Travel Design Tips & Inspiration

Just Back from Jackson, WY

Family, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Travel Tips

Jan
29
2016

Jackson, Wyoming

January 2016

Happy New Year, and if January is any indication, well, then, so far, so great. Just this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to head out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for an insider peek into the wintry lifestyle of the gorgeous Teton Valley. Having only ever visited the area during the summer months – something I HIGHLY suggest doing – I was eager to check out the terrain now under a thick blanket of snow.  As you can see from my sunrise shot below, I was hardly disappointed.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.46.34 PM

Staying at a mountaintop (or butte-top, to be more accurate) home near the Spring Creek Ranch and the Aman, I was blessed with some truly stunning views. If you can believe it, this sunrise shot above is captured without filters (mostly because I’m terrible at them, anyhow).

The entire weekend, I was treated to an excellent and thorough tour from local expert and Real Estate / Property-Management firm founder, Morgan Bruemmer of the Clear Creek Group. His affable and kind demeanor meant myself and fellow journalist wanted for nothing and were exposed to the very best Jackson has to offer. Of course, the slopes were on my top list, and so ski them I did, with none other than a former K2-rep skier whose bravery and strength was unparalleled – just ask the bears.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.46.52 PM

In addition to skiing, we also snowshoed in the National Teton Park on a bluebird afternoon and visited the nearby Elk Refuge via horse-drawn sleigh. It was chilly, but also enthralling to view these massive horned and hairy beasts up close and personal. As you can see below, I tried to flatter my hosts by donning something equally as furry, though the guide’s chaps quickly let me know I had a ways to go. Of course not everything we did was outdoors. We also managed to nourish ourselves rather sumptuously. My favorite meal was found at local bakery, Persephone, where the pastries were sinful and the decor was perfectly vintage-infused and charming. I could have easily nestled in with my laptop and spent the better part of the day. I’m already planning my return. Next time, with my family in tow.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.46.43 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.47.01 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.47.08 PM

 

Posted in: Family, Friend Of A Friend Consulting, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Friday, January 29, 2016 No Comments

Just back From: Four Seasons Serengeti, Tanzania

Africa, Family, Hotel Reviews, Travel Tips

Oct
28
2015

This past July I traveled to Tanzania to check out the Four Seasons Serengeti on assignment for Passported.com – a new travel site dedicated to sophisticated family travel (yay!) I wrote the following for them and have re-posted it here for my readers.

FS Serengeti is a fabulous, family-friendly spot in the Serengeti National Park with unending views and true intimacy with the animals. I sincerely hope to bring my children back there someday as its programs for kids were among the best I’ve ever seen in the bush.  *All pictures here are mine.

 

FOUR SEASONS SERENGETI TRAVEL REPORT

LOCATION

Smack in the center of the Serengeti National Park with the Mara River and Kenya to the east and Lake Victoria due west, the Four Seasons Safari Lodge has one of the most privileged spots in the whole park, with open ended views out across the plains and an on-property watering hole that elephants loved. And with a sister tented camp farther east towards Kenya planned for 2017, the Four Seasons Serengeti experience will be cover both rugged and more pampered stays in tandem. Of course, this is the Four Seasons, so rugged will likely be a relative term.

LODGE

With 77 rooms and three standalone villas, plus a separate spa and fitness area, kids’ club room and precious jewelry shop, this is by far one the of the largest safari lodges I’ve ever visited and the resort-feel is apparent. Rooms sit right alongside and above one another with elevated decks connecting the buildings, so the space feels more like a traditional hotel than secluded lodge. The decor is impressively authentic, with Maasai art featured prominently throughout the hotel. Common areas are vast but thoughtful details, like the snooker table at the tail end of the second-floor lounge and the open-air fire pit in the attached Boma Grill restaurant, lend a more intimate feel. The best spot in the hotel is the Discovery Centre, where an interactive museum-style format is a magnet for the whole family. Led by the charming and well-versed Oli Dreike, there is no better place to understand and respect the enormity of the Great Migration.

WILDLIFE

Synonymous with the Great Migration (the enthralling spectacle of one million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra and 500,000 gazelles charging across the plains), the Serengeti has the highest concentration of plains animals, including all of the Big Five. Birders will be delighted with the 600-plus bird species in the park, while cat-lovers can be confident they will spot either leopard or lion, likely both, since they are in abundance in the Serengeti. During my stay, camera traps at the lodge captured both lion and leopard wandering nearby.

FOOD

With daily shipments from Nairobi and Maasai cooks in the kitchen, chef Curtis Smithen (Four Seasons Nevis alum) has created a menu that showcases local vegetables and grains like ugali (beans) and mchicha (spinach), plus chapatti, a delicious fried bread. Breakfast is a continental-style buffet with custom smoothies and an omelet station served up on the second floor, while lunch and dinner are a la carte and served down below either in the dining room or alfresco on the deck overlooking the pool. The food is impressive given the constraints of the location, with the Boma Grill’s local Tanzanian barbecue of Nyama Choma being the best meal of the stay.

HIGHLIGHT

There’s a multitude of day trip options, including fishing trips to Lake Victoria, river crossings of the Migration and visits to the Ngororo Crater, but I’d be remiss not to recommend the balloon safari. Though the departure is at the crack of dawn and the take-off is done from a slightly harrowing supine position, the experience is otherworldly as the sun rises alongside your balloon and you glide over the endless herds of animals. It was like being inside the Planet Earth film. Myself and my companions were all grinning like hyenas throughout the hour-long ride.

SerengetiBalloon BalloonsSerengetistaggered

Posted in: Africa, Family, Hotel Reviews, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Wednesday, October 28, 2015 No Comments

Just Back From: Ranch at Rock Creek

Family, Hotel Reviews

Jan
30
2015

Montana, November 2014,

This past November, I flew to Missoula (yes, it took me two flights from NYC) and then drove an hour and change through heather-covered mountains and open valleys, all to arrive at Jim Manley’s rarefied luxe lodge, The Ranch at Rock Creek.  It was my first visit to a real working Ranch and my inner-cowboy was raring to go.

40896

It was there, surrounded by horses, a babbling river and charming navajo and cowhide furnishings that I also enjoyed my first ever GLAMPING experience.  Given its name is derived from glamour (glamorous + camping = Glamping) I was an instant fan. Everything from the cozy canvas tent’s furnishings and temperature controlled gas fire to the sonorous natural aqua soundtrack out my door, I was smitten at first night.

18102014083132

Beyond the plush accommodations, the RRC provides truly commendable service with each employee more friendly than the next with a genuine passion for their job and the property they represent. The mood was one of true contentment and it was quickly translated to the guests. It also helps that the price model is all-inclusive, thus guests are presented with a bill until the very end of their stay. Better yet, it makes choosing the day’s activities – particularly for fickle kids – absent of stress and financial burden. Want to try fly fishing but not ready to commit to four hours? Not a problem. Try it for as long as you like. Same goes for shooting, the ropes course (which seriously tested my fear of heights), mountain biking, cattle ranching and riding. The options are yours for the picking and re-picking.

montana-the-ranch-at-rock-creek-2Being that the ranch is the dream-come-true / brainchild of one individual, it’s not unfair to compare bits of it to Michael’s Neverland (though far less creepy in context, of course.) Take the ranch’s saloon, for instance, which is outfitted with saddle-laden bar stools, a pool table, multiple big-screen TVs, and, perhaps most impressively, a four-lane bowling alley. It’s Butch Cassidy’s man cave. slideshow_The-Ranch-At-Rock-Creek

Then there’s the general store, or the MERC, as they call it. Never have I been so tempted to outfit myself in head-to-toe cowgirl wear. They wisely blend their comprehensive array of boots with a rainbow of Patagonia fleece, men’s plaid shirts, designer denim and charming children wear – even the t-shirts are extra comfy. If the outdoors hadn’t been just a tad more alluring (barely), I would have lost a few hours in that store.
Mercantile_05853_1

And last, there’s the food. Again, the all-inclusive model wins here, allowing zero hesitation to ordering as much and as varied amount of items as you like. It also alleviates the inevitable frustration of a dish left half uneaten by your six year old. Fortunately, the leftovers will likely be snatched up by others as the food is that good. Sourced locally, as much as possible, the dishes are outstanding and feature local game, produce and delectable homemade soups and desserts. Good thing the multitude of hikes were easily accessible, ensuring the three square meals were effortlessly burned off.

 

Rollin’ with Nolan Tip: The Ranch offers guests a complimentary pair of cowboy boots to wear throughout their stay. Do not pass this opportunity up. I felt FAR more comfortable in my boots than ever imagined and quickly did away with any other shoe option for most of the stay.

If interested in booking a stay at the Ranch at Rock Creek, please email me for preferred pricing and specials.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Posted in: Family, Hotel Reviews

Published by Meg, Friday, January 30, 2015 No Comments

about meg

About Meg

imgres

Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

books and apps

follow meg

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.