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A Guide to Telluride: North America’s Coolest Ski Resort

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Tucked away at the end of a box canyon in Southern Colorado, Telluride – or “to Hell You Ride” – is drop-dead gorgeous and has a terrific personality to boot.

Telluride is not just a spectacular ski resort surrounded by four 14,000 foot peaks (Colorado’s famed ‘fourteeners’), it is also an old silver mining town with a Wild West streak; home to the very first bank Butch Cassidy robbed, right on Main Street.

It’s Aspen without the pretense.

Put simply, Telluride is the whole package, offering a real sense of place in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, fabulous food and wine, and some of the finest skiing and snowboarding in North America.

The Town:

Located on the valley floor, t...

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Alain Ducasse’s classic Provencale Inn: La Bastide de Moustiers

La Bastide de Moustiers MFP

The terrace of La Bastide de Moustiers

It is a tradition in Provence that landlords who plant three cypress trees near the entrance to their properties welcome visitors for a drink, a meal and a bed.  French chef Alain Ducasse has a small army of these pencil-thin emblems of Provence lining the driveway to La Bastide de Moustiers.  They are a fitting symbol for this classic Provencale Inn which is a labor of love by the founder of a multi-starred restaurant empire spanning three continents.

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Rafting Costa Rica’s Pacuare River to a Luxury Eco Lodge

Costa Rica's Pacuare River is one of the world's most beautiful rafting rivers

Rafting Costa Rica’s Pacuare River to stay at the eco-sensitive Pacuare Lodge is a perfect experience for those of you who like to combine your serious adventures with luxurious landings.

Costa Rica is a gutsy little Central American democracy that has capitalized on its ecological riches. A quarter of its landmass  is classified as national park or biosphere reserve, and its many eco lodges help showcase the country’s natural beauty.

Costa Rica’s all purpose saying: This is living…cool! pure life!

“Pura Vida!” shouts our barrel-chested guide Luis Achoy after we bounce through a set of boiling rapids on the Pacuare River. We all raise our paddles high above the churning, café-latte-colored water and echo his cheer with the best exclamation ever invented, “Pura Vida!” a Costa Rican all-purpose phrase that means “this is living…cool…pure life.”

We have certainly found Pura Vida and it’s not just the adrenalin rush...

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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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Mountain Lodges of Peru: the Best Way to Walk to Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu is on everyone’s bucket list but the hackneyed hiking route is over-hyped and in danger of being destroyed by overuse. What many people don’t realize is that the Andes are laced with dozens of Incan trails, not just the one royal Incan Trail to Machu Picchu.

Mountain Lodges of Peru offers a blissfully uncrowded lodge-based alternative route to the sacred Incan site for those of us who would like to make the trek but who would prefer to exchange the bed roll for a real bed and add fine food and wine and even a massage or two into the equation.

This ...

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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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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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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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