Category Shop

Insider’s Guide to Shopping Paris’ Left Bank

shopping the left bank of Paris

Shopping in Paris…ah yes, we all swoon with fantasies of Yves St.-Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Christian Dior, and Givenchy. Yet eminently more satisfying…and brag worthy…is to discover Parisian designers whose gorgeous boutiques are tucked away in the fashionable chic side streets of Paris’ arty Left Bank.

Sally forth into the narrow streets of the uber chic 6th arrondisement, where sophistication and intellectual rakishness are on display in equal measure.   This is where designer boutiques, art galleries, and publishing houses live cheek by jowl with institutes of higher learning such as L’Ecole des Beaux Arts and Sciences Po.

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New York Christmas: best trees, windows, shopping and shows

The Rockfeller Center tree is the largest Christmas tree in New York City

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in the heart of New York City

Ah, Christmas in the Big Apple…nowhere does it better. Elaborately decorated trees; ornate department store windows that look like they are right out of a movie set; carolers at every corner; roasted chestnuts from street vendors. And of course, the best place to go Christmas shopping and see the best shows. If you’re lucky, there might even be a dusting of snow for a carriage ride through wintry Central Park.

After living in New York for 12 years, ten of them with little kids in tow, I have the lowdown on the best ways to soak up the Christmas cheer.  Here is my must-do list.

 New York’s Best Christmas Trees

* The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is the crown jewel of New York’s Christmas trees. In fact the 25-meter Norway spruce is crowned with a three-meter Swarovski-crystal star in addition to its 30-000 energy-efficient LED lights...

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Six of the Best Shopping Boutiques in Seminyak Bali

Pura Vida is an ethical clothing line produced in Bali

Bali’s classy shopping district of Seminyak is the place to buy handmade clothes at reasonable prices. It is not about bargain basement shopping but about a classy shopping experience and an excellent quality to price ratio.

All these shops cluster on Jalan Laksmana, Jalan Raya Seminyak and Jalan Pettinget.

Bias...

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How to Find the Perfect Aloha Hawaiian Shirt

VINTAGE ALOHAThere is nothing like a perfectly draped, classically patterned Aloha shirt to put you in an Hawaiian state of mind.

David Bailey has been collecting and selling vintage Hawaiian shirts since 1980 and he now has the world’s largest collection of 15,000 Aloha shirts at his Bailey’s Antiques Store in a pink stucco building tucked away in suburban Honolulu well away from the overpriced tourist strip in Waikiki.

It is well worth making the effort to get here both for a trip down memory lane and to get some real gems in any price range.  You’ll also discover just how Aloha shirts first became popular and what makes them so appealing.

History

For centuries there were no shirts in Hawaii, much less brightly colored Aloha shirts. The original Polynesian Hawaiians wore tapa or bark cloth with simple geometric designs for special occasions. Then the missionaries introduced solid colored work shirts for men and long shapeless dresses called muumuus for women.

The modern Aloha shirt was de...

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Luang Prabang Highlights: monks, markets and the Mekong

Orange-clad monks at the dawn alms giving ritual in Luang Prabang

Monks at dawn in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is one of last authentic cities in Indochina. This is the place people expect when they fantasize about South East Asia. What makes it so special is that you don’t have to run around checking off a bunch of tourist sites. It is wonderful to just ‘be’ and enjoy the soul of the city.

In the soft grey light of early morning, we sit quietly on a bamboo mat, wicker baskets of sticky rice beside us, across from a shuttered colonial mansion heavy with bougainvillea.

Around a corner, dozens of barefoot monks appear in a swish of saffron, golden bowls hanging from orange shoulder straps.  Locals show us how to earn merit.  Men adorned with scarves over one shoulder as a mark of respect and kneeling women in traditional shawls put fistfuls of rice into the monks’ bowls.

As in a dream, just as the rising sun gilds the ceramic-tiled temple roofs, the stream of gold vanishes and the monks return inside...

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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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Amangiri Hotel: Sleek Architecture in the Utah Desert

amangiri mfp

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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Five of the Best San Francisco Bookstores

two colour MFP City Lights

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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L.L. Bean: Super Store in a Shoe Store

Discover the Outdoors with LL Bean...one step at a time
L.L. Bean’s famous boots

Pioneer American outdoors outfitter L. L. Bean has been a fixture on Main Street in Freeport Maine since its showroom opened in 1917. When Leon Leonwood Bean created the Bean Boot by combining lightweight leather tops with waterproof rubber bottoms, he offered a revolutionary 100-percent satisfaction guarantee.  To this day, customers can return any item for a complete refund, no questions asked.  In 1951, he also threw away the keys to keep the store open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Today L.L. Bean’s five stores (hunting and fishing; bike, boat and ski; retail apparel; kids; and factory store) make up an enterprising shopping campus, which has attracted more than 200 upscale discount outlets to this quaint coastal Maine village.

You could spend days meandering in this mecca to outdoor adventures. There is every conceivable item of clothing and outdoor gear for the hiker while the selection of bikes, canoes, skis, hunting and fishing gear leaves you speechless. I have never seen so many different types of flies, each one delicately copying an insect from the New England woods. In short, LL Bean offers an ode to all those classic New England outdoors pursuits.

But it...

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Saffire Freycinet: Tasmanian Luxury Lodge by a Secluded Beach

Saffire Freycinet on Great Oyster Bay in Tasmania

I have always thought that Tasmania’s Saffire Freycinet is one of Australia’s finest luxury lodges, not only because it is in a stellar location by a secluded beach but also because it offers exceptional intuitive service and a wide range of luxury experiences.

Tasmania’s Saffire Freycinet was named 2014 Grand Award Winner in Andrew Harper’s world renowned luxury Hideaway Report. Harper describes Saffire Freycinet as a “superb contemporary 20-room resort nestled in a eucalyptus forest beside Great Oyster Bay. Floor-to-ceiling windows in three-story main lodge grant magnificent views of the pink-hued Hazards Mountains across the bay.”

This is another huge stamp of international approval for Luxury Lodges of Australia, which is a collection of independent luxury lodges and camps offering unforgettable experiences in Australia’s most inspiring and extraordinary wilderness locations.

The award is richly deserved.

Saffire Freycinet offers a design-rich but low-key and sophisticated retreat in exquisite natural surroundings on the edge of Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula. The name itself conjures up its setting with the merging of the sapphire blue waters of Coles Bay with the fiery hues of the pink granite Hazard Mountain Range at sunset…ergo the jewel of Tasmania.

With its swooping stingray-shaped roof, its dramatic ceiling made of ribbed golden celery-top pine and its wall of windows overlooking the water and mountains, the main lodge makes a grand statement but is also warm and welcoming. The lounge area offers comfortable couches and chairs, with Tasmanian Huon pine stumps for tables, lots of games and a long gas fireplace providing warmth in wild and wintry weather.

While the design is stunning, it is...

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