Hotel Bel-Air Extraordinary!

The West Coast sisters in the Dorchester Collection of lovely hotels reside in a small pocket of Beverly Hills – like sisters, they each exude unique personalities. I happened to visit both last month. Equally enjoy them for innumerable reasons.

Hotel Bel-Air, despite the close proximity to downtown Beverly Hills shopping and culture, is surrounded by twelve acres of lush gardens and tucked into a pocket-sized canyon. Amid towering palm and silver leafed eucalyptus trees, the Spanish Colonial design is subtle and elegant. Suites with garden patios, private plunge pools are enchanting. Move up to the hillside rooms and relish the sweeping views of the canyon from your secluded plunge pool and deck.

My rainy day stay was heavenly, cocooned in the scrumptious Swan Lake Suite with a toasty fireplace; the sun popped out mid afternoon allowing me to enjoy my patio and little pool. Southern California winter weather usually delivers much sunshine.

Wolfgang Puck restaurant resides in a Spanish inspired courtyard, hide away in a corner booth overlooking Swan Lake while enjoying the delicious contemporary Mediterranean cuisine.

The celebrated hotel bar feels like a glamorous private club, afternoon tea or chic cocktails by the roaring fire is where you will find me entertaining my clients and friends.

La Prairie Spa and fitness center. Lounge at the oval shaped heated pool surrounded by drooping palms and flowering blossoms.

Combined with the typical casual Southern California sensibilities, the luxe eras of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s are a mainstay of this classic property.

Consider a dash away to the Hotel Bel- Air; quick flights, excellent theatre nearby or disappear and catch your breath for a few days!

Swimming with Sharks… gentle whale sharks Indonesia

A visit to Raja Ampat, the archipelago in Indonesia’s West Papua province. Located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals.

Sitting in the heart of the famed ‘coral triangle’ it includes the Cenderawasih Bay Marine Park, the largest marine park in Indonesia. The gorgeous waters are the perfect setting for personal and safe encounters with whale sharks, the largest recorded fish in the sea and known as the ‘gentle giants’.

Discerning travelers who love adventure, diving or snorkeling should not miss this Journey aboard an intimate cruise ship. A maximum of 38 passengers are spoiled with up close views of nature. The ship’s shallow draft allows unique access to the heart of wilderness. Six expedition vessels and a helicopter allow for even closer access to caves and coves on the shoreline. Swim with the very gentle whale sharks in the Cenderawasih Bay. Only in this Bay do the whale sharks linger close to the surface for extended periods, feeding on the small fish, which overflow from the nets of local fishermen. This behavior allows even the most inexperienced snorkeler a unique opportunity to interact with these mammoth fish.

Crystal clear waters amid the atolls reveal unparalleled underwater explorations- a region that is home to 450 confirmed species of coral, a stark comparison to the only 70 species found in the Caribbean. Explore World War II wrecks including the Junkyard. During the war the US Navy scuttled small barges and boats off the islands. Each day your choices include fishing, diving, hiking, helicopter trips to the inland forests – in the evening see the nesting leather back turtles.

On the island of Manokwari, home to more than twenty-four different tribal groups, meet the locals and admire their tribal wood sculptures; art that exemplifies their view of virility and beauty.

Ten days of diving and fishing, hiking and exploring the atolls of the magnificent Rajat Ampat archipelago.