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Off the Charts

tierra_18b.jpgBetween the 17-hour days (hello, golden hours!), the jagged scribbles that Torres del Paine’s mountain ranges form over the horizon, and those funky lenticular clouds that hang like orbs in the sky, Patagonia is absolutely one of those places that requires little-to-no skill to photograph. I wish I could say I’m this amazing of a photographer, but, alas, these landscapes (not to mention the breathtaking new Tierra Patagonia Hotel and Spa) really deserve all of the credit. So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m so in awe of these shots that they get a bit redundant—allow my deficiencies in self-editing this one time! more»

Singled Out

singular_diptych1.jpgYou always read about how Patagonia is this life-changing pocket of the world where people go to find themselves—or lose themselves—in the frighteningly vast and utterly unadulterated landscapes strewn with Krypton-like mountain ranges and furious winds. And, really, even when staying in an amazing new resort like the Singular Patagonia just outside of Puerto Natales, it’s no different. Never mind the daily-changing farm-fresh menus, the marshmallowy beds, and the massive holistic spa at this former-meat-processing-plant-turned-industrial-mod hotel, what really stuck with me were the same experiences that people have been having here for centuries: fording a river on horseback, hiking a glacier, kayaking through fjords, and stalking those cuddly cousins of the camel, guanacos. Sure, I might be fooling myself—I never had to rough it in a wind-battered tent, and even the strenuous nine-hour hike to las torres never really got to the point of “dangerous”—but how often do you get to hang out with a bunch of gauchos slamming beers right before they mount a bucking bronco? Not too often. more»

Camels and Carbs

bedouin1.jpgI honestly don’t know which I love more: carbs or animals. So it’s no wonder I fit right in with the Negev Bedouins who make the best bread (by burying it in dirt, mind you) that I have ever tasted in my life. Both Muhammad, whom I met in the desert, and Zarifi, whose acquaintance I made at her home in the village of Derig’at, showed me a few different ways to make bread. Sometimes soft, thick, and fluffy, other times more tortilla-like, let it suffice to say that whatever the style, I ate it like a wild animal who’d just emerged from hibernation. Muhammad also provided me with ample opportunities to fawn all over his camels, not to mention letting me take one of ‘em for a spin, so, you know, I can pretty much say with confidence that the funnest day of my life has come and gone. Oh, and then there’s this little gem, about which I have absolutely nothing to say. more»

The Crater That Isn’t

BeresheetBenni, a surly, stocky dude with a shaved head and an accent that’s part British, part Belgian, part American, and part local, was my guide through the behemoth 23-mile-wide Makhtesh Ramon. The giant hole in the Negev’s barren landscape looks so much like a crater that it’s virtually always called a crater. But if I were to dare call it such, as opposed to its, ahem, proper name—a makhtesh!—Benni informed me I’d be tossed out of his Jeep faster than a fat sand rat scurrying through the desert. Anyway, whether you care about the official nomenclature of this mammoth non-crater or not is moot—what really matters is the amazing Beresheet resort propped along its edge. Say what you will about the art at the entrance (is it a positive or negative comment on the burka?), this sweet little oasis in the middle of the desert is one hot potato in my book. more»

Here and There and Everywhere

deadsea1.jpgMy six-day Israeli cram session on virtually everything between Tel Aviv and Eilat felt at times like a surrealist experiment, in which my exploits included bobbing in the Dead Sea while my recently shaved legs begged for mercy, throwing rocks and screaming “Hello!” at the top of my lungs in the middle of the desert, swimming with dolphins at the apex of Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, encountering a level of devoutness that almost frightened me, hiking to the top of Masada in time to catch the sunrise, and cramming all of Tel Aviv into four measly hours. The result is a collection of photos that makes very little sense altogether. So enjoy this random catch-all—I promise a (hopefully) more structured set of posts featuring Bedouin bread-breaking, a sassy camel, and a 24-mile crater that isn’t a crater at all (and don’t you dare call it one) in the next few days! more»

Structured Procrastination

ngtskilodges.jpgngtcapewinelands1.jpgngtcapewinelands2.jpgI wish I could recommend running out to pick up the January/February issue of National Geographic Traveler to check out my articles on Northeast ski lodges and the South African Cape winelands, but alas, I’d imagine that it’s surely on its way off of newsstands to make way for March/April. I’d like to blame my tardy posting of these stories on the following: 20-plus hours of flying in order to move just two time zones, hikes that last long enough to make your kneecaps shake, my annual harrowing battle with influenza, alternating successful and failed attempts at “tumbling,” and, oh yes, wedding planning. And speaking of that last one—we’re getting married at one of the properties mentioned in these two articles. Here’s a not-so-subtle hint.

Globe Trotting

jademountain1b.jpgLast week I joined the ĂĽber-elite* ranks of those who carry a Global Entry passport. Consequently, from now on, I will no longer have to wait in long immigration lines or explain why there are so many stamps in my passport or (this is the best part) fill out that annoying blue customs form. I probably only reenter the United States around a dozen or so times per year, but given the fact that (a) it usually takes upwards of an hour to clear JFK, and (b) it’s almost always after a long flight in which I have achieved minimal shut-eye, I deemed it most definitely worth the registration fee, background check, and subsequent interview with Homeland Security. Perhaps I’ll remember last month’s trip to St. Lucia as my last trip without my Global Entry passport. More likely, I’ll remember it for the big beautiful Pitons, the tree house-like spa at Jalousie Plantation, and the utterly mind-blowing architecture at Jade Mountain. Happy traveling in 2012!

*That’s sarcasm! Anyone with $100, a clean record, and a little bit of patience can do it! more»

Architecture is Fun!

nycguide.jpgI’d recommend John Hill’s new Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture even if my photography wasn’t in it. A thorough walking guide of virtually every modern structure worth seeing in the city, it’s also wonderfully written, provides the ever-important public transportation directions, and—oh yeah—features some pretty amazing photos (Amy Barkow’s dusk shot of the Sperone Westwater Gallery is absolute perfection!). Can’t wait to work my way from cover to cover!

Auld Lang Syne

polarbears.jpgI spent New Year’s Day equal parts thrilled by and terrified for a crazy pack of human polar bears as they plunged into the freezing Atlantic Ocean in Coney Island. I had to choose between grabbing my camera or stripping down and joining the madness. I was in no way intoxicated enough for the latter, so focused on these lovely ladies while practicing the former. Let’s take a moment to marvel at the fact that this was actually their third—yes, third—venture into the Nordic-like waters that day. I’m shivering at the thought. Happy New Year, everyone!

Going Bananas

labanane19.jpgI had been in the Caribbean for nearly three weeks straight and, in all honesty, was pretty much working on autopilot by the time I got to La Banane. After two weeks in St. Maarten I had learned little more than the fact that I am not a fan of St. Maarten. And though St. Barts is an exclusive and fabulous respite from the masses clogging every corner of St. Maarten, I’d reached the point where only something truly amazing was going to break the zombie-like workaday way in which I had been going at it for so long. So it’s saying quite a bit that this nine-bungalow hotel had me flipping out over its thoughtful decor, from vintage Eisenhower chairs covered in a funky mint and pink pattern, to mahogany tables stacked high with stuffed parrots and art books from all of my favorites (Warhol and Koons and Raschenberg, oh my!). And who wouldn’t love that little white-and-yellow gum drop sprouting a single palm tree in the middle of the pool? As happy as I was to finally head home, La Banane was one of the few I was actually sad to say goodbye to. more»

Island in the Sun

rr2.jpgrr1.jpgPerhaps the royal couple can be blamed (or credited) with the incredible amount of coverage that Seychelles is getting lately. Or maybe it’s just one of those best-kept secrets that’s no longer much of a secret. Whatever the reason, I’m seeing the African isles everywhere this month—on the cover of Budget Travel, in the latest issue of Islands—and don’t forget my honeymoon destination piece in this month’s Destination Weddings and Honeymoons. And though Robb Report appears to be on-trend by including two Seychelles resorts in its November private islands feature (written and photographed by yours truly), the magazine was actually quite the trailblazer for this of-the-moment destination when they ran my feature on the future of this pristine island-nation back in January. more»

Dream On

rr4.jpgTry as I might to ignore the earlier and earlier arrival of holiday fever each year, Robb Report has a way of getting me in the mood all too soon with its over-the-top Ultimate Gift Guide. I wish I could say that the backyard aquatic complex featuring a 50,000-gallon shark tank was on my list, but alas, my holiday budget falls just a hair under $11 million. Perhaps if I save my shillings, this one-of-a-kind and extremely-affordable-at-just-under-$1-million FabergĂ© snakehead cane handle might end up in a certain lucky someone’s stocking! more»

Gallery of Galleries

rr5.jpgrr7.jpgrr6.jpgWorking my way out of a serious backlog of written work here. Rather than give each article its own post though, I’m clumping them into groups that have little to no logic or order—if only to be able to leave for St. Lucia tomorrow with some small semblance of a sense of accomplishment. First up, we have two home articles: one highlighting the amazingly inspired Francis Sultana’s premiere furniture collection, and another debuting Bisazza’s first ever bathroom collections. And I’ve also thrown in my article on Valmont skincare for no good reason at all.

Honeymoon Central

hmoonquests1.jpgI swear it is one big coincidence that the November/December issue of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine featuring two of my articles—one about honeymoons for adventurous couples and another on island-hopping in the Seychelles—just happens to coincide with my own engagement. It definitely gives the impression I’ve had nuptials on the brain for some time. True or not, at least John and I can rest assured that I’ve done my homework for one seriously awesome honeymoon. The wedding? That might be a bigger challenge. more»

Diario de MĂ©xico

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Snaps from our trip to Mexico last month. It was off to a shaky start in Mexico City, where basically nothing is ever open when it says it will be, resulting in thwarted attempts to see the Luis Barragon home, the Frida Kahlo Museum, and the Diego Rivera studio (we at least got to the see the exteriors of the last one), not to mention a host of unfulfilled restaurant recommendations.

After a flight to the Costa Alegre, a lost (and recovered) credit card, and an illegal U-turn that resulted in a hefty bribe (ahem, I mean fine), things started to look up. Highlights included a shanty town church framed almost perfectly by a donkey on the mend, a distillery where the bees loved the tequila almost as much as we did, a hike filled with spiders as big as your hand and circling vultures and falcons overhead, a DĂ­a de la Independencia sprinkled donut, learning how to roll in and out with the tide like driftwood, feeling like that last two people alive on the appropriately named Bird Island, Virgin of Guadalupe candles, and the best margaritas and micheladas in Mexico—nay—the world. Oh, and we got engaged. more»

New York Minute

nychotels.jpgAnother quickie post! Shot a couple of New York City hotels last week—the sexy Mark Hotel and the spacey Yotel—and the two properties couldn’t be more different. In one corner, we have the cool-as-ice Mark Bar filled with low-slung animal-skin chairs and sparkly glowing orbs. On the other end of the spectrum, Yotel’s Dohyo restaurant serves up punchy colors, pop art murals, and minimalist furniture. Take your pick—either way, a cocktail is certainly in order!

Pancakes in Bed

lpl_whiteface7.jpgAs promised, a break from island photography—and what a break indeed. I’ve always been a lake girl, perhaps due to my Texan roots (no matter how much Austin calls itself “The Third Coast,” the cruel truth is a lack of any substantial body of water beyond the gem that is Lake Travis), and now I have a new favorite in Lake Placid. More specifically: Lake Placid Lodge. You’d never know the property was ravaged by a fire in 2005: an extensive Hudson River School art collection, rustic twig-and-branch beds (each handcrafted by a different local woodworker), and dark wood plank floorboards that creak just the right amount all suggest a family camp that has grown more and more refined over the last century. Throw in the country’s best pancakes (no, really) and s’mores on Placid’s edge, and I’ve officially found my new favorite destination. more»

Twofer

dedon.jpgduravit.jpgIt never occurred to me how much I love writing about home design until someone recently opined “how boring” it must be when compared with travel writing. I couldn’t disagree more! I guess it’s just one of those unforeseen side effects that comes with loving an architect. Of course, it does beg the question: are there actually people out there who don’t care about fade-resistant leather and underwater speakers as much as I do? In that case, I’ll leave these articles on Dedon’s newest outdoor furniture lines and Duravit’s latest bathroom innovations sans the additional commentary.

Postcards from the Caribbean

turksandcaicos.jpgA smattering of random shots from the last few months in the Caribbean, including conch fried three ways, an almost-blasphemous tropical decoration of a Roman bust, a proper English teatime in Bermuda, buoys as the best styling props ever, decadent sweets (of course), and my favorite hotel amenity of all time—a poolside kitty. I’m hoping to ease up on the tropical posts for a while, which may prove easier said than done with upcoming trips to St. Maarten, St. Barts, and St. Lucia. more»

Cay Club

fowlcay12.jpgSlowly working my way out of a serious backlog of photography from a summer spent almost entirely in the Caribbean. As tempting as it is to cluster everything into one super-beachy post, I just have to give the Bahamas’ Fowl Cay Resort its own post—if not for this ridiculously adorable (and donkey-sized, I might add) swimming pig, then for overly outgoing iguanas, friendly nurse sharks, and one of the most evocative paintings of a fisherman I’ve ever seen. more»

Come On Pretty Mama

bermuda.jpgThis past month has had me bouncing between Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Turks & Caicos. Consequently, I can’t get a certain Beach Boys song out of my head. Anyway, I’m nose-deep in photos but felt shamed into putting something—anything—up as it’s been a while since my last post. So here we have Horseshoe Bay + me sneaking up on little girls like a weirdo = magical golden hour shot. More to come eventually!

Swiss Hit

_dsc4724b.jpgA few highlights from last month’s quick trip to Switzerland: cafes on Lake Geneva; a ski lodge in Verbier; mastering the art of deboning a fish; a facial at Valmont Spa; eating my weight in Swiss chocolate, wine, and cheese; a hike to a glacier; and chasing a herd of sheep until I got the right shot. more»

Antics

chaumcenter.jpgDespite the fact that this article makes my visit to Seoul’s Chaum Center sound almost like a trip to Wonkaland, I did learn quite a few valuable things about myself during my stay: 1. I am claustrophobic but, if cheered on by several nurses at once, will power through a 30-minute MRI; 2. I only have 11 sets of ribs, as opposed to the usual 12. This occurs in about 10 percent of humans; and 3. I (still) pass out when having blood taken. more»

Ode To Barcelona

_dsc3518b.jpgThe views from Barcelona’s Hotel Arts are, to put it mildly, impressive. Which made it all the more challenging to hit the ground running and see everything I wanted to see in the 24 hours I had between docking at Port de Barcelona and catching a flight home. Nonetheless, my awesome travel companion, Sam, and I managed to make the obligatory stroll down La Rambla, visit the chocolate museum, saunter past my favorite MirĂł sculpture, check out the former-bullfighting-arena-turned-shopping-mall, sip mojitos in El Raval, peruse the boutiques in Born, do handstands on the beach, have a soak in the hotel’s hottub under the famous Frank Gehry fish, and hit a few of the necessary GaudĂ­ landmarks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I want to live in Barcelona! more»

Deeper Shade of Blue

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These types of posts are so time consuming but, really, a collage just looks so much better than any one photo—especially when almost every imaginable shade of blue seems to play into nearly every shot. I surprised myself by enjoying Ibiza the most out of all of the islands visited on my Mediterranean journey. Corsica was just ok, Sardinia was so not my speed, and Formentera and Porquerolles were sweet but perhaps a bit too quaint. I didn’t don any glow sticks or stay out until sunrise, but Ibiza’s street life and sangria were about as good as it gets. more»

Triple Play

bobamanfayun.jpgI’m deep in the throes of a project that is so un-Jackie—a magazine for the LA Dodgers—but I just had to take a seventh-inning stretch to post my three articles from the 2011 Best of the Best issue of Robb Report. Check out Amanfayun’s brand new ancient spa, the stunning residences at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, and Snaidero USA’s debut of some seriously rad bathrooms before the magazine slithers off newsstands to make way for July! more»

Land O’ Lakes

hangzhouarticle.jpgAs is common among Texans, I often find myself insisting that lakes are the better choice in the lake vs. beach debate. Of course, we mostly make this argument due the fact that Texas’ idea of waterfront is either the oil-drenched Gulf of Mexico or the brown sludge that passes for the Rio Grande. My article in the May issue of Robb Report about West Lake’s tranquil glass-like water and romantic arched footbridges definitely helps my argument though. Who needs sand and waves when you have willow trees and sampan boats?! more»

Sunday Funday

nyt1.jpgnyt3.jpgHomemade buttermilk banana pancakes are a Sunday morning ritual around here. It’s enough to start the week off on the right foot, even if it means downing more butter and maple syrup in a single sitting than one should consume in any seven-day period. Last Sunday, however, was extra sweet when the New York Times delivered a few of my photos in the travel section for a story on Hangzhou. You can check out the full article online (that is, if you are willing to give up one of your 20 free monthly articles!).

Stuck in Paradise

lacasaisabelexterior1.jpgNot to complain, but there’s a certain level of suckiness when I visit an amazing resort in the middle of paradise and, after three days of non-stop shooting, come to realize that my toes have yet to touch the ocean, my bathing suit remains packed away at the bottom of my suitcase, and every night I pass out the moment I get back to my suite. More than ever before, this was the case at Las Alamandas, where the intensely bright colors of this authentically designed Mexican resort were just too much of a draw for my camera. There’s good news though: I get to go back in September—this time sans camera, with a boyfriend in tow and margaritas on my mind! more»

Privacy Please

ani1.jpgWith winter and spring in the middle of what seems like a never-ending wrestling match here in New York (today, winter is winning), it’s quite a comfort to pick up the April issue of Robb Report and reminisce about my trip to Ani Villas in Anguilla last December. Look at that gorgeous turquoise pool! Alas, my swimsuit hasn’t seen the light of day since. more»