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Following up on a $35-million overhaul in 2010, Hyatt Regency Newport rolled out the next phase of renovations last week with the debut of the new Pineapples by the Bay outdoor seasonal restaurant (open every day starting June 10). What was once a small grilling shack is now a full-service bar and kitchen, with seating for 17 at the wraparound bar and additional tables set up on the adjoining patio.
Thanks to the new digs, Pineapples’ menu also received an upgrade. Options range from casual burgers and apps (be sure to try the lobster quesadillas) to full meals like swordfish and grilled rib-eye steak. Don’t skimp on dessert – the bittersweet chocolate cake and Key West cake (a twist on Key Lime pie, with a ginger spice cake instead of crust) are phenomenal.
The latest renovation also doubled the size of the outdoor pool deck.
In Taiwan, food is serious business. So serious, in fact, that earlier this month CNNGo.com named Taipei Asia’s center of gluttony.
It’s a fitting moniker: The city boasts 18 streets of night markets where food stalls are seemingly as numerous as plant species in the Amazon rainforest. Although food is plentiful there, the Taiwanese still have high standards when it comes to what they’ll eat (though you’d be hard pressed to believe that after sampling stinky tofu, a pungent favorite of Taiwanese cuisine).
So when the five-star hotel Le Meridien Taipei (www.lemeridien-taipei.com) opened its doors in December 2010, it wasn’t surprising that it
s buffet restaurant, Latest Recipe, was a hit. It became so popular with the locals, though that getting a reservation for lunch or dinner became impossible, even for hotel guests. Well, rejoice foodie travelers – the restaurant finally has availability and is taking reservations for seatings after May 8th.
We stayed at the Alpaga Hotel (www.lodgemontagnard.com). This and Le Fer à Cheval (www.feracheval-megeve.com) are smart luxury picks. The Alpaga has chalets and regular rooms. Design is contemporary, and the service is excellent. Le Fer à Cheval is more traditional, and it has a better location, within walking distance to town. The Alpaga is just a 5-minute van shuttle and has wonderful mountain views.
For eating, a must for dinner is Le Fer à Cheval. Start with a “Sprits” at the warm and woodsy bar – a Sprits cocktail is made of Aperol mixed with club soda and Champagne. Also quite nice and a good value for lunch or dinner in town are Les Enfants Terribles (pictured above at right; www.hotelmontblanc.com) and the Brasserie Centrale (011-33-4-50-21-22-44).
On the mountain, for a nice lunch break, go to L’Alpette (www.alpette-megeve.com). It’s perfect for a midday rest with good food and stunning views of Mont Blanc. Be sure to reserve in advance.
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After some relaxation, I then did some window shopping. Having seen so many luxe watch ads on the ski slopes, you quickly learn that watches are the top choice of buyers in this town. And surely there is more choice here than in arguably any other small town! I hear you can negotiate on price, but Russian tourists do prop up the demand.
For eating out, I highly recommend two amazing places. First, the Corbeau D’Or restaurant, off a small street near the center, located in the Mirabeau Hotel (www.hotel-mirabeau.ch), was terrific. It’s a bit formal but not stuffy. The food was superb and it offers a nice traditional Swiss menu.
Our group decided to alternate with either a special place for lunch or for dinner on a given day (but not both in one day).
For places to eat on the mountain, you must go to Findlerhof (pictured above, www.findlerhof.ch) by Heidi and Franz for lunch. It’s very, very hard to find! But go. The food is outstanding. Try the local steak tartare and fish soup.
Also for lunch, go to Zum See (www.zumsee.ch). This old wooden house is marked on the map but, like Findlerhof, it’s easy to miss. The food is incredible. I tried rosti – a local fried potato specialty – with smoked salmon. And be sure to try Swiss wine – the reds are smooth and light. Leave room for an apple strudel.
Stuttgart sits in a major German wine region. It’s well worth a visit to the vineyards in the hills just on the border of town (pictured at left). There is wine tasting, which is perfect at sunset. Note that red wines, and not just the German white Riesling, are available. I always thought of Riesling as a somewhat sweet white wine (good on a hot day) and, while many are, there are some excellent dry ones. You can visit one or more taverns up in the vineyards and enjoy the local wine specialty, beautiful views, and good Swabian food.
For dinner in town, go to Cube (www.cube-restaurant.de), an exceptional modern restaurant set on the top floor of the contemporary art museum (in the pedestrian shopping zone). The food is outstanding, the crowd is trendy, and the views over the main square are appealing. I tried pork filet (and generally I’m not a huge fan of pork) – it was outstanding. Also consider Swabian specialties including spaetzel and Swabian ravioli (with beef filling).
Orlando may be the theme park capital of the world, but this sunny, easy-access destination in central Florida also has plenty to offer couples traveling without kids – including some historic treasures and sophisticated flavors. In Part 1, I recommended several places to stay – here’s where and how to play without ever setting foot in downtown or a theme park:
Wander Winter Park: If there is a “park” for grown ups in the region, this charming city on the outskirts of downtown Orlando is it. Dating back to the 1880s, Winter Park (www.cityofwinterpark.org) is Central Florida’s oldest (and easily most photogenic) community. At its core is an oak-shaded, 10-block district anchored by Park Avenue and lined with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, cafes, and wine bars. Across from Park Avenue is 11-acre Central Park, filled with fountains and gardens and home to arts festivals and celebrations throughout the year, including the upcoming Sidewalk Art Festival, March 18-20 (shown above at left; courtesy of the Sidewalk Art Festival). The city is also known for its must-see Morse Museum (detailed below) and its series of seven lakes and canals, three of which can be explored on a one-hour Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour (www.scenicboattours.com) that meanders past the landmark 65-acre Rollins College campus, the Kraft Azalea Gardens and the mansion-lined Isle of Sicily.
Coming to Miami for New Year’s is not for the faint of heart. It revs up strongly with party-goers from all over the world. You can feel the energy in the air. No matter when you visit, I have two pieces of advice. First of all, plan in advance for dining, as the restaurant scene heats up all year round. Second, decide if you want to stay in a large resort away from the action, in town amidst it all, or bayside near it.
Some of the newer restaurant spots worth trying are Hakkasan and Scarpetta, both at the famed Fontainebleau hotel. The hotel, while a bit Vegas-like, can’t help but impress with its grandness. Red (redthesteakhouse.com) in the South of Fifth district is great for amazing meat. Expect deluxe prices but those three are worth it, in a town awash in overpriced, overdesigned dining digs.
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Most Sonoma visitors are likely to spend a day exploring Napa, which I do recommend. Certainly it is also possible to stay over in Napa. If you expect to tour both Napa and Sonoma, Yountville in Napa County is a nice little town for bedding down. (Note that another option is to visit Napa wineries in day one on the way up from San Francisco and then continue straight on to Sonoma).
In Yountville and St. Helena, some solid hotels include the modern, design boutique Bardessono (www.bardessono.com), and the classic Wine Country Inn (www.winecountryinn.com). In the town of Napa, the Westin Verasa (www.westinnapa.com) is a very good smart luxury option, or try the cozy Carneros Inn (www.thecarnerosinn.com). I’d also recommend the ultra luxe Auberge du Soleil in nearby Rutherford.
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