November/December 2022 | Santa Barbara Life & Style Magazine

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DON’T OPEN UNTIL THE HOLIDAYS November/December 2022
IN-STORE NOW FOR HOLIDAY 2022 1269 Coast Village Road, Montecito CA | 805.563.2425 | @allorabylaura | MODERN Holiday LUXURY ITALIAN STYLE

The art of fine linens

©2022 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP) is a member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates LLC. BHHS and the BHHS symbol are registered service marks of Columbia Insurance Company, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. BHH Affiliates LLC and BHHSCP do not guarantee accuracy of all data including measurements, conditions, and features of property. Information is obtained from various sources and will not be verified by broker or MLS. Buyer is advised to independently verify the accuracy of that information. *#1 individual agent based on sales volume & units in the Santa Barbara MLS & worldwide for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices based on production for 2020 and 2021. MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM | 805.886.9378 | CRISTAL@MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM | DRE 00968247 THE FINEST MONTECITO & SANTA BARBARA HOMES Cristal Clarke is the #1 Agent. Locally and Globally.* 1 MIRAMAR AVENUE, MONTECITO | OFFERED AT $15,500,000 RARE ICONIC MIRAMAR ESTATE
723 VIA MANANA, MONTECITO | OFFERED AT $6,475,000 STUNNING SAN YSIDRO-STYLE FARMHOUSE ©2022 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP) is a member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates LLC. BHHS and the BHHS symbol are registered service marks of Columbia Insurance Company, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. BHH Affiliates LLC and BHHSCP do not guarantee accuracy of all data including measurements, conditions, and features of property. Information is obtained from various sources and will not be verified by broker or MLS. Buyer is advised to independently verify the accuracy of that information. *#1 individual agent based on sales volume & units in the Santa Barbara MLS & worldwide for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices based on production for 2020 and 2021. MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM | 805.886.9378 | CRISTAL@MONTECITO-ESTATE.COM | DRE 00968247 251 E MOUNTAIN DRIVE, MONTECITO | OFFERED AT $5,975,000 CLASSIC SPANISH COURTYARD HACIENDA


The temperature regulating and breathable blanket to help you stay cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and cozy always. Hugely oversized so there is no more fighting for the covers. Made of 100% Muslin cotton.


Hotel Californian 36 State Street, Santa Barbara, California @hotelcalifornian | @foleyfoodandwinesociety WORLD-CLASS WINES. EXQUISITE CUISINE. AMAZING EXPERIENCES.


PAPER 2325 LILLIE AVENUE | FARMTOPAPER.ORG | FARM2PAPER@GMAIL.COM | 805.969.7998 LOCAL | LUXURY | LOVE . Food From The Farm Celebrate the Holidays With a Letter Perfect Presentation


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most beautiful


Learn more at 955 LA PAZ RD, SANTA BARBARA, CA 93108WESTMONT.EDU • (805) 565-6000
the nation’s best Christian liberal arts colleges
campuses in the country. And for 85 years, we’ve remained committed to cultivating thoughtful scholars, grateful servants, and faithful leaders for global engagement with the academy, church, and world.
2023 applicants can receive up to $2,000 in additional scholarship, renewable each year, for visiting campus! That’s an $8,000 value! Experience Westmont during your visit to Santa Barbara










in Chief & Publisher OTTOCINA RYAN Art Director JOHANNA SMEDS Director of Photography SILAS FALLSTICH Brand Partnerships & Advertising Lead LINDSEY GARRISON
Barbara Life & Style Magazine is published by Santa Barbara Life & Style, Inc. 26 West Mission Street #5, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
distribution, advertising and other inquiries:
BRITT RAFUSON with Wilhelmina Hair & Makeup JA'NICE RAMOS
dress, Allora by Laura Anne Sisteron earrings & ring




Shop local this holiday season.


Nothing says "I love you" like a little something from True Love Always.


We have an idea what to get them…

30 | IN THE SPIRT OF GIVING Gifts that keep on giving, for your family and those in need.

98 | 48 HOURS

A festive weekend in Santa Barbara.



A taste of Japan at Rosewood Miramar Beach.


Santa Ynez Inn’s revamped restaurant serves up elevated ranch cuisine.

42 | CHEESE PLEASE Say “grilled cheese” at Cailloux Cheese Shop.



Must-haves for an effortless glow.


48 |MORE THAN SKIN DEEP Beauty insights through generations.


See the world through the lens of a natural born storyteller.



Getting ready for takeoff with Sun Air Jets private aviation.

68 | A LITTLE DIRT NEVER HURT Motocross, but make it fashion.



Discover the beauty of Kenya.

86 | A HOME AWAY FROM HOME Exploring Mexico City like a local.

92 | LUXURY FOR THE SOUL Castaway, but five stars.

For reservations, visit or call 805.900.8388 Rosewood Miramar Beach introduces AMA Sushi, an elegant celebration of Japan’s Edomae tradition crafted with variety and skill on the American Riviera. AMA Sushi provides always-fresh ingredients complemented by an extensive selection of wine, sake, and innovative cocktails. Enjoy the menu à la carte in the main dining room or in an Omakase experience at the exclusive 13-seat sushi bar.
The Farmacy is Santa Barbara’s most trusted source for curated cannabis products from California’s top brands and local cultivators. Visit our contemporary storefront in beautiful downtown SB, where you’ll be welcomed by our friendly experts and a curated selection of the finest locally grown products. SANTA BARBARA’S FAVORITE CANNABIS SHOP THREE YEARS RUNNING 128 W Mission St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 BCC License No: C10-0000293-LIC Award-winning 21+ Cannabis Shop & Delivery Service (805) 880-1207 COMING SOON FARMACY ISLA VISTA FARMACY SANTA YNEZ


Shop for Santa Barbara Sage holiday gift baskets filled with 100% natural, handcrafted spa treats available at Skin Deep, San Ysidro Pharmacy, Riviera Towel Co., and online at



Macher offers an aesthetic selection of sustainably sourced gifts and goods for your closet, home, and children at their beautifully curated Goleta shop.


The secret to soft and hydrated skin lies within Bella Vida Santa Barbara’s antioxidant rich Herbal Green Tea Cream Cleanser.


Nina Q is Santa Barbara’s go-to stylist for memorable vintage and custom ensembles for costume parties and thematic events.

Follow @sblifeandstyle for daily behind the scenes content, new restaurants, events, getaways, and more...

SB LIFE & STYLE spotlight




1Thomas Lavin Aragonite Sculpture

Thomas Lavin has an eye for all things fabulous and this aragonite sculpture is no exception. It will add good energy to your space as aragonite is known to increase vitality and selfconfidence.


Horacio Silvia for Assouline Coffee Table Book

More than just a coffee table book, Horacio Silvia for Assouline’s travel series brings your favorite cities to you. Pages upon pages of beautiful images and short narratives celebrate all things magnificent about the most iconic cities.

5Style Union Home Bowls

Round bowls are boring. Trade up for these handcrafted artisanal bowls by Style Union Home. Their soft and lush style matches any aesthetic and elevates your dining rituals—for everyday and entertaining.

Spinelli Kilcollin Vega Ring

Get ready for endless compliments when you’re rocking Spinelli Kilcollin. Handcrafted in Los Angeles, with meticulous attention to detail, these striking rings are an innovative masterpiece synonymous with “statement jewelry.”


Kathryn McCoy Quartz Crystal Votive

When a candle is lit in this crystal votive it sparkles and shines, emanating a soft light that’ll fill your home with warmth. Handcrafted from quartz and glass, no two are alike.

Rosemary Hallgarten Pillow

Liven any space with a pillow by Rosemary Hallgarten. Available in a variety of colors, Rosemary’s textiles effortlessly fuse traditional artistry with modern luxury.

SB LIFE & STYLE covet & crave
WELLNESS WEEK El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel INDULGE WITH INTENTION NOVEMBER 7 - 10, 2022 An oasis of wellbeing, El Encanto welcomes aqua meditation, intentional baking, a tea-blending ritual, a women's health discussion, and much more to embrace new ways of living intentionally in all aspects of our lives, both in large and small practices. For more information, please contact the Spa 805-770-3545 or @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 23
the GIFT GUIDE SB LIFE & STYLE gift guide GIFTING INSPIRATION FOR YOUR NEAREST AND DEAREST...AND YOURSELF 1. Zimmermann Uptempo Cat Eye Sunglasses ZIMMERMANN.COM 2. Studio Constance Salvia Mock Neck Sweater STUDIOCONSTANCE.COM 3. Max ID NY Ghost Highball Glasses MAXIDNYSTORE.COM 4. Child Perfume Scented Candle CHILDPERFUME.COM 5. Big Chill Retro Toaster BIGCHILL.COM 6. GUCCI Leather Gloves with Horsebit GUCCI.COM 7. LOEWE Flamenco Clutch Bag in Nappa Calfskin LOEWE.COM 8. PEDAL Electric CORE | Polar White Bike PEDALELECTRIC.COM 24 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
Beginning November 25th with a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Nightly Snowfall Shows, Photos With Santa, Silent Disco, Costumed Carolers and Live Music! @ShopPaseoNuevo Open Daily 651 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara CA 93101 HOLIDAY CHEER AT PASEO NUEVO
9. Breville The Oracle® Touch Espresso Machine BREVILLE.COM 10. Therabody SmartGoggles THERABODY.COM 11. Anne Sisteron 14kt Yellow Gold, Green Amethyst Enamel & Diamond Earrings ANNESISTERON.COM 12. Mamacita Mexican Cookbook by Andrea Pons MAMACITACOOKBOOK.COM 13. Faribault Mill Frontier Laydown Blanket FARIBAULTMILL.COM 14. Ranch Road Sagebrush White Boots RANCHROADBOOTS.COM 15. Muslin Comfort 100% Muslin Cotton Kiddo Bath Cape MUSLINCOMFORT.COM 16. Clif Family Wines Gift Box CLIFFAMILY.COM @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 27
17. Teressa Foglia Felt Hat TRUE LOVE ALWAYS 18. AERIN Enzo Travel Backgammon AERIN.COM 19. Marisa Mason Frontera Brass Ring MARISAMASON.COM 20. Women Making Waves Coffee Table Book HEIDIMERRICK.COM 21 ParrishLA Eddie Striped Sweater PARRISHLA.COM 22. Amalia Gray Linen Robe AMALIAHOMECOLLECTION.COM 23. Macher Decorative Vases MACHERSHOP.COM 24. CURATEUR Shopping Membership Box CURATEUR.COM 28 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022




Designer boutique Allora by Laura presents a wardrobe especially curated for the modern and inspiring woman. There’s something for every style, understated or bold, within their collection of cashmere sweaters, fringelined pants, and chic accessories. “From the moment one walks in, we want our customer to have an immediate connection to what is offered,” owner Laura Dinning says. "Selecting a gift without the worry of fit is always a sure bet that your gift will be perfect,” she advises. Perhaps something from their collection of crystal-embellished shawls and scarves, or cases of Kai Linz Jewelry? Allora by Laura celebrates community this season, showcasing local artists and connecting with charities including Heal the Ocean and Angels Foster Care. The Montecito boutique strives to bring “fashion and purpose to both our customer and the community at large.”


For a simply transportive scent experience, luxury jeweler Laykin et Cie offers a hint of Santa Barbara with its fragrance “Montecito.” With top notes of Amalfi lemon, Sicilian tangerine, and African mystery flowers, base hints of cedarwood and musk balance the fragrance towards a unisex scent. The fragrance is inspired by Montecito’s wonderful topography of rich gardens, oak woodlands, and citrus trees—one spritz is reminiscent of sundappled afternoons at Butterfly Beach and breezy morning strolls down Coast Village Road. “Montecito” is just one of Laykin’s destination-based fragrances, which are produced by France’s oldest perfumer. Quality, timelessness, and distinctiveness have been fundamental pillars of the Laykin ethos since 1932, when the line was born out of Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. Distinguished for its whimsical gemstone craftsmanship and attention to detail, Laykin’s expansion into a perfume line was only natural—and Montecito is the gem of the bunch.


Vintage lovers and eclectic style enthusiasts alike will be ecstatic to unwrap a gift from Montecito’s Juniper boutique. Carrying everything from edgy crystal handbags and funky flare pants to sweet ribbon-tie dresses and pearl necklaces, Juniper is a treasure trove of glamor for fashion lovers to unearth precious discoveries. Owner Marie Ferris captures Santa Barbara’s laid-back beach-chic aesthetic with her curation of pieces, offering delicate lace, edgy denim, crystal-embellished leather, silky slips, and, of course, lots of gold and diamond jewelry. It’s like vintage shopping, but on a luxury kick: one-of-a-kind Louis Vuitton handbags lie in wait to be whisked away to their newfound owners. For the fearlessly chic and bold fashionista on your gift list, Juniper is a one-stop-shop.

SB LIFE & STYLE this season


Give Back


If you’re fortunate enough to cozy up by the fireplace, consider aiding those without a place to call home. ShelterBox USA strives to supply shelter to those facing emergency displacement, by delivering live-saving tents and equipment including water filters, mosquito nets, blankets, and cooking sets. Over 300 countries, 100 disasters, and 2 million people have been aided. “We’re kind of like Doctors Without Borders, but for shelter,” says President Kerri Murray, providing a sense of safety “for the most vulnerable and the poorest people on the planet.” Currently responding in Ukraine, ShelterBox works heavily with conflict zones, yet Kerri emphasizes the uptick in natural disasters as a consequence of climate change. Flooding in Pakistan, typhoons in the Philippines, and hurricanes in Honduras are only becoming more catastrophic. Especially after the devastating Montecito mudslides of 2018, the Santa Barbara community resonates with ShelterBox’s mission of providing a home.


While many families are preparing to gift loved ones, others are struggling to make ends meet while supporting a child with cancer. The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation provides financial stability, education services, and emotional support for moderate-to-low income families with a sick child throughout the Central Coast. Their mission is to establish “some normalcy and a glimpse of stability,” says Executive Director Corey Pahanish. “We’re helping them avoid foreclosing a home or being evicted from an apartment,” Corey adds. Tutoring is available for siblings who may be falling behind in school, while emotional support aids families in processing trauma. Much of the staff have had a personal experience with cancer, meaning their work is purely empathetic. TBCF offers its annual campaign “Project Christmas” to sponsor an entire family’s gifts, as well as a toy drive, in which anyone can participate.


Making time count is paramount to Dream Foundation, which enables terminallyill adults to achieve once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Founded in 1994, Dream Foundation was the first in the U.S. to provide end-of-life Dreams to adults, and now has fulfilled over 33,000 nationwide.

“Your gift can reunite a family for a final goodbye, allow a veteran to honor their fallen comrades at a memorial, or give a mother and her children an opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime on a trip together,” says CEO Kisa Heyer. Dreams provide a beneficial sense of psychological comfort and closure, and they can be as simple as a family reunion. The Dream Toy Program also collects toys for children of Dream recipients. When gifting this season, Kisa urges you to keep in mind that “a Dream is never forgotten.”

Executive Chef Kentaro Ikuta @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 33
Assorted Nigiri 34 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

E very visit to Rosewood Miramar Beach is like an escape: a getaway to the shores of the East Coast. Here, Santa Barbara’s white adobe is replaced with pearl white-brushed wood, and fuchsia bougainvillea with manicured gardens. On the evening’s agenda is something different for the property, something new—an Omakase dinner at AMA Sushi, the latest addition to an already robust culinary collection. I make my way to the east wing of the grounds—where private villas are scattered like pristine daisies—towards a fountain surrounded by lily pads. Inside the classic building is a hidden gem. A midnight sky blue ceiling, inspired by Japanese Bizen ware pottery, is grounded by rich wood and onyx accents. Moody lighting dresses the marble bar’s edges, guiding all eyes to AMA’s stage: to Chef Kentaro. I’ve been transported once more. Inception

My welcome to a land and time somewhere between Kentaro’s Osaka origin and Montecito, is an invigorating tequila St. Germain, alluding to an Eastside. As I savor the last sip, the dining experience commences. Left in the Chef’s trusted hands, I enter the unknown. Like with any situation where the reins are released, excitement bubbles to the surface, mirroring a paired sparkling sake to my right. Three sashimi pieces compete for the high mark, and though each is delicious, the Bluefin Tuna melts like butter: A-grade, on every point. Next, okra tempura with matcha dipping salt, followed by scallops. Wasabi notes and a Sunomono rice vinegar play around the delicate scallop, honoring its natural taste. Meanwhile, Daniel Fish, the Director of Wine

“MOODY lighting dresses the marble

bar’s edges, guiding all EYES to AMA’s stage: to Chef Kentaro. I’ve been transported once more. INCEPTION.”

Asari Miso Soup

who crafted the pairing menu, updates my sake glass to reflect the changing dishes, all while sharing his extensive knowledge of the ancient beverage. At the bar, not a single detail is overlooked—from informative and authentically enthusiastic service, to a metallic caviar-embossed menu and mother of pearl chopstick stand—everything, and everyone leaves an impression.

I taste my latest sake, Asian Beauty. It’s smooth, like a spring waltz, danced by peach and faint citrus undertones. As soon as my tastebuds are done admiring one plate, another arrives— flawless rhythm. A yuzu-brushed kanpachi follows a lightly pickled aji; both delectable, the latter, like silk. The menu consists of local and imported fish, some of which are brand new to my palate, even though they’re from home. Chef Kentaro presents me with a flashfried Santa Barbara sweet shrimp—head, eyes, swimmerets, and all. To my surprise, the crunchy dish is full of flavor. Next, come my favorites, king salmon topped with black truffle shaving—somehow the rich salmon remains the center of the show; Hokkaido uni, so creamy, smooth, and sweet, it could contend for a dessert placement; and finally, the wagyu sushi, which to no one’s surprise takes first place. Meat that once lived like a king is guaranteed to indulge the senses.

To wrap up the evening, a Chardonnay gelée— light, aromatic, and cooling. Its vanilla crème anglaise lingers on past the last bite, just like the effects of a paired sake dinner. I sit outside across from AMA to reflect on the experience—precisely what it was. As the firepit cracks, I melt into a satiated sushi-filled lull. Bliss, at its best. *

Tamago Tofu & Uni @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 37
Chef Beto’s Grilled Oysters 38 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022




Stepping into the most elegant speakeasy I could imagine, I’m transported to a different time and place. The sun is setting over Santa Ynez’s pastoral Main Street, and The Victor Bar is glowing with both remaining light and energy. The thick, marble top bar and leather stools are downlit, uplit, and candlelit–all an impressive prelude to the collection of whiskies and liquors displayed on the back wall. Inviting leather and velvet chairs pair with forest green marble pub tables throughout the space.

Awaiting our dinner reservation, we take a seat at the bar. Creative and regional interpretations of classic

cocktails jump out at me from the menu–a Blood Orange Amaretto Sour, a Hibiscus Margarita, “The Victor Gimlet” with elderflower, and a smoked pineapple and mezcal concoction with a CBD gummy garnish. I order the Lavender French 75–something about this room is an invitation for a sparkling cocktail.

The Victor Restaurant and Bar is the town’s newest culinary gem–nestled on the Santa Ynez Inn property (which will soon have a new name: The Genevieve), a longtime staple for cozy and traditional farmhouse-style rooms, steps from the region’s most illustrious wineries.


The Inn’s owners transformed The Victor into a dining destination–a two-year project that saw the entire structure gutted and renovated from the ground up. The culinary concept is inspired by Santa Ynez ranch culture–and the prevalence of cooking over an open fire amidst sprawling pastures. All dishes are regional fare from the land and sea, prepared either in the kitchen’s Josper oven or on a classic Santa Maria barbecue.

Kobe Filet Mignon and–because smash burgers are experiencing a moment and very hard to resist–The Victor Smash Burger.

Grilled oysters and crudo call for a crisp, white Chablis–the Domaine de Bieville by Louis Moreau from Burgundy, France–that was highly recommended by our incredible server, Benjamin. The crudo, adorned by charred green onion, yuzu, radish, fennel, and pickled peppers, is a stunning interpretation of the dish. Fresh, citrus and pepper complement melt-inyour-mouth cuts of yellowtail, leaving me wondering if I was temporarily at a famed sushi establishment. Chef’s grilled oysters are just as hoped–hot, wellseasoned, and with a zing of lemon char. The starters certainly set the bar high for the main courses.

When it’s time for our reservation, we’re lead through the main dining room, which boasts a sleek and alluring modern farmhouse design, peppered with traditional touches. Patterned seat covers and paisley dinner plates contrast the painted black tables. Minimalist art deco sconces flank large, elegantly bevel-edged mirror panels that reflect the remaining daylight and enliven the space.

On the patio, sunbeams peek through the pepper trees, casting light onto a long wooden communal farmhouse table surrounded by inviting sage green chairs. We move onto another bucolic patio towards the main outdoor dining space, where we’re seated adjacent a fire crackling in a large plaster and brick fireplace.

The menu is diverse and exciting. Oysters (on the halfshell, and grilled), Classic Shrimp Cocktail, Kobe Beef Tartare, and Rajas Con Crema headline the starters list. Santa Maria Tri-Tip and Cedar Plank Salmon kick off the entrées, followed by a Filet Mignon and a Tomahawk Steak.

We order Chef Beto’s Grilled Oysters and the Yellowfin Tuna Crudo, followed by Whole Roasted Fish, the

The wine list at The Victor is a blend of the region’s wines and international bottles you could not easily get in the Valley. I opt for The Pence Ranch Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills to pair with the Filet Mignon, which comes out perfectly medium rare, nearly fork tender, and absolutely delicious. The Whole Roasted Fish is halibut, prepared over a bed of seasonal succotash with punchy, charred capers and a smooth green goddess sauce accompaniment. Lastly, the impossible-to-resist smash burger is a must-try, with balsamic onions, sharp cheddar, and Niman Ranch ground beef blending to create a signature version of this mouthwatering indulgence.

As we drink the last sips of our wine, dessert arrives–a creamy, light-as-air cheesecake with a tart fruit compote and homemade crust. It is the perfect conclusion to our meal at The Victor Restaurant and Bar.

Heading back to Santa Barbara, I’m awestruck by how close this quaint wine destination is–and how lucky we are that it continues to grow, and has a beautiful, thoughtful, and delicious dining Mecca that’s definitive of the region. For a moment in time, I linger, relishing that there are at least 35 minutes of dusty highway before real life resumes. *

“Minimalist art deco sconces flank large, ELEGANTLY bevel-edged mirror panels that reflect the remaining daylight and ENLIVEN the space.”
Cedar Plank Salmon
Pineapple Express @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 41



iam mid-way through my first bite of what Cailloux Cheese Shop calls a grilled cheese sandwich, and “creativity” is the first word that comes to mind. Somewhere between the smoky bacon, delicately salted Alsatian munster cheese, sage leaves, and tart berry flavors of cherry vinaigrette, I have begun counting the number of sandwiches I will be bringing home.

I am baffled. How is it possible that a grilled cheese has disoriented my taste buds? I’ve had my fair share of sandwiches, but this is different; this is the kind that comes from a centuries-old, town square shop in fairytales where everyone is pretty sure the proprietor is magically enhanced, but since only good things happen when people enter her shop, everyone is fine with it.

This afternoon, between the carefully selected, artisan cheese choices, wine, rotating grilled cheese menu, accouterments from around the world, and blues whispering over the speakers, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

My tastebuds regain consciousness and as I discern the delicious flavors once again, I realize: I have never had a grilled cheese sandwich–not really–until this moment. “When you melt the cheese, it’s like magic. The smell, the texture, the visual brings it alive. It becomes an indulgent and sensory experience,” owner Janelle Norman muses.

Hailing from New England, she moved to California to get a PhD in Geology at UCSB. She decided to stay in the Santa Ynez area when she met her husband Bryan. When Norman began considering her professional options (she had a background in welding, was a midwife's apprentice, and had worked at Shelburne Apple Orchards), she reminisced back to her days making cheese in Vermont and


decided to open Cailloux in Solvang. Norman organically built her business by catering out of a commissary kitchen, then in 2019 she officially opened the brick and mortar shop, and moved into the current location in October 2021.

The cheese sommelier has her hands full leading biweekly Cheese 101 classes where she reviews seven types of cheese, and creating the occasional prix-fixe cheese and wine tasting dinner menu. Not to mention, mountain biking, raising two children with her husband, and caring for her dog, appropriately named Cailloux, which is French for “pebbles.”

She has good camaraderie with local winemakers and brewers, who support her vision by ordering individual cheese boards for the guests at their tasting rooms. One such collaboration was on Father’s Day, with Topa Topa Brewery. In addition to a handful of brews, soft pretzels with cheese dip brought smiles and laughter to the day in the cheese shop. Wine Director Cherise Tuttle shares that one of her favorite pairings is a sparkling albarino from Carboniste, an Andrus Islandbased winery, with a dense, fluffy goat cheese called Crottin. The creamy cheese with a slightly nutty flavor is enhanced by the acidity

of the sparkling wine, balancing the flavors. “What grows together, goes together,” Cherise reminds me, as both the cheese and wine hail from the same terroir: Northern California.

In addition to the worldwide selection of cheeses that Cailloux offers, a few grilled cheese options are: Raclette & Cornichons, Tomato & Basil with Casatica Di Bufala (water buffalo milk cheese from Northern Italy), and Chevre (goat) and Fig with Lavender and Almonds. They are all unique with powerful flavor profiles.

After indulging in my parade of sandwiches and cheeses, I trundle out of my seat, and press on to my next rendezvous, reluctant and unhurried. I am already nostalgic about Cailloux. As I exit, I am lured to the patio by a song, as local Lindsay Marie graces guests with her vocal skills. She plays her light blue electric guitar and sings soothingly on Wednesday afternoons, adding to the tranquil ambiance.

Adieu, Cailloux, until we meet again. (Or at least until the next grilled cheese sandwich.)*


All glazed everything


Glassy, glowing, glistening—all of these descriptors are words we’ve long used to describe our #skingoals. But there’s a new term on the beauty scene: glazed. (As in glazed doughnut. Yum!)

The trend originated in the skincare sphere when supermodel Hailey Bieber used it to describe her own complexion. Glazed doughnut skincare is focused on achieving a lit-from-within glow with a glossy, hydrated appearance. Sign us up.

But the trend has since expanded, moving into lipcare and nailcare. The look has taken over the beauty industry, with its sheer milky color and shiny finish.

As we head into colder weather, a host of concerns tend to crop up (think: dry skin, chapped lips, and dull nails). But leaning into this beauty trend can help you combat those winter woes. We rounded up the best products to help you achieve a glossy, glazed look that will have everyone jealous of your glow.


Long gone are the days of matte lipstick. In its place? Glazed doughnut lips. The trend is all about hydration and emphasizing the natural color of your pout. Look for nourishing masks and milky pink glosses to get in on the trend.

French Girl Rose Lip Polish

For smooth, glossy lips, you need a clean base. This lip polish gently sloughs away dry skin while delivering a burst of hydration (thanks to coconut, castor, and sunflower oil)— leaving you with lovely, luscious lips.

Laniege Lip Sleeping Mask

Keep the glow going by incorporating an overnight lip mask into your routine. There’s a reason this one keeps selling out: it’s made with a potent antioxidant blend plus murumu and shea butter for deep hydration that will give you a perfect-looking pout when you wake up.



Glazed doughnut skincare is centered around embracing your natural skin (freckles, dimples, and all) with a dewy, glasslike finish. Here are our favorite products to help you get the look.

Fresh Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Toner

Forget everything you know about popular witch hazel toners. This formula isn’t drying or irritating. Instead, it’s formulated with real rose petals and hyaluronic acid to instantly boost skin hydration and calm your complexion. Plus, it smells divine.

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

Get that glazed doughnut glow with the help of this cult-favorite serum. It’s made with hyaluronic acid and peptides to visibly plump the skin—plus peach extract, niacinimide, and madecassoide (a ingredient derived from the plant centella asiatica) to help soothe inflammation and stimulate collagen production.

Rhode Peptide Glazing Fluid

We couldn’t write about glazed doughnut skincare without featuring Hailey Bieber’s famed skincare line. This gel serum, created by leading cosmetic chemists and dermatologists, contains skin-plumping peptides, hydrating hyaluronic acid, moisturizing marula oil, and nourishing niacinimde.

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

The final step in your glazed skincare lineup? A nourishing moisturizer. This restorative cream contains ceramides, natural cholesterol, and fatty acids to restore your skin barrier, smooth your complexion, and deliver a radiant litfrom-within glow.


Take your glazed doughnut skin to the next level with a few extra beauty products. These items deliver a dewy glow that will give you good skin days every day.

Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40

Glazed doughnut skin is all about embracing your skin as it is, which is why we love this skin tint. The formula fuses makeup and skincare together, delivering nourishing ingredients and lightweight coverage to help smooth, brighten, and hydrate your complexion. Plus, it has SPF 40 to help protect your skin from sun damage.

Kosas Revealer Concealer

Used by supermodels and celebrity makeup artists alike, this hydrating concealer will instantly become a staple in your beauty bag. It blurs out discoloration and imperfections while delivering a skin-like finish. Plus, it contains hydrating skincare ingredients to help you get a serious glow.

Saie Glowy Super Gel

Get glowing glazed-doughnut skin with this multitasking product. This illuminating gelbased luminizer is made of 75 percent water and can be mixed with skincare, foundation, or worn alone for a fresh dewy look.


The new must-have mani? Glazed doughnut nails. Think of it like your nails but better. It involves pale-white polish with a shimmering finish for a clean, glossy look that will match any outfit you throw on.

OPI GelColor in Funny Bunny

Hailey Bieber is also behind the glazed doughnut nail trend, and her nail artist revealed this is the exact color she uses as the base. Bieber’s nail artist then tops this soft white shade with Tin Man Can Chrome Effect to the nail for a frosted finish. (PSA: The chrome powder is only available in salons.)

Orly Crystal Healing Nail Polish

Nail artists say this sheer white lilac shimmer is the perfect pick for those who want to achieve glazed doughnut nails at home. We’re fans of this formula because it’s breathable and made with argan oil, vitamin B, and vitamin C to nourish your nails and prevent chipping or peeling.

Olive & June Nail Brightener

Get the trending nail look with this one-anddone product. It’s made with natural ingredients to help brighten dull or stained nails and protect from UV damage. Plus, it delivers a subtle pearlescent finish that illuminates your nails for that coveted glazed-doughnut look. *


than deep SKIN



Jami Morse Heidegger’s fabulously oversized sunglasses, worn indoors, are the first indication that she’s a highly esteemed businesswoman, not to mention former heiress of Kiehl’s. The second indication? Her and her daughter Hannah’s glowing complexions, shining back at me like twin beacons of light, even through the Zoom camera. Jami immediately apologizes for her Anna Wintour-esque eyewear (they’re black, her favorite color) due to light sensitivity, but I would expect nothing less from the reigning skincare queen.

Apart from appearance, Jami and Hannah Heidegger operate like your typical mother-daughter duo. They snuggle in bed, gabbing about the best serums and moisturizers (though admittedly, their own), they partake in weekend sporting events (competitive horseback riding), and Hannah still ignores her mother’s advice. If you disregard their 25-acre Malibu ranch, and that Hannah’s father is former pro alpine skier Klaus Heidegger, the family runs on humility.

What is most extraordinary about the Heideggers, though, is their prestige skincare line Retrouvé. Genderless, pro-aging, nutrient-packed, and bound in sultry matte black-and-gold packing, it’s unlike anything else on the market—and it’s getting noticed. Hollywood A-listers including the likes of Zoë Kravtiz and Tracee Ellis Ross gush about the magic of Retrouvé in their regular rotation for lights, camera, actionready skin.

Retrouvé is concoced of highly concentrated, multitasking ingredients that work synergistically–eliminating a multitude of steps and boosting the efficacy of your skincare routine. You won’t find filler ingredients, excessive products, or harsh preservatives anywhere in the performance-driven line. Jami’s “proaging” philosophy is a huge leap forward in embracing our inevitable aging process, as opposed to feeding

into a culture of shame or empty promises to rewind the clock. “I’m not looking to be 21 again,” Jami says matter-of-factly.

Ironically, Retrouvé was never supposed to see the light of day. It was Jami’s secret science experiment, formulating elixirs for her own usage after decades of experience in the skincare industry (her father and grandfather founded Kiehl’s). She used nutrients, such as vitamin C and niacinamide, at clinically effective levels much higher than found on beauty store shelves. The downside? It was expensive. So Retrouvé was strictly for Jami, gaining an accidental cult following of friends and family along the way.

It was her husband Klaus, former co-president of Kiehl’s, who suggested creating a brand out of the cottage industry—after noticing the jaw-dropping price of the products they were giving away. Yet Jami was retired and raising twins (one of them Hannah).

“I was like, absolutely not!” Jami says. But a formative suggestion it was.

Klaus was also absolutely floored by Jami’s formulations. If the same product was sold with Kiehl’s pricing margins, it would be almost $1,000. “When you look at it, the ingredients that Jami used and the quantity of it is unheard of,” Klaus explains. With an 8-10% active vitamin content, it’s like a green smoothie for your face.

Even if you haven't heard of Retrouvé, you’re most definitely familiar with Kiehl’s. The cult skincare line originally started as an apothecary and pharmaceutical company (since 1851), founded by Jami’s grandfather Irving Morse. His son, Aaron Morse, transformed the line into the beloved skincare giant of today. Jami herself is responsible for creating over 100 Kiehl’s product formulations. Now, her daughter Hannah is the 4th Morse generation in skincare, with her own acne-fighting line in the works for Retrouvé. “It allows


me to have a deeper connection to my family,” she says, referring to the grandfather she never met.

I’m captivated by their mother-daughter dynamic. “I can’t emphasize enough how much I love working with my mom,” Hannah divulges, beaming. “To see her as a powerful businesswoman, and to have that example of someone who is such an expert in the industry with so much knowledge to share is extraordinary,” she adds. “Well, thank you for that,” Jami says. “But the truth of the matter is, it wasn't until she was about 18 that, if I'm such an expert, she actually listened to me.”

“When it’s your mom, you don’t tend to listen, right?” Hannah jokes, and I can confirm. In her years of struggling with hormonal cystic acne, she brushed off Jami’s pleas to balance her skin with high quality oils, instead opting for every drying product on the market—they didn’t help. “For a while, I was actually like ‘skincare doesn’t work,’ which is hilarious!” she admits. Finally, having no other alternative, Hannah gave in and became a believer in the Retrouvé difference. It was then she found her calling (genetically predicted or not) to join the family skincare legacy. “I want to help other people, because I know what it’s like to not feel confident in your skin, and how drastically that can affect your life.” Taking the reins as Retrouvé’s Global Education Director, Hannah is most passionate about providing guidance in navigating skincare.

Education is first and foremost at Retrouvé, a quality not boasted by many other skincare brands. As Jami shamefully admits, along with countless other beachgoers in the 1970s, she used to prop up on Santa Monica beach with baby oil and an aluminum reflector to bake. “In the 70s if you didn’t have a deep dark tan, you looked weird,” she scoffs. It wasn’t until a dermatologist—well, the dermatologist, Dr. Norman Orentreich—showed her the undetectable damage underneath her skin that the whole perspective shifted.

If Jami’s voice radiated from your bathroom cabinet, she would implore you to put on sunscreen before leaving the house. She’d also recommend cycling your skincare (just like adding a jacket in the winter or shedding a layer during summer heat), double cleansing (but only if you need to!) and above all embracing the ritual that is skincare. For her, it’s synonymous with self care. Klaus reiterates that the

skin is our largest organ, and should be treated as such. If we’re stringent with what we put in our bodies, we need to regulate what’s going on top, too.

Klaus, who can be likened to a Tom Brady of the Austrian skiing world, always had the press on his skincare habits— friends would later call him up asking for samples. Tyler Palmer, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall-of-Famer, and the other skiing cronies accused Klaus of a facelift during a reunion trip a few years back. “No, I just use this,” he would say—Retrouvé, of course. Never a fan of heavy creams, his newfound appeal can be accredited to Retrouvé’s lightweight formulas. “Now, if he takes a shower, he’s got to have his serum out,” Jami chuckles.

A few days before we spoke, Jami was cleaning the office and found a box of products from the brand’s launch back in 2014—to her, synonymous with striking gold. Despite Retrouvé’s relatively low level of preservatives, the product was pristine. “They didn’t smell, they didn’t separate,” she remarks. The black packaging serves a purpose beyond

its glamor: it blocks light from entering and altering the product. They also use a triple-airless packaging system, which prevents any air leakage—I’m impressed, but not surprised, that they’ve thought of every detail.

Retrouvé’s tagline is “Art, Science, Beauty,” yet Jami disapproves of the last word. It’s too subjective, almost outdated in her vocabulary. In my opinion, they should replace it with “Integrity.” The dedication to multiple iterations of samples and years of development speaks volumes about the brand—nothing has a label slapped on it, and every formulation is purposefully distinct. Everything must pass a high bar to receive a signed, sealed, and delivered stamp of approval from Jami. “We hope that the end result is people feel good about themselves, more confident, more comfortable, and have had a moment of self care,” Jami says, “And hopefully liking their skin even more in the process.” *

“We hope that the end result is people feel GOOD about themselves, more CONFIDENT, more COMFORTABLE, & have had a MOMENT of self care.”


Though his grades at Santa Barbara Middle School consistently struck lower than desired on the alphabet, one certain sixth-grader had bigger things on his mind. The school play was coming up, and a couple B’s and C’s weren’t going to derail his destiny for the director’s chair. With a natural affinity for the VHS camcorder, a young Elijah AllanBlitz traded papers for making movies, at once earning him that coveted A in Social Studies and showcasing his innate talent for the ultimate creative art form.

“That was the only A I ever received,” Elijah remarks of his academic career, though not many can trace their first feature film back to middle school. A natural born storyteller, Elijah has been directing almost as long as he’s been walking. My cousins and I, too, practiced the art of movie making with our motion picture “Horsey,” a shoo-in Academy Awardwinner if it ever saw the light of day—but our version lacked the inveterate foundation of empathy, futuristic technology and otherworldly graphics that Elijah has mastered since his SBMS days.

Reminiscing on my own childhood experience, peppered with endless playdates and fairytale fables, I can’t help but ask: What happened? Why do I, along with most adults, find my imaginative spirit and childhood dreams long since buried underneath piles of staggering reality? Some loosely define this phenomenon as “growing up.” Not Elijah.

The Emmy award-winning director and Santa Barbara native, I’m confident, is more dreamer than human. We spoke about his recently released short film entitled REMEMBERING on Disney+, and its many powerfully implicit messages. It digs at those hypothetical musings that haunt our adult consciousness: Where did our imaginations go? What happened to our beloved childhood dreams? Are they forever lost in the abyss of adulthood? Elijah convinces me that to awaken our inner child, all we have to do is remember.

REMEMBERING was born as a creative outlet during the pandemic, centered around then-nonexistent technologies to introduce a fresh type of viewing experience. “Brie


and I wanted a way to stay creative during the lockdown,” Elijah shrugs—and yes, he’s talking about Academy Award-winning actress, and perhaps more notably his girlfriend, Brie Larson.

Thought-provoking in a fairytale-meets-alternatereality sense, REMEMBERING effectively brings a Disney dreamland right off the big screen and into our living rooms. Augmented reality technology (AR), which is reminiscent of 3D but eons more immersive, is what elevates REMEMBERING from a short film to a one-of-a-kind experience. Mere descriptions won’t do it justice, but as I hover my iPhone in front of the TV, a waterfall flows off the screen and right onto my living room floor. Vines sprout into an enchanted forest of glowing fuschia flowers, off the corner of my bookshelf. It’s trippy, yet euphoric.

“There's rainbows and dolphin clouds and shooting stars, and aurora borealis and thunderbolts and butterflies and all this stuff!” Elijah exclaims. Each of these elements, ideated by the film’s child star Dusty, blend into your home with AR technology, designed with help from the likeminded dreamers at Disney’s StudioLab. Detailed is an understatement—the film is a masterpiece, at once a child’s magical wonderland, and an intriguing invitation for adults to rethink stubborn perceptions of reality.

Of course, such is the Disney mantra. The “happiest place on Earth” has always been an attraction for both the young and the young at heart, and REMEMBERING encapsulates just that. It’s a message to nurture an enduring imagination in children, and a prompt for their parents to tap into something deep inside—a creative spirit perhaps forgotten, but never truly lost.

“What better way to try and give adults the real ‘World of Imagination,’ or as close to it as they can experience in their living room, than this new technology that they’ve never seen before?” Elijah says. The augmented reality component was always the creative goal, even after being told

time and time again that it wasn’t yet possible. Fortunately for us, impossible isn’t in Elijah’s vocabulary.

In the film, Brie Larson stars alongside adorable six-year-old Dusty Peak, who represents her inner child. An obnoxious phone call abruptly causes Brie to lose a powerful idea—a metaphor, of course, for our daily inundation of arbitrary distractions. “We all make these choices in microcosmos every day, of what we are going to prioritize,” Elijah says. Her idea shoots into the sky and lands amongst the “World of Imagination,” where it’s discovered by Dusty and taken on an adventure back home. The child is wise beyond her years, reminding grown-ups of their stifled imagination while exploring concepts as abstract as the construct of time.

“In the process of doing it, there wasn't a roadmap…which to me is ideal,” Elijah grins. “I love going where there are no roads.” Clearly, he prefers flowing waterfalls and fields of butterflies. The massive collaboration, which took inspiration from Brie’s “incredible taste and brilliance,” Dusty’s untethered imagination, Disney’s StudioLab, CGI artists, and many more, successfully produced the first-ever AR experience triggered off a moving image, a work of art immersing viewers in a both physically and emotionally enthralling landscape.

How to even begin conceptualizing such a project? “There’s not really a solid process of remembering ideas,” Elijah prompts. Drawing inspiration from poet Ruth Stone, he insists that ideas are something that come to us, rather than forming internally—they flash by at lightning speed, and we’re either lucky enough to grab them, or we’re too slow and they fly away. We see this concept in REMEMBERING, where Brie’s idea, personified as a golden light, enters through the window, circles around her, and lands at the tip of her pen before fleeting away. “If it's meant for me, it will come back. If it doesn’t, maybe that idea wasn’t for me,” Elijah says. A valuable point of view, in remembering and in life.


Next, they needed a child’s perspective on the “World of Imagination.” Dusty happened to be Brie and Elijah’s next door neighbor—her family was in their Covid pod. She wasn’t an actress. “I’ve known her since she was probably two, and thought this is just a magical human,” Elijah says. It was Brie’s suggestion to make a movie with Dusty, and he was immediately on board.

The team worked hard to keep the experience an authentic one for her. “We never called action once when we were on set with Dusty,” Elijah says. The camera was simply her robot friend, who she couldn’t make eye contact with. Filmed on a volumetric stage with 25-foot LED walls, there were no green screens, meaning that what we see in the film was projected in front of the actors in real time. Dusty’s expressions of awe, therefore, are real reactions to the magical landscape.

Brie expands on her own dedication to a childlike spirit. “I told my mom as a child that I wanted to be an actor,” she recalls. “So whenever I am being creative in that way, I feel I’m honoring my inner child who dreamt of being where I am today.”

Santa Barbara, in its own way, is a catalyst for imagination, and Elijah is as local as it gets. Growing up just past the Mount Calvary Monastery near Gibraltar Road and hiking Rattlesnake Canyon are a few of his claims to loyalty. “I could talk about how much I love Santa Barbara forever!” he says with a spurt of enthusiasm. This uniquely small city boasts sea, sky, and rock all at once, producing an environment extremely conducive to exploration—Elijah’s self-proclaimed canvas to


creativity. “For me, so much creativity, love, and imagination comes from that place.” It’s a deep relationship to the entire scenery, he adds, and the ability to be completely immersed in nature. “There’s no other place like it.” Precisely.

Elijah won his first Emmy for immersive virtual reality (VR) series “The Messy Truth,” a six-yearlong project created to evoke a “curriculum of empathy” through digital experiences. Featuring cameos from Brie, each short episode places viewers in the shoes of unfamiliar societal experiences faced, for example, by a different gender or race. According to Elijah, VR should be used as the “ultimate empathy machine” to bring people together through technology.

For the multihyphenate (he also acts and produces music), “it all comes back to storytelling.” Both virtual and augmented reality allow for a much more immersive story than we’re used to seeing on the big screen, and he’s a major force pioneering this tech forward within the entertainment industry. It begs the question, what’s next?

One day, our iPhones and laptops will likely represent archaic relics of the past, mere keepsakes as we adopt a more enhanced form of digital communication. The future is uncertain, but Elijah has his predictions. AR glasses are on the horizon, which may largely replace our current devices and make experiences like REMEMBERING much more accessible. But, Elijah warns, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Immersive technology should remain a tool, without destroying our intrinsic humanity.

This sincerity is what I like most about Elijah. Not once did his enthusiastic tone slip into mockery, even when discussing rainbows and unicorns.

Brie echoes this sentiment. “Don’t be afraid to play,” she says. “We can get so serious, but really, life is to be enjoyed and explored.”

So how do we, as adults, re-learn to play and bring this “World of Imagination” into our lives? I ask Elijah. A great start is to question what we accept as fact, with three simple words: “Is it true?” This question may be the key to unlocking cracks in our perspectives, allowing a little leeway to imagine other possibilities. “Who told you that a tree was a tree?” Elijah poses. “What if it’s actually a magical being that I decide to call something else?”

It’s a mind trip, but a valuable one at that. Once we begin to question, we open up our minds to what’s beyond the simple truths we take for granted. Elijah employs this thinking in the largely uncharted territory of technology, where there are no rules. Eliminating redundant mental blocks means the unimaginable becomes tangible, and the impossible possible. I nod along, beginning to grasp the way Elijah’s mind works. Outside of the box is an understatement.

“Sometimes grown-ups forget their imagination,” Dusty says in the film. As a child, I demanded to leave the house in a costume. Every. Single. Day. Usually it was Minnie Mouse, but I also had my fair share of days sporting a Little Mermaid two piece or glittery princess dress. I loved dinosaurs. I was a fashion designer.

What happened to that? I truly believe that if we took a moment to ask ourselves that question, we could pick up right where we left off. The hardest part is choosing to remember. Elijah was lucky enough to keep in touch with his own “World of Imagination”—and he’s here to remind us that ours is ready and waiting, just beneath the surface. *



SB LIFE & STYLE fashion
Photographs by JARED FIX | Stylist OTTOCINA RYAN | Models LURA NORMAND, MAITLYN SIMMONS & TAYNARA JOY with Two Management | Hair & Makeup by JA'NICE RAMOS | Location SUN AIR JETS 58 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
Peter Cohen dress, Allora by Laura Kai Linz necklace, Allora by Laura Laykin et Cie bracelet
Markarian jacket & pants, The Webster Laykin et Cie earrings & ring Alexandre Birman heels MVST Select luggage
Peter Cohen dress, Allora by Laura Kai Linz necklace, Allora by Laura Scotch & Soda jacket & pants, Whiskey & Leather Gucci handbag, The Webster MVST Select luggage
Brandon Maxwell top & skirt, The Webster 62 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
Scotch & Soda jacket & pants, Whiskey & Leather Gucci handbag, The Webster Alexandre Birman heels MVST Select luggage
L*Space bikini top LHD pants, The Webster Laykin et Cie bracelet & ring Alexandre Birman heels
Lapointe pants, top & dress, Allora by Laura Dorothee Schumacher belt, Allora by Laura Kai Linz rings, Allora by Laura Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne Andersen’s Danish Bakery Princess Cake
Dorothee Schumacher top & skirt, Allora by Laura Christian Louboutin heels Kopu water

A little never

Lapointe dress, Allora by Laura The Office of Angela Scott boots Anne Sisteron earrings & ring
Celine jacket & top, The Webster Etro skirt, The Webster Dr. Martens boots Anne Sisteron jewelry
Rivet Utility jumpsuit Dr. Martens boots Anne Sisteron jewelry
Origami Crane “Rolls Royce” jacket, True Love Always Astr dress, Whiskey & Leather Anne Sisteron rings & earrings
Lamarque top, True Love Always Celine jacket, The Webster Pistola shorts, Whiskey & Leather Anne Sisteron bracelets
Zimmermann dress Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger heels


SB LIFE & STYLE travel
Borana Conservancy 76 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

T wenty hyenas race towards the open Land Cruiser, the taste of gin and tonic sundowners lingering on my palate. The baby Thomson’s gazelle leading the pack didn’t stand a chance. They attack and kill. Suddenly the hyenas divert to sprinting laps around the vehicle, prey swinging from the leader’s jaws. Our guide Stephen's red flashlight ignites their eyes and teeth.They start laughing and we stop. Lightning bolts pierce the sky, illuminating the plains. I cling to my friend Jacqueline for dear life. It’s funny how you can feel nearly dead yet so alive at the same time.

The hyenas disperse as quickly as they arrived. Stephen chuckles, “That was so cool.” He knew we were safe in the car. While at that juncture we'd beg to differ, this is precisely what we came to Kenya for. To exist outside of our comfort zone, to be immersed in nature brimming with animals, to have unfiltered interactions with the local people.

An African safari was a bucket list trip for me and, well, an obsession for Jacqueline. After years of Pinterest boards and conversations during fashion shoot lunch breaks, we still had no clue where to start. So we sought out the experts: UNCHARTED. Santa Barbara-based luxury travel designers, South African Sandy and California native Chip Cunningham have been curating life-changing adventures for over thirty years. Passionate about conservationbased travel and full of charisma, few know Africa as well as these two. Thanks to their decades of experience (and years of running safaris and lodges in Kenya), our two-week trip had depth. It was rooted in conservation,

giving back to local communities, and a true understanding of what goes into protecting the animals and the land. The result: a Safari that feels fulfilling. The only effort on our part? Predeparture drinks at Bettina to review the details.

During the first few days in Kenya, we cocoon at Eden Nairobi, a whimsical hotel in the upscale suburb of Karen. It's the most tranquil place I've ever encountered. I’m relaxed and enjoy each and every moment, a foreign feeling to say the least. When I wake in the mornings I’m not inclined to grab my phone. Instead, I rest, listen to bird calls and watch monkeys silhouetted in the trees.

Staying at Eden is like dipping your toe into Kenya. Most of the staff are Maasai. When showing us to our rooms, they point out that the toilet flushes, as if it's a novelty, a hint of how they live. Of Kenya’s 42 tribes, the Maasai are the only ones that stay true to their culture… and flaunt it every chance they get. Colorful clothing, headdresses, jewelry, body paint, and dancing are commonplace.

One sunny afternoon, Eden’s owner and designer Anna Trzebinski joins us for tea. She emerges from her on-property workshop, where her renowned clothing, accessories, and handbags are created. We sit on the restaurant patio, looking out on a lily pad-strewn lake. Her late husband Tonio Trzebinski’s abstract paintings cover the walls. Giant reclaimed wood coffee tables filled with shells and moths anchor the room. Ostrich eggs are strung above the bar as if floating mid-air. The decor reflects Anna’s wildly creative, captivating, and outspoken


personality. “I created this space for people to connect with a part of themselves they otherwise can’t,” she explains. These few days of tranquility are the perfect segue into safari. Our first stop: Borana Lodge located on Borana Conservancy.

Our Safarilink plane descends over Laikipia and excitement builds as I spot a giraffe from the window, and, another one, and zebras. Our guide at Borana, Lawrence, picks us up in a vintage Land Rover, and we set off on an hour-long game drive along rust-colored dirt roads through Lewa Conservancy and then into Borana.

The lodge looks as if it was built by a wellto-do caveman with an affinity for stone walls, thatched roofs, giant windows, and bathrooms spacious enough to get lost in. To take in our surroundings, we eat lunch overlooking the pool, while vibrant birds do the same on the feeders dangling overhead.

Thank goodness I’m a morning person because game drives set out around 6 a.m. when the wildlife is most active. A pink glow dissipates over the mountains as Lawrence drives us around the conservancy. His kind, jovial demeanor is contagious and has us laughing all morning. Since it’s Borana's land we only ever see their vehicles (there are three total). Baby elephants fight playfully, stumbling over each other. Baboons sunbathe on treetops, swinging from the branches with babies latched to their bellies. Grévy’s zebras–the largest zebra species, with thin stripes and Mickey Mouse ears–return our stares, seemingly as mesmerized by us as I am by the mazes on their coats.

The next few days we spot dozens of lions, some so young they still have spots. We’re close enough to see the detail in their paws and caramel eyes. They look cuddly, like it would be no problem to curl up with them. No matter how many zebras and lions we see, it doesn’t lose its magic. Everything is new

Eden Nairobi 78 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

and captivating. The plains seem infinite and each day is a life or death situation. We’re constantly in awe.

In place of an evening drive, we go horseback riding. The sky is a gradient of blue. We ride through the bush, feeling even more connected to the landscape. It feels natural to be part of an animal. Ostriches spread their wings out as if they are going to give flying a shot. We encounter a giraffe gliding through the grass. I didn’t think I was a giraffe person, yet watching the graceful herbivore, I most definitely am. We look the other way to a rainbow, a zebra herd gallops across the plain beneath the colorful arch. You know those moments that couldn’t possibly get any more perfect, and then they do? Kenya is full of those.

Game drives become an addiction; you never know the outcome unless you go. Maybe we’ll hit the jackpot and see an elusive leopard today. Or a kill. During the evening drive, Lawrence stops the vehicle and asks, “Do you smell cats?” We half-heartedly agree. He veers off the road, revealing two cheetahs prowling around a bush, our first sighting of the fastest animal on earth. Eventually, we return to the warmth of our rooms. Fireplaces smoldering and hot water bottles heating our beds.

The next morning we charter an Air Wilderness four-seater Cessna to Reteti Elephant Orphanage. It’s one of the few times “enjoy your flight” is actually a relevant phrase. The plane takes us over riverbeds and herds of elephants and antelopes. Upon landing, Pilot Kim sets up a breakfast table beneath the plane wing. He sits with us, sharing fruit and stories of the area.

Entering the gates of Reteti, we don’t know where to look. Baby elephants and giraffes

run in every direction. A rambunctious one-month-old elephant beelines toward us, and a caretaker swiftly intervenes. It affectionately wraps its trunk around the caretaker, as it would a parent. The keepers are their parents during rehabilitation, feeding them giant bottles of goat’s milk from nearby villages every three hours and sleeping with them.

Back in Borana, we spend the afternoon gaining a deeper understanding of the Conservancy’s mission by visiting the ranger station. The head ranger, exhibiting the cadence and passion of a motivational speaker, explains their day-to-day


operations to us. Then we ride along to station a pair of rangers for night patrol. As we sip sundowners, they set up for a sleepless night to protect rhinos from poachers.

Finally understanding Sandy’s warning that khaki fever is a real thing and everyone falls in love with their guides, we say goodbye to our new friends at Borana and transfer to the next camp. Moody skies and saturated landscapes make for an entirely new experience in the Masai Mara. Our base for the next few days is Mara Expedition Camp, a boutique camp with only six tents set on 120 acres bordering the conservancy.

On the evening drive, our guide expertly maneuvers the Land Cruiser like a roller coaster on grassy, muddy tracks. This game drive is our first time seeing safari vehicles from other hotels. Observing the options, my utmost trust in UNCHARTED grows. From the lodge selection and sequence to the transfer schedule, every moment of our itinerary is flawless.

At dinner, we eat seafood gumbo and berry pavlova as our server explains Maasai culture. Their primary sustenance is cow's milk and blood. Cows are sacred. They never sell them as they are also a symbol of wealth. As is having many wives. They’re polygamous; his father has eight wives with eight children each. Okay, take a second and imagine having 63 siblings. Thank goodness they don’t keep track of their birthdays. We’re not skimming the surface, we’re immersed in local culture, even from the comfort of our sumptuous camp.


The next morning we wake to the deep roar of a pride of lions nearby. Tea and cookies are delivered to our room and I sleepily sit up and grab one from the jar, laughing at when else is eating cookies at 5 a.m. appropriate? In the main tent, we serve ourselves fruit, yogurt, muesli, and fresh banana cake. We thank the staff for breakfast as we climb into the vehicle. “Oh that’s not breakfast, that’s just a little energy,” our guide clarifies. Of course it isn’t. A few lion sightings later, we arrive at a river to a spread of eggs and bacon, croissants, and fruit. Crocodiles and hippos peek out of the water as our butler pops the champagne.

On departure day, the staff helps us plant an acacia tree outside our tent as part of an effort to conserve the landscape. The drive to our next camp takes us by way of a Maasai village, so we stop for a visit.

The Maasai are exceptionally tall and slender, draped in colorful clothing. To greet us, the men parade around, singing and dancing. For the finale, they jump up and down—a competition to attract the prettiest women to be their wives. We enter the village and Jacqueline joins the women’s dance. The Chief welcomes us to his home. Mud and stick walls shelter a few cowhide beds around a simple kitchen. It's 200 square feet at most. They are so proud of their culture and live simple lives rooted in community. It makes me question why we complicate things. They kindly offer to let us stay the night and drink cow blood for breakfast. We politely decline and continue to Mara Nyika Camp, where a stark contrast in culture awaits.

Monkeys scamper along the walkway as we retreat to our three-room tent. I refer to it as a tent in the way that a Rolls-Royce is a car. We enter the living room and see straight out the other flap to zebras grazing. The rooms get progressively more ornate, culminating with the bathroom’s open shower and copper tub.

After an outstanding game drive (we finally spot a leopard) we relax in our tent–it’s too beautiful to leave. I watch animals wander by the balcony. Dik-diks, the smallest (and most adorable) antelopes, are my new favorite. A giraffe trailed by a week-old baby reaches for leaves at the top of a tree, emptying my mind of everything else. We only emerge for dinner, enticed by red snapper and panna cotta served in the wine cellar lined with South African vintages.





Khaki is the new black. Leave exotic to the animals and keep your safari garb perfectly plain with this double-front pocket buttondown. It’s both practical and workwear-chic in a soft army green that blends seamlessly with your natural surroundings. Now, game drive ahead.




When in Kenya, quality sun protection is strictly essential. Block harsh rays with this camel-colored wide-brimmed hat, and make a subtle statement while you’re at it. With a silk interior lining and natural leather sweatband, you’ll be appropriately accessorized from Land Cruiser to (elephant) lunch date.



Camouflage is key when traversing the plains…but so is comfort. This merino wool tee has enough moisture-wicking, odorresisting, and temperature-controlling natural properties to last you three days, guaranteed. Pack light and keep your focus on scoping out the lions.



Huckberry also has you covered in the luggage department. This whiskey-colored duffel is actually a backpack hybrid, built to keep you moving easily between expeditions. Made of practically indestructible nylon, you couldn’t have a more steadfast travel companion.


A business of mongeese flees the Land Cruiser en route to the airstrip. Today we fly to our final safari stop: ol Donyo Lodge in the Chyulu Hills (the inspiration for Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa).

The staff gather at the entrance and yell an excited “Jambo!” as our guide Seki drives us up to the main mess hall. The owners lease the land from and employ the Maasai as guides, rangers, and hotel staff. In turn, tourism supports the local communities, schools, and clinics. Sandy and Chip have a special connection to ol Donyo as they helped rebuild and manage the lodge in the late 90s.

From the private pool outside our suite, I watch elephants and zebras drink from a watering hole so close you can hear their heavy feet and hooves. If that’s not enough to immerse you in the surroundings, the star bed on the roof can be made up for you to sleep under the vibrant Milky Way.

On our evening game drive, elephants with leathery skin lumber in front of the car, their giant tusks nearly skimming the volcanic ash-covered ground. Per Sandy’s recommendation, we climb to the top of the kopjes (a giant ancient rock formation) and look out across endless miles of a sun-scorched landscape. Mount Kilimanjaro peeks through the clouds as the sky glows orange. We talk with Seki about polygamy. He has two wives and six children. The marriages are arranged, yet today the younger generations have adopted western views and want to marry for love. Cultural differences are met only with curiosity and it feels as nonchalant as discussing the weather.

At dinner, each party eats in a secluded area throughout the property–poolside, dining room, wine cellar. The social distancing adaptation that stuck makes it feel like you have the lodge to yourself. Our table is by a fireplace overlooking the main pool, seldom used in favor of inroom pools. The waiter John and chef Kevin treat us like family, with a kindness that surpasses working in hospitality. After we clean our plates they bid us “Lala salama,” Swahili for “sleep well,” and a guide escorts us back to our room.

The most incredible aspect of ol Donyo Lodge is the hide, a bunker in front of a watering hole. From our hidden vantage point, we watch zebras and antelopes

“You know those MOMENTS that couldn’t possibly get any more PERFECT, and then they do? Kenya is FULL of those.”
“We eat in silence, GRAZING on our charcuterie board in slow motion, CAPTIVATED by the WILDLIFE in their natural habitat.”
Solotre top Bella Dahl pants ol
Donyo Lodge

drink. Three giraffes join, splaying their legs to crane their necks down and reach the pool. We’re close enough to see the water drip from their mouths and their long blue tongues licking their lips.

We decline most other activities for the rest of the stay in favor of watching animals from the hide. We even have lunch at the adjacent viewing area. We eat in silence, grazing on our charcuterie board in slow motion, captivated by the wildlife in their natural habitat.

Unable to get enough, we return at sunset to nine elephants slurping water. They walk toward the hide, reaching their trunks inside. When the water runs low, they look at us longingly, their eyes so expressive and human. Jacqueline runs up to the lodge to inform them it’s empty. As the pool refills the elephants take turns drinking from the pipe. Jacqueline waves to one and it waves its trunk back.

On our last day in Kenya, Seki quizzes us on the Swahili he’s imparted while we await our flight to Nairobi. Once in the city, we have a day ahead of our Kenya Airways redeye to JFK—the only direct flight to the States. We relax at Tribe Hotel (the sole Nairobi property with a helipad), and spend the afternoon lounging by the sleek pool, shopping for last-minute souvenirs, and reflecting on what an amazing adventure we had. I reminisce about the animals, warm and funny people, and breathtaking landscapes. I’m coming back for all of that…and staying for the daily charcuterie boards at lunch with elephants drinking a few yards away. *



UNCHARTED is a leading luxury adventure travel company helmed by South African-born and raised Sandy and California native Chip Cunningham, with insider knowledge and access from years of living in Africa and working in the safari business. In Kenya, Chip was a bush pilot and wildlife guide and Sandy’s background was in tourism and hospitality–all of which shines through in the privately curated luxury safaris they design. Throughout the planning process and trip, their team is communicative, thorough, and always available–for everything from midnight questions to packing recs. The pre-departure packet, including every detail, reservation, and planning tips, would please even the most Type A person. VIP treatment makes for smooth landings at every destination, so all you have to focus on is enjoying the trip of a lifetime you’re embarking on. Their adventures extend far beyond Africa, so be sure to check out their website.


Ol Donyo Lodge, Mara Nyika Camp, and Mara Expedition Camp form part of the Great Plains collection that spans Kenya, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. The conservation-focused company was founded by lauded documentary filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert, who have won eight Emmys and created over forty films for National Geographic–and that’s just a peek at their resume. Their foundations include Rhinos without Borders, Great Plains Big Cats Initiative, and Project Ranger. With each film, book, property, and foundation their goal is always the same: spreading the word about African wildlife conservation.

ol Donyo Lodge @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 85

a HOME awayfrom HOME



e arrive at a cast-iron gate holding a Spanish Revival manor in its center, the first stop on a month-long journey. Green marble spills across the floor—seafoam, emerald, jade—the verdant eye candy captures my gaze. The lobby’s columns open into a skylight-illuminated patio on one side, and into the “library,” suited for a 5 o’clock scotch or mezcal, on the other. Casa Polanco, the newly opened boutique hotel set in Mexico City’s coveted Polanco neighborhood, is both a product of its surroundings and a reflection of them: elegant, manicured, inviting.

Home for the next few days is a sweeping suite that’s found the perfect equilibrium between contemporary and classic. The bonus features include a soaking tub, an array of art books, and Victorian windows through which golden hour rays flood in like dancing fireflies. Although it’s hard to leave the comfort of the room, we venture out to explore our surroundings. Walking through the park evokes an air of romance; nostalgic memories of Parisian strolls fill my mind as the linger of petrichor fills my lungs with crisp air. Fluffy clouds

reflect like a Monet painting across a decorative pool, while children’s racing boats glide along another. Parque Lincoln is encircled by some of the best cafes, galleries, restaurants, and boutiques in the city. We arrive at Malix, a chic-meets-rustic treasure a few blocks away, for a long lunch. Mexico City is known as foodie heaven, and from the first bite of my lamb tartare, my tastebuds wholeheartedly agree. The uni toast, equipped with a thick layer of tomato jam, rivals Japanese urchin—I would gladly add the appetizer to my weekly list of indulgences. Each tapas-style dish fuses seasonal ingredients and various cuisines like an artform, while the sharing factor and slow dining of the culture, inspire deep conversation.

After travel and a filling meal, not even the sobering aroma of Guatemalan pour-over coffee could keep us on our feet. But there’s nothing quite like returning to a hotel that’s welcoming in service, yet luxurious in setting, for an antithesis to happy hour: a cat nap, made possible by thick blackout curtains. Feeling refreshed, we head to dinner, which is around the corner—and no, not from

Casa Polanco library @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 87

the hotel, but from our room. Though Casa Polanco does not have an on-site restaurant (outside of breakfast, which is offered in the social area, just past the lobby), Chef Martha Brockmann creates private dining experiences for those who opt for a night in either on their balcony or on the hotel’s terrace. The mood for our five-course seafood-centric dinner is set with candles and a view of the park from above. Mignonette-adorned oysters mingle with a delicious local Chardonnay that’s more crisp than buttery—it’s so good that I add Mexican wine to my running list of favorites. Presented in a tail shell, the fresh lobster salad packs a cool crunch thanks to jicama slices. Next on the rotation are heavenly crab legs, followed by a creamy salmon fettuccine. To wrap up, a classic apple tart that feels like a warm hug. Restaurant or not, this is the finest dining.

We sleep in—it is vacation after all—yet like clockwork, our coffee order is waiting outside the room. Given our late rise, we grab freshly made chocolate croissants and some green juice downstairs, before meeting our private driver to go to El Bazar Sabado market. Set weekly in the San Angel neighborhood, the open market is brimming with creative energy: painters, jewelers, leatherworkers, and local artisans weave kaleidoscopic creations around the square. We walk through the maze-like space, stopping to marvel at local crafts, while picking up a few souvenirs to take back home. From the market, it’s straight to see the home of one of my favorite artists, the Frida Kahlo Museum, otherwise known as the Blue House. The entry line wraps around the corner of the vibrant building, but with Casa Polanco’s assistance, we walk straight in. Standing inside the courtyard, I feel transported to a time when Frida rebelled against social standards, and she and her husband, Diego Riviera, held firm to alternative political beliefs. The rooms are preserved with fantastic care, and her dreamy works of art are displayed in chronological order throughout the house. And while the work is stunning, it’s the home—the life experienced in it—which inspired so many pieces, that moves me. Canary, crimson, and royal blue color the house with effulgence: it’s alive, like Frida’s spirit.

From there, we head back to Casa Polanco for high tea on the rooftop. Perched above the neighborhood, the sweeping views, fresh air, and Zen setting are the perfect break from the busy afternoon. Finger sandwiches with prosciutto and a classic cucumberbutter combo fill my plate. We snack on tea cookies and pastries over sips of green tea for me, and Earl Grey for him. Our next stop is a private tour of Luis Fernando’s gallery. The conceptual photographer meets us with the warmest welcome and a glass of pinot noir. He walks us through each of his pieces, explaining the inspiration, message, and process

of capturing a moment and giving it new life. The conversation flows, and my eyes glimmer in awe of his stories. Shared philosophies and views are discovered amongst us—there’s resonance in the room, and it’s palpable. The last piece has a poem attached to it, dedicated to his daughter; the words bring tears to my eyes.

Although the day has been full, to say the least, it’s time for dinner at Fónico. Named in honor of a grand black staircase that winds like a serpent from the restaurant’s entryway up to the third floor, the spot is undeniably chic. Vaulted ceilings, black brick accents, moody lighting, and contemporary chairs set the scene for a dining experience that intermingles trends with traditional Mexican cuisine. We begin with a taco trio: octopus, shrimp, and tuna presented as beautifully as it is flavorful. My charcoal tequila cocktail impeccably matches its setting, while providing exotic notes of heat from the inside out. An elevated heirloom tomato salad saturated in citrustruffle dressing is followed by a cooked oyster sampler that fuses an array of cultures in its preparation. With a hibiscus spicy margarita in hand, and the other

“The bonus features include a SOAKING tub, an array of art BOOKS, and VICTORIAN windows through which golden hour rays flood in like DANCING fireflies.”
Casa Polanco Premier Suite 90 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

held across the table, I’m smiling ear-to-ear over the day, and evening. The rich aroma of glazed short rib snaps me out of my dreamy state. Sticky-sweetness, of the most tender meat, is irresistibly coupled with apple purée and baby corn. And lastly, dessert with a gastronomic twist. Velvet-like cheesecake plays with an array of coulis—from coconut to lime, and even carrot—adding unexpected complexity to a classic.

Like locals, we start our day with a Sunday Ciclovía. With the alacrity of a child, I jump on my electric bike, compliments of the hotel, ready to explore from a new vantage point. Mexico City offers over thirtyfour miles of scenic car-free routes every Sunday. We pass viridescent parks, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the Angel of Independence monument, along with hoards of cyclists, families, and roller bladers. We’re all heading for Plaza Mariana, as though on a collective pilgrimage. This is the best way to integrate into the city and its lively lifestyle. Bustle builds as we approach the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where so many come to pray and honor history. The sun is beating down on us, warming the path to our next adventure.

Along with our trusted guide, we head to Casa Pedregal, the largest private residence created by one of the country’s most celebrated architects, Luis Barragán. The home has an energy of its own. There is an air of calm, and indescribable wonder felt as soon as we walk through heavy wooden doors. Everything is strategic and thought out—from monochromatic painted rooms to shadow play. What appears linear and minimal from the outside, is in fact laden with thoughtful and eyecatching design elements on the inside. It’s no wonder the house draws in visitors, especially photographers, from around the world. I snap photos of Oaxacan ceramics, statement lamps, and lived-in leather chairs, while outside in the yard, remnants of volcanic stone capture my eye. We arrive at the outdoor pool as raindrops begin drawing concentric art across its celadon water.

We return to our home base for a couples massage on the property’s rooftop. As our respective masseuses work through kinks and knots, the tranquil beat of falling rain puts us in a languid lull. The only thing left to do is order an artisanal quesadilla to the room, cuddle up under Egyptian cotton sheets, and make the absolute most of our remaining night at Casa Polanco. *



Camille Porta of Stonebridge Travel Consulting curates personalized luxury travel experiences to make every moment count.



Flowy, delicate, and the slightest bit frisky, you’ll float from lunch to late-night margaritas in this midnight blue frock. Its cheeky cutouts are appropriately revealing, while sheer chiffon keeps you cool in the Mexico City heat.




Traverse charming papel picado-lined streets in these elevated-meets-old-school kicks. Navy and powder blue are a pleasant twist on classic white, pairing seamlessly with athleisure or a more styled daytime look.





Take inspiration from the city’s colorful hues and infuse a pop of fun into any outfit. This Gucci bag is designed to resemble a backgammon board, patchworking azure leather with classic “GG” print canvas and gold detailing.



For an accessory equal parts playful and fierce, these dramatic chunky cat-eyes are available in an array of candy-like pastels and practical neutrals.


Luxury for thesoul

Kokomo Private Island


We’ve all wondered what it would be like to be stranded on a remote island. What would I eat? What would shelter look like? Am I as resourceful as I’d like to think? Imagine how tan I’d be. Well, since I also like deep soaking tubs and poolside cocktails, I found the perfect islands to fulfill my craving for tranquility with all the comforts of a luxury resort: Kokomo and Wakaya private islands in Fiji.

In the same cluster of over 300 islands where Castaway was filmed, I find myself the sole guest at Wakaya Club and Spa, a private island resort founded by David Gilmour after he sold Fiji Water. I am not roughing it to say the least.

My shelter is an expansive beachfront bure (a wood and straw hut much more refined than what the words conjure) opening to a private lawn, white sand and crystal clear water just beyond. The bure next door has its own spa treatment rooms and pool. Wilson could only dream.

I explore the island, strolling along the golf course and postcard perfect beaches. Walking back to my room, the only footprints in the sand are mine from earlier. I swing in the hammock strung between two palms in front of my bure, which is surrounded by and named Hibiscus. The breeze rustling the palm fronds is the

only sound. I’m sure the serenity wouldn’t change much with other guests present as the resort only accommodates 32 people, usually via buyout.

The only beach bonfire fire I build is during a traditional Fijian lovo cooking class where I learn to prepare chicken, breadfruit, and cassava root that I harvested from their organic garden. Chef Marielle Hajj, who hails from Mexico City with Lebanese roots, is behind all other meals. Every dish is incredible, no surprise as she’s worked under Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud. Her Mediterranean cuisine with Mexican flair is influenced by produce grown in their gardens and the catch of the day. Lunches begin with pita and elaborate Lebanese dips. At dinner, I’m served ribbons of fresh caught tuna, followed by a plate of venison carpaccio to sear on an accompanying hot rock.

I have breakfast poolside overlooking the ocean. The waiter, Henry, serves me Wakaya tea (a turmeric, lemon, and ginger concoction) and banana bread–the best I’ve ever had, which makes sense as so are the bananas growing on the island. As I eat, a Celine Dion album wafts from the speakers. “All By My Self” comes on and I can’t help but laugh.

After breakfast, I hike with a guide up Goat Track, a forested, rocky trail named for the goats and deer


that roam the terrain. We ascend to a plateau with an incredible view of the surrounding protected waters and one of the island’s two residences visible at the other end of the cove.

I sit on the edge of the cliff, dangling my feet high above blue Gatorade water so clear I even spot a turtle from my perch. On the way back down, we happen across an abandoned baby goat, only a few days old, still wobbling on its little legs. Excited I found a companion on the island, my answer to a volleyball if you will, I carry him with me the rest of the hike. Not wanting to part with the adorable creature, I vividly imagine how nicely he would fit under my spacious Fiji Airways business class seat. The resort immediately calls the airline, however they politely decline the furry passenger. It spends the rest of the morning at the beach with us instead.

I paddle out in the clear bottomed kayak awaiting outside my bure, captivated by electric blue sea stars suctioned to rocks. My jaw drops as a turtle splashes me. The isolated location allows for these close encounters. I see a few more turtles (and reef sharks) on an afternoon dive.

I knew before I left home that Fiji was going to be amazing, but in person the natural beauty is overwhelming, a vital reminder of the role nature and oceans play in human welfare. It’s our responsibility to take care of them–something my next destination takes to heart.

I await the seaplane at Kokomo’s private hangar in a quiet corner of Nadi Airport. I peruse coffee table books whose titles I immediately add to my Amazon cart while eavesdropping on honeymooners who forgot a wallet on the nonstop Fiji Airways flight from Los Angeles. They regain it in ten minutes flat, a testament to the staff’s connections and efficiency. We all breathe a sigh of relief. Less than an hour later, the seaplane splashes down at Kokomo’s dock.

I’m greeted with a fresh coconut and the kind, joyful, welcoming demeanor Fijians are known for. Kokomo Private Island is everything you’d want in an all-inclusive getaway, but just below the surface, their marine conservation projects dominate.

Wakaya Pool Wakaya King Suite, Living Room
Kokomo One Bedroom Sunset Villa Pool @SBLIFEANDSTYLE | 95

Any resort can serve you a great mai tai on the beach, yet it feels especially rewarding to support a place at the forefront of such progressive initiatives. Tracking the manta population, sharing data with partners across the islands, and employing marine biologists is all part of Owner Lang Walker’s vision for the island, and it’s accessible to guests in as much or as little as is wanted. Who knew luxury could be so virtuous?

pond and a relaxation bure with lofty ceilings. My massage is just as serene and when I emerge the sky is clear again.

The island is relaxing enough to do nothing but sit by the pool, yet developed enough to entertain guests for weeks. I could have done tennis, fishing, yoga, and jumped on the water trampoline, but I’m content just knowing they’re there.

I do visit the fitness center, however. The walk up to the gym is a workout in itself. I would have grabbed a coconut from the fridge and called it a day had the complimentary personal trainer not been there. Oscar leads me through a routine followed by a hike to the highest point on the island—still close enough to see the reef.

The next morning, I accompany one of the marine biologists, Lily, as she collects data on the manta rays, as part of their Manta Conservation Project, the largest in Fiji. It’s a privilege to share an underwater garden with these giant creatures and I relish the silence enhanced by the mantas flowing toward me. The following day I help plant coral in Kokomo’s nursery as part of their Coral Restoration Project.

For a deeper dive, literally, I scuba dive at Kelekele (a site named for the anchor found there) in the Great Astrolabe Reef surrounding the island. There are no other divers, only vibrant coral and clownfish swaying in anemones. We end the dive by swimming through a crevice in the reef flourishing with life before surfacing to a rainbow.

Back in my sumptuous room, I realize time is passing quickly and I will miss my two bedroom sunrise villa with its own guest house, pool, outside shower, and hammock. It’s the perfect vantage point for watching the morning sky turn otherworldly shades of red and purple. I’ve never seen skies so remarkable.

A light rain appears out of nowhere, a good reason to retreat to Yaukuve Spa Sanctuary, a tranquil village within the resort. Treatment rooms surround a lily

Sustainability and conservation aren’t just for the ocean, they’re ingrained in everything at Kokomo. Even the bar is built around trees instead of cutting them down. Speaking of the bar, I sink into a couch, passionfruit margarita in hand, watching a sunset akin to the aurora borealis. Marine Operations Manager Cliona joins me and explains their Mangrove Reforestation Project. Mangroves are five times more efficient at sequestering carbon than a rainforest (who knew?), so they have a nursery for the overachieving trees and distribute them to their shores and surrounding islands. Their goal is for all islands to have that standard of sustainability.

As my farewell helicopter takes off over transparent water the following morning, I leave feeling like I got more from my trip than relaxation and tranquility; it was inspiring and educational. Fiji was full of everything I hoped for–awesome diving, hospitable people, beaches so pristine they look fake, and luxurious accommodations. Yet Fiji also embraces a luxury that transcends beautiful resorts with private pools and not having to lift a finger–a luxury that gives you something you can't buy. I was immersed in their effort to save the planet and I leave Fiji with infinite reverence for everything they taught me about our oceans and ecosystems. *

“The island is RELAXING enough to do nothing but sit by the pool, yet DEVELOPED enough to ENTERTAIN guests for weeks.”


Children come first at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, a family oriented property on Savusavu Island. Each child is allocated a nanny and can spend the day at the Bula Club partaking in crab races and raft making while parents enjoy poolside candlelit dinners of local seafood as a live band serenades guests. Additionally, activities for the whole family include farm tours, snorkeling, and kayaking

around Jean-Michel Cousteau’s private island just offshore. The former coconut plantation is also the perfect jumping off point to explore Savusavu’s waterfall hikes and reefs flourishing with soft coral and blue spotted rays. Inspired to contribute to protecting our beautiful oceans? Take a look into JeanMichel Cousteau’s Santa Barbara-based Ocean Futures Society.

Kokomo Private Island’s organic farm–five aesthetic acres overflowing with herbs, melons, cauliflower, papayas, and everything else you can imagine–produces the stars of the dishes at Walker D’Plank and the Beach Shack restaurants. Kokomo Two Bedroom Sunrise Villa Kokomo Private Island




More than just a market, Pierre LaFond offers an extensive selection ranging from freshly baked pastries, a smoothie bar and a grab and go section. Be sure to head upstairs to their home boutique or walk outside to the garden and sit awhile.



From home goods to clothes to accessories, Clic has a vibrant selection this holiday season. Even the hardest to shop for relatives will be delighted to receive a gift from the unique store.



Stop and smell the roses at the Santa Barbara Rose Garden home to more than 1,500 rose plants. Make it an experience by packing a picnic and setting up shop on the grassy hill where locals like to relax.


in Santa Barbara



Stroll along East Beach and enjoy the local artwork on display. Every Sunday, over 200 artists exhibit their talents in the form of sculptures, painting, pottery, and everything in between.


Only open during the holiday season (November 1-December 24th), The Yes Store has been a Santa Barbara tradition since 1968. Perfect for holiday shopping, the Paseo Nuevo shop features a large selection of one of a kind items made by local artists.



This holiday season, treat yourself (and loved ones) to something from Marisa Mason’s handmade jewelry collection. Choose from her selection of California-inspired gold, silver, and brass pieces–or have her signature permanent jewelry welded on in-store!


Check into the illustrious Hotel Californian and you’ll be whisked away to a whimsical escape. The Spanish Revival architecture celebrates the hotel’s history while the modern Moroccan inspired interior redefines tradition entirely. You’re surrounded by beauty with panoramic views of the ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains—both just waiting to be explored.

@hotelcalifornian DINE

Under the twinkling lights enjoy a refreshing plant-based dinner at Oliver’s, each bite more flavorful than the last.



The best way to get in the holiday spirit is with a holiday treat from Andersen’s. Cookies, cakes, kringle, you name it, they make it—with love.



MARCUS has you covered from head (with their chic hats) to toe (comfortable sneakers) and everything in between (home goods, loungewear, accessories, you name it!).



I’ll take a double! Rori’s serves up creamy artisanal ice cream to satisfy any sweet tooth. Their extensive menu offers creative options such as peanut butter chocolate candy swirl and wild berry chocolate crisp. Be sure to go early as there’s usually a line.



Sushi just tastes better when it comes with a side of ocean views. At Oku, you can enjoy the fresh fish while staring at the source from their rooftop patio.


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