2016 Year-In-Review

2016 Year-In-Review

One of my all-time favorite trips in May 2016: staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy. Totally obnoxious champagne on boat shot. But what a day! 

One of my all-time favorite trips in May 2016: staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy. Totally obnoxious champagne on boat shot. But what a day! 

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I've done a wrap-up on this blog for the past five years. When I look back at these ridiculous, challenging, beautiful adventures - traveling all over the world, a marriage, a divorce, a new love, a new job - I feel endlessly grateful and honestly, tired. Travel is my passion, my life, my work, my beloved job and industry but I really want to slow down a bit. 

I want to sit and read the New York Times every Sunday. I want to meet friends for dinner in Manhattan and return gratefully to Brooklyn. I want to walk in Central Park and Prospect Park on beautiful days. I want to feel grateful for every minute I am on the Brooklyn Promenade because I can't believe I live so close - this is my dream neighborhood in NYC. I want to explore New York like I used to when I first moved here - with that giddy sense of new-ness - through Chinatown, Little Italy, the Upper West Side, all over Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. I want to make plans for the future - I've been such a stunned deer-in-the-headlights the past couple of years - either moving at warp speed to avoid feeling hurt, or waiting for someone else to make decisions. The future I had planned for since I was 20 disappeared when Andy and I split up and I'm still finding my way out. 

I know I will still travel. I would be lost without it. I will still travel more than most people I know. But I want a little more serenity, a little less airport madness, and more time to figure out what I want as I get older. I'll turn 35 this year and while sometimes it feels like I've been flitting around the world carelessly while all my friends have been having babies and saving for retirement - I am so grateful for this life (except for the Twilight Zone presidential election, which continues to be worse than we all thought). Can I do all of this and maintain minimum status on an airline? That is the goal. 

By the way - if you know anyone cool in Brooklyn, let me know. It's one of my resolutions this year to meet more interesting, creative, funny, kind people that live in Brooklyn and to build my community here more. If you say it loud, it is more likely to happen. So there you go! 

Wishing you a beautiful 2017. 

And in (mostly) chronological order - 2016 at a glance. 

New Year's 2016 in Myanmar - The Strand Cruise

New Year's 2016 in Myanmar - The Strand Cruise

The highlight of Chiang Mai for me - Royal Park Rajapruek

The highlight of Chiang Mai for me - Royal Park Rajapruek

Rice planting at Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai 

Rice planting at Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai 

Unforgettable - a day at Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai

Unforgettable - a day at Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai

A great place to stay in Bangkok - the Grand Hyatt Erawan

A great place to stay in Bangkok - the Grand Hyatt Erawan

January snowstorm!

January snowstorm!

Connecticut wedding with some of my amazing extended family

Connecticut wedding with some of my amazing extended family

Work trip to Terranea Resort outside of L.A.

Work trip to Terranea Resort outside of L.A.

Dreamy trip to St. Barth's

Dreamy trip to St. Barth's

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Visiting my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona during orange blossom season!

Visiting my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona during orange blossom season!

Easter Dim Sum with (some of) my siblings + Hayley!

Easter Dim Sum with (some of) my siblings + Hayley!

Work trip to Seattle

Work trip to Seattle

The absolutely stunning Park Hotel Vitznau outside of Lucerne, Switzerland

The absolutely stunning Park Hotel Vitznau outside of Lucerne, Switzerland

Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano, Switzerland

Grand Hotel Tremezzo - Lake Como, Italy

Grand Hotel Tremezzo - Lake Como, Italy

Fell in love with Fire Island - my first time there.

Fell in love with Fire Island - my first time there.

No place makes me feel like this place does - East Hampton, NY 

No place makes me feel like this place does - East Hampton, NY 

Hello New Home - Brooklyn Heights

Hello New Home - Brooklyn Heights

Weekend at my aunt & uncle's lakehouse

Weekend at my aunt & uncle's lakehouse

Recovering in Aspen post-Virtuoso Week 

Recovering in Aspen post-Virtuoso Week 

Aspen

Aspen

My favorite cake in the world - Original Sacher-Torte in Vienna!

My favorite cake in the world - Original Sacher-Torte in Vienna!

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

The beautiful Schloss Fuschl hotel outside of Salzburg, Austria

The beautiful Schloss Fuschl hotel outside of Salzburg, Austria

Will never forget this sunset swim in the lake! 

Will never forget this sunset swim in the lake! 

Sunset in Salzburg

Sunset in Salzburg

Favorite cocktail - Mr. Pink's at the Baccarat Hotel 

Favorite cocktail - Mr. Pink's at the Baccarat Hotel 

Ballet at Lincoln Center 

Ballet at Lincoln Center 

Upper West Side drinks - love our friend's rooftop!! 

Upper West Side drinks - love our friend's rooftop!! 

WOW view from the Rothorn in Switzerland 

WOW view from the Rothorn in Switzerland 

Rainy day view from the amazing Beau-Rivage hotel in Geneva

Rainy day view from the amazing Beau-Rivage hotel in Geneva

Back in Lucerne

Back in Lucerne

Annual fall-in-Connecticut trip with my aunt

Annual fall-in-Connecticut trip with my aunt

Metropolitan Opera

Metropolitan Opera

Fall in NYC

Fall in NYC

The River Cafe - eternally wonderful

The River Cafe - eternally wonderful

Thanksgiving with my family in L.A. - Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica

Thanksgiving with my family in L.A. - Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica

View from the Carlton in Cannes - ILTM! 

View from the Carlton in Cannes - ILTM! 

Beautiful Munich

Beautiful Munich

Family party in Franklin Lakes

Family party in Franklin Lakes

First copies of the new NatGeo book with my foreword

First copies of the new NatGeo book with my foreword

Christmas Day - Art Deco Hotel Montana, Lucerne

Christmas Day - Art Deco Hotel Montana, Lucerne

New favorite place - Lenzerheide, Switzerland

New favorite place - Lenzerheide, Switzerland

Felucca ride, Cairo! 

Felucca ride, Cairo! 

The Egyptian Museum made my heart beat faster.

The Egyptian Museum made my heart beat faster.

Cairo 

Cairo 

New Year's Day 2017 

New Year's Day 2017 

7 Luxury Travel Trends for 2017

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For the past few years, I have attended the International Luxury Travel Mart (ILTM) in Cannes, on the south of France. It sounds super glamorous (and it is) but it's also a lot of work, work I absolutely love. Press talks, interviews, meetings, events, lunches, dinners - see an example of a day of press talks below! I have gotten sick every time afterwards, because I get about three hours of sleep a night. That said, it's amazing. I covered it for National Geographic - 7 Luxury Travel Trends for 2017 - and it was the most popular piece on the site the day it was published! 

Egypt

I just returned from Egypt, a place I have dreamed about since sixth-grade ancient Egypt class. I am so, so glad I went. 

At the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract hotel in Aswan

At the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract hotel in Aswan

Now is the time to go, especially since the Egyptian pound was devalued two months ago (bad for them, great for us - everything is half off in an already inexpensive country). I felt 150% safe the entire time I was there, in a country of friendly, welcoming people that have deeply felt the crush of tourism since the Arab Spring. Travelers are returning, but not fast enough. I feel overwhelmed in the best way by the world's oldest country, where treasures abound. 

I traveled with Abercrombie & Kent, one of my favorite tour operators in the world. They take care of everything, and make it so easy. When I saw the yellow A&K sign at Cairo airport, any nerves I had about the trip disappeared. But, of course, we made the trip what we wanted for us too - going to local restaurants and markets, taking walks, visiting gorgeous hotels, meeting locals, going on felucca rides. And we ALWAYS felt safe. I went to China with A&K (The Wild West of China and Sailing the Yangtze River) a few years ago, on a trip I will never forget - and this one climbs to the top of the list, too. 

I will be writing much more - it is hard to come back from such a trip and jump right back into the chaos of daily life, without time to really think about what I saw and experienced. But I had to post a few photos and start to wrap my head around all of it. 

Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan

Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan

Sailing the Nile on the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV

Sailing the Nile on the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV

Christmas in Munich

I just returned from a couple of days in Munich, after a German National Tourist Board summit. I rediscovered how much I loved this city (it has lately been all about Berlin for me) - it feels like a large village and is especially charming at Christmas. 

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Clockwise, from top left: 

1. The Mandarin Oriental Munich is perfect – best location, fireplace in the cozy little bar where they do afternoon tea, fantastic seafood at Nobu’s Matsuhisa – how many schnitzels before you need a break (for me, it's one)? This is the VIEW from my room. 

2. I am completely obsessed with stollen, a traditional Christmas cake originally from Dresden. I thought that it was a brick-like hunk of glorified fruit cake, something best suited for playing catch. No. It’s fantastic – soft, crumbly, sugary, chewy. It lasts about three months (!) – the Christmas markets sell the original 100-year-old+ Dresden recipe version, but also check out the Kreutzkramm bakery in the center.

3. This is the Seehaus in the Englischer Garten, Munich's Central Park – you can grab beer and a wurst outside, or enjoy “real food” inside. It’s wonderful, it’s packed, it’s fun. The park is the perhaps the best city park I’ve been to – pretty little rivers, a hillside temple, a Japanese teahouse, the Chinese Tower, and watching the surfers on the Eisbach. Pro tip: portions of the park are an “urban naked zone.”

4. My amazing guide from Culture Trip Germany suggested Lehel when I asked for a “real” neighborhood to explore near the center.This is where I stumbled upon Patisserie Dukatz, a perfect little bakery where they sell addictive stollenkonfekt – bite-sized stollen (can you tell stollen is a theme here?). Get coffee or breakfast and watch all the locals line up.

Christmas Markets: Skip Marienplatz but don’t miss these - The Residenz, the Middle Ages market on Wittelsbachplatz and the most romantic one surrounding the Chinese Tower in the Englischer Garten. 

This Magical Place Called Melchsee-Frutt

Chances are if you've been to Switzerland, you have never been to or heard of Melchsee-Frutt, a tiny ski resort 45 minutes from Lucerne. You dream of Gstaad or St. Moritz or Zermatt. But part of the joy of getting to know Switzerland better has been discovering tiny little villages - ones I had no idea existed. For the Swiss, especially those who live in or around Lucerne, Melchsee-Frutt is pretty well-known.

There isn't a lot up here. I think 100 people live here year-round. If you want a buzzing restaurant scene, people decked out in Canada Goose and Prada ski clothes, Chanel storefronts, and glossy magazines breathlessly covering the society of the ski town (hello Aspen - I love you too), this isn't the alpine village for you. 

But. BUT. If you want to truly disconnect (but yes, there is free, fast WiFi), finish that book you've been meaning to finish for months, actually talk to your partner (really talk, about life and plans, and solve long-stewing debates), spend time in a wonderful spa, hike in gorgeous Alpine scenery followed by a hot bowl of soup, and feel your shoulders relax for the first time in months, this is the place for you. 

We stayed at the WONDERFUL Frutt Lodge, where the food is delicious (including the breakfast buffet), and the rooms are sink-into-your-bed worthy. The main lodge is separated from the family-friendly lodge by an underground tunnel.  

Day one was rainy and gross and I still loved it because it meant we didn't really leave Frutt Lodge. We still did a 45-minute walk around the lake in the cold fog. I got a massage, swam in the gorgeous spa pool, read my book at the bar (with Swiss cow bells adorning it), and read some more in the super cozy lobby lounge with a crackling fireplace. 

Day two the sun shone brilliantly and we hiked again, past the picture-perfect church, next to the clear, glassy lake, breathing in that crisp, perfect Alpine air.  

I love so many places in Switzerland, but this feels like a secret. I can't wait to go back. 

  • Tip: You need a car to get here. You can drive all the way up to Melchsee-Frutt and park it in the lot (and you won't use it for the rest of your trip as you can't drive in the village) or park it at the base of the mountain and take the gondola up with your luggage. 
Driving down the mountain, back to Lucerne

Driving down the mountain, back to Lucerne