Travel Design Tips & Inspiration

Just Back From: Malliouhana in Anguilla

Beach, Caribbean, Hotel Reviews

Apr
08
2015

February 2015

Anguilla

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Following a 3 year closure and 18-month renovation, the beloved Malliouhana on Anguilla is back, and now managed by the prestigious Auberge Hotels Group. Redressed and gussied up in turquoise, shimmering accents and bright yellow frills (the pool umbrellas are indeed,frilly) the mod redo has made the hotel every bit as alluring as the glorious white sand beach and crystalline water it overlooks.

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A large nod must go to interior designer, Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studio, for transforming a tired property into one that simply gleams. The mid-century, Palm Beach-esque furnishings lend a cheerful vibe to the entire resort, while maintaining a high quotient of glamour.

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Lenahan drew his inspiration from the photography of Slim Aarons, a beloved shutterbug of the rich and celebrated, who often photographed his subjects either poolside or on vacation in some of the world’s most iconic spots. A wise source indeed, as Anguilla’s heyday was during the same years of Aaron’s work’s heyday, thus the design also conjures the island’s most glamourous time in history. And clearly, the look carries timeless appeal.

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Cool fact: the wall mirror pictured here actually hides a television screen inside.

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What struck me most was how the simple addition of paint, mind-you in attractively chosen color schemes with charming application techniques – note the stripes painted on the walls in the guest rooms, made a world of difference to the concrete (hurricane-proof) walls. Instantly the mood was lifted. Pair this with palm-frond embellished furnishings, and iconic fabric prints (such as the black and white striped pool cabanas) and the senses were pleasantly satiated into a Caribbean state of mind. Of course, it helps that the views are expansive and nothing but sea on the horizon, and that the complimentary poolside smoothies are fresh and refreshing.
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The next best thing after the design, is the restaurant. Crisply nautical in design scheme (I’m a sucker for that), deliciously open-air (and with ceiling fans to ensure a breeze even on still nights) with cozy cushioned seating and panoramic views of the sea, what’s not to like? Even better; the food is delicious. Seriously, truly delicious. Unlike other Caribbean islands, Anguilla does enjoy a pretty phenomenal dinning scene, and so the Malliouhana simply had to perform here. And that they did. Likely, with the help of Auberge. By bringing in the talent from New York, who expertly created a menu that showcases the best of the Caribbean Sea’s offerings with a Mediterranean twist, I can honestly say, that each meal (and I had all three) was remarkably tasty. From the spiny lobster benedict in the morning (oh yes, I did) to the multi-course dinner, which included house-made garganelli pasta in squid ink and coconut oil plus poached grouper with jerk spiced spinach. I would go back just as much for the food as the scenery. And in the Caribbean, that’s no small feat. Kudos.malliouhana-auberge-resort-anguilla-dining-restaurant-collagemalliouhana-auberge-resort-anguilla-gallery-5

So, until my next visit, of which I’m certain there will be one, I shall dream of the cheerful resort’s stylish decor, the seaside setting and the delicious meals. And for a resort located on an island where the beach generally steals the show, I believe my recollections say it clearly: This place is exceptional. malliouhana-auberge-resort-anguilla-dining-restaurant-gallery-12

For more information and personal details regarding the Malliouhana or for questions on whether this spot would be a good fit for your  next trip, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Posted in: Beach, Caribbean, Hotel Reviews

Published by Meg, Wednesday, April 8, 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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

 

Posted in: Family, Hotel Reviews

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

A Sunny Sorrento Surprise

Beach, Hideaways, Hotel Reviews, Italy

Sep
13
2013

116081This June my mother, young son and I all traveled to Italy. It was an adventure, to say the least, during which we indulged in some robust Hideaway Hunting. Our hunt took us up and down the boot, from Sorrento to Umbria and even over to Capri, each of which yielded some memorable Italian gems that I was happy to add to my list. One of my new favorites is La Minervetta in Sorrento. A remarkably charming boutique property nestled into the cliffside of Sorrento, La Minervetta is a spot you don’t easily forget. It’s simply that good. My young son was particularly taken with this spot as well. It didn’t hurt that our room was filled with model boats ideal for him to tinker with and line up along the sparkling picture windows.

116101As you can see, the hotel’s cheerful decor hardly lacks for color and the result is a wonderful lightness felt amongst the guests. We chatted with almost every other guest, likely due to the sunny weather and small pool area, but also because the spots welcoming design simply encourages friendliness. Furthermore, the to buy semenax breakfast buffet, pictured at top, was truly one of the best, particularly as this is a small hotel. The two women chefs in the kitchen were not only supremely talented, but so warm and friendly. I chatted with them easily and happily, of course this also gave me ample time to graze so as not to stockpile my plate like a typical American. Everything though, and truly everything, was delicious and homemade and oh so fresh. It was one of those times where everything just came together so beautifully and the essence of European travel, particularly Italian, reached its pinnacle: gorgeous scenery, excellent fresh food and a warm and inviting setting. I can assure you, I will go back.

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Sure, it helps that the sparkling view of the Sea and the Italian coastline is mesmerizing in its own right, but with a colorscape so fun and flirty inside too, it makes the whole stay feel just as it should – like a giddy holiday. And do let me know if you’re interested in going yourself, I’ve got a few room favorites that are absolutely stunning.

 

 

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Posted in: Beach, Hideaways, Hotel Reviews, Italy

Published by Meg, Friday, September 13, 2013 No Comments

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About Meg

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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.

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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.