Perfect Gems for Spring 2012

EXPLORE THE LITTLE LUXURIES THE WORLD HAS TO OFFER.

BY DONALD CHARLES RICHARDSON

PRIVATE VIEW

Not far from Missoula, Montana a wide stretch of foothills and hay meadows surrounds The Ranch At Rock Creek, a new, very luxurious guest ranch. Along with comfortable rooms, an impressive selection of wines and excellent food, there’s a full spa on site; activities in the area range from fly-fishing to skiing. For the guest who wants to experience nature in private without sacrificing creature comforts, the ranch offers the Trapper Luxury Canvas Cabin. Sequestered in a wooded area next to the creek, two miles from the main buildings, this suite has a king bed, gas fireplace, wine cooler, kitchenette stocked to your specifications, and even a Jacuzzi on the front porch. Perfect for the greenhorn who wants to get back to nature.

VICTOR HUGO ATE HERE

This autumn, the hottest souvenir in Paris is a copy of the newly released Les Contemplations Gourmandes by chef Florian V. Hugo. A direct descendant of the legendary writer Victor Hugo, Chef Hugo’s new book contains 55 traditional French recipes enjoyed by his ancestor, with rare pictures, drawings, documents and quotes from Victor Hugo, and from other writers about the Les Misérables author and the culinary aspects of life. Instead of photographs of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower, you’ll dazzle your friends with boeuf bourguignon, soufflé au fromage, biszue de homard and macaron à la rose.

RÉPIT

On any given evening during the “season” on the island of St. Barths, there are glamorous and very chic social events. Sometimes even the most indefatigable partygoer can use a break. During your vacation on this most perfect Caribbean island, get a reservation (you really will need one) at Bonito. This remarkable restaurant, where chef Laurent Cantineaux’s French cuisine is influenced by his 10 years in Venezuela and has a decidedly South American flavor, is where all the island’s movers and shakers go for a delicious and stress-free evening. The ambiance is perfect with stunning views of the sea and a lovely French country-decorated living room. The perfect place to recover from (or prepare for) a party.

THAT’S A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU

There’s a lot to see at the very fashionable Hotel Zaza in Houston, Texas. It’s often possible to spot visiting celebrities like Billy Idol, David and Victoria Beckham, and Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (before the breakup they stayed in one of the Zaza’s “Magnificent Seven” suites: crystal chandeliers, gold bed covers, Persian rugs and terraces with soaking pools). Then there’s the extraordinary artwork. Owner Charles S. Givens regularly installs pieces from his private collection, by artists including Simon Procter, Isack Kousnsky and Helmet Newton, throughout the hotel. For guests who want to learn more about the art, the Zaza will arrange a private tour of the current exhibits with expert Steven Thompson. Sommelier Alex Aland opens a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to complete the artistic ambiance.

FROM THE TERRACE

In the 17th century, a charming Byzantine church was built on the cliffs of the caldera above the Aegean on the lovely Greek island of Santorini. A very exclusive neighborhood of small houses grew up around the church. With terraces jutting out over the sea offering magnificent views of the legendary volcano, these were the residences of the wealthy for nearly three centuries. Now a Yades Historical Hotel, the Aigialos Luxury Traditional Settlement comprises 16 neoclassical houses, restored by master masons, retaining the original shapes and schemes. The comfortable rooms have marble floors and handsome furniture, there’s a restaurant and swimming pool…all the modern conveniences. But the sense of history remains, along with the views, which offer one of the most superb sunsets in the Mediterranean.


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