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Travel website, Fathom, recently released their Travel Awards, a ranking of the sites, places, and spaces they consider to be some of the best in the world. As I’ve been flipping through some of their choices, I can feel a fever coming on. A travel fever, that is.

Fathom really knows how to put together a list—and for any type of traveler, at that. They’ve culled some of the world’s best design hostelsthe most romantic places to travel, even some of the best sites and blogs to consult.

But of particular interest to us, is this one: Fathom’s Best Foodie Escapes, that, in their words, “are pilgrimages for people who truly care about food.” Sign me up! The fifteen locales dot far reaches of the globe and are worth taking a peek at (or travelling to!). For now, I’ve compiled all the ones in the U.S. for your viewing pleasure.

Words by Valerio Farris at Food52



SingleThread Farm: Healdsburg, California

[Photo via @singlethreadfarms]

This idyll sits in the Northern California town of Healdsburg, where three of Sonoma’s premier wine regions intersect. If that sentence alone doesn’t get you, then maybe the stunning views, wine tours and Michelin-starred Japanese-inspired meals will. Produce is sourced from the land on which the farm, restaurant, and inn are located, of course.

SingleThread Farm



The Inn at Serenbe: Palmetto, Georgia

[Photo via @innatserenbe]


The Inn at Serenbe is a cozy oasis near Palmetto, Georgia, just a bit outside of Atlanta. The charming 27-room hotel sits amidst 36-acres and attracts a crowd looking for delicious down home Southern style hospitality—and not to mention the food. Anyone would be remiss not to try the freshly foraged goods served on site.

The Inn at Serenbe


Blackberry Farm: Walland, Tennessee

[Photo via @blackberryfarm]


This farm, tucked into the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, is a food-obsessed’s paradise. Expect endless wine and whiskey tastings and endless opportunities for a locally sourced, sustainable, farm-to-table meal. There’s daily cooking demonstrations as well as a whole slew of workshops. Oh, and, yes, there are definitely blackberries.

Blackberry Farm


The Willows Inn: Lummi Island, Washington

[Photo via @willowsinn]

This one’s a doozy of a stunner located ten miles off the coast of Washington state on its very own island—Lummi island. There, James Beard Award–winning chef, Blaine Wetzel whips up a menu culled entirely from ingredients that are island bound. Talk about terroir!

The Willows Inn



Written By: Food52






Like some summertime scene straight out of a Slim Aarons photograph, the world’s most well-to-do gathered this week at an idyllic Tuscan villa for the annual Fourth of July bash hosted by Rosetta Getty and her billionaire-heir husband Balthazar.

Fashion insiders, celebrities, and international It Girls, from Elizabeth Olsen and Sofia Sanchez de Betak to Mia Moretti and Kardashian Krew members Jen Atkin and Stephanie Shepherd, lounged poolside under the Italian sun at the historic Villa Cetinale, a sprawling, 17th-century estate in Siena. Coinciding with the Palio, one of the oldest horse races in Europe, the Getty’s yearly fete marries the American holiday with old-world tradition.

“[The Palio] is a big deal to the Sienese, and thousands upon thousands of people crowd into the Piazza del Campo to watch not just the race, but also the procession before it, where the neighborhoods—the contrade—march out with drums and flags and men in armor as precisely as they have since the Middle Ages,” explains Rosetta in Vogue.

But between all the excitement, long, languid lunches of pasta and fresh fare awaited their guests, as well as poolside sunbathing and walks through the gorgeous gardens. Of course, it couldn’t be Independence Day (for the Americans) without a show of fireworks, and indeed the weekend festivities culminated in a stunning al fresco dinner lighted by explosions in the sky.


Villa Cetinale


Sofia Sanchez de Betak


A Chic Dip





Mia Moretti



Lunch Scene


Jen Atkin


Elizabeth Olsen, Michelle Hicks, Rosetta Getty, Sofia Sanchez de Betak, Jamie Bochert


Mia Moretti, Balthazar Getty




Written By: Stephanie Maida


Hamptonites now have a place to primp before all their big events out East this summer. Blushington Makeup & Beauty Lounge has opened its very first pop-up location, choosing to take up a summer residency at Brownings Fitness in Southampton. Sounds like the ultimate sweat-then-prep for those with ultra-tight schedules.

The pop-up offers an array of Blushington’s signature services, such as Full Face Makeup Application and Faux Lash Application, as well as other options like The Glow Getter Facial by Tata Harper, BeautyRx Glycolic Peels, and Sara Happ Lip Treatment.

It will also offer clients a curated selection of products from emerging beauty brands launched by women like Brow Gal, Ellis Brooklyn, Erborian, côte, and more.

The Blushington Southampton pop-up is now open through Sunday, September 2. It will be open on weekends only (Friday-Sunday) – with a choice of at home or on location “Blush on The Go” appointments, which can be made online, available upon request.


Blushington, 60 Windmill Lane, Southampton


With its colorful culture, tasty cuisine, glittering white sandy beaches, and azure coastline ringed by palm trees and verdant jungle, it’s not exactly shocking that Mexico has become a mecca for Hollywood celebrities. Not to mention, the country boasts some of the most impressive luxury resorts and spas in the world. So, if you’re planning a Mexican getaway, why not make sure that you’ll be sunbathing next to Jennifer Aniston, surfing with Cameron Diaz, or downing margaritas in Jimmy Kimmel’s vicinity? Here are the prime Mexican hotspots where you’re sure to run into a celeb or two:

Los Cabos

When celebrities want to avoid the pesky paparazzi, and soak up the Mexican sun (and top-shelf tequila, no doubt!), Los Cabos is their #1 go-to. It’s not hard to see why: this picturesque stretch of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula is just a two-hour flight from Los Angeles. And yet, it’s a world away – in Los Cabos, the living is easy, the scenery is unbeatable, and the resorts are one-of-a-kind. Home to both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, this area of Mexico is truly hard to beat.

mexico luxury hot spots

The One & Only Palmilla

So, where’s the Hollywood crowd hanging out? Topping the list is the One&Only Palmilla resort in San Jose del Cabo, which offers up classic five-star fare for both adults and kiddos alike. Set on 55 acres of paradise, the One&Only Palmilla has an incredible array of amenities (including a world-class golf course and one of the most well-known spas in Mexico), and is even the only resort in Los Cabos with its own swimmable beach. Tons of celebs are regularly spotted here – including Jennifer Aniston, John Mayer, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore – just to name a few!

Michael Jordan, Adam Sandler, the Kardashians, and others often frequent the Westin Los Cabos Resort Villas & Spa, which offers up incredible ocean side pools, delicious dining options, and a variety of therapeutic spa treatments at the resort’s Spa Otomi.

westin los cabos

Westin Los Cabos

And finally, the Queen of all things Goop (that’s Gwyneth Paltrow, of course) adores Esperanza, a famed resort & spa that routinely tops various “Best Of” lists. Overlooking the sharp blue waters of the Sea of Cortez, Esperanza is a standout gem; which is really saying something, considering the caliber of most resorts in Los Cabos. Each room at this opulent utopia offers stunning ocean views, and you can even opt to have a private butler, chef, and your own pool – in true Gwyneth style.

As far as beaches go, Playa del Amor (or, Lover’s Beach) is a celeb-studded hot spot. And, don’t miss a chance to dine at Don Manuel’s, the signature restaurant at Capella Pedregal, where you’re sure to nosh on upscale Mexican fare alongside at least one Olsen twin.


Tulum, with its hipster-chic vibes and ultra-stylish resorts and beaches, draws the cool kids of the Hollywood crowd. This tiny albeit glamorous small town near the tip of southern Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is routinely compared to New York’s Williamsburg, or LA’s Silverlake. Replete with luxurious hotels, spas, and more yoga-centric resorts than there are actual yoga poses, Tulum is a favorite among many celebs: including Sienna Miller, Demi Moore, Cara Delevingne, and more.

amansala resort

Amansala Resort

In terms of lodging, there’s really one place to stay if you’re itching for your celebrity fix. The breathtaking Amansala Resort is a magnet for the Hollywood A-list – this hip, luxurious hotel boasts classic beachfront views, and signature spa treatment and retreats that range from a “Destination Detox” to “Bikini Bootcamp”. When you’re ready for a bite, the Hartwood Restaurant is Tulum’s premier restaurant of choice. Enjoy your market-fresh fish and slow-cooked pork belly, and keep an eye out for Reese Witherspoon.

Riviera Maya

The Yucatan peninsula in general has become a favorite of the Hollywood elite over the years – and for good reason. With its outstanding snorkeling, fabled Mayan ruins, pristine beaches, and incredible wildlife, there’s no end to this region’s charms and beauty. The Riviera Maya, in particular, attracts celebs in droves – this resort-heavy area on the eastern part of the Yucatan is always buzzing with Tinseltown royalty. And there are a couple specific spots where you’re likely to glimpse celebs.

mexico luxury resorts

Hotel Esencia

First up is Hotel Escencia, the former vacation villa of an Italian duchess, which has reportedly drawn the likes of Uma Thurman and Tom Cruise. This idyllic villa has it all: heated pools, sunrise yoga, an awe-inspiring organic spa, and more. You’ll never want to leave Hotel Escencia’s majestic beach, especially when you catch Gwyneth Paltrow (yep, she comes here, too!) frolicking in the surf.

maroma resort and spa

Maroma Resort & Spa

Last but not least, if you’re in the mood for a celebrity sighting, there’s no better place to be than the Maroma Resort & Spa. Over the years, this picture-perfect resort has attracted Sir Elton John, Celine Dion, Sean Penn, and Robert Redford – and, as legend has it, they’ve all asked to stay in the same room: number 23.
Birds of a feather, and all that.


By Justine Harrington

As the only AAA Five Diamond beach resort in Puerto Rico, the St. Regis is keen on displaying nothing but the country’s natural beauty. In an effort to enhance the beauty of the resort and promote Puerto Rican Culture, the St. Regis has partnered with Walter Otero Contemporary Art to introduce the “Art Visionary Program” – inviting the country’s top artists to create and exhibit their art has the double advantage of promoting Puerto Rican culture.

Its commitment to Puerto Rican art and to maintaining the country’s history alive is what inspired the resort to commence on the project. The resort already boasts magnificent pieces such as the “El Viaje esperado” by Arnaldo Roche located in the St.Regis Bar. Its natural beauty is what really captivates those who enter St.Regis Beach Resort: along the property’s 20 acres there are endless ocean views, pristine lakes filled with life, and close views of the majestic but mysterious tropical rain forest, El Yunque. The artists will soak up the landscape and have no trouble finding inspiration for their unique works.

st regis beach resort 2

The program is the brainchild of young emerging artist Jose “Jun” Martinez who has been exhibiting since 2014. His work concerns the natural world and mostly focuses on landscapes as the main subject. He references the work of the impressionists and post-impressionists as well as current tendencies in painting. “My practice in painting has to do with an intense interest of feeling and knowing the world that surrounds me, with all its tensions and balances.” says Martinez regarding what his paintings reflect. He has exhibited in All Things New, Walter Otero Contemporary Art 2016, Artejangueo in the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico 2016. He also participated in the XVI edition of the Muestra Nacional, an exhibition by the Culture Institute of Puerto Rico 2015, along with a few others.

Among the other invited artists is Ricardo Morales Hernandez, who is known for his paradisiac imagery evoking musical notations and reminiscent of the natural ecosystem of the island of Puerto Rico. The message that comes across in his work is reflection of his lifestyle, personal image and his spiritual relationship. “My work must provide the drama of experiencing the here and now and the manifestation of paradise,” adds Morales, “I believe that in the work of all artists is this very same message.”

ricardo morales artist

The art that is developed at St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort seeks to capture not only its beautiful landscapes but the form and vision of the life of the men and women that live in the 21st century. “We look to promote Puerto Rican art, create a legacy, and help the artistic community to keep growing and exhibiting,” comments Domingo Velasco, Director of Sales and Marketing for St. Regis Bahia Beach.

Artists will have three months to create their works of art at the hotel and a gala will follow for art lovers to admire the masterpieces. The displayed exhibitions will be available for purchase and a percentage will be donated to the local art community through art schools.

bar at st regis
The invited artist are close friends and colleagues, working closely together and even learning from one another. Jose “Jun” Martinez, Ricardo Morales-Hernandez, William Maldonado and Arnaldo Roche Rabell are some of the artists that will be leaving their artistic touch at St. Regis Bahia.

About St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
On 20 acres of lush beach-front sits St. Regis Bahia which is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts WorldWide Inc. The intimate hotel has 139 luxurious guest rooms and suites with private oceanfront terraces. Treat yourself at Reméde Spa; a floating pathway leads guests to the seven secluded massage villas perfect place to be pampered. A 1000 square-feet high tech gym is adjacent to the spa, complete with an ample yoga and pilates studio. Take a swing at the challenging Robert Trent Jones Jr golf course. Four sophisticated restaurants and bars offer international, Caribbean and regional cuisine. And for the kids there is an exclusive children’s club, Iguana, with endless activities for kids ages 4-12. The beach resort has been named for a third consecutive year on Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot and Gold List. It is the only AAA Five Diamond resort in Puerto Rico. St. Regis radiates the tropical elegance of a world class luxury resort.

For more information about St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort visit



With fitness and wellness trending, more hotels and resorts are catching on, and even luxury boutique hotels are now offering Wellness Retreats. Eden Rock in St. Barths, one of Oetker Collection’s most impressive hotels, has announced its first Wellness Retreat led by Head of Wellness, Aminata Clason-Diop. Guests at Eden Rock can enjoy this luxurious relaxing retreat from December 1-8.

The retreat’s cost is $18,773USD for the week and will be held in the brand new Maison Blanc Bleu, located in the hills of Gouverneur which is part of the Eden Rock Villa Rental program. This luxurious villa offers the ideal place to take in the island’s tranquility and scenery, allowing guests to get the most out of this wellness retreat.


eden rock luxury hotel
The luxury retreat package includes: personalized island airport or port meet and greet, chauffeured transfer to villa, private room in Maison Blanc Bleu, wellness coach, spiritual coach, plant-based chef, butler, organic plant-based meals and beverages, activities, and spa treatments.

Each day will start with cold-pressed juice and a yoga session, followed by both motivation and fitness-minded activities. These include everything from spa treatments to goal-setting sessions, meditation and personal wellness consultations. Some outdoor activities such as boat trips, snorkeling and hiking give the opportunity to discover the island. Guests will also have the option of additional workout sessions at the villa’s private gym or of serving up on the tennis court.


eden rock st barths
To keep you feeling not only relaxed but healthy, for the whole week guests will be served an organic, plant-based wellness menu created by a private chef. Certain meals will be held at some of the island’s best restaurants, such as The Sand Bar onsite at Eden Rock.

The experts and instructors that will take part in the retreat have been carefully selected to ensure the well-being of the participants. They will show guests a different side of St. Barths for those who have yet to discover this unforgettable island. Under the guidance of Aminata, this retreat will be your golden ticket for a week of pure relaxation and rejuvenation.


eden rock on st barths
As the creator of Eden Rock Wellness, Aminata Clason-Diop is in charge of all things Wellness at Eden Rock Hotel, from the physical activities such as yoga, SUP yoga, Pilates, and hiking, to creating of the recipes for the Wellness Menu and soon-to-open Juice Bar. Her main objective is to purify both the inside and outside in a mindful way and in beautiful and inspiring surroundings. Aminata is a certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, New York, a certified Yoga Teacher from YogaWorks, New York, and a certified Raw Food Chef from Matthew Kenney Culinary, Los Angeles.

For reservations/information visit:



Travelers can become a dancing star on the golden shores of AAA Five-Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit during the third annual LaBlast Getaway November 30 – December 3, 2016 led by three-time World Dance Champion and “Dancing With The Stars” alum, Louis Van Amstel.

RIVIERA NAYARIT, MEXICO (PRWEB) – Travelers can become a dancing star on the golden shores of AAA Five-Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit during the third annual LaBlast Getaway led by three-time World Dance Champion and “Dancing With The Stars” alum, Louis Van Amstel. Accompanied by two LaBlast master trainers, Van Amstel leads the program highlighted by daily LaBlast fitness classes from November 30 – December 3, 2016. For the first time, the partner-free dance classes will be accompanied by LaBlast Splash and Line Dance, both also partner-free. The energizing dance fitness class blending the true skill of ballroom dance with the calorie basting properties of interval fitness, LaBlast Fitness, takes place in the mornings, followed by the cardio building, joint-friendly, and outrageously fun LaBlast Splash in the pool in the afternoons. In the evening, LaBlast Line Dancing takes traditional line dancing out of the saddle and on to the ballroom floor. In addition, ballroom classes such as foxtrot and salsa will be offered both indoors in the resort’s new dance lounge and outdoors oceanfront. The easy-to-learn patterns and music selections from all genres and eras welcome any age and fitness level.


With the package guests enjoy unlimited LaBlast Classes with live music and dancing led by Van Amstel (and lead Master Trainers), a $50 USD spa or golf credit per adult per night and one spa hydrotherapy circuit per adult per stay at the resort’s spa sanctuary to relax and rejuvenate sore muscles after a morning of dances ranging from the Cha Cha to the Jive to the Waltz. In addition, a 10% discount at the resort boutique and round-trip airport transportation are also included in the package. Grand Velas’ all-inclusive rates include luxury accommodations, a la carte gourmet meals at a variety of specialty restaurants, premium branded beverages, 24-hour in-suite service, taxes, gratuity and more. The LaBlast Package at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit starts at $269 per person, per night, based on double occupancy and requires a minimum stay of three nights. Packages are subject to availability. For reservations or more information, call 1-888-407-4869, email or visit Learn more about Louis Van Amstel and the LaBlast Fitness Program at

About Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit:
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, a Leading Hotel of the World, enjoys a privileged natural setting with flowering, landscaped gardens beside a long stretch of pristine beach and a dramatic backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountains. The centerpiece of the gardens is a three-tiered infinity pool, a preferred spot for catching the legendary sunsets. The AAA Five Diamond all-inclusive resort features 267 ocean-view suites, some with private plunge pools, and all with plasma TVs, wireless internet access, fully stocked mini bar, L’Occitane amenities and Nespresso machines. The resort has won numerous awards from Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, TripAdvisor, U.S. News and World Report and Forbes, which named it one of the Top Ten Coolest All-Inclusive in 2012. Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit was built and is operated by Eduardo Vela Ruiz, majority owner, founder and president of Velas Resorts, with brother Juan Vela by his side, vice president of Velas Resorts.


Commonly described with phrases like “beyond perfect” and known as the Caribbean’s most glamorous hotel, Eden Rock is without a doubt one of the world’s most desirable locations for the traveling elite. With its origins as a the go-to spot for Hollywood A-listers and visited by names like Greta Garbo and Howard Hughes, Eden Rock set the standard for the island’s worldwide reputation as a celebrity hideaway.

eden rock hotel

Now a family owned hotel and part of the Oetker Collection, Eden Rock continues to thrive as a getaway for the rich and famous and is regularly recognized among the Top 100 hotels in the world. Just this year Eden Rock was named the Best Hotel in the World by Condé Nast Traveller.  With core family values and green philosophies that pair with 5-star luxury accommodations and service to match, all situated on the sparkling shores of St. Jean Bay, Eden Rock St. Barths is a legendary masterpiece designed for a true chic and authentic island escape.

eden rock hotel at night

Perched atop a rocky point above the bay with breathtaking views of the crystal blue Caribbean Sea and white sugar sands below, Eden Rock is conveniently located at the heart of the island.  With access to the chic shops of St. Barths, gourmet dining from world-renowned chefs and irresistible indulgences all around, Eden Rock’s location makes enjoying all of St. Barths easy.

eden rock hotel st barths

The hotel features 34 guest rooms and villas, all individually styled with playful interiors dotted with fine artworks from private collections, and views of the lush green gardens or beaches just below.

eden rock luxury resort and hotel

The latest addition to the world-class rooms at Eden Rock is the Christopher Columbus signature suite located in the historic main house and perched high atop a cliff with endless views over the St Jean Bay.  This single suite encompasses 2,200 square feet and features decadent furnishings, solid oak floors, modern art and a fully air-conditioned private terrace.

eden rock st barths

While embracing seaside luxury at Eden Rock you will enjoy endless water activities from kayaking to snorkeling and yacht rentals available through Princess motor yachts.  Take a stroll through the Eden Rock Art Gallery in the evenings or relax at the signature spa by Ligne St Barth for moments of pure pleasure and relaxation.

eden rock luxury hotel

Every aspect of the experience at Eden Rock oozes tropical indulgence while the celeb-worthy hideaway offers an escape rife with history, 5-star service, tranquility and adventure and continues to thrive as the island’s most iconic hotel.  Whatever your whim, Eden Rock St Bart’s has earned its accolades and this “Legend Hotel” is the perfect slice of paradise for the ultimate getaway.

Visit the website to discover Eden Rock.



Nestled within an upscale residential neighborhood just a 5-minute drive from the Puerto Vallarta airport sits Casa Velas—a serene adults-only luxury boutique resort that’s helping set new and noteworthy standards in the all-inclusive realm. 

As one of the many properties in the Velas Resorts portfolio, which have earned no less than 43 diamonds by AAA, I had high expectations for my own stay at the location—especially given it has garnered 8 of those diamonds in its own right. What I had not anticipated, however, was how “at home” I would feel while on site, which felt as much like a private estate home with an ever-attentive staff rather than a slick hotel operation with pre-programmed employees. Indeed, the layout of the grounds and the casually elegant and intimate atmosphere evokes the sense of being in a private hacienda. Furthering this sensibility is a staff that all regard guests by name, who welcome you “home” upon arrival (with each outing) and generally do their utmost to ensure each guest’s needs and wants are being duly catered to.

All 80 traditional Mexican-styled suites at Casa Velas are top notch, with each boasting a private terrace with plunge pool or in suite Jacuzzi, goose-down comforters, free WiFi, L’Occitane bath products and a fully stocked mini bar. For even more privacy and space, the exquisite 3,000-square foot, four-bedroom Presidential Suite, which sleeps 8, is replete with original artwork by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante and also features a large dining room, living room, master suite with a spacious marble-laden bathroom, and an expansive terrace with an oversize plunge pool and Jacuzzi.

Luxury resort puerto vallarta

Terrace Terraza

While the Spanish style architecture and interior design captivates, the setting in which it all resides is truly breathtaking. Lush tropical landscaping abounds with abundant flora and fauna at every turn that, of course, attracts wildlife. In fact, a bevy of wild peacocks have taken up residence at the property and can be seen meandering about throughout the day and night. A pack of “pet” snapping turtles live in a pond-like water feature at the hotel’s front entrance for which the valet staff will eagerly provide you with food to feed them.

Adding to the serene green vistas is the fact that the resort overlooks the lovely Marina Vallarta Golf Course where Casa Velas guests enjoy special privileges like free greens fees. Other on-site amenities include a full fitness center with Life Fitness cardio and Nautilus equipment, a full service spa and salon, and a pool area with plush lounge chairs, shady cabanas and a swim up palapa bar. If surf and sand are high on your vacation agenda, have no fear as the hotel will provide you with complimentary, on-demand shuttle service to and from its private and exclusive Casa Velas Ocean Club where guests enjoy cushioned loungers and cabanas on the beach itself, along with food and beverage service, as well as access to a pristine pool area and al fresco eatery all overlooking Mexico’s Pacific Riviera beyond.

Pasillo Casa Velas Puerto Vallarta

Pasillo Casa Velas Hall

Even amid all of this haute hospitality, what is incredibly impressive about Casa Velas is its elevated gourmet food and beverage program that has significantly raised the bar for all-inclusive hotels worldwide. With its on-site gourmet restaurant, Emiliano, one of only two restaurants in all of Puerto Vallarta that have earned the AAA Four Diamond award, guests are treated to unlimited access to high caliber cuisine for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24/7 in-suite service. Beverages at Casa Velas are equally progressive, particularly for an all-inclusive, with guests enjoying premium wines and liquor without restriction and can partake in fun nightly events like wine pairings; tequila, mescal and martini tastings; and other events that also allow guests to get acquainted and socialize.

If you’re a foodie seeking a culinary-oriented resort retreat, Casa Velas is for you. I particularly love the concerted and continual effort the property makes to keep its culinary options interesting and innovative, ensuring guests can have a unique atypical all-inclusive experience time and time again.

luxury resort puerto vallarta

Lobby Services

Gourmet Tasting Menus
In addition to its regular menu, Emiliano also extends six different five-course meals (a new one each evening) that are masterminded by head chefs from Casa Velas’ sister property, the AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Menus draw from all three of their AAA Four Diamond restaurants: Frida, Piaf and Lucca . These dynamic menus rotate each evening and run for a week, starting with a French tasting menu and martini tasting hour on Sundays led by Piaf’s head chef. On Monday, Lucca’s Italian-Mediterranean sampling and wine pairing takes center stage. Tuesdays and Thursdays are an extra special treat as 20 guests are invited to a private “dinner with the chef.” Here, Chef Eliseo Ibarra Ramos prepares a special menu while television cooking personality, Yolanda Yanar, gives step by step explanations on the menu’s preparation. Wednesdays, Frida’s head chef hosts a Mexican tasting menu and tequila tasting hour. Fridays offer a truly elegant experience as Chef Ramos prepares a gourmet French menu while a renowned pianist provides accompaniment and live entertainment. Saturday rounds out the week with cuisine and seafood specialties from Veracruz, Mexico.

Authentic Street Food
While Emiliano’s gourmet tasting menus have proven enormously popular, the revered restaurant also features dishes that bring to mind the temping aromas and “tantalizing visions” of the street foods found in Mexico’s colorful markets. Guests can sample entrees, appetizers and desserts from six different regions including Veracruz, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Jalisco, and the Yucatan. Each day a different region is featured alongside Emiliano’s larger menu of additional Mexican and international selections. What’s more, servers are dressed in corresponding regional costume and are happy to answer questions about ingredients and preparation to any foodie’s satisfaction.

Where the Gastro Garden Grows
During my stay I strolled down to Casa Velas’ impressive on-site organic botanical garden where the resort grows its own herbs, flowers and vegetables. These uber-fresh ingredients find their way into fresh cocktails and culinary creations as ingredients and garnish. For example, home‐grown albacar, thyme, mint, lemon and cactus are used in the kitchen, while home‐grown mint is used for mojitos, cilantro for margaritas and hibiscus flowers in martinis. Want to bring the taste of a Casa Velas specialty cocktail home with you? The chefs will gladly send guests home with their favorite recipe. Guests will also spot, or better yet smell, clove, mint, aloe vera, spearmint, and basil leaves in the resort’s spa treatments.

A Mighty Mini Bar
Casa Velas’ commitment to luxury, well-being and elevated eats extends beyond the bounds of the resort’s restaurants and bars—extending right into the guest rooms. Instead of the usual boring, calorie-laden mini bar fare, Casa Velas provides freshly “made on demand” crudités. Guests can choose from the “Mexican turnip,” a combination of carrots, cucumber, jicama, or an alternative selection featuring celery, beetroot and pineapple. Guests can also choose from three different light and healthy dressings including mango, chipotle or albahaca (basil). Crudités are available upon request from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and, of course, are included in the all‐inclusive daily rate.

Service Standouts
I had the pleasure of dining with Luis Angarita, Casa Velas’ General Manager, who spoke about what sets the resort apart from others in the region. He underscored that, more than anything else, Casa Velas prides itself on providing top-notch service at every level of the operation. He also reiterated the resort’s focus on food as part of an all-inclusive, noting it’s a major draw. “Food, creativity and presentation comparable to top restaurants in world capitals,” Angarita gushed. “Name your favorite specialty cuisine–Mexican, French and Italian, it’s exquisitely prepared by award winning chefs…everything, from unlimited food and wines to premium beverages, in suite service, and even gratuities and tax are part of the all-inclusive daily rate.”

With its efforts to continually innovate coupled with the quiet, private and secluded nature of this Puerto Vallarta oasis, it’s no surprise U.S. dignitaries the likes of Condoleezza Rice, and two Mexican presidents have been hosted at Casa Velas. But, one need not be a dignitary to be treated like royalty here, as the staff goes over and above to ensure each guest is having a personalized and pampered experience. 

With its heightened level of hospitality, Casa Velas is playing an integral role in re-defining the all-inclusive category at large, and is a decidedly fine choice for the standards-driven jet setter.

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

Merilee Kern is Executive Editor and Producer of The Luxe List, showcasing noteworthy gifts, gets and getaways. Reach her online at

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***


As the first and only AAA Five Diamond Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I had decidedly high expectations for my vacation experience at the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale. From the moment I arrived and was graciously greeted by the valet personnel who eagerly escorted me to the registration area to be checked in by equally affable front desk attendants. With this first interaction, coupled with the litany of stellar staff interactions that ensued, it became quite clear my expectations would likely not only be met, but also readily exceeded at this property where a mandate of guest service excellence clearly reigns supreme.

“We pride ourselves on creating unique, memorable, and personal experiences for all of our guests,” said Michael Chiusano, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale. This is a lofty goal the property achieves on a daily basis, as attested by the hotel’s consistent exceptional ratings. Among other accolades, the property has, in fact, been the recipient of the Mobil Travel Guide Four-Star rating and the “Top New Hotel” on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List.”

ritz carlton

Oceanfront Cabanas

Chiusano describes the award-winning hotel as “refined luxury” with a “contemporary” ambiance and further explains the staff is “here to assist our guests with making The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale a home away from home. ”But, far beyond a homespun sensibility, this respite comes with an elevated array of creature comforts, such as a property-dedicated sommelier. It’s understandable why this is Chiusano’s personal favorite hotel feature given the sommelier offers private wine and food pairings in the on-site Wine Room, which impressively houses over 5,000 bottles of wine from around the world.

ritz carlton wine room

The Wine Room

The hotel sits on a prime beachfront location that was once the site of the infamous Candy Store, a spring break fixture in the 1970s and 1980s. Also of note is the structure itself.  The 24-story hotel boasts tiered and glass-walled architecture that is reminiscent of a luxury cruise liner, designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, while the Hirsch-Bedner designed interior plays homage to the seascape with stunning murals. Seashells and other beach-themed decor as well as neutral sand, wood, and wave-inspired interiors throughout set just the right tone.

Offering an unforgettable escape, the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale offers 192 1940s-inspired guest rooms and suites, full-service spa, championship golf at the nearby members-only Grande Oaks Golf Course, sweeping Atlantic Ocean and Intercoastal views, and a plethora of top-notch amenities.

All of the guest rooms and suites feature private balconies with a water view. There are seven Oceanfront Executive Suites and 15 Intracoastal Junior Suites as well as 26 Residential Suites, including one, two, and three bedroom options. No expense has been spared when it comes to the accommodations, including 400 thread-count Frette linens and goose down pillows, marble baths, and elegant, leather-wrapped and mahogany furnishings. All the latest technology is available with wireless high-speed Internet access, computer and fax hookups, multi-line telephones, data port connections, fully-integrated electronic guest control system, and a state-of-the-art DVD theater entertainment system with a 37″ LCD panel TV and LCD panel TVs in each bathroom. Guests also enjoy the fully stocked refreshment cabinet, complimentary morning newspaper, and twice-daily housekeeping service.

Guest Room and Suites

Guest Room and Suites

The property is rife with options to stay entertained and pampered. There’s the heated zero-entry pool located on a 29,000-square foot elevated tropical pool deck replete with full service bar. Lounge like a VIP by snagging one of the 10 Oceanfront Cabanas that feel as though they are suspended over the ocean. Each comes with its own “Cabana Captain” who remains at-the-ready to serve drinks, food, or advice as a personal concierge. There are many cabana packages to choose from that offer varying amounts of time and service, depending on what suits each guest’s fancy.

The spa, with its minimalist décor and soothing color palette, is a great place to unwind. With 8,500 square feet of refined relaxation, including 10 treatment suites and one couples’ suite, separate lounges for men and women, and a gift boutique, it behooves you to find time to partake in some of the spa’s signature 99 percent organic treatments. It’s the only spa in the area that offers natural, “chiral” anti-aging facials. This superlative spa has a wide range of European and contemporary spa treatments, including those utilizing organic botanicals. The fitness center is fully stocked with nautilus equipment, free weights, and cardio machines that allow you to work out while overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway and downtown skyline.

The on-site oceanfront restaurant, Via Luna, is an elegant Italian eatery that focuses on grilled meats from a local butcher, fresh seafood, and Italian favorites as well as scrumptious desserts. Visit the Via Luna Bar for signature libations and small bites, or eat on deck at the Poolside Café where specialty fruit drinks complement a fresh menu that highlights local staples, including ever-enticing conch fritters.


Guest Suites

Perhaps my personal favorite feature of the property is the Club Lounge, the only one of its kind at any luxury hotel in the city, which is included in all Residential Suite and a limited number of oceanfront guestroom reservations. Located on the 8th floor and boasting both  Intracoastal waterway and ocean vistas, this 2,200 square-foot sanctuary provides access to exclusive amenities, such as complimentary gourmet breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner buffets with libations and other beverages, a private TV and computer station, and a Club Concierge eager to tend to a guest’s individual needs. This enclave also has an expansive balcony to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise and sunset.

With its perfect location to the beach and popular area attractions, unsurpassable guest service, and impeccable accommodations, the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale is oceanfront elegance at its best.

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

Merilee Kern is Executive Editor and Producer of The Luxe List, showcasing noteworthy gifts, gets and getaways. Reach her online at

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***