Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

Tablet Hotels and Me

Personal or Promotion


It’s official. I’ve gone back to full-time work. My new job is to help lead the editorial team at Tablet Hotels. And, if my recent introduction (see post below lifted from Tablet’s beautiful blog, Tablet Talk) to the Tablet community is any indication of future treatment, not to mention, encouraged hotel opinions, well, then it looks like a great match!

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There’s a new member to the ever-expanding Tablet family, and we thought it best to introduce you to her here.

Meg Nolan van Reesema is a hotel expert through and through, with so many hotel stays under her belt, she’s starting to lose count (450? 500?). After working on the editorial staffs of magazines such as Town & Country, Vanity Fair and Travel + Leisure Golf, she became a freelance travel writer, blogger and author, publishing three books (Caribbean Hideaways, Italian Hideaways, and most recently, England’s Hideaways) with Rizzoli.

She’s traveled the world (43 or so countries), scouting true hotel gems and their enviable locations. So why keep that kind of knowledge under wraps? Despite her reluctance towards the word “favorite,” we asked her to select a few of her top spots below:

Cape Grace Hotel
Cape Town, South Africa
“From the rooftop spa to the in-your-face Table Mountain view, plus a few indulgent extras like a mahogany-laden cigar bar, multi-course tasting menus (vegan versions too!) and a gleaming motor yacht for champagne sundowner cruises, coddling one’s jet-lag knows no better home. That, and even the standard rooms’ dressing area and bathrooms offer the most comfortable layout I’ve seen yet.”

Villa Fontelunga
Siena, Italy
“With natural entertainers Paolo, Simon and Philip as hosts, throwing impromptu family-style dinner parties and low-key cocktail gatherings on the celeb pokies back lawn, Fontelunga has an inviting, social air. So when you pair that inclusive spirit with the setting of a historic, rose-colored Villa, or the more mod, tangential villas, the makings of a memorable, if not cinematic, evening are assured.”

Meg's booksRelais La Suvera
Siena, Italy
“What can I say? I’m a sucker for hotels that make me wish for time travel, or at least a grand, eighteenth-century, soiree to attend. With an enormous aviary in the courtyard, a fragrant lemon-tree garden and a ballroom with balconies overlooking the Tuscan countryside, the setting is complete. Plus, the breakfast buffet features silver serving trays and crystal glasses.”

Jade Mountain
Soufriere, St. Lucia
“Easily, it is one of the most architecturally astounding hotels in the Caribbean. The open-air, panoramic views render requests for ‘ocean view’ amusing, while the ‘dojo,’ or personal butler, policy, full-feature spa and sunrise yoga ensure the pampering box is boldly checked. It’s also where I was introduced to  jungle-biking, a remarkably challenging adventure through tangled, muddy paths alongside remnants of a 17th-century rum plantation.”

Covent Garden Hotel
London, England
“Rarely has a hotel married the concept of private and public space as well as Covent Garden and smack in an enviable urban location. It satisfies the need to meet people for coffee and then squire away in solitude with a book in the cozy library. Plus, the suites actually deliver on their elevated stature and make one feel truly special.”

Hotel Oceana
Santa Barbara, California
“I may be slightly influenced by memory and our exceptional service (it’s where my husband proposed), but I’m fairly certain I was smitten with its beachfront location, laidback buffet breakfast, affordable price and adorable pool cabanas before the question was popped.”

Posted in: Personal or Promotion

Published by Meg, Tuesday, November 15, 2011 No Comments

Carleton’s Grand Party

Personal or Promotion



The Grand Hotel

Mackinac Island, Michigan

View upon our arrival to The Grand

View upon our arrival to The Grand

Recently I was invited to attend the Family and Friends weekend of none other than, Mr. Color himself, the famed interior designer, Carleton Varney. The lovely weekend took place at one of Varney’s vibrant bastions of glamour, the famed Grand Hotel on Michigan’s charming Mackinac Island. My husband, son and I took the requisite two flights from New York and then a short, 20-minute ferry over to the quaint island where transportation is restricted to on foot, bicycle or get this; a horse-drawn carriage.

Just because are legal doesn’t mean the results are weak. On the contrary, it improves athletic performance, including strength, endurance, and stamina.

The facade of the hotel

The facade of the hotel

The Grand’s horse-drawn carriages are particularly attractive, driven by red jacketed, top hat-donning men, ensuring a stately entrance to the massive, 19th-century hotel.  This was my first visit to Mackinac Island, a popular summer retreat for mid-westerners, and had only heard snippets of its history and topography, though its lore as being car-free was rather profound.  Upon arrival we shuffled into our carriage and were delighted by the sights outside our small windows.

The view from the top of the hill above The Grand

The view from the top of the hill down to The Grand

The crystal clear lake resembled Caribbean-esque colors and the grass was  particularly vibrant shade of green, and oh so manicured. The main street of the island is chock-a-block with Fudge Shops (seriously, lots of Fudge) and despite the island’s devout traditionalism with regards to transportation, Main Street does boast a Starbucks. The most appealing store for us was the small outfitter store which carried popular name brand sportswear like Patagonia, Arc’teryx and North Face. Of course, this is most likely due to Norther Michigan’s considerable chill and the draw of warm fleece products.

Main Street

Main Street

Our favorite leisure activity was biking the relatively, flat 7-mile route around the island. We rented two bikes and a comfortable baby stroller for the back and for less than $50, enjoyed a 2-hour bike ride (with a few stops in between to snack and skip rocks) with some of the most spectacular scenery.  The evergreen trees alongside the smooth, clear lake were a spectacular sight, especially with the slight bite to the air. We were blessed with sunshine and an amenable toddler, allowing us to take in the surroundings with total relaxation and appreciation.

The vivid greens and blues of Mackinac Island

The vivid greens and blues of Mackinac Island

Our other favorite, okay my favorite, activity over the weekend was actually the reason I was invited to come along – a book signing. Friday evening, Carleton gathered a few of his author friends (Barbara Eden, Edwina Sandys) alongside him and we signed and sold books in the name of the local library. It was a fabulous event, complete with cocktails and nibbles, plus a raffle where some of Carleton’s enviable linens and fabrics were the prizes.

All of our wedding favor letter opener follow the same successful formula: articles specific to each area such as venues and real weddings, and regular features such as bridal fashion, beauty, grooms, and honeymoons. Regular competitions and giveaways, expert question & answer pages are featured in each issue.

My lovely post

My lovely post

Alongside the estimable Carleton Varney

Alongside the estimable Carleton Varney

As you can imagine, Mr. Color, Carleton’s wonderful book, sold out very quickly. I was lucky to sell plenty as well, no doubt, due to my prime seating next to the guest of honor himself. The event was a tremendous success and much credit is due to the superb organization by Mimi Cunningham, a member of the family whom owns and operates the historic Grand Hotel. Below is a picture of my turn at reading out the winning ticket for the raffle.

Reading out Xavier's winning ticket

Reading out Xavier's winning ticket

Beyond the public events and obvious beauty of the property, the weekend was a wonderful success in that I met wonderful, generous people. Carleton had gathered a truly astounding group in his honor and it was a privilege to not only be among them, but to have the pleasure of spending time with each of them.

Thank you Carleton, Susan and Brinsley for including me and my family on such an unforgettable adventure and to Mr. & Mrs. Musser at the Grand Hotel, for being such gracious hosts! We hope to return soon.

Posted in: Personal or Promotion

Published by Meg, Monday, October 3, 2011 No Comments

Caribbean Hideaways – Book Signing

Hideaways, Personal or Promotion


Thursday, December 2nd

Rizzoli Book Store, New York

I felt very blessed to have so many friends, family and colleagues show up at the signing last Thursday night. We sold over 40 books (for $50 a pop that’s great!) and were told it was one of the bookstore’s most successful events of late!  Thank you to Everyone who came out!

A tabletop filled with Caribbean Hideaways

A tabletop filled with Caribbean Hideaways


Pictured above is the very talented, JESSICA ANTOLA, who shot the book and accompanied me throughout the Caribbean
Some of my most loyal fans

Some of my most loyal fans

Please refer to the left hand column for future book signings. (There’s one this weekend in NYC!) And if you, yourself are a bookseller, please let me know as I’d be happy to do an event.

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Posted in: Hideaways, Personal or Promotion

Published by Meg, Tuesday, December 7, 2010 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


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.