Porto, Portugal's Colorful Northern City of Wine, Art and Culture

After spending several days in Lisbon, we ventured North to Porto. The second largest city in Portugal (after Lisbon), Porto is located on the shores of the Douro River and the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the oldest European cities. The historical center was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996. Like Lisbon, Porto is steeped in charm, history and art. Porto is also the capital of Port wine production and surrounded by the Douro River Valley which is home to internationally acclaimed Portugese vineyards. Port wine is produced primarily in the cellars of Villa Nova de Gaia area. Wandering the hilly, narrow streets or the cobblestone alleys where the port wineries are, experiencing the incredible restaurants and watching the port boats dotting the Douro creates an incredible atmosphere.

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Unique Experiences in Lisbon

My children have become very discerning travelers. While my son loves to explore churches, museums, and historical sights, my daughter can get very overwhelmed with too much of that stuff. So, every trip we go on we try to find different things to do that provide a unique experience for her. Our trip to Portugal was no different! While we decided to do these three very cool experiences for her, they turned out to be some of my most favorite moments of our time in Lisbon.

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Exploring the Charming City of Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal has been high on my must-see lists. Last week we visited this beautiful country and fell in love with it. It’s a very popular destination right now having been ranked one of the safest places to visit. After our trip, I can understand why it’s so popular. Portugal is beautiful and steeped in history, culture, fantastic food and wine. I was wowed even more by the friendliness of the Portuguese people. From our guides, hotel staff, restaurant staff and even taxi drivers, the people could not have been nicer. I have been to many European countries and never experienced a group of people more open, friendly and happy to help visitors.

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Grand Prix Weekend in Montreal

Nothing says luxury more than Formula 1 racing. Pair that with Montreal, a fantastic city, and you have an incredible trip.  Every early June,  Montreal hosts a Formula 1 Grand Prix. The city (which without the race is a must visit) has a festive air and a sense of excitement. Street parties abound both in the Old City/ Port area as well as other parts of the city. Visiting the Old City of Montreal feels like a 17th century European town with wonderful parks, a thriving cultural scene and incredible restaurants.

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The Tuscan Countryside

For lovers of art, architecture, and beauty, Italy is the place to go. There are so many stunning Italian destinations to visit that it is hard to choose. On our last Italian holiday, we decided to stay in the Tuscan countryside. The Hotel Castillo di Casole provided the most incredible Italian "home" for us. The hotel architecture, amenities, and service are amazing. It was also the perfect location for us to explore Tuscany  and its many charming towns. For any art lover, the Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture is astounding. We focused on several small towns including Mensano, Monteriggoni, San Gimignano, and Siena. I was in heaven exploring each one not just for the art and history but for the food as well!

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The Ultimate in Luxury in South Florida: Acqualina Resort and Spa on The Beach

There are a handful of hotels that I repeatedly visit that feel like home. Acqualina Resort and Spa is one of them. My kids would live here if they could! Southern Florida has so many gorgeous luxury resorts. Miami, South Beach, and Bal Harbour offer any discerning traveler a plethora of choices. Acqualina Resort and Spa, located on the beach in Sunny Isles, Florida  5 miles north of Bal Harbor, is unequivocally one of my absolute favorites. Acqualina provides five-star luxury, world class service and spacious, serene accommodations. I have stayed many times, celebrated many special events and never been disappointed. It is clear why Acqualina has been voted the #1 beachfront Hotel by TripAdvisor, #1 family resort in the world in Andrew Harper’s 2016 Reader’s Choice Award and has received the prestigious Forbes Five Star Award and the AAA Five Diamond Award several times.

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A NYC Day of Fashion and Luxury

There are certain things that are just synonymous with luxury and beauty. Chanel is perhaps one of the most famous. Then pair Chanel with the luxury hotel, The Mark, on the Upper East Side of New York City and you have pure luxury heaven! My dear friend Dana, and I were invited by a fabulous personal shopper from Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC to attend a celebration of Chanel’s new collection, Paris-Cosmopolite. The event was held in one of The Mark’s penthouse. We were so excited to be invited- lovers of fashion and luxury hotels- what could be better! We were not disappointed.

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The Whitney Biennial 2017

The Whitney Biennial 2017 presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art is an annual contemporary art exhibit displaying works of younger, lesser known American Artists. It is considered one of the leading shows of contemporary art, often setting trends in the art world. The 2017 Biennial is the 78th installment of the longest running survey of American Art. 63 individual artists as well as several collectives are featured. The exhibit occupies the 5th and 6th floor of the museum. The artists challenge us to think about politics, economy and race and how each affects us and our community. The exhibit includes all type of media: painting, sculpture, video game design, furniture, film, installations, even trees! Check out my highlights. There are so many incredible works to see its hard to pick a few!

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A Weekend in Niagara Falls and Artsy Buffalo

Niagara Falls is one of those places that I have always wanted to visit. After visiting the waterfalls in Iceland, I really wanted to see this incredible natural wonder right here in North America. But every time I tried to plan a trip I couldn't find a hotel that appealed to me. The hotels along the border on both the American and Canadian side are just too touristy. I wanted to visit but didn't want to sacrifice luxury! So, when my husband asked me to spend a weekend with him in Buffalo, New York (for a work-related event) I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Buffalo wasn't high on my must see list. But after a little research, I realized this was my answer to visiting Niagara Falls. I was pleasantly surprised at what else I discovered in Buffalo- a luxury, boutique hotel, a thriving art scene, and fabulous restaurants.  We set out for this weekend adventure.

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All American Road Trip To Cooperstown, New York

Nothing feels more American than baseball and a quaint small town. For a true Americana weekend, we decided to spend a weekend in the quintessential small town, Cooperstown, New York. This baseball mecca, located in Ostego County is a charming weekend destination. Home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and an integral part of baseball history, Cooperstown will satisfy any baseball enthusiast., But there is so much more American art and history to be in experienced there. We packed our car for a true American road trip.

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A Medieval Journey To York, England

York, England is one of the most beautiful Medieval cities in the world. York is charming and has retained its historical feel. It also makes for a wonderful day trip from Edinburgh. We were eager to get there while we were on our trip to Scotland especially because my son had studied York Minster, York's stunning Gothic Cathedral. The trip from Edinburgh to York is super easy- a 2 and half hour train ride from the Edinburgh Waverley station located in central Edinburgh right near The Balmoral. We took an early train and arrived in York mid-morning. York is a very manageable walking city. The city center is a short walk from the train station. The first thing we saw from the train station was a spectacular view of York Minster. We couldn’t wait to explore.

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Exploring Edinburgh and Stirling Scotland

I am a huge lover of British and Scottish history. I love the history, the art and the Royal stories. My son also got hooked on medieval history when he studied it in school. Nothing is more exciting to an 12 years old boy than knights, battles and castles. Since I am a guide at The Cloisters, the Medieval building of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, the Middle Ages is a period I adore. Needless to say, we were both excited to plan a trip to explore Medieval sights.  So, we packed our bags and headed to Edinburgh, Scotland for four days.

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New England Getaway- Portsmouth, New Hampshire

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching in a month, what could be more patriotic than a weekend in New England? Most people think about the usual locations- Cape Cod, Maine or Nantucket. Miss the crowds in these places and head to the New Hampshire Seacoast. Your probably thinking right now- New Hampshire has a seacoast? And your probably also thinking I like luxury. Can I find that in New Hampshire? YES, you can!

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Highlights of Southern Arizona

My kids and I were looking for a great fall trip so we decided to head to one of our favorite parts of the United States- Arizona. Arizona and the desert can be hot. Best times to visit April to May and September to October. Arizona makes for a great spring break trip! Natural wonders abound in this southwestern state. We picked the southern part of the state and spend four days in the Tucson area. We were so happy with our decision.

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Private Pastry Lesson at The One and Only Palmilla

My daughter is a baker. A lot of kids love baking but my daughter is serious. Every other day when we are at home she whips up some yummy treat from scratch. So, on our recent trip to The One and Only Palmilla we asked the hotel if it might be possible for her and her friend to have a baking lesson. Being the incredible service oriented hotel that the One and Only Palmilla is, not only did they say “absolutely” but they provided her with the most fantastic, over the top experience that made not just her vacation but her year!

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The One and Only Palmilla, the Ultimate in Luxury

For the second part of our spring break, we decide to head to our most favorite resort, The One and Only Palmilla in San Jose del Cabos located right on the Sea of Cortez. For me returning to Palmilla is like meeting up with my best friend. The luxury, service, and friendliness of this resort is unparalled in the world. From the moment, I step out of my car greeted with friendly smiles and a delicious signature ice pop, I feel like I am home. The hotel was created in the 1950s as a luxury spot for the son of Mexico’s president. Today with 173 ocean-facing rooms, discerning travelers can experience the luxury, intimate, Spanish Colonial style resort.

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Sarasota, Florida's West Coast City of Beaches and Art

Florida has so many options when it comes to luxury vacations. I adore the Faena in Miami beach and Miami’s art scene but for a more island-y trip with a thriving art scene Sarasota on the Gulf Coast is the answer. We spent the first part of our two week break experiencing the sun and lifestyle of Sarasota and its barrier islands, Lido Key and Longboat Key. The perfect sunny weather, the white sand beaches and art everywhere we turned makes this a favorite place of mine.

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Vintage Shopping in Paris

There is no question that Paris is one of the best shopping cities in the world. In every arrondissement, you will find fashion at its finest. Galeries Lafayette Haussman is one of my favorite large department stores and walking the Rue Saint-Honoré or Avenue Motaigne is trés chic. But if you are really looking for unique fabulous French items (think Chanel, Hermes, Dior...) Check out these two high end vintage shops.

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Belmond La Samanna, a Caribbean Paradise

Can’t believe winter is still here? Thinking you need a break from this crazy cold snow? Head to my favorite beach paradise, Belmond La Samanna on St. Martin.

Belmond La Samanna, located on the western French side of the island, is pure heaven. The hotel exudes a relaxed, carefree, unpretentious vibe while still being luxurious.  Upon arriving you feel like you could be on the French Riviera- especially after a glass of rosé at the Beach Bar.

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Be Your Own Guide At The Louvre!

The Musée Louvre is an incredible museum but can be very overwhelming to any visitor.  The old masters works feel heavier than those exhibited in the neighboring Musée d’Orsay, but the Louvre is a must see. With this list you can see some of the highlights of the Louvre in less than two hours! 

Fun fact: If you stretched out the three wings, the straight line would be 8 miles long. Its hard to choose artwork from a collection that displays 350,000 pieces. Happy touring!

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