Brian Young, Tucker’s Point
Brian Young, Tucker’s Point
When a resort as ambitious as Tucker’s Point is running flawlessly so soon after its debut, much of the credit must go to the general manager. We found Brian Young to be omnipresent and wonderfully attentive. On one occasion, he drove us back to the hotel from the Beach Club when he saw us waiting for the shuttle. Along the way, he was charm personified.
Concierge Staff, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Normally, I single out an individual for this accolade, but at Mauna Kea, we found the entire concierge team to be polite, energetic and outstanding in every way. The desk was staffed by professionals of the highest order, who went way beyond the call of duty to arrange memorable trips to the fascinating Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site and the Mauna Kea Observatory.
Tony Amaro, Opus Restaurant
Tucked away on a Yorkville side street, Opus is a small, charming restaurant with outstanding food and a remarkable wine list of 50,000 bottles. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the latter, aided by the counsel of Tony Amaro, whose persuasive opinions led me to try one of the wines I most enjoyed this year — the 2007 Tandem Auction Block Pinot Noir that he recommended for my lamb.
Daniel Rose, Spring Restaurant
After a two-year renovation of a 17th-century house in the old Les Halles market district, Daniel Rose’s Spring reopened in July. (His previous address was in the 9th arrondissement.) Deservedly, it has been a huge hit since. Chicago-born Rose came to Paris to study philosophy, but discovered that his true vocation was cooking. Having trained with Paul Bocuse and Yanick Alléno, he ventured out on his own. Spring offers a different cuisine du marché menu daily. These feature brilliant and intriguing dishes such as cantaloupe with slices of garlicky, garnet-colored lomito (cured pork loin) and lime zest; smoked eel with pickled baby Japanese eggplant; thick slices of meaty Basque Country brook trout with avocado and coriander flowers; and plump New Caledonian prawns on a bed of shaved baby fennel.
Tucked behind the Belle Epoque-vintage Vidago Palace hotel in the northern Portuguese spa town of Vidago, the 20,000-square-foot spa features dozens of flickering votive candles scattered throughout 20 treatment rooms and public spaces. Locally sourced water is used in a full menu of massages, baths and beauty treatments administered by a friendly and professional staff.
Nestled among towering pines, Lake Placid Lodge, a sophisticated Adirondack-style resort in the town that has twice hosted the Winter Olympics, has stunning views of Lake Placid and the surrounding mountains. It is a lovely sight every season of the year.
In 1960, the governor of Hawaii offered Laurance Rockefeller his choice of locations for a proposed resort hotel on the Big Island. Once he saw Kauna’oa Beach, Rockefeller knew he had found the perfect place for the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. This gorgeous crescent of white sand is the envy of every property on the island.
At sunset on the stone terrace of Il Salviatino, lucky visitors will encounter an extraordinary view of Florence. Brunelleschi’s magnificent Duomo sits squarely amid a sweeping panorama of steeples, bell towers and rooftops. Green hills scattered with olive trees frame a timelessly beautiful vista that has barely changed since the Middle Ages.
The wonderful pool at Amangiri is a sinuous expanse of blue-gray water that winds around a dramatic escarpment of golden stone. As well as a place to swim laps, it is a huge reflecting pool that mirrors the extraordinary landscape. For guests frazzled by the sun or exhausted by outdoor exercise, it provides a restorative oasis. A serene backdrop to the central Pavilion — which contains the dining room, library and a succession of lounges — the pool is central to the resort’s aesthetic, forming a counterpoint to the aridity of the surrounding southern Utah desert.
The suites at La Casona in Cusco reflect the proud heritage of this property, formerly a private home, and are decorated with exceptional art from the owner’s personal collection. Visually rich and exceedingly comfortable, they feature beautiful accent lighting, sumptuous and well-appointed baths, cozy fireplaces and the latest technological conveniences.
With the launching of Aqua Expedition’s first ship, it is now possible to journey deep into the Peruvian Amazon in style and comfort. The Aqua features luxuriously appointed rooms, huge picture windows, delicious food and exceptional guides.
With its fetching Polynesian-style bungalows arrayed amid beautifully tended grounds, Kona Village on Hawaii’s Big Island was filled with happy families during our visit, most of them repeat guests. Credit also goes to a warm and welcoming staff, a fantastic beach and a robust children’s program.
Influenced by a stint in Japan, Alexandre Bourdas of Sa.Qua.Na creates deceptively simple meals that are brilliant and delicious in this Honfleur restaurant. Highlights of a tasting menu included prunes rolled in bacon; sea bream with broccoli, baby leeks and passion fruit seeds in fermented butter; and roast lamb with polenta, mushrooms cooked with lime, and baby turnips. Reservations should be made well in advance.
1818 at Monmouth Plantation
Even if the cuisine wasn’t exceptional, dining at 1818 at Monmouth Plantation in historic Natchez would be memorable for the gorgeous rooms filled with period antiques and fixtures. But chef Scott Varnedoe’s food, with its spicy Acadian influences, brings Southern cuisine to an exciting new level.
Oak Bar at The Hermitage
Contented pleasure would describe an interlude at this clubby, refined space in The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. It has everything you want in a bar, delivered with style and taste: stuffed chairs; warm, wood-lined surroundings; and a pleasant buzz of conversation.
Every evening at around 6, the guests of this singular six-suite property mingle on a plantation veranda overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Here, at The Peninsula House, stories are swapped, drinks are enjoyed and cats are petted before repairing for dinner at 8.
A Cotswolds mansion of mellow stone dating from 1637, Barnsley House appears to be the epitome of English tradition. However, the London-based design firm Fox Linton Associates has recently transformed its interior. Our Deluxe Garden Room came with an inviting four-poster bed and a fine old stone fireplace. But down a short flight of steps, we discovered an unexpectedly enormous and indulgent bath, with a polished oak floor, expanses of honey-colored marble, a huge walk-in shower, heated towel rails and two parallel soaking tubs, at the end of which was mounted a flat-screen television. The English countryside will never seem quite the same.
From a distance, Tambo del Inka in the Sacred Valley simply looks like a handsome modern lodge. Inside, however, a beautiful interplay of wood, glass and stone extends throughout, from its soaring public spaces to its luxurious rooms.
The Ashmolean at Oxford dates from 1677, but in November 2009 it reopened with 39 new galleries designed by the American architect Rick Mather. Now at the heart of the neoclassical building is a refined, almost ethereal, glass-and-steel structure. A spectacular atrium links galleries reimagined as a tour of world cultures. The Ashmolean is a universal museum, just like the Metropolitan or the Louvre, only a 50th of the size. In the course of a single afternoon, you feel that you have encountered, albeit superficially, the whole of human cultural history.