Category Sleep, Spa, Shop

How to Weekend in the Hamptons: where to stay and what to do

A classic cedar shingled beach house in the Hamptons on Long Island

A classic cedar shingled beach house in the Hamptons

If you don’t have your mansion, summer share house or cottage, it can be difficult to access the Hamptons for just a weekend. Luckily there a few new artful country inns and boutique hotels so now we can all escape New York and enjoy a Hamptons weekend getaway. Here is the rundown on where to stay and what to do.

I checked out a couple recently with my oldest daughter, grown up and living in New York, to see if the weekend boutique hotel experience is all its cracked up to be. They may be a bit pricey but it’s nothing compared to summer house rentals.

Prices in the Hamptons can really take your breath away….Beyonce paid US$400,000 to rent a 14-bedroom mansion for one month; if you were so inclined, you could have bought the same five hectare estate with pool, tennis court, bowling alley, theater and eight-car garage for US$43.5 million. Yet, in spite of its excesses, much of The Hamptons’ appeal is priceless.

Vistas of translucent light over dune grasses to the sea attracted artists more than a century ago to this 50-kilometer stretch dotted with a handful of villages on the eastern end of Long Island. New York Society followed, building grand cedar-shingled mansions on the potato fields and riding horse buggies down its rose-rimmed country lanes to the beach.

In additio...

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Kasbah de Toubkal is an Authentic Berber Lodge in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains

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The Kasbah de Toubkal is a beautifully restored stone and thatched-roof village compound that offers guests an insider’s experience of Berber life in the heart of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.

I love hotels that help you engage with the locals while still enjoying a touch of luxe. National Geographic Traveler writer Daisann McLane captured the sentiment perfectly when she wrote a piece about her favorite South American hotels. “A hotel is a threshold to an unfamiliar culture…Good hotels have a strong sense of place.” The Kasbah de Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco is a perfect example. And to emphasize this fact, it isn’t even called a hotel but rather ‘a Berber hospitality center.”

Re-imagined by British adventure guide Mike McHugo and his friend and fellow guide from Morocco, Hajj Maurice, who grew up in these mountains, the Kasbah de Toubkal was a crumbling fortified village at the top of the Imlil Valley, which at the time had no electricity...

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An Insider’s Guide to Melbourne’s Laneways

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Centre Way. Photo by Robyn Lea

Melbourne’s laneways are the soul of the city. Learn your way around these hidden pathways and you will discover that Melbourne, not Sydney, is the center of art, fashion and café life in Australia. (And for those who don’t know the term, a laneway is a collective term for narrow streets and alleyways that weave around Melbourne’s central business district.)

“The laneways are our bloodlines. They are where our heritage blends with younger entrepreneurs making their mark in the city,” says Fiona Sweetman, director of Melbourne’s Hidden Secrets Tours.

Melbourne’s character was forged after the 1850s gold rush when for a short time it became the wealthiest city on the planet.  Large ornate public buildings were built on the bullock-dray-wide avenues whilst in the narrow streets behind, small workshops, stables and factories serviced the burgeoning city...

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Hoshinoya Kyoto: classic Japanese inn with a twist

Hoshinoya Kyoto has been built with traditional Japanese craftsmanship

Hoshinoya Kyoto is a unique contemporary ryokan inside a noble’s retreat on the banks of the Ooigawa River in Arashiyama, just outside Kyoto. It offers a rare vision of authentic Japan incorporating a reverence for traditional culture with a whimsical modern sensibility. There are few Japanese high-end inns, indeed few resorts in the world, whose aesthetic appeals both to well-heeled locals and an informed international clientele. Hoshinoya is breaking new ground.

To get to Hoshinoya, I arrive at a dock near the famous moon-viewing Togetsukyo Bridge for the ten-minute trip in a covered boat along the forest-lined river. Tomoko Tsuchima greets me and shows me around the re-imagined interior and exterior spaces of this protected heritage site. Hoshinoya’s designers have utilised centuries-old techniques of Kyoto craftsmen…hand-crafted washi paper, latticework, ceramic roof tiles, sand plastered walls…to create a modern gem embodying the lightness of touch inherent in good Japanese design.

At t...

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Amangiri Hotel: Sleek Architecture in the Utah Desert

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Its location is certainly far from Adrian Zecha’s usual hangouts but then Aman is always pushing the boundaries of what defines a great hotel and where it might be located. The multi-award-winning Amangiri, which means ‘peaceful mountain’, is wedged into 600 acres of raw mesa-dotted desert in Southern Utah, not far from the Arizona border.  One of Aman’s most popular properties, Amangiri is all about sleek, minimalist architecture which reflects the drama of the Utah desert. This is only the second Aman property in North America, the first being Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

In classic Aman fa...

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Jean Michel Cousteau is Fiji’s best eco, family and diving resort

Jean Michel Cousteau Resort  is renowned for  its eco credentials and wonderful kids program

Fiji’s award-winning environmentally responsible Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji is built on 17 acres of a former coconut plantation overlooking the peaceful waters of Savusavu Bay on Vanua Levu Island. With one of the most impressive and engaging kids clubs in the world as well as an extensive array of adventure and pampering offerings, it is an exclusive escape for couples, families, and discerning travellers looking for an authentic Fijian experience.

Arrival and Location

It is a one-hour flight from Nadi or Suva. Guests are met at the tiny airport on Vanua Levu and given cool towels and cold water before being whisked away to the resort in a comfortable four wheel drive.

A group of...

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Tasmania’s radical contemporary Museum of Old and New Art

Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art.

Tasmania’s MONA on the banks of the Derwent River.
Photo credit: Leigh Carmichael

Tasmania’s $75 million Museum of Old and New Art is the must-see destination in the island state once more famous for its dramatic landscapes and outdoor adventures. It seems like everybody, from European art buffs to everyday mums and dads, is abuzz about MONA, located in a subterranean sandstone structure on the banks of the Derwent River in Hobart. The largest private museum in Australia, MONA offers indoor adventures that rival New York’s edgiest galleries.

It is also no one trick pony since it is wedged into cliffs on the vine-dotted grounds of the Moorilla Estate winery which has a wine bar, cellar door for wine tastings and Moo Brew beer tastings, a fancy French-inspired restaurant and eight contemporary accommodation pavilions.

MONA has also spawned a slew of fabulous festivals and markets that bring a kaleidoscope of locals, interstate and international visitors to this creative mecca that just so happens to be located in an industrial suburb on the outskirts of a small city on the tip of the Southern Hemisphere.

 

David...

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Five of the Best San Francisco Bookstores

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The book is alive and well in San Francisco, in spite of the fact that many of the Bay Area’s IT businesses appear to be hell-bent on destroying it. A quirky collection of fiercely independent bookstores have become lynchpins of the city’s diverse, walkable neighborhoods.

Here are five bookish hangouts worth checking out.

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Photo Friday: Wharekauhau New Zealand luxury lodge

Wharekauhau Luxury Lodge is on the southern tip of the North Island of New Zealand

I took this Photo Friday image on the way to one of New Zealand’s spectacular luxury lodges: Wharekauhau Country Estate.

Wharekauhau Country Estate

Driving 90 minutes from the nation’s capital of Wellington to Wharekauhau Country Estate, I zigzagged through the brooding Rimutaka Ranges and then followed country roads over rolling green hills. Everywhere I looked were gamboling long-tailed suckling lambs with their mothers. The whole landscape was Pure New Zealand, where sheep outnumber people twenty to one.

In the distance, nestled amongst hedgerows in a fold of emerald green pasture is Wharekauhau’s cream stucco Edwardian manor house with a steeply pitched roof dotted with large chimneys, its expansive bay windows overlooking a shimmering celadon sea...

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New York City Boutique Hotels: Soho, Midtown, Upper East Side

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The lobby of the Chatwal Hotel

New York City: so much to do and see, so little time. The general idea is find a good base and sally forth but that almost misses the point. Even though Manhattan is home to 1.6 million people, the island is tiny, just 21.6 kilometers long and 3.7 kilometers wide. But it is far from homogenous and is really a series of small villages that are completely distinctive.

A cool way to explore the city is to base yourself in three interesting boutique hotels that each define their particular neighborhood for three completely different Manhattan experiences. Here is my guide to Soho staying at the Crosby Street Hotel, Midtown staying at the Chatwal, and the Upper East Side staying at The Surrey.

Th...

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