Tag Archives: luxury

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

Beth Eats Italy Part IV: The “PLACE” and the “PALACE”

If you have been following my Italian Adventure from the beginning, than welcome back to Capri! If this is your first time joining in, it is my third post about this small, but amazing island. I wouldn’t have imagined that the two short days I spent there would garner three separate blogs (and I could go on!) but that, in and of itself says something about why you should visit! If you’re getting married anytime soon, Capri and the Amalphi coast is a fantastic honeymoon destination too. I can’t think of a more seductive getaway!

If you are looking for THE best and most romantic in terms of accommodations and service there are several choices here. On this day, we visited another wonderful property called JK Place for a tour and lunch. Their charming GM showed us around this intimate hotel as though it were his home. In fact at JK Place you have the distinct feeling of being in someone’s house the moment you walk through the front door. I loved it!

Each of the 22 rooms are beautifully appointed, cozy and not pretentious, the bathrooms are to die for and very spa-like. The spa itself is lovely and opens up to the pool which is tremendous, especially considering how few guests there are at any given time. And the pièce de résistance of the day was the food at JKitchen.

After the tour we gathered in their small bar for a cocktail and some finger food. I had a Campari and OJ (it only seemed appropriate!) with mini tuna tartar tossed in basil, lemon and olive oil, mini calzones and savory zeppoli, which were salty and chewy and delicious! In anticipation of another multi-course lunch, I was forced to limit myself to one of each!

In a dining room that was reminiscent of sitting in one’s residence, we were treated to a great lunch that included pancetta wrapped white fish over a puree of rosemary potatoes (an amuse-bouche) and smoked mozzarella draped over eggplant ‘tartar” as a starter.

For the pasta course, it was hand-made fussilli with butter, garlic, parsley, shrimp, clams and mussels. The whole meal was delicious, but the star was this pasta dish. I’m typically not a huge fan of seafood with pasta (except for perfectly done linguine vongole, which in my experience is hard to find), but THIS had me doing that thing you do when your eyes close and you audibly sigh with the first bite. The shrimp was beyond sweet, and was a pink that I had never seen before. It truly was perfection on a plate.

Dessert was an array of several dreamy pastry, but to be honest, I was so full at this point, I lost the will to document it! Suffice it to say – it was all beautiful.

Back at the Capri Tiberio Palace Hotel (see Part II: Ah, Capri, for more on what was my “home” in Capri if you missed it!), with another very full stomach, I had some much-needed time to come out of my food coma, answer some emails and oh yes, head over to the Blu Mediterrean spa for another fantastic massage.

I was quickly learning on this trip that pacing myself was very important because every meal was (and would be) a marathon of very special and seductive food. That night, cocktails were planned at the famed Caesar Augustus Hotel (another wonderful hotel option in Capri), to be followed by dinner at the 2 Michelin star L’Olivio at the Capri Palace Hotel, which is another 5 diamond deluxe property.

When we arrived at the Capri Palace up in AnaCapri, we were taken to see several of their wonderfully clever accommodations including the Paltrow Suite (for Gwyneth) and the Margritte (as in René) Suite. Each have unusual private pools that reflect their namesakes and the rooms themselves were equally sexy and unique:

There are several incredible “Art” and “Star” suites to choose from along with room types that are not themed per se, but still honor this hotels dedication to beauty, comfort, style and of course, service. In fact, throughout the entire hotel, you can’t help but notice a clear appreciation for the arts and creativity.

Upon entering L’Olivio, it was clear that this feeling extended into the food! The vibe at this fine dining restaurant is incredibly comfortable given it’s luxe interior. Our party of 8 was very cozy at a huge square table which boasted cushy couches on three sides with separate armchairs on one. We were immediately served flutes of Ca ‘del Bosco Spumanti and sipped them while scanning the menu. The decision-making process was painful because there were so many unique and delicious sounding choices. After much deliberation, here’s what I had for dinner:

The duo of amuses were anchovies with ricotta (I discovered that I love anchovies after all!!), eggplant & chicory salad with bacon and a bruschetta with salt cod. Please trust me when I tell you that my descriptions hardly do justice to the reality. The bread sticks weren’t just any bread sticks and they were served with buffalo cream instead of butter or olive oil. It was all crazy good!

My first course, called the Seafood Mosaic, was one of the most imaginative and delicious plates that has ever been placed in front of me. It is exactly what it sounds like; a mosaic of 9 single bites, each a raw item where one was more mouth-watering than the next.

My pasta was spaghetti with sea urchin and white tomato juice. Anybody who knows me, knows that sea urchin is an all-time favorite, and this plate practically made me swoon.

I made sure to keep room for the main course, which was a braised veal leg scented with spices with citrus fruits and assorted veggies. All I can think of to say is “Ah”.

As a gift, I was given the most enormous cookbook I’ve ever seen called “Oliver Glowig Arte e Gusto a Capri”, which has recipes and photos of the dishes they serve at L’Olivio. It’s written in Italian of course, but even if it was in English, to replicate what their chef’s do at home in my kitchen would be a challenge to say the least. This book (all 10ish pounds of it) is a prized souvenir that I will always cherish. It wasn’t easy to it schlep all all over Italy – then home. But I’m so glad I did!

So four days into this trip and I’m guessing that I may have already gained 5 pounds! I would call that a good start! Tomorrow, we’re off to Positano and while I’m sad to say arrivederci to Capri I can’t wait!

If you’re interested in hearing more about Capri (or anywhere else for that matter) let me know! It’s my job to send people off on great adventures!

Ciao for now!
Beth

Beth@elitetravelinternational.com
journeybybeth@yahoo.com.
http://www.twitter.com/BethLovesTravel
http://www.Facebook.com/beth.friedman1

If you missed Parts I-III of Beth Eats Italy, here are the links:
Naples: https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/beth-eats-italy-part-1-naples-2/
Ah, Capri: https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/beth-eats-italy-part-ii-ah-capri/
More Capri: https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/beth-eats-italy-part-iii-more-on-capri/

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Filed under food, Italy, travel