Jamaican native Carnagie Lee is the man of the hour at Sunset Key Cottages, a seven-minute boat ride from Key West. Look for him and the Conch Cruiser among the 27-acre resort’s homes and residences starting at 3 PM daily.
Favorite feature of the Conch Cruiser? The bell: Everyone knows it means ice cream time.
Estimated cruising speed: A very easygoing three miles per hour.
What are we in for, flavor-wise? Vanilla bean, salted caramel, and chocolate gelato, plus mango and raspberry sorbets. Salted caramel is the most popular.
The scoop on sorbet versus gelato customers: Kids get gelato – they don’t count calories. Adults go for the sorbet; I’m a mango sorbet man.
Occupational hazards: If a pack of kids starts chasing after you, watch out: You could hit a hermit crab.
Worst accident so far: The chain guard came off once, and the chain ate my perfectly white pants.
Number of kids who have requested a ride on the box: Most of them.
Anything you’d like to tell your ice-cream-delivering peers? Speak with a Jamaican accent – people seem to like your ice cream more!
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Today, a walk around San Francisco’s Hayes Valley is bound to lead to a sidewalk café, a hidden coffee shop, or a buzzing new pop-up restaurant. The neighborhood is beloved by discerning city dwellers who come here to shop and sup, while visitors who make it to Hayes often look like they’ve just stumbled in on a secret.
In the phoenix that is Hayes Valley, atmospheric hangouts and hip boutiques rose from the ashes of the destructive 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The quake damaged a 40-foot-tall section of the Central Freeway above Hayes Valley, which, at the time, skewed far more seedy than trendy. After the bridge languished amid a city-planning tug-of-war, it was torn down in 2003, freeing up space for redevelopment and paving the way for one of SF’s most beguiling neighborhoods, a centrally located stretch north of the Mission District and west of SoMa that just keeps getting better. Visitors can’t walk a block without encountering a “Now Open” sign beckoning them into a new space.
“Hayes has a small-town feel in the middle of the city,” says Charles Bililies, the restaurateur behind Souvla, a chic, Hayes Valley Greek space with a cult following. “When I was planning Souvla, I looked at many neighborhoods [before choosing Hayes]; I even moved here nine months before Souvla opened in 2014.”
Here’s where to start your exploration of Hayes Valley:
Where to Eat and Drink
For about a six-block stretch, Hayes Valley is a bastion of global culinary ambition, where restaurants (much like residents) live in historic homes and new condo developments clustered on or around Hayes Street, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare. Dining out is a globe-spinning exercise: Go Greek at Souvla, get your schnitzel fix at the Bavarian Suppenküche, dive into Italian comfort food at recently opened a Mano, dabble with French fare at slick Monsieur Benjamin, or stay local with elevated California prix fixe at Nightbird.
A couple of blocks east at Cala, a modern restaurant in a former sound studio with skylights, a fiddle-leaf fig tree, and a wall of kangaroo vines, chef Gabriela Cámara brings the flavors that helped her grow a following in Mexico City to a vast seafood-focused menu. After dinner, trip it to the tropics with a stop at Smuggler’s Cove, a tiki bar tucked behind a nondescript door, where bartenders whip up rum-centric concoctions such as the Millionaire Cocktail (No. 1) – rum, sloe gin, lime, house-made grenadine, and apricot liqueur. If umbrella drinks aren’t your thing, there’s Biergarten, where picnic tables let locals flirt with collective alfresco-drinking fantasies, but the staff doling out blankets acknowledges the reality of San Francisco’s frequent fog and chill.
Where To Shop
Fiercely protective of its village vibe, Hayes Valley has developed a shopping district that’s practically free of chain stores. Instead, a welcoming array of shops bring a strong eye for style and appealing offerings to the neighborhood. While the selection is wide ranging – from sake boutique True Sake to the Mexican folk-art talismans of Polanco – clothing, home decor, shoes, and sweets are the mainstays here.
Begin your spree at vintage-focused Ver Unica, one of the original Hayes Valley stores, where you’ll likely run into owner Cindy Spade, a muse with Joni Mitchell cheekbones and effortlessly inspiring personal style. Impossibly hip Acrimony stocks cool-girl and -guy pieces, while Welcome Stranger is solely dedicated to the sharp-dressed man. The contemporary design collective Minimal and artisan-focused Maker & Moss are like candy stores for designophiles, but when it’s time to satisfy a literal sweet tooth, head to Miette for cupcakes, cookies, and tarts; and Chantal Guillon for macarons.
See & Do
San Francisco possesses plenty of landmarks (hello, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz), but mostly due to its size, Hayes trades monuments for cozy public spaces. At Patricia’s Green park, created after the freeway was torn down, locals commandeer tables for meetups and chess matches, dogs carouse on the lovely lawn, and street fairs and public art make frequent appearances. Adjacent is Proxy, an ever-evolving open-air space that throws alfresco movie nights and block parties, and hosts coffee, ice cream, and beer pop-ups. Just around the corner is the sophisticated SFJazz Center, where, at sleek new restaurant B-Side, charred chive blossoms, hominy posole, and piquant cocktails play like crowd-pleasing openers to the night’s jazz-heavyweight headliner.
For larger-scale sightseeing, head to the neighboring Civic Center, home to the War Memorial Opera House (where the city’s opera and ballet companies split stage time), the San Francisco Symphony, and Herbst Theatre. A 15-minute stroll west leads to Alamo Square Park, bordered on the east by the Painted Ladies (aka Postcard Row), seven pastel-hued sister houses made famous by the opening credits of Full House, now one of the city’s most photographed scenes. Instagram-op scored, return to Hayes Valley to soak in the village scene – a glass of rosé in hand.
“Before dinner, grab a glass of wine at Hotel Biron, a secret wine bar tucked away on a dark alley off Market Street – trust me!” – Courtney Regan, Virtuoso advisor, San Francisco
Where To Sleep
Ever since it survived the city’s 1906 earthquake, the Fairmont San Francisco on Nob Hill has been a classic SF institution, with its marble-wrapped lobby and 592 sumptuous guest rooms. Don’t miss a visit to the Tonga Room – the 72-year-old holdover from the tropical-tinged days of Hawaii-mania is one of the country’s original tiki bars, complete with dangerous drinks, pupu platters, and waiters in festive shirts.
The Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel houses one of the city’s most breathtaking spaces, The Garden Court dining room and atrium, where Saturday afternoon tea is a San Francisco rite of passage. Beyond the restaurant, 556 revamped rooms feature 11-foot ceilings and marble baths, and swimmers can log laps beneath a glass dome in the indoor pool.
Downtown’s Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, a quick walk from Union Square, feels more like an urban residence than a big-city hotel, with 277 modern rooms, coastal fare at MKT Restaurant – Bar, and complimentary guest access to the adjacent Equinox Sports Club.
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In Prague, suds rise with the sun: The Czech passion for beer amounts to the most per capita in the world – a full 142 liters (38 gallons) per person a year. That’s 40 liters more than Germany and 65 more than the United States. Morning, noon, or night, it’s perfectly acceptable to fill a raise a glass free of judgement. In nice weather, these eight beer gardens pour some of the Czech Republic’s finest.
1. Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden
This former royal vineyard on a hill east of the main train station is now the main playground for young, cool professionals and expats of the surrounding Vinohrady and Žižkov neighborhoods. At the center of the wide lawns, cobbled promenades, and shady chestnut trees, one of Prague’s largest beer gardens welcomes up to 1,000 people and shows sports on large screens. Tip: If it’s too packed, head to the smaller garden, Mlíkárna, about 250 yards away next to a sloping lawn with the city’s best sunset views.
2. Letná Beer Garden
Where the Vltava River turns east at the north end of Prague, the land rises to the plateau of Letná Park; nearly a million people gathered here during the Velvet Revolution to protest the communist regime. Far more tranquil nowadays, the park claims the most attention for its leafy beer garden with sweeping city panoramas.
A Communist-era slab of intersecting hexagons in Náměstí Republiky, T-Anker was Czechoslovakia’s largest shopping center when it opened in the 1970s. Today, it’s considered a wretched eyesore by some, and a work of beauty by others. No one debates the view from the beer garden up top, however, which overlooks Old Town’s towers, steeples, and terracotta roofs and serves nine rotating microbrews (many local) such as Cvikov, Matuška, and Nová Sladovna.
4. Strahov Monastery
As in so many other parts of Europe, Bohemia’s beer-making tradition owes much to monks: those at Strahov Monastery perfected their brews between the thirteenth and twentieth centuries until they were evicted by the communist regime. After the Velvet Revolution, the monks returned to their home just west of Prague castle and resumed progress. Head here to sample any of 10 varieties of Saint Norbert beer at long tables in the brewery courtyard.
5. Hospůdka Na Hradbách
Prague’s secondary hilltop castle, Vyšehrad, anchors the south end of the Vltava River. The eighteenth-century fortress contains ruins going back to the Middle Ages, as well as the Czech Republic’s most important and beautiful cemetery, where national heroes like Antonín Dvořák, Alphonse Mucha, and Jan Neruda rest in peace. The rampart’s panoramic views of Prague are best savored with cold beer at the beer garden atop the easternmost bastion.
6. Tiskárna na Vzduchu
It’s never a dull evening at this beer garden and performance venue on the eastern edge of the city’s largest park, Stromovka, once the royal hunting ground of Holy Roman Emperors. An eclectic nightly schedule brings everything from dance and yoga classes to album release parties, movie screenings, and live music, which, together with taps from Czech microbrewers Polička and Únětická, keep everyone on their toes.
7. Augustine Hotel
This cluster of seven buildings from the thirteenth-century cloisters of Saint Thomas now serves well-off travelers, but the Augustine‘s interior courtyard and garden are open to the public (a little-known secret), where you can sip dark St. Thomas beer beneath a shaded arcade or among medieval ruins. Although it’s no longer brewed on the premises by monks, the original recipe was passed on to Pivovar Matuška, which produces it today.
8. Náplavka Riverbank
Stretching nearly a mile along the east riverbank between Vyšehrad and Šítkov Water Tower, this pedestrian path is loved by joggers, cyclists, and dog walkers in the morning. By late afternoon it transforms into the city’s largest unofficial beer garden, where locals relax with craft brews at any of several kiosks with small patios along the route or on one of the floating beer boats moored to the bank.
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Our associate art director, Korena Bolding Sinnett, found the perfect striped shirt, and we had to share.
“The Kule striped shirts are perfectly luxe-thick. They’re going to be one of my all-time favorite travel staples. I found this interview with designer and owner Nikki Kule – she wore stripes every time she traveled. I love their branding and, as she says in the interview, the shirts are produced at an all-female factory in Portugal. I bought mine at Barneys. I’d say the fit runs a bit on the small side – order one size up unless you like your shirts super fitted.”
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Summer’s still in session, but fall is calling. Where to head for a long weekend after Labor Day? Virtuoso travel advisors share their top spots.
SOUTHWEST COLORADO “For fantastic fall colors, I recommend the remote Dunton Hot Springs resort. A renovated ghost town in the San Juan Mountains, it features hand-built cabins filled with historic artifacts and luxe furnishings. Hike, horseback ride, fly-fish in the Dolores River, or just chill out in the springs under the stars or in the restored nineteenth-century bathhouse.” – Chad Clark, travel advisor, Phoenix, Arizona
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA “Whistler is beautiful in September and October. Stay in a mountain-view suite at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler, bike to Alta Lake, and hit the greens at Nicklaus North Golf Course. Be sure to ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to the top of Blackcomb Mountain for panoramic views at Christine’s restaurant.” – Lorraine Stobbe, travel advisor, Vancouver, British Columbia
HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA “Only 90 minutes north of San Francisco, this stylish town is surrounded by several excellent wine appellations; autumn is an exciting time to visit, with plenty of vineyard harvest activity. Must-taste wineries include Copain, Littorai, and Kistler. Just minutes from Healdsburg Plaza, Farmhouse Inn offers wine tours and rides into town in its new Tesla Model X.” – Michelle Murré, travel advisor, San Francisco
ATLANTA, GEORGIA “In the South, college football isn’t life or death – it’s more important than that. This season is extra special, as rivals Florida State and Alabama will square off in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 2. Virtuoso-preferred partner EliteAxis has access to tickets, and the Buckhead area boasts four Virtuoso-preferred hotels.” – Damien Martin, travel advisor, Overland Park, Kansas
COASTAL RHODE ISLAND “Autumn is the ideal time for a New England beach vacation: no crowds, nice weather, and all that seafood, especially in Rhode Island – think lobster, stuffed quahogs (clams), and creamy ‘chowda.’ Overlooking a beautiful beach, the Relais & Châteaux Ocean House hotel in Watch Hill is the place to see and be seen.” – Fran Kramer, travel advisor, Rochester, New York
The post Advisor Favorites: 5 Autumn Escapes appeared first on The Virtuoso Life.
Why You Should Care: Every year, thousands of Virtuoso travel advisors descend upon Las Vegas to shop for the upcoming year of travel. What does that mean? We like to compare it to fashion week runway shows, where the likes of Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Dior present next season’s looks. Here, Virtuoso travel partners – including hotels, cruise lines, and tour operators – fly in from around the world to talk about what’s new in the world of travel.
After a star-studded opening session, Virtuoso advisors spent the week meeting with travel professionals from all over the world. A total of 5,670 attendees from 103 countries conducted more than 327,000 one-on-one meetings (the equivalent of 2.9 years!) throughout the week, discovering what’s new with hotels, cruise lines, airlines, and destinations around the world.
Another highlight of the week: The Wednesday night Hotels & Resorts Dinner, where Virtuoso announced the winners of our Best of the Best hotel awards. See the full list of winners, including Hotel of the Year, Best Dining Experience, and Best Wellness program.
Here are some of our favorite travel finds from the week:
Lindblad Expeditions’ new ship, Quest, launched this month in Alaska; another new ship, Venture, is set to arrive in June 2018. Also new: a partnership with Exhale Spa on sailings around Espiritu Santo in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Cruises will offer beach yoga, snorkeling, and kayaking, plus onboard Exhale Spa experiences such as yoga and Pilates. They have also launched the National Geographic Global Explorers program, starting in the Galápagos, where kids have the opportunity to shadow National Geographic photographers, engage in discussions, take classes, and more.
Quark Expeditions will launch their most stylish, luxurious ship yet, the World Explorer, in December 2018. The company’s innovative itineraries include the North Pole; the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, a camp 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle where you can watch thousands of beluga whales nursing their babies and frolicking in the water; and the North Pole Express, a chance to fly from Norway to the Barneo Ice Camp and the North Pole for one night, landing on a runway made of ice.
Plus, 26 reasons to take an expedition cruise.
The typical Greece itinerary for Eclectic Greece by Kyvernitis Travel includes Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and occasionally Crete. But the Virtuoso tour connection mentioned two islands growing in popularity for visitors: Naxos, where Anthony Bourdain recently explored, and Paros.
Swiss Travel, a Virtuoso on-site connection in Costa Rica, cited more requests for voluntourism in the country, a way to combine vacation with social work. It’s especially popular for families and multigenerational groups. Still, the number one requested activity is zip-lining.
You can see the fjords of Norway by boat, but Virtuoso tour connection Norwegian Adventures As recommends a road trip to get up-close to the stunning fjords. Also on the trip: visiting the undiscovered small villages and farmhouses of western Norway.
Abercrombie & Kent Australia says the Kimberley region of Western Australia is a hot spot for American travelers who want to see untouched landscape. The region is the same size as Illinois, but only about 50,000 people live there.
The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is a unique stop in the city, with thousands of pairs of shoes (plus Napoleon’s silk socks) on display, spanning centuries and civilizations, plus celebrity footwear worn by Princess Diana, John Lennon, and Robert Redford.
Perhaps the most anticipated hotel reopening of the year is Rosewood’s Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, unveiled in July after a four-year renovation. Occupying one of Paris’ most dramatic, historic positions on the Place de la Concorde, the hotel’s new signature suites – including Suite Marie-Antoinette and Suite Bernstein – are especially stunning. Save some room in your suitcase: Every room includes a “salon-grade hairdryer.”
Half Moon in Jamaica’s Montego Bay is undergoing a $75 million renovation, adding two restaurants, three bars, and 57 new rooms and suites (which will replace 44 old ones). The Half Moon Equestrian Centre continues to be very popular, offering rides and swimming with horses.
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes’ claim to fame is that it is “minutes from the magic, miles from the madness” of Walt Disney World. The resort’s new seaplane (which launched in June 2017) takes guests on a 30-minute sightseeing tour to lakes on property and nearby natural surroundings.
Normandy’s Chateau d’Audrieu, built in 1715, just underwent a total renovation, taking it back to eighteenth-century style with all the creature comforts of today. Stay in a castle room or suite, or climb up to the luxury tree house perched near the property for garden views.
Top Photo: (Naxos, Greece; Getty Images/BIM)
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