FWT Magazine: food wine travel - Issue One Fall 2015

Page 1

fwt food wine travel


FALL 2015

luxury travel

Portugal’s Devotion to Ginja A Cherry Liqueur Mainstay

Where Josephine Lost Her Head Searching in Martinique

South Pacific Ambiance Meets Disney Magic

Disney’s Aulani Hawaiian Resort and Walt Disney World’s New Polynesian Bungalows in Florida

explore! savor! live!





luxury travel 10

A Taste of Scotland

High-Quality, Local Ingredients in Focus



South Pacific Ambiance Meets Disney Magic

Luxury Awaits at Disney

19 The Art of Exploring the Kimberley Gorges Australian Small Luxury Cruising


25 Where Josephine Lost Her Head Searching in Martinique

30 The American Club

Cream of the Crop in America’s Dairyland

36 Dale Chihuly and Chateau Ste. Michelle

Combining the Best of Art and Winemaking in the Great Northwest

42 Traveling the Belize Caribbean for Luxury Victoria House and Chabil Mar Villas


Enchanting Sedona

Arizona’s Red Rock Paradise Offers a Spiritual Retreat


Worldly But Local

Exploring Mexican Flavours with Chef Miriam Flores


Wild Luxury

Tofino, British Columbia


Portugal’s Devotion to Ginja

A Cherry Liqueur Mainstay



68 Dale Sanders

For more than 25 years Last Shot contributor Dale Sanders has traveled the world enlisting his unique ability to capture the soul of the places and adventures he has experienced. His stories and photos have graced the pages of many magazines, e-zines, and blogs worldwide. Dale’s images and clips can be found at Dale Sanders Photos





depts Contributors 4 First class reporting from around the world.


From the Editor 5 Welcome to Issue One

Letters Send your letters for Issue Two.

Gear 6 The Best Smartphone App for Travelers


Bon Appétit 7 Cuisine Wat Damnak: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Wines & Spirits 8 The Wine of Kings and the King of Wines

My Home Town 9 The Charms of Cherryville, Oregon

Last Shot 68 Orlando’s Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, by Dale Sanders.

1 On the Cover Disney’s Hawaiian Aulani Resort & Spa. See page 14 PHOTO BY SANDRA CHAMBERS)




More information and links for indivudual authors at the end of each article.

Victor Dorff Victor writes, shoots & edits video, and loves to eat well.

Allen Cox

Sandra writes magazine, newspaper and online articles for national, regional and local publications.

Allen Cox, Editor in Chief of Northwest Travel & Life Magazine, VP of IFWTWA.

Graeme Kemlo

Judith Glynn

Kimberly A. Edwards Kimberly has written for many other local, national and international publications.

Linda Fasteson

Judith Glynn has been hooked on writing travel articles for 25+ years, mostly about travel shopping.

Trisha Miller Trisha Miller is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Travel Writers Exchange, for travel writers, bloggers, and journalists.

Anita Breland

Linda Fasteson is an award-winning writer who specializes in Baby Boomer travel.

Anita Breland delights in sharing her discoveries of culinary traditions and experiences around the world.

Linda Kissam

Hilarie Larson

Linda Kissam is a professional food, wine and travel writer based out of Southern California.

Hilarie’s passion for wine began in the1970’s while in the European hospitality industry.

Susanna Starr

Michelle Winner

Susanna Starr is a well-traveled and published travel writer, photographer, entrepreneur, speaker and artist.

Rebecca L Rhoades For travel writer Rebecca, the joy of new destinations comes from sampling local food and beverages.


Barbara Ramsay Orr, a multiple recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for Journalism.

Sandra Chambers

Graeme is an Australian journalist and photographer, covering travel and business events in Australia and Asia.


Barbara Ramsay Orr

Michelle’s idea of luxury is fishing the Ka’iwi Channel.

Dale Sanders Dale Sanders has traveled the world enlisting his unique ability to capture the soul of the places.

From the Editor


elcome to Issue One – Fall 2015 -- of the quarterly FWT Magazine. It gives us great pleasure to bring you this first issue, themed “Luxury Travel.” In my opinion, travel IS luxury – from gap-year backpacking to staying on a private island -- to travel is luxury. In this issue you will travel, mostly in luxury, to many places in this wide world. Allen Cox will take you to experience the wild luxury of British Columbia. Go with Aussie Graeme Kemlo small luxury cruising, exploring Australia’s Kimberley Gorges. Judith Glynn takes you to Portugal to learn about a favorite drink, ginja. And you will travel from Martinique to Scotland, from France to Central America, to Hawaii and beyond, while Barbara Ramsay Orr tells how you can discover luxury cuisine in your own “backyard.” I hope you enjoy the trip! Consistent with the luxury travel theme, I’m writing this from the posh Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, Greece. Opa! Cheers, John Lamkin Executive Editor “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine

fwt food wine travel

FWT Magazine: food wine travel Publisher IFWTWA Publications Honorary Publisher Denis Gagnon Executive Editor John Lamkin Associate Editor Rebecca Rhoades Contributing Editor Susanna Starr Contributing Editor Judith Glynn Contributing Editor & Technical Adviser

Trisha Miller

Director of Photography Dale Sanders Creative Director Dan Frank Digital Design Advertising Director Alexa Hokanson Publications Adviser Allen Cox Webmaster Timothy Lack CharlotteCountyWebsites.com Social Media Adviser Catherine Sweeney (Issue One) Social Media Team: Instagram - Margalit Sturm Francus Pinterest - Susan Lanier-Graham Facebook - Rochael Teynor Twitter - Debra Schroeder Thanks to all the IFWTWA volunteers that helped to put this issue together, especially Michelle Winner and her Social Media Committee. FWT Magazine is published in English, however our audience is global as are our contributing writers. Each contributor writes using the form of English with which they are most familiar, thus you may see international variations on spelling, grammar, and phrasing. We hope this eliminates any confusion. Thank you. -- the Editors

FWT Magazine: food wine travel is published by IFWTWA Publishing of International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association ifwtwa.org



Editor (left) “grape stomping” in ancient Greek vineyard with help of local men, Ios Island, Greece.

IFWTWA: admin@ifwtwa.org FWT Magazine: editor@FWTMagazine.com Advertising: ads@FWTMagazine.com Submission Guidelines If you have a product you would like us to try email editor@FWTmagazine.com



Gear The Best Smartphone App for Travelers

Gone are the days when I printed out page after page of confirmations for my flights, hotels, and car rentals....now I have it all in one very convenient app, easily accessible with just a few taps. With so many great benefits for less than $5 a month, TripIt Pro is a smart choice for smart travelers.


s someone who travels frequently for both business and leisure, the one smartphone app I would not be without is TripIt Pro. The free version is a great tool for any traveler, allowing one to keep track of all the various confirmations and itineraries involved in any trip, sync your travel plans to your calendar of choice (such as Outlook, iCal, or Google Calendar), and share your trip itinerary and details with others via social media or email. Priced at a very reasonable $49 annually, the Pro version offers numerous benefits that, for any serious traveler, far outweigh the cost. TripIt Pro features push notifications for such events as flight status updates, delays, schedule changes and gate reassignments -- this feature alone has saved me from missing flights many times -- but the benefits don’t stop there. Pro users also have quick access with just a tap to Alternate Flights with open seats in the event that your original flight gets delayed or cancelled, making it easy to rebook before your fellow passengers are even aware of the problem. Add to that a Points Tracker feature that lets you keep track of all your various mileage/points/rewards programs (and even notify you when your points or rewards are about to expire), a Flight Refund tracking feature that continually monitors the fare changes on your flight and notifies you if the fare goes down (to the extent that, less any change fees, it’s worth your time to claim a refund, so you can call your airline or travel agent), a Seat Tracker that will notify you if an unavailable seat that you want becomes available, and a free four-month membership with CLEAR (and a $20 discount on continuing membership after the initial four months), which gives members access to special lanes to speed you through security (only available at 12 airports currently but quickly expanding).



Available for iOS and Android, and supports mobile-browser access on Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.

Trisha Miller Trisha Miller is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Travel Writers Exchange, a resource for travel writers, bloggers, and journalists. Active in the Travel industry and Travel Writing community since 1990, Trisha writes about travel (generally with a tech twist), and also teaches and mentors other travel writers. Her mission is to help other writers to develop their online presence and to find new opportunities in today’s new media landscape. Trisha also presently serves the IFWTWA as a member of the Board of Directors and acts as a Technology Adviser to the Board.

IFWTWA Author profile here.

At Cuisine Wat Damnak, Mekong sole, puffer fish and needle fish atop a quenelle flavored with sour leaf, chili and garlic

Cuisine Wat Damnak: Siem Reap, Cambodia


n March 2015, Cuisine Wat Damnak, in Siem Reap, Cambodia was named S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Cambodia, and one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Thanks to owner and Chef Joannès Rivière, the Cambodian table has hit the big time. The restaurant is also a personal favorite. Early on a muggy April Saturday, just after the restaurant’s opening in 2011, the chef planted me on the back of his motorcycle for a round of local farmers’ markets. Haggling and joking with vendors in fluent Khmer, Joannès Rivière introduced me to the foragers and fishermen who supply his kitchen, and to Cambodian grandmothers who have shared their cooking secrets with him. It was a lesson in local sourcing, from a master of the art. Chef Rivière has a passion for authentic local flavors and uses only fresh, seasonal produce. Ingredients such as the pungent prahok can intimidate Westerners, but non-traditional combinations of indigenous ingredients win converts when prepared by this French chef on a mission. “I wanted to create a restaurant centering on quality Cambodian food,” Chef Rivière told me. He insisted that Cambodian includes Chinese, Cham Muslim and Vietnamese foods, as well as Khmer. All are represented on his plates. Feroniella and kuy fruit lend citrusy, sour notes to his creations; sweet-fleshed fish from the Mekong and Tonlé Sap lake marry with Western influences to a sublime result; edible Tonkan flowers and crisped ginger add balance and bite. Tiny Mekong sole and puffer fish together with needle fish atop a quenelle flavored with sour leaf, chili and garlic is a combination made in heaven--and on earth, by the clever hands of Chef Joannès Rivière. Chocolate and holy basil ganache with rice praline guarantees a satisfying finish.

If You Go Cuisine Wat Damnak Between Psa Dey Hoy market and Angkor High School Wat Damnak village, Sala Kamrek Commune, Siem Reap +855 77 347 762 cuisinewatdamnak.com


Bon Appétit

Cuisine Wat Damnak is a stylish destination for worldclass Cambodian food, tucked into a residential neighborhood, and named after a nearby Buddhist pagoda. Housed in a traditional Khmer house with a garden, the restaurant wears teak and silk in muted tones enlivened with splashes of color. The restaurant’s tasting menus--$24USD for five courses and $28USD for six--are updated weekly. Reasonably priced wines have been carefully selected to complement Asian flavors. Reservations highly recommended. A native of Roanne, in France’s Loire region, Joannès Rivière trained in France and was a pastry chef in the U.S. prior to coming to Siem Reap in 2003. He taught at the French NGO-run Sala Baï Hotel School and was executive chef at the prestigious Hotel de la Paix for five years before opening Cuisine Wat Damnak. Joannès Rivière’s knowledge of the region’s culinary history and unique pantry is unrivaled. Thanks to this enterprising Frenchman with a penchant for voluntary service and love of his adopted country, Cambodian flavors are on their way to new heights.

Anita Breland Anita Breland is an avid traveler who delights in sharing her discoveries of culinary traditions and experiences around the world. A passionate foodie based in Europe, she is on a never-ending quest for good food and the people who make it. With her husband and fellow blogger, photographer Tom Fakler, Anita chases tasty plates and cultural experiences and serves up the long-running blog Anita’s Feast. She has contributed guest posts and articles to several anthologies, including Lonely Planet’s A Moveable Feast. She has worked with numerous tourist boards and destinations in Europe and Asia. Anita is a member of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA), Geneva Writers Group and Thin Raft Writers (Basel, Switzerland).

IFWTWA Author profile here.



Wines & Spirits The Wine of Kings and the King of Wines


o other beverage in the world says luxury more than Champagne. It’s the drink of celebration and status, a worldly swirl of bubbles that embodies elegance, success and joie de vivre. On a recent visit to this famous wine region – Champagne – I learned that there is so much more to Champagne than I had ever imagined. First off, there is only one Champagne. While there are many other sparkling wines, from all over the world, many created in the same way as the famous fizz, they cannot call themselves Champagne. Part of what makes this wine so exclusive, and often expensive, is also what sets it apart. The Champagne region is located in the northeast region of France, just north of another very famous area, Burgundy. When the Romans first encountered these barren hills they named the spot Campagne, Latin for unforested lands or open country.

Growing ripe grapes has always been a challenge as the vineyards are located in what’s referred to in wine jargon, as the fringes of viability. Grapes grow best between 30º and 50º latitude (Champagne is found at 40º- 49.5º) which means it’s a constant battle with nature to guarantee fruit that is ripe. Spring and fall bring frost, summer sun is not always plentiful and the average annual temperature is a chilly 50ºF/10ºC. Vineyards are planted on the gently undulating hillsides, usually facing south, southeast or east to catch the warm rays of the sun. Small valleys often act as ‘sun traps’ ensuring ripe grapes and the many rivers that flow through the terrain act as a moderating influence and aid in warding off the dreaded frosts. The soils of the region are truly the defining element of Champagne’s unique character. Vineyards are planted on predominantly chalk and limestone, created millions of years ago when most of what we now know as France was a vast sea. These sedimentary soils are composed of tiny, microscopic exoskeletons of ancient sea creatures and are found in pockets alongside marl (a mixture of limestone and clay) and well-draining sand. Limestone rich soils are perfect for one of the three main grapes of Champagne. Pinot Noir lends a really earthy, aromatic nuance to the fruit. Chardonnay loves chalk and clay, exhibiting refreshing minerality, while sandy soils contribute to the fruity, easy drinking character of Pinot Munier. While exploring the underground cellars of some of the famous (and not so famous) Champagne houses, I realized the incredible dedication of these growers and winemakers. For me, it was a ‘luxury’ experience to find myself in the presence of these dedicated individuals, sharing the wines they had made with such care and enthusiasm. They relish in the challenges nature presents each and every year, finding ways to take this famous and coveted wine to greater and more artistic levels with each vintage.

Hilarie Larson Hilarie’s passion for wine began in the1970’s while in the European hospitality industry.


In 2003 she began her wine career in earnest in her native British Columbia, Canada, working at several Okanagan Valley wineries where she was able to assist in the vineyard and cellar as well as the tasting rooms. Along the way, she acquired her certificate from the Court of Master Sommelier, worked for an international wine broker andas ‘Resident Sommelier’ for wineries in Washington State and California. Deep inside the ‘crayer’ or caves of Champagne



Hilarie’s greatest joy is spreading the gospel of wine, food and travel.

IFWTWA Author profile here.


The view from my deck of Mount Hood.

My Home Town The Charms of Cherryville, Oregon


y hometown is technically where the Zip code of Sandy, Oregon is. And it’s nothing special. How could a dinky former lumber town with tragic architecture and the added sparkle of glowing fast food signs in strip malls, be special? It’s also an “I-can’t-find-a-goodrestaurant” kind of bad. But I live on twenty acres above the Sandy River. It’s fifteen minutes and a world away from Sandy town on a bluff that once had a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, and the Cherryville post office. These all disappeared prior to the 1950’s when the highway was built. No longer did day-trippers motor past Cherryville’s Whiskey Creek to play on Mount Hood. ”Whiskey Creek?” Yes, local lore says that when horse-drawn carriages hauling folks from Portland to Mt. Hood reached Cherryville, the driver had finished his bottle of whiskey and he’d throw it into the creek. To enjoy the cuisine fun-land that is Portland, my husband and I drive 45 minutes. But here we do distance in our own way. If we want to listen to the incredible Portland Blues Festival at Waterfront Park in Portland every July, I call my friend Dee at the horse barn. At her ranch, I give my Palomino “Drifter” a treat, load up Dee’s pontoon boat and we pull the trailer to the dock. The slow, hot cruise down the Willamette River to Portland is perfect for popping open a cold Oregon craft beer. Large, secluded woodland properties and ranch land are typical here. Our version of local media is the busy-body and de facto “mayor of the street” who shares the gossip and comings and goings. Our local ranchers stop by every so often to “do a nose job” on the way to check cows, with impatient, barking Blue Heelers in tow. We share pies and pots of dinner. We celebrate victories and mourn losses together. When my neighbor catch-

es salmon in the river nearby, he cleans it and knocks on our door with a filet for dinner. Mayberry town. Once when renewing my permit to carry in a town thirty minutes away, the sheriff said, “I know where you live. Out there all you got is farmers and deliverance.” I had to agree, it is a DIY place. A few years back someone was burning barns and cutting trees in an attempt to kill motorists on the highway and create mayhem. We had a neighborhood meeting and nightly patrols were formed. Men hid in trees. The T.V. media dubbed the arsonist “The Cherryville Chicken” because one night when his terrorizing was interrupted, and all that was found was a running chainsaw in the middle of road. He was caught a couple of weeks later. No word on his condition. Heh heh. I am surrounded by cows. I’ve had a black bear at the back door. Deer come every evening to “prune” my struggling rose bushes. Bats fly by going for mosquitoes at dusk. And I love it. We have an expansive view of Mt. Hood, named “ Wy‘East” by the First People, where Timberline Lodge sits on a southern flank. Craftsmen and artists built this 1934 WPA project using humble local materials from “the mountain” to create a silent paean to hard work and hope. If you are a film buff you might remember the terrifying line “Here’s Johnny! “ uttered by Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.” The snowy exteriors were shot at historic Timberline. All around us are waterfalls, lakes, rivers, hiking and ski trails to explore. Sour cherry, alder, maple and fir to shade us; Christmas Tree and berry farms to sustain us. The open spaces, blue sky, fresh water, clean air all contribute to the feeling of freedom here, essential to the soul. Eagles, blue heron, osprey and turkey vultures share our world. We plant flowers to support a variety of bees, butterflies and humming birds. We feed migrant birds. Our garden pond provides water for wildlife. We cut wood from our land to light our winter fire; essential when the east winds shut down the power and dinner is a can of chili heated on our wood stove, but accompanied with an Oregon Pinot Noir. Truly there is a sense of self-reliance and contentedness to be found here in Cherryville; and my paradise is my home.

Michelle Winner Michelle’s idea of luxury is fishing the Ka’iwi Channel. After a day on the Pacific there is nothing more satisfying than to pull the boat upon Moloka’i and grill the fresh catch as the sun dives into the ocean. Michelle’s work has appeared in Conde Nast Digital Media, Saveur, Islands Magazine and The NY Times.She specializes in Hawaiian travel and culture, and is the Americas Correspondent for TravelWritersRadio FM JAIR, Melbourne.

IFWTWA Author profile here.



A Taste of Scotland

High-Quality, Local Ingredients in Focus by Victor Dorff



This 28-room resort is the centerpiece of the Isle of Eriska.



This “exceptional scallop” represents some of the best cuisine Scotland has to offer.

The salmon and roe share the spotlight with a tasty local asparagus spear.



lone Shetland scallop sits on a plate, a single pod of peas by its side. A sprig of herbs and a bit of a mustard sauce finish the picture - a bold statement of confidence that says, “This is Scottish cuisine.” When it comes to preparing gourmet meals, Chef Ross Stovoldon, on the Isle of Eriska, says his ingredients are the star of the show. “If I have an exceptional scallop, all I have to do is cook it properly. To start messing around with it - turn it into a scallop mousse and serve it with a Thai broth - doesn’t make any sense to me.” The scallop was, in fact, superb one of eleven courses of the tasting menu designed to showcase the best food that Scotland’s Highlands have to offer. We had begun our culinary tour of Scotland as guests on the Isle of Eriska, a Relais & Chateaux property, and we were already impressed.

The Isle of Eriska - Hotel, Spa, and Island The clientele who stay at the resort, a private island at the mouth of Loch



Creran on the west coast of Scotland, come to enjoy quiet luxury in a pastoral setting. It took us about four hours to drive from Edinburgh, where our flight from the U.S. had landed that morning, but we could already feel the tension dissolving as we approached the main house - a stately home that sits amid lush greenery, beautiful flowers, and a variety of well-kept trees at the end of a gravel path just wide enough for one car. In addition to the rooms in the main house, the resort features spacious two-room suites, each complete with its own hot tub in a secluded back yard. The island offers walking paths – up the hill and through the woods for a better view, for example, or around the golf courses and along the beach, where

the otters come to play in the high tide. There are also a big pool, tennis courts, a golf course, and a spa.

Hospitality - A Family Affair The estate has been in the same family for 42 years. Today, it is owned and managed by Beppo Buchanan-Smith, whose parents bought the island in 1973, when it was in disrepair. The key to bringing it to its current state of luxury, he says, was to capitalize on the inherent strengths of the beautiful property. “We decided to make the most of what we have,” explained Buchanan-Smith, “and what we have in infinite supply are tranquility and Scottish

hospitality.” And now, with the addition of Chef Stovoldon, Eriska can provide an exciting array of locally-sourced, high-quality food. Stovoldon says building relationships with vendors is the key to maintaining the standards guests of this high-end hide-away have come to expect. “I invite them to have dinner, so they can see what I am going to be doing with their product,” the chef explains. “I want the best ingredient possible, because I am not going to mess around with it.” For some ingredients, such as wild garlic, hazelnuts, and kelp, Stovoldon doesn’t need a supplier. They are harvested right there on the island. As a 17-year-old sous-chef working for Stovoldon, Fraser Cooper learns

not only useful kitchen skills, like filleting a halibut, but also how to forage for edibles around the island. Whether he is picking greens from the hot house on the grounds, harvesting seaweed off the pier, or collecting moss in the woods to flavor a dish, Cooper is becoming familiar with the richness of Scotland’s natural pantry,

Making the Bounty Last All Year Of course, in Scotland, fresh ingredients are seasonal, which means they are not available for much of the year. Chef Stovoldon’s solution is to plan menus roughly a year in advance, stocking up when the ingredients are available, and using old-fashioned (tried

and true) techniques for preserving the quality of each piece of the culinary puzzle. As the season for root vegetables ends, for example, Stovoldon will buy for the future, then bury the goods in boxes of sand. This method, which he calls “clamping,” preserves the freshness of the vegetables by stopping their aging process. To keep meat as fresh as the day it was delivered, Stovoldon encases each piece in a shell of beef fat. Lathered on and allowed to harden, the fat provides an environment in which the meat can continue to age, but won’t disappoint. The piece he showed us was being kept fresh for that night’s steak tartare, which was delicious. The tasting menu provided us with one exquisite treat after another - lamb from Argyll, haddock from the Isle of Gigha, mussels from Glen Coe. Our epicurean tour of the highlands had just begun, but with his creativity and talent, Stovoldon had already made it clear that Scottish food has evolved beyond haggis, tates, and neeps.

Chef Ross Stovoldon (left) and Beppo Buchanan-Smith (right) chatting in the kitchen.

Victor Dorff Victor writes, shoots & edits video, and loves to eat well. Before becoming a travel writer, he was a producer with ABC News, but writing about luxury hotels is definitely more fun than covering disasters! He has also authored destination-based books of mostly-obscure facts (e.g., Las Vegas, Texas, New Orleans, England).

IFWTWA Author profile here.



Disney’s Hawaiian Aulani Resort & Spa PHOTO BY SANDRA CHAMBERS

South Pacific Ambiance Meets Disney Magic Luxury Awaits at Disney’s Aulani Hawaiian Resort and Walt Disney World’s New Polynesian Bungalows in Florida. by Sandra Chambers

artwork. In fact, the resort showcases one of the largest collections of contemporary Hawaiian art in the islands, all by local artists. “Aulani is the gateway, the door that isney’s Aulani Hawaiian Resort allows you to get to Hawaii and know & Spa is located on 21 beautiful oceanfront acres in Ko Olina, Ha- what you are seeing by having come waii, on the Island of Oahu. Aulani (pro- through this doorway,” says Joe Rohde, nounced ow-lau-nee) may have Disney’s a Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Vice President who grew up on Oahu and name attached, but don’t expect thrill who led the design work at Aulani. rides, or any rides at all, at this Disney The Hawaiian Islands are all about destination. What you will find at Aulani is a distinct kind of magic for adults and the sea and so is Aulani. The resort features a nine-acre, crystal blue lagoon, kids alike. white sand beaches, an infinity pool, Opening in 2011, Disney’s Aulani lazy river and family pool with a misty Hawaiian Resort & Spa is really a tiny grotto, and a Rainbow Reef, a 3,800 microcosm of the whole island’s ecosquare-foot snorkel lagoon where system. The architecture, landscaping guests can get up close and personal and water features immerse guests in with fish that inhabit the waters in and Hawaii’s history, culture, art, legends around Hawaii. There’s also a kid’s and stories. In order to provide an authentic Hawaiian experience at Aulani, splash zone with images of tidal pool Disney worked with local cultural advis- creatures and hidden Menehune, the ers for everything from its architecture to legendary little people of the islands who




can be spotted through chinks in the rocks. Aulani is billed as a family destination with a variety of accommodations, including standard rooms; one-or two-bedroom luxurious ocean-view suites; and one-to three-bedroom villas that feature just-like-home amenities. The resort offers exciting programs and activities for all ages, including Aunty’s Beach House for kids ages 3-12, tweens and teens programs including Painted Sky, the only teen spa on Oahu. Aulani is also a wonderful destination for couples. Compared to most Disney parks this resort offers quiet luxury in spacious and beautifully designed accommodations, outstanding cuisine, and a world-class spa. The resort offers several restaurants, but be sure to visit their signature one, ‘Ama ‘Ama, named for a local fish. The restaurant serves seasonally fresh American dishes with an island twist. Hawai-


The new over-the-water Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

ian sunsets are truly amazing, so enjoy dinner and live Hawaiian music in their open-air seating. While visiting Aulani, I spent a day at Laniwai (lah-nee-vai) Spa, which means “Freshwater Heaven.” The 18,000 square-foot-indoor spa area includes a fitness center, treatment rooms, steam rooms, dry saunas and relaxation rooms. But the 5,000 square-foot-outdoor Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden, featuring vitality baths, herbal pools, a reflexology path, and six Waterfall Rain Showers was for me the most luxurious feature of their spa. “Laniwai embraces the cultural and even the spiritual significance of anuenue, or rainbows, by combining elegantly reflected light, brilliant color and healing water features,” says Lucia Rodiguez, Laniwai’s spa director. I began my spa day with a Hana Pohaku LomiLomi Hawaiian Massage with hot stones, followed by indulging in delicious chocolate-covered blueberries

and raspberries during my manicure and pedicure. Before leaving, I mixed my own customized body polish/scrub with Plumeria essential oils and rose petals at the Pula Bar mixology station to take home with me as a souvenir of my wonderful spa day. In every way, Disney’s Aulani’s Hawaiian Resort & Spa is a unique expression of Disney Magic and a luxurious experience for families and couples alike.

Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows at Walt Disney World Can’t make it to Hawaii? Don’t despair! Disney has succeeded in bringing some of the spirit of the islands to the states with their newly renovated AAA Four Diamond Polynesian Village Resort. Especially luxurious are the new Bora Bora Bungalows. These 20 over-

the-water bungalows are the first ever created by Disney. Located on the white sand beach of Seven Seas Lagoon, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, while only a quick monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom Park, feel like an oasis amidst the bustling park atmosphere. I had the privilege of touring the bungalows just before they opened in April 2015. These two bedroom, two bath accommodations sleep eight and feature a fully equipped kitchen with rock-inspired counters, washer and dryer, a queen size sofa bed and a hidden pull-down bed. Add to that a private deck that runs the full width of the bungalow, complete with tropical lanterns, lounge furniture including a hammock swing, and a private plunge pool and you have Luxury–spelled with a capital “L.” I could just imagine myself soaking in that pool, tropical drink in hand, with a front row seat to the nightly fireworks at the Magic

Trader Sams Grog Grotto reminiscent of a South Seas hideaway



Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden Waterfall Rain Showers



of guests are allowed in the Grotto at a time, so get in line early to enjoy one of their handcrafted Tiki cocktails served in souvenir mugs. Try the Polynesian Pearl, Nautilus or Shrunken Zombie Head! While you wait to enter the Grog Grotto, enjoy some pork sliders or sushi and pan-fried dumplings on the patio overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon. And before you leave the tropical island setting–either in Hawaii or in Florida–the world-famous Dole Whip soft serve treat is a must!

If you go For information: Disney’s Aulani’s Hawaiian Resort & Spa Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Sandra Chambers Sandra has written hundreds of magazine, newspaper and online articles for 20+ national, regional and local publications. For the past four years she has been a regular contributor to Allegiant Airline’s in-flight magazine, Sunseeker. She has also written travel stories for West Jet Air, Luxe Beat Magazine,Dreamscapes, Lumina News, Wrightsville Beach Magazine, North Brunswick Magazine, and South Brunswick Magazine, among others. Sandra lives in Wilmington,NC, and enjoys photography, reading, the beach, seafood and all things Southern. See her travel blog at Southern-Traveller.com.

IFWTWA author profile here. DAVID ROARK

Kingdom (by the way, the speakers on the deck are designed to play the soundtrack in sync with the fireworks!) These luxurious bungalows feel like a home away from home. Just steps away is the Polynesian Resort itself with its newly designed lobby (the Great Ceremonial House), complete with a large welcoming Tiki Statue that sits on a lava water feature, and a chandelier inspired by Polynesian native navigational instruments, including bamboo finishes and glass globes. The resort also offers 360 Deluxe Studios located in “longhouses,” which are named for islands on the Polynesian isle map. I was privileged to be one of the first guests to experience the luxury of these new accommodations that sleep up to five guests. There’s a queen-size bed, queen-size sleeper sofa and a pull down bunk. They also have a kitchenette, a split bath design with a walk-in shower in one and a tub/shower combination in the other and a private porch or balcony. Other upgrades at the resort include a re-imagined Lava Pool, an Oasis Pool and the Kiki Tiki’s Children’s Wet Play Area. Adults will enjoy Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, reminiscent of a South Seas hideaway. Only a limited number


Exotic island cocktails at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

The Art of Exploring the Kimberley Gorges Australian Small Luxury Cruising Story and photography by Graeme Kemlo


MV Great Escape below King George Falls in the east Kimberley, Western Australia


Wanjina rock art painted under an overhanging ledge in The Kimberley.

by five or six crew) aboard Great Escape this is either: “the trip of a lifetime,” a “SKI holiday - spending the kids’ inheritance,” or money well spent on “expee arise early, far too early says riences not material things.” It draws the clock. But we’re chasing local and international visitors. And after the sweet light in the east Kim- discussions over dinner last night, there berley - a place so rich in red and ochre, is genuine anticipation among this group that pastel hues seem out of place. of Aussies about seeing some of AusThe clock is correctly set to Perth tralia’s oldest, most remote indigenous time, but the West Australian capital is artwork, and doing so as a small group literally half a continent and a 90-minute in a vast wilderness. time-zone away to the south-west. The The cruise is billed as “Kings of the Kimberly is almost as large as Texas, so Kimberley Gorges - a photographic when you’re this far north and east and cruise” and we’re determined to see you want to capture that “blue hour” more than the primary colours, the Kobefore civil sunrise, you forget the clock dak moments when red dirt meets azure and trust Nigel, our local photographer. sea with scrubby green foliage to break And so wearily we haul ourselves up the rocky landscape. and kilos of camera, tripod and backWe have permission to fly today with pack out of our cabins and up three the chopper’s doors removed, and with flights of stairs to the bright yellow Bell an extra safety check complete, our Jet Ranger helicopter strapped to the pilot, Brad, fires up the turbine which top deck of our luxury 85-foot power increases in pitch from a whine to a catamaran, MV Great Escape. sweet crescendo as the rotor blades For some of the 14 guests (attended start to sweep above us. The dials




confirm we’re good to go and we lift off, sweep down the canyon and are soon deep into the gorge - the thwack of the helicopter rotor echoes off the steep sandstone walls. Brad, who is ex-Army, banks to the left, my body strains against the double safety harness and I am staring through the Nikon viewfinder straight down the face of a waterfall. With the next bank to the right the other half of a twin waterfall is revealed. Here the King George River tumbles from its sandstone plateau more than 300 feet down into the gorge carved from these Pre-Cambrian rocks over more than 2000 million years. Later some fellow guests can be seen on the twin bowsprits of our vessel, taking a shower under the falls - an experience to tell the grandkids...and one unlikely to be repeated. As we look down on the landscape from 500 feet, we’re reminded of Aboriginal paintings that invariably picture their “country” from high above the land. We non-indigenous, whose history in

Wanjina rock art in The Kimberley – I realise I am occupying the exact same spot where the original artist lay.

Australia numbers less than 300 years, are in search of clues from an ancient culture that has occupied this land for 40,000 years and mostly passed on its stories in an oral tradition, often referred to as “the Dreamtime.” Somewhere here are visual arts that few are privileged to explore and we take the responsibility seriously; “take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints” is our group mantra. The helicopter sweeps across the red sandstone landscape, the rivers that were arterial are now more like thin veins etched into the red rock, the bush denser. Approaching top speed, the horizon rolls on relentlessly flat across the Kimberley Plateau. There are no roads to this secret, and probably sacred, site - eventually we descend and a rock formation rises over the horizon line, small at first. But it looms large as we drop altitude further to circle overhead. This is to ensure the landing place is clear; clear of kangaroos and fellow travelers dropped off here earlier. We hover above a clearing surrounded by groups of ochre-coloured boulders piled 15-30 feet high one upon the other in a rough circle. The spinifex grasses flatten under the air pressure as we make a gentle landing in the clearing, an amphitheatre of standing stones. We wonder, ‘Is this Australia’s Stonehenge?’ It certainly has the appearance of ceremonial grounds, not made by man, but used by him. We meet up with one of the Great Escape crew, Rusty. He has crewed this vessel for a number of years and as our guide is well read. He provides a layman’s interpretation of this country’s ancient rock art - the Bradshaws, originally named after the person who found and started to catalogue them. Now known as “Gwion Gwion” they were variously dated by different scientific techniques at 17,500 BP (before present) to 5000 BP. Rusty leads us to the art and some younger Wanjina spirit paintings, only 4000 years old. Few get to see and photograph this ancient art and as the only journalist in the group, I agreed not to publish its exact location.

As we pick our way through a grassy track around the formations of boulders, our guide points out some bowling ball-sized rocks that lay among grassy tussocks had been gathered on the ground, “a grave - we don’t disturb or photograph.” We pause to acknowledge the site and walk on. One minute later we arrive at a rock with a large overhang, protected from the prevailing weather and the harsh Kimberley sun. As Rusty begins to explain what we are about to see he comments: “If this was anywhere else, there’d be guards, an entrance fee and it would be roped off like a Disneyland queue.” We put down our camera bags and crawl under the overhang. Here is a Wanjina-style (also spelled Wandjina) painting that depicts ancestral beings. The images feature a whole body with a head painted white, surrounded by an ochre headdress, two eyes wide open and a nose, but never a mouth; and if it is a whole body, the feet will be turned out to 180 degrees like an Egyptian. There’s also a ghostly figure

surrounded by boomerangs. As I lay beneath these images a shiver runs down my spine - I realise I am occupying the exact same spot where the original artist lay…something quite spiritual exists here. At another special site we walk into

Thousands of years old this Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) rock art overlooks a Kimberley estuary system



an amphitheatre, again the gallery of art has been chosen for its overhanging space and protected from the prevailing weather. We see the more ancient Gwion rock art that’s been painted from a standing position on a ledge looking out to sea. These are elegant stick figures in black or a deep mulberry purple colour and are generally in good condition despite their age. They have long headdresses, tassels hanging from their arms, sometimes are depicted carrying spears or woomera (spear throwers). Regarded as some of the oldest figurative rock paintings in the world, they were first discovered in the 1890s and catalogued by English pastoralist Joseph Bradshaw. There are believed to be many more sites across the Kimberley which covers more than 163,000 square miles.

Truth is there is some debate about the origin of the Kimberley figure paintings, with some suggesting they are Indonesian or Timorese, which is disputed by local Aboriginal communities and some academics. What’s not up for debate is that the rock art is simply not accessible by vehicle, so a small luxury adventure cruise, such as Great Escape with its helicopter atop is a great platform from which to launch a Kimberley

Guests enjoy a pastel-hued sunset barbecue on the beach at Steep Head in The Kimberley



adventure. Of course the other experiences of a week aboard the ship are the quality of accommodation rooms each with ensuite, the high staff to guest ratio, and a chef on board to prepare magnificent meals, many of which we ate on the back deck at a table for 20. The crew are a key part of such experiences and nothing was too much trouble as they were keen to further personalise the on-board experience with three tenders available to allow us to photograph the flora and fauna, to spot magnificent 14-foot-plus saltwater crocodiles, to swim safely in wonderful fresh waterholes, enjoy beach barbecues or catch mud crabs. Then there’s the chance to learn or simply brush up the angling skills on the magnificent Australian perch, similar to saratoga, but known best by its Ab-

MV Great Escape, 85 feet of luxury small adventure cruising, plus chopper and tenders ready to tackle anything in Australia’s Kimberley Chef Ben with a fresh-caught barramundi in the Kimberley – magnificent eating

original name, barramundi (fish with big scales). We landed two 60 cm barramundi, and fought off a cheeky young crocodile who tried to steal one. Barra, fresh from the water, enabled the chef to serve up the best fish meal many of us reckoned we’d ever eaten. Great Escape plies the Kimberley in two sections over four separate weeks - north from Broome to Mitchell Falls, then from Mitchell Falls to KununurGreat Escape Charter Company ra and then does reverse legs. Many Phone +61 (8) 9193 5983 guests who do one leg, return later to Fax +61 (8) 9192 6983 complete the trip, such is the diversity Email: info@greatescape.net.au of the landscape and the experiences available on board and ashore.

If you go

For information:

Graeme Kemlo Graeme is an Australian journalist and photographer, who has covered the leisure travel and business events (MICE) sector over the past 20 years for trade magazines in Australia and Asia. He is the senior features writer for micenet magazine and his travel stories and pictures also appear in a range of high-end leisure travel magazines, including Get Up & Go, Epicure, Vacations & Travel and Signature. Graeme is Executive Producer and Host of Travel Writers Radio, an IFWTWA Australasia initiative, Chair of IFWTWA Australasia and a Board Member of IFWTWA.

IFWTWA Author profile here.



Where Josephine Lost Her Head

Searching Searching in in Martinique Martinique Story Story and and photography photographyby by Kimberly Kimberly A. A. Edwards Edwards

Headless statue partially obscured by shade



Anse Mitan in the morning

into the swell of a crowd, lights flashing, music booming, cars parading, motorcycles revving, sandals glittering, headbands swaying, and hot grease sizzling. ust twelve months after Twelve Maneuvering through knots of party Years as a Slave won the Oscar makers, I found a small inn across from for Best Picture, I found the presthe landmark La Savane Park. I rang ence of a headless Josephine remarkthe street buzzer. “You just experienced able in a park where children play and pre-Carnival,” said the inn keeper. “Peopalms wave. ple here get happy Sunday nights.” I had come to Martinique by ferry Maneuvering through knots of party from St. Lucia, where I was visiting. makers, I found the Bayfront Hotel Darkness was already descending as I ($100/night), an inn across from the cleared customs in Fort-de-France, cap- landmark La Savane Park. I rang the ital of Martinique, département of France street buzzer. Serge greeted me. “You in a chain of jewels parting the calm just experienced pre-Carnival,” he Caribbean from the restless Atlantic. said. “People here get happy Sunday Wrapped in a tepid breeze I steadnights.” He led me to my room, basic ied my luggage along Rue de la Liberté but clean on an upper floor accessed by




tight-twisting stairs. The next morning, after a continental breakfast of toast and good coffee, I found the street serene and already swept, a contrast to the rambunctious gathering the night before. I wandered into La Savane Park, 12 ¬Ω acres of open grass, checkered walkways and food stands. Not too far in, an eerie seclusion surrounded a decapitated statue, half-hidden in shade, bearing blood-colored paint splashed down the marble. This was a defaced rendition of the Empress Josephine, daughter of a local plantation owner, who two-and-a-half centuries ago married Napoleon Bonaparte. Stories conflict as to what happened, but records seem to agree that her head

disappeared -- sawed off at the neck more than 20 years ago. Some locals expressed displeasure with a statue that perpetuates European domination; one source described the disfigurement as a symbolic “beheading.” “It’s very simple,” said a Martinique native, a trendily-dressed retired teacher I met on the ferry. “People don’t like her. They blame her for Napoleon bringing slavery back to Martinique for her family’s sugar plantation after he abolished it. The government tried to repair her, but they stopped trying.” Martinique’s population, comprised largely of descendants of African

Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates: Terrapins

slaves mixed with native people and East Indian laborers, exudes a vibrant French-creole culture, even as the damaged statue remains in public view. This seemed extraordinary, perhaps reflecting a subtle undercurrent, sensed but not seen. “Whites” from France are regarded by some as outsiders even as they occupy visible positions. Most tourists are French. English is not spoken widely. On a cliff past the park, a fort still used by the French military cuts a picturesque shape against the sky over sparkling water. The roads are tidy. Colonial structures bear tropical touches such as light-filtering windows, wood and stone open spaces, sloping rooftops to catch the Trade Winds, verandas, covered porticos, and tile floors. The Schoelcher Library, shown at the 1889 Paris World Fair before being dismantled and transported here, hosts an immense collection from floor to ceiling. Though travel books advise renting a car (public transportation is sparse), I re-

lied on a small, efficiently-run ferry which crosses the bay towards Les Trois√élets and beaches Pointe du Bout, a 20-minute ride (approximately $10 round trip, Euros only), and the adjoining Anse Mitan. Boarding was informal, seating inside and out. When not filled with tourists, the ferry transferred young men in shorts or tailored denims, and women stylish in scarves and flowered sandals. One ticket collector warmly removed earphones from a sleeping teen who awoke to produce his ticket. Upon reaching the beach, a hub of shops, hotels, restaurants, and car rental companies awaited, anchored by La Pagerie Hotel, with open air lobby, waving bougainvillea, and a flower-scented restroom that evokes amenity. Streets led to finely sanded beaches along clear, turquoise water. Hidden enclaves of Europeans dipped in what seemed like private ocean baths. After checking out hotels - filled with French tourists -- I found the small Auberge L’Anse Mitan, built in 1935. A

Nothing better than the pastries at Creperie La Savante



piece of coral held the door open to let in the breeze. The “lobby” was a living room, occupied by daughter-and-widow of the original owner and filled with rattan chairs and heavy dark-stained table. Side rooms, which obviously once knew glory, held plastic fruit, pebbled tables, Xmas lights, and a chambered nautilus. My room was furnished with intricately-carved furniture and a refrigerator useful for cheese and fruit I bought every few days. The window slats admit-



ted afternoon gusts, rustling the heavy, embroidered curtains. Just steps away, the ocean offered swimming from morning to dusk. Tweeting birds created a symphony with the tide. Fish darted among the rocks. As the grills heated up, the beach took on the smell of barbecue. In the evening, as the sun fell behind the mountain, blue streaks spiraled over small waves humming their way in. In early mornings, yachts and fishing

boats chugged under rainbows cascading from Fort-de-France in the distance. At 6:40, the first ferry arrived from across the bay. Small boats docked at the pier while fisherman plucked the daily “get” from nets, separating lobsters, throwing them into a pail, stopping only to light a cigarette. This front-row seat afforded a unique view of marine life brought to the surface. Mid-morning took me to a baquette shop, Creperie La Savante, for wheat bread, chocolate pastry and coffee. French tourists and occasional locals passed in a panorama of thongs, cellphones, baby carriages, leashed dogs, and brimmed hats. Throughout the day, planes rumbled overhead to and from France. Stores showcased the latest French fashions. While Martinique is expensive compared to nearby St Lucia, exquisite bookmarks at Galerie de Sophen caught my eye for about $5 U.S. World-class Martinique creole cuisine thrives on spices invoking French, African, and Asian-Indian roots. Cumin, ginger, thyme, vanilla, cinnamon, coriander, chile and curry arouse the palate. I feasted on grilled fish with basil and lime sauce, potatoes, rice, salad, fish cakes (codfish fritters, on some menus) and coconut flan I tasted in every restaurant. Martinique offers popular beaches deeper south and the active volcano Mount Pelée in the north. While the language and lack of public transportation make navigation of a 430-square-mile island a challenge, the country feels safe and secure. Back in Fort-de-France, I returned to La Savana Park. The crepe stand attendant slapped batter on the grill for delicious, if informal pancake dinners. Another stand offered “health” smoothies. Across the bay, Pointe du Bout twinkled in a darkening sky. Palms waved while teens played basketball. As families watched children play soccer, they shared pizzas. Nearby, deep in shadow, I discovered an old memorial to

The Schoelcher Library was first shown at the 1889 Paris World Fair before being dismantled and transported to Martinique

Auberge L’Anse Mitan, built in 1935

WWI, WWII, and more recent war casualties. Said my local friend the teacher, “They always sent the black boys, you know.” At the end of the park nearest the sea, a fast Latin beat blared. Dancing began. Soon many couples joined in. Murmurs passed through the bystanders that the music represented Dominican Republic influence. Like the locals, I joined in. Josephine lost her head in this park, but I drew a thrill here, warm breeze, waving fronds, cumin alive, as I swayed to the pulse of this exquisite creole-Caribbean experience.

Kimberly A. Edwards Kimberly has written for International Travel News, the Times of India, Metropolis (Japan), Senior Spectrum, The Sacramento Bee, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Sacramento News and Review, ASJA Monthly (American Society of Journalists & Authors) and many other local, national and international publications. A 2013 recipient of the Jack London Award for service to the California Writers Club, she served on the Sacramento Branch Board and arranged guest speakers. She also enjoys membership in the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Northern California Publishers & Authors, and the California State University Renaissance Society, where she leads a Writing Personal Histories Seminar. IFWTWA Author profile here.



The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin




The American Club

Cream of the Crop in America’s Dairyland by Linda Fasteson



Irish Course at Whistling Straits, Hole 11, The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin, PHOTO COURTESY KOHLER CO.


ith just a few states left in our quest to discover the essence of each one, we headed for Wisconsin, knowing little more about it than its reputation as America’s Dairyland. We discovered the cream of the crop in Kohler, which is about a 22 hour drive north from Chicago and an hour from Milwaukee. Kohler is in Sheboygan County, home to companies like



Sargento, the first to offer prepackaged cheese, and Johnsonville, one of America’s largest sausage producers. With much of the early European immigration coming from Germany, it is little wonder that Bratwurst Days, Oktoberfest, and breweries add to the region’s fun. Deep fried cheese curds that ooze melted cheddar are indeed popular – and addictive – treats. But there’s so much more. Little did we know that in the Village of Kohler, established around a foundry for making farm implements, we would

The Wisconsin Room, The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin PHOTO COURTESY KOHLER CO.

waned the American Club was transformed into a one-stop vacation destination that exemplifies gracious living. It opened in 1981 with the finest of accommodations, dining and spa experiences as well as year-round outdoor adventures. The American Club is a AAA 5-diamond and Forbes 5-star ranked hotel, one of only 48 hotels in the world with both designations. It was added to the National Historic Register in the 1980s. Guest rooms are uniquely decorated and their bathrooms include The Kohler Showering Experience as well as a range of Kohler bath features. Those who wish to bring the experience home can visit the Design Center. The luxurious Kohler Waters Spa is Kohler became a household name on the first floor of the adjacent Carriage after John Michael Kohler bought out his House. father-in-law’s Sheboygan foundry and Since breakfast, afternoon tea, and machine shop that manufactured cast hors d’oeuvres are served there, guests iron farm implements. In 1883, he addwho stay in one of the 186 adults-only ed four legs to their enameled cast iron guest rooms can be attired in their plush feeding trough and sold it to a farmer as robes all day. a bathtub in exchange for fourteen pigs The spa is the ultimate place to and a cow. By 1891 Kohler was producexperience the therapeutic benefits ing bathtubs, washbowls, and drinking fountains. Kohler Co. went on to be the first company to offer a complete solution for kitchens and baths–sinks, toilets, faucets, and tubs. In 1900 the factory was moved a few miles west to Riverside, and after John Michael Kohler’s death in 1927 Riverside was renamed the Village of Kohler. His son, Walter, saw that the expanding company needed a place for immigrant workers to live and built the elegant red brick Tudor-style American Club in 1918 with dormitories, a dining area, billiards, find a world-class five star resort expebowling, barbershop, tavern and school rience. The complex has evolved with for learning English and gaining citizenchampionship golf courses, including ship. It was sited opposite the factory, Whistling Straits, with massive sand dunes and roaming sheep that replicate separated by a broad, tree-lined boulevard. Walter Kohler, Sr. went on to crethe rugged courses in Ireland or Scotate a zoned, planned community with land. plenty of green space in keeping with It attracted the PGA Championship again in 2015, the third time it has been Sir Ebenezer Howard’s English garden city movement. Later, such notables held here. The American Club’s other as Boston’s Olmsted Brothers and the course, Blackwolf Run, utilizes the Carrot 43 Martini at The Winery Bar, The natural Wisconsin terrain and is regard- Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation added to American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin, ed as one of course designer Pete Dye’s the master plan. PHOTO COURTESY KOHLER CO. After the need for immigrant labor crowning achievements



Photo credit: Robert Demar / aerial view, Mark Gardner / bikes, Mike Bertrand / Friday Harbor, Jim Maya / whales

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InspIratIon For the senses VisitSanJuans.com

Explore Historic Friday Harbor Find Endless Adventure

Discover Nature’s Splendor

Room 114, Heritage King, guest room The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin PHOTO COURTESY KOHLER CO.

Governor’s Suite Bathroom room The American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin PHOTO COURTESY KOHLER CO.

Chocolatier Anette Righi DeFendi’s work, like fulfilling Mr. Kohler’s desire for a chocolate peanut butter creation to surpass Reese’s flavor and for the world’s best chocolate turtle, the Terrapin, now the shop’s signature chocolate. Kohler Co., now a global company that employs over 30,000 employees in fifteen countries, continues to be privately held and is in the fourth generation of family management. The company also owns Baker Furniture, examples of which are found throughout the American Club.

of Kohler’s water-inspired treatments and is one of 48 spas worldwide to be awarded five stars by Forbes Travel. There are a dozen or so dining options at Destination Kohler, from the homemade ice cream, snacks, and coffee and tea in the greenhouse, shipped piece-by-piece from England, to the elegant European-influenced American cuisine of the romantic and AAA Four-Diamond Immigrant Restaurant & Winery, which has a specialty tea menu that reads like a fine wine list. The Winery Bar has nearly five hundred wine options and received Wine Spectator’s Best Award of Excellence. The Immigrant Restaurant’s Tasting Menu is an experience in fine dining that could begin with rare Russian Imperial Osetra Caviar, formerly available exclusively to the Russian czars. The American Club’s 5-star dine-around features five courses, each paired with wine and

served in a different Kohler restaurant. The more casually elegant Wisconsin Room, the original dining hall of immigrant workers, serves farm-to-table breakfast and dinners. It is renowned for its bountiful Friday Night Seafood Buffet and Sunday Brunch. The workers’ former pub is now the casual Horse &Plow. It is a place to relax with a brew or an Arnold Palmer, half lemonade and half iced tea, munch some fried cheese curds and pretzels or a sandwich like the H&P Reuben or the American Club. Tabletops are made of wood from the immigrants’ bowling alley. Those seeking a light meal with a sweet treat should head for Craverie Chocolatier Café, where its handmade original recipe chocolate can be paired with beer or wine and enjoyed while watching the sun set over Wood Lake. Product development is a key part of

Linda Fasteson Linda Fasteson is an award-winning writer with who specializes in Baby Boomer travel with emphasis on history and culture, grand and historic hotels, waterways and railways, educational vacations, and food and wine. She views travel as a way to to better understand the people, places and events of our world. In addition to her Sunday newspaper travel feature stories, Baby Boomer Travel and Travel Deal columns, and website, NotableTravels.com, she has been a panelist for major publications and international tourism boards and is a contributor to a variety of magazines, forums, and cruise reviews. IFWTWA Author profile here.



Dale Chihuly and Chateau Ste. Michelle Combining the Best of Art and Winemaking in the Great Northwest Story and photography by Linda Kissam

Chihuly Art Garden





uxury travel” can be defined in many ways, but for me it is less defined by thread count and critic scores and more by access to the people, places and experiences that represent all that is authentic and heartfelt about a destination. There’s no denying that upscale comfort factors still apply. Elevated standards of accommodation and dining will always show up on the luxury traveler’s itinerary, however today’s

luxury traveler seeks a broader depth of understanding and engagement to local culture than ever before. People don’t just want to see - they want to absorb and engage with their destination through unique offerings. Not long ago Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State celebrated the 20th year of its Artist Series with a weekend of upscale festivities any luxury traveler would be honored to be part of. The themed weekend was full of wonderfully soulful and spirited experiences and is one wine and art lovers can celebrate themselves.

The flagship winery for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates launched an “Artist Series” of wines with its 1993 vintage. At the time Chateau Ste. Michelle was a small winery with notable ambition and visionary thinking. They teamed up with world-renowned Northwest based glass artist Dale Chihuly to create a memorable line of labels for wine the “Artist Series.” The Meritage style project featured a different artist each year, but always the same winemaker, Bob Bertheau. According to artist Chihuly, the label of the Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Artist Series Red Wine illustrates his Cast Silver Venetian, a sculpture created by Chihuly and then cast in sterling silver at the Walla Walla Foundry in Washington State. It is inspired by Italian Art Deco. Chihuly started his Venetian series in 1988 with Italian glassblower Lino Tagliapietra. It’s elegant, sophisticated and whimsical all at once. According to winemaker Bob Bertheau, the Artist Series wines are the first wines to be made each year. They represent the best grapes and creativity the winery has to offer. “I want the best the entire state of Washington has to offer right in front of me.” In terms of the finished product Mr. Bertheau shares, “It takes about two weeks of straight blending to come to the final blend decision.” As expected, the wine already has received scores in the 90’s and praise from critics.

The Blend Each year, head winemaker Bertheau’s red wine team, headed by Raymon McKee, develops the Artist Series before the rest of the Chateau Ste. Michelle portfolio. The vision for this wine series is to be an artistic representation of what the grapes have to offer such as complexity and nuance and layering of flavors within the context of Washington state fruit.





In terms of taste, this remarkable Bordeaux-style blend showcases unique power and character. The 2012 vintage is a blend of 70% Cabernet, 26% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc and 2% Malbec. Think elegant fruit forward structure backboned by smoothish tannins–all built for aging. According to the winemaker, “My goal is to capture Old World refinement, while harnessing the power and concentration of Washington fruit.” Think layers of premium blends leading to stratums of enticing aromas and flavors–and that is right now. Think what this wine will become in the years to come. Art in a bottle, on many levels. Continued on next page...

Private wine tasting experience

The 2012 Artist Series ($55) incorporates grapes from four sites which include Canoe Ridge Estate (72%) in the Horse Heaven Hills, Cold Creek Vineyard (16%) across the Columbia River from the Wahluke Slope, Zephyr Ridge Vineyard (10%) in the Horse Heaven Hills and Indian Wells on the Wahluke Slope. Case production is set around the 4,300 mark with Cabernet Sauvignon dominating the offerings with 70%, followed by Merlot at 26%. Bertheau uses Cabernet Franc (2%) and Malbec (2%) like a chef might use a spice, but always allowing the grapes to speak for themselves. The barrel program consists of about 69 percent new French oak for 22 months. The 2012 grapes were sourced in an “average vintage” in terms of heat units. Artist and winemaker





Vintage String Dolls

($85-$100 per person) to get a real feel for what this winery has to offer. About 90 minutes and by appointment only. Be sure to mention you would like to taste the 2012 Artist Series. There may be an upcharge, but it will be worth it. Take home a few bottles of wine (can be shipped to many states) including the gorgeous commemorative set of three 2012 Artist Series wines. Check the Ste. Although the grand festivities have Michelle web site for additional onsite come and gone, any art and wine lover can be part of the celebration by visiting events, like outdoor concerts featuring famous name artists. This place knows Seattle, WA. Here are my suggestions how to treat its guests. Even if you are for indulging your sense of taste and an “old hand” at visiting wineries, this place. place has a rich history and future you’ll 1. Lodging: Begin by booking a enjoy being a part of. two-day stay at Hotel Vintage Park (A 3. Chihuly Art: Plan a day to spend Kimpton property) in downtown Seatat Seattle Center immersing yourself in tle. It’s a high-end boutique-style hotel this artist’s glass art. It is like nothing you with all the amenities a guest could have ever seen or experienced before. want. Rooms are spacious and upDale Chihuly’s path to international fame dated in understated wine colors for an is a fun and quirky one. He is definitely urban elegance feel. Room service and the captain of his own ship. concierge assistance is available. Tulio Seattle Center is about 10 minutes Restaurant is adjacent to the hotel bringing Italian cuisine to its highest level, and from the hotel. Book an early lunch at the Collection’s Café. Reservations an afternoon wine reception completes the picture of guest-pampered comforts. are a must. As Dale Chihuly says, “I discovered my first collection of beach This is a pet friendly hotel where each glass on the shores of Puget Sound pet is truly welcomed and celebrated. Centrally located for whatever the guest when I was four or five years old. I’ve never stopped collecting since.” During has in mind to experience. lunch you will be part of his extensive 2. Chateau Ste. Michelle: The collections. Each table has an inset Hotel Vintage Concierge will be able to assist you in your plans, or call Uber for where one of his collections is featured. Think vintage string dolls, radios, pocket transport. It’s about a 30 minute ride knives, inkwells, tin toys, accordions and (without traffic) to the winery from the more. By the way, the food is fabulous. hotel. Book the Ultimate Tour & Tasting

If you go

The Experience

Just across from the restaurant is where the real magic begins at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. Book a private docent lead tour for the best experience. This place is a set of rooms that explore the various art stages of the artist providing a look at the inspiration and influences that formed the career of artist Dale Chihuly. The Exhibition includes eight Galleries, the centerpiece Glasshouse and a lush Garden. It’s an experience you will not forget. The exhibit has a run time of 30 years, so while it will eventually end, it’s here for you to indulge in right now.

Linda Kissam Linda Kissam is a professional food, wine and travel writer based out of Southern California She is the president of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. As she sips with the winemaker, dines with the chef, or shops till she drops, she dishes out insights on the fabulous, the famous, and the unforgettable. Whether riding the rails in Europe, reviewing an extraordinary wine, or being pampered at a luxurious spa, she’s investigating the local buzz to provide her readers with tips on what to buy and what to try. IFWTWA Author profile here.



Traveling the Belize Caribbean for Luxury 42


Victoria House and Chabil Mar Villas Story and photography by Susanna Starr

Beach at Victoria House



Victoria House


or many years Belize has been a favorite destination of mine with its mountains and forests, and archeological sites of the ancient Maya. But some of the country includes Caribbean islands, such as Ambergris Caye, while the area of Placencia, a peninsula at the extreme end of Belize, feels like an island. Not yet “touristy”, both areas retain the authentic feeling of the indigenous people of the Caribbean islands with their lilting speech, their sparkling smiles, their upbeat music and their relaxed approach to life. As life seems to have become more accelerated for many of us, the allure



of a “time-out” becomes greater. We look for a tropical vacation on an easily accessible island in the romantic Caribbean where we conjure up pictures in our minds of barefoot informality, exotic drinks under the stars (and the sun), fresh seafood and coconut and....no agenda. It’s easy enough to make these fantasies come true on Ambergris Caye and Placencia. Here you’ll encounter people in shorts riding bicycles to the small towns, folks sipping tropical drinks on the beachfront or around the pool, trips out to the reefs for snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming, not to mention the easy availability of fishing expeditions or enjoying the fun of other water sports. Ecology and respect for the environment is emphasized. If you envision a vacation when most of your wardrobe consists of sandals,

shorts, and bathing suits, with a couple of shirts or skirts for the evening, you’ll find yourself right at home. It’s the kind of packing that is light enough to allow you just one check-on piece of luggage or, if you’ve learned to be modest in your choices of clothing, sometimes a carry-on will be enough. I’ve visited Victoria House a number of times over the years when I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time on Ambergris Caye. Each time I’m there, I’m struck with the same feeling. The staff genuinely seem to enjoy what they’re doing and pay attention to each and every guest. Immediately upon arrival, you’re handed a cool drink and a gracious welcome as you’re shown to your room. Since I’ve been there on various occasions, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a number of accommodations, all of which have been delightful. The

décor is different with each and each is equally noticeable in the attention to details. During the day, any kind of water sport or ocean excursion can be arranged, or you can just relax around one of the pools or on the lounges on the beach. It doesn’t take more than a quick ride in one of their electric carts to get into San Pedro town in the center of the island. There you have many choices of great restaurants featuring fresh seafood in a relaxed and informal environment. Back at Victoria House, a little more relaxing or maybe a nap in a hammock before getting ready for dinner, either indoors in air-conditioned comfort or outdoor dining under the stars. From the bathing suits, shorts or sundresses that you might have worn for breakfast, you’ll now be able to shift gears to evening attire which may or may not include shoes. The food, breakfast, lunch and dinner, is superb and beautifully presented. The volcanic chocolate cake for dessert is an experience not soon to be forgotten. Janet Wollam and Brent Kirkman have been managing Victoria House for decades and oversee their superlative staff as well as every detail, from handmade furniture of Belizean hardwoods to original local artwork. Bath amenities are luxurious. I also love to browse their gift shop and still treasure the beautiful, hand-carved tray of local hardwood that sits on our dining table, a small piece of sculptural beauty that reminds me always of one of my most favorite hotels. Getting to Ambergris Caye is just a short flight from Belize City which has flights going out to the island on a regular basis. We’ve used Tropic Air but there are other regional airlines available as well. From there you can return to Belize City and then take another short flight to Placencia. Or you can reverse it by flying from Belize City first to Placencia and back to catch a flight to Ambergris Caye. Either way works well. When you get off the small plane in Placencia, you’ll find yourself close to the center of town and it’s just a “stone’s throw” away to another very special place, the small boutique resort

of Chabil Mar Villas. If you’ve ever fantasized about a very private, small and intimate resort where your every need has been anticipated, you’ll find that at Chabil Mar. Here, too, the accommodations have been furnished with the same beautiful tropical hardwoods and the vibrant art of Belize. From the time you’ve checked in and been welcomed with a cool drink and escorted through the paths leading to your particular accommodation, you’ll be entranced by the lush landscaping. Getting settled in our spacious and gracious suite of bedroom, living room and fully equipped kitchen, we walked outside to our deck with its ocean view. It was a few minutes to take in all the beauty and serenity before one of the staff arrived, as if by magic, to take our lunch order. Chabil Mar does not have a formal restaurant. Instead, a staff member will deliver your enticing meals to the place of your choice. It can be on your own private deck or it can be at one of the tables scattered around the pool or lounges on the beach. It can be at the outdoor, thatched-roofed bar or state-of-the-art outdoor cooking area

(especially nice if you’ve arranged to grill your own catch of the day). This is a special destination reflecting the ambiance that has carefully been created by Diane Bulman who has had many years of experience in resort management on Caribbean islands and has built the kind of resort based on fulfilling the expectations of the traveler who appreciates the feeling of quiet serenity in an informally, elegant beach setting. The gardens are lush, the flowers abundant, the food enticing, and the accommodations elegant. Now, Diane has embarked upon another venture, the Peninsula Club with a new marina, which will be a boat owner’s destination and a visiting guest’s chance to see Placencia from a different perspective. Built just across the road, a grand vision is now unfolding that will include a full marina with slips to accommodate a number of boats, some permanently and others for shorter visits. There will be new, luxurious housing built as well as restaurants and other small boutique shops. Whether you’re the owner of a luxury yacht looking for a new, laid-back des-

Susanna “Chilling” at Chabil Mar



tination in the Caribbean, or someone looking for just a week’s stay where you can relax in privacy and informal luxury, Chabil Mar is probably what you’re looking for. Placencia is still relatively unknown to tourism. Back in the old days, the way of getting there from Belize City was by land on a long, dusty and difficult road, the Hummingbird Highway. Now, with Tropic Air and other small airlines, getting there is no longer a challenge. Once you’re there, you’ll be able to unpack your shorts, bathing suits and sandals, ride into town on your bicycle and wander around for a while before returning to Chabil Mar and the arduous decisions of what to eat, or drink or whether or

Tropic Air Our Dinner on the Beach

Susanna Starr

not to lie out on your lounge and read or go into the ocean for a dip in the warm waters of the Caribbean. But, wait..... maybe you’d like to just swing in your hammock and fall asleep to sound of the swaying palm fronds so that you’ll be all refreshed for the night’s activities. Here in Chabil Mar, that’s mostly dining out under the stars or taking a moonlit stroll along the beach.



Susanna Starr is a well-traveled and published travel writer, photographer, entrepreneur, speaker and artist. She holds a degree in philosophy from Stony Brook State University of New York. Susanna is Contributing Editor at FWT Magazine. She has over twenty years experience in the hospitality business as owner of Rancho Encantado, an eco-resort and spa in Mexico. She lives in the Not interested in high-rise hotels or mountains of Northern New Mexico. Sujumping nightlife, but a lover of peace and quiet on tropical Caribbean beach- sanna is the author of two books: Fifty and Beyond: New Beginnings in Health es that provide the kind of luxury that emphasizes the enjoyment of the natural and Well-Being AND Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers: An environment? Both Ambergris Caye Odyssey of the Heart, both published by and Placencia in beautiful Belize will Paloma Blanca Press. welcome you to share in all of this and more. IFWTWA Author profile here.

�elaxation, luxury, romance

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize www.victoria-house.com

Toll Free: 1.800.247.5159


Reservations US: 713-344-2340

Our inspiration is quite transparent. When you see it firsthand, you’ll immediately know why Enchantment owes its design aesthetic to the grandeur that is Boynton Canyon. Breathtaking red rock formations blend seamlessly with Enchantment’s architecture to create a world-class resort unlike any other. Whether you’re here to unwind or explore, you’ll be inspired beyond words.

See what makes Enchantment an experience of extraordinary proportions.


488 4 4 . 5 3 3 . 9 0 6 0


525 Boynton Canyon Road, Sedona, AZ 86336

Enchanting Sedona

Arizona’s Red Rock Paradise Offers a Spiritual Retreat that Stimulates Body and Soul Story and photography by Rebecca L. Rhoades

Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona




id you feel that?” We had just left the Crystal Grotto, a kiva-like room in the Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona’s premier lodging, Enchantment Resort. At the heart of the conical space, a petrified tree trunk set in a shallow pool of water and displaying natural stone crystals sits on a natural red-dirt floor. It is the actual earth on which the spa is built, not a dirt covering. “Was that a vortex?” my husband whispered in my ear. I looked at him quizzically. “Why, what’s the matter?” I asked, as I shook my head. “ Are you sure that wasn’t a vortex? I definitely felt something while in there,” he replied. “It was like suddenly overcome by this complete calming sensation the minute I stepped on the ground.” Sedona is renowned as one of the country’s–if not the world’s–spiritual hotspots. And while the town is known



for its vortexes, including one just a stone’s throw from the resort, the Mii Amo Spa, while sublime, is not an official vortex. “Maybe you’ve found your personal vortex,” I tell him, alluding to a term locals use for any space not designated an official vortex that makes you feel something, with which you really connect. Vortexes, by the way, are places where the earth supposedly radiates physic energy. And, yes, this legitimate phenomenon is referred to as vortexes, not vortices. Whether or not you believe in such New Age mysticism, there’s no denying that Sedona is a magical destination. Its landscape–filled with towering red rock formations with such clever names as Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Coffee Pot, Mittens, Snoopy Rock and Courthouse Butte that rise of cactus- and brush-covered rolling hills–ranges from draw-dropping to otherworldly. As the day wanes, the colors become more saturated and practically glow until the evening sky envelops them in a blanket of stars.

Storm clouds over Sedona Nestled deep within the outcroppings of Boynton Canyon, a verdant oasis held sacred by the Yavapai Native Americans, is Enchantment Resort. The AAA Four Diamond resort is a luxury escape located about 8 miles from the center of downtown–close enough for easy access to all of Sedona’s shopping and dining options, but far enough away to make guests feel as though they are truly secluded from the outside world. Built on 70 acres, Enchantment Resort offers 234 rooms across 70 single-level adobe buildings. Respectful of its natural surroundings, which include ancient Native American ruins and burial sites, the groupings of red rock-colored casitas blend into the landscape, which is filled with a thoughtful arrangement of local trees and shrubs. With minimal exterior lighting–guests are given flashlights to use when wandering the grounds after dark–the emphasis here is placed on Arizona’s expansive night sky. Even the resort’s hot tub is open 24 hours so guests can enjoy the beauty of the universe. “A lot of guests tell me that they like

to come out at night and sit in the hot tub and just stare at the stars,” says Joshua Taylor, VIP guest relations manager for the resort. “There are also lots of little spots around the property where you can simply relax and read a book or meditate.” One such spot–and an official vortex–is Kachina Woman, a tall spire near the trailhead of Boynton Canyon Trail, just over a half-mile from the resort. The vortex here is considered a site of strong electromagnetic power, with a balance of masculine and feminine energy. Kachina Woman can be easily viewed from the Enchantment’s new View 180 restaurant in the Clubhouse. The restaurant is just one of the many new and updated features at the resort. According to Taylor, the Enchantment underwent a $25 million propertywide renovation in 2012, which heightened its sense of place amid the red rocks. This transformation included refurbishment of all guestrooms, expansion of the onsite Meeting Village, and a completely transformed Clubhouse with new and redesigned restaurants, a larger pool with 36-degree views of



Enchantment Resort the canyon, a new retail boutique and outdoor spaces. Outside check-in was also added at the time, notes Taylor. The renovations have paid off. Not only are its comfortable guest spaces warm and elegant with an upscale Western flavor–happy guests are the ultimate reward–Enchantment has received numerous accolades in recent years, including being named in 2015 to Travel + Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels and US News & World Report’s Best Hotels in the USA. Just this summer, its pool topped Fodor’s Travels list of amazing outdoor hotel pools. “We even received an award for being the most family-friendly destination in the United States, beating out Disney,” says Taylor. “We were super excited about that one.” Whether you come to here practice your backhand (the resort was once owned by tennis legend John Gardiner, who used it as a tennis retreat in the



Pink Jeep

’80s; it still offers a variety of lessons, programs, workshops and tournaments for players of all skill levels) or to be pampered in the spa (three-, four- and seven-day all-inclusive Journey packages are available in which guests stay in special rooms at Mii Amo and are

treated to twice-daily spa treatments), or you simply want to escape the a romantic long weekend, Enchantment Resort is a destination filled with mystery and beauty, just like Sedona itself. Perhaps you’ll even get lucky and find your own vortex.


If you go Must-Do Sedona If a spiritual adventure is not your thing, there is still plenty to see and do while in Sedona. The town is a mecca for outdoor adventurers, with miles of hiking trails ranging from leisurely strolls to strenuous climbs that travel through hidden canyons and across soaring outcroppings. Mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding, outdoor yoga and hot-air ballooning are other popular ways to get in touch with the natural surroundings. Sedona is also well-known for its art scene, and the downtown area is bursting with galleries showcasing works by local artists as well as well-respected international masters. Following is a list of attractions and activities that should be at the top of every Sedona visitor’s “don’t miss” list. Amitabha Stupa: Lesser known than the vortexes–its one of Sedona’s best-kept secrets–this example of sacred Buddhist architecture is said to hold mystical healing powers. And Peace Park in which is located is a

tranquil oasis surrounded by 14 acres of high-desert wilderness. Chapel of the Holy Cross: Designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, this small Catholic chapel built into the buttes has been a Seond landmark since its completion in 1956. Pink Jeep Tours: Numerous adventure outfitters offer Jeep and off-road vehicle tours. One of the most popular is Pink Jeep, known for its distinctively colored Jeeps. The company offers a variety of half- and full-day tours that take visitors throughout many of the region’s “unreachable” landscapes. Tlaquepaque: Fashioned after a traditional Mexican village, Tlaquepaque (pronounced Tla-keh-pah-keh) is an internationally renowned shopping center in the heart of Sedona that offers high-quality artisan products. For a refreshing break from shopping, stop by outpost of Oak Creek Brewing Co., located on the second floor overlooking the Patio de las Rosas.

Rebecca L Rhoades As an award-winning travel writer, Rebecca believes that much of the joy of exploring new destinations comes from sampling the local food and beverages. Recently relocated from the East Coast to sunny Phoenix, she is now enjoying learning about her new home state. When not writing, she enjoys sleeping late, discovering great restaurants, and searching for the perfect margarita. Rebecca’s work has been featured in numerous AAA publications, Destinations, Christian Science Monitor, Culture: The Word on Cheese, South Jersey, The Culture-ist, Societe Perrier, Sing Out!, and many others. IFWTWA Author profile here.



Chef Miriam Flores brings a passion for authentic regional cooking to all her classes.

Worldly But Local

Exploring Mexican Flavours with Chef Miriam Flores Story and photography by Barbara Ramsay Orr




he taxi winds up a narrow street that twists through the prosperous neighbourhood of Conchas Chinas. It’s four p.m. and Puerto Vallarta’s late afternoon sun still heats the cobbled streets, and bounces off the white walls of buildings. I’m heading to a cooking class with one of Mexico’s rising culinary stars, Chef Miriam Flores and I’m looking forward to learning her secrets. She’s the real deal. She’s a Bridgestone Award-winning chef, but she is much more than that. While she has all the credentials, such as training at Le Cordon Bleu and ex-

perience in fine dining restaurants in the US, England and Ireland, she contends that she really learned to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen. “I have had a lifelong relationship with food,” she explains. “In the small village, or rancho where I come from we have a direct connection with the food we eat. It is there I learned the essentials of cooking, from my abuelita, my grandmother, Natividad Flores.” In her cooking class, held in the cool space of her orange, blue and whitewashed rooms in Conchas Chinas, Chef Miriam reduces the complexities of Mexican cuisine to its basics: the freshest of local ingredients, meticulous preparation, -mostly by hand- and respectful love of local flavours and traditions. Before we proceed to the business

of food, Chef Flores’ assistant, Paul, gives me a quick lesson in how to make the perfect margarita. He explains the different grades of tequila and demonstrates the steps needed to make a chilled margarita that is less sweet than the usual commercial drink, spiked with lime and orange and splashed with a bit of soda water. It’s the perfect match for Chef Flores’ segue into the kind of cooking she learned from the women in her childhood village. She spreads the building blocks of her cooking tradition out on the table like jewels - firm white onions, ripe tomatoes, green, black and red peppers, plump purple garlic, green cilantro, shiny limes, gnarly avocados. And for the next three hours, she guides me through

Local limes add tartness to the margaritas that Paul prepares.



the infinite variety of ways these ingredients can be combined. Sometimes the tomatoes and peppers are roasted, sometimes garlic is added, sometimes not. Sometimes they combine to make a spicy sauce for seafood, and sometimes they smoother slow-cooked pork or chicken dishes. With a short minute of grinding, she shows me how to produce a silky but still chunky guacamole using the Molcajete, a locally made mortar and pestle, fashioned from volcanic rock that



is a staple in any Mexican kitchen. (Later I purchase one in the local market and have a devil of a time packing it in my checked luggage to take home - it must weigh over 25 pounds!) Fish and seafood are plentiful and fresh in Puerto Vallarta, situated on the Bay of Banderas, so these ingredients play a large part in local dishes. Chef Flores guides me through the steps to make shrimp empanada, with fresh gulf shrimp, tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapenos, wrapped in puff pastry and

baked until golden. We make an herb salsa verde to serve with it and the results are incredible - snappy shrimp, soft crusty pastry and a piquant sauce. Next is a traditional enchilada, made with chicken and topped with sour cream, crumbled cheese and a sauce made from seven different chiles and a touch of melted chocolate. A type of stew, Cochinita Pibil, slow cooked small pork shanks in a sauce that is spiced with achiote paste, cumin, fresh orange juice and oregano, is

Chicken enchildas are served with a sauce made of ancho and guajillo chiles, spices, garlic and a hint of abuelita chocolate, topped with sour cream, cheese, onion and cilantro.

served with slices of red onion, cilantro and a wedge of lime. And when the cooking is done, we relax on the patio with cinnamon spiced Mexican coffee and still-warm handmade churros. “Mexican cooking is simple,” she tells me, “but there are certain rules you must observe. Ingredients should be the best, and should be as local as possible. You need to invest time and care - and love. And then you need to relax and enjoy.” Mexican cuisine, it seems, is not about dignity and solemnity. It is about robust flavours, joyful sharing and strong local tastes. Viva Mexico! Continued on next page...

The essentials of Jalisco cuisine, fresh ingredients, a molcajete, hand fashioned from volcanic rock, and a margarita for the chef.



If you go Chef Flores gives group cooking classes year round in Puerto Vallarta, with a menu that changes weekly and seasonally - with topics like Best of Puerto Vallarta, Classic Mexican cuisine, Chiles of Mexico or Fiesta Dishes. You can contact Chef Flores or book a class at www.lalunapv.com Watch her in action on Vimeo

Barbara Ramsay Orr Barbara Ramsay Orr is a multiple recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for Journalism, is a member of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association and sits on the board of the Society of American Travel Writers. Chef Miriam Flores prepares authentic Mexican dishes as taught to her by her grandmother and the women of the village she grew up in.

She is an amateur artist, a former art teacher, and a bit of a museum addict, so many of the stories she writes have a cultural angle. And then there’s food. As the food writer for her local city magazine for over twenty years, she has a keen appreciation for a good meal. Art and Food? What more is there? IFWTWA Author profile here.



Wild Luxury

Tofino, British Columbia by Allen Cox

Dining room at Wolf in the Fog PHOTO COURTESY OF WOLF IN THE FOG



The Wickaninnish Inn sits on a spectacular stretch of Tofino’s wild coast




line. Fortunately, his father, Dr. Howard McDiarmid, who had moved to Tofino in 1955 to run the rural hospital, had earned a reputation in the community as one who fostered a deep respect for Tofino’s unique environment and the First Nations people and traditions in the area. The Wick opened its doors in the mid-90s and put any remaining concerns to rest. The property reflects the natural world outside its windows– everywhere from public spaces to the guest accommodations–in its attention to detail in architecture, handcrafted furnishings and décor. The influx of travelers with cash in their wallets ushered in a new era for Tofino. Other beach resorts and restaurants opened. Soon word reached the outside world that the coast is one of surfing’s best kept secrets. It didn’t take long for surfing outfitters and guides to set up shop. Today, the stretch of coast from Tofino south to Ucluelet is an ecotourism hot spot, and Clayoquot Sound has become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. I joined Tmiska Martin, a Tla-o-quiaht woman who owns T’ashii Paddle School, on a guided hike through an old-growth cedar forest to her First Nations village on the beach. She told ©ALLEN COX

was soft and diffused as if someone had turned down a dimmer. The shuttle to the Wickaninnish Inn was waiting on the edge of the airstrip. had heard tales from other travelers On the short drive to the inn, the driver, an amicable young man who grew up in of a timeless coast populated with Tofino, remarked at how he’s seen the giant cedars, where First Nations local economy–and the opportunities– traditions shape the culture. Where the presence of ancestors could be sensed shift in his lifetime from logging to tourism. He commented that Orca Airways in the very earth beneath your feet and flights are usually at capacity, and the where some believe animal spirits possess the power to influence the charac- only highway on the more than five-hour drive from Victoria has a growing stream ter and fate of a man or a woman. This legendary coast that’s so lost in of cars. My arrival at The Wickaninnish Inn time is Vancouver Island’s Pacific coast. (known as The Wick to assist those who Pacific Rim National Park Reserve become tongue-tied when pronouncing stretches for miles along this wild strip the entire word) confirms the driver’s of land. The West Coast Trail invites those who crave solitude and adventure assertions. Guests with a well-rested aura casually lounge in the lodge-like to disappear into the wilderness. The lobby or browse the extensive collection isolated communities of Ucluelet and Tofino are the only hubs of civilization for of fine art works by local artists, many with coastal First Nation motifs. miles. The Wick is a Relaix & Chateau I arrived in Tofino on Orca Airways, a no-frills, but efficient small-plane carrier member and has been recently recognized as the “Top Canadian Resort” that runs daily flights from Vancouver, British Columbia, across the mountain- (Condé Nast). According to owner and hands-on Managing Director, Charles ous midsection of Vancouver Island. A heavy layer of low, white clouds covered McDiarmid, the Tofino community was fearful that a luxury inn opening in their the gray beach and forest like a down comforter. As we approached the land- town might bring unwanted changes and degradation of the pristine coasting strip below the cloud layer, the light


me stories of how her people saved the forest from the logging industry by staging a massive protest on the land. Without that intervention, Clayoquot Sound would not be the rich, pristine reserve it is today. With the influx of visitors who come here to experience raw nature, the culinary scene in Tofino has emerged with eateries catering to everyone from surfers to luxury travelers (and sometimes they overlap). This means everything from food trucks to The Pointe (The Wick’s fine dining restaurant) to one of Canada’s newest culinary hot spots, Wolf in the Fog, with plenty of casual eateries in between. Tofino seems to attract “bests.” Shortly after opening, Wolf in the Fog was named “best new restaurant in B.C.” Chef Nicholas Nutting moved his life to remote Tofino to take advantage of the sea, abundant with fresh catches, and a forest that sprouts with foragable delicacies. His culinary team shares his passion in celebrating the natural foods of this wild place. I met Chef Nicholas on the town dock as he was preparing to set out for a morning of fishing, and he invited me to go along to see what we could catch. We sputtered out of the harbor and opened throttle for the open sea, dreaming of wild salmon. The best he caught that day was a rock fish, whose life he spared. But the spectacle of


The Wick entrance

humpback whales breaking the nearby surface took our minds entirely off the meager catch. Not one to return empty-handed, chef checked his crab pots in the harbor on the way back. That evening, in Wolf in the Fog’s contemporary and popular dining room, my Cedar Sour (made with cedar-in-

fused whiskey) packed the flavors of the forest. And my fresh seaweed salad tossed with that morning’s Dungeness crab catch showcased the flavors of the sea. Back at The Wick, I asked McDiarmid if he was concerned that new establishments, like Wolf in the Fog, would erode business from his four-diamond restaurant. His smile was my answer, and he added that there’s room in the community for Chef Nutting and others like him, people who will respect and preserve this exceptional place. Don’t look for high-rises or mega-resorts to go up any time soon in Tofino. Here, luxury is small-scale with plenty of privacy, solitude for those who desire it and a big helping of nature at its most raw. Continued on next page...

Trio of smoked salmon at The Pointe




Aincient Cedars Spa

If you go Planning Your Tofino Adventure: Tourism Vancouver Island Tourism Tofino Orca Airways Wickaninnish Inn Wolf in the Fog T’ashii Paddle School

Allen Cox is Editor in Chief of Northwest Travel & Life Magazine, VP of International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, and Chair of Northwest Travel Writers Conference. Subject interests include travel, soft adventure, food/wine/craft beverages, nature/outdoors/wildlife, culture.

IFWTWA Author profile here.


Allen Cox

Guide Tmiska Martin and old-growth cedar



Portugal’s Devotion to Ginja A Cherry Liqueur Mainstay by Judith Glynn

Harvested bright red cherries will become ginja when fermented with alcohol and other ingredients.




lightly off Roccio Square, which is Lisbon’s unofficial center, are a few standing-room-only bars. It’s obvious they have been around for ages, what with their vintage posters and decor. What catches my eye, besides their colorful facades, is their non-ending stream of customers. Many are older men with weathered faces and pot bellies. One man enters with his wife and small child, all dressed in their Sunday best. Some are tourists. “Com ou sem fruta?” is asked of all customers as euros slide across the tiny counters in exchange for a shot glass of ginja with or without fermented cherries inside. Ginja with the cherry fruit inside the bottle as seen at A Ginjinha bar near Roccio in Lisbon.



At its inception centuries ago, ginja was used for digestive purposes. Eventually the sweet liqueur made its way to wealthy clients, then into fado establishments. Today the drink enjoys record popularity and is sold everywhere. Lisbon’s ginja bars open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Lisbon’s Ginja Bars Are the Real Deal

Pour a shot of ginja into a dark chocolate cup and enjoy a double pleasure.


“These four Roccio Square ginja bars are the most famous. Ownership passes from generation to generation, some at the fifth level,” said Filomena Brás, part-owner of Experience Portugal Travel, a top-notch tour company. She’s my guide for the day and watches alongside me as ginja-drinking customers come and go at A. Ginjinha bar, located at Largo São Domingos 8. As I stalk them, I sense the bril-

Top-notch guides, Filomena Brás and partner Jorge (George) Lourenço of Experience Portugal Travel know their country well.




liant-red, pick-me-up with a pungent cherry aroma and alcohol potency around 18 percent just might be an addiction for many. It isn’t even noon and customers, many familiar to the barkeeper, throw back a shot(s) in one gulp, wipe their mouth and walk out. One man buys his daily bottle. Women seem to be sippers. Tourists take photos and younger girls giggle holding the plastic shot glass. “We were told we had to try this in Lisbon,” one remarks. Drinking age is 18 in Portugal.

How and Where the First Sip Began Blame the Romans for the hoopla. They brought Morello cherry (ginja) trees to Óbidos, a medieval town about an hour’s drive north from Lisbon, also famous for its castle that King Dom Dinis gifted to his wife Santa Isabel in the 13th century. Much later, nuns incorporated the small red cherries into desserts especially since they are too sour to eat. When a friar put the berries in Portuguese aguardente, added sugar, water and cinnamon and let the concoction ferment, the result was ginja liqueur, also referred to as ginjinha -- both consumed with a passion.

Óbidos on a Ginja High “There’s a big fight about quality. Everyone says their brand is the best,” Filomena said, as we drive to Óbidos where the best brands originate and where the liqueur got its first big marketing push. Her business partner, Jorge (George) Lourenço, accompanies us. I have enough travel-writing under my byline to cringe when a once-quaint medieval town like Óbidos turns touristy. Shop after shop here on the main street offer ginja in a plastic shot glass or in a one-inch-deep, dark chocolate candy cup to be eaten or not. The latter was

Typical ginja bars are often a hole in the wall. Just walk in and buy a shot. PHOTO: JUDITH GLYNN



Rooftop view of the luxurious Porto Bay Liberdade boutique hotel in Lisbon, complete with a Jacuzzi. Photo credit: Porto Bay Liberdade

introduced about a decade ago, mainly for tourists, at the town’s International Chocolate Festival (March). “This is the best place to drink ginja in Óbidos and where its growth began.” George said escorting us into dark and funky Bar Ibn Errik Rex, located at the end of Rua Direita. According to legend, the former antiques shop was owned by a woman whose marketing strategy was to offer homemade ginja with a purchase. When a man came into her life and saw the people were more attracted to ginja than the antiques, the village liqueur replaced the antiques. The rest is history. Do visit Bar Ibn Errik Rex with some antique relics still on view alongside old ginja bottles. Order a terra-cotta slotted dish with linguica cooking on top. Complement the small meal with cheese, bread and homemade ginja. This is where I forget about refusing ginja all day to maintain research alertness. A shot was poured, slid my way and down it went, slowly. Reaction: a sweet yet robust drink similar to port. A small bottle of Ginja Nobre, the restaurant’s homemade brand, was slipped into my purse.



Atop a nearby hill is the luxury-laden Pousada Castello Obidos, transformed from the gifted castle into a stunning government-run hotel with 14 double rooms and three suites (eight more in a new wing). Worth an overnight or walk in the castle’s gardens.

Tailor-Made Itinerary for Authentic Portugal

Guides extraordinaire, Filomena Brás and Jorge (George) Lourenço, logged countless miles throughout Portugal to form their tailor-made Experience Portugal Travel tour company. It services individual clients or tours in a van for eight. The duo are corporate drop-outs. In George’s case, 25 years as an operaWhen a company owns approxitions manager. mately 25,000 ginja trees spread over “We once saw a Chinese tourist 62,000 acres (25 hectares), it’s no drink beer with pastel de nata (pastry) wonder LicObidos is a major player as manufacturer and distributor of all things and knew he wasn’t having an authentic Portugal experience,” Filomena said on ginja. Jam is in their future. Filomena our way back to Lisbon. “Why are peoand George took me to their Gaeiras ple going to Starbucks and McDonald’s plant, family-owned for 50 years and in Portugal? Big tour busses go to the winner of top awards. You can visit by same places because they get commisspecial request. sions. I don’t work with tourists, I work June and July is the fruit’s harvest with travelers to Portugal,” she said. (farms can be visited). Fermentation at Contact Experience Portugal Travel the plant is year-long. Gleaming machinabout your trip and expect a personal ery and workers in sterile garb produce call from Filomena (usually via Skype). 2,000 bottles of ginja an hour. No itinerary or budget limit. She’ll even LicObidos takes credit for introducmeet you when you arrive in her country. ing the Belgium dark chocolate ginja cup into the marketplace. It’s possible to buy them and other products at the company store.

See Where Ginja Is Made


If you go


Porto Bay Liberdade Is a Luxurious Oasis Run, don’t walk, to the elegant and luxurious Porto Bay Liberdade in Lisbon. Roccio Square and those famous ginja bars are close by. The new boutique hotel is the latest addition to the Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts organization based in Madeira. A row of three apartment buildings on a quiet Lisbon side street, right off the once-neglected Liberdade boulevard, were beautifully refurbished by Architect Frederico Valsassina who preserved the historic facades. The 98 elegant hotel rooms are spacious, painted soft colors, complemented by gleaming wood and aviator décor. Three extra floors were added on top of each building, earning the hotel well-deserved accolades and reviews.

Contact Portugal’s tourism office for information about Lisbon and all of Portugal. For contacts in this article, please refer to the links where they are referenced.

Judith Glynn Judith Glynn has been hooked on writing travel articles for 25+ years. She began the ultimate journey writing for newspaper travel sections, mostly about travel shopping. Spain is her favorite place. But each new destination turns on her intuitive curiosity to find details and subjects that not only set the place apart but lead to Judith’s articles enriching a reader’s enjoyment. She’s the author of A Collector of Affections: Tales from a Woman’s Heart (novel) and The Street or Me: A New York Story (memoir). Judith loves life, all of it. She resides in New York City and Rhode Island where she enjoys an eclectic lifestyle in both places. She’s a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and the Association of Rhode Island Authors. IFWTWA Author profile here.



Last Shot

Merlot, the beloved lobby ambassador at Orlando’s Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is a Green Wing Macaw and was hatched on January 30, 1998. Originally from the hilly country and forest region that extends from Paraguay to Eastern Panama, Merlot now rules the roost in this atrium style lobby at the Grand Cypress Resort. © 2015 DALE SANDERS - WWW.DALESANDERSPHOTOS.PHOTOSHELTER.COM


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