Fall is the best time to visit Boston.  The weather is crisp, leaves are a flutter with vibrant colors, students are out in force to enjoy the weather before winter hibernation, and fireplaces are roar so all is comfy and cozy.  I visit Boston several times a year to see my family and visit old friends.  I tend to spend most of my time driving from one house to another to visit as many people as I can, and usually in a short window of time.  Because of this, I spend too little time exploring the old haunts and beloved favorites in my hometown.

I’ve lived in New York for many years and tend to compare everywhere and everything to NYC. The fact that delivery of everything is simply a way of life — and if it is not deliverable it is archaic. All restaurants should not stop serving dinner before 10:30 pm, a taxi is available anywhere at any time.   Boston is not New York, but I am realizing that this is a good thing. Boston has the charm of the West Village, the best shopping of any city, outstanding hotels and chefs who specialize in serving sophisticated dishes with a local twist.

I recently snuck into the Taj Boston to spend a few days rediscovering ‘my’ Boston.  For a long time, Boston seemed to change ever so slightly, ever so often.  Yes, a building would be erected and it would fit neatly into the skyline and appear to have always been there.  But now, if feels as if an entirely new city is encapsulated within the old city — new buildings everywhere and with that new…everything! Stores, restaurants, night spots and the list goes on.  The Taj Boston regally sits upon the entrance to The Public Garden and is perfectly situated on the corner of Newbury and Arlington Streets.  For shopping, Newbury Street rivals any shopping street internationally, and is filled with quaint cafes and art garlleries.   The Taj overlooks both the manicured Public Garden, with its famed swan boats, and The Boston Common.   As I approach the Taj there’s a sleek, new Jaguar in front of the hotel, ready to take you throughout the city.   Geographically the city is quite compact and can be explored on foot in a few hours, but the hotel car is there for guests when needed.  The Taj is famous in Boston for its High Tea and it is quite a serene and comfortable time to read the paper or catch up with friends.

The restaurant selection in Boston keeps getting better and better each year.  Here are few of my new favorites:

1.  Chef Barbara Lynch’s Menton.  Lynch has become the most acclaimed chef in Boston and is not only self taught, but incredibly creative with her French and Italian creations.  Menton has an incredibly chic decor to compliment the outstanding food.  Menton, 453 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210 617.737.0099.  www.mentonboston.com

2.  Another feather in Lynch’s cap is her No. 9 Park.  Sitting directly below the State House, overlooking the Boston Common, No. 9 is one of the toughest tables to be had in Boston.  Book early and enjoy.  Like Menton, the decor is chic and also like Menton the food is delicious.   No. 9 Park, 9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108 617.742.9991 www.no9park.com

3.  Chef Lydia Shire has been serving Bostonians and visitors fabulous food for many years and has only grown her following with each year that passes.  Her outpost Scampo is a favorite of many and the menu is uniquely Italian with both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences.  Scampo, 215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114, 617.536.2100.  www.scampoboston.com

4.  Toro is a great Tapas bar in the South End.  Toro, 1704 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118, 617.536.4300.  www.toro-restaurant.com

5.  Coppa has yummy crudos and foie gras–maybe do a bit of extra cardio first.  Coppa, 253 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 02118, 617.301.0902.  www.coppaboston.com

I love the museums of Boston.  They are large enough to feel important, but small enough that you don’t have to get lost for days and days to get through all the rooms.  Here are three favorites and three must see spots.

1.  The Institute of Contemporary Art is new and amazing!   ICA, 100 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210 www.icaboston.org

2.  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a true gem in Boston.  The museum is intimate and lovely and worth the trip.  It reminds me of The Frick Museum in New York.   Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115.  www.gardnermuseum.org

3.  The Museum of Fine Arts is a majestic spot with incredible works and was a place I loved when I was young.  Sorry for the continual New York references, but this is a bit of a mini Metropolitan Museum.  Museum of Fine Arts, Avenue of the Arts 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, 617.267.9300, www.mfa.org

 

A few other must see spots:

1.  Boston Common

2.  Freedom Trail

3.  Public Garden

4.  Louisburg Square

5.  Skywalk at the top of the Prudential Center building

6.  Mary Baker Eddy Library Mapparium

7.  Harvard Square

 

Finally…shopping comes to my list.  Boston is a great and convenient shopping city.  Newbury Street is filled with every major designer and Copley Place is just steps away with anyone that might not yet have a store on Newbury.  There are many great stores, but two that stand out are Louis and Alan Bilzerian.  Louis moved its anchor from Newbury Street to the waterfront and has started the move to spread the footprint of Boston shopping to the outskirts of town.  It is now very cutting edge in aesthetic and design–very cool.  Alan Bilzerian is a native Bostonian and has been a purveyor of haute couture for quite some time.  His eye is on the mark and he doesn’t miss.

1.  Louis, 60 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210, 617.262.6100, www.louisboston.com

2.  Alan Bilzerian, 34 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617.536.1001, www.alanbilzerian.com

There are so many perks of living in New York City–the list really is endless.  At the top of my list is our accessibility to the arts–particularity Broadway.  I try to see as many productions as possible and while some are more serious and some are more humorous, I do find that all productions are important to the city and add to the complexity of what makes New York, New York.  I had the immense pleasure of seeing Jessica Chastain in The Heiress and loved her performance, along with everything about the production–the cast, the sets, everything was brilliant!  So, I was very excited that I was able to have The Leading Hotels of the World collaborate with Harry Winston to put together an intimate dinner to honor Jessica and her outstanding performance.

Stars of the fashion, music and the entertainment worlds all looked forward to congratulating Jessica on her debut.  Among the guests that came out to support Jessica were Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Patricia Clarkson, Christina Ricci, Dan Stevens, Nina Arianda, Gayle King, Hilary Rhoda, Brian Atwood, Fracisco Costa, Georgina Chapman, Katie Lee, Kyle MacLachlin, Andrew Saffir, Olivia Palermo, Johannes Huebl, Rachel Roy, Thakoon Panichgui, Zac Posen and Stefano Tonchi.

 

 

 

 

The chic dinner was held at The Setai Fifth Avenue’s Ai Fiori restaurant and Chef Michael White (same chef as the acclaimed Marea on Central Park South–one of my favorites) prepared a special menu, and event planner Raul Avila transformed the already stunning dinning room into a modern day version of the famous stage set (filling the restaurant with red, magenta and pink peonies and massive arrangements of magnolia branches).

 

Candle light was glowing throughout and all the guests were so excited to see Jessica and congratulate her on her role. The Heiress cast is outstanding and includes Jessica Chastain, David Strathairn, Dan Stevens, Judith Ivey and is directed by Moises Kaufman.  The Heiress opened November 1st and is playing for a limited engagement of 18 weeks at the Walter Kerr Theatre.  Enjoy!

 

 

Rachel Roy and Olivia Palermo

Desiree Gruber, Kyle McLaughlin, Andrew Saffir and Zani Gugelmann

 

Photography by Billy Farrell Agency

I have loved hotels for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I thought it was revolutionary that I got to stay in rooms that had a stocked refrigerators filled with all the treats I wanted (albeit a minibar–at the time this seemed almost space-age), and the ability to pick up the phone and get things sent to the room at any time–and if there was a pool at the hotel, then that was simply the icing on the cake.  I remember staying at a ski resort when I was about twelve that had an indoor/outdoor pool with a wall that one could swim under, to go from hot to cold–I loved it and thought this was simply the coolest hotel ever.  After hours of back and forth…cold to hot…hot to cold…I was told the “Spa” was closing shortly.  Spa?  I was at a spa?  I then asked the attendant what else the “Spa” had.  There was the obvious, steam and sauna, but they also had a cold plunge, an apres ski lounge and a light therapy room.  The only light therapy I had known of was something about photosynthesis from science class about plants and had no idea I could have light therapy too!  So, here at the age of twelve is where I can trace my first steps into a fondness for spa life!

The next day I skied from dawn until dusk and then raced down to the “Spa,” directly from the slopes.  I didn’t want to miss a minute of neither skiing nor spa time. With my legs burning from skiing, I was now prepared to get in all the benefits before the facility closed for the night.  I limited my indoor/outdoor swim to a mere hour so I could take in the steam and sauna and light therapy room.   Mind you I was only twelve and every posting on the walls noted that no one under 18 should use the facility without supervision; however, I’ve been  6 feet tall since I was twelve, so I guess the staff thought I was older–fine by me!

Now we must fast forward,  more years than I care to admit, and here I am as an adult with the same love of spas and I am off to The Setai Fifth Avenue!

I spent the afternoon at the Auriga Spa at The Setai Fifth Avenue, New York–sublime! Auriga is not only my new favorite spa in NYC, but may possibly be my favorite in the United States.  The facility is over 11,000 square feet and can easily keep you busy–just relaxing for hours. The spa is divided into men’s and women’s sanctuaries for changing, showering, relaxing etc (each with privacy as well as a private steam and sauna).  Then there is a communal area for both men and women with the most incredible Turkish Hammam (which rivals any I have visited in Istanbul) with charcoal and black iridescent mosaics tiles on the floor, walls and ceiling and massive white marble slabs to lay on under a ceiling of tiny twinkling lights cleverly hidden within the tile work to create the most incredible light therapy I have experienced.  In this dimly lit hammam, the ceiling becomes a night sky and lying directly under it is like watching a massive sky filled with shimmering stars.  It is quite a special and unique experience.  This light therapy is very much intentional and ties into Auriga’s celestial theme.

The staff takes a holistic approach to wellness, ensuring your body, mind and spirit are carefully nourished.  “We invite you to travel…transform…transcend. Come tap into the celestial rhythm,” is their mantra.

Auriga’s body therapies are based on the varying energies of the lunar cycle and are meant to not only create an experience ideal for a desired outcome, but to also tap into the phases of the moon and how they relate to our body’s rhythm.   Allow enough time to experience all the spa has to offer.  Along with the Turkish Hammam is the center of the spa, a spa vitality pool for hydrotherapy and relaxation. Also, there is the most incredible ice room.  This room is covered from floor to ceiling in green glass tiles with a sink in the center of the room filled with ice and fresh rosemary sprigs.  There are several impressive individual showers with lights, music and water jets coming from all angles–very cool.  Just beyond the hammam is a lounge area for napping and snacking–there is a spread of fresh fruit, delicious snacks, various drinks and a collection of teas. There is even a tea sommelier upon request.  Lastly, the fitness center is modern and fully stocked and the Julian Farel Salon is conveniently located adjacent to the Spa.

The Leaders Club introduced a new benefit last year called “hometown benefits.”  Members in over twenty cities now have on-property hotel perks, without even needing a room reservation.  For example, Leaders Club members in New York receive 30% off spa treatments at Auriga, as well as a 30% discount off hair and make-up services at Julien Farel at the Setai Fifth Avenue!

Auriga truly is a very special place and I’m looking forward to reserving my next spa treatment very soon!

It was Saint Ambrose who coined the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and I do my best whenever I visit Rome.  ”The Eternal City” has a history of over two and a half thousand years and it is truly eternal in every way.  The ancient ruins rest peacefully amongst the chaos of the bustling city, and the Romans have learned to seamlessly mix the old and the new; the perfect spot to experience this is the Hotel de Russie–one of my favorite city hotels in the world!   Nestled quietly between the Villa Borghese Gardens and Piazza del Popolo, and hidden along the famed Via del Babuino, lies this magnificent 19th century palazzo. 

Piazza Del Popolo

 The de Russie opened in 2000 to great acclaim and in the past couple of years has undergone major refurbishments to keep it sparkling and fresh.  The sisal in the hallways is spotless, the lighting perfect, the color scheme is natural and the garden courtyard of de Russie is perhaps my favorite part of the entire hotel.  The Hotel de Russie is a shining star in The Rocco Forte Collection of hotels.  There are 91 rooms and 31suites.  All the rooms are incredibly chic and the suites are fantastic and many have large terraces and several have incredible views of Piazza del Popolo and the Pincio hill.  Sebastian Flowers has an outpost at the de Russie and has turned the hotel’s beautiful floral arrangements into what appears to be an ever changing art installation.  The hotel is probably best known for its treasured oasis of a garden courtyard, but is also renowned for its Wellness Zone — famous for its “Ancient Roman Ritual,” which is a foot treatment like no other and the end result is heaven on your feet.  

Like most everywhere I travel, I try to get the inside scoop from the locals.  My friends in Rome have the best tips!  Here are my picks:

Evening Highlights

  • Santa Lucia, Largo di Febo 12:   Beautiful garden set in a tiny square.
  • Dal Bolognese, Piazza del Popolo1/2:   A minute’s walk from from the Hotel de Russie and always filled with chic Romans.
  • Molto, Viale Parioli, 122:  A new spot with an incredibly stylish dining room and garden, situated in a lovely residential neighborhood.
  • Ciampini, Piazza S. Lorenzo:  Yummy for a snack or homemade gelato.  Famous for traditional triangle sandwiches.  
  • Al Moro, Vicolo delle Bollette, 13:  Fun spot where I always seem to run into someone I know.  Close to the Trastevere neighborhood — always bustling and entertaining to walk around after dinner.
  • Le Jardin de Russie, Hotel de Russie:  This hotel’s restaurant and bar is always filled with stylish hotel guests and cool Romans — the garden is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Jardin De Russie Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping

There are, of course, famous shops quite close to the Spanish Steps (Brunello Cuninelli to Etro to Giorgio Armani–everyone), but here are a few of my special spots to check out:

  • Flair via Margutta 55L  There are Flair home stores in Rome, NYC, Florence and Milan.  Flair has interesting art and home furnishing period pieces from the 1950s, 1960s on up.
  • Fleur Luxury Living, Via Bocca di Leone, 46:  Fleur is somewhat hidden, but is filled with all kinds of things you’ll treasure.  It is a “concept store” which basically means the concept is the buyer has found everything you’d want to own!
  • Via Condotti:  Don’t forget Via Condotti for shopping.  There are a number of great stores between The Spanish Steps and The Hotel de Russie.

 

Other Must-See Sights

  • The Spanish steps and Barcaccia’s Fountain
  • The Colosseum
  • The Pantheon
  • The Roman Forum
  • The Capitaline Hill
  • The Trevi Fountain (the famous scene from La Dolce Vita was filmed here)
  • Piazza Colonna
  • St. Ignazio Church
  • Piazza Montecitoro
  • Piazza Navona
  • Vatican City
  • St Peter’s Cathedral 

Tutto Bene!

Daniel

Time seems to stand still in Capri.  

I have been visiting the island for many years and aside from the new storefronts, the newer style, cute open-air taxi cabs and some extra-large mega yachts, the island looks the same as it did in the photos from the 1950′s with Jackie O and Brigitte Bardot strolling the slippery stone streets.  

Il Riccio Beach Club & Restaurant

Qui si sana means “here one heals,” in Italian, and Capri is the perfect place to do just that. While I love all the Morgano Hotels (Scalinatella, Casa Morgano and the Grand Hotel Quisisana), one of my favorite activities is simply sitting at the bar at the footsteps to the entrance of the “Quisi” after dinner and watching the Italians stroll through town.  Nowhere else in the world does one see such a colorful array of clothing on both men and women – Palm Beach doesn’t even come close! While red pants on men seem to be de rigueur, there is every shade of yellow, blue, orange and green…oh, and I almost forgot purple (that is, shades of pale purple, bright pink, watermelon, lavender, bright purple, and the list goes on).  That’s just the pants – there are also molto color options for cashmere sweaters and scarves and suede driving shoes – yes, tutti color options are open in Capri, and combinations of any and all are encouraged.

 

The same can be said for the ladies, but simply add more prints – Pucci, Missoni, and the like. This summer, the chicest of chic women are all wearing Faraone Mennella jewelry. Rather than just having color options in clothing, the woman strolling through the Piazzetta and up to the Capri Palace and then back down to the main thoroughfare in front of Quisi are all donning truly magnificent colorful pieces from my friends behind the company Faraone Mennella – Amedeo Scognamiglio and Robero Faraone.  Their beautiful new flagship boutique is located just a few steps away from my favorite restaurant Aurora, at Via Fuorlovado 23.  Their collections are beautiful and everyone is abuzz on the island over their new shop.  

 

My Farone Mennella Friends in Capri!

 

One of the best things about Capri is that the stores are open late, so you can shop before and after dinner. My recommendation is to do your clothing shopping prior to pasta at dinner and reserve your jewelry shopping for after dinner.  I love Russo Uomo (right next to the Quisisana) for men’s clothing. I also love 100% Capri right across from Faraone Mennella.  Just about every Italian designer has a shop and naturally Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, Kiton and Tod’s are my first stops.

La Fontelina Capri

A trip to Anacapri is a must, as is a visit to the Capri Palace. It’s absolutely beautiful and the entrance looks into the depths of the swimming pool. Very fun! Also in Anacapri are many quaint and beautiful stores selling locally produced linen clothing.  And now for the food…yes, the food.  For lovers of Italian fare, there is no shortage of delicious spots…in fact, that is pretty much the only option for dinner – Italian!  I had dinner one night at Villa Verde (very popular open air spot) and the waiter recognized half our table as regulars and started taking our dinners orders. I turned to my friend Amedeo and wondered if there were no longer any menus and he replied that he never needs a menu since all the restaurants in Capri have the same dishes – which is only half true. I love La Fontelina and Da Luigi for lunch (both swimming / lunch spots directly under the iconic Faraglioni rocks).  I also adore the newly redone Il Riccio for lunch which is the beach club below the Capri Palace (check out the dessert buffet!).  Il Riccio is also open on weekend nights for dinner.  No trip to Capri is complete without a trip to Da Paolino (set amidst a lemon grove turned ristorante).

If you haven’t been to Capri, you must go. Tutto bene!

We all understand the importance of our safety, and yet can’t help but roll our eyes as we go through TSA security…shoes off, belt off, empty pockets etc.  The movie ”Up in the Air,” depicted this perfectly; George Clooney had his routine down to a tee, including the easy removal of his shoes.

The need for the perfect travel shoe is critical for any savvy traveller.  Laces are a no-no and as much as I cringe while writing this, comfort is very important while traveling.  I was never a fan of Tevas or Birkenstocks and while I love Tom’s Shoes, I was recently introduced to Charles Philip slippers by one of the chicest men I know, Carlos Souza.  For those who don’t know Carlos, not only has he been a public relations genius for the Valentino company for many years, he is also a globe-trotting bon vivant who’s style is only outshone by his warm and lovely personality.

I received a pair of Charles Philip slippers from Carlos and was immediately hooked.  While Charles Philip does refer to these hand-crafted shoes as slippers, they are neither too delicate, nor too precious.  These slippers are truly the most comfortable shoes and immediately fit like a well worn glove.

Carlos Souza

The lining is ultra soft and the sole is sturdy enough to trek through even the longest of connections at any airport or through the maze of the Medina in Marrakech on my way to La Mamounia.  The styles are often crafted from shirting materials and are cobbled by hand in Shanghai. You will love them!

Happy traveling!

 

It has been 114 years since Cesar Ritz described his new Parisian palace as, “A little house upon which I am proud to put my name.” Now, over a century later, the doors of the famed Ritz Paris will close on August 1, 2012 for a two-year unprecedented restoration. Under the direction of internationally acclaimed interior designer Thierry W. Despont, the entire hotel will be restored. The project will refresh each room and suite as well as all of the public spaces, bars, restaurants, the Ritz Escoffier cooking school and outdoor gardens. Working with a team of specialists from around the globe, Ritz Paris President Frank J. Klein and General Manager Christian A. Boyens will oversee the grand project.

Christian Boyens
General Manager, Ritz Paris

 

I have had the great fortune of staying at the Ritz Paris many times, and while I am deeply saddened to see the doors close for the restoration, I anxiously await experiencing the French art de vivre upon its completion. We’ve all heard tidbits in the press about the closing, but I wanted to find out the facts, so I reached out directly to Christian Boyens to confirm some of the details.

 

The Ritz Paris will be forever timeless.

 

 

 

 

 Q: Christian, like so many, I look forward to the doors of the Ritz Paris reopening in 2014. With that said, is the goal for your patrons to walk through the revolving doors and experience a entirely different layout — a completely new Ritz — or should we expect some familiarity in layout, with updated aesthetic changes?
A: The Ritz Paris will be forever timeless. The Ritz will always stay the Ritz. When you wake up at the Ritz Paris, you will immediately know that you are in Paris,and not in Hong Kong or Los Angeles. The history of 114 years, the ambiance of the hotel, will remain the same. Think of a beautiful classic. We’ll redo the leather seats, perfect the paint …it’s just that the engine will be a little bit more powerful. The most important source of inspiration has been the frequent exchange with our loyal guests about what the Ritz Paris should be in 2014.

Q: If the walls of the Ritz Paris suites could talk, they would have volumes to say. With so many legendary guests gracing the hotel over the years, it seems as though a piece of history is evolving with your renovation. What is the goal for these treasured suites and will these same suites be included in your collection after the renovation?
A: The signature suites at the Ritz Paris have many loyal guests who call them home. Many suites are listed and therefore we will pay great attention to keep the Ritz spirit alive within them.

 

 

Q: I know guests from around the world flock to the Ritz Escoffier cooking school. Will the school expand in space and/or scope?
A: We will build on the success of Ecole Ritz Escoffier and continue to develop its programing, improve the general flow of the school and add additional kitchen space to accommodate a wide variety of cooking and pastry ateliers. We talked to many of our frequent students and will take their feedback and suggestions into account.

Q: The Ritz Paris is famous for its unparalleled service. Is there a service in particular that you look forward to introducing and/or once the Ritz reopens?
A: We are certainly aware that high thread-count linens and marble bathrooms are no longer the sole factors guests consider when deciding where to stay. There are magnificent hotels in Paris and the guests have many of choices. The Ritz Paris has always focused on each guest by delivering exceptional service. I believe our location on Place Vendome, our beautiful gardens and terraces, the Ritz Health Club with its amazing pool, and the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, give us something special and unique to offer even to the most demanding and discerning traveler. Rest assured that our service will have some pleasant innovations to offer as well. We’ll keep them a surprise until the opening in the summer of 2014.

 

Q: My last question…are you already taking reservations for 2014 — I think I need to get my request in immediately!
A: We will keep you informed about when we’ll start to accept reservations. We have lots of interest from guests who would like to spend the last night before we close on August 1, 2012 and would like to reserve their exact suite for our re-opening in 2014.

 

Rachel Zoe needs no introduction.  She is by far among the most powerful woman in fashion today and has revolutionized the world of styling and just doesn’t stop impressing me with her endless accomplishment. I often marvel at the growth of Rachel Zoe, Inc. and can’t keep up with her daily additions to her world. She truly has it all, a brilliant career, an adoring husband, an adorable baby son and the charm, wit and kindness to lure anyone into her world. She is the crown jewel in the crown that is Hollywood style and most importantly, I consider her amongst my closest friends.

While Rachel needs no introduction, she does need to travel and travel she does…below are just a few tidbits Read More

It is an honor for me to be the brand ambassador for The Leading Hotels of the World.  I am thrilled to be working with LHW and look forward to sharing more about the brand and its truly amazing properties.   I hope that each entry and my passion for luxury travel and the best of design, inspires you to explore the world and enjoy cherished favorites as well as seek out new and exciting travel experiences. The Leading Hotels of the World is not only the largest global luxury hospitality brand, Read More