CohaneTravels:Update Bangkok

Bangkok at dusk.

Bangkok at dusk.

As many of you know, Bangkok has become one of my very favorite cities in the world. And I am not alone in my desire to visit it frequently: according to the new Global Destination Index it is now the most visited city on the globe, even more than spots like New York and London. I have been four times in the last 20 months and the more I get to know it the more I fall in love with its mix of high design and low-brow kitsch, the incredible, and surprising, range of restaurants, and the great variety of hotels that pretty much suit every taste.

It is at that perfect moment where the city doesn’t feel too gentrified and still has plenty of corners to get away from tourists, but there is a real entrepreneurial spirit blooming in the new generation of hoteliers and chefs. Here was a piece I wrote about the inventive food scene for the New York Times.

The Opposite Mess Hall's eclectic, and delicious, menu.

The Opposite Mess Hall’s eclectic, and delicious, menu.

Restaurants

I love eating in Bangkok. The choices span from the most delicious and cheap street food to unpretentious but tasty home cooking at small family-owned places, to upscale Thai and fusion restaurants.

On this trip one of my favorite meals was at the new Opposite Mess Hall. Owned by the same owners as WTF (a cocktail bar and performance space across the street) this new restaurant completely embodies the kind of spot I like, small plates, great cocktails, unfussy, but fresh and seasonal. Among the highlights there was the steamed Chinese Bun filled with fried tempeh, smoked cheese, srircha mayonnaise and kimchi, a seeming odd combination but a dish so good it stayed on my mind for months. Oh and their Pompelo margherita…We also tried Nahm in the Metropolitan hotel, a restaurant that won the number one spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for Asia this year. It was New Year’s Day and the service was incredibly slow, but the food was mind blowing, especially plates like the smoked fish, peanut and tapioca dumplings, and a fresh water fish curry that was perfectly spiced. We also had to make a return trip to Gaggan (number three on that same Asia list), the incredible Indian-fushion place that has become one of my favorites, not only for Gaggan’s inventive take on Indian classics, but because the atmosphere is fun and the landmark mansion where the restaurant is housed, just lovely.

Trying Thai boxing at the Siam.

Trying Thai boxing at the Siam.

Neighborhoods

One of the pleasures of spending more time in the Thai capital is discovering parts of the city away from the more touristy Sukhumvit. We now love older parts of Bangkok like Dusit with its beautiful old palaces. Dusit is also home to the Siam hotel www.thesiamhotel.com which opened last year, a beautiful and intimate new property filled with antiques like a terracotta Tang dynasty horse statue, a Jim Thompson-designed house which is home to the wonderful restaurant onsite, and Art Deco gems from both Bangkok and Burma. The owner, Krissada Sukosol Clapp, is a former Thai pop turned movie star, and funnily enough  his wife Melanie and my husband once worked for SonyBMG’s International Marketing Department together (now they are hoteliers, who would have thought?). Nearby Krua Apsorn on Samsen Road, is one of the old town’s best local restaurants with a light and fluffy crab omelette, crispy fried chicken wings and ‘pad dok krajorn’ with flower buds fried with minced pork.

Kriss and Melanie's landmark home.

Kriss and Melanie’s landmark home.

Kriss and Melanie invited us to their home in Pranakhon near Chinatown on the first night we arrived. The restored hundred-year-old Thai gem has huge open spaces and great original details plus a treasure trove of Kriss’s antiques and market finds. Talk about real estate envy! This whole area of town is a revelation full of chophouses slowly being transformed into private homes and businesses. Once the new extension of the MRT subway is finished it will also be easier to get there from the city center.

Tuk tuk: our favorite form of transport.

Tuk tuk: our favorite form of transport.

For the Kids

You might not initially think that this would be a good destination for kids but Jacopo has fallen in love with the city and over time we have found some really fun things to do with him. He loves taking boat trips on the Chao Phraya river, and Lumpini park has a number of good playgrounds as well as pedal boats to tool around on. And on rainier days, Funarium was a must: the huge inside playground comes with climbing walls, slides, a cycling rink (with bikes, trikes and helmets), a toddler play area, as well cooking classes and crafts. Grown-ups get wifi and a massage station! And don’t miss a tuk tuk ride; Jacopo now says he wants to get one for Pienza although we may have to settle for an ape.

 

 

CohaneTravels: Best of 2013

I haven’t posted a blog for about a month but promise it’s for good reason. I have been on the road for more than five weeks, and have discovered some wonderful new places and spots (watch this space). But before moving on to 2014 here were some of my travel highlights of 2013:

 

Dedon Island Resort: beautiful design and lovely views.

Dedon Island Resort: beautiful design and lovely views.

The Philippines. We went in January of last year and fell completely and utterly in love. With a growing infrastructure, beautiful resorts, spectacular beaches, and some of the kindest people I have ever met, the country was going through a real upswing when we were there. Which made the devasting tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan that much more heartbreaking. BUT many areas have not been affected at all and a great way to show support is to go visit now! Dedon Island Resort, for example, a short flight from Cebu, is an exquisitely designed property with amazing surfing (here is the account of our visit there in the New York Times, and the El Nido Pangulasian Island, the perfect launch pad to explore the stunning Palawan archipelago. For more ideas about where to stay, check out my Filipino round-up in Conde Nast Traveller.

 

The view from Bhutan's new Uma Punakha.

The view from Bhutan’s new Uma Punakha.

Bhutan. The Kingdom of the Heavens more than lived up to its billing, and I will never forget the views of the snowcapped Himalayas against the bluest of skies. Or the quiet mountain-top monasteries that were more than worth hours-long hikes. However I do feel like there is a ton of development taking place in the tiny country now that tourism is expanding there—in other words to see it in its most pristine state get there sooner than later. And don’t miss a stay at the new idyllic Uma Punakha—their accommodations give new meaning to a room with a view.

 

Our son enjoys the view of the sea on Koh Phangan.

Our son enjoys the view of the sea on Koh Phangan.

Koh Phangan. Best known for its Full Moon parties and last visited by this particular traveler back in 1990 (!), this island off Koh Samui actually turned out to be a great destination with our two year old. Who would have guessed? We rented a house that looked like an architectural showcase with incredible views of the Andaman Sea (for a really reasonable price) and had a wonderful week getting to know the charming village alongside Thong Nai Pan Noi beach. There is also a very charming Anantara property there.

A nook of Marrakech's Riad El Fenn.

A nook of Marrakech’s Riad El Fenn.

 

Marrakech. I can’t believe it took me until last year to make it to Morocco but luckily I made up for it in 2013 and fell in love, particularly with the hotel Riad el Fenn, the tangled alleys of the Medina and the colors and light of the city (oh and the shop Majorelle 33 has been added to my favorite shops in the world list). Next time I want to head to the Atlas Mountains, and Essouria.

A landscape outside Laugharne where Dylan Thomas lived.

A landscape outside Laugharne where Dylan Thomas lived.

 

Wales. I went to Wales for a New York Times story about Dylan Thomas that will come out this year, but even though I was open minded, I wasn’t quite sure if the country would be among my faves. Instead, the landscapes, particularly around the coast, were drop dead gorgeous, and surprisingly, despite some very unmemorable meals we ate really well at places like the Cors B&B and the Coalhouse.

 

A Penang street during Chinese New Year perfectly accessorized by a vintage car.

A Penang street during Chinese New Year perfectly accessorized by a vintage car.

Penang. Beautiful architecture? Check. Great local and authentic food? Check. Burgeoning and interesting art scene? Check. I went to Penang to do a Conde Nast Traveler review on the Macalister Mansion hotel, and the story was the entry to a city that really got under my skin, from its well-preserved colonial old town to its varied cuisine (Indian, Chinese, Malay), and the fledging art scene. It is a city I would return to in a heartbeat.

Romantic Verona on a moody March day.

Romantic Verona on a moody March day.

Verona. Arguably one of Italy’s most underrated cities with an incredible amphitheater, delicious food and wine, and an easing navigable and charming Medieval center, part of Verona’s charm is the lack of crowds, especially in shoulder season like March when I went. Read more about the city’s attractions in my 36 Hours for the New York Times.

CohaneTravels: London Calling

Every Thanksgiving week for the last fifteen years has been spent in London. We have dear friends who put on a feast every season that is one of my favorite traditions of the year, the Christmas lights and windows are starting to give the whole town a festive feel, and it is an opportunity to discover new spots and favorite venues every November. These were some of the highlights this year.

The Shed: Even the wallpaper in the bathroom recalls the brothers farming roots.

The Shed: Even the wallpaper in the bathroom recalls the brothers farming roots.

Eats: My favorite discovery this trip food-wise was the Shed in Notting Hill. Our dear friends Jamie and Elizabeth Byng raved about it and we were so pleased to find such a unique place. Run by two brothers (the third brother provides most of the produce and meat from their farm in Nutbourne, West Sussex) the spot really is like a refurbished and rambling potting shed but the setting only adds to the authentic, bustling and charming feel. The menu is perfect for sharing: we loved the individual “mouthfuls” of beetroot crisp, goats cheese, confit egg yolk, and Maldon oyster to start, and dishes like golden candied beetroots, almonds, crème fraiche and hake with smoked cauliflower, red onion and mussel salsa. The food was outstanding and the atmosphere so much fun; it will be on my list for future trips too. I only wish I lived down the street so I could make it my regular. Oldies but goodies: Breakfast at the Art Deco Wolseley is always a must and we never miss a long and delicious dinner at the inimitable River Café.

Some of the goodies at Couverture.

Some of the goodies at Couverture.

Shops: I am completely in love with Couverture & the Garbstone, a wonderful store on Kensington Park Road near Portobello Market. Their edit of women’s, kids, and housewares is impeccable, I honestly find myself wanting to buy everything. There are beautiful clutches from Claire Vivier, wonderful pillows, soft throws, as well as whimsical notecards and great toys. This time I got a gorgeous gold bracelet from Lizzie Fortunato in addition to some smaller purchases. I was also so excited to hear from the beautiful and talented swim and eyewear designer, Anna Laub, behind Prism, that she is opening a standalone shop just in time for London’s fashion week in February–down from Andre Balazs’s soon to open hotel in Marylebone. Can’t wait to suit up there. Oldies but goodies: I always pop into Caramel Baby & Child for cozy sweaters for my son, Bodas for their flattering bikinis, and the pop up Kensal Flea for great vintage finds.

The Mandarin Oriental has a sublime location on Hyde Park.

The Mandarin Oriental has a sublime location on Hyde Park.

Stay: We are very lucky to have close friends who lend us their house (kitted out for a boy my son’s age) each year but for the first two nights we stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Location location location. I walked out and there was Harvey Nichols right in front of me (bad for the wallet) and behind beloved Hyde Park, with its trees full of beautiful autumn colors. From our room’s window we could see the twinkling lights of the Christmas Ferris Wheel, and I had a fabulous lunch at Café Boloud. They will be unveiling a new spa and pool soon.

While the boys hit Winter Wonderland I brought Jacopo a new sweater at Caramel Baby & Child.

While the boys hit Winter Wonderland I brought Jacopo a new sweater at Caramel Baby & Child.

Kids in tow: I really do love London (we lived there for two years when I was a kid) but somehow when we travel with Jacopo it is even more magical, the lights of the city through his eyes, the rides on tubes and double decker buses, the walks in the parks feeding the ducks, like I did with my mother.  This year we also took him to Winter Wonderland, the annual Christmas market with its stalls, amusement rides, and his first Santa’s grotto. He ended up going three times and here’s a good tip, if you go in the morning during the week,when London kids are at school, there is no wait for the rides, even for the beloved Ferris Wheel. He also adores the Science Museum and visits to many incredibly well maintained playgrounds like the Diana Memorial.  I am honest about which cities are not so great with children (I am glad I left him home when we went to Marrakech) but London, I find, is just perfect.

 

 

Tactical Retreat (South China Morning Post)

 

 

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Holistic approach shifts focus to concentrate on the well-being of the mind and soul,

writes Ondine Cohane

It can be very hard to change a lifelong habit or deal with stress and still maintain a daily routine, but extra help is at hand. Destination spas and retreats are now attending to their clients’ psychological and emotional issues, and offering fitness guidance and aesthetic treatments. These extra services have created one of the fastest-growing niches in the travel/spa industry.

READ FULL STORY

 

The Daily Traveler: Antinori’s New Cantina in Tuscany (Conde Nast Traveler)

The dramatic flying spiral staircase from Antinori's new cantina in Chianti

The dramatic flying spiral staircase from Antinori’s new cantina in Chianti

At This Italian Winery, the Architecture’s as Amazing as the Chianti

Antinori is one of the biggest names in Italian wine, but it’s not just the Chianti that’s drawing visitors to their hillside winery near the village of Bargino, 20 minutes outside Florence. The winemaker’s new state-of-the-art, cantilevered headquarters, Cantina Antinori, is luring architecture buffs who are as interested in the Archea-designed structure as they are in a fine Super Tuscan. Archea, one of Italy’s leading architecture firms, gave Antinori a space that both makes a statement, and alludes to the colors and terrain of the surrounding, gently hilly landscape. Here’s how to make a weekend out of your visit.

Stay

The new 41-room Castello di Casole occupies a restored tenth-century castle in the heart of Tuscany and is surrounded by 4,200 acres of vineyards and olive trees. Don’t leave before taking a plunge in the infinity pool overlooking the spectacular valley (888-548-9429; doubles from $440).

Eat

Oreade is the newest addition to Monteverdi, a collection of rental villas, a hotel, and a bar in the tiny hilltop hamlet of Castiglioncello del Trinoro. It has sweeping views of the Val d’Orcia and classic Tuscan dishes like bistecca alla fiorentina (Via di Mezzo 8; 39- 0578-268-146; entrées from $33).

Drink

The brainchild of the owners of Siena’s well-known Osteria le Logge restaurant, Un Tubo is part wine bar and part performing arts space tucked into an ancient cellar. There’s jazz, theater, and readings throughout the week (Via del Luparello 2, Siena).

Bring Back

The soft leather bags at Pienza’s Officine 904 are the embodiment of Tuscan artisanship (Via Dogali 16).

SEE FULL POST

 

CohaneTravels: Brunello 101.

Living in Pienza close to the Brunello-rich vineyards of Montalcino has its oenophile advantages: a supply of some of the best vintages at prices that are a fraction of those on wine lists in places like London or New York.

Pierre-Jean Monnoyer leading the wine tasting.

Pierre-Jean Monnoyer leading the wine tasting.

This weekend we had the opportunity to do a wine tour with Lauren Cicione, the owner of Tuscan Auteur, an outfitter that specializes in taking clients and collectors to smaller producers in Montalcino, and all over Italy, as well as organizing villa rentals and private chefs. Our first stop was Casa Raia, a tiny (only 1.5 hectares) but outstanding organic vineyard that only recently started their production of wines. Owner Pierre-Jean Monnoyer led us through the cantina and then a delicious tasting; I loved the 2008 Brunello, smooth and gentle, with soft tannins. The area is always gorgeous, but the orange and reds of the vines in fall made the landscape a particularly amazing sight.

The church at the Sestis where we ate lunch and drank a lot of wine.

The church at the Sestis where we ate lunch and drank a lot of wine.

Our next stop was to Castello di Argiano, a producer I know very well (as my husband and I had the great fortune to get married there). A visit to the estate is heavenly in itself: the former medieval hamlet overlooks vineyards and Monte Amiata in the distance, it has a picturesque castle sitting on top of the cantina, and the owners Giuseppe, Sarah and Elisa Sesti are the most hospitable hosts in town. But the vintages here happen to be also some of Montalcino’s best: organic, distinctive and an example of a gentle and unintrusive way of making wine. We ate lunch and drank wine in the estate’s 8th century church, surely one of the world’s most unusual and beautiful tasting spots.

He won't be drinking soon but no reason not to start an education at Sesti.

He won’t be drinking soon but no reason not to start an education at Sesti.

Here are five things you need to know about Brunello:

Brunello is specific wine made in a specific place. All brunello comes ONLY from estate grown Sangiovese grapes within the tiny Comune di Montalcino

With any fine wine, it’s always advisable to wait a few years to drink it. But Brunello is the only wine where BY LAW you HAVE to wait. Brunello must stay with the producer at least five years before becoming commercially available.

Brunello is a relatively recent phenomenom. In the 1980s there were just a few dozen producers making it without much fanfare, but now there are over 200 producers.

Some of the best brunellos are now made by women whereas the wine business used to be a man’s world.

There is a whole new generation of young and up and coming producers with tiny productions of just a few thousand bottles, from organic grapes, that are biodynamically cultivated, and use only natural yeasts and a minimum amount of sulfites.

Here are my other favorite producers (in addition to Sesti and Raia); snag them quickly if you see them on a wine list:

Poggio di Sotto: A Montalcino standout.

Poggio di Sotto: A Montalcino standout.

Poggio di Sotto: This estate has my very favorite Rosso di Montalcino; think of it as the baby brother of the bigger bodied Brunello, that is also one of my top five preferred Brunellos.  The estate was recently sold but I am hoping the quality remains the same.

Cupano: We love this French style producer that uses small yields and no pesticides or fertilizers. Cupano’s Brunellos have gained a cult following for good reason, and the estate, complete with its draft horse, is one of the area’s most charming.

Stella Di CampaltoOwned by the beautiful producer of the same name, and just a stone’s throw from the abbey of San Antimo (one of the most gorgeous landmarks in Southern Tuscany), bottles from this tiny producer are hard to snag simply because of the quality and limited quantity of their crus.

Fonterenza: This is the estate where Raia’s producer got his start. Run by twin sisters on the southern side of Montalcino, the biodynamic wines are particularly impressive as Margherita and Francesca had no previous wine-making experience.

CohaneTravels: Bringing inspiration home

Room five of La Bandita Townhouse

Room five of La Bandita Townhouse: I love a bathtub in the room so I can chat with my husband.

 

We are winding down the end of our first season at La Bandita Townhouse. It has been an exciting process and despite the stress of getting the place open in time, I loved seeing how the design ideas translated from paper into reality, especially after already surviving the first time around with La Bandita in the countryside. We have been so lucky to work with our architects, Arianna Pieri and Ernesto Bartolini of DA studios, on both projects. And to find custom artisans like Farmobili who created beautifully executed custom pieces. Vintage finds from the likes of Florence furniture mecca Riccardo Barthel helped us to juxtapose the older bones of the building with the contemporary look we wanted.

A vintage blackboard for daily specials.

A vintage blackboard for daily specials.

Once our projects open their doors, my husband runs the daily operations. But during the design process we work as a team. Much of our inspiration came from other places we loved, not so much in terms of specific furniture but more the atmosphere, a place full of light and color, and local pieces that were still surprising. You can read more about our experience of moving to Italy in Lonny and Marie-Claire magazines.

Here are some design ideas that worked for us along the way:

 

The farmhouse of La Bandita belies the interior's modern look.

The farmhouse of La Bandita belies the interior’s modern look.

Reinvent the wheel while using traditional materials: Although we like the Tuscan design vernacular in some cases–dark wood beams and furniture, terracotta floors etc—our aesthetic is more airy and light filled. One of our main design desires was to create the look with traditional materials but turning them on their head: terracotta cubes framed the beds and outdoor pergolas, white travertine was pulverized and reassembled to create a more modern and smooth flooring, beams and tiles were whitewashed, and pale repurposed wood became the platform of the pergolas.

 

Mix old with new: an antique map from 1897 with new custom pieces.

Mix old with new: an antique map from 1897 with new custom pieces.

Mixing old and new: A huge part of our aesthetic, particularly at the Townhouse, was to use antique pieces to soften contemporary edges. In each guestroom for example one or two items nod to the region’s history—in some by cozy well-worn leather club chairs from turn of the century Florence, in others Art Deco mirrors from Tuscany (I still covet the one that went into the “altar room” for my own home).

 

Yellow resin and flowers give a nice pop of color.

Yellow resin and flowers give a nice pop of color.

Pops of color: Without being too precious or matchy-matchy we found a signature color for both properties. At La Bandita Countryhouse, we went with a bright green hue, the color for the custom boxes that turn into writing desks (the grass around the property is electric green in spring), and at the Townhouse with an orange (the color of the warm stone of Pienza in certain light) that repeats from the stools to the resin shelves and structure that separates bathrooms from bedrooms.

CohaneTravels: Dispatch from the north of Italy

Every year Venice, Milan and Cinque Terre are stops on the fall circuit: The Biennale is still up in Venice but the crowds have dissipated, autumn shopping in Milan is outstanding, and Vernazza is still warm but has an end of season crispness. This year’s trip brought new discoveries too:

The harpsichord that was my suite's centerpiece

The harpsichord that was my suite’s centerpiece

Gritti Palace. I checked out the revamp of this Venice grand dame following two years of renovation and an almost $50 million price tag. Every piece of artwork and each room had been restored by local artisans and you could see the results from the wallpaper to fabrics to the wood-paneled bar—in our suite, for example, a beautiful harpsichord was an original but painstakingly preserved heirloom.

A dining room at the new Aman Venice.

A dining room at the new Aman Venice.

Aman Venice. Just in time for the Biennale, the Asian hotel heavyweight opened their new outpost set between two palazzi (one from 16th century and one from 19th) with original details like frescoes from the likes of Tiepolo. I found the bedrooms a tad too minimal (especially for the price), but the public areas were truly museum worthy, with epic views of the Canal. And the service was outstanding too.

My son post haircut with Franco.

My son post haircut with Franco.

Barbiere Franco e Davide. I adore an old school barbershop and think they give a neighborhood real character. This spot, in Venice’s Castello, was worthy of central casting: the barber Franco held court on Italian politics as he gave amazing haircuts for the bargain price of 18 euros. If you need a close shave, or just a dose of authenticity in a mostly touristy destination, don’t miss this spot (San Provolo Castello 4716/C).   For more on what do while in Venice check out my 36 Hours for the New York Times.

The master panning maker of El Refolo taking a break

The master pannino maker of El Refolo taking a break

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pannini and cichetti of El Refolo

El Refolo. While the cafes set up for the Biennale are fine for a quick snack on the run, far more atmospheric and local is this bar and cichetti spot only a few streets over from the Arsenale. In addition to their delicious spritzes and glasses of local wine, they make wonderful little Panini, stuffed with ingredients like gorgonzola and radicchio, and plates of cheese and sliced salamis. I love watching the regulars who cram into the tiny space at lunch (Sestiere Castello 1580). For more of my favorite spots to eat and drink in Venice check out my picks in Conde Nast Traveler.

 

Kan Xuan installation.

Kan Xuan installation.

Kan Xuan at the Arsenale. The Biennale is up until the 24th of November this year, so if you find yourself in Venice in the next few weeks, make sure to visit the Arsenale. Kan Xuan was a new find for me, and her installation was the highlight in my opinion. Called Millet Mounds, the 173-video screens focus on imperial tombs over China, showing a culture and country in flux through stop-action images. Here are five other museums and sites that are perennial highlights in Venice for me.

Light filled library at Magna Pars in Milan.

Light filled library at Magna Pars in Milan.

Magna Pars. Housed in a former perfume factory in Milan, this new boutique hotel has a modern and fresh feel, and provides a great base in the wonderful neighborhood of Tortona, home to many of the city’s fashion headquarters and the base for Design Week. I loved how light-filled the spaces were, and how the garden with its trees and flowers provided a green oasis in a city that can feel quite grey.

Lovely Vernazza two years post flood.

Lovely Vernazza two years post flood.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre. And now onto one of my favorite little towns in Italy. Two years ago on the 25th of October, heavy floods turned this UNESCO-protected village into a disaster zone. Thanks to organizations like Save Vernazza and architect Richard Rogers, the spot is back on its feet and it felt truly inspiring to sit in the main piazza on a balmy late October night, and to witness how much its citizens have rebuilt. For my tips on where to stay and eat in town check out my round-up in Architectural Digest.

 

CohaneTravels: Hotels Well Worth the Journey

Friends often ask me about resorts I have gone to that are truly worth the trip. One of the best things about my job has been seeing exactly that kind of spot–the perfect mix of locale, design and isolation that makes a place truly unique. It seems that many of the best spots involve more than one flight and a good effort to get there, but maybe that’s exactly what keeps them so off the map. And while I have been lucky enough to visit many hotels that fit the bill, here are five resorts that really stood out over time, and ticked off all the boxes on my list.

A view of Dedon's pool and hanging "nest" chair

A view of Dedon’s pool and hanging “nest” chair.

1. Dedon, Siragao.

Opened by the furniture company of the same name, this resort in the Philippines was a revelation not only in terms of the design–every single detail was beautifully but naturally curated–but also as a gateway to an incredibly beautiful island, with a wonderful surf culture and gorgeous white-sand beaches. Getting there involved two flights from Manila, and a jeepney ride, but I would go back there in a hot second.  You can read more about the island and Dedon in this piece I wrote for the New York Times.

The new hotel of Tierra Patagonia

The new hotel of Tierra Patagonia.

2. Tierra Patagonia, Chile

Patagonia had been on my wish list for decades and I finally got there two winters ago. I still dream about the landscapes I saw, and the standout architecture of the Tierra Patagonia resort. Every window looked onto the mighty mountains of Torres del Paine, and the way the sky and sunlight constantly changed was almost surreal–I also thought the way the sweeping building hugged the land was the perfect example of groundbreaking and sustainable building. (My hiking adventures are chronicled here).

I still remember my bed surrounded by white mosquito net.

I still remember my bed surrounded by white mosquito net at Vamizi.

3. Vamizi resort, Mozambique

A few years ago Conde Nast Traveler sent me to Mozambique to see the progress from a country ravaged by civil war to one of the most alluring new destinations in Africa. The whole country was a revelation but this property in particular remains one of my top destinations ever. Simple but utterly luxurious, the resort was completely committed to the island’s preservation, and the diving, beaches, and landscape were some of the most pristine settings I have ever seen. I even got to fly a prop plane over the archipelago! Read more about Mozambique in my piece for Conde Nast Traveler.

Daybeds at Capofaro tempt guests to spend the whole day poolside.

Daybeds at Capofaro tempt guests to spend the whole day poolside.

4. Capofaro, Salina

Not to knock Amalfi or Capri, but for me the Aeolians islands off Sicily remain a much less touristy and authentic Italian destination. Only accessible by ferry, each one of the seven islands has its own particular flavor but Salina, with its Malvasia vineyards and vistas onto the still active volcano of Stromboli, is my favorite. Sometimes I take the somewhat long journey there just to be completely quiet: When I really in need to recharge I just sack out at the pool overlooking the Mediterranean, and enjoy the wonderful seafood restaurant alongside. Read more about reinvented Sicily in my piece for Conde Nast Traveler.

Hotelito's palapas on the Pacific

Hotelito’s palapas on the Pacific.

5. Hotelito Desconocido, Mexico

A few years ago I wrote a story about surfing on the Pacific Coast of Mexico and some of the resorts along its beautiful coastline. This part of Mexico is somewhere I have gone probably over a dozen times and I am completely in love with the mix of hotels, surf culture, and simple but amazing food. One of my very favorite resorts there is this spot about two hours from Puerto Vallarta on its own secluded cove right by a wildlife reserve. There is no electricity, the place is lit by candles at night, and the only way to get to the beachside villas is by boat. Barefoot chic, unplugged relaxation, and the perfect romantic setting. Can’t get much better than that. My Pacific surf journey is chronicled here.

 

CohaneTravels: Traveling with Kids

5 Tips for smooth traveling and why it’s worth the flight!

The first transatlantic trip to Rome

The first transatlantic trip to Rome

 

 

 

Why the flight is worth it: Running on a beach near Todos Santos, Mexico

Why the flight is worth it: Running on a beach near Todos Santos, Mexico

On a recent flight from Marrakech to Rome there was a two-year-old in the row in front of us, a two-year-old behind. Our three-year-old was at home and so I felt grateful that our row was adults-only. But the amazing thing about both families is that they had brought nothing and I mean NOTHING to entertain the toddlers. I would be bored on a three hour flight without entertainment so you can imagine what happened to these two: squirming, kicking the seat in front, and crying every 15-minutes (not that I was counting). We have been flying with our son since he was eight weeks (we have done China, Brazil, Cambodia, Thailand, Argentina, Japan, and the Philippines among the long hauls) and the lack of a flight plan by these two families reminded of what has become five travel musts when flying with our son.

Teke-off: stickers

Take-off: stickers

Why it's worth the flight: Mendoza, Argentina

Why it’s worth the flight: Mendoza, Argentina

Activity book or stickers for take-off and landing: This is one of the most crucial and often tantrum-inducing moments of the trip because you must stay seated with your seatbelt on without using your electronics (try explaining that to the under five set!). For this section of the journey, stickers and sticker books (ones that have not been seen before) work like a dream.

 

Bento boxes provide the perfect flight accessory

Bento boxes provide the perfect flight accessory

Why it's worth the flight: roof of Fasano, Rio

Why it’s worth the flight: roof of Fasano, Rio

Snacks: Who wants to depend on the airlines to provide a kid-friendly meal? On a recent flight to New York the child’s meal had cookies, a candy bar and potato chips. You want to give my kid the equivalent of crack midway over the Atlantic? No thanks. I usually pack a couple of sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly, and simple pecorino (yes we are from Pienza), fruit like bananas and green apples, crackers, and some kind of sweet treat like a lollipop or cookie. I also found this awesome bento box so we can do a whole meal on board.

 

Plugged into Peppa Pig

Plugged into Peppa Pig

Why it's worth the flight: Philippines

Why it’s worth the flight: Philippines

iPad: For those of you who don’t let your kids watch TV or shows, kudos to you, but the entertainment of the iPad is unmatched for us flight-wise. Peppa Pig, Nathaniel Tiger, Bubble Guppies and Dora are among the shows we download before take-off. Again novelty is best so pick episodes that haven’t been watched a million times before.

Why it's worth the flight: Tulum

Why it’s worth the flight: Tulum

 

Gather allies: When I get onboard I always look for a kind looking attendant and some mellow looking neighbors and make sure to be particularly polite and apologetic if Jacopo gets rowdy. Usually if you make a good impression right off the bat you can get through the flight without anyone hating you. I have had attendants put Jacopo to sleep, give him special presents, all because we turned on the charm early.

The best moment for parents and their neighbors

The best moment for parents and their neighbors

Why it's worth the flight: Cambodia

Why it’s worth the flight: Cambodia

 

Admit defeat: My mother-in-law tells this hilarious story about taking one of the babies from her adoption agency to his new family and he cried the ENTIRE way from Hong Kong to Amsterdam. She spent most of the time in the bathroom—the fan blocks out the sound of wailing and the mirror distracts. I too have spent some time in the toilet with Jacopo, and yes I know it isn’t the most sanitary spot but I find 15 minutes in there can change the mood entirely.

Not our finest moment but we did waste time

Not our finest moment but we did waste time

Why it's worth the flight: good morning Tokyo

Why it’s worth the flight: good morning Tokyo