It took a lot of coaxing to get me to visit San Diego. Having spent so much time in L.A. and San Francisco for work and increasingly for fun, I had honestly relegated San Diego near the bottom of my list of places to visit in the Golden State. My girlfriend of nearly two years, who grew up in La Jolla, was determined to change my thinking (a talent girlfriends wield skillfully) on the subject of San Diego. Her weapon of choice? The historic La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Knowing my appreciation for provenance, this was a shrewd and ultimately successful move.
There are two types of places on this earth: The Club at Kukui`ula and everything else.
This is the place to go with a group of friends when you want to truly experience the good life. Located on the lush island of Kauaʻi, “The Club” as I endearingly call it, is the place to go for the perfect vacation. Situated on the south shore of the island not far from Poipu, there are 15 Club Cottages (with options for 3-4 bedroom villas) that give the renter rights to all of the membership privileges that Kukui`ula has to offer. This is significant because the club is private and the only way you can get access is by renting one of these cottages or by owning property in the development. This is also significant because Kukui`ula is as nice of a resort as I have ever been too.
You know what you want from a country retreat: a good view, a big fireplace, comfort without needless luxury. Too few get the equation exactly right, so when you find the one you happily return over the years. That’s the case with the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, which is situated 50 miles north of Ketchum along the Salmon River. The main building was built in 1930 and is on the National Historic Registry, and it’s a classic.
The ranch looks across the dramatic Sawtooth Mountains, and it has exactly what you want. Settle in to a straightforward cabin (with hickory furniture and its own fireplace) and then get down to business. The area is full of terrific hikes (the staff is eager to direct you), whether you want an something intense or low-key the scenery is fantastic. It’s also a reminder of how good life is away from the television (the rooms don’t have any).
The post about my time in Ischia wouldn’t be complete without talking a bit about my hotel on the island, the Mezzatorre Resort & Spa. I spent a good amount of time looking for a place to vacation for a few days before some business meetings I had in Europe this past week. I really wanted to further explore the coast of Italy, because in past years I have spent these early June trips in the south of France, a destination I hold as one of my most loved places for R&R. This year though I was hoping for something that could live up to the great times I have had before. Needless to say, Mezzatorre and Ischia far exceeded any expectations and has raised the bar for next summer.
Finding a place for me to vacation is not the easiest task. On business I don’t really have a lot of concern for where I will stay — often a Hilton of any color will suffice. So long as it is clean and well kept, I’m golden. But, when it comes to a vacation now that’s a whole other story. I agonize over where to stay when it comes to some of my few true holidays. Trip Advisor can be helpful, but I find most of the people on there are insane or just very easily won over and have tendencies to over rate things. So I’ve learned to look to people — people whom I consider to have all-around good taste — for advice based on their past experiences.
This time around I was looking to stay somewhere on the Amalfi Coast and I couldn’t seem to come up with anything I liked under $1200 a night (which is insanity as far as I am concerned unless it is a honeymoon situation). Eventually though I found the perfect person to ask for advice and he in turn offered up the Mezzatorre, which ended up being the perfect solution. That man? None other than Mr. Tom Kalenderian, the smartest man in menswear, Barneys New York GMM and all around good guy.
The ultimate vacation, for me, is the tropical getaway. I travel quite a bit for work, and love seeing new places, but rarely do I block five days and relax on a beach. That’s exactly what I did this past week. My girlfriend and I (she’s responsible for a few pictures here too, so you know) headed to Mexico to fully ensconce ourselves in the blood pressure lowering confines of the Viceroy Riviera Maya.
The resort is set up as a series of villas, tucked into a heavily forested part of the Mexican coastline. It’s like a well appointed Spanish speaking version of Swiss Family Robinson with an emphasis on delicious food and super attentive service. Everywhere you turn there’s a very pleasant Viceroy staffer happily willing to help get you a towel, clean your sunglasses or help you with anything you could possibly need. And it’s not crowded — and that is key. While we were on the property, we barely saw more than four or five guests. No lines for anything, ever. No trouble getting your preferred cabaña on the beach, no waiting for a table at one of the restaurants. Coming from the insanity of the city, this was crucial to the relaxation factor. We needed waves, sun and a salty breeze, not lots of people.