EXPLORE THE LITTLE LUXURIES THE WORLD HAS TO OFFER. BY DONALD CHARLES RICHARDSON
CAPE ESCAPE Nestled on 25 acres atop a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Chatham Bars Inn has been a landmark on Cape Cod since 1914. The hotel is famous for its extensive outdoor activities and lavish dining. But now guests can also indulge in the comfort of a contemporary spa that boasts a dozen king and queen-size suites, each with a hydrotherapy tub, sauna, steam shower, plasma TV, Bose sound system and fireplace. This spring, the spa is featuring a renewal and cleansing treatment that includes a body polish made of sugar drenched in plant oils, an application of botanical Shea butter, a linen body wrap, and face massage.
Since 1989, the Garden Conservancy has been restoring and preserving America’s exceptional gardens, from those made by wardens and prisoners at San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island (at left) to the Pearl Fryar topiary garden in South Carolina. Along with lectures and events, the group also offers members of the Garden Conservancy’s Society of Fellows the opportunity to see some of the most lavish gardens in the world. This year, along with U.S. destinations, the Fellows are traveling to Île de France to see Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a 17th century Baroque chateau and garden designed by the André le Nôtre (who later designed the gardens at Versailles), and Normandy to visit Château de Brécy, another 17th century chateau with a meticulously restored Italian style garden.
ABOVE: CHATHAM BARS INN; AT LEFT: GARDEN CONSERVANCY
PerfectGems THE INN CROWD
YADES GREEK HISTORICAL HOTELS
On a narrow cobblestone street in Rethymnon old town on the island of Crete, a small, unassuming doorway opens to a large courtyard filled with masses of bougainvillea. A central fountain is surrounded by antiques, works of art, comfortable sofas and tables set with flowers. This stunning setting is the very fashionable restaurant of the Hotel Avli. Greeks come from all over the island for the superb food made from local sources and the incomparable Greek wines (the Avli has the largest wine cellar on Crete). Now a member of the prestigious Yades hotels, the Avli was once the home of a Venetian lord, and the elegant architecture and gracious style of the past remain. There are only seven (very chic) suites, each designed in an individual color theme with every modern convenience carefully integrated into the exposed stone, wood beams and original Venetian arches. Have a glass of wine on the rooftop and look out over this beautiful town to the sea.
PICNIC PLEASURES A quiet afternoon. China plates, good silver, a vintage tablecloth. And these sophisticated pairings from sommelier and gourmet Edward Costa, director of food and beverage at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. These elements combine to create a truly chic picnic with European flair. To evoke the flavor of a romantic afternoon in Italy, mingle the sharp and nutty flavors of Parmigiano Reggiano with the gentle Sangiovese grapes in Vignamaggio Chianti Classico Riserva Castello di Monna Lisa, 2006. Or, to give your picnic sparkle, try the light citrus Borgo Magredo Prosecco that highlights the flavors of smoked salmon. If you prefer a French ambiance, a fresh, crisp rosé is the perfect wine on a warm afternoon. Robert Oatley Rosé, 2008 is ideal with any chicken dish. And of course there must be champagne (and caviar). The bright and refreshing citrus flavors of Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne Blanc de Blanc, 1999 is a perfect match to the creaminess and richness of Osetra caviar. For a picnic of this caliber, pearls are appropriate.
KIDDING AROUND Guest rooms at the Elysian Hotel in Chicago boast white Carrera marble bathrooms with soaking tubs, inset LCD televisions and separate showers. Rooms have fireplaces and expansive terraces, and the beds are draped with 460-thread count Rivolta Carmignani Italian linens. To give couples traveling with children an opportunity to enjoy all these appurtenances, the hotel invites kids to the kitchens of either Balsan or Ria, the hotel’s restaurants, for a cooking session with the pastry chef. They “assist” in the preparation of a dessert such as Balsan’s Paris Brest, a cream-filled pastry, or Ria’s spiced hazelnut cake, nestled in ice cream and topped with cherries and hazelnuts. When the creation is finished, the kids get to take it with them. Maybe they’ll share.