Category Archives: luxury

Everything Tastes Better in Bora Bora

Lunch at Four Seasons Bora Bora’s Tere Nui

By Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth
@FoodTravelrBeth

A great meal can be made even better when eating it in paradise. Take Bora Bora: just being there gives you a huge jump start on everything from romance to relaxation, and both things make everything destined to taste better. If you’ve never been to Bora Bora, it’s one of those places that you can’t leave this earth without seeing. The colors of the pristine water, the incredible resorts and of course the food gave me reason to pause several times a day to say WOW. I had a lot of memorable meals, and here’s a little run down of a few of them.

To start, what could be more dreamy than the freshest, fattiest, raw tuna presented to you with a touch of foie gras, and pea puree (below).

This amazing starter was the opening course I had a the lovely Kaina Hut restaurant on the main island. It was buttery, rich and decadent, yet still light and bright. This adorable little place is casual, fine dining that maintains it’s French Polynesian elegance even with its thatched roof and sandy floor. The main course was a grilled white fish sitting on a plantain mash with coconut foam, and while it was the ‘whitest’ dish I’d ever seen, it was absolutely delicious, texturally perfect and something I had never had before.

Another seductive meal I experienced was the incredible steak with chocolate sauce at Le Tipanié, which is the fine dining restaurant at Le Merdien Bora Bora. The meat was tender and juicy, the sauce was both bitter and sweet and the plating – gorgeous. It was a meal well suited to a romantic dinner for two.

The restaurant itself sits on the resort’s lagoon, where you can allow yourself to be mesmerized by more than just your companion. Watching the fish and sea turtles that live in the crystal clear and shallow water make this a special place to dine. And if you love sea turtles, then Le Meridien is the place for you with its famous Marine Turtle Protection Centre. The photo below was taken looking down into the water of the lagoon during daylight hours. At night, it’s lit up.

Another great hotel dining experience is St. Regis Bora Bora’s Polynesian buffet at Te Pahu, one of their four restaurants. There is so much to choose from, including suckling pig (pictured below), a ton of creative raw fish items, grilled meats and salads. The restaurant sits beachside, which in and of itself is lovely, and to top it all off, entertains with a traditional Polynesian show.

Bora Bora’s French influence is front and center at La Villa Mahan Restaurant, owned by the island’s most well-known chef, Damien Rinaldi Dovio and his family. He’s a sweetheart of a man who has amazing creativity and passion for his food and an honest desire to give his guests the best of the best. Getting a table here isn’t easy. It’s small and in high demand so make sure when you’re booking your trip, you’re working with somebody who has an in (like me!) The most desired seat in the house is a private, loft-like area that sits above the patio and offers a super romantic atmosphere (pictured below). But even the indoor dining room is interesting with hand drawn murals and artwork created by local artists and members of Dovio family.

The menu changes every few months, but it’s always French using local ingredients and earning rave reviews. I feel fortunate to have met Chef Damien and thank him for the personal tour of his restaurant. Check out the cool guitar that was hanging on the wall. To me, it summed up La Villa Mahan with its color, character and artistry. I wish I could’ve taken it home with me!

One of Bora Bora’s most famous restaurants is Bloody Mary’s, a super casual dining establishment that’s been around since the late 1970’s. It’s a giant thatch-roofed hut with a sand floor giving you a true French Polynesian vibe. You can choose from the freshest of seafood which is displayed daily, or order from their low-key menu filled with everything from chicken sandwiches to rock lobster. One of my favorite things is their charred and peppered tuna sashimi, washed down with an ice-cold Hinano, the local beer. Clearly I can’t get enough raw tuna!

Bloody Mary is famous among the famous, and you’ll hear stories about the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stone’s coming in to play. It’s a fun place with great energy and while touristy, someplace you shouldn’t miss.

Whenever you travel, whether it be to a tropical island or a big city, and no matter how picky you might be, challenge yourself to try something that you can’t get at home. Food is fun and exciting, plays with all of your senses and allows you to taste a little bit of what life is like someplace else. So as they say in Bora Bora, “Tama’a Maita’i” (enjoy your meal, bon appetit)!

For more details about Bora Bora and the hotels and restaurants above – or if you’re interested in planning a trip, contact me anytime! And checkout my previous posting called Paradise on Earth.

Nana (goodbye in Tahitian) for now!

on Twitter @FoodTravelrBeth
Facebook: Your Journey By Beth
Email: journeybybeth@gmail.com
Email: journeybybeth@gmail.com

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Filed under exotic, food, Foodie, Fun, honeymoon, island, luxury, Paradise, Romantic, travel, tropical, Uncategorized

Spectrum of Spa

By Beth Friedman
@FoodTravelrBeth

The past couple of weeks has brought true contrasts of color into my world. I went from a bona fide tropical paradise almost straight into the desert. Two vastly different yet dazzling places, and in both I experienced a spectrum of spa.

For anybody who thinks that a spa is a spa is a spa, I’ve got two unbelievable places to tell you about. They couldn’t be more different from one another, but both offer their guests beautiful experiences that are reflective of their homes.

I’ll start with Le Taha’a Manea Spa, which is part of the Le Taha’a Resort, located on a private island not too far from Bora Bora. It is without question one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been, and pretty easy to get to considering the level of seclusion guests enjoy here – about a 35 minute flight from Papeete, Tahiti to Raitae Airport, where from the plane’s tarmac you walk about 300 feet to get into the resort’s boat for a relaxing 45 minute ride to this idyllic location.

The spa is situated on a beautiful lake, which is the view you are welcomed with from most of the indoor/outdoor treatment rooms. It is truly different from anything I’ve ever seen and nothing short of breathtaking. A wide variety of treatments include everything from their signature Vai Vanira, a vanilla bath followed by a full body vanilla oil massage, to getting a traditional Tahitian tattoo from their resident artist. Even the full-sized gym overlooks the lake.

All of this tranquility comes at a price because here you are at a 5 diamond deluxe property where accommodations are either over water bungalows or beach front villas. It is absolutely the perfect place for any couple looking for something truly unique and quiet, and is without question worth every penny. The photo below is just a snapshot of what greeted me just outside the glass door from my bedroom of one of the Royal Villas. The beach continues to stretch into the distance, the water is pristine, crystal clear, calm and shallow. Peaceful doesn’t begin to describe it.

Rates fluctuate with time of year and location/size of the bungalow or villa, so if you’d like to know more about all of the different options, their costs and details like how many bedrooms or whether or not there’s a plunge pool, just give me a shout!

By contrast, but no less wonderful, Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson Arizona has a most interesting approach to wellness. With a focus on what they call ‘Mindfullness”, which keeps us in the moment no matter what we’re doing, Miraval offers unique classes, activities, and spa treatments that provide guests with fun and creative ways to care for themselves from the inside out. This includes a wide variety of things like nutritional work ups and wonderful, healthy, gourmet meals (and cooking classes!), consults with Dr. Andrew Weil proteges (Dr. Weil himself holds occasional seminars), cardio drumming and Chi Gong classes, equestrian activities, hiking, meditation, cardio dance, wall-climbing, desert tightrope and zip-lining. And this is just scratching the surface.

Two special places seen below at Miraval are the Kiva Firepit, where guests can mingle, star gaze and enjoy the desert air. And the Labyrinth, which is a place meant for walking and quiet reflection.


Throughout the entire property, which consists of 6 small villages, you can hear water trickling up and down various streams and water features, wander through pathways throughout that are dotted with desert vegetation and interesting sculptures, all at the base of the Catalina Mountains. There is nothing in the world like the desert air to cleanse the soul, and this special resort is all about doing just that.

Suffice to say, Miraval has a serious understanding of how to work with guests on health and wellness, and an important element of the whole experience is of course, the spa. When I was there, I had a wonderful treatment called ‘Nurture’. It is a 100 minute “ritual” starting with a warm loofah exfoliation with white peate enzymes (not really sure what that is, but so what?), sea minerals and blueberry. Then there is the application of a soothing mushroom and phyto-nutrient masque, followed by a wonderful outdoor shower. And it wasn’t over yet! Then came the full-body massage using arctic berry milk cream. My skin never felt so good!!

There are several levels of accommodations at Miraval starting with their indigenously decorated, entry level Deluxe rooms, all with “signature sleep experience” bedding and outdoor space. The newest are in their Catalina ‘Village” where each Villa is Leeds certified and amazingly cozy with that “to die for” bedding, muted colors among natural materials with incredible sunlight and views from unique glass walls allowing indoor/outdoor living.

Again, not an inexpensive experience, but who can put a price-tag on your well-being? And in fact, Miraval’s per person rates include accommodations, airport transfers, food & beverage (not alcohol), most group classes and activities and $130 resort credit that can be applied to things like spa treatments per day, so it’s a fantastic value.

Both of these wonderful hotel/resorts & spas are dedicated to making their guests feel welcome, special, pampered and above all else, healthy and cared for. For more information about booking Miraval or Le Taha’a let me know. Or if you’re looking for other spa/health wellness suggestions, I’ve got a world of ideas!

Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth
310-804-6767
journeybybeth@yahoo.com
beth@elitetravelinternational.com

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Filed under Getaway, honeymoon, luxury, Romantic, spa, travel, Uncategorized

Paradise on Earth

By Beth Friedman

@FoodTravelrBeth

Have you heard all of the hype about French Polynesia? You know what I’m talking about…….all of the fantasizing going on about running off to Tahiti and dreams of a honeymoon in Bora Bora in an overwater bungalow? Well, all I can say with brutal honesty after visiting last week is that it doesn’t disappoint!

I just spent a whirlwind 6 days touring 11 hotels & resorts, unique wedding and honeymoon destinations, 2 cruise ships, restaurants and other incredible places and at no point in my time there did I think that I wasn’t someplace worthy of a little fantasy. There is something in the air, combined with all of the distinct and dramatic color contrasts, along with the wonderful hospitality that makes this part of the world truly stand out.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to get there, with a manageable 8 and half hour flight non-stop from LAX to Papeete, Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui. And the intra-island air travel was incredibly simple and painless too. The airports are so small and easy to navigate. Fortunately I was hosted by a very well respected tour company in the region called Tahiti Legends and through them, I was introduced to a fantastic staff of locals who know all of the ins and outs of getting around. Great contacts for me – and in turn for my clients.

Over my next several blog postings I’ll be sharing what I saw and what I learned, and I hope that it encourages you to find a way to go. Since I was there working (I know, I know-at least I get to love my work), I didn’t have much of a chance to soak up the sun and enjoy, so I am bound and determined to find a way back – next time with my boyfriend because it very well may be the most romantic place on earth.

Follow along because there’s some good stuff coming!


If you have any questions about travel to French Polynesia (or anywhere else for that matter!), just give a shout!

For more about why having your very own personal travel consultant helps make travel planning more fun and less expensive check out https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/about/

Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth
310-804-6767
beth@elitetravelinternational.com
journeybybeth@yahoo.com

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Filed under exotic, honeymoon, island, luxury, Romantic, travel, tropical

For Business or Pleasure in Las Vegas?

By Beth Friedman
@BethLovesTravel
http://www.Facebook.com/YourJourneyByBeth

You’re probably wondering why I chose to post a picture of a rabbit as my opening to a blog about Las Vegas, so here’s the deal. At Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens they are celebrating the Year of the Rabbit in true Vegas style with the 12 foot bunny in the photo, a 35 ft. authentic Junk (chinese boat) floating in an amazing koi pond, plus many more amazing features and details. I loved the rabbit so much that it’s been my iPhone wallpaper for the last two weeks. Here’s why this even remotely relevant: I took this picture on my first trip to Vegas just for the fun of it. You see, over the past decade I’ve been there too many times to count for business, so long ago I stopped taking the time to ‘smell the roses’ (so to speak).

In my “previous life” as an advertising sales exec for a luxury travel magazine called Elite Traveler (among others), I managed the Las Vegas territory. My responsibilities included working with hotels and resorts which was a lot of fun. On the one hand, I was very lucky because I dined at fantastic restaurants and stayed at the beautiful hotels, but because my focus was always on work, I never had the desire to go just to go. That is until last month when my boyfriend’s parents invited us to join them for a quick over-nighter.

I arranged their stay at Bellagio, where I am friendly with a few of the executives, and where I was able to have them upgraded into the fantastic Cypress Suite – all 1524 square feet of it, with two full-on his and hers bathrooms and grand views from every room of the lake, the world-famous Fountains of Bellagio and Paris’ Eiffel Tower.

Joe and I were in a Lake View Deluxe Room, which isn’t quite as grand as the Cypress Suite, but super cozy with the same view. It was from here on the 25th floor that the Fountains of Bellagio Show swept me up into the spirit of being in Vegas. I didn’t know this, but you can listen to the ‘performance’ from the comfort of your room by tuning into channel 22 on your TV. I was mesmerized, and over the course of our 24 hour stay we saw and heard One, Singular Sensation (A Chorus Line), Luck be a Lady (Sinatra – of course!), My Heart Will Go on (Celine Dion from Titanic) and All That Jazz (overture from Chicago Soundtrack). The photo below was taken at sunset and it was spectacular!

Something I always looked forward to while visiting Vegas even for business was the anticipation of a few great meals. You don’t need me to tell you that these days it is as much a culinary destination and adventure as it is anything else, so our food-fest began at Olives, the Todd English Mediterranean spot at Bellagio for lunch. To be honest, it’s very expensive for what it is, but the food was tasty, plus beer and mimosas were flowing so we had a great time. Dinner that evening was at American Fish, the Michael Mina restaurant located at Aria. The food was excellent, the service was top-notch and as expected, it was very expensive too. I had the mixed grill of seafood with red kuri squash, celery root and roasted mushrooms, with a side of truffled mac n cheese. Very yummy.

The next day, Joe and his Dad played the horses at the sports book and Betty (Joe’s Step-Mom) and I went off on our own. I was curious about the Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino since I hadn’t seen it yet, so we took the short walk over. It is glitzy and glamorous and definitely targeting the hip, happening crowd. This unique hotel is hard to describe in just a few words so check out the Chandelier Bar (part of it) below. It gives you a good sense of the overall vibe.

For lunch, the food-fest continued and if all things epicurean are your thing, you can die happy at the Cosmopolitan with superstar chef restaurants like Jose AndresJaleo, David Myer’s Comme Ça and Scott Conant’s Scarpetta (+ more!) We wanted to have lunch at Scarpetta, but they are only open for dinner, so we landed next door at D.O.C.G., another Scott Conant spot which turned out to be the perfect place for us to eat, drink and catch up with each other. We sat at the bar and ordered a carafe of Lagaria Pinot Grigio straight away. The menu is filled with italian delicacies, but what caught our eye was a combination plate offering two meats, two cheeses and three assaggini (small tastes) for $25.00. A rare culinary deal in Vegas.

This is one of my very favorite ways of eating ( a little of this, a little of that!) so every time I see the picture above it makes me hungry!

To walk off some of the food and wine, Betty and I wandered up to the Cosmopolitan’s Pool District (yes, district with three separate pool areas) and if the weather were warmer, we would have been very happy spending some serious time there. The indoor/outdoor “game-room” called the “Day Club Pool” was very cool and at night becomes an extension of a nightclub. The photo below is of their Boulevard Pool. Since it was pretty chilly out, we moved on to shop until it was time to meet up with the men and head to dinner. We had one more meal to go before leaving for the airport, and that was a 6:00 reservation at Sensi, the asian/indian/italian fusion restaurant at Bellagio.

Sensi was amazing. You’d think that its overkill trying to combine asian/indian and italian cuisines, but we truly loved this meal, the service and the zen feeling you get while you’re there. For dinner I had the tandoori surf & turf with tandoori chicken, but you can also have it with steak or lamb. It also came with grilled shrimp, white fish and traditional indian condiments – so delicious! I finished my plate even after our big lunch at D.O.C.G. Betty had the pad Thai, Joe had the short ribs – a gorgeous plate – and Joe’s Dad had a shrimp dish, which I know he enjoyed because he cleaned the plate. Another pricey meal, but well worth it. Big thanks again to the Smith’s for everything on this trip!

After dinner, we jumped into a cab and headed to the airport. It was the first time that I can remember wanting to stay in Vegas to see and do more. And it was also too bad that our visit with Joe’s parents had to be so short. Both Joe and I live far from our families, so any time we get to spend together is a treat.

I’ll be heading to Vegas again for business in May and perhaps this time I’ll stay an extra day to relax and enjoy.

For more information about traveling to Las Vegas (or anywhere else for that matter!), connect with me anytime! I would love to hear from you!

Beth Friedman
Luxury Travel Consultant
beth@elitetravelinternational.com
or journeybybeth@yahoo.com
310-804-6767

PS: Special thanks again to my friends at Bellagio, which is the original 5 diamond, class act on the Las Vegas strip. If only we had more time to dine at all of their other award-winning restaurants and enjoy the expertise of their FOUR (count them) FOUR Master Sommeliers on property. If you are interested in food & wine then it’s only here where you can join their Epicurean Epicenter for exclusive and unique events.

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Filed under Bellagio, food, Fun, Getaway, Holiday, Las Vegas, luxury, travel, Vegas