Friday, July 30, 2010

Yes You Can Afford To....Stay in a Super Fancy Hotel

Have you heard of this auction site called Off and Away ? I first read about it in the NY Times Travel section, and I tore out the article . I've just checked it out online, and it seems pretty amazing. Right now there's a huge suite that goes for $1700 for two nights, that is $1 right now. I am kicking myself when I see that a suite at the Carlyle just went for $39 for two nights, with a value of $2567.00. Something to definitely bookmark, because at prices like these, you might just have a cheap date night in a four-star hotel. That is, if you order in pizza.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A European Beach Club in Jersey

One of my favorite things about going to a beach in parts of Europe, is the beach club concept. My favorite one is in Puglia, at the Masseria Torre Coccaro, where you take an 8 minute shuttle from the hotel, to a super chic club on the sea, where they have changing rooms, showers, massage rooms, hammocks, shade, umbrellas, waiter service on the beach, and one of the best restaurants ever. I swear it was the best seafood pasta we have ever had. Recently I was interviewing Bob and Cortney Novogratz (they have that show on Bravo called 9 By Design), who told me about the Bungalow Hotel they did in Long Branch, New Jersey, and how this hotel is affiliated with a beach club, and how much it feels like a European beach club. No, I haven't been there yet, but judging from the pictures it looks good. I'm thinking this would be a perfect September getaway, after all the summer crowds, and if I get down there, I'll give you the full report.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I-95: More Food Tips

(photo by Preston Schlebusch for Travel+Leisure)
I have a friend who has to drive from New York to Florida with her family of four, a couple of times a year. I feel her pain, and am determined to find some good places for her to try out along the way. So any good food tips for the I-95 route, let me know. In the meantime, I just found an old article that the Lee Brothers wrote for Travel+Leisure. Although it's several years old, I find that most local gems that have been around forever, stay around forever. But do call before you pull off the highway and hype up the meal to the whole family. There's nothing more disappointing than telling a starving car that the place you've just talked about for the last hour is closed today, or only open for dinner.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Rivers Resort, Idaho

The Three Rivers Resort might be one of our favorite places ever. It's not fancy, but it's honest, and it's in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Matt has gone there at least four times now--he even shot it for Martha Stewart--and we would head back in a heartbeat. We love the emerald green Selway River with its white sandy beaches (yes, that's where my homepage image comes from), where we sit/wade while Matt goes fishing. The cabins are very simple, but just what you need, and the family that owns it couldn't be nicer and more accommodating. It feels like the kind of place that you remember from when you were a kid, and it's still there, and hasn't changed a bit.
I know, a little heavy on the sauce, but the ribs were good.
homemade blackberry sauce, if I'm remembering correctly...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sequoia National Park

(photos from the Silver City Mountain Resort website)
Trolling the internet for an article I was writing last spring, I happened upon the Silver City Mountain Resort, within Sequoia National Park (home of the 5 largest living sequoia trees in the world, and it's 240 miles from LA, and 280 miles for SF). I've never been there, because when you grow up in California like I did, usually Yosemite is the park your parents take you to. However, as beautiful as Yosemite is, I just think of it as so crowded, which is exactly what you don't want when you are setting out to be in nature. And from everything I read, it seems the general feeling is that Sequoia isn't crowded. What I like about the Silver City Mountain Resort is that its a small historical retreat with simple but cute cabins, ranger-led campfires, horseback riding, and fly-fishing on the Kaweah River. It just seems really contained and manageable, which is not usually the case with national parks. And apparently the restaurant there, Silver City, has some killer homemade pie (although only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays).
(photos from the nps website)
One of my favorite resources for any kind of west coast travel, is Sunset Magazine. If you go to Sequoia, do check out all their stories on it--this one in particular breaks it down well. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Love: Hotels With Organic Gardens, Part 3

I wrote about Mar Vista last March, as a spring break idea, and am reminding you of it now, since I'm in this 'hotel with organic garden' mode. We went to Mar Vista a couple of years ago, and it was such a great trip.  We had our own little cottage, with a fully equipped kitchen, and a porch, and plenty of space around it so we never felt like our neighbors would be inconvenienced if Clara was having a meltdown (or if we were). All of the cottages are all situated around a large grassy meadow and garden, with tons of room for kids to run, a rope swing, animals to look at, and a fantastic soaking tub. Then there are the chickens to gather eggs from, and the organic edible garden to harvest whatever is in season. (It's also where Clara pulled her first food out of the ground.) Across the road is the Pacific Ocean, so you have views of it from the property, and in five minutes walk, you are on the beach. Yes, it's a schlep from San Francisco (close to three hours), but it's so worth it, as long as you build in plenty of time to get there, and some stops along the way in Point Reyes to pick up some provisions for your kitchen at Mar Vista at Tomales Bay Foods and Toby's Feed Barn. After all, this is the kind of place you won't want to leave--you'll probably eat breakfast and dinner at the property, and go out for lunch and a little adventure. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tourists in Our Own Town: The Intrepid

As many times as we've driven past the Intrepid , we've never gone there. Maybe it's because we see all the crowds, and they scare us off. But this week I had to be in that area to drop off our car, and with Clara out of school, I figured this was the perfect time to go. And man, did we get lucky. First of all, it was a Monday, so that was a huge point in our favor--never go on a weekend. Second, it poured buckets right before we got there, and we got there right at opening time, so it was pretty much empty. It was really perfect. We went through all of the carrier, then we went onto the Concorde, and lastly we went on the submarine. Clara loved it so much she kept saying she wanted to come there every day, which was nice to hear, but at $43 for two tickets, certainly it isn't a place we'll be frequenting. Now I think I've sorted out the perfect scenario for visiting. Start out with a coffee and a pastry at Sullivan Street Bakery , on 47th between 10th and 11th, just a block and a half away from the Intrepid. Then after the visit, have lunch at Daisy May's BBQ , just a block away. We really had a blast, and felt like we had a mini-vacation.
the amazing savory brioche
even if you never got to go on the concorde, you can picnic under it, and then go inside and see how small it is, not too different from flying coach, just faster!
yes, that's the inside of the concorde...
inside the submarine the Growler