Category Archives: Destinations

Alaska Airlines expands First Class and main cabin meals, snacks and drinks, offering the most comprehensive onboard food and beverage program of any U.S. airline

Guests in all cabins can now leverage our industry leading pre-order functionality to select meals and snacks and store payment for convenient onboard purchases

As more of our guests fly again, Alaska Airlines is thoughtfully and safely expanding food and beverage service on our flights, part of a process that started earlier this year. With our reinvigorated service, we’re now offering an expanded selection of freshly prepared, West Coast inspired First Class meals on all flights more than 670 miles and hot meals on flights longer than 1,100 miles. Premium Class and main cabin guests can pre-order freshly prepared wraps or our famous Fruit and Cheese platter on all flights over 1,100 miles and packaged snacks on shorter flights. A full beverage service including Starbucks Coffee, Teavana Tea, individual cans of soda, craft beer West Coast wines and premium spirits are available in all cabins on flights more than 400 miles.

Alaska Airlines’ Signature Fruit and Cheese Platter.

“We’re excited to welcome our guests back on board and want them to have a great experience with us,” said Todd Traynor-Corey, managing director of guest products at Alaska Airlines. “We’ve put a lot of thought and planning into safely adding additional food and beverage service on our flights, while getting back to fresh and local menu items that our guests love.” 

Enhancements to our food and beverage service include:

  • Expanded hot meal options in First Class during breakfast, lunch and dinner service on mainline flights longer than 1,100 miles. New seasonal entrees include Guajillo Chile-Lime Salad with ancient grains, roasted broccoli and sweet potato with a roasted lemon crema, and Miso Marinated Cod with sesame garlic farro, sauteed yu choy, bell peppers and shitake mushrooms in a sesame-miso butter sauce. Guests can choose from three menu selections on all meal flights.
  • Full tray service in First Class – including Schoenwald porcelain and compostable linen and silverware – has resumed on routes longer than 670 miles.
  • We offer a full selection of alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages available in all cabins with multiple cart services on flights more than 1,100 miles. We feature craft beer by Fremont Brewing, and as a new summer beer option we’re serving Kona Longboard Island Lager on board. Plus, we serve West Coast wines curated exclusively for us from Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles, California, and Canoe Ridge Vineyard in Columbia Valley, Washington.
  • We make pre-ordering easy so our guests can rest assured they’ll get their favorites. With our industry leading pre-order program, selecting First Class and main cabin meals from our mobile app can happen two weeks before a flight and up to one hour prior to departure. That includes pre-ordering our popular Fruit and Cheese Platter.
  • On our shorter flights between 670-1,099 miles, we’ve added more snacks. We’ve brought back our popular Northwest Deli Picnic Pack which includes Deep River potato chips, Old Wisconsin Turkey Stick, Madi K’s Whole Natural Almonds, Gilman White Cheddar Cheese Stick and Mandy’s Dark Chocolate Cookie Thins. The picnic packs can be pre-ordered up to one hour before departure and can also be purchased on board with a credit card or stored form of payment.
  • In First Class, guests are treated to a fully recyclable, box-shaped carton of water, sealed with a plant-based cap. Each Boxed Water carton is made from sustainably harvested trees and the multi-filtered water goes through a proprietary eight-step purification – giving it a clean, crisp taste.
Alaska Airlines’ Marinated Miso Cod entrée.

Safety will always remain our top consideration on board. We’re partnering closely with epidemiologists and our internal safety experts as we implement new food and beverage service on our flights. We’ll continue to enforce the federal mandate requiring our guests to wear masks over their nose and mouth during travel. Guests can briefly lift their masks for eating and drinking. Our mantra: “After you sip or snack, please put your mask back.” 

Get the latest on our food and beverage offerings in the Food and Beverage section of  

Alaska is the newest member of the oneworld global alliance. With oneworld and our additional airline partners, guests can fly to as many as 1,000 destinations around the world. Flyers can also earn and redeem miles with our highly-acclaimed Mileage Plan program to fly on more than 20 oneworld and airline partners.

San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel Welcomes Holidaymakers Back to Sicily

The storied hotel is now flying a Four Seasons flag, with beautifully restored spaces filled with historic details, a stunning clifftop infinity pool, world-class dining, signature Four Seasons service and only-in-Sicily experiences

Just in time for the much-anticipated return of the high season in southern Italy, a landmark hotel is debuting a fresh new look and an invitation to experience it all.  San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel is now open. Slideshow at bottom of article.

The legendary San Domenico Palace was already very well known to us at Four Seasons,” notes Christian Clerc, President, Global Operations.  “It is an exceptional property in every way, and we are honoured to have been chosen once again by our owner-partners Gruppo Statuto to manage such an important property, and to add to our growing collection of transformed historic hotels in Italy and around the Mediterranean.”

With spectacular views in every direction, San Domenico Palace is uniquely situated between the majesty of Mount Etna above, the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea below, and the beautiful south-eastern coast of Sicily as far as the eye can see.

“Everything past guests have always loved about San Domenico Palace has been restored, with familiar faces and vistas at every turn,” says General Manager Lorenzo Maraviglia, who has returned to his home country following years abroad to introduce Four Seasons to Sicily for the first time. 

“It’s been a meticulous evolution that honours the site’s past while elevating every aspect to a new level of personalised service, extraordinary experiences, and the opportunity to create memories to last a lifetime. We are incredibly grateful to Gruppo Statuto for their investment and proud of the fact that it’s an Italian company that undertook this massive renovation project using only local craftspeople. This is Italy at its best.”

Bentornati : Welcome Back

With just 111 guest rooms and suites, the atmosphere is intimate, as though returning to a treasured friend’s seaside home each year.  The most coveted room is the Royal Suite, with principal rooms all opening onto a large terrace and plunge pool with views of Mount Etna, the ancient Greek Theatre and the Ionian Sea.  Terraces are lined with glass for infinity views, and in all, there are 19 rooms with private plunge pools.

Built on the site of a 14th century Dominican convent, the San Domenico Hotel first came to life in 1896 with the addition of a new building in Italian Liberty style (today’s Grand Hotel Wing) adjacent to accommodations converted from former quarters in the Ancient Convent Wing.  It soon became a highlight on the Grand Tour, favoured by royalty and nobility and increasingly, a colourful cast of artists, writers and Hollywood stars.  Set amid lush gardens reimagined by acclaimed Italian landscape architect Marco Bay with sweeping sea views, the Hotel pairs contemporary art with antiquities and architectural relics throughout.

This Summer in Sicily

Travellers will find that most of Sicily has reopened, from the designer shops and charming outdoor trattorias in the town of Taormina to artistic venues such as the steps-away ancient Greek Theatre, where a full calendar of musical performances are planned throughout summer. Beach clubs are open, with guests of Four Seasons receiving special access to one of the most popular clubs.  The concierge team is happy to offer recommendations or arrange bespoke itineraries for guests who wish to explore, including wine tastings, scenic hikes, architecture and history tours, and boat excursions to the famous Grotta Azzura of Isola Bella with a chef-prepared picnic spread to enjoy along the way.

“We’ve also created a number of very special experiences for our guests, including day-long helicopter and yacht tours of the fascinating Aeolian Islands north of Sicily, including Panarea, Stromboli and Salina,” says Assistant Chef Concierge Roberta Maria Cariola.  “Within the Hotel, our Art Concierge will take guests on a journey through 700 years of art, architecture and fascinating stories.  Our Sala della Grande Madia, the former convent’s refectory, is now a gallery displaying San Domenico’s most important treasures.”

More to look forward to:   San Domenico Palace opens annually from April through to the end of October, with spring and fall offering milder weather and fewer crowds.

“The annual wine harvest on the Etna is always cause for celebration, and our concierge team can arrange opportunities for guests to join in the fun,” says Roberta.  “In addition to trekking on Mount Etna, we recommend spring as the ideal time to explore other towns along the coast.  In the port city of Catania, food lovers won’t want to miss the weekly fish market and the surrounding seafood restaurants.  Further down the coast, Syracuse is known for its ancient ruins, with the Archaeological Park Neapolis in the centre of town being a great place to start.  Another lovely day trip – don’t worry, we’ll pack a lunch for you! – is Noto, with its historic palaces and Baroque cathedral.”

Buon Appetito: San Domenico Palace as a Culinary Destination

The rebirth of the San Domenico Palace also heralds the return of Principe Cerami to Sicily’s thriving culinary and viticulture scene, where Executive Chef Massimo Mantarro’s menu is inspired by the very land where he grew up on the slope of Mount Etna.  True to his roots but always experimenting, Chef Massimo’s genius can be savoured best in his #FSMasterdish, pasta e seppia.  This clever combination of fresh ingredients marries sea and earth in marinated cuttlefish tagliatelle perched atop homemade spaghetti with cuttlefish ink afloat courgette blossom fondue. Paired with a glass of local wine selected by Head Sommelier Alessandro Malfitana, it’s Sicily on a plate.

Additional dining experiences include Rosso, where a large terrace affords panoramic views of Mount Etna and Taormina Bay as a setting to enjoy local specialties and international classics; and the poolside Anciovi, where the menu celebrates the bounty of the sea, and where creative cocktails can be enjoyed long after the sun goes down.  In the garden setting of Bar & Chiostro, drinks are best paired with light fare, including the must-try pennette served in the local “Norma” style with aubergine and ricotta cheese.

Not to be missed are the exquisite creations of Chef de Patisserie Vincenzo Abagnale, who joins Four Seasons following four years with Chef Mauro Colagreco at three Michelin-starred Mirazur in France, that was ranked #1 on the list of World’s Best Restaurants in 2019.

Memorable Events at Four Seasons

In the captivating setting that combines hundreds of years of history with the drama of an active volcano, events at San Domenico Palace are always memorable.  Now, with the expert touch of Four Seasons event planners and the catering team, it’s a fantastic choice for inspired corporate retreats, fairy-tale weddings or simply gathering family and friends for a much-needed reunion in the sun.

More than 1,700 square metres (18,300 square feet) of indoor-outdoor event spaces can be tailored for gatherings from a dozen to several hundred guests. Wedding couples, event hosts and meeting planners are invited to contact to beginning planning.

Join Us in Continuing to Write the Story of San Domenico Palace

In celebration of its rebirth as a Four Seasons experience, the Hotel is presenting several exceptional offers, including the Sicilian Indulgence package, which features luxurious accommodations, daily breakfast and a six-course tasting menu for two by Chef Massimo Mantarro himself.  Additional packages can also be booked online or by calling +39 0942 613111.

Insider Tip:   Consider booking ahead for 2022 to secure a room during the famed Taormina Film Festival, or the always-popular Taormina Book Festival, both taking place in early summer each year.

Follow and share @FSTaormina.

About Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts opened its first hotel in 1961, and since that time has been dedicated to perfecting the travel experience through continual innovation and the highest standards of hospitality. Currently operating 120 hotels and resorts, and 45 residential properties in major city centres and resort destinations in 47 countries, and with more than 50 projects under planning or development, Four Seasons consistently ranks among the world’s best hotels and most prestigious brands in reader polls, traveller reviews and industry awards. For more information and reservations, visit For the latest news, visit and follow @FourSeasonsPR on Twitter.

Hurtigruten Expeditions continues expansion: Introduces exclusive Galapagos expedition cruises

Hurtigruten Expeditions enters into a long-term strategic partnership with Metropolitan Touring; Fully upgrades and refurbishes ship

Hurtigruten Expeditions, the world leader in exploration travel, is expanding its global offering to one of the most iconic destinations on the planet: The Galapagos Islands.

Famous for its unique nature and wildlife, the isolated archipelago some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador has mesmerized travelers and scientists for centuries. From January 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions will expand its breadth of destinations to include the Galapagos Islands offering modern-day explorers in-depth adventures described as ‘beyond imagination’.

“We are extremely excited to expand our South America offering to one of the most spectacular destinations on the planet. We have seen a clear trend of travelers seeking out truly unique and meaningful travel experiences, with a sharp increase in demand for the type of small ships / big experiences we offer. The pandemic has dramatically pushed this development forward. There is huge pent-up demand for traveling right now, and we are responding with this breathtaking new destination,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

To offer guests one-of-a-kind experiences, Hurtigruten Expeditions has entered into a long-term strategic partnership with Ecuador-based Metropolitan Touring, the most experienced and renowned  travel company in the Galapagos.

Guests will explore the Galapagos in style and comfort onboard the MS Santa Cruz II.

Guests will explore the Galapagos in style and comfort onboard the fully upgraded 90-guest MS Santa Cruz II, adding to Hurtigruten Expeditions’ growing fleet of small purpose-built expedition cruise ships.

“This partnership brings together two companies that combine the best of two worlds: Hurtigruten Expeditions as a global player with an excellent reputation in expedition cruises, and our long history and deep knowledge of the Galapagos Islands. We are really excited to welcome the first Hurtigruten Expeditions’ guests on board,” said Metropolitan Touring CEO Paulina Burbano de Lara.

Metropolitan Touring has offered intimate and unique encounters with the islands’ wildlife since they pioneered expedition cruises in Galapagos almost 70 years ago. Hurtigruten Expeditions pioneered expedition cruises in 1896 and has since grown to the world’s largest expedition cruise line.

“This is a significant milestone in our 125-year history of exploring. The Galapagos is one of the world’s ultimate expedition cruise destinations. It is a perfect match between two companies with a proud history, strong heritage, and passion for the well-being of our oceans and our planet,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen. 

Beyond imagination 
Starting from January 5, 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions will offer nine-day adventures, visiting some of the most spectacular and iconic sites of the archipelago onboard MS Santa Cruz II, as well as two nights in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito before the six-night cruise. The package also includes a full-day visit to the Cotopaxi National Park, home to the Cotopaxi volcano, the highest active volcano in South America. It is also possible to add a four-day pre-program to Machu Picchu in neighboring Peru before embarking on the Galapagos adventure. To book, please visit, call 866.662.0371 or contact your preferred travel agent.

As part of the partnership, the MS Santa Cruz II – including all suites and cabins, explorer lounge, dining room, bar, and other public areas – will be fully upgraded. A Hurtigruten Expeditions hallmark, a Science Area, will also be added, where guests and the onboard expedition team will create an even deeper understanding of the wonders they explore.

“Our unmatched experience in the Galapagos has enabled us to design and perfect the ideal way to explore the archipelago. Our itineraries are based on the concept of seeing as many of the ‘Big 15’ species as possible, with exclusive island and site visits. There really is no better way to see the islands,” said de Lara.

With both companies sharing common values in investing in sustainability, all Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises to Galapagos are carbon neutral. Hurtigruten Expeditions guests will contribute directly to the protection of biodiverse forests in northwestern Ecuador, named a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2018.

“The Galapagos has long been regarded as one of the world’s greatest natural sanctuaries. It’s wild, isolated, diverse, and safe. As in all destinations, we will be working closely with local communities to ensure we play a positive role in long-term sustainability,” said Lassesen.

Cruise highlights include exploring the Giant Tortoise breeding center, getting close to sea lions and land iguanas, bird watching, kayaking, and snorkeling, as well as daily lectures to better understand the islands, their history, and animal population both above and below the sea. Overall, the Galapagos is home to more than 9,000 species of wildlife, many of which are native only to the remote archipelago.

Secret Atlas Launches Private, Sustainable Small Ship Luxury Expeditions To Greenland and Iceland

 Secret Atlas, the home of small ship voyages to remote areas of the Arctic, announces the addition of two new luxury expeditions to Iceland and Greenland for Summer and Fall 2021. Renowned for private luxury charters, group adventure expeditions, and photography tours of no more than twelve passengers aboard a fully-crewed vessel, Secret Atlas offers a highly personalized and transformative travel experience. The new restriction-free chartered expeditions to the majestic wilderness of Iceland and Greenland fully embody the mission of Secret Atlas: to revive the lost spirit of exploration.

photo courtesy of Secret Atlas

Secret Atlas was created by two passionate explorers and conservationists intent on making Arctic travel more personal and more sustainable. Allowing for deep exploration of areas that are otherwise inaccessible, Secret Atlas brings travelers closer to nature with a lower impact on wildlife and natural habitats.

“We live in a fast-paced world, and we are forgetting how to live in close contact with nature and the elements … we are forgetting how to be adventurous,” remarks Secret Atlas co-founder Michele D’Agostino. “With Secret Atlas, we aim to share our love of the great beauty of the polar region with our intent for more mindful travel to provide a much richer travel experience.”

See Slideshow below


Secret Atlas expeditions to Iceland and Greenland offer safe, restriction-free travel for those in search of a transformative travel experience. Embark on a privately chartered small ship voyage to explore the majesty of Iceland or Greenland. Step aboard the MV Balto, a luxury expedition vessel crewed by a team of experts with decades of experience safely navigating Arctic waters. The vessel features spacious cabins with mahogany-paneled interiors, en-suite bathrooms, sauna, full bar, library, and dining room with meals prepared on-board by a private chef.

EAST GREENLAND: The Forbidden Coast Private Expedition

Experience a truly authentic wilderness expedition to the seldom visited coast of East Greenland on a safe, luxury expedition yacht. Cross the Denmark Strait to reach the virtually uninhabited east coast of Greenland, exploring Scoresby Sound, the longest fjord system on earth. Sailing on Zodiac landing crafts to explore and hike ashore, visit remote Greenland settlements and witness the mystical scenery featuring cathedral-sized icebergs led by an expedition leader who will take you on a real expedition.

ICELAND EXPLORER: The Land of Fire and Ice Bespoke Private Expedition

Experience Iceland’s untamed wilderness from the safety of your own private luxury expedition yacht for up to 12 guests. Explore Iceland’s remote scenic West Fjords, sailing on Zodiac landing crafts to hike ashore in the stunning natural wilderness of Hornstrandir nature reserve. Visit remote fishing villages, submerge in therapeutic volcanic hot springs, and visit Fagradalsfjall, Iceland’s newest active volcano.

For bookings and further  information, please contact and visit


Secret Atlas is the home of small ship voyages that explore the world’s most remote locations in the Arctic, including Svalbard, Greenland, and Antarctica. Created by veteran explorers devoted to sustainability and slow travel, the bespoke small group adventures of Secret Atlas provide voyagers a truly experiential view of nature, while minimizing the impact on wildlife and the environment. Secret Atlas specializes in highly customizable expedition micro-cruises, photo tours, and luxury voyages aboard a fully staffed private vessel that can accommodate up to twelve guests. For those in search of the adventure of a lifetime, Secret Atlas delivers a transformational travel experience that revives the lost spirit of exploration.

For bookings and further  information, please contact and visit

Encore At Wynn Las Vegas Introduces Dog-Friendly Resort Program

Luxury Resort Now Offers Five-Star Service For Four-Legged Guests Featuring Exclusive Array Of Puppy Pampering Amenities

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas is extending its renowned level of luxury service to canine clientele with the launch of a new dog-friendly resort program. BeginningJune 3rd, guests of Encore can enjoy their stay in any room or suite with up to two furry friends, and indulge in exclusive amenities that meet the needs of this new breed of resort VIPs – Very Important Puppies.

Pampering begins at check-in with a complimentary doggy bag of welcome gifts that includes a fetching Wynn-logoed neckerchief, fun toy for playtime, and an all-natural dog treat. To keep puppy busy and feel more at home during times the owner may be occupied, guests can work with Encore’s Concierge team to arrange a schedule of dog walking or sitting services.

Bone Appetite, the new room service doggy dining menu, elevates canine cuisine to an artform. In addition to a selection of snacks and dessert, guests can choose from several meat, fish, and vegetable dishes to satisfy discerning puppy palettes. Highlights include the Best In Show, with lamb, steamed potatoes, and squash; Healthy Bites, with seared salmon, green beans, and brown rice; and the Puppy Patty, with Black Angus beef, broccoli, and farro.

Guests are encouraged to tag social media posts of their dogs at the resort with #WagForWynn for a chance to be featured on Wynn Las Vegas’ social media accounts.

Every day can feel like a vacation at home with a new collection of doggy clothing and accessories available for purchase exclusively at the resort. The fun and functional Wynn-branded line features essential items like leashes, collars, blankets, and bowls; to the more extravagant like hoodies, a pet tee pee, and champagne bottle chew toy. At the center of the collection is a perfectly puppy-sized Wynn Resorts signature robe. A guest favorite for its silky soft fabric and ultra-plush comfort, the doggy version is an exact replica of its human-sized counterpart, and is sure to become a collector’s item.

For more information including nightly fees based on room type, fees for additional amenities, weight restrictions and other policies, and frequently asked questions, please visit Pet Policy

Please take a moment to browse the video and tiled gallery below.

The Morgan Resort & Spa, St. Maarten’s Newest Luxury Boutique Hotel

Stay steps away from St. Maarten’s famous Maho Beach, Sunset Beach Bar and St. Maarten Princess Juliana Airport

The island of St. Maarten is world renowned for its beautiful beaches, festive nightlife and epicurean experiences galore. With last week’s grand opening of The Morgan Resort & Spa, travelers now have another great reason to visit the destination, just in time for summer.

The newest five-star luxury boutique hotel in St. Maarten, The Morgan Resort & Spa is minutes away from famous Maho Beach, Sunset Beach Bar and the most photographed airport in the world, the Princess Juliana Airport, where guests can watch large and small aircraft glide into the runway at heights so low they can practically touch them.  Guests will also appreciate the close proximity of The Morgan Resort & Spa to Maho Village, with exhilarating watersports, recreational activities, casino gaming, upscale shopping, dining and entertainment. 

“We are thrilled to introduce St. Maarten’s newest luxury boutique hotel and welcome guests as they enjoy a summer vacation like no other,” said Stewart Weiner, COO of The Morgan Resort & Spa. “Watching the property come together over the past few years, I find myself more excited every day for the amazing experiences our guests will enjoy, whether they are visiting for business or pleasure.”

The 124 ultra-contemporary guestrooms and suites feature private exterior entrances and balconies or terraces, and are furnished with chic, modern furniture and nautically inspired accents and artwork. Guests will enjoy bright, airy rooms with pillow top bedding, luxury spa-style bathrooms with glass walk-in showers, intuitive technology including 55-inch flat-screen televisions, iHome docking stations and free Wi-Fi, and top-of-the-line amenities.

Other amenities guests will enjoy at The Morgan Resort & Spa include:

  • The intimate Salt Restaurant + Bar, helmed by executive chef David Seeman and consultant chef, Afro Caribbean cuisine expert and renowned “Top Chef” competitor Ron Duprat. Guests will be treated to the finest French Caribbean cuisine in the world for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with bold flavors, healthy dishes and seafood fresh from the Caribbean waters. Expertly crafted cocktails and an impressive selection of rum flights complement the dining experience.
  • beach-style infinity-edge pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea, featuring a waterfall, slide, grotto cave, underwater music system and the Bar M Pool Bar, a swim-up bar with a blackjack table. Private poolside cabanas are conveniently located nearby.
  • Rooftop Observation Deck offering 360-degree unobstructed views of the jets landing at Princess Juliana Airport for unparalleled plane-spotting opportunities.
  •  Four distinctive indoor and outdoor wedding and event venues including an outdoor banquet tent with a gazebo on the Great Lawn, poolside at The Patio, and the Rooftop Observation Deck.
  • A 24-hour state-of-the-art HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) fitness center.
  • A full-service salon and spa featuring a hair and nail salon, wet and dry sauna and treatment rooms for massages and other services (scheduled to open Fall 2021).
  • A variety of on-site activities and special events for guests of all ages, including water aerobics, morning yoga, volleyball, bocce, badminton, croquet, cooking classes, happy hour specials, wine and rum tastings, Sunday brunch, Caribbean BBQ nights, live bands and DJs, and more.

The Morgan Resort & Spa was designed by award-winning interior architectural design firm DiLeonardo. Simple, clean and modern materials and textures blend seamlessly into the island’s breathtaking scenery, with natural wood tones and sleek interiors featuring cool blues and whites. The lobby’s light, airy space features comfortable and casual flexible seating and large ceiling fans that contribute to a never-ending flow of air and warm ocean breezes.

The beach-style infinity-edge pool was designed by local architectural firm DAM Caribbean.

“It has been a challenging year for the tourism industry with the Covid-19 pandemic impacting all hotels worldwide,” said Ray Sidhom, Chairman, The Morgan Resort & Spa. “We are confident that travelers will return to St. Maarten and are thrilled to offer them a premium five-star accommodation and experience.”

Covid-19 safety protocols and procedures are enforced throughout The Morgan Resort & Spa, with high operational standards developed according to the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization and local guidelines. To ensure the continued health, safety and security of guests, team members and partners, the resort has implemented the “SAFESEAL – Clean Standard Seal Certification Program” devised by expert medical and occupational safety professionals and endorsed by the St. Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor and the Ministry of Tourism. More health and safety details can be found here at The Morgan Resort Covid 19 Health and Saftey.

Nightly rates start at $199 plus taxes and fees. For more information or to make a reservation, visit or call 1-833-9-MORGAN.

5 Amazing West Mexico Vacation Destinations

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

 1MAIN...HC hi Courtesy Hotel Coral and Marina Merilee Kern Travel

Dinner theater al fresco, adrenaline-pumping activities and luxe accommodations to-die-for

For the throngs of people pondering where to go on vacation this year, Mexico may be a strong contender in your cache of options. If so, you’re certainly not alone. According to the U.S. National Travel & Tourism Office, in 2016 approximately 30 million U.S. citizens chose Mexico as their travel destination. And understandably so, given there are innumerable reasons to vacation in the region. The weather is warm, people are friendly, the culture is rich, the immersive culinary scene is phenomenal, the beaches are beautiful, and dreamy destinations abound. In fact, below are five of my tried-and-true personal favorite places and activities on the west side.

Ensenada’s Hotel Coral & Marina an All-Encompassing Escape
A mere 80 miles from San Diego lies the port city of Ensenada, a charming Mexican enclave that runs along 700 miles of Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortéz coastline. The city, which is Mexico’s largest municipality in the area, offers endless possibilities for vacationers. The region is replete with culture, adventure, inspired cuisine, fine wine and gracious hospitality that’s all tempered with a relaxed beach and marine mindset. This certainly holds true for the Hotel Coral & Marina—a luxury Mexican resort that truly has it all for families, couples, groups or any well-heeled traveler seeking an easily accessible, all-encompassing escape south of the border.

A glistening getaway on the shores of Todos Santos Bay, Hotel Coral & Marina boasts the area’s only world-class marina with 353 slips that offer shared access to the property’s impressive array of amenities. But, for those seeking accommodations on land, the property offers a comprehensive set of conveniences and creature comforts that start with the 147 rooms and suites with each featuring flat-screen TVs, high-speed Wi-Fi and a coffee maker. Upgrade to a specialty suite for an added refrigerator, dining area, double bathtub, Jacuzzi, wine cooler or fully equipped kitchen. While standard rooms start at 635 square feet, the luxury suites start at 721 square feet (the “Deluxe” suite in which I stayed at 1,022 square feet) and top out at over three times that with the Presidential Triple Suite, which provides a whopping 2,034 square feet of vacation space. In speaking with Lizette Sanchez, Director of Public Relations at Hotel Coral & Marina, she cited many elevated amenities available with the opulent top-tier suites, such as a wraparound ocean-view balcony, chic bar, modern living area, Jacuzzi, hydro-massage shower, dining table and wine fridge.

However fabulous your room may be, don’t stay in it too long as there’s so much more to do and see at Hotel Coral & Marina. Whether your idea of a good time includes indulging in “Baja-Med” style cuisine at the on-site Bistro & Cava indoor/outdoor restaurant or more casual fare at the Marina Grill indoor/outdoor restaurant; cocktailing at the patio bar; taking a dip in the indoor or outdoor pool or in the large outdoor Jacuzzi; pampering with a service at the fully-equipped “C Spa”; sweating out the stress in the state-of-the-art fitness center; or playing an exhilarating game of tennis, the property offers all of this and more to keep you and your companions duly engaged and entertained. Guests can also enjoy various water activities like water bikes, paddle boarding and kayaking all throughout the marina.  With these enjoyable exploits as well as an on-site playground and professionally staffed Kid’s Club, the Hotel Coral & Marina is decidedly family friendly.

There are also on-site eateries. Bistro & Cava is the hotel’s award-winning signature gourmet restaurant featuring a blend of traditional Mexican entrees and locally-sourced Mediterranean cuisine.  But the food isn’t the only notable aspect of the bistro, as it also happens to house the largest local wine cellar in Baja California. From this locale, patrons can enjoy more than 150 labels. Those seeking a more casual atmosphere will enjoy eating at the waterfront Marina Grill restaurant or at the Pool Bar, where I highly recommend ordering the ceviche and a margarita. If this doesn’t put you in a vacation state-of-mind, probably nothing will. The Arrecife Lobby Bar is another communal space offering sports on the flat-screen and a two-for-one drink Happy Hour.

Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a romantic respite or a group getaway, Ensenada’s Hotel Coral & Marina enchants as a one-stop oasis where leisure, recreation and gastronomic pursuits await.

Beyond All-Inclusive Innovation Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort & Spa
The newest property in Grand Velas Resorts’ esteemed portfolio is Grand Velas Los Cabos—an all-inclusive spa resort with stunning ocean views and a wide variety of amenities and activities for guests of all ages. No ordinary destination, Grand Velas Los Cabos has pulled out all the stops in its readily apparent quest to provide an unrivaled luxury vacation experience for guests at every touch point.

Having stayed on-site to see for myself what all of the buzz was about, I can convey with full conviction that this resort proffers what would surely be one of the most impressive and memorable retreats of your life. Not only elevating industry standards for any luxe locale, Grand Velas Los Cabos has certainly raised the bar within the all-inclusive category world-wide. Its level of haute hospitality and impeccable service standards go well above making each guest feel pampered—but also genuinely cared for. Then, of course, the overarching offerings—the grounds, the accommodations, the amenities and more—are each standouts unto themselves.

As with all Grand Velas Resort properties, guests here enjoy spacious and sumptuously-appointed accommodations, numerous gourmet fine dining experiences, 24-hour in-suite service, substantial spa facilitates, fully-equipped and staffed fitness centers, pool decks to-die-for, noteworthy family programs, personal concierge service and much more. The resort features 304 suites, each over 1,180 square feet and every single one with private terraces with cushioned lounge seating and breathtaking ocean views. Some of the suites also have personal plunge pools on the terrace as well. The stylish suites at Grand Velas Los Cabos range in size from 1,180 to a whopping 3,412 square feet. Every one of them features wide open ocean views and a fully furnished private terrace.

The variety of gourmet dining options at Grand Velas Los Cabos is impressive, giving guests the opportunity to delight in dishes from around of the world without ever having to leave the resort. Ever. Choose from several fine-dining restaurants with both indoor and open air seating. This includes Cocina de Autor, the resort’s premier signature restaurant, which shines above all as there’s a two star Michelin chef at the helm. Clearly this resort is making its mark on the gastro-travel front, but its spectacular SE Spa is giving the food and beverage program here a run for its money. The two-level, 35,000-square-foot facility with a multisensory pool “water journey” is a not-to-be-missed experience.

Foodie-Forward Private Villa ‘Victual Vacations’ at Puerto Vallarta’s Casa Dos Cisnes
Whether for adventure travel or more relaxing vacations, travelers are increasingly seeking regionally-authentic itineraries that offer an intimate view of local life. The trend of being “connoisseurs of local culture” so to speak is booming. So indigenous tourism and cultural immersion experiences—especially those with culinary components—are extremely popular right now—and that demand is only growing. Various hospitality sectors have been the beneficiary of the foodie-driven travel movement, and even helping drive it to a certain extent. One of which is the private villa vacation category, specifically. Today’s breed of luxury private villa rentals are becoming an ultimate gourmet indulgence for leisure and business travelers, alike.

One private villa rental exemplifying this experience is named Casa Dos Cisnes, which is a premier private oceanfront villa in Puerto Vallarta. This 10,000 square foot, five-bedroom colonial style home has breathtaking views of the Pacific, and really goes over-and-above to ensure each guest’s needs, desires and expectations for an extraordinary, foodie-forward private villa vacation are fulfilled.  This includes custom gourmet meals prepared on-site by a dedicated 5-star private chef specializing in Mexican-contemporary cuisine, served in an elegant separate dining room that seats up to 12. You can either specify what dishes you would like the chef to prepare, or you can give “free reign” and allow the chef to conceive a fully authentic Mexican menu on your behalf. Your choice if you want to go full classic/indigenous or with a more contemporary fare. Here, guests have full culinary control. The ingredients (meat, produce, spices, starches) are usually entirely locavore, meaning very locally sourced, and the recipes, preparation, presentation and such are authentic to the region and culture—all allowing visitors to experience what it’s like to “eat like a local.” You tell the chef what you want to eat that day or you can plan in advance and, either way, the chef shops at the local markets the day of and prepares the meals on-site, which are served in the privacy of your own dining space, either indoors or out. It gives a whole new meaning to a home-cooked meal, for sure.

For some enhanced group or family fun, this private gourmet chef also prepares what this villa calls a “Magical Mexican Fiesta”, which is a lively evening of regional food, cocktails and Mexican musicians entertaining at the property. And all of this is available to guests in addition to three full meals a day plus snack and happy hour service, which can be served in the dining room or the separate dining terraces at both the main and pool levels.

Enchanting Evenings Al Fresco at Puerto Vallarta’s Rhythms of the Night Dinner Show
Rhythms of the Night is an immersive dinner show experience like none other in Puerto Vallarta, transforming your night into an enchanted evening on a mystical land. The experience begins with a relaxing cruise across the Banderas Bay where complimentary snacks and cocktails are served. As the sun sets and dusk sets in as the moon begins to rise, you will be rewarded with a stunning light display along the coastline. This picture-perfect setting is a primer for the experience ahead. As your cruise ship ports at the secluded Las Caletas cove, you will be greeted by a beautiful starry night, a torch–lit pathway, and mysterious islanders coaxing you to your initial destination. As if the journey to this tranquil cove was not enough, your evening will only get exponentially better. The fire-lit path will guide you to an exceptionally romantic outdoor dining area right along the coast. Nature provides the perfect setting for this outdoor dining experience, as a light wind from the Pacific Ocean blows through the decorative palm trees. Light from the torches and a litany of candles scattered about flickers on the water. The sounds of nature are intertwined with table-side serenades from talented musicians wandering through the dining area. The atmosphere alone transforms dinner into a mesmerizing experience.

Guests are then treated to a full-service buffet that includes thoughtfully prepared food selections to accommodate any dietary preference. The buffet includes grilled chicken, fish and steak, along with a delicious display of vegetables, salads, and, of course, tortillas that are hand-made exhibition style. The dessert buffet is equally tantalizing, with pies, rice pudding and brownies among the many offerings. After dinner, you will be beckoned to the outdoor amphitheater where talented local artists perform a spectacular theatrical performance amid the backdrop of a pyramid adorned with candlelight.

Through fire, acrobatics, dance, song, music, comedy and magnificent costuming, the performance proudly reenacts some of the ancient customs that highlights the rich history of this region.  At the conclusion of this perfect enchanted evening, you will receive a final toast as you dance the night away as the cruise ship transports you back to the port with music bumping and cocktails flowing. As with the ride to the cove, the return trip also provides scenic views unique to this part of the world.

Overall, this enthralling evening offers the opportunity to have a relaxing, peaceful and exciting night filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes you will not soon forget. Whether you are looking for the quintessential romantic dinner experience, a fun-filled family adventure, or are planning a group event, an evening with Rhythms of the Night is a magical journey sure to impress.

Adrenaline-Laced Activities at Canopy River Puerto Vallarta
Relative to activities, Puerto Vallarta certainly has all of its bases covered—in large part thanks to Canopy River adventure tours, which is perfect for pure adrenaline experiences by day. Indeed, if you are an action seeker looking for excitement and a way to see the beauty of Puerto Vallarta up close and personal, Canopy River tours are for you. This company offers everything from a fast-paced zip line boasting no less than 12 heart-pounding sections, to thrilling ATV tours, which include diving and dipping at a gorgeous hidden river and waterfall basin, to exciting expeditions through the rainforest. You can complement any of these adventures by dining at the breathtaking on-site Los Coapinoles Restaurant where guests can also participate in one of the greatest tequila tastings in the area.

Your zip line adventure begins with a brief safety training provided by experienced, talented and affable zip line professionals. You will then be safely hooked up to a full-body harness and provided with a security helmet, as you and your tour guides head off for the experience of a lifetime. You will zip through 12 different lines that fly directly above the amazing rainforest located in the Sierra Madre Mountains to heights as high as 709 feet. Each zip line ends on a large platform that gives you the opportunity to stop for a moment, enjoy the surroundings and take memorable photos. Adding to the adventure, at the end of the line, you will travel by mule back up the mountain to the point of origination.

The river expedition is definitely designed for both nature lovers and adrenaline seekers. These expeditions start on the coastline of Rio Cuale and take a six-hour journey through the remarkable rainforest of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Among other notables, you will travel across two bridges that reach heights of up to 88 feet. This journey is only meant for true thrill seekers looking for unforgettable adventure. If you want a fun experience, but may not have the daredevil aptitude for zip lining or a full-blown expedition, an ATV tour can provide an amazing experience. These tours are crafted for those with even little or no ATV experience, so even if you have never ridden an ATV before, this tour is for you. This 60-minute thrill ride will take you on a journey through the Sierra Madre Mountains. You will be given the opportunity to stop at several prime locations to view the ample beauty this area has to offer, from stunning flora to incredible wildlife to mountainous vistas beyond. As mentioned, halfway through the trip, the experienced tour guide will take you to one of the most beautiful hidden treasures in the mountains: Piletas. This location will reward you with the opportunity to see a breathtaking waterfall and even take a swim in the pristine waters beneath the falls before hopping back on your ATV and heading back.

With weather to-die-for, gorgeous waters, robust customs and traditions and diverse terrains, it is no wonder that west Mexico attracts huge tourism dollars. Travelers flock to the area year after year to enjoy the amazing and unique dishes that are specific to the region, tour historical sites, experience thrilling adventure and entertainment, and just spend some time relaxing and taking it all in. And, if you have a penchant for luxury accommodations, fine dining and spa treatments, opportunity is plentiful. As you plan your getaways up ahead this year and beyond, a visit to one or all five of these venues should be at the top of your list. Rest assured the time spent would be vacation experience not soon forgotten.


Merilee KernAs the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer trends expert, travel industry voice of authority and TV personality who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. She scours the marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Reach her online at, on Twitter at and on Facebook at

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***



Adventures in Japan: What Am I Eating Part III by Paul Rest

Adventures in Japan Part I and Adventures in Japan Part II

japan-articleJapan is a mix of stunning unforgettable natural beauty, and a seemingly lack of consciousness about the environment. A storybook looking factory of some kind situated in a lush green landscape unfolding before our eyes yet with an incinerator in the back belching black smoke. Driving on a scenic highway winding our way up a mountain we would suddenly come to a curve where in some almost Jungian collective consciousness people threw trash out of cars—soiled diapers, food containers, garbage, you name it.

But on the same trip near the famous Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest fresh water lake, a stop on a journey south at an ordinary looking cluster of shops revealed some of the most amazing textiles. Jackets, scarves, shirts, bathrobes and more all made locally with designs and patterns that evoked classical Japan. A stay at the resort on the small rocky outcropping of Urishima, which reminded me of the James Bond movie “Dr. No” with its caves that were once probably lava tubes extending from the heart of the lava core to the ocean. The traditional tatami room with a futon, waves crashing from the Pacific Ocean outside the window, gave me one of the best slumbers I had in years.

Japan is at best a place of magic and on the other end of the spectrum, a place where you could purchase sake from a vending machine, hot or cold on the walkway to the Zen temple, Ryōan –ji (with the world-famous rock garden). By the time the bullet train arrived in Tokyo, I was ready for anything. After checking in our rooms, I decided to relax with a gin & tonic. The “ice tray” in the room’s small refrigerator had the tiniest ice cubes I’ve ever seen. I mean, almost microscopic.  So I did what one would do in America. I called room service and requested ice. What arrived was a chuck of ice, obviously knocked a large block of ice. Well, necessity is the mother of invention. I wrapped the chuck of ice, about the size of a cantaloupe, in a towel and proceeded to smash it as quietly as possible on the tile floor in the bathroom until I had pieces that would fit in a glass. (Later, this chunk of ice showed up on my hotel bill: $25.00!)

We watched a TV channel in English while we all enjoyed cheeseburgers, fries, pie and ice cream with tall neck Buds from the room service menu. The food was excellent. It was good to have my American taste buds in play again.  Our suite, which we decided to share to save money with separate beds, faced Mt. Fuji, something we had requested so I could view this mystical symbol of Japan. Except the smog and low clouds obscured the view and all I could see was an unending grayness.

Our last night there we decided to go out. My host said there was a great Italian restaurant that was all the buzz then. So we managed somehow to get reservations and off we went. The restaurant was a large rectangular room with a high ceiling with murals on the walls. There were two isles going the length of the restaurant. One each side and in the middle were rows of tables.  Our table was located on the right side when you walked in towards the back and close to the kitchen. The ironies began immediately. A group of Japanese musicians strolled around the restaurant singing “O sole mio.”  Yep, that was the only song they knew. If you just happened to look at them, they assumed you wanted them to serenade your table. Of course, when they were done they expected a tip. Now I love Italian songs, but hearing the same one over and over and over again. Mama mia! When they came to our table, uninvited, I gave them an American twenty-dollar bill and pointed to the table next to ours, which almost instantaneously got hit with our merry troubadours.

The meal was great. A simple salad dressed with a divine olive oil began our meal followed by a perfect Ragú Napoletano with a bottle of excellent Chianti Riserva Classico. Or, maybe we had two bottles? I didn’t care. I was in heaven. And a spumoni for dessert brought me to new gastronomical heights and left me speechless it was so delicious.  The bill arrived and quickly brought me back to earth but still speechless. After all, this was Tokyo and we were eating at the one of the “in” restaurants.  The total bill with gratuity was what my total food budget was for a month back home, and probably my neighbor’s next door too. Oh, mama, mama mia!

We left with my thoughts focused not on the night sights of glittering downtown Tokyo passing by our cab’s window, but what my American Express bill would look like next month. Musing over a hot sake back in our hotel suite, still peering through the inky darkness, hoping to catch a glimpse of the moon shinning on Mt. Fuji I realized I just had a lifetime of experiences while visiting Japan. The food, the sights and even the incongruities of this very different culture that is closed to so many Westerners, with all this I was lucky to have been included by not only my host family but others and made to feel like more than just another gaijin.

And, after all, I was an honorary Japanese now: I had done the octopus gonads shooter and survived to tell the tale.

An interesting side note: A year after I returned, I began my now almost twenty-five year practice of the martial art Aikido. I had no direct contact with any martial artists while there, or at least that I knew about. I was near the hometown of the famous Aikido teacher Motomichi Anno Sensei on the way to Urishima and hop, skip and jump further south was O Sensei, the Founder of Aikido’s birthplace, Tanabe. I did drink water from the sacred Nachi Falls so all I can say is that is was probably, “in the water.”

Paul Rest lives in Sonoma County, California. He has been enjoying California wines and foods since arriving in California. He can be contacted at

Written by Paul Rest / Edited, Karie Engels Giffin


The Tasting Panel Magazine, The SOMM Journal & The Clever Root Named Official Media Partners for the World of Pinot Noir


Photo /

The annual event is the industry’s marquee celebration of Pinot Noir and its acclaimed winemakers

The much-anticipated annual global summit and celebration of Pinot Noir will be held at the Bacara Resort & Spa March 3-4 in Santa Barbara, California, and will feature nearly 200 wineries. ( Tickets ) 

“This is one of the premier wine events in the world, and it comes at a time when Pinot Noir’s popularity is at an all-time high and significant innovations are occurring with every vintage,” says Meridith May, publisher and editorial director of The SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel Magazine, and The Clever Root. “We are proud to sponsor and report on this gathering of the best Pinot Noir producers on the planet.”


Photo / Bacara Resort

In addition to covering the emerging trends and innovations occurring with the ever-popular grape, The Tasting Panel Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Anthony Dias Blue, and The SOMM Journal Contributing Editor, Randy Caparoso will be participating in panel discussions that explore the characteristics certain terroirs have on Pinot Noir. Additionally, Master Sommelier Fred Dame will serve as one of the moderators.

The aim of WOPN is to bring Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California’s beautiful Central Coast.

For tickets and additional information about WOPN, please visit or call (805) 489-1758.

For a list of Participating Wineries ~ Moderators  ~  Sommeliers ~ Panelists

Participating Chefs


lesageAt the age of 30, Chef Vincent Lesage’s impressive career already includes 3-Star Michelin restaurants in Paris as well as experience at some of the world’s most luxurious hotels.Born and raised in Paris at the center of the food universe, Lesage was surrounded by the rich flavors and techniques that define French gastronomy. But it was actually art that inspired him to become a chef. An avid art lover, he spent his spare time at the Louvre, studying the beautiful paintings and color palates that would later influence his artistic presentations.

After graduating from the Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully, France, Lesage trained at some of the world’s most celebrated establishments, including The Ritz Paris, the Michelin three-star restaurant, L’Astrance, and Michelin three-star restaurant, Bras. Most recently, Lesage served as Executive Chef of Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach where he opened two of the city’s only waterfront restaurants, Waterline and A&O Kitchen + Bar. Prior to that, he served as Executive Sous Chef at St. Regis Monarch Beach, managing a culinary team of more than 60.

Today, as Executive Chef of Bacara’s renowned culinary program, Lesage oversees the resort’s six dining experiences, including a new signature restaurant opening spring 2017. When asked about his vision for Bacara, Lesage says “I approach every outlet as its own distinct concept. From a healthy breakfast at Spa Café to a casual family meal at The Bistro, each experience is unique, and each experience is exceptional.


ostiniFrank Ostini grew up in and around the Casmalia Hitching Post, his family’s steakhouse in central California since 1952. Specializing in traditional wood fire barbecue, Frank has expanded his menu to cook most anything over the embers at his Hitching Post II restaurant in Buellton, California. With high acclaim from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Gourmet and Sunset magazines and enthusiastic support from Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay, Frank has become the regional spokesman for what is popularly known as “Santa Maria Style BBQ”, a feast that features meats grilled over a red oak fire.


grahamFounded 10 years ago, C’est Cheese has grown from a small specialty cheese shop into a gourmet food store and lunch café offering over 120 cheeses, 2 dozen fine cured meats and an array of artisan food products as well as hand made chocolates and wine.  Their lunch menu is served daily and includes grilled cheese sandwiches, salads and soups.  In addition, C’est Cheese offers year-round catering services, ships cheese gift boxes all over the country, and monthly tastings, and supplies Santa Barbara’s top restaurants with gourmet cheese. C’est Cheese Marketplace & Café is slated to open in early 2014, utilizing all the excellent ingredients that have been cultivated in the cheese shop over the years as well as all the delicious ingredients available locally.  The Marketplace will feature an expanded cheese, meat & wine selection as well as offer an array of house-made items

“Our commitment to quality artisan foods, exceptional personal service and continual community
involvement will continue to fuel us for another 10 years (or more!) here in beautiful Santa Barbara.”

M Dash Publishing is pleased to announce The Tasting Panel Magazine (, The SOMM Journal ( and The Clever Root ( will be active media partners at the 2017 annual World of Pinot Noir (WOPN).

About The SOMM Journal
Formerly Sommelier Journal, The SOMM Journal is written by and for wine and beverage industry professionals. Owned by Meridith May, Publisher and Editorial Director, The SOMM Journal boasts a distribution of 67K, and broadens both emerging and veteran industry professionals’ understanding of the business. Departments cover top restaurants’ wine and mixology programs; in-depth profiles of the world’s wine regions; industry trends and technology; and exploration of current issues that most concern sommeliers.

About The Tasting Panel Magazine
The Tasting Panel Magazine is the most widely circulated trade publication in the beverage industry, reaching an audience of thousands of key decision-makers every month and growing on an international scale. Manning the ship is renowned wine & spirits veteran Anthony Dias Blue as Editor-in-Chief and longtime wine & spirits publisher and executive editor Meridith May. With their expertise, experience and esteem, they collectively have their finger on the pulse of the beverage industry, making for one of the most informative and cutting edge publications focusing on beverages, the beverage trade and the people who make the industry tick. Regular features include: “Blue Reviews,” authoritative scores and reviews of wines and spirits; “Industry Spotlight,” highlighting innovators and leaders, and “Brief Encounters.”

About The Clever Root
The Clever Root is a national quarterly publication with a focus on ingredients, chefs, ranchers and growers. Each beautiful issue brings the farm-to-table movement to life in new ways, and will highlight the chefs and food innovators who are shaping the future of our industry. The Clever Root brings an industry-insider’s look at modern cuisine, trends and tools of the trade and unique ingredients and the people who grow them, including offering a smart look at the booming cannabis industry. The Clever Root is the third publication from M Dash Publishing.

Introducing ‘Melissa’s Tea Room’

‘Melissa’s Tea Room’ – Italy’s Rustic, Traditional Hidden Gem; Owned by a Woman Who Embodies the Spirit of Riviera Culture

Tucked away in the medieval Italian town of Liguria, ‘Melissa’s Tea Room & Cakes’ is a small and cozy oasis that not only oozes the smell of freshly-baked, traditional sweet treats, but also captures a snapshot of bygone Italian history and culture. It’s owned by Melissa Forti – a fearless world traveler passionate about sharing the best of her native Italy. And it’s been a huge success – with visitors from all corners of the globe joining her for a cup of tea, a slice of cake and an experience you won’t find outside of her four walls.

melissas-tea-roomIf there’s any country still known for holding onto its cultures and traditions – it’s Italy. And nobody is more passionate about her country than Melissa Forti – a renowned baker, businesswoman and author who quite possibly owns the most unique tea room in the world.

It’s called ‘Melissa’s Tea Room’, an apt name for this small yet unforgettable café nestled in Liguria on the northwest Italian Riviera. But this isn’t just any old café – it’s an experience that people come from around the world to savour, creating memories they’ll never forget.

“My goal is to embody the world in a single café,” explains Forti, who has travelled around the globe collecting experiences, recipes and techniques that she employs in her tea room. “You experience the best of Italy the second you walk through the door, when you’re greeted by historical and traditional Italian artefacts that have been passed down through the generations, and see my paintings on the wall. If you could show someone one room that captures everything Italy and its heritage stands for, then this would be it.”

Continuing, “And that’s before you even get to the food! I wake up and bake by what inspires me the most on that particular day. It starts with me going out and hand-selecting the freshest, most apt in-season ingredients from local vendors, before locking myself in at the early hours to bake fresh goods ready for sale that day. Everything is always 100% fresh and, if ingredients are out of season or not of the very finest quality, I simply don’t incorporate them. You can taste the freshness of my cakes and other baked goods with every bite – you’re literally tasting everything that’s great about Italy.”

Forti first started to bake a decade ago, starting a cupcake and wedding cake business before opening up her tea room in 2010.

“I can’t believe how things have grown in just six years!” Forti admits. “I never imaged such a small tea room could be so profitable, or become so well-known around the world. As mentioned, it’s also inspired me to travel across continents and oceans to collect inspiration for my “one world” vision for the place. I’ve also branched out, too, into writing. My debut book, ‘The Italian Baker’ is currently being published by Quadrille Publishing in the UK, and shares many of my recipes as well as familial history and cultural showcases. It’s an extension of the tea room and is yet another chapter in Italy’s boundless beauty and heritage.”

Melissa’s Tea Room can be visited at: Domenico Fiasella, 33, 19038 Sarzana SP, Italy.

Purchase her book, here

About the Author:

the-italian-bakerBorn in Rome and having lived in Los Angeles and London, Melissa Forti taught herself to bake and started to collect baking books old and new to learn about the art of baking through the ages and throughout the world. After settling in the magical town of Sarzana, situated between Cinque Terre and Tuscany, she opened a boutique bakery and tea room, Melissa Tea Room and Cakes, where both locals and visitors enjoy her incredible, freshly baked cakes every day.

Content and images provided by Melissa Forti

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