Cashmere linings, organic cotton linens, specially-printed drapery, personal art collections — when fashion designers work with luxury hotels, the end result is an experience worth indulging in. “Wearing” a room connects a guest with a designer, allowing a deeper look into how luxury weaves palettes of color into experiential stays.
The latest designer suite is no exception.
Straight from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the new Diane von Furstenberg Penthouse suite on Hayman is a designer oasis draped in luxury amenities and flowing in style and sophistication. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Hayman is Australia’s premier luxury nature-resort destination, located on the northernmost of the Whitsunday Islands in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland. After an extended vacation on the island, von Furstenberg “fell in love with the five star private island resort” and decided to add her own personal touch.
Von Fustenberg opened the DvF Penthouse suite on Oct. 27, 2012. The two-bedroom penthouse is decorated with intricately designed furniture pieces, all upholstered in DVF signature fabrics and contemporary furnishings that blend vibrant colors and textures with the calm landscapes seen throughout the island.
“It was such a pleasure to work with Hayman,” said von Furstenberg. “It is such a special destination and I hope my design will enhance the beauty of the island and give the people staying in the DVF Penthouse a memorable moment.”
Read my entire story and see the photo gallery on The HuffingtonPost
In my opinion, luxury hotels and fashion houses go hand-in-hand; they both offer the best in elegant and trendy concepts – whether in the form of fabric or bathroom toiletries.
So it’s no wonder more luxury hotels are turning to to designers to create one-of-a-kind experiences for their guests.
While some designers are called on by hotels to actually design a guest room, others are recruited to create exclusive items that can only be found at the hotel.
In London, Diane von Furstenberg decorated her own suite at London’s Claridge’s hotel, and designer duo Teatum Jones created a scarf available only at the Dorchester. At XV Beacon in Boston, the hotel called on a perfumery in Italy to create the hotel’s unique scent, used in all the bathroom amenities.
The options are endless for designers and hotels to collaborate, and I predict this trend will continue to grow. The one caveat, however: as the luxury hotel market becomes saturated with designer offerings, designers and their partner hotels must find unique ways to appeal to guests.
Read more from my column at 4Hoteliers.
Luxury hotels know no limits when it comes to personalized service and ingenious inventions that speak directly (and sometimes indirectly) to their guests.
From Mercedes-Benz house cars and red carpet arrivals to individualized in-room flower arrangements and iPads, at the core of a luxury hotel’s guest experience is the simple offering that seems so slight but makes the biggest impact.
A hotel that pays attention will know what its guests want before they arrive. Over the years as a hotel guest, I’ve been treated to everything from relaxation CDs and my favorite magazines on the bedside table, to local bottles of wine and bags of extra bathroom amenities.
My favorite gift came from a luxury designer at the launch of a new hotel. The one-of-a-kind scarf was made especially to mark the occasion of this hotel’s opening, and it not only provided guests a special memory, it was a great take away that will always remind me of my hotel stay.
More luxury hotels have started to pair up with fashion designers to create that unique look and signature item. The Dorchester in London recently teamed up with British fashion design group Teatum Jones to create a scarf available only at the hotel.
Read more from my column on 4Hoteliers
As a travel writer, I’m always inspired by the photographs other travelers take on their trips; I love seeing the world through their eyes — how the ocean looks from their room, how the food looks on their plate, how the luggage looks when it’s packed to the brim and ready to go to the airport.
As a brand consultant, I’m always intrigued by how brands – especially those in luxury travel -portray themselves in pictures and words, on websites and in marketing collateral, and of course, live and in person. Thanks to Pinterest, the gap between consumer and brand is lessening giving new opportunity to new travel experiences.
In February I wrote about how hotels can increase their visibility on Pinterset, which at that time was a fairly new social media platform.
Today, the Pinterest boards are so popular they’ve become a go-to when it comes to seeking inspiration for everything from planning a trip to finding a hotel room, booking excursions and even finding a place to dine in a new destination. Pinterest boards – which are organized into topics and include photographs from both the traveler and the brand – are proving inspirational, one picture at a time.
Read the rest of my article on 4Hoteliers.com.
Christian Dior once said, “A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” Perhaps that’s why there’s various scents for women that are so intoxicating they forgive bad penmanship. Still, without understanding the science behind the fragrances that make up your favorite perfume, how do you really define the scent of a woman?
That was the task put in front me on a recent visit to L’anai, Hawaii, where I chose to spend the holidays rejuvenating from a long year of work and travel. The little island made of up of 3,000 residents is located 45 minutes via ferry boat from Maui and embodies all Hawaii is meant to be: lush landscapes, colorful sunsets, intense relaxation and endless beauty. There are only three hotels on the island – two of which are managed by The Four Seasons, and one independently-owned 10-bedroom inn, The Hotel L’anai.
I had come here to reclaim my mind, plan out the coming year and, if possible, get a little sleep and a lot of tan. My goal: leave the island refreshed and ready to tackle the new year. According to the people of Hawaii, a fragrance defines a purpose, and so, I was determined to find my fragrance and return home with a new scent as a new, revitalized woman.
The island is flanked with blooming flowers and pine trees – a contradiction of scents in most locales but in L’anai, it seemed to work. Next to beds of roses were tall hibiscus plants; fields of lavender were planted next to pine; honeysuckle was placed near birch and orchids decorated the landscapes. Pineapple was everywhere and combined with the smell of fresh Mahi Mahi, it was hard not to let your mind succumb to the scents. But try to define your own scent? It’s a tricky game that’s part-chemistry, part-personality, and the options are simply endless.
When I sat down with Teresa Blackwell, spa manager at the Four Seasons Manele Bay, I was slightly intimidated. She pulled out what looked like a tool box from the 1950s, opened it up and displayed rows of little test tubes. Some where standalone scents and some were pre-mixed from Ajne, a combination of perfumery and apothecary created from sustainable and organic plant ingredients. Simply: fragrances in their natural form. The perfume blending is something offered by the spa to all guests and is a great way to do something new and take home a little souvenir (at a cost) from your trip.
I pushed aside the smells of Hawaii and started picking up mini-test tubes. WIthin seconds I had eliminated anything that smelled like citrus or might have been covered in chocolate. I pushed aside the sweet smells before a headache hit and gravitated toward the earthy, woodsy, musky scents that seemed to calm my brain and, dare I say, smell a little sexy. I picked out lavender, vanilla, moss, sandalwood, tobacco and a mixture of warm woods.
Blackwell took the 10 or so tubes I chose as ‘liked’ and started combining fragrances. What she came up with was near perfect. From the Ajne line, Blackwell combined three elements: Om, 3rd Eiger and Lakshmi. Om, she explained, works to calm the mind and invoke a sense of tranquility. Lakshmi is named for an Eastern goddess of beauty and prosperity, and was originally created for a New York beauty editor. The scent blends rare woods, amber and vanilla and is said to spur creativity, open the heart and enhance prosperity. The 3rd Eiger (third eye), made up of smokey mosses and warm wood scents, is said to help protect one when they choose to take a leap of faith and climb new heights. All things I wished for, and all things I hoped for in the coming year. Combine all three, and I have my scent – a perfect perfume blend that inspires, excites and ‘fits’ me.
I took a deep breath and inhaled my new perfume. The result: a new scent for a woman in a new year.
Before entering the treatment rooms at the spa at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach, all guests are asked to choose a crystal rock from a bowl. The crystal stays with you throughout your stay. Each time you enter the spa you choose another crystal; each crystal has a different meaning. I chose the Tiger Eye – the stone that focuses on the correct use of power, courage, grace and integrity. I needed a little of it all.
I had heard about the healing powers of Canyon Ranch. The part-spa, part-medical center resorts in Lenox, Mass., and Tucson, Ariz., were known to work magic on tired guests. But could Canyon Ranch Miami Beach share enough fairy dust to soothe my weary mind, body, and soul?
I walked into the hotel on Collins Avenue and immediately took a deep breath. The lobby area is open with high ceilings that allow fresh air to waft through the first floor. The library, restaurant and gift shop on the first floor serve as a welcome to guests as they make their way to the elevators, which inevitability lift them to a private oasis. I walked into my room on the 10th floor, opened up the curtains and stood on my balcony overlooking Miami Beach – it was the first time I had felt a sense of zen in South Florida. It was only just beginning… (more…)
I was never what you would call an “adventure traveler.” I’ve tested my strength on white water rapids in Maine, camped with skunks on Grape Island near Boston (not a pleasant evening), and hiked some of the most beautiful trails in the U.S., but I wouldn’t file any of these under “adventure.” To me, adventure is danger — and danger is not something I often flirt with (unless it flirts with me first). So, when the tour guides at Sonora Resort in Sonora Island, British Columbia, suggested I take a grizzly bear tour my first reaction was hesitation.
Every fall, the elusive grizzly bear comes down to the mouth of the Orford River in British Columbia to feed on salmon. For a few lucky visitors in the area, the chance to see these beautiful and endangered creatures up close is a once in a lifetime opportunity. While I was slightly hesitant to walk with bears in their natural habitat, it was an adventure I was not going to miss.
“Don’t worry,” the guide said. “We’ll give you something to wear so you don’t stick out.”
Clearly a city girl stuck in the country, I was ill-prepared with a wardrobe to head out on this grizzly bear journey. I suited up in lined fishing waders for warmth, grabbed my fleece pullover and stepped into the eco-boat for the hour voyage up Bute Inlet, through the Arran and Yuculta rapids to the Orford River. With my camera in hand I was ready for anything, but I wasn’t prepared for what appeared in front of me.
Read more about my adventure in The Huffington Post
Sydney, Australia; Los Angeles, California; New York City; Shanghai, China; Hong Kong; Miami; Santa Monica; Bermuda; New York City (again); Toronto; Vancouver, Canada; Austin, Texas; Newport, Rhode Island; and back home again to Boston, Massachusetts. This year has taken me around the world and back again, and while not without its complications, this year has opened doors to new ideas and experiences. Today starts a new year.
A friend and I were talking a few months ago about the typical things girlfriends talk about – men, work, family, shopping, life… and in the middle of our conversation she just stopped and said, “Tutto va bene”, which is Italian for ”everything’s fine”. Not with a sigh or any distress, but with a smile – everything’s fine, live life, enjoy! The phrase stuck with me and has become my new way of approaching life’s daily challenges -the good and bad.
I woke up this morning with a new 5-year-plan, but not one that takes over everything in my life – a new plan that fulfills everything I’ve already go. I have been fortunate enough to live this year doing what I do well – writing about the rest of the world that I hope one day you’ll all see the same way I do. I’ve had my own “Eat, Pray, Love, Shop, Fly, Drink, Repeat” year, and quite honestly, I’m not done with it. However, I’ve always had Tuscany in my sight. Usually at a far distance but today, on this particular morning, Tuscany makes more sense than ever. Not because I’ve fallen love or won the some big book deal, but because it’s time for a new challenge. I woke up this morning, on my birthday, finally ready to take on a ‘moment.’
Italy stole my heart the moment I set foot there three years ago. There’s something captivating about Rome and Florence, and something so wonderfully inspiring in Tuscany. In Tuscany there awaits a dream – maybe a few – just waiting to be lived out. I don’t expect grand villas and wineries (although a few bottles would be nice) but I expect some inspiration to carry me toward the next phase of my life – whatever that may be. Boston has been home for almost 15 years and has provided me with the front step from which I’ve cast off on my adventures, and always returned home. Now it’s time for something new.
One of my dearest friends makes lists every year on her birthday. She writes down her goals and bullet-points her wants and action-items, and then at the end of the year looks back at them and because she’s who she is, she usually accomplishes everything she’s set out to do. I decided to make a list this year:
- Pay off the rest of the debt.
- Travel to South Africa.
- More bylines. (Caveat: This has been an amazing year professionally, but who am I to not push myself just a little harder?)
- Reduce/eliminate the bad habits that sometimes influence my daily grind (and they know what they are).
- Push myself to new limits. Climb tall buildings (or take the elevator), eat new foods, take on new challenges.
- Sleep more.
- Find more time to exercise, outside of the aisle on airplanes or running through airports.
- Finish the book proposal.
- Volunteer more. This isn’t easily done given my schedule, but there are little things I can do to give back. I’ll be spending Christmas alone on the island of L’anai, Hawaii, this year (on purpose). I’m taking a much needed and well-deserved “ME” vacation, but I’m also working with the hotels to set up a Christmas party for kids at the local children’s hospital.
- Get ready for next year. What that means we’ll wait and discover together. According to my astrology friends this year I’m entering is “Year 4″ – a year of hard work, slow and steady progress. It’s about establishing self-control and getting organized… apparently, year 5 is a fun and exciting year…
I woke up this morning to well wishes from around the world -text messages from Hong Kong, emails from Shanghai and Hawaii, Facebook posts from California to New York, phone calls from St. Louis and red velvet cupcakes from my friends in Toronto. I sit drinking my morning coffee, eating half a cupcake and wrapped in my new cashmere sweater, a birthday present from my friends, and I smile. I’m blessed, but mostly, I’m happy. Tutto va bene…
Caption: The photo that sums up my year.
Fashion is fiercely personal. Style knows no limits and sets no expectations. It’s a feeling, a personal emotion and in some cases, a sense of security. If you are what you wear, and you are stylish, why not travel in style, too?
The designer hotel fad was originally kicked off by Donatella Versace, who opened the extravagant Palazzo Versace on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2000. Over the past few years, fashion has made an impression on hotels. Versace did it. Bulgari and Armani did it. Missoni and Diane von Furstenburg continue to do it. Bulgari followed suit when it hooked up with Marriott and slowly, more designers made their way into hotel rooms, this time for design purposes.
Diane von Furstenburg room at Claridge's, London
Whether you indulge in luxury threads or sway more bohemian in style, what you wear and how you wear it makes an impression. Like it or not, the threads on your back shape you – good, bad or otherwise – and the same logic holds true in the travel industry. Where will you stay next, and what will you wear? The options are endless, but forever stylish.
Read more and view photos from my column on The Huffington Post
I travel to experience new things, meet new people and offer a glimpse of the world that might not be easily viewed for others. My life’s work is a labor of love, but from time to time I forget about the simple pleasures and need a little ‘centering.’
I was speaking to a friend on the other side of the world a few days ago. He was on his way to the last horse race of the season; I was suffering a mild bout of insomnia and working at unthinkable hours of the night. My mind immediately went to the horses.
My love of horses started when I was in grade school. The music teacher at school (whose name I’ve sadly forgotten) raised horses and would invite some students to her stables a few times a week. We’d care for the horses and in return, we’d get riding lessons. Never one to spend too much time at home, I jumped on the opportunity (and also on the horse) and within moments I was in love with this animal. I only spent one year at those stables, but I never really gave up riding. Something about being on the horse centered me. I was high enough above my problems and fast enough to escape them, and yet somehow I felt incredibly safe.
Last year while in Sedona for my birthday, I walked through the artist’s village and stopped into a Native American jewelry store. Staring at me from the glass case was a gorgeous horse necklace – turquoise on one side; tiger eye on the other. I went back and forth on the notion of buying it, until the store owner (a Native American with Mojave tribe ancestry), explained the symbolism of the horse to me. He wrote down the message on a piece of paper and I tucked inside the box that held the necklace (which I eventually bought). I forgot about his note until the other night.
“The horse is a symbol of the grounded power of the earth and the whispers of wisdom. It is revered as a helper, messenger, and harbinger of knowledge. It’s considered wild and an emblem of freedom, power, grace, beauty, nobility and strength.”
It makes sense that riding centers me. I feel in control and at the same time, totally powerless. It’s a freeing feeling and while the horse I’m riding might lead the way, I need to make a better effort to travel to my center more often.