By Bianca Vertil
Located in the Mexican jungle in Riviera Maya, Cancun, lies a series of Karisma Hotels & Resorts. Karisma Hotels & Resorts, an award-winning luxury hotel collection, owns and manages properties in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. Karisma is comprised of an impressive selection including El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels, Generations Resorts, Azul Hotels & Villas, and Allure Hotels. Karisma properties have been honored with the industry’s top accolades and have received worldwide recognition for its creative approach to hospitality management and product innovations.
El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels is a premier, adults-only property located in the jungles of Riviera Maya, Mexico. Upon your arrival, you are welcomed with a champagne toast and introduced to your personal concierge. There is a sense of calm, casual luxury at the 450 room resort. Whether you choose to stay in a swim-up suite or private beachfront villa, all guests have all-suite accommodations, pool and beach butler service, hammock amenities, and 24-hour room service. El Dorado received AAA’s “Four Diamond Award” for its outstanding environmentally sustainable services.
There are many fun activities couples are encouraged to take full advantage of during their stay ranging from snorkeling in the sea, zip-lining through the jungle, horseback riding, and more. Some complimentary services include a tequila tasting, morning yoga, bike tour, Spanish class, cooking class, shuttle, and more. The resort also has evening entertainment every day located at Guacamayas Bar. At 6 p.m. a new movie is played, live music at 8:30 p.m., some sort of entertainment performance (for example, a circus show, fire performance, karaoke, etc.) at 10 p.m., then dancing and a DJ until 2 a.m. There is something for everyone to enjoy at El Dorado.
Say “I Do” by the Sea
Create memorable moments with El Dorado, and plan your private events at the resort. Whether you are newly engaged, planning a honeymoon, celebrating your anniversary, or just need a romantic getaway, Karisma will create the most memorable details to make your event special. Gourmet Inclusive Wedding Events by Karisma Hotels & Resorts strives to help you enjoy a truly special destination wedding. There is an assortment of signature wedding packages as well as venues to choose from. Whether it is a beachfront chapel, private beach, pier gazebo, or beautiful sky location, Karisma’s signature wedding designers and staff will diligently take care of every aspect of event coordination. Chapels typically hold 40-50 people, gazebos, seat around 20-30 people, and the most popular choice, the sky venues, hold up to 120 people. If any of your guests need to bring their children along, nanny services are offered at Little Eko, a kids center, at the neighboring Generations Resort location. Although walking distance, there are 24-hour shuttles running through the resorts.
Celebrate Your Big Day in Luxury
Pamper yourself at the Mayan inspired Naay Spa. You can choose to receive a relaxing spa treatment on the beach, inside the comfortable Naay Spa, alone, or with a loved one. Guests who are celebrating a special event during their stay are offered the complimentary Memorable Moments Spa Package. There are six bridal suites located in the spa building. The third floor can be turned into a private party for brides. At these private parties, 10-15 people are welcome to get wedding ready at $25 per person. There is also a groom room, where men are welcome to get ready for the big day. To make this spa truly unique, guests are invited to experience Temazcal, a traditional Mayan experience performed by a shaman.
Eat and Drink in Style
El Dorado has partnered with Jackson Family Wines to create The Jackson Family Wines Culinary Series by Karisma. The exclusive event is carefully catered to guests that prefer quality over quantity and a must for wine-lovers and connoisseurs. At a cost of $300, guests are enticed with a week of hands-on epicurean experiences, vertical tastings, educational classes with sommeliers and winemakers, cooking courses, special pairings, elaborate meals and an exclusive Guest Chef and Winemaster’s Dinner. A la cart rates for wines and ad hoc wine and culinary experiences start at $35. The program which takes place the first week of each month, spotlights distinguished chefs, restauranteurs, winemakers and sommeliers. The 2016 lineup includes culinary visionaries such as Mark Stark of Stark Restaurants and Food & Wine Best New Chef Sue Zemanick from New Orleans’ Gautreau’s Restaurant as well as an impressive roster of other prominent chefs.
There is a wide variety of restaurants at El Dorado Resorts. Whether you are in the mood for Italian, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Asian, Mexican, or American food, there is an inclusive, gourmet restaurant to satisfy your craving. If you want to start off the day with a well-balanced breakfast, you can visit Cocotal, La Isla, Jojo’s, Spot, or Sante Fe Grill. Lunch is served at Jojo’s, Kampai, La Isla, and Rincon Mexicano. Finally, set the mood with a romantic dinner preapared at D’Italia Villas, D’Italia Casitas, Cocotal, La Isla, Kampai, Jojo’s Rincon Mexicano, Sante Fe, and Fuentes. There is an extensive room service menu, and gourmet corner restaurants (La Cabana Pizzeria, Health Bar, Bar 31 (Las Olas), and Kick) that are conveniently accessible as well. Each restaurant includes a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list, sommelier, and premium liquor.
A unique dining experience is provided at these resorts; while there are no buffets, the restaurants display an open, farm-to-table, food concept. Guests can see how food is prepared, giving them an experience with amazing details. Be sure to stop by Fuentes culinary theatre to watch a chef showcase while enjoying your meal. The food served at the resorts come from Karisma’s own green house. Tours of the state-of-the-art, hydroponic greenhouse are a complimentary service.
By Stephanie DiCiro
Once known to be the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus, today Sarasota is rich in culture, art, attractions, and breathtaking beaches. Both Lido Beach Resort and The Resort at Longboat Key Club are a part of the Ocean Properties Hotels Resorts & Affiliates, they provide a perfect paradise to stay in while nestling your toes in the sand.
Lido Beach Resort is perfectly located in the middle of all the excitement of downtown with the shops and local restaurants at St. Armand’s Circle. This resort is perfect for family getaways and romantic weekends with 223 deluxe guest rooms and suites, two heated pools, three Jacuzzis, and a beachside Tiki bar. Lido Beach Resort recently revamped 112 suites in the south tower. With square footage ranging from 595 to 1,000 in size, these rooms are decorated with sleek modern, sophisticated nautical décor made to satisfy every customer’s needs.
Lido Beach Grille holds up to their reputation with an astounding view of the beach and coastline. After taking a dip in the pool, Café Lido and the Tiki Bar are the perfect places to grab a bite to eat. They have Happy Hour specials every day from 5:00pm to 7:00pm with a menu that is so enticing from the tropical cocktails to their delectable appetizers, you won’t be disappointed when you find a seat here!
Just a 10-minute drive north is The Resort at Longboat Key Club spread across five resort buildings while encompassing 410 acres of incredible beachfront views and has earned the Four-Diamond AAA Award for 32 consecutive years. This resort has 223 extravagantly decorated rooms and suites with eight onsite restaurants, fitness center and Mind and Motion studio, 20 tennis courts, 45 holes of golf, 9,000 square foot Island House Spa, and the largest marina on Florida’s west coast. The rooms have private, secluded balconies overlooking the incredible resort or beach with completely renovated suites to make all the guests feel at home.
From healthy smoothies by the tennis courts to incredible Northern Italian home cooking by the marina, the eight different restaurants on location will sure satisfy anyone’s appetite. The fairways are ranked by Golf Digest as one of the “Best Places to Play” with two PGA-approved golf courses that have incredible views along the Sarasota Bay. The Tennis Gardens have hosted the annual USTA Sarasota Open Men’s Invitational since 2009 and provide numerous courts to play day or night! Need a massage to unwind, the Spa provides more than 50 distinctive personalized treatments from reflexology to a hydro-lifting facial. Mind & Motion Studio provides a wonderful array of classes for yoga, spinning, and even interval training; with a remarkable view of the golf course, guests won’t even feel like they are working out!
Both resorts offer the most breathtaking sunset views, but saying “I do” to your soul mate while your toes are nestled in the sand is just the icing on top of a perfect getaway. From bridal showers to honeymoon packages, their attentive staff will be there to cater to the needs of the couple to be.
The Resort at Longboat Key Club and Lido Beach Resort are surrounded by a number of attractions with temperatures year round about 75 degrees, these two resorts offer such a unique experience while soaking up the sun in Sarasota!
by Kyley Kornegay
At the very tip of the Baja peninsula in Cabo San Lucas sits The Resort at Pedregal. This luxury resort is hidden away, and built into the side of the mountains. With fine dining restaurants, a world-class spa, and endless amenities, this resort has it all. Each guest is provided with a personal concierge, a room tour, and complimentary chips and guacamole every afternoon. Each room includes an indoor fireplace and an infinity pool.
The most amazing dinner can be found at El Farallon – an ocean-side fine dining restaurant. Chef Gustavo Pinet creates the most amazing food, which is all made with only the freshest of ingredients and the catch of the day. Live music softly plays in the background while you enjoy drinks and the great food next to the Pacific Ocean.
Luna y Mar Spa is the world-renowned spa at The Resort at Pedregal. With 10 private treatment rooms and an endless variety of relaxation options, this spa is a must. The spa is centered on the four phases of the moon, and each spa treatment starts with a Mexican folk healing foot cleansing. You will absolutely look and feel your best after your spa escape. The day of your treatment, you are free to enjoy the amenities of the spa – which includes a mineral pool, a relaxation room, a sauna, steam & ice rooms, and more – at your leisure.
When in Los Cabos, it is a must to go snorkeling. The water is crystal clear and water is just the right temperature. Hearing the water crash on the shore and on to the mountains is such a relaxing sound when paired with the ocean breeze. RMC Events took us out on a yacht to see the shore alongside the beautiful Sea of Cortez, get a breathtaking view of the famous El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, and to snorkel in the clear waters. The arch is home to many sea lions, and we even got to see a manatee! Manta rays fly out of the water, and dolphins swim with the wake of the boats. You get to swim with so many types of colorful fish when snorkeling – it is a blast!
This resort is the perfect vacation relaxation getaway for a honeymoon, bridal party, or even a destination wedding. The views are beautiful and the weather is great, so if you are looking for that clear blue water and luxury getaway, look no further than The Resort at Pedregal.
By Laurette Veres
“It’s really hard to get to, and when you get there the altitude will get you.” Mom
Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Incan citadel, is the best-known archaeological site in South America. This bucket list destination was built around 1450 AD and abandoned a century later when Spanish conquistadors invaded the region. The Spaniards marched inland from the Pacific destroying most significant Incan settlements, but never discovered Machu Picchu. Hidden nearly 8000 feet up in the Andes, it was unknown to the outside world until American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham set out to confirm a myth about the lost city of the Incas in 1911.
Getting here is a planes, trains and automobiles adventure. LATAM Airlines out of JFK to Peru, change planes and fly to Lima then Cusco. LATAM’s premium business experience makes the plane trip bearable: seats recline into beds, gourmet meals are created by renowned chefs and wines selected by an award winning sommelier. In Cusco we hop into one of Viajes Pacifico’s automobiles and transfer to the Ollantaytambo train station, and ride PeruRail’s Vistadome train, with 90% panoramic views so we can appreciate the beauty, to Aguas Calientes.
As we roll out of Ollantaytambo the famous Inca Trail is nearby and we see backpackers crossing the scenic Urubamba River, embarking upon a four-day athletic adventure. Our adventure is different, we step off PeruRail’s Vistadome in Aguas Calientes and hike four short minutes to the town’s only five star resort: Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel.
My introduction to the Incan culture is magical and mystical thanks to the Peruvian and Andean cultural immersion at the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel, spectacularly located on the banks of the Vilcanota River in Aguas Calientes. I left my Houston home nearly twenty-four hours ago, but I’m not tired, I’m invigorated. The luxury 62-room property has recently renovated guest rooms and public spaces featuring historic Peruvian and Andean themes and symbols while featuring world-class modern amenities. The best amenity is Sumaq’s location. Most people visit Machu Picchu from Cusco and spend a big part of their day in transit. The bus ride up to Machu Picchu from Sumaq is less than 20 minutes and you can spend your day taking in the historic sights.
Food is a big part of our adventure. We learn to prepare Peruvian Ceviche and Peru’s flagship cocktail, the Pisco Sour at a cooking demonstration before heading to Qunuq for a six-course degustation tasting meal. Qunuq creates innovative dishes with ancient Peruvian culinary traditions and exciting flavors. Salmon trout cubes, lamb shank and avocado risotto are menu standouts.
Finally, Machu Picchu. Early morning hikers head up Hiram Bingham Highway. We bought tickets days ago and were lucky to get some of the limited seats on the bus. We stand in line in the center of town on Av. Hermanos.
Machu Picchu is considered the heart of the Incan culture. Built with polished dry-stone walls, many buildings have been restored to their original glory. We join the crowds to enter the site and quickly make a dramatic turn around a bend to reveal the first of many terraced landscapes. The landscape is simply breathtaking and quite unbelievable. These terraces were used to grow crops at various temperatures and seem to go on forever. Even though we are 7972 feet up, there are two other hills that are much higher; I see hikers on one of them. A member of my group tells me has has hiked there. Gulp. Our group entered the site at the main entrance. Others enter at the Sun Gate, (a higher point) have made the four-day trek. We walk carefully on the narrow and steep stone steps and winding trails to look down upon the main city where the Incas lived and worshipped. It’s symmetrical and green. As you stare at all the stone, it’s impossible to understand how the Incas got it up here.
Shaman Willko Apaza leads “Mystical Machu Picchu Experience,” exploring the spiritual side of the legendary site. Using his natural gifts, and traditions from ancestors, he introduces us to his Andean beliefs and the Incan culture. His message is one of a new beginning. As he chants and dances around us clearing negative energy, we are invited to imagine all the peace and love in the world, feel the weight of the sacred rock, absorb the sun’s rays and connect to each other in a new way. Going beyond a historical lesson and sight seeing excursion, Willko also reveals the mystery of Machu Picchu and the magical connections with the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and sacred temples.
Rituals and ceremonies are part of the Incan culture. Offerings to Mother Earth are part of daily life for locals in the regions around Machu Picchu. Shaman lead them to a realm beyond the physical world where they are open to emotional and spiritual healing. Coca is a Peruvian symbol of community and respect and plays a significant role in these ceremonies. We participate in the ceremonies; some of us have our Coca leaves read.
Arac Masin is a traditional Andean wedding. We witness the magic as one is performed on the hotel’s terrace. With the terrace draped in greenery and flowers, a shaman calls upon the Incan gods to guide relationships to last eternally. Available to engaged as well as married couples, guests immerse in the Andean culture with this ceremony.
Overall, the trip to Machu Picchu is worth every minute. There are crowds, but they all seem to be in awe, as I am, and very respectful. Plan to take your time and take it in. You’ll be glad you did.
It’s a long way to Machu Picchu. Here are some helpful hints:
Temperatures vary greatly due to altitude. Dress in layers.
We highly recommend traveling as light as possible. Some of the trains have luggage restrictions.
Elevations vary and altitude sickness can be an issue. Here are the elevations:
Machu Picchu: 7,972 ft.
Cusco: 11,152 ft.
Lima: 505 ft.
NOTE: Coca is widely used throughout Peru as a treatment for altitude sickness. Drinking coca tea is highly recommended, especially if you find yourself suffering any of the symptoms of altitude sickness – dizziness, headaches, nausea or vomiting.
The electrical current is 220 volts throughout Peru.
The Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) is the national currency. Locally, people say “Sol” or “Soles” – plural.
The official language is Spanish, with Quechua also widely spoken (the language of the Incan empire).
Essentials: latam.com, viajespacifico.com, perurail.com, sumaqhotelperu.com
The eight-hour Mystical Machu Picchu Tour costs $400 per person, including transportation, entrance ticket to Machu Picchu, private guide and authentic Peruvian shaman. For further information and reservations: email@example.com or toll-free 866-682-0645. www.sumaqhotelperu.com
Moody Gardens should be on your holiday calendar every year! Offering something for all ages, from the Festival of lights, to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 4-D, your family will enjoy time spent here.
We arrived around 4:00pm to give us a time to explore the property before dusk. Start with a quick tour of the rainforest pyramid. This is the type of exhibit you can explore at your own pace. Be sure to look for the River Otter and watch out for the White-faced Saki monkeys who literally roam the tree tops of the rainforest.
No visit to Moody Gardens would be complete without saying hello to the penguins. You’ll encounter some sharks as you take the Caribbean tunnel to see the penguins.
Next, The North Pole meets the Caribbean as Moody Gardens introduces ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas. For the third year in a row, Carvers have come from China to sculpt two million pounds of ice. This cool holiday attraction features nine scenes such as scuba diving, a towering oilrig, tropical fish and more; all maintained at a chilling nine degrees.
At dusk it’s time to walk the one-mile Festival of lights trail filled with sound-enhanced lighting and animated displays. This leisurely walk features spectacular lights, trains, fish, butterflies, and culminates with the North Pole. The walk takes about 30 minutes.
Admission to the Festival of Lights is $10.95 and other ticking options vary.
Bryan-College Station is quickly becoming one of the state’s top emerging leisure destinations. Who would have thought? But with the opening of not one, but three boutique hotels by March 2017, along with new leisure amenities including a lake, hiking trails, and restaurants and retail, Bryan-College Station is poised to be more than just Texas A&M.
The leisure boom starts with The Stella, a sleek 4-star property opening in March 2017. The Stella will offer amenities such as a seasonally driven restaurant, hip craft cocktail bar, specialty coffee roaster, outdoor pool and poolside cabanas. The hotel, which is just minutes away from the acclaimed Traditions Club and Community, is surrounded by an abundance of new restaurants and retail stores, as well as a new 5-acre lake, waterfront park, various health/wellness activities and over two miles of hiking trails.
In addition to the The Stella, Houston-based Valencia Group is opening two new properties in the coming months; Calvary Court, a 141-room new vintage inspired property and The George, a 162-room boutique hotel that will bring an authentic, refined experience to the area.
Top of the Rock is a nature-based heritage preserve and majestic extension of the award-winning resort experience at Big Cedar Lodge. A true celebration of the land, animals, and people that came before us, Top of the Rock honors the alluring landscape and rich history of southwest Missouri. The preserve offers two award-winning golf experiences, adventures through ancient limestone canyons, remarkable restaurants with awe-inspiring views, and at the heart of it all, a 35,000-square-foot history museum featuring the foremost collection of Native American art and artifacts ever assembled making Top of the Rock a landmark first for the region.
NEW YORK, October 31, 2016 – Singapore Airlines has launched new services from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and Manchester, U.K., continuing to Singapore, from October 30, 2016. The new Houston-Manchester flight represents SIA’s first-ever U.S. to U.K. operation.
SIA will operate the route using a 278-passenger Boeing B777-300Extended Range aircraft, configured with 8 seats in First Class, 42 in Business Class, and 228 in Economy Class.
“We are excited to offer Texans the only nonstop flights from Houston to Manchester,” said Mr. Sek Eng Lee, regional vice president for Singapore Airlines at the company’s festive gatehold send-off for the first flight yesterday. “Houstonians now have the option of the industry’s most awarded inflight experience, not only to Singapore and Southeast Asia, but also to Northern England for the first time.” The company’s previous flight operated from Houston to Singapore via Moscow, which was discontinued on October 29.
SIA offers five weekly flights from Houston to Manchester, each with continuing service to Singapore Changi Airport, where travelers have convenient connection options to more than 50 destinations throughout Asia. Travelers flying SIA to Manchester can also take advantage of new connections to Paris, Milan and Amsterdam via the carrier’s partnership with Flybe, providing seamless single-ticketing to these three popular European destinations.
The new Houston-to-Manchester service is being launched concurrently with SIA’s resumption of nonstop flights from the U.S. to Singapore and expanded operations in Los Angeles. SQ31, a new Airbus A350-900 aircraft and the 10,000th delivery from the manufacturer, debuted on October 23 with a nonstop, daily flight from San Francisco to Singapore. The company’s new Los Angeles-to-Seoul flight also launched on October 23 utilizing Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft.
Consistently rated the world’s best airline by the readers of both Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines in their annual surveys, Singapore Airlines strives for industry-leading excellence in passenger service.
Whether setting the stage for a romantic rendezvous or a girlfriends getaway, extravagance ensues once guests step foot in spacious, elegantly-appointed Metropolitan Suites — enclosed by four sets of french doors opening up to wrought-iron Juliet balconies, bathed in gorgeous natural light. After toasting to the sophisticated city escape with a chilled magnum of Veuve Cliquot, travelers are treated to a captivating evening from the breathtaking, 17th-floor vantage point of The Crescent Club, providing a “through-the-windows” tour of the city. Beloved Crescent ambassador Les Clefs d’Or Concierge Bill Kennedy guides guests through fascinating Dallas history while the hotel’s award-winning chefs showcase a five-course meal complete with fine Texas wine pairings.
Following the two-hour exclusive experience, arts enthusiasts head to the bustling Dallas Arts District, steps from the hotel, to take in a show at the renowned Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Meanwhile, the “suite life” continues back at the hotel, where guests lounge by the sparkling rooftop pool (the ultimate urban oasis), sip cocktails while people-watching Dallas’ elite social scene at Beau’s, the lively lobby lounge, or indulge in a massage at the immersive, 22,000 sq. ft. spa and fitness center. Echoing the exclusivity of a country club with sophisticated amenities, the stylish hotel is the gateway to an unforgettable Dallas escape.
“Namesake Celebration” • Starting at $1,499/two-nights* • Bookable now – Dec. 30, 2016
- Two-night accommodations in a spacious Metropolitan Suite, touting a wet bar, powder room and wrought-iron Juliet balconies
- Chilled magnum of Veuve Clicquot provided in-room upon arrival
- Exclusive Crescent Club dining experience complete with a five-course tasting menu paired with fine Texas wines
- Two tickets to the renowned Dallas Symphony Orchestra located in the bustling Dallas Arts District — steps from Hotel Crescent Court
Visit www.crescentcourt.com for more information and to book your stay.
Award-winning Beachfront Oasis Invites Photography Lovers to Experience Punta Mita through the Lens of Renowned Professional Photographers, Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita will welcome photographers of all skill levels to the picturesque landscape of the Riviera Nayarit October 31 – November 4. The AAA Five Diamond property will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from American photographer Robert Caplin and American sports and portrait photographer Peter Lockley, in one of the most naturally beautiful beachfront destinations in Mexico.
Guests can participate in guided workshops, on-location shoots, one-on-one editing and constructive critique, as well as instructor demonstrations, all while enjoying the breathtaking scenery that Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita has to offer. In between photography excursions, participants can bask in the luxury of their own spacious Mexican-style casitas, complete with tranquil views of the turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Additionally, guests are invited to indulge in an array of invigorating culinary experiences available at the resort, including custom tequila blending and new indigenous outdoor cooking classes.
“We are delighted to partner with such renowned photographers Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley to offer guests the chance to embark on a visual journey throughout the stunning and diverse landscape of Punta Mita and the Riviera Nayarit,” said John O’Sullivan, General Manager Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. “The workshop is created for photography enthusiasts of all skill levels to fuel their passion for finding beauty and magnificence through the lens of their camera, and we are positive they will find that here as they discover the wonders of Punta Mita.”
Professional photographers, Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley – known for their contributions to leading publications including New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Times and ESPN the Magazine – will offer their guidance during daily photography adventures through Punta Mita’s most scenic natural settings. They will lead outings to charmed places including the vibrant town of Sayulita, the incredible nature preserves of San Blas, the energetic fish markets of La Cruz, and Punta Mita’s best secret surf spots, all while lending their combined expertise in editorial, commercial, and portrait photography. These outings will present a variety of unique shooting situations; from landscapes to portraits, to stories, utilizing natural and artificial light in order to help refine and develop participant’s skills. Throughout the week Caplin and Lockley will lead inspiring lectures and hands-on gear demonstrations, offering personalized, engaging feedback and analysis to further develop and refine participant’s abilities and leave them refreshed and eager to continue their personal photographic journey.
While polishing their photography skills and harnessing their creativity, guests are able to fully take advantage of all the resort has to offer, including unrivaled service, pristine white sand beaches, spectacular fine dining options, and new immersive culinary experiences. Photographers can trade in their cameras for mixing spoons and learn historically-inspired indigenous cooking techniques in the Iku Garden outdoor kitchen, try their hand at customizing their own tequila during a hands-on tasting and blending experience, or simply indulge in a seasonally flavored Mexican gelato or popsicles at the resort’s new beach front Gelateria.
Pricing for the workshop starts at USD $4,999.00 for a single participant, which includes all workshop fees, daily breakfast and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita luxury accommodations in a Garden View Double Room. Ocean view and beachfront rooms are available for an additional cost. Participants will also enjoy a hosted cocktail reception upon arrival and gourmet farewell dinner at the close of the program. It is recommended that participants bring their own camera; however cameras and additional equipment will be available to check-out and purchase before, during or after the workshop. Reservations will be handled by Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita through http://www.fourseasonsworkshop.com/.
Driskill Hotel history is preserved in shadow boxes displayed throughout the property. The boxes contain old photos, dried flowers, shaving paraphernalia, a stopwatch, postcards and much more, all of which depict life around our state capital in the 1800s.
Welcome to Austin’s grand dame, standing tall and proud at the corner of Sixth and Brazos Street, with marble floors, stained-glass rotundas, beveled glass doors, intricate carvings on pillars and an original bank-vault door. When the hotel was built in 1886, there was an extraordinary view of the Texas state capital from the second-story lobby, but the city grew up around her, and office buildings rose up in the six blocks between the two properties. When the view was gone, there was no longer a need for the big windows; they were filled in, and the space is now a meeting room.
Touring the lobby is like taking a Texas history class. Colonel Jesse Driskill was a cattleman when he opened his pride and joy on December 20, 1886. On January 1, 1887, Governor Sul Ross held his inaugural ball in the ballroom. But sadly, a devastating drought stole Driskill’s fortune, and he was forced to close within a year of opening the hotel. His portrait hangs atop the marble staircase, and his cattle brands are replicated on the carpet in the bar.
President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson had their first date here. Later, Lady Bird broadcast her radio station from the first floor; KLBJ is still on the air today. The Driskill was a natural choice for Johnson’s campaign headquarters during his congressional races, and he watched election results from the presidential suite in 1964, as he became the most powerful man in the world.
The Driskill Grill, established in 1929, is legendary for incredible service and inventive cuisine. Recently, Executive Chef Troy Knapp and his team dug through the Austin History Center’s archives to “see where it takes us” as they revamped the menu. Expecting to find a lot of regional cuisine, he was surprised with an international menu proudly promoting imported items. Apparently, in 1929, diners weren’t interested in items they could get at home.
Today, the grill is nostalgic and timeless. The menu is seasonal and classic, offering regional American cuisine. The Foie Gras is a play on the old liver and onions. Texas beef is dry aged in house for 30 to 45 days. The Akaushi Rib Eye is served with seared foie gras, shaved black truffle and Bordelaise sauce. It simply melts off the plate and onto your palate. The chef de cuisine is heading up a research project to locate Colonel Driskill’s cattle yards. Wouldn’t it just be the finishing touch to eat beef raised on the same lands that financed the creation of this Austin landmark? We think so, too.
The property has recently undergone an $8.8 million renovation to its guest rooms, public spaces and restaurants. The renovations could not come at a better time, as 2016 marks the 130th anniversary of the hotel.
—Laurette M. Veres
For more information on how to escape, visit www.driskillhotel.com.
While most people think of Ceviche as a dish made with ocean seafood, this recipe demonstrates the cultural diversity of the dish. Peruvians incorporate potatoes and corn – two major staples of the Peruvian diet – as well as lake trout. The result is delicious. And there is no better place to enjoy it than at the foot of the world’s #1 landmark: Machu Picchu
A Ceviche and Pisco Sour class is included, complimentary, for all guests at Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (www.sumaqhotelperu.com).
Recipe for 1 portion of ceviche
-6 oz. trout
-3 tablespoons lime juice
-3 tablespoons morrón pepper sauce
-1/2 teaspoon ground garlic
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/teaspoon chopped cilantro
-1/4 red onion sliced julienne
-1/4 Peruvian corn
-Salt & Pepper to taste
Garnish: lettuce, corn, limo hot pepper rings, yam strings.
Cook the corn with some anise seeds, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Cook the sweet potatoes, then peel them and cut them into matchsticks. Marinate the trout in lemon, salt, pepper,
cilantro, garlic, ginger, and onion. After two minutes, marinate again adding the pepper. Add ice cubes to the preparation to preserve freshness and lower the marinade’s acidity. Remove ice. Garnish with lettuce, onion, hot chili peppers cut into rings and crispy yam strings.
Popular River Bluff Water Experience Splashes in at Nine Acres
SAN ANTONIO – March 28, 2016 – JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa will debut its $16 million expansion to both its world class River Bluff Water Experience and a new additional meeting / convention space in late March 2016. The five-month project adds 3 acres to the water park which includes a new 13,000-square-foot multiuse pavilion area for additional indoor and outdoor function space, an additional 130-foot long beach-entry pool, 70 by 35 foot sand play area, whirlpool spa, private cabanas, two thrilling body slides, 230 additional lounge chairs and artificial turf lawn space. Guests will be treated to an elevated leisure and group experience with added recreation activities, more space in the already impressive 9-acre water park and added amenities.
The new River Bend Pavilion offers pre-function and event space for group meetings, golf tournament banquets, social events, weddings, concerts and more with 13,000-square-feet of indoor and outdoor customizable venues including a 4,200-square-foot covered deck and 5,000-square-foot pavilion. The expansive 18,000-square-foot event lawn includes a freestanding 700-square-foot covered outdoor stage perfect for awards ceremonies, live music and an array of special events as well as an impressive grill to service events and activities of all sizes. The River Bend Pavilion and expanded celebration areas rest beautifully into the existing topography and enhance the opportunities for open-air entertainment receptions. The additional indoor and outdoor venues will allow groups to reserve private spaces while also enjoying the surrounding Texas-sized outdoor pools and waterslides. Adjacent to TPC San Antonio, the newly developed area is ready to host team-building events, indoor and outdoor awards dinners, wedding, corporate and other private receptions.
Event capabilities in the River Bend Pavilion include:
- Rounds: 200 attendees
- Theater: 400 attendees
- Schoolroom: 200 attendees
- Schoolroom and rounds (meet/eat): 120 attendees
- Lawn and pavilion reception: 1,000 attendees
Amid 600-acres of picturesque rolling oak-covered hills and currently offering the largest hotel customizable convention, meeting and event space in the Texas Hill Country, the new 13,000-square-foot stand-alone ballroom will bring the resort’s total event space to 288,000-square- feet. The ballroom and exceptional event lawn provides unparalleled venues for any size or type of meeting or group gathering. Designed to benefit from San Antonio’s average of 300 days of sunshine a year, the year-round green turf lawn will be adjacent to the new ballroom to offer a scenic outdoor event space situated in harmony with the unobstructed views of the surrounding pristine Hill Country terrain. The River Bend Pavilion and event lawn will turn into a bustling activity center for the resort’s youngest guests during the summer months. With an expanded menu of recreational activities, the Pavilion will exclusively host the popular Range Riders Kids’ Club and experiences such as Kids’ Night Out, YogiBugs, various art classes and more during summer and holiday seasons.
“At the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa we believe in welcoming guests with a warm heart and treating them to the best in class service, experience and amenities that they deserve,” said Arthur Coulombe, general manager, JW Marriott San Antonio. “The completion of the River Bluff Water Experience expansion and additional event and meeting space provides our guests with enhanced recreation experiences and amenities to enjoy during their stay with us. We look forward to offering our travelers the ultimate in Texas hospitality and unique experiences when visiting the resort.”
The new expansion, designed by EDSA and Blur Workshop, enhances the already thrilling River Bluff Water Experience with the addition of a sand area and beach-entry gradual slope swimming pool and two thrilling slide attractions. The two new translucent blue body slides allow guests to feel the rush from below as they watch riders plummet down a heart-stopping 47-foot free fall slide or speeding through a looping waterslide. An additional 230-poolside lounge chairs and plenty of shady overhangs will create a relaxing vacation experience for families, couples, friends traveling together and corporate guests alike. Multiple luxury private cabanas available to reserve have been added around the new pool area to accommodate guests looking for a more private experience while enjoying all the amenities of the 9-acre park. An additional fire pit provides guests with the ultimate s’more-making experience as part of the resort’s nightly offerings.
Travelers continue to enjoy an impressive selection of amenities at the wildly popular River Bluff Water Experience with the existing beach-entry large activity pool, a children’s pool with toddler-size slides, a restorative adult pool with an infinity edge overlooking Hill Country vistas, hot and cold plunge pools and whirlpools, an 1,100-foot-long lazy river and three thrilling water slides. The resort’s water features are heated during cool weather for year-round enjoyment.
JW Marriott San Antonio has perfected creating an atmosphere for indoor and outdoor areas that are wide open where guests have plenty of space to roam and relish in the Hill Country ambience whether they are at the resort for business or pleasure. The causal elegance of the resort offers travelers an atmosphere to rest and restore with just the right amount of activities to recharge before they return home. Offering year-round golf on one of TPC San Antonio’s two 18-hole championship golf courses, 9-acres of water park fun, one of the best and largest spas in the U.S. and multiple culinary venues, JW Marriott San Antonio’s amenities are designed to entertain and create lasting memories.
About JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
Welcome to a San Antonio resort truly worthy of the Lone Star State. JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has firmly established itself as the city’s premier luxury destination and the most renowned resort in the magnificent Texas Hill Country. Rated 4-Diamonds by AAA and just 12 miles north of San Antonio International Airport, the resort features the 36-hole TPC San Antonio golf course, Lantana Spa, the 9-acre River Bluff water park, seven distinctive restaurants, 288,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and event space, free Wi-Fi in the lobby and more than 1,000 custom-designed guest rooms. Our San Antonio resort hotel is sure to make any visit an unforgettable experience, and it all comes with JW Marriott’s impeccable service and lavish amenities. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful respite, productive meeting or exciting and fun-filled family vacation, our resort in San Antonio is designed not just to exceed expectations but redefine them. For information, call 1-210-276-2500 or visit www.jwsanantonio.com.
About JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts
JW Marriott is part of Marriott International’s luxury portfolio and consists of beautiful properties in gateway cities and distinctive resort locations around the world. These elegant hotels cater to today’s sophisticated, self-assured travelers, offering them the quiet luxury they seek in a warmly authentic, relaxed atmosphere lacking in pretense. JW Marriott properties artfully provide highly crafted, anticipatory experiences that are reflective of their locale so that their guests have the time to focus on what is most important to them. Currently, there are 76 JW Marriott hotels in 27 countries; by 2020 the portfolio is expected to encompass more than 100 properties in over 30 countries. Visit us online, on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and #experiencejwm.
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is a leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 3,800 properties in 72 countries and territories and reported revenues of nearly $12 billion in fiscal year 2012.
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Forget Napa Valley! Texas Hill Country is ripe with vineyards—and one gem of a resort perfect for swirling away that stress.
by Nicholas Nguyen
Our great state boasts more than 46 wineries, many of them close by in the San Antonio region. Luckily, for us Houstonians, there’s a magnificent place just 40 minutes away from the Alamo that makes the perfect base camp for a weekend in wine country. Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Boerne, TX, is a treasure surrounded by an emerald golf course, with an amazing restaurant, miles of hiking trails, and recently updated guestrooms and spacious suites. The resort is perfectly situated if you want to work your way back east to Houston as you follow a trail of wineries.
The resort’s ranch-style accomodations are cozy, but it’s worth splurging on a George Strait Suite with a king-sized bed that just envelops you. The large rooms feature a wet bar and an entertaining area with a separate seating space. The patios and balconies are peaceful places to have breakfast and plan the day with a view of the lush hills.
The large resort pool has a waterslide for the kids and is just the thing for afternoon lounging surrounded by Hill Country. Aside from golfing (more on that later), Tapatio Springs offers other nearby activities, like fishing at Joshua’s Creek, horseback riding and kayaking down the Guadalupe. The perfect ending to an active day? S’mores with the family at the fire pit; it’s in front of the golf course, with another serene view of the hills.
Winner of the 2015 Open Table Diner’s Choice, Tapatio Spring’s La Cascada has southern fare down. I’m still having withdrawal from the honey fried chicken served with smoked cheddar grits I had for dinner the first night. For lunch, be sure to get the loaded fries—brisket, cheddar cheese and grilled green onions over crispy fries topped with a sunny-side up egg. And it doesn’t get any more comforting than cast-iron chicken fried steak served with buttermilk mashed ‘taters. Just note that the menu changes seasonally, highlighting regional specialties.
If weather permits, dine outside on the patio to take advantage of the amazing view, or chill out there for happy hour and live music in the evening. After a day of wine tasting, cocktails are a nice change of pace; for those inclined toward spice, try the Spiced Piña, a tequila and pineapple mix with a hint of jalapeño. The namesake Ta’Patio Smash is a better option for whiskey and berry lovers.
Even if you’re a novice like me, the resort’s 18-hole golf course can’t be missed. The award-winning green recently underwent a $2 million renovation and sparkles with trees, ponds and streams, surrounded by some of the tallest hills in the area.
The view alone is inspiring, and in my case, inspiration enough for me to forget how bad my swing is. Tapatio Springs offers plenty of golf lesson packages, some in a group setting or one-on-one with a pro. There are also junior lessons for the kids to learn how to fall in love with the sport. Book a session at the Pro Shop, where you can also pick up name-brand apparel and accessories.
The Pure Sol Spa near the pool and hot tub offers a wide range of massages and beauty treatments, like deep-tissue massage, hot stone therapy, micro-peels and detoxing scrubs.
The most unique and memorable experience I had was in the Halotherapy Salt Caves. The man-made “cave” is completely covered by pink rock salt of all sizes; it’s minimally lit by warm lights, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Even the air felt different because of the sheer amount of salt in the room, adding to the transcending effect.
The salt cave is supposed to be purifying and cleansing, and help with respiratory illnesses and other sinus conditions while reducing stress. Sessions can be purchased in 30- or 45-minute increments, but if you’re looking to go zen privately, the cave can also be reserved. Jury’s still out whether the therapy had any impact on my physical health, but it was an incredibly calming experience, and for that alone, I’d go back.
Nearby—less than 20 minutes away—is the Boerne Wine Co. and the Wine Bar in Welfare, where you can sample a selection of Texas wines with expert guidance. Both places are good spots to try a variety of offerings and discover something new. Want to visit a winery in the flesh? Head to Sister Creek Vineyards, Singing Water Vineyards, Bending Branch Winery or Kerrville Hills Winery, all great, rustic spots about 30 minutes away.
If you visit over the weekend, Boerne has market days on Main Street, showcasing local goods and arts. The small town is big on charm and personality, and as a bonus, is totally walkable. I loved perusing the, assortment of specialty stores, ranging from wine to chocolate to antiques and more.
For more information and to plan your trip, visit www.tapatioresort.com.
FREE day at the Beach
Rockport-Fulton Texas (March 8, 2015) – Sunday, April 3, 2016 has been designated by the Aransas County Navigation District as a “ Free Beach day” for all to enjoy. Visitors and locals alike are invited to take advantage of this free offering. After all who doesn’t love to get something for free?
Rockport Beach was labeled Texas first Blue Wave Beach and remains one of only three in the state. The beach has something to offer the entire family. Visitors will, get the opportunity bask in the sun, stroll along the beachfront and splash in the clear water of the bay.
For the youngsters, the beach offers shallow water without strong waves and children’s play areas with playground equipment. For the sports minded, a volleyball net and walking track are available for land-lubbers, but the opportunities for watersports are endless from water-skiing to fishing and everything in between. The entire family will enjoy the beach palapas, the covered picnic cabanas and the clean restrooms with indoor showers. For those who wish to swim, there is a saltwater lagoon at the far end of the beach, with beautiful views of the Key Allegro community.
Rockport Beach has two pavilions that can be rented for business meetings, reunions or other special occasions: The Beach Pavilion with indoor and outdoor meeting space or the Saltwater Pavilion.
Pets are not allowed on the beach, but there is a special section just outside the beach area for pets to play in the water. Admission to the beach is normally $5 (per vehicle) daily, a yearly beach pass can be purchased for $20.
Directions from San Antonio and Houston
If you are traveling from San Antonio take IH-37 south to Corpus Christi, and then take U. S. Highway 181 to Gregory; at Gregory take State Highway 35 into Rockport.
From Houston, take U. S. Highway 59 to Victoria, take U. S. Highway south to State Highway 239, and then, south to Tivoli, and at Tivoli, take State Highway 35 to Rockport.
Singapore Airlines has launched Book the Cook service in Houston, offering First and Business Class passengers flying from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) the convenience and control of pre-ordering their meal before they fly, and introducing local flavors to their inflight dining experience.
Part of Singapore Airlines’ prestigious culinary program, Book the Cook gives passengers the flexibility to select their choice of main course online or through the reservations office up to 24 hours before flight departure. Book the Cook menus include dishes featuring innovative international fare, as well as signature dishes with regional influences comprising its World Gourmet Cuisine.
The new menu was designed specifically with Houston travelers in mind, incorporating local favorites such as BBQ Beef Brisket with Spanish Rice, alongside SIA traditions such as the popular Lobster Thermidor. Book the Cook is now available in each of SIA’s four U.S. gateways: New York (JFK), Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.
First Class passengers also enjoy their choice of Dom Perignon or Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne, while Business Class passengers are served Taittinger Prelude Grand Crus—in addition to Singapore Airlines’ international wine list carefully selected by a roster of expert sommeliers.
Singapore Airlines serves the Houston area with flights five times a week from IAH to Moscow (DME) and Singapore aboard the B777-300ER. For more information, visit Singaporeair.com for more details. Join us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/singaporeair and follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/singaporeair.
Seared lamb loin with jus served with crushed pea with mint, leek and olive oil mashed potatoes. Designed by Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel Chef Alfred Portale.
A high resolution version of this image can be downloaded here.
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by Laurette M. Veres
Southwest Airlines has brought international travel back to Houston Hobby Airport after a 45-year hiatus. Southwest has been flying out of Hobby since 1971, when they famously flew the “Texas Triangle”—San Antonio, Dallas, Houston. In 2012, the City of Houston approved Southwest’s proposal to expand Hobby and bring international travel back to Houston’s in-town airport. The airline made a multimillion-dollar investment in a new international terminal. According to the Houston Airport System, this expansion brings 1.6 million passengers to Hobby Airport annually. More importantly, Houstonians can easily plan Mexican/Caribbean vacations to new departure cities, including Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Liberia, San Jose, Belize City, Cancun and Montego Bay.
This past winter, we hopped a flight to the paradise destination of Puerto Vallarta, arriving at the Four Season’s Punta Mita just in time for our 2:30 p.m. tee time on the famous Pacifico Course. This Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course has eight seaside holes bordering the Pacific Ocean or Banderas Bay. The very memorable Hole 3B is called “the Tail of the Whale”; depending upon the tide, you can either ride to the hole in an amphibious vehicle, or miss the hole altogether due to high tide. It’s the world’s only natural island green—and it’s spectacular. The hot tropical sun beat down on us the last couple of holes, making our respite to the spa all the more welcome.
Just steps from our suite, the relaxation area at the Four Seasons Apuane Spa is inviting with individual seats separated by hanging crystals and beads. Apuane, Spanish for “healing waters,” is an oasis of serenity in scenic Mexico. We opted for the Punta Mita massage, an overall rubdown utilizing tequila, indigenous sage oil and traditional Mexican healing techniques.
Read the rest of this article in the 2016 Spring H Texas issue, available soon on newsstands and digitally.
Situated near pristine beaches in the Riviera Nayarit, just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort boasts an exquisite and safe retreat for guests of all ages. This year, vacationers can attend the fourth annual Punta Mita Beach Festival taking place July 7-10. Hosted by The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in conjunction with Punta Mita Expeditions, DINE, the master developer of Punta Mita Resort, and the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau, the four day extravaganza combines surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, stand-up paddle, yoga, sandcastle building for the kids and exquisite cuisine prepared by renowned guest chefs at one of the most beautiful and sought-after destinations in the world.
The celebratory summer event and other surf and sand activities offered year-round take full advantage of the renowned beachfront resort’s unparalleled destination.
|Indigenous Reef Provides Perfect Backdrop for
One-Of-A-Kind Newlywed Experience
Here’s a new one: Brides and grooms tying the knot may now opt for a post-wedding “Splash and Snorkel the Dress.” Inspired by the trash the dress trend, the package allows newlyweds to participate in one last photography session after the wedding, as well as enjoy their first married activity together: trashing the dress!
The post-wedding activities begin as a local professional photographer captures the first moments of the new Mr. & Mrs. as they splash along the shore of the resort’s cove-like protected beach, dressed in their gown and suit. After frolicking in the sand and sun, the couple can say “adios” to the photographer and slip into their swimwear apparel to snorkel in the resort’s eco-friendly artificial reef featuring more than 300 varieties of fish. To complete the experience, the couple receives a plush robe, bottle of champagne and hors d’oeuvres upon return to their room.
The Condado Plaza Hilton is a stunning location for weddings in Puerto Rico with 41,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. From the hotel’s Ocean Gardens with crashing waves of the Atlantic surf in the background to the Royal Ballroom, venues can accommodate everything from an intimate gathering of 10 guests to a grand celebration of up to 1,100 guests. The hotel’s professional wedding planners and award-winning culinary team are also on hand to personalize and coordinate every last detail.
The “Splash and Snorkel the Dress” package starts from US$413* per night, including accommodations, a bottle of champagne, hors d’oeuvres, two-hour photography session and complimentary snorkeling equipment rental for two. Photo prints and video, as well as underwater pictures, are available for purchase for an additional cost. To book the package, please visit https://goo.gl/ex9Le9. For more weddings information at The Condado Plaza Hilton, please visit www.condadoplaza.com or call +1 787-721-1000.
*Taxes and resort fees are not included. Other restrictions apply.