Travel Trends 2023 – Shoulder Season is Dead.

Where to GO – Japan, better book now for 2024, Cherry Blossom Journeys for this year sold out last summer. A combination of Covid rollover reservations and cherished Cherry Blossom Customs, this tradition has always been popular. It may be a secret, but spring in South Korea is just as magical as the country shrugs off winter and reemerges bearing the pop of Cherry Blossom shades and scents. The most popular place to see cherry blossoms in Korea is the Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival, which has attracted over 2,000,000 visitors per year in past years.

Cherry Blossoms, Japan

Sicily, led by the outrageous popularity of White Lotus, clients clamor to trek the trails and plop at super swanky Four Seasons San Domenico Palace in Taormina. Even if you just make the hotel your only seaside destination, the 14th-century Dominican convent turned luxury hotel in the coastal town of Taormina, has stunning views not just of the Ionian Sea, but also of Mt. Etna volcano and the Greek Theatre of Taormina, a historical landmark. Famous guests, including our chic clients, who have shared their praise include Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, King Edward VIII and Oscar Wilde. History, art, and delicious food – everyone loves Italy, even if you are island based. Sicily’s luxury hotel scene has been enriched in the last few years, by the classic Belmond properties, Grand Hotel Timeo, and Villa Sant’Andrea, as well as newer hotels Il san Corrado di Noto and Rocco Forte Hotel Villa Igiea. Imagine two weeks crisscrossing the island – I once settled into a village for an inspiring week in summer to participate in a David Tanis cooking school.

Italian charisma, is that redundant?

Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Sicily

Spring Summer or Autumn in Paris? – if you haven’t booked yet, get out your candle’s, rosary, and Bhutanese prayer beads. The Rugby World Cup train visits 51 cities in France during a 4-month Journey.  Veuillez m’excuser” – please accept my apologies if you have not reserved Paris yet. One of our savviest sophisticated couples will spend a glorious month as Parisians at La Réserve Apartments. At home in Paris with the Eiffel Tower as your neighbor.

Sleekly neutral and lavishly roomy, the first-class serviced apartments facing the Eiffel Tower, are perfect for travelers wanting to blend as chic locals, invite the entourage. This is not Emily in Paris! Carry your cashmere and smart walking shoes.

La Réserve Apartments, Paris
La Réserve Apartments, Paris

Bhutan was one of my most glorious adventures ever. Slowly western culture will invade and diffuse the pureness of the Happiest Kingdom. Visit before the traditional values, beliefs are modified. Nothing prepared me for my Journey to this tiny Himalayan country, memories still wash over me in waves. Staying in five individual Amankora properties, meeting gentle and kind locals, hiking through mountain landscapes unlike any other, dining on local delicious delicacies, wandering through colorful ancient temples, and learning Bhutanese customs. With the recent opening of the Trans Bhutan Trail, a 250-mile sacred hiking trail for the first time in 60 years, more hikers will be drawn to this mountain Paradise!

Captivated by rich history and ancient culture? Egypt is overrun by Americans this year, plan now for next spring or fall. In sharing once in a lifetime adventures, it’s hard to ignore the allure of Africa and the Middle East, and in particular, Egypt – the pyramids are still magnificently standing, having withstood every imaginable world crisis. The history, the pyramids, the sphinx, and the ancient burial tombs all standing amid a hectic twenty first century life.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

Morocco – if you read my posts, you appreciate my obsession! Our clients are following my lead, as is most of America, Morocco is one of The Hottest travel destinations. Book in advance for the best five-star properties and stand by in fall, as I uncover the new luxury hotels in Tangier and visit a small riad in the Atlas Mountain’s – opened by well-known Marrakech hotelier, giving Kasbah Tamadot a little healthy hotel competition.

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Also, on the hot list is Colombia. With world-class coffee plantations, amazing beaches to the north and west, remarkable dining, rich history, and friendly people, Colombia tourism is exploding. Colombia’s diversity runs from mountain peaks to tropical grasslands, from spectacular museums and private art collections to coffee plantations, from ancient history to natural wonders.

Ancient mysteries come to life in cities rife with culture and charm. Near the city of Agustin more than 500 life-sized carved volcanic stone figures and tombs litter the Forest of Statues, amid native trees and flowers.

Four Seasons Vasa Medina Bogota

Cartagena has become one of South America’s most vibrant cities – and the undoubted queen of Columbia’s northern coast. Offering old-world luxury, exquisite fine-dining options, and a hip nightlife. Having witnessed 500 years of piracy, wars and slavery, Cartagena’s Walled City is steeped in history. Every house and street here have meaning – right down to the intricate door handles used to signal your hierarchy in society.

Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, Cartagena

Colombia’s capital of Bogota is rich with vitality, a blend of world-class restaurants, and sophisticated shopping. The energy and creativity of Colombia’s capital city are best experienced with a stay at Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá. In the buzzing Zona Rosa area, find yourself just steps away from the city’s best shopping, nightlife, and cafés, then come back to settle in at the intimate, modern Hotel, where contemporary elegance is found everywhere from the spacious suites to the perfectly poured Colombian espresso.

More than 99.5% of Colombians speak Spanish. Oh dear, un poquito Español!

Cheval Blanc, Paris Luxury Abounds!

Clients have stayed and adored this new gem on the Seine, I recently stayed and swooned! In the heart of Paris, the swanky property falls into the ultimate see-and-be-seen hotel.

Facing the Left Bank, a stroll away from the Louvre and the Marais, sits Cheval Blanc. Originally the classic La Samaritaine, circa 1870 French department store, which closed in 2005. LVMH purchased the building and transformed it into the glamorous high end haute brand hotel and six floor shopping mall.

The 72 rooms were designed by interior designer Peter Marino, who created the fabulous LVMH fashion boutiques, Bulgari, Chanel, and multiple Louis Vuitton shops. A combination of bespoke and vintage furnishings provides glamour on every wall, floor, and even the elevators, nothing but extraordinary finishes and touches.

Cheval Blanc Steam Shower

The art filled lobby is the welcoming point with a dazzling display of two imposing abstract works by Vik Muniz and an epic George Mathieu painting. The white horse sculpture is by celebrated architect, Frank Gehry, who designed Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Cheval Blanc Suite, Paris

The interiors showcase an abundance of luxurious textures, shapes, and unique hues, primarily a medley of opulent golds and cream. Woven ironworks, canvas, textiles, and unique stonework which must have generated an entire guild of craftspeople.

Under the Pont-Neuf, the oldest bridge in the city, flows the Seine and coincidentally, the dazzling 30-meter pool sits at the same level of the Seine. Viewing the pool on my first visit, it was essential to swim laps on my stay. The long walls consist of a video scene depicting a mesmerizing version of outdoors. It is constantly changing, waves gently lap, flocks of bird’s flap noiselessly and land in trees. The ceiling is mirrored reflecting the blue and green and golden tiles and the ongoing outdoor scene. One of the most stunning pools I’ve ever seen. The design is by Franco-Isreali artist Yorame Mevorach, also known as Oyoram.

My Junior Suite Balcony facing the Seine had table and chairs for outdoor dining or just gazing at the glorious Paris skyline punctuated with every famed landmark, a postcard montage as it were. The grand dome of Les Invalides, the Eiffel Tower, and the gloomy view of the scaffolded Notre Dame, under repair, its soul shattered by fire. I sat for hours spying on the promenade of locals and tourists crossing the Pont Neuf, lovers gazing at the sunset, businessmen lost in thought scurrying across the bridge, kids on scooters, it’s a lively scene.

The Suite – oh the amenities are too numerous to count! A spacious bedroom with an elegant desk and comfy lounge area, ideal for in room dining or lounging. Soft warm tones, no bright colors interrupt the calming sea of ivory and white marble in the enormous bathroom. Steam shower, of course, grand marble tub for two, check, separate dressing room, with space for two guests. The fragrant bath products designed by Dior perfumer François Demachy depict the shape of the building, nothing is less than perfect!

Does your safe include a device for winding your watch? The Cheval Blanc safe provides this glamorous amenity.

High tech touches designed for the lay person traveler, everything could be controlled from panels by the bed, and an in-room iPad which also had room controls and info about the hotel. Tribe of the Bed Girl is addicted to Pillow Menus, each offering printed on a perfect designer pillow.

The space is impressively designed with a hallway minibar offering everything from Cheval Blanc candles from each property, a Nespresso machine, snacks, and beverages.

In Europe it isn’t considered unusual to offer fine dining on property – most U.S. hotels lack this, and I think American mentality often dismisses the concept of a five-star restaurant within hotels.

There are four dining options within the hotel: Plénitude is Cheval Blanc’s fine-dining restaurant, run by Chef Arnaud. Donckele; on the first floor. Langosteria is Cheval Blanc’s most popular dining palace, an Italian restaurant.  Le Tout-Paris is all-day dining and is located on the rooftop level. Limbar, an all-day cafe; it’s located on the ground floor, and during the day it has pastries, coffee, and snacks, and in the evenings, it turns into a cocktail bar.

Spa Dior Cheval Blanc Paris takes an avant-garde approach to provide a uniquely original experience. In the heart of the vibrant City of Light, Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris is a haven of serenity offering total immersion in the world of the House of Dior. Offering features 48 different treatment options, this exceptional setting was the brainchild of decorator Peter Marino, in the spirit of a Parisian flat where each object is a vivid tribute to the codes of the House and to the life of Christian Dior. Stunning interiors meet state of the art – a holistic immersion of Dior.

Cheval Blanc is not a Palace Hotel, it lacks gardens and other than roof top dining, no outdoor space for mingling. Built around water and drop-dead views, you may forgo museum outings and decide to nest on your terrace all day. Highly Recommend!