It’s not easy for me to step away from my hectic work schedule and give myself some down time, but if I were to treat myself to an incredible vacation I know exactly where I want to go! When I’m on vacation, I want my surroundings to be the opposite of my day-to-day life: serene, calming, and free of distractions. There are three hotels that are definitely on my must-visit bucket list and what all of them have in common is an incredibly appealing atmosphere of tranquility.
Blue Palace Resort and Spa, Greece: Stunning scenery, incredible blue water, and all of the luxuries you could desire on vacation. I would love to spend a week or two being pampered and spoiled here.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay: An amazingly gorgeous Caribbean destination in the British Virgin Islands. I love being near water, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay provides more than enough beautiful ocean for even me. With thoughtfully designed accommodations, a spa, and fine dining, this is exactly the kind of destination that I am drawn to!
Mayflower Inn and Spa: Nearer to home in Washington, Connecticut, the Mayflower Inn is a truly tranquil place to escape to. With beautifully landscaped grounds, luxurious fine dining, and spa you’d never want to leave, visitors here can indulge in as much (or as little) activity as they like. I love the clean, refreshing design and traditional sophistication of the accommodations.
What hotel would you love visit?
Just south of Cancun, Mexico lies a strip of perfect, white sand beach bordered by the lush jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula. This gorgeous area on the Caribbean Sea is known as the Riviera Maya and is at the top of my must-visit list.
The Riviera Maya is about as close to paradise on Earth as you can get, with a heady mix of natural beauty, stunning ruins, rich local culture, luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and a huge variety of entertainment. The area consists of ecological reserves, jungle, mangroves and lagoons, Mayan ruins, a large coral reef for diving and snorkeling, and picture-perfect turquoise seas.
Riviera Maya boasts many luxurious places to stay, from all-inclusive resorts to smaller, personalized hotels. The Viceroy Riviera Maya was designed to blend seamlessly into its surroundings outside Playa del Carmen. The decor shows an influence of Mayan simplicity, using natural materials to achieve a sophisticated and sexy environment.
For a true escape from the rush a daily life, retreat to a cliffside villa at the Azulik resort in Tulum. These incredible villas perch on rocky cliffs with stairways to the beach. With no electricity or telephones, you’re truly surrounded by only the sights and sounds of the ocean, day and night. These villas may look and sound a bit rustic, but guests are steeped in luxury with huge windows for incredible views and in-cabin massages.
The most impressive aspect of Riviera Maya is the natural landscape. When not taking in the wonders of the ocean and the coral reef, visitors can enjoy a guided tour to experience both ancient and modern Mayan culture. The ruins at Tulum offer an incredible glimpse into the distant past at the intriguing Mayan civilization. It must be a humbling experience to make the short trip from modern, luxurious surroundings to ancient ruins built by people without sophisticated tools or machinery. You can even tour the Tulum ruins at night for a totally different perspective. At night, the sounds and sights of the jungle are a completely alien experience from the daytime jungle. Animals that aren’t active during the day emerge, the ruins must seem larger, more imposing and mysterious, and the brilliance of the stars isn’t dimmed by city lights.
Wouldn’t this be the perfect escape from the ridiculous amount of snow we got last week?
With the start of a new year, plenty of “top ten” lists featuring everything from books to movies have been popping up on websites and news stations. Personally, I can’t resist looking at the lists of top travel destinations for 2013. Some places, like Amsterdam, seem be be on everyone’s list! Looking at all of these amazing places to visit inspired me to create my own list of the Top 13 Places to Travel in 2013. I like how not all of these destinations are beach oriented, which is what I typically gravitate toward. Many would involve a lot of exploring and adventure. Why not challenge yourself this year and try a new vacation place instead of the same-old trip?
2. Basilicata, Italy
5. Solomon Islands
6. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
7. Sri Lanka
8. Mayan Riviera, Mexico
10. New Zealand
11. Chan Chan, Peru
12. Toronto, Canada
Where will 2013 take you?
Located on the coast of Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos islands and part of the British West Indies, Amanyara Resort is an intimate, secluded destination. Situated away from the more developed areas of the island, Amanyara is surrounded by white sand beaches, ironshore rocky coves, and mahogany trees. When not relaxing on the beach or enjoying the spa, visitors have access to fishing, golf, eco tours and adventures, whale watching, a nature center, and kiteboarding. Amanyara itself features a beautiful restaurant and bar.
The setting is certainly amazing enough, but the resort itself is exactly the serene type of place I’m always drawn to. The design is sophisticated, yet simplistic. The quiet palette and minimalist decor give the place something of a spa feel with a decidedly tranquil atmosphere.
Whenever I go on vacation, I find myself constantly looking at the decor. It’s something I can’t disconnect from, so when I have the chance to get away and relax, I want to go someplace where I won’t feel overly stimulated by my surroundings on my down time. I look for peaceful places to relax and rejuvenate, and Amanyara is the epitome of intimate and serene with a design that’s been pared down to essentials.
To learn more about Amanyara, visit the resort’s website. While there, you can explore other Aman resorts around the world, all of which are designed with the same attention to peace and tranquility.
Like other places I feel drawn to, Greece features an incredible environment surrounded by water. The contrast of those white buildings with the blue Mediterranean Sea is just very appealing. Combined with the fact that my father’s family is from Greece, it’s easy to see why I’d love to visit this amazing country.
Scenery and family history aside, some of the most appealing aspects of Grecian beauty lie in its vast history, represented by mythology, carvings, relics, and architecture. Looking at the Acropolis and Parthenon, you can’t help but wonder how such incredible achievements were possible without modern tools and technology. In fact, the influence of Greece’s classical, ionic architecture has endured across centuries and can be seen all over the world.
When I do make it to Greece, you’ll find me in Santorini or Mykonos, enjoying the white sand beaches, the calming backdrop of beautiful women in linen, and the fantastic, rich texture of Greek history and scenery.
Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, is definitely on my travel wish-list. I think it’s such an inspiring place, with its incredible architecture. Of course, anything near water resonates with me, and combined with that aged atmosphere, Turkey has everything I’m drawn to. I’d love to spend time there, taking in the context of a different environment. Istanbul’s long history and prominence on the Silk Road have led to a multitude of influences on the city, from Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman to Baroque and Renaissance Revival architectural styles.
I love the culturally specific aspects of Istanbul. How people dress, the richness and color of the building, the vibrant markets, all contribute to inspiration. Imagine borrowing details from an intricate ceiling, using bits of pieces of the pattern, or developing a palette based on the area’s spice markets.
Alongside these historical and beautiful places are more modern examples of fine architecture and design. The House Hotel has such a calming, modern vibe. I love the juxtaposition of this against the more ancient aspects of Istanbul.
One of the most iconic artists of all time, Andy Warhol’s work is easily recognizable to almost anyone. His dynamic images made statements that influence artists still today and demonstrate the genius of his art. On the surface, Warhol’s work conveys simple thoughts, one idea at a time, and yet still manages to speak volumes about American culture during the 60′s and 70′s.
From September 18 to December 31, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will explore Andy Warhol’s far-reaching influence on contemporary artists. According to the Met’s website, “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years juxtaposes prime examples of Warhol’s paintings, sculpture, and films with those by other artists who in key ways reinterpret, respond, or react to his groundbreaking work. What emerges is a fascinating dialogue between works of art and artists across generations.” Presented in five thematic sections, the exhibition highlights themes from celebrity to human identity, from daily life to business.
The Jackie Kennedy portrait is one of my all-time favorites.
I came across a spread in the June 2012 issue of Interior Design magazine featuring Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma, California, and was immediately struck by the beauty of the place. A collaboration between designer Orlando Diaz-Azcuy (of ODA Design Associates) and Backen, Gillam, and Kroeger Architects, Ram’s Gate Winery sits right at the entrance of of famed Sonoma Valley and features a stunning design worthy of its location. It is just so beyond gorgeous, inside and out. Diaz-Azcuy wonderfully embodied the vision of winery manager Jeff O’Neill when creating these sophisticated interiors that retain a casual, rural feel.
When I first came across photos of the Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion in Norway, the images took my breath away. It is such a visually amazing place, just a rectangular box within this vast, gorgeous land. The scene is almost too far-fetched to be believed, like nothing I’ve ever seen.
The pavilion is used by the Wild Reindeer Foundation, a charity which acts to protect Europe’s last wild reindeer herd. Set against the backdrop of the Dovre Mountains in Norway, the Wild Reindeer Centre was designed by architectural firm Snohetta. The exterior is constructed of a rectangular steel frame with one wall of glazed glass forming an observation point from which the entire sweeping landscape can be viewed. The pavilion’s interior is dominated by an organic wood core built from pine beams by Norwegian ship builders. Visitors reach the pavilion by way of a mile-long nature path. Once they arrive, they can sit on the wooden form and be warmed by a hanging furnace.
When discussing the building’s formation, the architects state, “This unique natural, cultural and mythical landscape has formed the basis of the architectural idea. The building design is based on a rigid outer shell and an organic inner core. The south facing exterior wall and the interior create a protected and warm gathering place, while still preserving the visitor’s view of the spectacular panorama.” I find it fascinating how the pavilion’s shape exudes a sense of permanence while the sweeping curves of the interior reflect the mountainous lines of the distant Dovre. What an incredible place this must be to visit in person!
Cover image by Klass Van Ommerman. Other images by Ketil Jacobsen and Diephotodesigner
Photographer Michael Dweck often turns his lens toward Montauk, NY. His Montauk photos so perfectly represent the mood and feel of the area that simply looking at them evokes all of the feelings of my family summers spent in this old fishing village perched on the farthest point of Long Island.
When Dweck published his collection titled The End: Montauk, NY in 2004, it was featured in several art fairs and exhibits that year. The work is so chic and sexy. I really like the black and white photography and am especially drawn to Dweck’s nudes. I think the human body is a work of art, and the way Dweck exhibits it is so free and casual. These images really symbolize summer, especially the summer of the young and carefree, full of potential and excitement.
Michael Dweck’s photo collections, including his images of Montauk, are available in book format. His website also contains stunning galleries of his work as well as essays on his collections that beautifully describe his photographs.