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Travel (20)

Tuesday, 18 July 2023 06:40

MSC cruises!!

Truly Floats Your Boat!

by Karen Holly Berliner


No matter where I have lived, no matter what part of the country I’ve moved and adapted to, I remain a die-hard native New Yorker.

Despite my love and devotion to the “city that never sleeps”, every now and then I look to venture out on a luxury cruise ship in its entire splendor and explore this great big world.

Imagine my joy when I was introduced to the latest and the greatest in cruise experiences, resplendent with a NYC vibe and theme at every turn:

The MSC Seascape

With utter finesse and authenticity, the MSC Seascape not only pays tribute to New York City but it captures the very heart and soul of it via cultural experiences, its nods to NYC design and personality, which is expressed through its public areas and venue names- the very essence of my home town.

Expect to be awestruck by a grand replica of lady liberty herself- The Statue of Liberty at the center of its vibrant casino, also expect an expansive retail and entertainment promenade duly named Times Square and all things wonderful about the city that never sleeps.

And you might not sleep yourself. Here’s why:

Miniature skyscrapers featuring Times Square-like giant screens light up the stage inside the ship’s casino as well, accented by thousands upon thousands of sparkling Swarovski crystals within the staircases in the four deck atrium.

Just like New York City, the dining is global and spectacular. Featuring 11 restaurants including 5 specialty spots and 20 unique bars, ranging from signature seafood and Asian cuisine to Mexican street food and a New York old school steakhouse with new school culinary delights, there is something to satisfy all palates. MSC Seascape’s main restaurants, dedicated dining venues for Yacht Club guests and a sprawling buffet complete the options. 

 MSC Seascape Butcher's Cut 1

Butcher’s Cut

MSC Seascape features MSCs signature American-style steakhouse; Butcher’s Cut, with al fresco dining allowing sublime views while you indulge. The menu is accompanied by bold New World wines and modern cocktails.

Is there anything quite like a good steak cooked to perfection and a glass of Cabernet?

MSC Seascape Holà Tacos! 1

HOLA! Tacos & Cantina

Featuring select Mexican-inspired dishes with a twist, enjoy an impressive selection of tacos, tamales and an interactive guacamole station. Choose from a variety of signature frozen margaritas, fresh juices, horchata and a selection of homemade salsas and hot sauces.

Kaito Sushi Bar

This sushi bar has a conveyor belt that constantly moves fresh and varietal sushi, allowing guests to hand pick sushi creations.

Kaito Teppanyaki

Be seated and await the magic that comes from the very talented hibachi chefs, complete with comedic interactions and downright fabulous food prepared before your eyes.

The fried rice alone will have you eating seconds---and thirds.

Ocean Cay Restaurant

Offering a menu of fine fish dishes, guests can feast on fresh seafood complemented by an expansive wine list.

After dinner, visit Venchi 1878 for some gelato or perhaps sip and savor a chocolate martini. The Wine Cave showcases the Seascapes wine cellar where you can enjoy a tasting paired with a cheese selection. The elegant rooftop Sky Bar cocktail lounge offers live music complimented by ocean views while the Champagne Bar offers a variety of champagne, prosecco and other choice bubbly’s accompanied by an impressive array of caviar and chilled seafood.

MSC Seascape Kaito Sushi Bar


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For something more casual than and truly as adored as old New York, the Sports Bar offers craft beers, a fully stocked bar, game time bites and individual TV booths to watch the action. The Sports Bar has walls adorned with boxing gloves, hockey helmets, baseball bats and other memorabilia. A billiards room beckons you to stay and play.

And if you do indeed intend to get some sleep---

The MSC Seascape features new cabins designed to accommodate all. Choose among several types of cabins and suites with balconies including the coveted aft suites, terraced suites with large balconies; even suites with outdoor private whirlpools. The 2 palatial Owner’s Suites are worth viewing if you have the opportunity, as they are the largest and most luxurious of the MSC Yacht Club suites.

Be prepared to be wowed!


The MSC Seascape Yacht Club

Head to the port curb and present your yacht club ID. From there let the ready and waiting staff take you away. Give yourself over to the yacht club experience as indeed you will be treated from there to the very last moments of your return, with the utmost in white glove service.

(Yes, with actual white gloves on hand.)

Yacht Club staff persons meet and greet you and whoosh you seamlessly through check in protocols, handing you champagne to sip as you proceed.  A butler then escorts you onto the ship and to your suite when you are ready. 

MSC Seascape Yacht Club Restaurant

And then, you have arrived.

The yacht club suites are resplendent with elegant design, complete with king-sized beds adorned with Egyptian cotton linens and a memory foam mattress. All of the accoutrements that you could ever want for from flat and still Italian bottled water, teas, nuts, wine glasses and a fully stocked mini-bar, await you. A generous sized and appointed bathroom allows for ease in living, while a large screen state of the art television provides for your viewing pleasure including the  Turner Classic Movies channel featuring 24 hour showings of old classic movies whenever you please.


-And then there is your faithful and diligent butler, who studies and prepares for your every want and need, from your favorite newspaper delivered to your cabin daily to your drink of choice, to the delicate pastries delivered to your cabin each afternoon.

In addition, MSC Yacht Club guests enjoy dedicated venues throughout the ship. The Top Sail Lounge is open from 6am to 1am as a fabulous gathering point and entrée spot to dinner just upstairs in the yacht club dining venue. The expansive rooftop deck allows guests the indulgence of day beds, loungers, a pool and hot tub, a dedicated bar and seating to dine. MSC provides Yacht Club guests a sprawling breakfast and lunch buffet, as well as special events like a white party complete with a DJ or a Seafood Buffet lunch complete with grilled seafood brimming with lobster tails to your hearts delight.

The premium drink package and complimentary Wi-Fi add convenience and amenities, along with the Thermal Spa where Yacht Club guests enjoy unlimited access.

The MSC Seascape Yacht Club provides the most decadent of experiences in the cruising arena.

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MSC Seascape!

MSC Seascape

The MSC Seascape is a Caribbean and Bahamas destined cruise ship departs from Miami and offers stops to Miami, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Cozumel, George Town, Ocho Rios, making the excursion possibilities endless...

Here are just a few of its many options to put you in the mood!

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve- The Bahamas

Explore Ocean Cay Marine Reserve via kayak on a team adventure to explore the crystal blue Bahamian waters.

Not a fan?

Stand-up paddle boarding , the latest craze allows you first hand viewing of these waters, teeming with marine wildlife while enjoying exercise at your own pace.

Exclusively offered to Yacht Club guests, enjoy a luxury beach front Yacht Club Cabana,   directly on this sprawling beach. You are immediately pampered and welcomed with fresh water and towels, a complimentary lunch and beverages, along with tasty fruit skewers. Four sets of snorkeling equipment and complimentary floating mats are provided to explore and relax in the calm Bahamian waters. The service is impeccable. Just put your flag up and you will be attended to in moments!

Getting restless?

Enjoy all of the beauty and wonder of Ocean Cay by catamaran while sipping a complimentary signature cocktail - the Ocean Cay Sway. After a short ride around Ocean Cay, the catamaran will anchor at one of the nearby natural shallow waters of the Bahama Banks where you can leisurely enjoy lively music and soak up the natural scenery.


The SCOOT COUPÉ Caribbean Island Drive offers a 2-person, 3-wheel scooter adorably coined the Scoot Coupé –Driving instructions and helmets are provided before you form a convoy and head out on the open road to explore the beautiful and history infused island of Cozumel. Enjoy photo stops to capture perfect moments to share and get ready to visit Cozumel’s vibrant hotel district, where a luxury beach club awaits you for some free time to relax, sunbathe or go for a refreshing swim!

If you would like to shop for a special trinket, time at a gift shop is allowed, where jewelry and other fanciful items are available.

Perhaps shiny tanzanite ring would suit your fancy?

REEF and WRECK on the Cayman Islands

Discover two of the Cayman Islands’ best snorkeling sites, the first of which will be at the wreck of the USS Kittiwake- a former US Navy submarine rescue vessel. In 2009 this submarine was deliberately sunk off Seven Mile Beach in order to provide an artificial reef for local marine wildlife.

Also, the Cheeseburger Reef-playfully named for a nearby outlet of a global fast-food brand, is a natural reef system at a depth of about 25 ft. /7.6. with visual pleasures and boundless treasures await you to explore.

Good fun!


Arrive at Puerto Seco Beach Club which proudly offers a white sandy beach, a swimming pool, and all of the comforts to enjoy it. Also make your way to the dining facilities and a hip beach bar and grill, where live entertainment is provided by their in house entertainment troupe, showcasing fabulous Jamaican dance and talent.

Picture to the right: The author Karen Holly Berliner on an Excursion.Cozumel The Scoot Coupe

Sunday, 16 July 2023 22:56


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Relax and rejuvenate body and soul on an adults-only, life-enhancing wellness retreat at ACRO Suites on idyllic Crete.

Acro2 33London, UK: Life can be exhausting, and sometimes what you really need from a holiday is simply time away from the every day, some total rest and relaxation in a quiet place where your wellness is the priority. That place is ACRO Suites, in Crete, a luxurious, adults-only boutique retreat with an emphasis on helping guests feel better, body and soul.

It’s all about you here. The resort’s exceptional 49 suites and villas feature muted, earthy tones and organic elements throughout to create a peaceful, relaxed environment in which to unwind. Special touches include top-of-the-range mattresses that are hypoallergenic and aerated for a better night’s sleep and a special pillow menu so you can choose the exact kind you prefer, firm or snuggly. There’s even a turn-down service during which guests are offered a special pillow mist that contains a blend of calming essential oil.

Public areas echo the same chic look and calm and classy ambiance. A superb cliffside location with sea views galore in quiet Agia Pelagia comes courtesy of Mother Nature; manmade facilities all for your enjoyment include a spa inspired by Byzantine hammams, exceptional restaurants serving Cretan dishes with a fine-dining twist, poolside bars, and cosy lounges.

In addition, for the new 2023 season that has just opened, ACRO Suites introduces a brand-new restaurant and new deep relaxation yoga sessions.

Extraordinary Yoga
Why not get your relaxing holiday off to a great start by joining one of the new weekly yogic deep relaxation sessions, held on Sunday evenings? These extraordinary classes feature the practice of yoga nidra, a conscious yogic sleep induced by a special guided meditation. Sessions take place in the hotel’s Asana Yoga Shala, an exceptional space dedicated to wellness that is built entirely out of bamboo.

AcroFood 0254Sound Bath Sessions and Holistic Wellness Days
The resort is also offering intriguing sound bath sessions this summer, with the chance to try an unusual wellness therapy under Manolis Zografakis, a certified sound therapist and meditation practitioner. The sessions will be staged in the Asana Yoga Shala, with the aim of guiding guests through a spiritual journey of reconnection and discovery of the inner self, back into a natural state of balance and harmony, just what you need. The Bath House spa with its authentic Byzantine hammam, a tempting range of therapies, sauna, and outdoor pool is also ready and waiting to help you get the most out of your stay. Treatments can even be taken in your suite. From tension-melting massages to radiance-boosting facials and holistic wellness days, the spa’s extensive menu offers a plethora of relaxing experiences to choose from.


Food for Thought
The new restaurant, Elaionas, based on an exclusive, fine-dining experience, offers a variety of delicious, traditional Cretan dishes to try. Guests can also indulge in olive oil and wine-tasting experiences. To reflect the name, which means ‘olive grove’ in Greek, the restaurant’s setting is a pretty olive garden with panoramic sea views. Food lovers will also be interested in the gastronomy events planned for this summer. Hosted by two Michelin Star chefs, Bjorn Swanson, and Liam Rogers, with the resort’s exemplary chefs by their side, the events will feature stunning menus with seasonal Cretan produce, all expertly cooked and beautifully presented.

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About ACRO Suites
ACRO Suites is a 5* luxury boutique resort set on the rocky cliffside of Mononaftis Bay, in Crete, Greece. ‘ACRO’ originates from the ancient Greek word ‘Akros/Akron’ which means ‘on the edge’ – where the wellbeing retreat is built. The property has 49 suites, lofts, and villas with private pools. All suites and villas offer sea views. ACRO Suites is a 20-30 minutes’ drive from Heraklion International Airport. Mononaftis Bay, where the property stands, is in the picturesque area of Agia Pelagia, offering access to beaches, seaside cafes, and restaurants. Ready to embark on an unforgettable wellness journey? Book your stay today at acrosuites.com

Thursday, 20 April 2023 04:19

R Collection Hotels

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R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Bristol Rapallo Esterno (2)

R Collection Hotels:

Lake Como &Portofino

R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Bristol Rapallo Camere (3)Meet R-Collection Hotels, a luxury Italian hotel portfolio with four boutique properties in Lake Como and Portofino. Family-owned for three generations, R Collection prides themselves on preserving and enhancing Italian heritage with a modern twist. Each hotel immerses guests in the captivating history and culture of the surrounding area while providing superb luxury.


Grand Hotel Bristol Resort & Spa: Set to reopen as a newly-five-star property, the hotel has undergone an impressive renovation. Features include wellness at the Erre Spa, the largest hotel spa in Liguria with multisensory areas and custom treatments, and rooftop dining with sweeping views of Portofino. A longstanding tradition to present the best in hospitality, the hotel was the first in the region to have elevators and private bathrooms in 1908.

Rooms: 80 including 11 suites

Dining: Le Cupole (traditional Ligurian and Piedmont cuisine - voted best Luxury Rooftop Restaurant, World Luxury Awards 2022); La Veranda (traditional Italian); poolside pizzeria

R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Bristol Rapallo Piscina (5)LAKE COMO

Grand Hotel Victoria: Built on the architectural structure of an ancient convent, the newest five-star hotel in Lake Como has a unique lakefront location in Menaggio. Enriched by beautiful gardens and a 4,000 sq ft spa with personalized treatment programs, swimming pool, and signature scents handcrafted in-house, it’s surrounded by breathtaking views of the lake and its mountains.

Rooms - 81 including 4 suite options

Dining - Lago Restaurant (stunning lake views and local flavors); Erre Restaurant

(innovative, varying menu); two bars

Winery - Offers the finest Italian reds and international whites, the cellar is home to Lombardy’s local wine from Franciacorta, Valtellina and Lake Garda. Each tasting is carefully paired with specialty dishes for a full Como experience. 

R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Victoria Menaggio esterni (11)Hotel Royal Victoria & Villa Cipressi:

Bridged by a stunning botanical garden where guests can walk in natural beauty and surprising biodiversity of these lakeside landscapes, these historic sister properties offer a fairytale experience overlooking the lake, nestled in a quiet medieval hamlet. Popular for weddings and conferences, the hotels offer both space and charm.

Royal Victoria is a renovated textile mill that, in 1838, hosted Queen Victoria of England, leaving her name as an indelible memory of her visit.

Rooms - 43 including 4 romantic suites that pay homage to the iconic work “The Betrothed” by Alessandro Manzoni

Dining - Royal Gourmet (newly renovated space serving traditional yet elevated dishes lakeside); Victoria Grill (international cuisine in the historical main square of Varenna)


Villa Cipressi is known for its magical gardens and breathtaking view of Bellagio. Completely renovated in 2018, Villa Cipressi offers elegance and magic as one of the most historic villas in the region.

Rooms - 31 including 5 suites

Dining - Veranda Bar and Royal Victoria dining options

R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Victoria Menaggio esterni (3) R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Victoria Menaggio hall R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Victoria Menaggio spa ph.Giacomo Albo (1) R COLLECTION HOTELS Grand Hotel Victoria Menaggio bar (2)

Thursday, 20 April 2023 04:10

I Love Hortus NYC

I Love Hortus NYC in the Spring Time

Karen Holly Berliner

Being that the name of this restaurant is Hortus NYC which is Latin for garden; the atmosphere beckons all things freshness as the theme of a beautiful garden runs throughout the interior. Enter this treasure of a dining spot located in the NoMad section of New York City, and walk down the entry ramp, allowing the fragrance of the foods and the strains of jazzy music to guide and beckon you.

Divided into four separate spaces, the first floor hosts bar style dining, complete with an open kitchen and a Chef’s Table to emphasize the experience. Ascend to the second floor which has an adjoining outdoor dining room; a hidden garden space with propane heat lamps and glowing lights hanging from the ceiling, exuding a warm and intimate vibe. The main dining room features a full wall of windows allowing perfect glimpses of the city that never sleeps, as vibrant by night as it is by day.

And oh the cuisine---

Hortus NYC is a Michelin-recognized contemporary Asian restaurant where managing partner Suhum Jang (of Per Se, Daniel and Jungsik fame) and Executive Chef SangMin “Lenny” Moon (of Jungsik, Barn Joo and Pado fame) have collaborated on this creative menu, culminating into a true reflection of Chef Moon’s signature style.

Highlighting the distinct flavors of Japan, Korea, China and Southeast Asia, each dish is both delicious and esthetically pleasing, the cuisine at Hortus blending in a perfect fusion, flavors

which makes for fresh modern Asian fare. Executive Chef Lenny clearly accentuates unique spices from the Pacific Islands, China and some Italian influence and accents, also making sure to include vegan and vegetarian options.

The appetizers at Hortus NYC are so palate pleasing that the challenge becomes saving room for the main courses—also the delectable deserts. The Papaya Salad for example, served with a bounty of succulent shrimp, persimmon and a lemongrass dressing, is perfect for this season; any season actually. If seafood is your favorite, an addition to the raw bar is the Royal Platter: a perfectly chilled lobster tail, salmon crudo, shrimp cocktail with an option to include a dozen oysters, all presented in royal fashion thus living up to its name, complete with a hibiscus blossom atop, a vibrant nod to the season. The King Crab Noodle with onion jalapeno pesto, tomato, lemon oil and mala sauce is a no fail hit, an exotic spin on comfort food. The Crispy Rice dish topped with spicy tuna, quinoa, and sriracha truffles has become a signature dish for good reason; its flavors and textures merge to tantalize the senses.

Hortus NYC’s main courses satisfy all palates and include Confit Duck Leg with a smooth coconut puree and soy, Sea Urchin Donabe made of nori puree, cured egg yolk, ikura and black truffles and other choices. For the diehard carnivore, the Spicy Braised Short Rib is tender and flavorful.

Cocktails here are inventive and fresh such as the Oolong High with oolong tea, soju, lemon and cane sugar; and 5th Ave with Jinro 24, Hwayo 23, tonic, mint, and lime. Hortus NYC’s wine program offers select bottles of fine sparkling wines and champagne, red and white wines from France, Italy, New Zealand and the U.S. Japanese craft beer such as Pale Ale Kanazawa, Junmai ginjo and Junmai sake by the glass, unfiltered rice wine and other choice drinks offer perfect pairings.

Desserts include Monaka Ice Cream; an ice cream sandwich with chocolate mochi and choices of black sesame, matcha or vanilla ice cream or for a fruity and creamy treat, the Yuzu Panna Cotta with raspberry and a butter crumble satisfies.

Diners also have the option to order the Hortus Tasting Menu, which includes the Royal platter for two, as well as a choice of an appetizer, main course and dessert for each person, with an option for a wine pairing.


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Thursday, 20 April 2023 03:49

Grab a North Fork

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Springtime on the North Fork

Karen Holly Berliner

The North Fork of Long Island is one of the largest and best preserved agricultural regions in New York State and home of this region’s award-winning wine country. Nicknamed “NOFO,” the north fork features more than 60 vineyards and an array of breweries and craft distilleries. Travel here, and expect to find charming roadside cottages and B&Bs peppered throughout. Stop by the renowned Briermere Farms, famous for their scrumptious pies; perhaps enjoy a beer and a light bite at Greenport Harbor Brewery or sip a glass of wine or two at Lenz Winery.

While visiting, enjoy the fragrant springtime fields at Lavender by the Bay with 80,000 lavender plants and vibrant sunflowers at the sprawling farms across the region. Also, for your dining pleasure, expect seasonal treasures from the sea including Oysters, Peconic Bay Scallops and more. The North Fork is one of the main ‘foodie’ destinations in Long Island where local chefs at top-notch restaurants use locally grown produce and farm-raised livestock to create spectacular dishes and fare.

Make sure to travel to the furthest point east on the North Fork where you can book fishing charters or stroll through Orient Beach State Park via the waters of the Peconic Bay and the Long Island Sound.

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Not to be missed!

Rose Hill Vineyards

With a philosophy which states that “growing grapes for great wine is a blend of science, art, and folk wisdom”, you have to figure that a grand treat is in store and a treat it sure is.

Set in a 125-year-old barn, this winery space is filled with natural light and is constructed in a way that allows for proper fruit handling. The cellar, where the wines are aged, is in the barn, itself constructed from reclaimed, ancient heartwood pine. The cellar roof supports solar panels and wind turbine, so produces all of the energy used for the winery, cellar, vineyard and farmhouse inn.

Spend the night at their glorious and intimate B & B, located on 22 acres of pure vineyard. Carefully restored with great detail, this historic farmhouse offers 4 guest bedrooms, a full country breakfast, a complimentary wine tasting and tasty charcuterie to savor.

Welcome glass of wine 90 miles from NYC in the heart of the north fork.

Relax outside on the patio overlooking the vineyards, or sip and chat in their library. For a true indulgence, try a wine flight such as their Sparkling Flight and celebrate the spring; 2021 Croteaux Sparkling ‘Chloe’, 2021 Croteaux Sparkling Cuvée, 2021 Brut Rosé 2021 and  Croteaux Sparkling ‘Jolie’



Sunset Guest Rm 2

The Blue Duck Cafés

These family owned and operated bakery cafés offer the whole package, with a wholesale production facility that delivers their artisan breads and more from Montauk to NYC as well. The bakery component offers delicious pastries and cakes, as well as their own signature line of artisan breads, all products made by scratch using top notch ingredients. Enjoy a scrumptious danish, croissant or turnover or order a custom cake, expertly decorated by their in house talented cake designers or buy a seasonal pie or two.

Their artisan breads are created by hand in the centuries-old tradition of European bakers.

Stop into the bakery café offering meals throughout the day, including an assortment of sandwiches using their artisan bread, fresh salads, and delicious soups. Make it a memorable meal by adding dessert, coffee, tea, cappuccino, latte, tea and more.


The Harvest Inn

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This B & B is located right on the North Fork Wine Trail. The award-winning inn is surrounded by vineyards, fields, beaches, and eateries. Their 3 course breakfasts are prepared with organic and local ingredients when accessible, with an authentic farm-to-table menu.

Their meticulous and well-appointed guestrooms are spacious, with a beautiful décor and resplendent with luxury yet comfortable amenities.

The Harvest Inn B&B is suitable for single or double occupancy, with a comfortable queen size bed and a private en-suite bathroom.

All of the rooms offer luxurious linens, plush robes, and lavish Beekman 1802 bath amenities.


The North Fork Shack

Owners Samy Sabil and Ryan Flatley, formerly of the North Fork Table and Inn of Southold in the region, have been satisfying the most discerning of palates from the East End of Long Island to Manhattan, Miami, and Los Angeles offering Creative Courses Catering. With take out and catering menus ever changing seasonally, there is always something new to be tasted and relished. From luncheons, dinner parties al fresco, cocktail parties and local charity benefits to private events such as weddings overlooking the Long Island Sound, all bases are covered with finesse. Try their creative course experience, offering familiar dishes created with fresh and local ingredients, yet adding unexpected flavors to enhance and refresh.

As for the take out menu here, expect inventive spins on such staples as cod croquettes and pulled lamb, fragrant and melt in your mouth delicious. The Thai Coconut Curry Bowl here will guarantee your return.


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Thursday, 26 January 2023 21:13

Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bacy!


By Karen Holly Berliner


Breakfast is a meal skipped by many but truly passed up by none! Who doesn’t love this meal from a quick bagel and coffee to a full plate of eggs, toast and breakfast meat; bacon, sausage, ham?

With mouthwatering options and in the spirit of love, why not indulge?




Imagine yourself if you will, not just tip toeing through the tulips but sipping and dining among them!

This go-to floral destination for interior designers, luxury brands and the like opened its first East Village retail location and floral café. The PlantShed East Village café offers artisanal coffee and light bites alongside the plants and the florals. This location brings an upscale, yet casual aesthetic and offers easy does it dining with both indoor and outdoor seating, along with a pop of a showpiece marble bar inset into street-facing windows. The interior invites you in with soft blue accents and earth tones merged together with PlantShed’s signature touches, such as custom lighting, marble fixtures and a curated collection of art and décor. 

Stop by for a delightful breakfast and sip high quality coffee supplied by Partners Coffee. The artisanal coffee menu here includes espresso concoctions, drip coffee selections, loose leaf tea, matcha and more, with dairy and vegan milk options to suit all. The menu offers tantalizing pastries and light bites from Brooklyn’s Colson Patisserie and The Good Batch Bakery, as well as vegan and gluten free pastry options from Long Island City’s Sans Baker. plantshed.com


What’s better than chewing on a warm piece of bread, fragrant and fresh out of the oven?

Nothing more. Nothing less.


Pavé is a European-style cafe/bakery from Chef Jonghun Won (of Jungsik and La Tabatiere fame) and Jin Ahn (noreetuh, Jungsik, Per Se). Pavé likens itself to a small bakery in France via its rustic and charming interior, resplendent with hexagonal mosaic flooring and other subtle touches in design.

Breakfast all day is expressed by Pavé’s mission; to rekindle the art of baking bread fresh throughout the day through artisanal simplicity. Chef Won believes the perfect sandwich begins with freshly baked bread filled with sustainable, organic ingredients. Bread options include baguettes, sourdough, multigrain and olive ciabatta, proudly baked in their state-of-the-art Bongard Paneotrad dough divider, proudly the first used in the US. Sandwich selections include such delights as Saucisson sliced dry pork sausage on a petit multigrain with salted butter and cornichon Croque or Monsieur; melted gruyere and béchamel with ham, Dijon mustard on sourdough bread and many more choices.

Pastries such as Green Tea Scones with white chocolate, Brioche with passion fruit filling and more are baked in-house daily. Pavé offers specialty coffee drinks from Counterculture Coffee to pair to perfection.



Bear Donut

Located in NoMad, Bear Donut is a reimagined retro American donut shop with South Korean flair. Their new breakfast menu includes a delightful spin on a donut and a waffle fused; the   Doffle! Doffles are made with mochi donuts, served with creamy, sweet yogurt whipped cream, all house-made. Flavors such as the Spice Donut – pumpkin cream filled, pumpkin spice or the Maple Glazed Donut – maple glaze with crunchy banana chips are popular and fast becoming signatures.

Ice cream for breakfast?

Why not?

The Lavenduo Soft Serve; lavender soft serve with their signature lavender glazed donut is new and classic at the same time.

The Sour Grapefruit Poppy is unique and surprises the palate while the Brioche Cream Puff donuts are filled with such options as Double Milk Tea and Matcha Custard, each topped with powdered sugar and Dirty Choco, filled with Nutella and glazed with semi-sweet chocolate.

The shop bakes fresh donuts twice daily, the first batch ready at 10am, the next at 2pm, allowing for the partaking of delicious grab and eat breakfast all the day through. The shop also features house-made soft serve ice cream, in milk and Thai Iced Tea flavors, as well as specialty drinks such as Draft Oat Milk and other varieties, in flavors such as savory Cheddar Cheese and Black Sesame. Bear Donut also features coffee from La Colombe such as fresh brew, cold brew, draft latte and the treat of all treats; the Bear Donut Coffee, a coffee float made of iced or hot coffee with milk soft serve. Go ahead and make it yours.

After all, you only live once. beardonut.com


Old John’s

Born in 1951 at 66th and Broadway, this little classic diner back in the day, fast became a hot spot for celebrities and locals alike. Sadly, the diner was forced to shut down during The Pandemic in 2020, but boldly relocated, reopened and renovated in 2021 by Louis Skibar, a former employee of Old John’s.

In the spirit of authenticity and to respect and preserve the history of Old John’s, key elements were kept such as the Art Deco lighting, mosaic tile floor and the original ceiling. Even many staff members of times past are still in attendance, serving you with unmistakable old school appeal.

Enjoy a stack of buttermilk pancakes or waffles, regular or chocolate variety or an omelet made to order. A lox sandwich satisfies and there’s nothing quite like a good old bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. Steak and eggs here are a class act and a New York City staple and nod to days gone by. oldjohnsluncheonette.com

The Underground Donut Tour

I can’t think of a more beloved grab and go breakfast than a donut.

The Underground Donut Tour showcases all of the best donuts in New York City. Starting in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, where your tour guide will share the history and architecture of this dynamic city, you will all the while, delight in trying some of the best donuts this city has to offer. One unique donut shop has a brioche style donut that’s especially tender and moist with unique flavors. The next stop is a city icon, a donut shop that has been around for over 50 years. Finally, the donut tour finishes up in Greenwich Village, where you will sample an everything donut along with a few other delectable donut treats!

These tours are available in several other cities, so get out there and grab a few.

Tours are also available in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, Santa Monica and beyond. undergrounddonuttour.com

Honeymoon at Home1

The HomeExchange and the HomeExchange Collection

by Karen Holly Berliner

With travel plans returning back to normal or even perhaps a “new normal” for many, it’s nice to be able to plan a dream honeymoon or maybe just steal away on a vacation in a new-fangled modern manner, yet in a “home away from home” style. In this way, you can enjoy the excitement of a trip but at the same time continue to appreciate the comforts of home, sort of a baby step in the right direction in travel. Baby steps become giant steps to an exotic locale, maybe a warm climate escape for those stuck in a cold weather season; a variety of spectacular high-end spots becoming more accessible and easier to plan and enjoy.

Honeymoon at Home2

Honeymoon at Home3

Enter The HomeExchange and the HomeExchange Collection.

HomeExchange is the global leader in home exchange vacations, offering authentic, sustainable and affordable vacation opportunities. With over 450,000 properties across 159 countries, HomeExchange makes last-minute vacations on a budget possible with a nominal annual membership fee, no hidden costs or cancellation fees and 24/7 assistance.

Member benefits, exclusive advantages and custom services for members include unlimited access to the private HomeExchange Collection platform selection of high-end homes and apartments, unlimited access to the HomeExchange catalog of properties, the ability to exchange with members of both the HomeExchange and HomeExchange Collection communities among other top notch services and benefits. For all questions, a dedicated member service is available 24/7in order to provide solid support. 

Honeymoon at Home4

The HomeExchange Collection features unique local luxury homes, each with its own amenities and character. Offerings range from penthouses in cities across the globe and ancient villas and majestic castles to wilderness or wellness retreats and supreme luxury yachts.

Members of the HomeExchange Collection private community can exchange their homes over dates of mutual choosing. Homeowners are able to share their homes and destinations and in the process, provide first hand recommendations for sublime vacation experiences. Even better is the flexibility of declining reciprocity, as if a member wishes to lend their home without having the favor returned, their guest can offer GuestPoints as an  alternative. The host member can then use these GuestPoints to be a guest in another preferred HomeExchange Collection home. Each home is individually inspected and selected by the HomeExchange Collection team based on precise criteria of quality, location and amenities. Amenities evaluated include private tennis courts, a piano onsite, perhaps an in-home movie theater, other technological upgrades, wellness features such as a Jacuzzi, Sauna and a gym, personal services like daily housekeeping or a private chef, transportation offerings; even prestigious art work.

Family-friendly features such as cribs, a private playground and babysitting services make family travel simpler and turn-key. Recreational offerings like a private pool or boat are in high demand and graciously supplied.

Honeymoon at Home5


The more recently added HomeExchange Collection currently features 300 homes in over 35 different countries. Locations include Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Réunion, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States. The annual subscription to HomeExchange Collection is $1,000.

In travel via the HomeExchange and the HomeExchange Collection, you can in fact, have your cake and eat it too.


Honeymoon at Home6

Saturday, 29 October 2022 18:25

Walking in Memphis

By Karen Holly Berliner

Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis dusk exterior

Walking in Memphis2The 1991 hit song "Walking in Memphis" originally by singer and songwriter Marc Cohn, so powerfully recalls this iconic artists first visit to Memphis—the strong roots of some of the most influential musicians such as Al Green, Isaac Hayes and of course, Elvis Presley. Per the beautiful lyrics, the song embodies a lot of the spirit and character of the city and as you walk through town (as indeed you can cover quite a bit by just plain walking), lines from the song point out wondrous things about Memphis and some key sightseeing spots. First and foremost, to take in these simple and ready pleasures, it’s best to check into a lodging spot which allows you central access.

Enter Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis.

With its history infused location being the very first hotel on Beale Street (just 15 minutes from Memphis International Airport) Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis is scant footsteps from Downtown Memphis, where its distinct musical culture, Memphis-centric food, dining spots and vibrant nightlife await in all of its color and glory, quite proud and unapologetic at that!

This dynamic 227-room hotel opened April 2021 as the only hotel to tout a Beale Street address, resplendent with top notch cuisine, a sprawling rooftop bar and interior and exterior design elements, inspired by the heritage of Memphis, ‘Home of the Blues.’ Fusing history with contemporary flair, the front desk and concierge desk are made from repurposed metal and materials from the historic William C. Ellis and Sons Ironworks and Machine Shop Building, designed by the Memphis Metal Museum. Have a stroll throughout the hotel and take in the wall folk art, that akin to an old speaker, treble clef inspired light fixtures and hallway carpet pattern designed to mimic sound-waves. Keeping with the theme, the guest rooms and suites each have wallpaper behind the beds with images of original materials from the Ironworks building. The king rooms feature shower walls etched with the names of different signature elements for which Memphis is known.


At Beck & Call here again, guests will notice wallpaper that looks like the acoustic foam of a recording studio, as homage is paid throughout the many spaces. Perched eight stories high Beck & Call is a bustling rooftop whiskey bar serving uniquely crafted cocktails and small plates. The whiskey menu is comprised of a well curated collection of whiskeys and bourbons, including local flavor with libations from Grind City Brewery and Old Dominick Distillery, just steps away from the hotel. This is Memphis’ only rooftop bar and dining venue, showcasing unobstructed views of the Mississippi River and famous “M Bridge” (where the view of the M Bridge Light Show can be enjoyed!). The wrap-around balcony allows for panoramic views of both the riverfront and city skyline and features fire pits, an outdoor bar and intimate seating for gathering.


CIMAS Lobby Lounge promises a vibrant and social atmosphere where you can sip to your hearts delight, on a variety of libations before or after a night on the town.

CIMAS is the hotel’s signature eatery situated on the Mississippi Riverfront, serving Latin-American inspired fare with a Southern twist. Look out for delightful menu choices fast becoming signatures, such as the Beale Street Burger, bacon, American cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, smoked cheddar remoulade with barbecue spiced fries and so many other palate pleasers. Dine inside or dine alfresco on the outdoor patio with views of the river and its resort-style pool.

Meetings & Events Housed within the circa-1879 historic William C. Ellis and Sons Ironworks and Machine Shop Building, the hotel boasts about 9,000 square feet of meeting space (12,500 sq. ft. total.) The space has been restored to create a state of the art meeting venue, while keeping the building’s old world charm, including the original exposed brick walls and beams with dramatic arched windows overlooking the Mississippi. Though the warehouse itself is historic, everything inside is fully updated for the 21st century, including modern audiovisual technology.
The meeting spaces include THE FOUNDRY, PATTERN SHOP, WEDDING SHOP and the EVENT LAWN, all set up for ease in accommodating.

Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis at a Glance:
1. Downtown’s only resort-style pool featuring a zero-entry infinity pool, cabanas and a deck for hosting live entertainment
2. Beck & Call rooftop whiskey bar
3. Lobby dining options including CIMAS and CIMAS Lobby Bar
4. A 24-hour Lobby Market with handy grab-n-go beverages and snacks
5. 12,500 sq. ft. of meeting space
6. A state of the art 24-hour fitness center
7. 24-hour room service, complimentary Wi-Fi and valet parking
8. Pet-friendly accommodations up to 50 lbs.

Walking in Memphis3

And As You Walk Through Memphis……

Walking in Memphis4

……perhaps you will take a stroll across Big River Crossing, where you can have one foot in Tennessee and one foot in Arkansas or give your walking shoes a break and hop aboard an authentic vintage trolley car through historic Downtown.


Blues, rock-n-roll, soul and jazz music can be heard nightly along Beale Street and throughout the city, though what’s a trip to Memphis without visiting Elvis’ homeland, Graceland? Experience the magic of Graceland this holiday season with festive events to celebrate one of Elvis' favorite times of the year. In season, visitors can enjoy their Holiday Lighting Weekend on November 17-19 and special holiday tours of Graceland Mansion and grounds, decorated for the Christmas season from November 17-December 23. Graceland will be adorned for the holidays in 2022 from November 17, 2022, through January 8, 2023.


The National Civil Rights Museum should not be missed, with exhibits tracing the history of the civil rights movement from the 17th century to the present.

The Big Mojo Tour

An inside look at Memphis’ music scene with the Big Mojo Tour, a fun, musical journey featuring Memphis’ greatest attractions including a guided tour of Sun Studio, where legends like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis launched their careers. Also, the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum and Stax Museums offer guided tours and memorabilia from legendary artists such as Johnny Cash and B.B. King. THE FOOD SCENE
Mouthwatering barbeque fare awaits you at Memphis’ world famous BBQ at Rendezvous. Next time, enjoy an evening listening to the Blues live complete with a happy hour at BB Kings, right on Beale Street

The Orpheum

The Orpheum is a landmark performing arts spot that’s been an iconic part of Memphis since 1928. Check out the schedule and indulge in the magic of the live arts.

Sunday, 23 October 2022 19:39

Novotel Miami Brickel

Written by

exterior viewNovotel Miami Brickell1Miami, Florida

Novotel Miami Brickell is a 12-story property comprising 275 deluxe guest rooms and suites, with 5,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. The hotel also features a rooftop swimming pool, and Vista Pool Bar that boasts stunning views of Brickell’s striking skyline and Biscayne Bay. Located in the lobby area, UVA bar is your home to enjoy a wonderful selection of Chilean and Argentinian wines, signature Latin American spirits, light tapas-style fare, global news, sports and weather. The bar also features a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 pm. At Lima, the hotel’s signature restaurant, guests can experience the thrilling simplicity of flavorful contemporary cuisine with inventive yet well-balanced dishes for wholly delightful meals to enjoy.

Unparalleled Food and Beverage Options

Novotel Miami Brickell’s onsite food and beverage options are complemented by the neighborhood’s cocktail lounges, karaoke spot, and a bevy of fine-dining and casual eateries, including waterfront establishments and the choices along vibrant Mary Brickell Village. Miami’s special annual food and barrage promotion, Miami Spice, is in full swing from August through September, when dozens of top restaurants showcase special three-course meals for just $28 for lunch/brunch and $42 for dinner.

Central Location

Novotel Miami Brickell offers easy access to Virginia Key and Key Biscayne and its public beaches, nature preservers, parks and Miami Seaquarium. The Metro is steps away from the hotel, a convenient way to journey north to bustling Downtown Miami, home to various parks, theaters, museums, the FTX Arena and the Brightline, a high-speed line that runs from Miami Central Station to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. A quick ten-minute car ride south from Novotel is picturesque Coconut Grove and its CocoWalk of shops and eateries, Italian Renaissance-style Villa Vizcaya, as well as many historic sites and parks. Little Havana, Miami’s Cuban neighborhood, lies to the west with Latin restaurants and live music shows, while South Beach and its nightspots and beautiful beaches are about seven miles away.

Modern Easy Living

Novotel’s mantra of “Modern Easy Living” drives the brand to always offer guests a comfortable and memorable type of stay. Its intuitive and modern design, coupled with its innovative and cutting-edge technology, continually results in a relaxed, vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. The hotel exemplifies all the brand’s elements and is centrally located, making it the ideal place to stay for business and leisure travelers. Guests can enjoy its convenient access to the very best of Downtown Miami, Port of Miami, from the area’s top businesses, outstanding shopping, an eclectic dining and nightlife scene, world-class art, and more.

Sustainability Program

The hotel also prides itself on its strong eco-friendly actions. In 2011, its parent company Accor launched Planet 21, a sustainable program to improve its hotels’ performance with sustainable initiatives.


Novotel Hotels, Suites & Resorts offers destination hotels designed as comforting and energizing places where guests can ‘press pause’ and take time to enjoy the moments that really matter. The brand’s wide array of hotels, suites and resorts offer a multitude of services for business and leisure guests

alike, including spacious, modular rooms with natural and intuitive design;

24/7 catering with nutritious choices; dedicated meeting spaces; attentive and proactive staff; family zones for the youngest guests; multi-purpose lobbies; and accessible fitness centers. Novotel, which has over 530 locations in more than 60 countries is part of Accor, a world-leading augmented hospitality group offering unique experiences in 4,900 hotels and residences across 110 countries.


Accor is a world leading hospitality group consisting of 5,300 properties and 10,000 food and beverage venues throughout 110 countries. The group has one of the industry’s most diverse and fully-integrated hospitality ecosystems encompassing more than 40 luxury, premium, midscale and economy hotel brands, entertainment and nightlife venues, restaurants and bars, branded private residences, shared accommodation properties, concierge services, co-working spaces and more. Accor’s unmatched position in lifestyle hospitality – one of the fastest growing categories in the industry – is led by Ennismore, a joint venture, of which Accor holds a majority shareholding. Ennismore is a creative hospitality company with a global collective of entrepreneurial and founder-built brands with purpose at their heart. Accor boasts an unrivaled portfolio of distinctive brands and more than 230,000 team members worldwide. Members benefit from the company’s comprehensive loyalty program – ALL - Accor Live Limitless – a daily lifestyle companion that provides access to a wide variety of rewards, services and experiences. Through its Planet 21 – Acting Here, Accor Solidarity, RiiSE and ALL Heartist Fund initiatives, the Group is focused on driving positive action through business ethics, responsible tourism, environmental sustainability, community engagement, diversity and inclusivity. Founded in 1967, Accor SA is headquartered in France and publicly listed on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange (ISIN code: FR0000120404) and on the OTC Market (Ticker: ACCYY) in the United States.

For more information visit group.accor.com, or follow Accor on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Novotel Miami highres 41

Wednesday, 20 July 2022 19:25

The Modern Haus

The Modern Haus heading

It has been quite the long and difficult haul for all of us, given recent events. As we emerge out of our ever changing protocols along with life, travel and all social limitations, we were urged to stay put in quarantine mode for such a long stretch, we can now finally exhale a collective sigh of relief and resume; dip a proverbial toe into the water via dining, travel, work, socializing and life as a whole. What better way to break the ice than to travel to a destination escape, that not only touts itself as a haus aka residential-style hotel for a seamless transition from home to haus (per its fitting name), but absolutely lives up to it with all of the creature comforts one could wish for, escalated to a high level of luxury unsurpassed, while still maintaining a comfortable at home vibe. 

Located on a quaint side street off of Sixth Avenue in NYC’s Soho district, enter ModernHaus and absorb it in its entirety, from its location among other stately cast-iron buildings and authentic cobblestone streets, to its deliberate nod to its artsy neighborhood dynamic. Notice the splendor of the art adorning its walls, showcasing many of the most influential icons of the 20th century, the art-clad interiors making this building feel more like a collector’s loft than a towering Manhattan hotel.

Check in if you please, and enjoy a “turn-key” room awaiting you, featuring opulent king-sized beds, walk-in showers with rainfall heads, bath tubs resplendent with Le Labo bath products, all high-end accommodations and amenities. Be wowed by the floor-to-ceiling windows, which show off its skyscrapers proudly, including the breathtaking Freedom Tower, all buildings lit up at night with the lights of many workaholics still at task.

A rooftop pool is hard to come by, agreed?

Find your pool and full oasis along with it at ModernHaus’ top-floor Jimmy, a sleek, mahogany-clad bar with panoramic views of lower Manhattan, complete with a pool deck to lounge. With decor inspired by Picasso's Blue period, JIMMY has a cozy yet lively atmosphere, with both vintage and contemporary furniture and a roaring fireplace, all surrounded by 14’ windows with panoramic views of Midtown, Wall Street, the Hudson River, and the bridges spanning the East River. For further lounge access, Jumpin Jacks on the second floor is an all-day eatery that transforms into a lounge at night.

As for a magical and tasty dining experience, visit Veranda restaurant by Michelin-starred chef George Mendes in collaboration with restaurateur David Rabin and catering and events group Abigail Kirsch. Set beneath a retractable greenhouse, this dining room allows for flexible indoor/outdoor dining, with several indoor and outdoor cocktail area seating options. Enjoy such signatures as the hummus with tomato, chickpeas, grilled naan, crudité herbs and flowers and falafel or the steamed mussels with garlic, cilantro, grilled chorizo and olive oil. For an extraordinary treat, the duck rice features traditional duck leg confit, seared breast, chorizo, black olives, orange and crispy duck skin giving it a contemporary flair. 

Noteworthy is their in-room dining program, perfect for an impromptu breakfast in bed.

Why not treat yourself?

Located steps up from Veranda with its own entrance on 6th Avenue, The Back Bar at Veranda features several open-air terraces, adorned with pendant lights and a fireplace, with both high-top and table seating. Sip a signature cocktail such as the wanderlust; mezcal, green chartreuse, absinthe, coconut and lime. For a real treat for rose wine fans, the Rose Flight features three tastings of select roses.

An elegant option for events, The Signature Room features an arched wood ceiling, velvet seating, a private bar and a skylight under which an evergreen olive tree stands and warms the space perfectly.

As far as extra accoutrements, ModernHaus Soho is loaded to the brim with those.

For example, WundaMat @ ModernHaus Rooftop Pool offers Pilates for all levels.

As we all know, brunch is beloved to many. In that spirit, Chef George Mendes presents a seasonal menu that pairs perfectly with inspired cocktails to be savored under Veranda’s glass pergola. Sip your stress away and take in the spectacular atmosphere.

Getting restless?

SoHo is one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in NYC, offering sublime shopping, dining and cultural experiences.

Exit the building and just simply start walking in any direction!


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