms do have electricity thanks to wind turbine technology, but if you need air conditioning, a tv, and the use of a hair dryer, then this is not the place for you. And yes, the mosquito netting draped around the bed is probably more functional than fashionable, but if you can let those luxuries go in order to get back to nature, make a reservation and pack your (preferably) carry-on size bag.

And if you're still not quite sold on La Zebra, check out their quick promo video, you'll swear you just felt a tropical breeze!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ready...Set....Jet! (Literally)

Featured Destination: Hotel Costa Verde

(Where Swiss Family Robinson meets Lost)

Forget having no leg room, a tiny bathroom to maneuver, and zero food service. This is not your typical 727 experience! Perched along a coastal rainforest bluff, this decommissioned airplane-turned-hotel room is the newest, and quite possibly the nicest, of its kind.

Crafted from a 1965 Boeing 727 airframe, this vintage beauty has been spared from the airplane graveyard and been brought up to date with modern-day amenities. More like a small house than hotel room, the accommodations include 2 bedrooms, each with air conditioning and their own private bath, a kitchenette, dining area foyer, a flat screen tv, and an ocean view terrace. The entire interior is also paneled with Costa Rican teak, and is furnished with hand-carved teak furniture from Java, Indonesia.

The Fuselage Home isn't the only evidence of aeronautical love at Costa Verde. Now a full service restaurant and bar, the hotel also proudly owns a Fairchild C-123, the sister plane to its twin which was shot down over Nicaragua in the infamous Iran-Contra Affair of the mid 1980s.

The Costa Verde Hotel has more accommodation styles to offer. It is located in Quepos, and a short drive away from Manuel Antonio National Park. For more information, please visit their website.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Featured Destination: Nassau, Bahamas

Don't let the cookie cutter, Crayola colored facade fool you. This hotel is a gem!
With only a 10 minute cab ride away from the airport, this 18-hut boutique hotel is perfect for peace and tranquility.
Every room at the Compass Point Beach Resort has plenty of amenities, and even the most affordable studio room is spacious. From rocking chairs on the porch outside, to the Aveda bath products, the details of this hotel spark the inkling to never leave the property! A flat screen tv, cd/dvd player, and surround sound system are also a perk. The hotel lobby even has a library of movies to choose from. They have snorkeling equipment and board games to borrow as well.
The on-site restaurant is also great for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. Plus, they will deliver to your room with no added service charge!*

My Advice:
1. Have the cab driver stop at the closest liquor store so you can get what you need to stock your mini fridge.
2. Relax, and listen to the water while enjoying a massage out on the dock.

3. Put on your favorite Jack Johnson CD, order room service, and enjoy your meal out on your porch as you watch the sun set!

One last fun fact: For all you 007 fans out there, this was the hotel that Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, drove past in Casino Royale!

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*Whether dining in the restaurant or in your hotel room, an automatic 15% service gratuity will be included.