About gbooks

Our luxury travel service puts the ultimate touch on Journeys reflecting a unique experience of a lifetime; we design Legacy Travel for our clients. Our focus on bespoke Journeys entails more than a creative idea and a few reservations. We hand select our land teams, guides, behind the scenes experts - all who reflect our passion for excellence and personalized service. I’m passionate about travel and unique experiences; interested in meeting local people,studying architecture, discovering and learning as much as possible about every city I visit. I adore Paris, yearn to see more of Africa, a recent visit to Istanbul reminds me that there is much more to see in Turkey. A passage to India allowed me to explore the rich and diverse culture, and I barely scratched the surface of this amazing country. Love to sail, discover music and indigenous food of each region, seek out the best markets and design, and of course dine at the local restaurants. I particularly love roaming Africa, recently explored Argentina and India, which deserve another visit. A devoted Francophile, love all things Parisian, world music, excellent wines & champagne.

The Farmhouse Inn

Due to the distance, The Farmhouse Inn doesn’t quite fall into a ‘StayCation’, however with their winter and early spring one night stay policy, it could easily fall into a StayCation location!

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The Farmhouse Inn Suite

As you must know, most wine country properties have strict two night minimums and strict cancel policies. These policies don’t leave much room for an impromptu impulsive getaway.

Voted #1 Best Resort Hotel in California and #12 Best Hotel in the World by Travel & Leisure 2016. This little gem is a marvelous escape and just a bit over 2 hours from the peninsula. I’ve loved our rainy weather, however the combination of a flooded street, a leaky roof and a power outage inspired me to seek relief as soon as the sun popped out for a few days.

Driving toward Healdsburg, we stopped for cappuccinos in Marin; we plotted the retail therapy along the route as we passed each small town – resisting a bit, our mantra became – let’s check out the luxury Farmhouse Inn and if it doesn’t pass muster, we can continue on to St. Helena for gallery browsing.

Enter the cozy reception building and the congenial staff inquired: can we offer you a glass of wine, water or coffee? Did we appear to be woeful bedraggled travelers? One glance and mind reading: we’ve reached the oasis and we are staying! Gracious hospitality, the arrival, as you know is my personal aphorism. Set the stage and everything else should fall into place, lesson one in the hospitality handbook!

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The Farmhouse Inn

Bellman appears with a quaint farm wagon – yes, one must have options, so a small wagon is required even for an overnight stay…there’s dinner, hiking, swimming, spa attire, one must have choices. Dear Daniel, managed to schlep the bags upstairs without any effort.

Outside reception, the pool terrace beckoned, the winter afternoon sunshine perfectly slanted to warm up the loungers, we succumbed to the view of ancient redwood trees and curled up. Have you ever noticed that a pool and a lounger are the perfect medium to a quick snooze? Catnapping is a gift of the gods.

The Farmhouse Inn Spa

Awakened only by the unexpected chill as the sun dropped behind the steep hill, a natural alarm clock for spa appointments. Mosey to the adjacent Carriage House Spa, wine in hand. Roll back the substantial barn door to be welcomed by a massive fireplace of local stone and a small boutique. Fireplace crackling, comfy leather chairs make the perfect place to plop and slowly peruse the clothing and jewelry in The Farmhouse Boutique. Are you imagining a perfectly restful unscheduled afternoon?

The back-story: fifth generation Forestville native Catherine Bartolomei Smith and her brother Joe Bartolomei toured this once run down 1879 farmhouse B&B when it was on the market. Without a hotel reputation or starred credentials, she convinced her brother to partner with her, purchase and transform it into a luxury Sonoma inn. A quick transformation combined with the notion that fine food would contribute to the attraction.

Their insight paid off, The Farmhouse Restaurant gained excellent reviews and attention and in 2006, they added four luxury suites in a new barn style building. Barn, think: rustic design, however, luxurious details; simple architecture, and a suggestion of farm elements all executed with sophistication. Interiors are warm, decorated in subtle natural textures – restful without being overdone.

The Farmhouse Inn Spa

The newish barn style Carriage House Spa is decorated in pale cool whites, former local decorator Myra Hoefer, was brought in to add her magic. Using the base of natural elements, her transformation of the massage barn is evident. A long wide corridor, with open-air light filtering louvers is the entry to each massage room, more like a paddock room actually. Dutch style stable doors open into the treatment rooms. The focal point of each room is a whitish mural of a life-size horse painted by Tina Wain, the paintings almost appear to be faded, as if they once decorated barn walls. Secluded outdoor patios are furnished with loungers and soaking tubs.

Each successive addition was rewarded by increased success and over time the owners have added two successive luxury suite barn buildings. Tin roofs, board and batten siding, rock fireplaces, all contribute to the feel of a sophisticated farm style inn. The property has a small footprint and amazingly each addition has been incorporated into the footprint and The Farmhouse Inn is still an intimate easy flowing landscape of rooms/suites and connecting gardens. Personally, I like barn like architecture and the suggested design elements, which a farmyard would incorporate. Galvanized containers and barn style doors accented with iron hardware, one feels these buildings have been here for generations.

Twenty-five beautiful comfortable rooms/suites, a Michelin star restaurant, congenial staff and apparently a long list of very happy return clients, The Farmhouse has been added to my slightly planned ‘StayCation’ list.

The Farmhouse Inn

Outdoor dining terraces, enjoy s’mores around the fire ring are offered every eveing after dinner.

I am not one to head to the wine country in the summer with the crush of travelers, but for me, this little gem is the solution to a brief escape in spring, fall and winter. In talking to the office/concierge team, The Farmhouse Inn will happily organize, biking, canoeing, fishing and achieve high profile Restaurant reservations just across the valley floor, with drivers to boot!

If you are seeking a wine country sojourn, we highly recommend…cozy, carefully thought out, refined and the antidote to an overly scheduled lifestyle.

Dining in separate post!

Paris Musings & Vermeer at The Louvre

I sat in cafes, walked for hours, rested and observed the VV (very very) chic locals in the petite parks, nibbled on yummy desserts (heavenly macaroons!) at Ladurée, sipped très cher cappuccinos in the lovely bar at Le Meurice and The Ritz Garden.

Just opened at The Louvre, an exquisite look at Vermeer’s masterpieces.The exhibit  travels to The National Gallery in D.C. in October until March 2018. Five years in the making, “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” presents a third of the Dutch Golden Age master’s gift to art lovers. It is the biggest such collection of the old master’s work in Europe in almost two decades. Visiting the Louvre until May 22, on to Ireland and eventually Washington DC.

Dutch genre paintings of the period 1650–1675 rank among the pinnacles of Western European art. While Johannes Vermeer is currently the most renowned painter of such scenes, the Delft master was only one of many artists of the period who excelled in capturing everyday surroundings in exquisite detail. Other major genre painters included Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu and Frans van Mieris. These artists frequently drew inspiration from each others paintings and then tried to surpass each other in verisimilitude, technical prowess and aesthetic appeal. This vibrant artistic rivalry contributed to the exceptionally high quality of their combined collections.
Vermeer’s subjects, compositions and figure types owe much to works by artists from other Dutch cities. Vermeer also freely borrowed from artists from Dordrecht, Leiden and Amsterdam. In turn, genre painters from outside Delft adopted stylistic and thematic elements from his work to elevate their own compositions. Thus, rather than presenting Vermeer as an enigmatic artist working in isolation, the aim of this exhibition is to highlight his relationships with his contemporaries.

This exhibition invites visitors to take on the role of seventeenth-century art lovers and compare small groups of paintings that reflect the cross-currents of inspiration. Visitors will also be able to observe that artists had individual ways of inserting, changing and disguising their borrowings.
Begin here and consider adding to your arts date book with ballet or opera. If Opera Garnier is available during your visit, it is not to be missed; the building alone, instigated by Emperor Napoleon III, is an opulent, ornate statement, a monument to French style, capped by it’s Marc Chagall painted ceiling.

Art is sometimes found where you least expect it.