Black Pearls of Tahiti

Everywhere you turn in Tahiti, you’ll see the most beautiful Tahitian women wearing lustrous black pearls set against their golden tan skin. No visit to Tahiti is complete without bringing home black pearls as a reminder of the beauty of French Polynesia, not to mention they are easy to carry home!IMG_1721

On my recent trip to Tahiti, while staying at The InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa, my tour guide Fifi took me to The Tahiti Pearl Market in downtown Papeete, a must visit for anyone who loves finding unique things while traveling. The Tahiti Pearl Market is not a marketplace, but a small second floor boutique that was a hive of activity of people selecting high quality Tahitian black pearls to take home.  IMG_1719

Visitors can choose their own black pearl color based on color and quality and create a custom setting of earrings, rings or necklaces. What I quickly learned, this is not an easy decision.

Black pearls are very rarely black: they are usually shades of green, purple, blue, grey, silver or peacock (a mix of colors like peacock feathers.) Black Pearls (Tahitian cultured pearls) are not to be confused with South Seas pearls which are the largest and rarest of cultured pearls. Black pearls can vary greatly in size, shape and color. It’s all a matter of preference as to which shade you prefer.IMG_6578

I was eager to create my own earrings before heading off to tour the Paul Gauguin, so the salesperson quickly presented a bowls of lustrous pearls to me. Before I was allowed to delve through the pearls, she purposely weighed the bowl to the kilogram. I found two similarly colored black pearls in size and shape, more with a very dark blue hue, to create small earrings and also found a larger black pearl and leather necklace that was already designed.IMG_1722

Purchases at the Tahiti Pearl Market can be Duty Free for international travelers which is claimed back on departure from Tahiti. Pearls are certified and prices do vary depending on color so consider your budget when buying black pearls. Pearls are rated from A to D (A being the best) based on luster and smoothness. It is recommended to buy no less than quality B for a decent quality pearl. The experts at the Tahiti Pearl Market will assist you with this.FullSizeRender

In addition to shopping for individual black pearls, I recommend the luxury jewelry store Hinerava, which I visited while staying at The Brando Resort. Modern chic pieces are designed by Kelly Bailey using the highest grade black pearls and perfect for someone who wants something unique and stylish.

Getting to Tahiti: Tahiti is just over 8 hours from Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui (consider it just one movie past Hawaii!)

#GKSafariChat Recap with Geoffrey Kent

Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer

It was so much fun co-hosting with Abercrombie & Kent #GKSafariChat on Monday, August 10th with special guest, A&K Founder, Chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, and author of bestselling travel book, Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer. If you missed our exciting chat which trended worldwide, here is a recap:

AMANERA Unveils in the Dominican Republic

Playa Grande Beach

There’s a new hotel that is hot on my radar, and if you love hideaway luxury hotels in the Caribbean, this one is for you. Amanresorts has just announced that Amanera will be opening in the the Dominican Republic later this year, the second Amanresort to open in the Caribbean after the ever-successful Amanyara in Turks and Caicos.



Overlooking the north coast’s Playa Grande Beach and surrounded by 2,000 acres of virtually untouched verdant jungle and a dramatic mountain range, Amanera will be the first fully integrated Aman golf experience with the 7,085-yard Playa Grande Golf Course. The resort, designed by John Heah, sits atop 60-foot cliffs and is set between the beach and golf course amongst landscaped gardens. It offers extensive dining, spa and recreational facilities, and 25 Casitas showcasing raw, organic design that is complementary to the natural surroundings.

Amanera golf course ocean view

Amanera golf course ocean view

The resort, soon to be the Dominican Republic’s most luxurious destination, will be home to 25 casitas featuring green rooftops and all-natural local materials, blending seamlessly into the Hispaniola landscape.

Amanera, Dominican Republic

Amanera, Dominican Republic

Every Casita is accessed via a winding pathway through a private garden and 13 Casitas feature their own 10-metre private swimming pools.



The resort’s informal beach club, the Club de Playa, is tucked into a sandy cove on Playa Grande beach, the island’s most beautiful, prized for its broad golden sands and clear, azure seas.

Turqoise Waters of Playa Grande Beach

Playa Grande Beach

You will be able to dine with your feet-in-the-sand, relax in a hammock under the coconut palms or enjoy the variety of water sports. Families will enjoy the children’s club for outdoor adventure.

Amanera opens in the fourth quarter of 2015

Amanera opens in the fourth quarter of 2015

An aptly named resort, Aman is the Sanskrit word for ‘peace” and era is the Taino word for ‘water’ – an appropriately named resort for its peaceful oceanfront location and specular setting along Playa Grande beach.

Sexy in Greece: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli

I’ve just returned from the new Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli, Greece, and it’s clear nobody does “white hot” quite like Nikki Beach. image8Located only 2.5 hours by car from Athens, Nikki Beach is Mediterranean chic at its best surrounding you in its ethereal décor, pulsating tunes and sexy vibe. Originally built in the 1970’s, Nikki Beach has now transformed into a glamorous 66 room and suite boutique hotel with two exceptional restaurants Beach Club and spa. image5Days are spending chilling at the iconic Nikki Beach Club overlooking the glistening Aegean Sea, noshing on innovative sushi and resting your soul at the intimate spa. You’ll feel instantly cool just by being here.image6image13image7image1image3image10image9

Nikki Beach White Party

Nikki Beach White Party

Time is Luxury at Ponta dos Ganchos

In today’s fast paced world, it seems that time has become the greatest luxury we can have. We are pressed to find time to relax, time to sleep, time to spend with friends and family and time to just be. I have discovered a place that allows you to indulge in this sought after luxury at the beautiful and charming Ponta dos Ganchos in Santa Catarina, Brazil.image3

This exclusive hideaway in Governador Celso Ramos, a quaint fishing village community, instantly seduces you into a state of calm and serenity.   The resort is hidden away on a privately owned peninsula with only 25 bungalows where you are completely secluded into its natural rainforest and ocean view setting.


image10Even the dining experience is about regaining time. There are no schedules and meals are taken at a leisurely pace. Menus of fresh organic cuisine and local seafood change daily, and even breakfast is to be enjoyed in a special way. Each morning guests are surprised with a new tasting menu of different small plates to awaken the palate. It’s highly unique and after a few plates, you realize the concept is quite nice over a traditional over-indulgent breakfast. IMG_2186A trip to Ponta dos Ganchos and the region wouldn’t be complete without sampling the Degustação de Ostras, a selection of the region’s freshest oysters.

FullSizeRenderOn the weekends, guests can enjoy a fresh seafood BBQ featuring the catch of the day from fresh octopus to grilled salmon and prawns.image6image7

IMG_2112Luxury is also about experiences. From dinner on the island reserved exclusively for one couple per night to fisherman boat trips, you can do as little or as much as you like. After an afternoon relaxing by your bungalow’s private pool or at the beach, indulge at the spa overlooking the sapphire colored sea.image1 image2Water lovers will enjoy exploring the coast on stand up paddle boards or finding new adventures on a canoe along the Emerald Coast. Relax on the sandy beach or soar above in a private helicopter tour from the resort’s own helipad.IMG_1941image9

The service at Ponta dos Ganchos is quietly attentive and tailored to your needs. From your culinary preferences to experience requests, it’s a very personalized experience; you will feel completely renewed and recharged after a few days in this Brazilian haven. You might even finish that book you’ve been meaning to for so long.


Getting here: After a one hour flight from Sao Paulo (GRU) to Florianopólis (FLN), the resort is 40 km (approx. 25 miles) from on a scenic drive by car to the private peninsula.

World’s Largest Nobu Debuts! Nobu Doha

It’s not often a restaurant opening makes you want to hop on a plane half way across the world to check it out, but the mouthwatering news that Four Seasons Hotel Doha in the heart of Doha, Qatar is partnering with celeb Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa to open Nobu Doha this Friday has done just that.DOH_696_aspect16x9 - Copy

While at first I wondered if bigger necessarily meant better, it’s hard to second guess Chef Nobu’s successful signature new-style Japanese cuisine. Guests of the Middle East’s second Nobu will savor his signature dishes including the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno and lobster with wasabi pepper sauce – and let’s not forget Chef Nobu’s signature Black Cod Miso.DOH_704_aspect16x9

Designed by Chef Matsuhisa’s longtime architect and internationally recognized design partner David Rockwell and his firm Rockwell Group, the 26,000 square-foot (2,415 square metre) restaurant has a unique look for Nobu’s largest global restaurant.  As a clever homage to Doha’s rich pearl diving past, the circular three-story restaurant resembles an elborate coiled shell.  Elliptical ribbons of river stone capped with bronze accents form the exterior of the structure and create the three-tiered levels of the restaurant. DOH_702_aspect16x9 - CopyThe airy dining and lounge spaces include a 134-seat interior dining area; intimate 10-seat sushi counter; two exclusive private dining rooms; a sophisticated White Pearl Bar & Lounge; a stylish Black Pearl Bar & Lounge; and a one-of-a-kind 38-seat roof top lounge that has both indoor and outdoor seating.DOH_703_aspect16x9The seven distinct dining and lounge areas inside showcasing warm wood, glimmering glasswork to reflect water elements, and layored textiles.

DOH_691_aspect16x9 - CopyNobu Doha is the perfect opportunity to experience food and culture, and with its debut, takes dining to an entirely new level.

Get Lost at The Palace in Sun City

One thing I have quickly learned about Africa is that once you visit, it steals your heart. It’s not a “once in a lifetime experience” as there are so many things to see and do, you’ll want to come back again and again. I had the pleasure of returning to South Africa this month to experience the Golden Triangle with Sunlux International, starting my journey with The Palace of The Lost City in Sun City, two hours west of Johannesburg.

The Palace at The Lost City

First Impression: Upon arrival to The Palace of The Lost City, the grand entrance makes you feel like you’ve arrived to a palatial hotel, perhaps even a bit of Las Vegas meets Africa. I noticed immediately the majestic lobby complete with its beautiful grand dome, impressive columns and exquisite mosaic tiles was an near replica in architectural design of the Atlantis in the Bahamas. This is no coincidence as the resort once had the same owners. It was not Africa as I had ever experienced, but I was open to new experiences.IMG_6870

The Vibe: The rooms and décor can feel a bit kitschy but fun with an excess of African décor, zebra hides and leopard prints. My room was comfortable and handsome in décor. Once you relax and have fun with the highly African themed rooms and hotel grounds, you feel like you are in South Africa’s playground. The likes of Oprah and the King of Pop have all been guests of The Palace.IMG_7219

Wow Factor: This was African hospitality at its finest. Every staff member I encountered was warm, service-oriented and hospitable. I was blown away at just how welcoming everyone was and for me, this made the experience a memorable one.

Food For Thought: Enjoy a romantic dinner at Plume showcasing some of the best Afro-French fusion cuisine. While the resort has a large feel, this intimate setting makes for a special evening for couples and the service was unobtrusive yet attentive. Those in the know book a private dinner at the top of the Royal Tower overlooking Sun City. It’s the pinnacle of romance.IMG_7244

Don’t Miss: A foot massage poolside at The Palace with Nora. It’s positively heavenly and perfect for those having traveled a long journey. We loved it so much we indulged twice. IMG_6512

Perfect For: Families. There are so many things to do from safari, wave pools, bird sanctuary, world’s longest zip-line, Gary Player designed Lost City Golf Course, and The Maze of the Lost City. Couples will feel like big kids experiencing all the activities and can unwind at The Royal Salon Health Spa. My husband felt like Superman on the World’s Tallest and Fastest Zipline within the resort grounds.IMG_6865

What to Skip: Avoid excursions that take you to lion breeding centers nearby to pet cubs and walk with lions. There is much controversy that surrounds such reserves as to how the animals are acquired and where they are then sold, and it’s best to see the animals in their natural habitat. Get your fix of lions and the Big Five on a true African safari in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Fun Fact: The Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler movie “Blended” was filmed here, but don’t expect it to be anything like the movie. It’s much more sophisticated than portrayed as the hotel is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. You’ll recognize an elephant like this from the movie.IMG_7209

Out of Africa Moment: Seeing a mother and baby hippo on the side of the road, a group or “crash” of rhino and other African animals was a highlight on the afternoon game drive on the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Schedule a Balloon Safari (weather permitting) for the ultimate view of the Big Five.

Getting There: Fly to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) – 11 hours from London Heathrow (LHR). It’s then a two hour car drive to The Palace in Sun City. En route you’ll notice a plethora of platinum and chrome mines, the largest producers of these metals in the world.IMG_6848

Beauty, Brain and Mood

People often ask me how I stay so fit traveling as much as I do while jetsetting around the world. While I do believe that to have a full cultural experience you should indulge in the local cuisine, it’s also important to have a good balance by eating healthy and exercising. It combats jet lag, but also gives you extra energy to explore.Park Hyatt food

Zurich is one of my all absolute favorite cities in the world, and I must admit, I have a penchant for fresh Swiss pastries, some of the very best in the world. But there’s one special hotel that I absolutely adore visiting, and it’s the Park Hyatt Zurich. Not only is the hotel conveniently located steps from the famed Bahnhoffestrasse for some of the best shopping in the world, it also has one of the best culinary dining experiences of any hotel in the world. On top of it, I recently discovered the Park Hyatt Zurich’s new Beauty, Brain and Mood menu, and I can’t seem to get enough.

Park Hyatt Zurich Lobby Lounge

Park Hyatt Zurich Lobby Lounge

The chic Lobby Lounge has become the place to fill up on brain food, beauty food and feel-good cuisine. This unique menu makes you feel good, look good and keeps you full of energy. Executive Chef, Frank Widmer and his team have collaborated with acclaimed nutritionist Marianne Botta to create this special menu claiming the dishes will make you healthier, put you in a better mood and make you more beautiful. You feel good for the rest of the day (Translation: lots of energy to shop ’til you drop and explore all that Zurich has to offer!)Brainfood_Starter

Botta explains: “Perfect ‘brain food’ is easy to digest and increases blood sugar levels both slowly and moderately, which not only creates a feeling of satisfaction, but is also perfect for concentration and mental performance”.

The brain food and beauty menus only contain a small amount of carbohydrates. Wheat flour and sugar are only used in minimum quantities, if at all. Ingredients such as bread, rice, muesli, potatoes and sugar are avoided as much as possible, or only served in minimum quantities.

Each food concept has it’s benefits:

Beauty food:

The aim of beauty food is to keep you looking young and attractive. The beauty menus contain valuable fatty acids for toned skin, as well as all the ingredients needed for wonderful connective tissue and shiny, healthy hair. It goes without saying that these menus also combine the findings of anti-aging nutrition research. Anything that makes you look old doesn’t get a look in in these dishes. At the end of the day, everything you eat and drink has a direct impact on how you look. You are what you eat, as the saying goes.


Mood food:

Mood food, which puts people in a good mood, is just the right thing for people who suffer a moderate amount of stress and occasionally experience a bout of the blues. Nutritional science has already identified a whole range of different diet factors that are mood boosting and have a controlling effect on emotions. The body’s own psychoactive substances such as the hormone, serotonin, or the messenger, dopamine, have already been the focus of extensive research. These can only be produced in sufficient quantities if the right food has been consumed. Frank Widmer also makes sure that his team works with food that has a calming effect or that lightens one’s mood. Stimulating chilli, for example, is a favourite ingredient in the mood menus and so is food rich in the B group of vitamins, which is known for their effect on the nerves.

Brain food:

Brain food, as its name suggests, nourishes the grey cells. This type of food is the perfect choice to avoid concentration problems, tiredness attacks and slumps in performance. At the end of the day, a quarter of our daily food intake serves as brain food. Only those who eat properly provide their grey cells with what they need to be able to perform at their peak. Taking a break for brain food certainly pays off because the link between the working of the brain and diet is one of the most researched and tested fields of nutrition to date.Untitled

One thing is for sure, you are never hungry, and it’s so delicious, you’ll keep going back for more. I always do!

Luxe Tiffany’s Tip: Order the Jetlag smoothie. The perfect way to recover after a long flight!

Tea with Chloé

As if its location steps from Harrods and Harvey Nichols wasn’t enough to lure fashionistas to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, the luxury hotel has just announced an exclusive partnership French high-end luxury Maison Chloé, just in time for London Fashion Week.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Your taste buds will feel every bit luxe when you indulge in the limited-edition Afternoon Tea at The Rosebery, complete with cakes inspired by Chloé’s French fashion designs. A bevy of coveted Spring Summer 2015 Drew handbags will be on display, even a Chloé style mannequin in the lobby, enough to tempt you for a personalized visit to purchase one at the exclusive Sloane Street store.

You can explain to your spouse (and point to the mannequin) that “she made me do it” when you saunter back to the hotel with your designer bags. Either that or you can blame it on the buzz-worthy Chloé Fizz cocktails being served in the evenings at The Rosebery’s champagne bar.

Chloé "Drew" Handbag

Chloé “Drew” Handbag

The Chloé Debuts accommodation package is available from Thursday 12th February 2015 to Monday 9th March 2015.  Starts at GBP1,722 and includes:

  • One night’s accommodation for two in a Knightsbridge Turret Suite with sweeping views of the UK’s fashion capital
  • À la carte breakfast for two people overlooking Hyde Park
  • Personalised service at Chloé on Sloane Street to purchase the Drew handbag
  • Chloé Love Story perfume
  • Chloé-inspired afternoon tea for two people in the enchanting tea room, The Rosebery


Retro is Chic – New Heritage Amenities on American Airlines

Traveling First Class or Business on American Airlines this month? Get ready for a new retro chic perk for the luxury traveler. American Airlines is introducing new, limited-edition heritage amenity kits that pay tribute to American Airlines heritage airlines. The collectors’ items will revive the colors and logos of nine airlines, past and present with retro-branding including: American Airlines, AirCal, Allegheny, America West, Piedmont, PSA, Reno Air, Trans World Airways (TWA) and US Airways.

American Airlines Heritage Amenity Kits 1 (all 9)

Inside each will be the eco-friendly “red flower” amenities from New York used in some of the world’s most famous spas. The heritage amenity kits in international Business Class contain fabric lining, a pair of socks and an eye mask styled with the colors of a specific airline, a toothbrush and toothpaste, Scope® mouthwash, covers for Bose® QuietComfort® Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headsets provided with each seat, earplugs, a pen, tissues and hand lotion, lip balm and wipes by red flower.

American Airlines Heritage Amenity Kits 3 (intl TWA kit)

What’s even cooler is the felt case inspired designer bags can be sized specifically to be re-used as a mini-tablet computer case. Customers can experience the retro-themed heritage amenity kits through January 2016 when they travel in international Business Class or transcontinental First Class. Frequent travelers will have the chance to collect them all as the legacy themes will debut in batches every three to four months.

One more reason I’m loving the “new” American!


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