Opening: Circulo Mexicano is Mexico City’s Most Stylish New Hotel

 

 

What now seems ages ago, a new breed of hotel began popping up everywhere from Paris to Tulum, redefining a new trend in travel, to the thrill of style-disposed global nomads. Cozy, design forward, and oozing with laidback coolness, the new breed of boutique hotels raised the bar, literally, on nightlife and the way we stay.

Grupo Habita was Latin Americas’s answer to Ian Schrager’s Morgans Hotel Group. Habita, the first boutique design hotel in Mexico City, opened in 2000, ushering in a new concept that reflected the people and neighborhoods surrounding them. Then on to Escondido Oaxaca, Condesa DF back in the capital (one of the chicest hotels anywhere, period), and so many more, the properties and the experiences they offered helped to evolve the experience of visiting some of Mexico’s most coveted destinations.

2020 marks the group’s 20th anniversary, and this week Habita unveiled its newest member of the collection, Circulo Mexicano (also a member of the prestigious Design Hotels group). Located in a 19th century residential property along the Republica de Guatemala, and reimagined by architect Ambrosi Etchegaray, the intimate, 25 room hotel is a calm, peaceful oasis in downtown Mexico City.

 

 

Outfitted with light woods and natural shades of Mexican textiles, the serene rooms are complemented with freestyle bathtubs, rain showers, and skylit patios and balconies. With sweeping views of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Palace, and Temple Mayor, the hotel feels like an almost surreal juxtaposition of the contemporary and historical.

The rooftop terrace, a signature of Grupo Habita properties, hosts a swimming pool, a bar, and ONA Le Toit, a French restaurant that is an ode to “bistronomie,” but using Mexican ingredients. A marketplace of boutiques and galleries will soon occupy the ground floor.

Circulo Mexicano deftly intersects modern day Mexican food, fashion, and design in the center of the city’s history. And if one thing holds true as we integrate back into our suddenly interrupted lives, our love of a great boutique hotel lives on.

 

Beloved Tuscany Artist Residence Villa Lena Will Re-Open in June

 

 

After eight weeks of finding ways to cope with stay-at-home measures through virtual visits and such, cities around the world are slowly beginning to come back to life. Of course, our personal readiness to brave that new world will surely be getting a boost from our eagerness to get out and begin to experience again those things we most missed most during our solitude—travel surely being one of those things.

In hard-hit Italy, striking a balance between staying safe and living la dolce vita will become the new way of life for the next several months. As the country slowly reopens the cultural and culinary destinations that we always relied on to feed our souls and bellies, it’s particularly encouraging to learn that Villa Lena, the stunning 19th century retreat located in the Tuscan Province of Pisa, will indeed be in operation once again in mid-June.

 

 

With its offerings organized passionately around food and art, it’s situated amongst the olive groves and vineyards synonymous with the region—and will be reviving the farm-to-table dining schedule in the acclaimed San Michele restaurant, which is regularly stocked from its on-site Organic Orto garden.

The property, which operates the Villa Lena Foundation, an artist-in-residency program, will re-open its 2020 season, of course, with modifications to comply with safe distancing measures. This year’s art slate will include a ceramics workshop led by Canberra based ceramicist Eloise White, outdoor sketching lessons with illustrator Charlotte Trounce, and collage masterclasses with contemporary artist Katy Kirbach.

 

 

“Being a hotel in Italy, the first Western country to issue a total lockdown, means that there really hasn’t been a playbook for us to follow over the past few months,” explains founder Lena Evstafieva. “We are positive, however, that there will be a hunger for being amongst nature, for open and beautiful spaces, and for that joy of life that Italian sunsets and cocktail hours bring. Through making small changes to our service offerings, we are excited now to be in a position where we can safely welcome back guests this year.”

Villa Lena will be open again from June 15th, and 10% of all 2020 proceeds will go to UNICEF to support vulnerable children affected by the coronavirus in Italy. They are also offering opportunities for long-term stays in self-catering apartments.

 

Padma Lakshmi’s New Series ‘Taste the Nation’ Celebrates American Immigrant Cultures + Their Food

 

 

 

2020 has already delivered far more than the usual amount of stress on our physical and financial lives; and over the last few weeks, heightened tensions at the George Floyd protests around the country are pushing the boundaries for change…but not without a lot of pain. So it’s no surprise that online fitness and meditation classes are proliferating, as our anxiety levels are being pushed into the red zone.

As Sam Sifton, food editor of the New York Times and NYT Cooking thoughtfully reminds us in his weekly emails, cooking for ourselves and others also offers psychological comfort and better physical health outcomes in such uneasy and worrisome times. So the much-buzzed about new Hulu series Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi, which enthusiastically celebrates the melting pot of America through cuisine from around the world, could not be arriving at a better time.

 

 

The ten episodes take us on a culinary journey to cities around the country, exploring the history and origins of immigrant food culture and how this has influenced what we eat today. Top Chef host and author of three successful cookbooks (as well as former model) Lakshmi gets up close and personal as she talks with chefs, historians, farmers, and fisherman, shopping together at international markets, then whipping up dishes that represent their national origins—all the while discussing how they are preserving that heritage through tradition.

In Charleston, SC we meet the Gullah Geechee’s descendants of West Africa, and learn how the traditional rice and seafood based cuisine evolved from a lifestyle that required living off the land, the OG farm to table. We meet Padma’s family and friends in Jackson Heights, Queens, making homemade dosas, the Indian version of crepes, and other dishes that were passed along to her by her mom. And in Tehrangeles, a Persian enclave in LA, we hear firsthand how political tensions affect anti-immigrant sentiment and what that means for the community.

In each episode, the host relates her own experience growing up as an immigrant to discover how each of these international communities have evolved into what they are today—and how that has shaped America and its history of food along the way. As Lakshmi so incisively puts it, “In order to know who we are, it’s important to know where we come from.”

Taste the Nation premiers on Hulu July 18.

 

 

Yes, There Will be Summer: Dante Pops Up in the Hamptons w/ the ‘World’s Best Cocktails’

 

 

 

There is something to be said about not giving up on a rite of passage, even in the face of a global pandemic. And while Memorial Day weekend has been dubbed the unofficial “start of summer” for as long as we have been looking forward to the arrival of summer (we think since three years old), 2020 will go down in the history books as a much more subdued, but not defeated, welcome to the plethora of road trips, dining al fresco, sun-worshipping, and plein-air cultural happenings that make up the season in our grown up lives.

Keeping true to NYC cognoscenti tradition, the beach hamlets of the Hamptons kicked off the holiday weekend with a green light for beachgoers, albeit with modifications to the normal frenzy that would typically accompany the commencement. Salty air, verdant gardens and lingering sunsets are indeed offering Gotham dwellers a respite from the urban lockdown of the last two months. And as a show of resilience, seasonal restaurants and city outposts are open for your takeout pleasure.

 

 

And have no fear if your liquor cabinet is not happy-hour ready. West Village hotspot Dante, in 2019 voted the World’s Best Bar (that’s right, best in the whole world), is setting up a Hampton’s pop-up in classic style, and serving up traditional and groovy riffs on negronis, martinis, and the regular contender for drink of summer, Aperol spritz, out of a vintage Cooper Classics car in East Hampton.

We’re looking forward to getting out of our tippling comfort zone (and impressing our socially distant guests) with a lavender negroni, or a white port enhanced Smoke on the Water, packaged in 8oz and 750ml bottles for take out convenience. Order by noon Friday through Sunday and your evening libations will be ready to go by 5pm.

And regarding all those predictions that summer 2020 would be a wash…wrong.

The Dante Pop-up will be set up in the parking lot of the Highway Restaurant & Bar, 290 Montauk Highway, East Hampton, through July.

 

To Go Drinks

The Negroni Sessions

$112
4x 8oz bottles (one each)
– Dante’s Classic Negroni
– Chocolate Negroni
– Lavender Negroni
– Mescalito

 

Dante’s Martini Hour

$112
4x 8oz bottles (one each)
– Dante’s Martini
– Olivette
– Upside down ramp Gibson
– Smoke on the water

Complete Dante Sundowner Pack

$210
– Full Negroni Sessions set
– Full Martini Hour set

Large Format Cocktails

$93
750ml bottles (Serves 10)
– Classic Negroni
– Dante’s Martini

 

Cocktail Kits (Serves 15)

– Dante’s Margarita Kit $95
– Aperol Spritz Kit $75
– St Germaine Elderflower spritz kit $75

 

 

Hospitality Health: COMO Shambhala Launches Digital Wellness Program

 

 

Mind. Body. Balance. How do we keep everything together when our anxiety gets the best of us, and we find ourselves trading off our pre-pandemic workout routine for a Netflix binge—all the while giving into our cravings for junk food and mind numbing substances? Logic, along with health and wellness gurus, suggest that eating a nutritious diet balanced with vitamins and minerals, and getting some form of physical activity, whatever your preference may be, will literally help to minimize the stress and worry, and improve overall health.

If those worries are combined with a longing for lost travel opportunities, the award winning conscious travel brand COMO Shambhala have just launched a virtual wellness program tailored specifically for our current involuntary stay-at-home lifestyle. Keeping true to their healthy living philosophy, the digital platform vividly brings to the small screen the holistic approach found at their plush but tranquil properties (from Bali to Bhutan to the Maldives and beyond), to help recover and restore well being through the likes of yoga, pilates, mindfulness meditation, etc.

 

 

Tapping into their global network of experts, the curated classes are designed for all level of practice, and are accessible on any device, from the comforts of home; more extensive programs include one-on-one  sessions with expert nutritionists, naturopaths, and physiotherapists. Unlimited access to the video tutorials is available with a monthly subscription at comoshambhala.com.

COMO Shambhala is part of COMO Hotels, a collection of hotels, resorts and urban escapes, which are committed to nurturing balance in the body, mind and spirit. With summer around the bend (and sheltering-in measures easing), its a wonderful way to kickstart a new healthy lifestyle regiment, while also satisfying your wanderlust.

 

Shelter-In-Place Cinco de Mayo: Rather Exotic Cocktail Recipes From the Andaz Mayakoba

 

 

As the days and weeks morph into the perpetual Groundhog Day abyss that we now are pithily referring to as “the new normal,” we find ourselves looking for creative ways to stay sane—dare we say optimistic?—until we can at last un-pause our lives. Assuredly, we don’t need to justify looking to a tipple or a few to take the edge off; but the upcoming Cinco de Mayo holiday is the ideal muse to summon our proclivity for the twin Mexican spirits of tequila and mezcal.

To help get us into the festive mood usually stirred up by the May 5 holiday, our friends at the glamorous Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya were generous enough to share some of their signature cocktail recipes for the sort of authentic, at-home fiesta we really and truly need right now. The stylish resort, a BlackBook fave, not only boasts some of Mexico’s best beach/ocean views, but the Mediterranean cuisine at the shipwreck-chic Sotavento restaurant is also a magnet for the epicurean set.

 

 

To wit: the Bacon Margarita, a savory and sweet riff on the classic, replete with bacon syrup and pineapple; the Citric Seahorse, a grapefruit-centric concoction of mezcal and passion fruit; and the Don Carlos, aged añejo, agave nectar, and orange bitters.

For full-effect, we recommend shutting off that overrated new Netflix show, dusting off those maracas, cueing up some old school mariachi tunes, and pretending you’re in Riviera Maya instead of Chelsea or West Hollywood…at least for a couple of hours.

 

Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya Tequila and Mezcal Cocktails

 

Bacon Margarita

1 ½ oz mezcal
½ oz Cointreauliqueur
½ oz bacon syrup
¼ oz lemon juice
¼ oz simple or maple syrup
1 piece pineapple, for garnish
1 piece bacon, for garnish
Shaken. Add all elements with ice, shake, and strain twice. Serve in an old fashioned glass and garnish with a piece of grilled pineapple and bacon.

 

Citric Seahorse

2 oz mezcal
½ oz vanilla syrup
¾ oz passion fruit juice
3 drops of angostura bitters
½ grapefruit (edible vessel to serve cocktail in)
Cut grapefruit in half, scoop all fruit and flesh out. Add all elements into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and strain twice. Serve in grapefruit vessel.

 

 

Pueblo Antiguo

1½ oz tequila Patrón Reposado
1½ oz mezcal
½ oz lime
½ oz angostura bitters
1 oz Mexican chili agave syrup
Fill a mixing glass with ice, pour the tequila, mezcal and Mexican chili agave syrup into the glass, mix with a spoon for 30 seconds, add the bitter, stir for 15 seconds, pour/strain over ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lime peel.

 

Don Carlos

2 oz tequila añejo
1½ oz orange or angostura bitters
½ oz agave nectar
Fill a mixing glass with ice, pour the tequila and the agave nectar into the glass, mix with a spoon for 30 seconds, add the bitter, stir for 15 seconds, pour/strain over ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

The New ‘Buy Now, Stay Later’ Program Allows You to ‘Invest’ in Future Hotel Stays

Hotel Providence, Paris 

 

 

In a time of anxiety-inducing news streaming at us at warp speed, any glimmer of hope that we will once again be able to wander both near and far in the foreseeable future is a welcome excuse for daydreaming. And while confusion reigns, leave it to our nomadic friends at the dynamic young Lion & Lamb restaurant-and-travel PR agency to create a startlingly forward-looking “hotel bond” program, in a valorous attempt to support the industry’s housekeepers, concierges, and other hospitality staff, and to give our sheltering-in-place selves something to genuinely look ahead to.

Taking a page out of the certainly less glamorous world of financial textbooks, the Buy Now, Stay Later program functions like a traditional bond, only with a globetrotter’s yield: a future night’s stay in fabulous locales like the Hamptons, Palm Springs, Tulum, Bali…even Paris and Chicago. Unlike its market counterpart, however, it comes with the spirit-boosting decision of which destination to choose…whether your first post-quarantine trip will be New York, DC, Cape Town, etc. Each bond is a $100 investment in your travel plans, and after 60 days—the maturity date—you have a $150 in booking value. (No other security is going to yield a 50% return, trust us.)

Bonds are available for purchase through August 31, 2020, and new hotels will continue to be added. Multiple bonds can be secured, just check with each hotel for specific details.

So when your fuzzy slippers and unkempt hair begin to get you down, your mind can drift away to new destinations and old favorites. Your near-future self, and struggling hotel staff around the world, will thank you.

 

Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa, St Barth

 

The Brooklyn Institute Debuts Online ‘Philosophy of Fashion’ Course

 

 

Who would’ve thought that 2020 would unfold into a terrifying sci-fi flick, converting our daily work, exercise and social routines into virtual events? Finding resourceful ways to spend the time that’s been freed up from grinding commutes and, let’s admit, FOMO, has become the new norm. But as no virus is capable of killing our love of learning, the Brooklyn Institute’s upcoming Philosophy of Fashion online course immediately piqued our interest.

It’s quite rare these days that the intellectual realm of philosophy would find itself bumping up against the oft fleeting world of fashion (we recommend reaching back to Roland Barthes’ exalted 1967 work The Fashion System), let alone become the topic of an extended course. But for those who thrive on dichotomy, the class provides a case study that answers fashion-focused cerebral questions: “What does fashion have to do with modernity, political economy, commodity fetishism, media and climate change?” and “How does the philosophy of fashion intersect with ideas about gender, class, identity, morality, politics, and sex?” Essentially, despite its reputation as being ephemeral, what depths does it uncover about us?

The course was designed and will be led by Rebecca Ariel Porte, Ph.D, and core faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. Looking at the philosophy, theory, and history of fashion, Porte will turn to writings from influential theorists, sociologists, philosophers, and biologists including Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Karl Marx and Charles Darwin.

The four week course begins Wednesday, April 8th and runs through the 29th—so one might emerge from quarantine with a much keener understanding of why we wear what we wear.

 

The Brooklyn Institute For Social Research

First Images: The New El Llorenç Parc de la Mar Hotel, Palma de Mallorca

 

 

 

Sitting in the Mediterranean just off the coast of Spain, Mallorca has long been known for its gorgeous beaches and over-amped clubbing scene. But the largest of the Balearic Islands also boasts moderate temperatures year round, and a landscape diverse with mountains, lush groves and vineyards, hilltop towns, and a turquoise coastline.

Unsurprisingly, it’s also become one of Europe’s great expat magnets over the last decade.

The capital and cultural hub of the island, Palma de Mallorca, wears its rich history via striking Spanish, Arabic, and Moorish architecture. Cobblestone streets lined with art galleries, boutiques and cafes give way to enough medieval landmarks to impress the most discriminating beach bum historian.

 

 

In the heart of Palma’s Old Town, La Calatrava is a charming quarter surrounded by the Cathedeal Le Seu on the seaside, and ancient Arab baths inland. And a stunning new hotel, El Llorenç Parc de la Mar, sublimely captures the area’s mix of old and new. It’s also the newest member of the Design Hotels group.

Designed by Barcelona trained architect Pedro Rabassa, the structure takes its cues from the local aesthetic, with wide open spaces to maximize the spectacular views—including a three-tiered rooftop terrace decked out with with Palma’s longest infinity pool, and luxurious Balinese beds from which to take in the panorama of the city and marina. There’s also a poolside cocktail bar, for those languid, lazy afternoons and evenings.

 

 

Swedish interior designer Magnus Ehrland also worked the contrast of classical and modern, incorporating stone columns, Venetian plaster walls, and Arabic star patterned floors, with well chosen contemporary art and B&W photography gracing the lobby. The surprisingly warmly decorated (and all king-bedded) guest rooms feature custom furnishings from Roche Bobois, Kartell, and Flos, while bathrooms are equipped with futuristic Senso wash toilets and heated flooring. Suites are especially well appointed, and each features a pair balconies with glorious sea views.

One imagines its possible to spend a couple of days never leaving the hotel, with a 24 hour fitness room and wellness center with serene Arab baths and a beautifully adorned thermal pool. And back up on the roof, at the stylish DINS restaurant, Chef Santi Taura serves a Balearic style menu of freshly caught seafood—coca mallorquina, creamy rice with Mallorcan red prawns—and locally sourced farm provisions.