Friday, January 27, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Kauai

This winter's snowfall has been disappointing across the U.S., so we figured it was time for change in scenery for The Points Guy's next Destination of the Week piece about places where you can travel and stay using your hard-earned points and miles.

This week we travel to the Hawaiian island of Kauai for some lush luxury, dramatic landscapes, and, of course, tons of great hotels with loyalty programs that you can use to stay for free, which range from a Courtyard Marriott to a high-end St. Regis.

Plus I throw in a few tips about where to go, what to see, and how to avoid the island's notoriously rainy weather!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

JustLuxe: Australia Glamping Part Two

Following up on last week's JustLuxe Glamping Guide to Australia, I came up with a second installment of out-of-the-way luxury properties that put on display all the best and most extraordinary of the land down under's glorious natural wonders.

This one includes a camp close to Sydney called Tandara, the wetland beauty of Bamurru Plains in the Northern Territory, station-style living at Spicers Canopy in Queensland, the Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat in Broome up in the north of Western Australia (near Ningaloo Reef where I want to go swimming with whale sharks!), and another one in the heart of the stunning, otherworldly landscape of Western Australia's Kimberley region called Karijini Eco Retreat.

Lots to explore and enjoy with these properties, and plenty more like them in Australia, so stay tuned for future glamping pieces!


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Davos

Time for the third Destination of the Week for January on The Points Guy, and this time, we check out a ski resort across the Atlantic that attracts the world's powerbrokers ever year: Davos, Switzerland.

Snow conditions are pretty much awful in North America this winter, so we figured why not look to Europe for a ski getaway? The only problem is that the hotel brands with points programs aren't very well represented outside the major cities there. Except for Davos, which already has a Sheraton, and is getting an Intercontinental and a Hilton Garden Inn (odd, I know, but still an option) in the next year or two, making it one of the best destinations to use hotel points, if not for Alpine village charm.

Ah well, the skiing is still supposed to be pretty excellent, and the British royal family decamps to Klosters just a valley away for its ski vacations, so there must be something fabulous going on there. Check out my write up and a few guides to the area and its activities in my post at the link below.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

LA Confidential Magazine: Healthy Restaurants

Just in time for all those well intentioned New Year's resolutions...I came up with a roundup of some of the tastiest, classiest, all-round healthiest restaurants in Los Angeles for LA Confidential's January issue.

Among the entries are Larchmont favorite Cafe Gratitude, macrobiotic mainstay M Cafe, raw food extraordinaire at Real Food Daily, Echo Park's Sage Organic Vegan Bistro, Seed Bistro in West LA, and several more.

So if you resolved to eat a more plant-based diet, or just have an undying affection for tempeh, this list should keep you eating right well into 2012.


Monday, January 16, 2012

JustLuxe: Australia Glamping Part One

For the topic of my next JustLuxe piece, I return (metaphorically) to one of my favorite destinations, Australia, to cover one of my favorite trends in the travel industry, glamping.

In the first of two installments, I talk about five of Australia's most exciting and luxurious glamping experiences. Some I've talked about before, such as Wildman Wilderness Lodge in the Northern Territory and Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Others are new, like Paperbark Camp in New South Wales.

All in all, this is a great little list of some of the best glamping experiences in Australia stretching from coast to coast and from the jungle to the Red Centre to the sea, and there are more to come later in the week on JustLuxe.


Friday, January 13, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Whistler

For my second Destination of the Week post on The Points Guy, I took a cue from several TPG readers who suggested that we talk about Whistler since it's pretty much the only place on the West Coast that has any snow right now.

Lucky for points enthusiasts, it also has a bunch of great hotel options where you can redeem points for free nights and perks at Starwood, Hilton and Fairmont (well, not free nights, but you do get perks for joining their President's Club program). Plus, it's got tons of great skiing and snowboarding options for the alpine adventurers.

Take a look at my post at the link below, and feel free to leave a comment about your own experiences there!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

JustLuxe: Los Angeles Restaurant Week Winter 2012

Another season, another dineLA Restaurant Week here in Los Angeles. This winter marks our Restaurant Week's fifth anniversary and includes all the usual suspects plus new restaurants like Il Covo, Larry's, Ray's & Stark Bar, Mercato di Vetro and Spice Table.

Find out who's on the roster this time around--the event runs January 22-27 and January 29-February 3--the best strategy for snagging tables at your top picks, and which hotels are offering stay & dine packages in my JustLuxe piece at the link below:


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Frontiers: Mercato di Vetro

SBE, the folks behind some of the hottest nightclubs around Los Angeles, as well as the Redbury Hotel and its restaurant, Cleo, have opened up a second dining spot in West Hollywood called Mercato di Vetro in the former MI6 space.

The restaurant is pretty striking with a two-story open floor plan and all kinds of different seating areas including marble counters, casual bartops and huge booths, plus four different kitchens turning out various specialties.

Chef Danny Elmaleh from Cleo is in charge of the kitchen here as well, though at Mercato, he keeps the Mediterranean-style menu more firmly focused on the trattoria-inspired cuisine of Italy. That means pizzas, pastas, crostini, branzino and bombolone among other signature dishes, which you can read about in my latest Frontiers review.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

JustLuxe: Eight New LA Restaurants

The holidays are officially over, and it's back to the foodie grind for me, with review meals at new restaurants and events at new lounges and venues nearly every night.

Already in a food reporting frame of mind, I thought I'd compile a list of some of the most talked-about recent openings in town for my next JustLuxe roundup, so I bring you a roster of eight new restaurants around Los Angeles. I have not tried many of them...yet, but I have a feeling I'll be getting to almost all of them before long, and if any of you have tried them, feel free to comment below and tell me what you thought!

In the meantime, check out the opening word of mouth for places like Livello, Freddie Small's, Batch, Casa Azul, Papilles, and more.


Friday, January 6, 2012

The Points Guy: Destination of the Week Series, Park City

Today we launched a new series on The Points Guy called the Destination of the Week, where we highlight fabulous destinations you can get to, stay and enjoy all using miles and points.

Because it's January, we decided to start with a few ski destinations this month, including our first pick, Park City. Now, I know that the U.S. is experiencing record low snowfall this year, so don't go to Park City just yet, but at least this can get you thinking about all the great options for getting there and accommodations for when you do plan a ski trip to Utah.

Take a look at my first piece at the link below, and stay tuned for more on Fridays from now on.


Monday, January 2, 2012

LA Confidential Magazine: Champagne Toasts

New Year's might have come and gone, but that doesn't mean the champagne toasts have to end there. In fact, restaurants all over Los Angeles have fabulous champagne bottles on their menu including standards like Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and Perrier-Jouet, as well as rarer vintages like Nicolas Feuillate Palmes d'Or Brut and Pommery's Cuvee Louise.

As you'd expect, many of these are at some of the city's fanciest restaurants including Spago, Patina, Melisse and The Belvedere, as well as the new eatery from the Animal guys, Son of a Gun, where the wine list is almost exclusively sparkling wines.

Read the full list and find out which unique bottles each restaurant carries in my LA Confidential piece at the link below.