What’s New, Buenos Aires??

I know it seems like all we do is travel, travel, TRAVEL! Cruising around the Caribbean in November, spending Christmas week in London town and now here we go again. Too much galavanting about in too short a period of time, you say? Well, maybe – I’m just grateful that we get to go at all!

You may have already noticed that I like to plan my travel way ahead. At this point, we’ve booked trips (mostly cruises) through 2017. I think it’s great to get them on the calendar. Sometimes, there’s a financial incentive to booking early. If you’re traveling by ship, perhaps you want to snag a certain cabin. Maybe you’re traveling with friends or family and need to coordinate. You get my drift.

Here’s the deal: our cruise line of choice for the past 11 years has been Crystal Cruises. We’ve sailed on Serenity or Symphony more frequently than all other cruises we’ve taken combined. We like the service, the crew, the spaciousness of the vessels and, not least, the passengers with whom we sail, many of whom have become good friends over the years.

TRAVEL TIP: Crystal Cruises

So, about 2 years ago, Crystal announced that, in January 2016, Symphony would be sailing from Buenos Aires to Antarctica and to several other ports. We’d never been to Buenos Aires, let alone South America. And how many opportunities do you have to visit Antarctica? It sounded too good to pass up, and so we booked it, way back then. I contacted my friends at Tully Luxury Travel, chose my cabin, and they booked it for us. Thank you, Nada and Monika.

TRAVEL TIP: Tully Luxury Travel

Crystal Symphony Antarctica
Look what awaits us in about 2 weeks!

As it turns out, my sister, Leslie, and her husband, Ron – who introduced us to Crystal Cruises back in 2005 – decided that they wanted to get in on the action and offered to join us. They’re good sailing buddies, so we thought “why not”?

Crystal Voyage
Here’s where we’ll be going

In addition, we have other good friends who are joining us on this cruise, at least 4 of them (that we know about). One fun thing about Crystal is that, while you’re at the terminal waiting to embark on sailing day, you’re inevitably going to run into people with whom you’ve cruised before. AAC CPA and I are always amazed (and totally flattered) when people walk up to us on line, reintroduce themselves and say how pleased they are to see us again. That’s pretty nice, right? That’s also part of the Crystal experience.

Our cruise doesn’t begin until January 13th, so we decided to fly down to BA this Thursday evening (American Airlines has an 11 hour, nonstop overnight flight from JFK to EZE) and we’ll spend 5 nights at the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt. It’s reputed to be one of the loveliest hotels in Buenos Aires. Thank you Veronica at AmEx Platinum FHR for taking care of our hotel reservations.

TRAVEL TIP: AmEx Platinum FHR Program

BA Night
We’ll be there in just about 72 hours

BA Park Hyatt
Our digs for 5 nights

TRAVEL TIP: Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt

Oh, and here’s another little TRAVEL TIP, if you have the means to do it. You know when your cruise ends and you’re thrown off the ship first thing in the morning (probably kicking and screaming and in total denial)? Well, what if your flight home doesn’t depart for another 13 hours? What’cha gonna do?? Our policy is if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So we asked Veronica if she would contact the Park Hyatt and inquire if we could reserve a “day room” until it was time to leave for the airport that evening. Guess what? We asked and we got! (Thanks again, Veronica!) We’ll be able to check in as early as 9:00 AM, and we’ll have the room until early evening. And, because it’s only a “day room”, the rate has been reduced. So now it won’t hurt so much to get off the ship – we’ll be able to laze around the hotel, hang out by the pool or the spa, and just be pampered, pampered, pampered.

If you’ve been following my posts at all, you know that I’ve already booked our dinner reservations and retained the services of a very cool guide who will squire us around the city.

And for all of you concerned with jet lag, here’s a cool travel fact: there’s only a 2-hour time difference between NYC and BA. Not only that, it’ll be the same everywhere we sail on the cruise. Jet lag: BE GONE!

Casa Rosada
Guess who lived here once upon a time

I’ll be posting while we’re away although, as usual, we’ll probably have the usual lousy Internet challenges for the 2 weeks we’re aboard Symphony. I know, poor us!!

Stay tuned – it’s going to be a great trip!

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2015 Wrap-Up, Part I – Travel

 

At this time of year, everyone seems to be publishing “best-of” lists. As I’ve been blogging for barely 3 months, I thought I’d challenge myself to post 3 of these lists: one each for travel, cuisine, and culture.

Today is for travel and I’ve narrowed the scope of this post to four places I’ve slept during the past year that I would recommend to you.

In alphabetical order:

L’Ermitage – Beverly Hills, CA

L'Ermitage - 01Entrance to L’Ermitage

We’ve been staying at this property for years. Back in the day – the early 80’s, to be precise – L’Ermitage was one of the very first “all-suite” hotels. I remember staying there in June 1982 and being wowed by the concept – all that space for lil’ ol’ me. The property was completely renovated and upgraded about 15 years ago to maintain its edge.

L'Ermitage - 02L’Ermitage Pool and Cabañas at Dusk

We were last there this past June and the hotel was in the midst of a major makeover. Because of our longstanding relationship with the hotel, we were given a sneak preview of the new rooms, and they’re extremely beautiful and up to the minute in terms of amenities and technology.

Another big plus is that L’Ermitage has a great location, just a few minutes walk (wait: who walks in Los Angeles??) to Rodeo drive and other Beverly Hills landmarks.

I’d also like to put in a word for the service at the hotel – couldn’t be better. You’ll be very well taken care of at L’Ermitage.

L'Ermitage Cabana LunchA bite of lunch in a poolside cabaña

TRAVEL TIP: L’Ermitage

Glenmere – Chester, NY

Glenmere - 01
A Tuscan mansion in upstate New York?

We discovered this fabulous property just after it opened in 2010. A 75-minute drive from Manhattan, it is the former Tuscan-style mansion built in 1911 by Robert Wilson Goelet on his enormous estate in Sugar Loaf, a hamlet in Chester. The original architects, Carrere & Hastings, also designed the New York Public Library and the Guggenheim Museum.

The estate was sold during World War II and converted into a resort hotel. By the 1960s, however, it had fallen into disrepair.

In 2007, the property was purchased by Alan Stenberg and Daniel DeSimone and over the next several years – and at an estimated cost of $30 million – was transformed into a magnificent luxury 19-room hotel and restaurant. A spa – perhaps unlike any you’ve seen before – was added a couple of years ago.

Glenmere - 02 - Spa

The Spa at Glenmere – Do I believe my eyes?

We returned to Glenmere for a couple of nights last August. If anything, they’ve upped their game. Butler service and a complimentary breakfast are now included. The grounds are magnificent, as is the property itself. If you want to splurge for a special occasion, Glenmere is the place to do it.

Glenmere - AAC arrives

AAC CPA arrives at Glenmere

Glenmere - View

Check out the view from our room

Glenmere - Terrace

AAC CPA relaxes on the terrace on a Wednesday afternoon

TRAVEL TIP: Glenmere Mansion

Peninsula Hotel – Paris, France

Peninsula EntranceEntrance to the Peninsula

We were in Paris last May following our crossing from Miami to Lisbon aboard Crystal Serenity. The Peninsula opened about a year ago and, as with all grand Parisian hotels, it is a masterpiece of design and execution. Located steps away from the Arc de Triomphe, it is an ideal location for a visit to the City of Light.

The rooms are beautifully designed and feature up-to-the-minute technology, including iPads on either side of the bed to control virtually everything in the room (except for AAC CPA, of course). This can result, of course, in dueling remote controls when watching television. (Should anyone have time to watch TV in Paris?)

Peninsula - iPad

Dueling iPads

The bathrooms defy description and I mean that in the best way possible.

Peninsula - 02

Do you believe me now?

There are several dining venues in the hotel, including the elegant rooftop restaurant, L’Oiseau Blanc, which has wonderful food and awesome views of the Eiffel Tower. It is adjacent to a very deco bar, which serves extremely tasty cocktails. In good weather, the bar opens onto a terrace where you can appreciate the territory.

Peninsula - AAC - 01

The outside terrace at the Peninsula

Peninsula - AAC - Cocktails

AAC CPA and I enjoy evening cocktails at L’Oiseau Blanc

TRAVEL TIP: Peninsula Hotel

Hotel Yountville – Yountville, CA

Yountville - AAC - 01

AAC CPA arrives at the Hotel Yountville

Any oenophile worth his or her salt will travel to California to enjoy the wine country. These days, there are so many wine regions out there but, for many, the Napa Valley is the place to go. We’ve stayed in the wine country on several occasions but, last summer, spent a few days in Yountville at the Yountville Hotel and I highly recommend it to you.

Yountville - Balcony

Our private balcony

Besides being a lovely place to stay, it is located on the main drag and within walking distance of all the great Yountville restaurants. (French Laundry, anyone?) And Yountville is an extremely convenient place to stay as you’re within a 30-minute radius of many of the great wineries in the Valley.

Yountville - AAC CoffeeAAC CPA relaxing after breakfast

Oh, and for those of you who like to get in a morning run before debauching yourselves at the myriad of wineries in the vicinity, here’s the view from one of my jogs:

Yountville - Jog

I actually jogged here!

Before checking out of the Hotel Yountville, we had already booked the hotel for a return visit next summer. That’s how much we enjoyed it.

TRAVEL TIP: Hotel Yountville

Next up: 2015 Best of Cuisine!