Icy Cool Luxury Stays in Mexico and Latin America

Luxury Stays in Mexico and Latin America can be that much more local if you choose a property that provides a certain immersive experience of the place you are visiting. Two such places: Chablé near Merida in the Riviera Maya and Casa San Agustin in the Old Town section of Cartagena in Columbia fit the bill, as both offer rare remnants of the rich and sumptuous local traditions that comfort the body and feed the soul. Both belong to an intriguing chain of boutique, exquisitely designed properties known as Hamak Hotels.

Luxury Stay in Mexico: The Way of Chablé

Chablé is the latest stamp of luxury in the Yucatan near the preserved 15th century Spanish colonial walking streets of Merida. Chablé opened in 2015 on 750 acres surrounded by ancient Mayan forests less than 30 miles southwest of Merida, and near the preserved sites of great Mayan ruins that make this land so compelling.

While location is a draw for Chablé, what’s more inviting is the design of the resort, which recently received the 2017 Prix Versailles award designation presented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union of Architects to the structures that have the most remarkable interior and exterior architecture.

Such feats are experienced in accommodations defined by minimalist uses of rough-hewn limestone and rich dark woods complementing ample dimensions of wall-length windows and accenting the glass-walled bathrooms with freestanding stone tubs. Each of the 40 stand-alone villas possesses its own hammock-strung patio terrace with daybed opening to a private plunge pool. Expect the unexpected here: fresh flowers, handmade turndown treats, a complimentary mini-bar, and coffee and pastries left each morning on the terrace.

Guests cross the gates and follow a lantern lit path into another century upon check-in. The 18-century main house is a hacienda restored to the grand scale of the era welcomes guests into the Chablé world with hand-made tile floors, wooden beams, soaring ceilings, and an inviting veranda overlooking verdant lawns and gnarled, ancient Parota trees. The resort is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The Spa and Cenote comprise additional Chablé resort elements that capture the sense of place but remain unparalleled in what immersive luxury resort experiences one might find along the Riviera Maya.

The 14-room spa surrounds a large cenote. These clear freshwater limestone sinkholes are common in the Yucatán Peninsula and a must for any visitor that comes this way. They cannot be fabricated. Rather, they are a gift from nature and many believe harbor special powers in the water and earthy vibrations.

A 40-page spa guide outlines all the fitness classes, meditation and yoga sessions, even special programs in Rieki and dance. Treatments may incorporate Mayan healing rituals or such unusual approaches as Janzu water massage or temescal sweat lodge ceremonies performed by a local shaman. Also find three plunge pools, a steam room cave laden in gold tiles, and a saltwater “floatarium.”

And when its time for cocktails and dinner guests can head to Ixi’Im where they can sample from the resort’s collection of more than 3,000 bottles of tequila and learn famed Mexico City chef Jorge Vallejo the secrets of creating perfect tortillas and chocolate.

Chablé is located just minutes from the Mayan town of Chocholá, a wonderful starting point for wandering through textile shops, markets, and authentic eateries. Contact: info@chableresort.com

A Cool Luxury Stay in Cartagena: Casa San Agustin

Travels to Latin America should include some days in Old Town Cartagena. Colombia – a veritable open-air museum of a city that became a UNESCO protected world heritage site in 1984. It’s also the location of Casa San Agustin, a Hamak Hotel that opened in 2013 and wraps visitors with the perfect blend of old and new in an impeccably restored 17th century mansion.

The city itself, on Columbia’s northern coastline, was a busy trading port in its day. The Spanish settled the town in 1533 and it still shows the confluence of European, South American, African and Caribbean cultures in its traditions, foods, architecture and cultures.

Staying in and exploring Old Town is easy and most immersive with a stay at the Casa San Agustin, a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

Find 30 suites and guestrooms in what are actually three restored manors that share a stunning brick courtyard and pool. Each accommodation is its own design and opens to a view of the street or garden. Some of the rooms and suites enjoy shared gardens, or private plunge pools, and may display some of the original elements, such as wood-beamed ceilings or frescoes.

Linens are Frette and iPads are presented to guest upon request. Wi-Fi is freely available throughout and bicycles are at the ready for guests to ride through the medieval streets surrounding and onto the beach areas.

Dining at Casa San Agustin is also a treat. The Hotel’s Alma Restaurant presents destination dining that is popular among guests of the hotel and city residents as well. Chef Heberto Eljach brings in his personal interpretations of refined Colombian dishes: he serves a signature ceviche with fish, octopus, and shrimp tossed in spices and sour cream, topped with pork rinds, and served with roasted arepas. The Cartagena-style seafood chowder is well recommended – a soft medley of lobster, shrimp, octopus, prawns and mussels, using coconut milk and a mound of fluffy rice. Colombian-style bouillabaisse, as house-cured meats and fresh seasonal produce are always on the menu.

Cocktails, too, turn into extravagant elixirs with bruja twists of classics and the use of flamboyant flames to unleash the powers of special ingredients.

Easy ambles from Casa San Agustin are the ambient walking streets and intriguing attractions within the 15th century walls that protect Old Town Cartagena. Among the starred stops will be the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas built by the Spanish and marked by a dark, humid labyrinth of subterranean tunnels. Also visit Getsemaní, Old Town Cartagena’s bohemian center where artful graffiti accents the walls and buildings. Just beyond is Parque del Centenario, inhabited by sloths and pint-sized monkeys.

Cartagena’s Centro District brings worthy museums to add to a day’s activities: the Museum of Modern Art Cartagena that displays the works of Colombia’s top masters, the Museo del Oro Zenú that looks at the local uses of gold for mystical and practical applications; and there is the circa 1612 Cartagena Cathedral that crowns Cartagena’s skyline. Contact: info@hotelcasasanagustin.com

Three More Hotels from Hamak in Mexico

Currently open, Mukan – a hidden gem on the Yucatan – is the only luxury resort property in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula. The resort is ideal for multi-generational takeovers as there are endless activities for all ages. Featuring just nine luxe lodgings, the resort is 20 minutes outside Tulum with no neighbors in sight. www.mukan.com

Connecting guests with the history and colonial architecture of Puebla, Mexico – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Cartesiano offers a local mansion experience without sacrificing 21st-century creature comforts. From their posh home base in one of 78 guest rooms and suites, housed in two historic and modern buildings, including a XVI century colonial house, guests may venture into this charming city. Puebla is home to 365 churches and a famous antiques market, and renowned for its Talavera pottery. Within the hotel, two fine dining restaurants focused on rich regional flavors, a rooftop pool, a library and the serene Spa at Cartesiano await guests after a day of exploring Puebla’s 365 churches, famous antiques markets and Talavera pottery, or venturing farther afield to Cholula pyramid, Tepoztlan or Taxo. www.hotelcartesiano.com 

Opening August, 2018, Chable Maroma on the Riviera Maya is an exciting new addition to Maroma Beach. Just 35 minutes from the Cancun Airport, Chable Maroma will feature seventy suites with private pools and moon showers. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, the resort will feature beach water sports, a 17,000-square foot spa, and three restaurants. www.hamakhotels.com

Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.


KAA News Roundup

We are thrilled to announce the following clients made the list of the Top 50 Hotels in the World. The Lodhi in New Delhi debuts at the #2 spot, and another city hotel, The Reverie Saigon took the #4 spot. The new Faena Miami Beach took the #11 spot and Finca Cortesin on Spain’s Costa del Sol is #43. See full list >>

A separate list of the Top 50 Resorts in the World featured many clients as well. Sister boutique hotels Bahia Vik and Playa Vik in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay shared the #3 spot, while the newly opened Chable Resort outside Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan debuted at #38. The top luxury ranch on the list, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch was named #7 in the world. See full list >>

Regional winners include Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa in Nicaragua at #9 in Central & South America, and Pikaia Lodge in the Galapagos was named #8 in South America. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers came in at #3 in all of Australia and New Zealand, and was the highest-ranking property in all of New Zealand.
Sister hotel Kauri Cliffs was named to Andrew Harper’s 20 Favorite Hideaway Hotels along with featured Twin Farms and The Brando.

Brush Creek Ranch is among “15 Most Unforgettable Wedding Venues in the West” from Sunset Magazine.

Twin Farms was also among a prestigious roundup by Architectural Digest of, The Most Beautiful Hotel in Every State in America.

Another USA Hideaway, Lake Austin Spa was visited by celebrity Chef Gail Simmons for the third year in a row, as detailed in Forbes. “It’s my favorite escape because it’s very low-key and the setting is glorious. The rooms are so comfortable and there’s something for everyone to do.”

Cocktail for a cause at Malibu Beach Inn and help hurricane relief. At The Carbon Beach Club, order the Love City cocktail, made with Kenny’s own Blue Chair Bay Rum, and 100% of the proceeds go directly to the foundation.

Check out these four great articles on Chable Resort, the hot new resort where “shamanism meets luxury” on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, 30 minutes outside Merida.  From Vogue,  Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News.

Get inspired for a surf trip to Mukul, even if you have never tried it, by this article by Maggie Shipstead in United Magazine.

Beautiful article on Vik Chile in NUVO Mag, a must read for a must visit destination.

Read a review, Leopards and Luxury on Suján Jawai by Catherine Heald, CEO of Remote Lands. And for a dose of wellness after your Indian safari, head to Ananda in the Himalayas. Great article in The Telegraph, “Attempting Ayurveda in India’s quintessential health retreat.”

Planning a honeymoon? Read this article, “10 Reasons Why Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Is One Of The Most Romantic Destinations On Earth.”

Tis the season to head down to New Zealand, a great article on three of our faves, “New Zealand Lodges You Won’t Want to Miss.”



Luxury Travel to the Galapagos: Stay at Pikaia Lodge

To most people, luxury travel to the Galapagos Islands means spending a week in these remote islands on a large legacy cruise line and crowding in line with a battalion of cruise mates to get a distant look at a blue-footed booby.

For those in the know, however, luxury travel to the Galapagos is best managed through one high-end and extremely hands-on 14-room luxury lodge. It’s a spot that may look like it’s in the in the middle of nowhere but is dead center when it comes to the confluence of evolution, nature, sustainability and pampering.  This is Pikaia Lodge on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos — closer to the pre-Cambrian era than it is to a Starbuck’s or coal-fueled power line.

Going to the Galapagos is going off the grid to cavort with penguins and swim with sea lions that have never known dangers from human predators, to see nonagenarian tortoises sleeping in the grasses, to swim with marine iguanas slithering in the depths like mini-dinosaurs to munch on iron-rich sea grasses. That is because this 19-island archipelago has never been on the way to some place else.

Some 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast, there was little on these islands to lure royal navies or desperate pirates. In fact, had it not been for the Pacific Ocean charting voyage of the HMS Beagle and the curious mind of one Charles Darwin, the archipelago might have remained that way until it would no-doubt have attracted mining companies in the last 50 years and eventually been discarded, like Nauru in Micronesia, and left for dead. Darwin spent five weeks in the Galapagos, wandering the islands of San Cristobal, Floreana, Isabela and Santiago with little more to do than seek, observe and record. Those journals would later prove invaluable for laying out the course of evolution in his seminal tome, Origin of Species.

A luxury trip to the Galapagos and a stay at Pikaia allows the discerning traveler to go back in time and actually experience nature – the rocks, the plants, the birds, the reptiles and animals – in their own time and place. Not a museum, not a zoo, through Pikaia, visitors can be part of the nature play, not outside of it.

Because the Galapagos has become a sacred preserve for visitors and wildlife, the islands are extremely protected. Visitor numbers are limited, fees for entrance are levied, strict rules are in place (visitors cannot wander without a guide, must stay on prescribed paths, must not inch any closer than six-feet to an animal and must not move or reach out if an animal wanders up – and they do as fearing humans is not yet in their DNA), and because of the remoteness of the location, it is an expensive and difficult trip for a tourist to make. All that bodes well for the islands and for the travelers that do come this way.

Pikaia was ten years in the building because of the many strict regulations in place. But today, those seeking luxury travel to the Galapagos get treated to more than the living time capsule of nature; they get to experience just what the definition of an eco-lodge should be. Without sacrificing in comforts or quality, Pikaia surrounds the guest with 77-acres of sustainable design created from concrete, glass, recycled steel, bamboo and sustainably grown South American teak. Power fans out from photovoltaic panels, wind generators, and biodiesel converters. A curious system of cisterns collects rain from the pitched roofs all to be cleaned and fed into a private state-of-the-art water-treatment plant that supplies the irrigation and plumbing.

Accommodations seem to float between the earth and the heavens at Pikaia, Guests to wrap themselves in the awe of the location with floor to ceiling windows, private terraces and, with some, private plunge pools that blur the lines between inside and out. Each accommodation is secluded so that no guest sees another and all views provide intimate panoramas of the ocean. Standard rooms run 650 square feet, suites: 880. Amenities are biodegradable, of course, in the form of botanically scented bath products. Bedding brings luxurious high threadcount sheets. Spaces include a walk-in closet, a Jacuzzi bathtub, iPod speakers and Wi-Fi (which can, not surprisingly, be spotty but going off the grid is part of the experience).  Packing for luxury travel to the Galapagos can be complicated as weather shifts demand snap swimsuit to sweater changes.

Nights are filled with sunset cocktails, gourmet dining (with earth-shattering ceviche) from Pikaia’s restaurant Evolution. Then there is the rest of the evening to stargaze poolside by the ocean and wonder what Charles Darwin may have been noticing in his night sky at that location.

The next day will bring opportunities to head to other islands via the Pikaia I, the resort’s 100-foot yacht that takes guests to neighboring islands for snorkeling and onshore explorations. Only 16 guests are allowed. They have use of a cabin and shower during the day as well as gourmet meals prepared by the yacht chef. Stops to popular spots, such as North Seymour Island for watching the famed blue-footed boobies, are timed so as not to intersect with other vessels or cruise crowds.

Not to be missed island experiences include swimming with sea lions, Galapagos penguins and marine iguanas in the open ocean, viewing the famed, and now endangered, mockingbirds of San Cristóbal that so caught the attention of Darwin’s observations, and wandering the meadows of gargantuan Galapagos tortoises, the largest of the species that look like sand-colored bean bag chairs or ottomans in slow motion.

Pikaia Lodge is located on Santa Cruz Island, home to most of the archipelago’s 25,125 permanent residents. Guests can bicycle around the island and head to main town of Puerto Ayora (around eight miles) and the Charles Darwin Research Centre that was the last home of late Lonesome George, the giant tortoise who died in 2012 after living more than a century. The collection of carapaces and information is a strong reminder that 95% of the islands’ extant species were on these islands long before the arrival of humans.

Because Pikaia Lodge is its own self-contained world and the resort seeks to maximize each guest’s stay with comforts that will fuel each day’s adventures, a stay at Pikaia Lodge is fully-inclusive from the moment a guest lands at Seymour Airport on Baltra Island through return to the airport to board a plane back to Guayaquil.


Rates also include:

VIP Lounge at Seymour Airport at arrival and departure

Room Accommodation

All guided English and Spanish land and marine exploration programs onboard Pikaia yacht trips

The use of sport equipment, such as wet suits, snorkeling equipment, mountain bikes and helmets

Full board with meals served at the Lodge and aboard the yacht.

Non-alcoholic beverages in the Lodge and at sea during meals

Access to the in-house library

Packages exclude:

International and domestic transport to and from the Galapagos Islands

International departure airport taxes (if not included in the airfare)

Galapagos National Park fees, (usually $100 per adult /$50 per child)

Galapagos Visitors Transit Card $20

In-room service charges

Alcoholic beverages

Spa treatments

Laundry services

Telephone calls and fax

Boutique and spa boutique items

Tips and gratuities

Optional additional activities

Additional private tours or transport services


Packages run 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7-nights, and also 2-night papering packages for two guests staring at $2,100.

Getting to the Galapagos is half the fun. Avianca, Copa, American and LAN offer connecting service to Guayaquil, Ecuador. From Guayaquil, LAN, TAME and Avianca have regular flights to Baltra Island Airport in the Galápagos. Guayaquil is about 4.5 hours from Miami. From there it is another 90-minute flight to Baltra Island’s Seymour Airport. This Galapagos gateway airport is a showpiece for next gen utilities as it is powered completely from solar and wind. From there, it’s a 10-minute ferry ride to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and an hour drive to the Pikaia Lodge. Guests may want to take an extra day or two in Quito or Guayaquil before heading home, to wander local markets and visit cloud forests or explore the treasures of unusual museums.

Luxury travel to the Galapagos is ever more rewarding if only for the distance, but a stay at Pikaia Lodge makes it timeless – a moment in travel above all others.

Pikaia Lodge
Barrio El Camote
Santa Cruz Island
Galápagos, Ecuador
Tel: +011 593 4371 1670
Email: info@pikaialodge.com
Website: www.pikaialodgegalapagos.com

Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.


Vacation in the Bahamas for the Unceasingly Curious: Musha Cay

A vacation in the Bahamas can become a magical vacation in the Bahamas if the Bahamas resort in focus is none other than Musha Cay. The Bahamas resort in the pristine islets of the Exuma group is the brainchild and coveted work of magician David Copperfield and offers a kaleidoscope of oddities and mysteries in a spot Copperfield, himself, calls “heaven on earth.”

Musha Cay is a stay with few visitors, a private island vacation in the Bahamas where the resort belongs entirely to the guest party. The staff number hovers at 30 and guests can number no more than 24 at a time. But usually that number is much, much less as only one party can visit the island per booking – alone, as a couple, or with some two dozen favorite friends and family. Whatever the group configuration, the resort is all theirs – and explore they must for not all is as it seems.

Copperfield, who walked through the Great Wall of China, erased the Statue of Liberty and levitated over the Grand Canyon, spares little wow when conjuring great scenes and effects around Musha Cay. For Copperfield, lack of logic and lack of precedent are only challenges, not obstacles.  A stay at Musha Cay requires an open mind and an affinity for surprises.

Copperfield founded Musha Cay in 2006 after drawing lines around the globe from four of the world’s most vexing places – the Pyramids at Giza, the statues at Easter Island, the Sun Pyramid in Mexico and England’s Stonehenge – and acquiring the spot where all the lines met. Copperfield’s Musha Cay is actually 11 islands and 700 acres of sugary sand beach around calm, pure waters that are all available for guests to explore. Since then, he has spent more than $50 million on top of the cost of location to turn Musha Cay into a magical kingdom it has become, some 85 miles southeast of Nassau.

But the 150-acre main island is where the action is. A 2,200-square-foot open-air oceanfront pavilion offers dining over the water. On the beach find Dave’s Drive-In movie theater, a gym on the beach, a myriad of watercraft, jet boats, snorkeling gear, water trampolines and more. Swimming, sailing, it’s all there for the taking between snacks and feasts laid out by a world-class chef. In the lodge locate the Houdini Room that features the escapologist’s billiards table.

Guest quarters are equally as curious and inviting. Five luxurious villas fill with yet more treasures from Copperfield’s travels mixed with the odd illusion or two called up through a button pushed or hidden cover exposed. Guests can stay in the 10,000-square-foot manor house perched on a hill with a soaring living pavilion that looks over the island, or take it down to the beach in a thatched cottage with two bedrooms and private outdoor Jacuzzi. Each cottage has its own private beach to accent the private island experience. Bathrooms are fantasy fare in their own right – outdoor bathtubs made of stone and aromatic flower petals floating on the water. It comes as no surprise to learn that Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates or John Travolta may have stayed in that very suite. Actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz were married on Musha Cay, as was Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Privacy, however, comes with a price. The entire resort must be booked for one or all, and the all-inclusive rate runs from $39,000 per night with a four-night minimum. The Bahamas resort sleeps 24. All food and activities are included in the rate and, for a little more, guests can also have their own night of magical entertainment, fireworks included. Copperfield is often on island, making his own escape from his life of escaping by getting away to his personal magical paradise.

The vacation in the Bahamas comes with a pre-order list to make sure all a guest’s wants and needs are stocked in the cottage.  Whatever a guest wants is what a guest gets. But you will find twists and turns, chance meets, unexpected consequences and nights of incomparable wonder.

Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay
Exumas, Bahamas
(208) 309 1106

Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.




KAA News Roundup

We are thrilled to announce the following clients made the list of the Top 50 Hotels in the World from Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards. The Lodhi in New Delhi debuts at the #2 spot, and another city hotel, The Reverie Saigon took the #4 spot. The new Faena Miami Beach took the #11 spot and Finca Cortesin on Spain’s Costa del Sol is #43. See full list >>

A separate list of the Top 50 Resorts in the World featured many clients as well. Sister boutique hotels Bahia Vik and Playa Vik in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay shared the #3 spot, while the newly opened Chable Resort outside Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan debuted at #38. The top luxury ranch on the list, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch was named #7 in the world. See full list >>

Regional winners include Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa in Nicaragua at #9 in Central & South America, and Pikaia Lodge in the Galapagos was named #8 in South America. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers came in at #3 in all of Australia and New Zealand, and was the highest-ranking property in all of New Zealand.

In Barcelona, Almanac in ready to welcome visitors as of November 1st, and starting this spring, a new Caribbean luxury resort will be unveiled in Grenada, Silversands.

To all females traveling solo, check out 27 of the best destinations for you from Forbes featuring Chable Resort in Mexico’s Yucatan. More on Chable in The Dallas Morning News, “Few resorts marry authentic Mayan culture with modern sophistication like Chablé.”

We love this article by Town & Country on 15 Incredible Places to Visit Before They Disappear featuring Pikaia Lodge in The Galapagos, Bhutan, and many more.

Beautiful article on Vik Chile in NUVO Mag, a must read for must visit destination.

Malibu and the stunning Malibu Beach Inn in Architectural Digest, This Coastal Town Thrives by Tapping into Its Nostalgic “Surfurbia” Roots.

From the New York Times, gain insight into the mind behind art and design hotel Faena Miami Beach in their article, Take a Tour of Alan Faena’s Living Room in Miami Beach.

Leaves have peaked and Twin Farms is ready to welcome guests into November with their Naked Table Project, as featured in Departures Magazine. The boutique hideaway also makes the list from Indagare for Top 10: Fall-Inspired Long Weekends.

5 Yoga Retreats in Asia’s Most Stunning Places features Ananda Spa, tucked away in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Over in Jaipur, Rajmahal Palace is featured in this article, “How a revamp of a historic Indian palace gave rise to a beautiful, bespoke wallpaper brand.”

In The Maldives, Gili Lankanfushi is featured in an insightful article, “Travel: Experience Barefoot Eco Luxury in The Maldives.”

A private tour of New Zealand’s best luxe lodges with the Tiger Tour in Forbes, Kauri Cliff’s Tiger Tour Is an Exclusive, Insider’s New Zealand Experience.

Great Plains Conservation and their Wild Studio is in Travel + Leisure, This Safari in Kenya Can Turn Total Amateurs into Skilled Wildlife Photographers.

Advice from The Beaumont GM, on how to London Like a Local from Luxury Travel Advisor.

Check out this great article from Rake Magazine on one of Spain’s best hotels, Finca Cortesin, #43 Hotel in the World from Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards.

Twin Farms: Vermont Winter Weekend in Paradise

Winter in Vermont can be a snow globe paradise for seekers of romantic cabins, warm and aglow against frosted windows, and days spent snow shoeing or skiing gleaming white trails of rare earthly purity.

Twin Farms in Barnard, Vermont creates that very vision of a Vermont winter in a rolling, 300-acre spread dotted with farmhouses and cabins that comprise some of the most luxurious stays in the world. Only 20 cottages and rooms here to sleep a maximum of 40 guests. Privacy is at a premium and pampering guests with service, anticipated and unanticipated, fuels the purpose of this exclusive find.

A Vermont Winter Stay with a Story

Twin Farms was founded nearly a century ago by an unlikely pair. Acerbic author Sinclair Lewis who penned such thought-provoking tomes as “Babbitt” and “Elmer Gantry,” gave the farm to his new bride Dorothy Thompson, a journalist with much of her own fame at that time.

Twin Farms is not unfamiliar with notable politicians, captains of industry, writers and celebrities. This Relais & Chateaux member sees many a landing on its helipad these days as a destination resort Travel + Leisure ranks top in the Northeast, number five in the United States, and 15th in the world and word travels fast in elite circles.

What Price a Vermont Winter Wonderland?

Beyond privacy and pampering there is the comfort and convenience factor. Guests will never reach for their wallets while a guest of Twin Farms, gratuities included. All services (except spa treatments and rare wine labels) are provided for the asking – and often without the asking. That means, farm to table meals by chef Nathan Rich, prepared quietly and behind the scenes according to each guest’s wishes (guests fill out a wish list for food preferences and activity wants before they reach the resort).

It also means skiers have all their gear ready and waiting for them when they are ready, plus a picnic basket to enjoy at the summit (Twin Farms offers five small and private ski-in/ski-out mountains on property with snowmobiles that pull skiers to the top. Other skiers will want to check out Killington Ski Area, 45 minutes away – tickets and transportation arranged by the concierge). It means lodgers snuggle in with after-dinner cognac service in their suite with a fireplace at the ready and needing only a match (and maybe a napping dog or a couple of kittens). Warm chocolate chip cookies are already provided.

Elegant picnic meals can be delivered to hikers, snow-shoers, cross-country and downhill skiers, sledders, skaters and amblers. Any meal can be provided anywhere at any time. And any course has its matching wine. The property maintains a 26,000-bottle wine cellar.

After a refreshing Vermont winter day on white frosted trails, guests can relax in the Bridge House Spa, most notably in the Japanese furo or soaking tub set against cathedral windows looking over the frozen meadows.

Or they can go into town (Barnard is a quaint rural Vermont village with fewer than 1000 residents) or explore the surrounding towns for their barns of antiques, specialty coffee and cheese stores, and colorful art galleries. Twin Farms offers a complimentary luxury vehicle to guests who want to take off for a few hours to explore the countryside.

A Vermont Winter Cabin in the Woods

For those who want to enjoy the coziness of the indoors, each cabin, cottage, or suite is its own creation, designed with themes and intentions by architect Alan Wanzenberg and the late interior designer Jed Johnson. Some display precious oil paintings by known artists and others focus more on the ambient theme of the space with native wood accents, hand-painted murals, and folk art.

Meadow Cottage presents a Moroccan themed motif against a meadow of bright yellow wildflowers. The Tree House Cottage looks to the Adirondacks for inspiration and uses twig work furnishings, raw wood logs and vaulted ceilings, accented by floor-to-ceiling windows framing the fireplace. Wicker chairs on the screened porch invite afternoons of peaceful meditation.

Every cottage has a roaring fireplace and a private screened porch. Accommodations in the historic Main House come with stories and a past as this section of the farm hosted many political figures and literary greats over the years. There are also suites and a farmhouse for larger families on the banks of a picturesque pond.

Vermont’s only five-star resort, Twin Farms does not shut down in winter. Rather it celebrates it with the “Art of a Vermont Winter” special events program. These bring special culinary events and unusual activities to Twin Farms on a variety of weekends from November through March.

In November, Twin Farms is hosting Chef Florenzo Barbieri of the Royal Blues Hotel in South Florida, who will team up with Chef Nathan Rich to create menus reflecting modern Italian cuisine. Chef Florenzo led the charge at award-winning hotels and restaurants in Rome, Florence and Sicily. On a separate weekend guests can enjoy a “tree to table” experience with master furniture maker Charles Shackleton of ShackletonThomas, creating their own hand-hewn tables of walnut or cherrywood. The season ends March 15 with a Murder Mystery weekend based on Snow White …with some strange twists.

A Twin Farms winter in Vermont stay, fully inclusive of food, spirits, activities, amenities, services and gratuities, (but excluding certain taxes and fees) will start at $1,650 per night. Minimum stays are required over many popular days and dates. Twin Farms closes for Vermont’s six weeks of mud season starting mid-March and reopens for spring, on the first weekend in May.

Twin Farms
P.O. Box 115
Barnard, VT 05031
(800) 894 6327


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The Norman: A Luxury Boutique Hotel in Tel Aviv with Purpose and Panache

If you are searching for a boutique hotel in Tel Aviv, the choices are bounteous and range from crowded hostels to quaint residences on quiet streets. However, searching for a luxury boutique hotel in Tel Aviv can be quite another story.

In 2014, The Norman opened on fashionable King Albert Square, just off bustling Rothschild Boulevard with 50 rooms, an art collection that turned the hotel into a gallery and a certain panache that turned heads. Visitors to and residents of Tel Aviv are not easily impressed, but The Norman’s two 1920s Bauhaus structures that turned design and architecture into a hotel experience caught the public’s attention.

Suddenly luxury boutique hotels in Tel Aviv became a thing and the city’s more than 4,000 Bauhaus structures turned The White City into a living museum. British design firm Sagrada (Chedi Andermatt, Hotel Royal Evian, Hermes Maison Shanghai) teamed with Tel Aviv–based Yoav Messer Architects (Neve Tzedek Hotel, Moav Desert Hotel, Domaine Makeda Haute) to carve imaginative and inspiring spaces out of the Modernist structures, preserving such original details as the hand-made ceramic floor tiles and stenciled wall coverings. In came the clean-lined custom and often plush furnishings in soft-hued, light-filled spaces giving breath to the ambiance of that era.

Now walls fill with original Israeli art throughout the property’s guest rooms and public spaces, presenting rotating and temporary exhibits of many up and coming notables. Hand-carved beds in the guestrooms complement stilted armchairs, cushy sofas and pin-legged tables set off by such Anglo-Indian pieces as daybeds and chandeliers.

Luxury Boutique Hotel with Rooftop Views of The White City

Where would a luxury boutique hotel in Tel Aviv be without a pool, especially one that sits above the city? The Norman’s rooftop infinity pool quickly generated buzz when it opened and that continues with Dinings Restaurant, serving a confluent menu of traditional Izakaya-style Japanese Tapas and modern European cuisine on the rooftop as well, with views of the burgeoning city skyline.

The Norman Restaurant brings the experience into the interiors with French Mediterranean dining inspired by the Old Town of Nice. The Library Bar at The Norman offers stylish 1940s elegance and an extensive menu of cocktails, spirits and wines.

A techno-gym, treatment and beauty spa and Sam Stiller physical training programs are complemented by the bevy of beaches, bike and jogging courses, and walking paths to be found all around The Norman in Tel Aviv.

Taking Time to Experience Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has 13 beaches and seasons of perpetual sunshine along its nine-mile coastline. A well-trodden jogging path along the beachfront creates a nearly 4-mile promenade extending from Tel Aviv Port in the North to the old Port of Jaffa in the south.

As for bikes, Tel Aviv is fast becoming the Copenhagen of the Middle East. Some 15 percent of the city’s residents bike to work and the city offers some 85 miles of ordained bike lanes with more about 90 more miles set to come on line. A public bike hire system allows cyclists pick up and drop off a network of green bicycles at 150 stations citywide, including several along the beach for just shekels a day.

While The Norman is not on the beach, guests can take a frequent complimentary shuttle offered by the hotel. But for those with other activities in mind, The Norman is only to happy to suggest and provide.

In line with a rising trend seen among luxury boutique hotels worldwide, The Norman offers a tempting menu of exclusive tours, from one-on-one specialty shopping tours to culinary tours, gallery tours, and, of course, architecture tours lead by experts.

Guests can choose to have a guided tour of Jaffa that will lead them to a seductive store selling custom perfumes that can be mixed and matched to suit. They will wander through the Old City’s Ottoman-style buildings with its upscale mezza parlors and one-of-a-kind notion and clothing boutiques, visit a popular flea-market selling all manner of antiques, and visit an architectural furnishings store for unusual neon stools, quirky prints and dinosaur broaches crafted by young Israeli artists. The accompanied tour includes a leisurely lunch and a customized vial of personal perfume.

The property also offers on-demand tours that take the lead from the guest’s wishes and come up with bespoke solutions that The Norman can arrange. These could include excursions to Jordan and Eilat or a visit to the Dead Sea for a relaxing float between excursions to Massada, the caves of Qumran and the oasis of Ein Gedi.

The Norman makes a worthy luxury boutique hotel in Tel Aviv to start a journey of Israel, which is, in itself, a journey of time and civilization. Tel Aviv, proclaimed a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 2003, tells the tale of only the last century — but makes a strong start.

The Norman
23-25 Nachmani St.
Tel Aviv, 6579441, Israel
(+972 3) 543 5555

Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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KAA Roundup

Fall has arrived and it is one of the best seasons to travel to many worldwide hot spots. Departures Magazine included Mukul in Nicaragua and Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal on their list of Incredible Fall Travel Destinations.

A perennial favorite, Twin Farms in Vermont, is on the top of many lists for fall, including twice from The Robb Report, Indagare, Vogue and an entertaining read from The Boston Globe, “A $2,000 night at New England’s top resort. Is it worth it?”

Malibu Beach Inn was featured on Gwen Books Blog where the top travel agent writes, Until recently, seaside sun seekers had zero options for a five star hotel in Malibu. That has changed dramatically with the opening of The Malibu Beach Inn.

Twin Farms, Song Saa and The Brando make the list from Jetsetter, “The World’s Most Luxurious All-Inclusive Resorts.”

More luxury escapes can be found in this list from Wonderlust on Fantasy Islands featuring Musha Cay, Necker Island and more.

World’s Top 25 Most Unusual Hotels as selected by Tablet includes Vik Chile:

And sister hotel Playa Vik featured in The 13 Most Jaw-Dropping Oceanview Hotel Pools.

Forbes piece on Micato Safaris is definitely worth a read, World’s Best Safaris Keep Getting Better: 50 Years of Excellence.

Safari excellence continues with Great Plains Conservation, a leader in sustainability.

For a dose of wellness, read about Chable Resort in Departures Magazine, An Unforgettable Spa Day, the Mexico Way.

And 12 destination spas to visit in the US from Pop Sugar features Lake Austin Spa. Lake Austin Spa is also featured in Garden & Gun, Great Lake Hotels.




Luxury Address in Andalucía: Refinement and Romance at Finca Cortesin

Traveling to Andalucía is its own reward. Staying at a luxury resort in Andalusia with Michelin star dining, some of the best golf and spa options in Spain, and accommodations created by a designer of palaces, well, that is something else entirely. As luxury hotel in Andalucía you might say Finca Cortesin is in a class without equals.

A finca in Spain is not a castle, it is an estate and in such traditions, it is a manor surrounded by rolling land, gardens, possibly views of the sea and no doubt. At Finca Cortisen, while not an Andalucía castle, it is a grand estate with 67 suites and four villas, where every space is a painting with a purpose and every detail has a story.

The doors at Finca Cortesin opened in 2009, the last major project for Duarte Pinto Coelho, who spent a lifetime in the company of the 20th century’s greatest literary and artistic talents, and who designed the homes of celebrities and dignitaries around the world. At Finca Cortesin, these feats are shown in curiously sourced details from historic homes of royalty and clergy. Simply wandering through the great public rooms or around the 23.000sqm of gardens and 200-year-old olive trees.

Sophisticated Andalucía Luxury where Cultures Converge

Wander through Moorish courtyards of this Andalucía luxury estate; gaze at portraits of Spanish noblemen lining the long corridors and vast archways; mind the flagstone floors rescued from a monastery in Portugal; pass aged tapestries, deep velvet sofas and precious ceramics. Finca Cortesin is an Andalucía luxury stay that seems to transcend eras and tastes, offering up some thing special to all that come this way.

Find Finca Cortesin in the southeastern curve of Spain, less than an hour from Malaga, birthplace of Picasso, and Gibraltar. A ferry across the Med from Malaga will land you in Tangiers, Morocco in about the same amount of time – an easy day trip to take for adventurous guests. A true crossroads of time, eras, cultures and countries, Finca Cortesin has equally as much to offer to anyone who just wants to stay put for a few days and enjoy time away from the hustle and bustle of travel. The best times to visit Finca Cortesin are spring and autumn, however summer in this part of Andalucía offers a magnificent cooler micro climate, and winter never gets too cold.

Andalucía Luxury All About the Details

Accommodations at this Andalucía luxury hotel are generous by all accounts and offer views to the Mediterranean, the rolling gardens, the lush golf course, and the mountains that surround the stead. The smallest of accommodations, the Junior Suite, measures 538 square feet with cathedral ceilings and a 130-square-foot white marble bathroom. Every suite enjoys an ample private patio or terrace, handpicked flowers, sweets and other treats, plus daily a la carte breakfast in the El Jardín de Lutz restaurant. Families will want to book the Private Villa Suites with 4,520 square feet of sprawl amid four en-suite bedrooms, living and dining rooms and a full, state of the art kitchen. Private terraces, a private swimming pool, and a wood-burning fireplace add more extras to a Villa stay.

Golf enthusiasts can immerse in the championship, Cabell Robinson-designed course that has seen its share of Volvo World Match Play Championships. The greens offer a great variety of undulating elevations and settings. The par-4, 13th hole is the signature here with a slope that is tightly guarded by 100-year-old trees. Players will see nearly two-dozen species of flora and fauna imported from all over the world.

Lovers of all things spa will find pleasures to match. The Spa brings eleven state-of-the-art session rooms, each with under-floor heating and heated massage beds and treatments from Biologique Recherche. The spa is also the home of Southern Spain’s only snow cave. The 23,000-square-foot luxury spa offers saunas, Turkish baths, a relaxation lounge, and an indoor pool, all to match the beauty without to the beauty within. Treatments range from caviar or diamond facials to ayurvedic therapies to Thai stretch massages.

Lounging is legend at Finca Cortesin with its four pools (including a saltwater pool) and beach club expanse on the Med. About a mile from Finca Cortesin sits the quaint, medieval, Andalucían hilltown of Casares with its narrow, cobbled streets and white, saltbox architecture. Casares presents a tapestry of tapas bistros, wine bars and historic attractions to explore and is a rather unsung benefit of a stay at Finca Cortesin. The town is only 10 minutes by car, with small shops and curiosities within a stone’s throw to the beach, it does not get more picturesque than this.

Dining at Finca Cortesin, also brings its bragworthy merits. Kabuki Raw restaurant is managed by the Kabuki Group, global leaders in Japanese cooking, with four Michelin stars restaurants. All is done in open-front kitchen preparing omakase menus of four, six or nine dishes, or à la Carte creations to order. In this Andalucian land of truffles, gingko nuts and langoustines, Japanese oeuvres mean turbot with miso, wok-tossed crab, langoustine tempura and possibly a barbequed fillet of Wagyu beef, all with an almanac of wine labels to pair, according to the recommendations of the onsite sommelier. Don Giovanni is Finca Cortesin’s award winning Italian restaurant and El Jardin de Lutz serves Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine and mouth-watering breakfasts. Typical Mediterranean cuisine at beach is available at The Beach Club.

Not to be missed: cocktails at The Blue Bar. This Moorish preserve feels like a room in a castle of 1,001 Nights with floor to ceiling wooden doors leading to an Arabesque courtyard lined by hand-painted textiles on the walls and Egyptian lanterns on Moroccan tables illuminating intimate spaces with filtered candlelight. An evening dress code applies, heightening the mood and raising the romance level.

Luxury in Andalucía, and the Perfect Escape Package

Book a two-night stay and choose between:

~Two green fees per stay at Finca Cortesin Golf Club

`Or an 80-minute Relaxing with Aromatherapy Massage, Sport Massage or Therapeutic Massage at our spa per person. (Please inform us of your choice at the time of booking


  •  Breakfast served daily in El Jardin de Lutz Restaurant
  •  An Andalusia welcome drink
  • Complimentary seasonal basket of fresh fruit and refreshments, plus fresh-cut flowers in suite
  • Complimentary access to Spa with stunning thermal area, 75-foot indoor pool and snow cave
  • Access to the Finca Cortesin Beach Club during season, with a complimentary shuttle service.
  •  Complimentary facial diagnosis or body diagnosis at our spa, with refreshments and herbal teas.
  •  Early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability


Junior Suite 2 nights from: €1,300. Executive Suite 2 nights from: €1,700
(10% VAT not included)

Finca Cortesin
Carretera de Casares Km 2, E 29690 Casares
Malaga, Spain
Toll-free: 1-844-733-4190
Tel: +34 952 93 78 00


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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A Mayfair Hotel with Curb Appeal: The Beaumont London

If you were playing Monopoly® in London, Mayfair would be your Park Place. And if you were to put a hotel on that square, it would undoubtedly be The Beaumont. And for that you would be well rewarded every time an iron or a shoe landed on your spot as Mayfair has always been and remains one of London’s most exclusive neighborhoods.

The Beaumont makes an impressive statement in this historic location. The hotel opened in 2014 following an extensive redo that turned the former 1926 car park into one of London’s most fashionable addresses. The property, with its 73 rooms and suites, offers a post modernist imprint amid the precious Georgian residents of Mayfair – many bearing blue insignias by the entrance to note their historical significance as the former home of a great statesman or musician.

A Hotel in Mayfair with History and Punch

You’ll find The Beaumont on a quiet square in Mayfair, just a few minutes’ walk away from Selfridge’s and overlooking Brown Hart Gardens. Find iconic Hyde Park to the west and the ultra-trendy West End to the east. More energetic walks might mean Kensington Gardens, adjacent to Hyde Park, or the fashionable Bond Street, a 20-minute walk away.

The 70-odd streets that make up Mayfair area of London deserve some exploration of their own, however. A tour with SideStory of the hidden art galleries and world-renowned museums located nearby, or explore the home of George Frideric Handel, a museum now; or the last house occupied by all four Beatles. The beautifully preserved streets and alleys lead to hidden squares and eventually to Shepherd Market, now a buzz of restaurants, cafes and bookshops.

The area, once owned and eventually developed by the Duke of Westminster in the mid 1700s, saw a succession of earls and dukes, landed gentry and wealthy bankers take up residence as Mayfair evolved. The prime real estate in the shadow of Buckingham Palace was the early home of Queen Elizabeth II. Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia was born there in 1945. Grosvenor Square was the site of the former American naval headquarters, where General Dwight D. Eisenhower planned D-Day, near the current site of the U.S. Embassy.

A Hotel in Mayfair with a Mélange of Styles

Within this spirited history, the design firm of ReardonSmith Architects transformed The Beaumont from an Art Deco-era garage into an intimate destination redolent with the style of a refined and casual 1920s establishment under the strong direction of the hotel’s founder Jeremy King, who invented the back-story of a disenchanted New York hotelier called Jimmy Beaumont, who moves to London in the mid-twenties to open his eponymous hotel.

The Beaumont is an art deco building and its interiors are Art Deco, with some decorative elements from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. The Beaumont’s exquisitely chiseled interior details put the guest in these colorful former times from the moment of arrival, from the entrance hall to the bar, to the restaurant, and staircase behind sweeping down to the spa and private dining room.

Guestrooms are enriched by Art Deco features, from the design of the ceiling cornice in the bedrooms to the tone of the glass bathroom tiles and the traditional bronze light switches. Sliding timber-veneered doors draw across the bedroom spaces in most accommodations to create complete bedroom privacy from the bathroom, foyer, wardrobes and dressing room.

A Hotel in Mayfair with Living Art by Antony Gormley

British artist Antony Gormley, whose haunting sculptures grace parks and popular public galleries and buildings all over the U.K., Europe and the U.S., was invited to use The Beaumont as a canvas to create a living work, called ROOM. It pushes out from the face of the Beaumont’s exterior to become a room of its own – a veritable cathedral in a cubist block design that makes a statement and invites curiosity.

Inside, the artist has created a cave-like space, a three-dimensional sphere of darkness: a state of consciousness that approaches enlightened as the occupant looks up through the room’s levels. In keeping with The Beaumont theme, the sitting room of Gormley’s one-bedroom suite is decorated in an Art Deco motif.

Another in-demand suite is the Beaumont’s Roosevelt Suite, which can be opened up to expand into a five bedroom, moving from a one-bedroom configuration of 1,820 square feet to become a five-bedroom villa of 6,525 square feet. The Art Deco theme continues, calling up the glamorous era of the great Transatlantic liners of the 1920s and 30s with cream lacquer paneling, brass inlaid details and parquet timber floors throughout. The roomy sitting area leads to a separate dining room that seats eight, plus a pantry kitchen and a guest bathroom, The suite opens up to a large, wrap-around terrace overlooking the London. The five-bedroom expanse occupies the entire fifth floor of the hotel for an experience of total privacy for guests that desire added privacy. Added extras: a working fireplace, a large marble master bath with heated flooring, and a private lobby.

Colony Grill Room: All the Rage of an Era

Good rest requires good food, and even the libations and sustenance at The Beaumont are in character with the era. The Beaumont was the first hotel project for the talented restaurant team of Chris Corbin and Jeremy King (The Wolseley, the Delaunay, etc.). They created the Colony Grill Room with an intriguing menu of 1920s faves. Order lobster à la Russe, a Yankee hot dog, an Arnold Bennett omelette, or a chicken pot pie, and top it off with red velvet cake or a build your own classic ice cream sundae. The eclectic wine list promotes European classics and includes a wide selection from the New World.

Interior areas for dining and sipping are, indeed, “you are there” in detail and style, putting guests not only in place, but in time for a true taste of the “roaring twenties” in London. For venturing out, reserve the Chauffeur-driven courtesy vintage Daimler.

Classic room bookings include morning coffees & teas plus home-made viennoiseries and preserves, served in the Cub Room, as well as hi-speed Wi-fi, local calls, all movies, and soft drinks & snacks from the in-room minibar.

Book the ROOM package for 1575 GBP per night to stay in Gormley’s masterpiece. The package includes: a 3-hour individually tailored, one-on-one guided walking tour of London’s best contemporary art galleries; a limited edition signed copy of Antony Gormley’s monograph on ROOM with an essay by Margaret Iverson; a private ride in the hotel’s vintage Daimler to the first gallery on your tour’s list; a full English breakfast for two; private in-room bar with soft drinks and snacks; Wi-fi; access to the hotel’s spa and 24 hour gymnasium.



The Beaumont
Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair
London W1K 6TF
Toll-free: (+44 20) 7499 1001
(+34 952) 93 78 00


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.