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.

Aman Transformative Wellness

In this traumatic and stressful time, it was inevitable to be personally connected to a heartbreak, a friend who owns a travel firm has lost two of her clients, until this pandemic personally touches you, it may not feel as real.

Bonded to televisions and social media for news or Netflix binging, we send you our heartfelt message: be safe, be well. There will be time to explore and celebrate life again but hunkering down maintaining your health is paramount for the universe. Have you noticed the brilliant blue sky on our robin egg blue sky days? The gemstone blue in the midst of the colossal cumulous clouds? The air feels fresher, brighter and cleaner, the roads and skies are practically empty, a little prezzie to the universe. A silver lining.

Barely a few months ago, one of my last escapades was to Hotel Bel Air as a guest of Aman for their yearly road show – a gathering of Aman hotel GM’s sharing their amazing lodges. I’m profoundly guilty of the depiction: Aman-junkie. If you haven’t stayed at an Aman property, add to the top of your must stay list! Distinctive hotels in exceptionally unique locations; the settings are spectacular; arrival welcome ceremony sets the stage for an unparalleled visit. A visit to Amanbagh in India left me in awe, an individual blessing by a small army of Sari clad staff, etherial flute music, gifts of local craftsmen, oh and always a fragrant chilled cloth to dab away the travails of travels, accompanied by a refreshing chilled infusion – based on indigenous fruit. 

Amanbagh Welcome Ceremony
Amanbagh Arrival Ceremony

Beverly Hills, we were traditionally welcomed as well, the Aman Road Show arrival didn’t disappoint. Greeted with mounds of brilliant flower petals, our path guided by petals trailing to the dimmed lounges; linger to listen to a woman melodiously performing a sound bath, exotic vibrations setting the stage for the event. Smoky aromatic burning sage scented the air in the darkened space, I was approached by a few of the wellness experts to share a healing ceremony. Getting comfy on a stool, the wellness director offered to gently perform Auricular Acupuncture, a diagnostic and treatment system based on normalizing the body’s dysfunction through stimulation of definite points on the ear. He gently pierced the outside of my ears with small seeds, to be left in place until falling out. Ear acupuncture, is a technique similar to reflexology. My next few days at Hotel Bel Air were very relaxing, perhaps a combination of ear acupuncture and the perfect hotel environment!

On to Wellness! Aman has perfected Individual Wellness Immersions at many of their resorts. From the hammams of Morocco to the hot springs of Japan, Aman Wellness offers a journey of reawakening. Across the globe, they integrate local spa rituals with indigenous ingredients, a profoundly therapeutic touch, and a gentle sense of joy and discovery. They believe that reconnecting with your and the purity of Nature offers a means to rediscover the universe inside the Self.

Amanbagh Pool Suite

Amanbagh. Escape to a secret garden estate in India’s rugged Aravalli Hills and reconnect within the rose-pink, Mughal-inspired sanctuary that is Amanbagh. Drawing on India’s remarkable wellness heritage, Amanbagh’s Ayurvedic Immersions offer a unique experience of this 5,000-year-old system of preventive medicine. I stayed and relished a pleasing afternoon in the Wellness Spa. After my massage, we wandered slowly in our robes, returning to our suites when the British GM greeted us and invited us for tea – we protested our attire, and he said no, come to the garden for tea with us – you are perfectly fine! So, we sat, in our fluffy white robes and sipped tea and munched traditional cookies with the GM and his utterly charming wife. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanbagh

Memories are made at Aman.

Amanpuri - Luxury Resort & Hotel in Phuket, Thailand - Aman
Amanpuri

Amanpuri. Inspired by its serene tropical setting on the shores of Thailand’s Andaman Sea, Amanpuri invites you to experience one of its multi-day Original or Intensive Individual Wellness Immersions. Designed to promote profound change with the support of a diverse wellness team and a dedicated wellness chef, these carefully calibrated programs aim to steer you onto a new path making full use of the resort’s extensive wellness facilities. Whether you seek to shift unwanted weight and its emotional root causes, deep cleanse your entire system or manage stress, Amanpuri’s Immersion experiences ensure palpable results and a deep sense of inner peace and happiness. Amanpuri’s Wellness Centre provides a range of adaptable wellbeing programs tailored from start to finish to meet personal goals. Offering condensed one- and two-day sessions, as well as Original and Intensive Immersions lasting three nights or more, the Centre’s scope ranges from medically led therapies to holistic treatments designed to alleviate stress and lift the spirit. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanpuri

Amanyara. Throughout the year, Amanyara welcomes some of the world’s most accomplished experts for an exclusive series of specialized wellness programs. The calendar of visiting specialists includes revered practitioners in health, fitness and holistic wellbeing traditions from all over the globe – ranging from masters of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture to world-leading sports therapists and monks. Movement, mindfulness and spa therapies amid year-round sunshine of Turks and Caicos. Traditional Chinese Medicine takes a holistic approach to wellbeing, working on preventing illness by addressing every individual’s unique patterns of disharmony – the areas of imbalance that could lead to ill health. ​Conducted by a certified TCM practitioner, Amanyara’s Traditional Medicine Immune Support Retreat will begin with an in-depth TCM consultation and be tailored to each individual’s specific needs. Personalized retreat programs will include TCM therapies, complementary spa treatments, a comprehensive nutrition plan, herbal supplements, breathing and medication classes and private cardiovascular exercise sessions. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanyara

Amanyara - Luxury Turks & Caicos Resort - Aman
Amanyara

Amanera. Inspired by the shamanic healing traditions of the Taíno Indians, the jungle-cocooned clifftop spa at Amanera combines the Caribbean’s plants and herbs with enriching natural blends from the Aman Skincare range. Amanera’s holistic approach to fitness and wellbeing encompasses a menu of massages, facials, scrubs and wraps, as well as transformative signature Spa Journeys to bring about lasting change. Unique to Hispaniola, larimar is a rare blue gemstone believed to encourage physical and emotional healing, closely linked to the phases of the moon. Amanera’s signature lunar journey therapies pair the chakra-balancing influence of larimar with a palo santo smudging ceremony, a traditional Dominican ritual featuring the aromatic smoke of the sacred wood. Join us in learning how the forces of the moon govern and empower the human physical and emotional healing. Embodying the ancient Taíno methods of medicinal herbal wisdom, guests will discover the abundant flora and fauna surrounding Amanera through various outdoor excursions. Activities include sunrise yoga and meditation, a cacao eco tour, boat trips to bird sanctuaries or mangroves and jungle hikes embracing nature and its healing, restorative qualities. 

Amanera - Playa Grande, Dominican Republic
Amanera

A beach, jungle and adventure paradise, with kite surfing, horse riding and mountain exploration. Adjacent to world-renowned 18-hole championship golf course, with 10 holes on ocean cliffs. Nature-immersed Caribbean retreat Backed by verdant jungle with all-encompassing ocean views, Amanera commands a dramatic location on the Dominican Republic’s pristine north coast. Perched above the gold sands of legendary Playa Grande Beach alongside the island’s most exclusive golf course. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanera

Amanjiwo. Java Indonesia Located just two kilometers from the UNESCO site of Borobudur – the ninth-century Buddhist temple and the world’s biggest Buddhist monument – Amanjiwo is a timeless sanctuary in central Java. Named ‘Peaceful Soul’ for the serenity, privacy and beauty of its setting, the resort provides the ideal location in which to focus on wellbeing. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanjiwo

Amanjiwo

Amanoi. The first of their kind in Asia, Amanoi’s two Wellness Villas combine the comforts of the resort’s villa accommodation with the unparalleled convenience of private spa facilities.  Wellness Villas are nestled in the tranquil setting of the Núi Chúa National Park in Vietnam and are surrounded with lush greenery and peaceful white sand beaches. Each includes a double treatment room, steam room and outdoor pool, as well as a hammam or Russian banya, making them the ultimate wellness option for Immersion guests. Surrounded by Nui Chua National Park on the shores of Vinh Hy Bay, Amanoi invites you to experience one of its Individual Wellness Immersions, a spa retreat designed to promote profound change. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanoi

Amanoi

Amanemu. Pilgrimage and Purification, 3- to 14-night programs. The region around Amanemu is historically one of pilgrimage and purification, from the shrines of Ise to the Kumano Kodo pilgrim paths and the sacred surrounding forests. Peppered with natural hot springs, the area has a centuries-old association with onsen bathing, a ritual traditionally enjoyed from the sanctuary of a ryokan retreat. All of this informs Amanemu’s Wellness Immersions, drawing on specialized Japanese therapies to steer you gently on a new path. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanemu

Amanemu

Amanzoe. Personalized pathways to a better self. Signature programs starting from three nights. Taking place in one of the great healing centers of the ancient world, Amanzoe’s Individual Wellness Programs are comprehensive wellbeing programs, expertly tailored to the wellbeing needs and health goals of every guest. Lasting three nights or more, both cleansing and weight-management pathways balance movement, nutrition and mental and spiritual elements to deliver meaningful, lasting change in body and mind.

Designed to holistically strengthen and support your immune system, these impeccably curated programs aim to boost your overall wellbeing by taking a multifaceted approach to the prevention of disease. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanzoe

Amanzoe

Amanpuri. Wellness programs designed for you. Starting from 3-5-night programs, each resort offers an experience tailored to your individual goals. Designed to promote profound change, these carefully calibrated programs aim to gently steer you on a new path. Targeted and tailored down to the finest detail, the Immersions have a journey-like nature and are named to reflect their goals. Mindfulness & Stress Management is exclusively an Original Immersion, while Weight Management & Transformation and Detox & Cleansing are offered as both Original and Intensive Immersions. Recovery & Sport Rehabilitation and Rejuvenation & Optimal Wellbeing are exclusively offered as Intensive Immersions. https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanpuri

Deciding on a wellness path can be overwhelming, as often every option appeals. Aman’s Wellness Concierges connect with you before your arrival to guide you through the different wellness choices available and assist in choosing the experience best suited to your needs. A broad choice of locations: Amanpuri, Amanbaugh, Amanyara, Amanoi, Amanemu, and one of my favorites outside of Athens Amanzoe.

Reinvigorate your immune system with Aman, perhaps this would be a perfect family Journey after hunkering down during these jittery times.

https://www.aman.com/wellness

Please let us know if we can help you make an Aman decision. Be Well, be Safe.

Shelter in Place – Isolate in Five-Star Luxury Soon!

Every day feeling like Sunday? Vital Social Distancing, seems more like a recipe for Stir Crazy Stew. During this stressful period, online postings have revealed distinct personalities; it’s abundantly clear that some are devoted and very well read news junkies, others need daily doses of humor, others or all are rabid Netflix bingers.

Continuing from last week’s list of luxury properties with private bungalows and villas – for the eventual first toe back in the water. Read on, we hope to transport you to a world of escapism and brighter times ahead.

Inn at Five Graces, Santa Fe, NM, a charmer! I’ve been a frequent visitor to this picturesque city, the oldest capital in the United States, the charming city is set at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and possesses a unique Southwestern charm all its own. A few miles south, these mountains diminish down from a height of 13,000 feet to a flattened level plain, marking the end of the North American Rockies. A desert jewel, The Inn of the Five Graces in Santa Fe wows with exotic decor, raw silks and rich color that seamlessly blends the Southwest with the Far East. Step through its doors, and a feast of color and texture awakens the imagination. Each distinctive room showcases handcrafted artisan pieces and eclectic treasures from the historic Silk Road that once linked Europe and Asia. Echoes of rustic Spain, lingering in New Mexico’s Hispanic heritage, are reflected in the diverse style, a trademark synthesis of East and West. The richness will evoke memories of your Journeys to Istanbul and India. The Seret family who own the Inn have roamed the world to bring together Persian, Indian, Tibetan, Uzbek and other Eastern architectural elements and antiques with classic Santa Fe adobe construction. https://www.gwenbooks.com/2018/05/inn-of-the-five-graces-santa-fe-new-mexico/

Inn at Five Graces,Santa Fe New Mexico

Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana – Ultimate Dude Ranch. Our favorite adult & kiddy Relais & Châteaux Ranch in Montana books up fast in summer – time to plan for your lavish Western Glamping escape. Adventure and glamping make for a superb visit to Ranch at Rock Creek, just a short distance from Missoula. Our multi-generation families stay for a week, sometimes two weeks. The Forbes Five Star guest ranch has more activities than one can actually enjoy in a week, something for everyone and whenever you feel like moseying out from your rustically elegant and very comfy lodge room, private home or an over the top Glamping Tent, set on the banks of the gurgling Rock Creek. Camping in the most elegant style, bug free, full indoor bath and a roaring stove to ward off the cool night chill. Consisting of 29 private homes, lodge rooms and elegant Glamping Tents, some easily accommodate a large family gathering. https://www.gwenbooks.com/2018/10/summer-at-the-ranch-at-rock-creek/

Ranch at Rock Creek Home

Triple Creek Ranch, Montana, Adult Dude Ranch–Triple Creek Ranch is an award-winning Montana Luxury Ranch Resort hidden away in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. The valley was the ancestral home of the Salish tribe of the Flathead nation. The luxury Ranch caters to families with children16 and older, but the majority of the clientele is adults. Cowboy chic décor abounds, the architecture provides the first hint, charming log cabin homes and cottages dotted amid the towering fragrant Ponderosa Pines. The air is fresh, the skies robin egg blue, all this punctuated by the gurgling creek running through the property; my comfortable cabin was enhanced by the sound of the rushing creek, guaranteeing deep sleep. The owners are serious Western fine art collectors and generously share their collection in each cabin and in all the public spaces, truly an added perk.

There is an annual Stave Puzzle Weekend, if you aren’t a puzzle expert by now, a weekend here will enhance your skills- imagine warm fire, a fine Cabernet and a Stave puzzle weekend! https://www.gwenbooks.com/2017/09/triple-creek-ranch-montana-luxury/
https://www.gwenbooks.com/2018/04/triple-creek-ranch-activities/

Triple Creek Ranch

Further afield: Four Seasons Maldives Private Island – Voavah. A heavenly hideaway, a sublime sanctuary offering the utmost in privacy and iconic Four Seasons pampering at the world’s first exclusive-use UNESCO hideaway, Voavah. A seven-bedroom private island Maldives home, the sojourn includes a 62-foot luxury yacht: Voavah Summer and a marine territory that’s utterly your own! Voavah, private island is a welcome addition to the two luxurious Four Seasons Resorts in the Maldives.

Our mantra on the art of the opening act, your arrival sets the stage: with a personal VIP Seaplane, alighting on the pristine pure white sand, your private beach! Tip toe over the scuttling white shelled hermit crabs and the delicious dilemma develops, what shall you do first: laps in the pool, a discovery afternoon of diving or casting, or snooze until sunset? Decisions, decisions!

Sneak peek: accommodating up to 22 guests in seven bedrooms, with its own chefs, staff, private spa, and a 65-foot-long PADIequipped motor yacht with a dedicated dive master. This extraordinary five-acre, island paradise is your private playground – retreat or indulge in the total privacy as a castaway!

https://www.gwenbooks.com/2018/02/four-seasons-maldives-private-island-voavah

Four Seasons Maldives Private Island – Voavah
Four Seasons Maldives Private Island – Voavah

We haven’t stayed yet, but Twin Farms Resort and Spa, in Vermont is represented by one of our very reliable discerning firms. A Relais & Chateaux and Forbes Five Star Resort, double blessings! Located about one-and-a-half hours from the nearest commercial airport in Burlington, the journey into the bucolic landscape surrounding Barnard, Vermont begins the Twin Farms experience. Once on the property’s vast 300 acres, seclusion and privacy come first. And there is a ‘story’ – which I always adore, who can resist an authentic history, or a property built around a smart or in this case, a romantic tale?

When Nobel prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis proposed to journalist Dorothy Thompson, she promised to marry him if he bought her a farm in Vermont with sweeping lawns, orchards, and “delicious air.” They found their idyll in a 1795-era farmhouse on 300 acres – all of which they purchased in 1928 for $10,000. In various seasons, they created and entertained at Twin Farms. Their guest list included political and literary figures who lingered for provocative discussions, outdoor activities, and the opportunity to attend the couple’s legendary parties. Dorothy kept Twin Farms until she was no longer physically able to live here. As she grew frail, her family sold off parcels of the land, completing the final transaction in 1958. Subsequently, Twin Farms changed hands several times. It operated as Sonnenberg Haus, an inn with a reputation for fine dining, when Thurston Twigg-Smith acquired the property as a second home for his family in 1974. By the late 1980s, the Twigg-Smiths found themselves able to visit Barnard only a few weeks a year, so they decided to launch a Bed and Breakfast to share this special place – a quaint notion that soon escalated to the number one small hotel in North America.

Open all year, the resort offers specific activities related to the seasons. Sinclair Lewis described his favorite hideaway in Fall at Twin Farms: Our legacy revolves around Fall foliage, bringing unparalleled beauty in shades of red and gold bathed in crisp air, with the promise of warmth and intimacy at the end of the day. “There will be apple trees and flaming lilies, and the moon over the low mountains and you and me, after dinner, sitting….on the terrace, and inside, when it becomes chilly, the fireplace and lamplight and lots of books,”

Twin Farms Resort and Spa

Freestanding cottages, lodge rooms and Farmhouse rooms provide multiple stay options. The cottages are secluded amid 300 wooded acres, ten freestanding cottages comfort and inspire with fireplaces and screened porches – each a unique setting for reflection, romance and serenity./https://www.twinfarms.com/

Twin Farms Resort and Spa
Twin Farms Resort and Spa, a to die for tub!

A unique plethora of somewhat secluded options for your first foray back to civilization. We also have a list of very isolated private homes available, so private we can’t broadcast the locations, but if you have an interest, ping me for a proposal!

Be Well and be Safe, we look forward to curating your dream escapes!

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
 
— T.S. Eliot