Le Grand Vefour a Paris monument to classic French gourmet dining


Service at Le Grand Vefour was exceptional

Tucked away in a corner of the celebrated Palais Royal Gardens in the heart of Paris is a monument to that country’s history and fine food. It is kept alive thanks to the devotion of thousands upon thousands of locals and international visitors who over the years have found their way there in search of an extraordinary classic French cuisine experience. This cozy and elegant bastion of fine dining has been around in one form or another since before the United States was established as a nation.


A table setting at Le Grand Vefour


Windows surround the dining room

In spite of the restaurant’s advanced age, this Grand Damme remains spry and in the loving hands of a dedicated team of professionals who labor daily with pride to make guests’ culinary desires a reality.


Guy Martin, executive chef and manager, Le Grand Vefour

On a recent visit, our team enjoyed a tasting menu and had an opportunity to speak with the man who leads the restaurant, Guy Martin, executive chef and manager of Le Grand Vefour.

Click here to read our dedicated article about Le Grand Vefour. Click here to listen to the interview (in French with English translation) with Guy Martin.

Boutique property well situated in gourmet corner of South Africa


The Mont Rochelle main pool and restaurant

Foodies and fine wine enthusiasts from all over the world converge in the wine region of South Africa, searching for vineyards and gourmet restaurants. In an effort to explore a little of this region located a short drive from the ever popular Cape Town area, our team dedicated a weekend to the Cape Winelands late last year. During their visit, they made the village of Franschhoek their temporary home. While in Franschhoek, they stayed at the Mont Rochelle Hotel & Mountain Vineyards, a charming small hotel.


View of the surrounding area from the Mont Rochelle Hotel


Our one bedroom suite at the Mont Rochelle

The Mont Rochelle stood out for its luxurious and spacious suite with private plunge pool, in house gourmet restaurant and magnificent views of the village and the neighboring vineyards. Click here to read our dedicated article about the Mont Rochelle Hotel & Mountain Vineyards.

Arpege chef is increasingly a crowd pleaser


Arpege Restaurant in Paris, France

Alain Passard, executive chef and owner of Arpege restaurant in Paris, has long been recognized as a one of the most creative chefs in France. Elena and Gary recently had a chance to dine at his famous restaurant and speak with him in person.


Couleur, saveur, parfum et dessin du jardin velouté de radis rose at Arpege


Millefeuille “Caprice d’enfants,” chocolate millefeuille with chocolate coulis

They were pleasantly surprised to find the chef as creative and talented as they remembered and his dishes even more satisfying. There was also an enthusiastic, young new team who added much to the dining experience. Click here to read our lasted dedicated article about Arpege Restaurant.

Earth Lodge presidential suite ideal for romantic bush vacation


A sign for Earth Lodge

One of our teams recently visited Earth Lodge, the most architecturally distinctive of the four luxury lodges in the Sabi Sabi Reserve. Designed to disappear within the bush setting it is built on, it was memorable precisely for its unconventional style and Zen influence. They stayed at the property’s spacious and exclusive Amber Suite (presidential suite) which offered excellent accommodations, especially for honeymooners and couples seeking privacy within a lodge setting.


The water feature at Earth Lodge

Elena and Gary also liked the distinctive bush setting, stand alone spa, wine cellar, and tasty plated meals. Earth Lodge, part of the Sabi Sabi theme of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, was built to represent Tomorrow. Bush Lodge and Little Bush Camp represent Today. Selati, another Sabi Sabi lodge they visited during that trip, represents Yesterday.

The Sabi Sabi Reserve is a luxury oriented reserve within the larger Sabi Sand Reserve adjacent to the http://simonandbaker.com/kruger in South Africa. Click here to read our complete dedicated articles on Selati Camp and Earth Lodge.

Santa Fe spa is my Nirvana


The reception at Absolute Nirvana

Once a palace custom reserved from Javanese royal brides-to-be, the Lulur, a massage and skin treatment ritual that culminates with a rose petal bath, is now available to all women (and men) in Santa Fe; wedding optional! Absolute Nirvana owner Caroline Lee was inspired to bring the sumptuous treatment home to New Mexico after experiencing it in Bali several years ago.


Caroline Lee, owner, Absolute Nirvana

Upon her return, with the help of international spa consultant Christa Obuchowski, she created the timeless enclave of Balinese serenity where I experienced some of the most sensuous and effective treatments I’ve ever had. In addition to the Lulur, I enjoyed a thorough Purifying Cleansing facial that left me feeling and looking rejuvenated, and a relaxing Indo-Asian Hot Stone Massage that erased all stress and cares from my muscles and psyche.

Click here to a dedicated article about Josette’s Absolute Nirvana experience and the spa’s rigorously eco-friendly practices.