A Travel Blog from the Editors of Departures

Posts by Ingrid Skjong

Fitness Find: Studio K in L.A.

Fitness Find: Studio K in L.A.
Courtesy of Studio K

Movement is the basis of any workout worth mobilizing for. But the type of movement—and what it can deliver—is what makes the difference. Studio K, a fitness center in L.A.’s Pacific Palisades neighborhood, is focused on helping you move better, anchoring its philosophy to so-called K Stations—cable-based Technogym Kinesis systems built into the walls (pictured above). The apparatuses facilitate natural, full-body movements; an extensive range of motion; and numerous exercises that combine into one fluid cardio and strength workout.

“It has a mystery at first,” says Susan Howard, general manager and master K Trainer, of the burgeoning but still novel method. “[But] as you learn its efficiencies and functionalities in movements through the resistance training, you see its endless options and adaptations to help build core stability, strength, power, speed, balance and flexibility all in one cardiovascular workout.”

Zeroing in on three key components—functional movement, efficiency and transformative results—Studio K offers personal- and group-training options. And while the sleek space plays up the facility’s proximity to the ocean (a tranquil photo of the beach covers one wall, the overall color palette calls to mind sand), the challenging workouts require focus and the desire to make a real connection with your body every day.

“Our physical movement patterns effect how we feel, work, play and enjoy our lives,” says Howard. “K Training is designed to be functionally intuitive and strengthen one’s ability to perform better in the daily activities of life.” 17351 W. Sunset Blvd.; 310-454-1048; studioktraining.com.

Earth First: John Hardy’s Bamboo Collection

John Hardy’s Bamboo Collection
Courtesy of John Hardy

The word “sustainable” is batted about frequently these days, but jewelry brand John Hardy has made it a mantra. In 2007, it debuted the Wear Bamboo, Plant Bamboo initiative, through which the company began planting bamboo seedlings in Bali, where its jewelry is handmade, to help counteract its carbon emissions. (The plant is known for its intricate root system, which helps hold soil erosion at bay and preserve the natural water cycle.) Since, 900,000 bamboos have gone into the ground—covering an area greater than six times the size of New York’s Central Park—and the conscious approach continues.

Throughout April, in a nod to Earth Month, John Hardy will donate 20 percent of sales from its trademark Bamboo collection to Trees New York (treesny.org), which aims to plant a hundred evergreen trees throughout the city by 2015. Walking the walk, John Hardy executives and New York–based employees will lend a hand at the Pleasant Village Community Garden in East Harlem on April 22—Earth Day.

“Forty years ago, being environmentally conscious was an integral part of our founder’s ethos, who was a radical environmentalist,” says CEO Damien Dernoncourt. “Today, the environment is still a key part of our brand foundation, providing endless inspirations for our designers in Bali.” johnhardy.com.

Pictured here (from left): Wide Flex cuff ($1,600); narrow Flex cuff with black sapphires ($1,200); and wide ring with black sapphires ($595). All made from 100 percent reclaimed silver.

A Ball for Artists at the Brooklyn Museum

Alyson Shotz Sculpture
Alyson Shotz, Untitled, hand folded aluminum with enamel paint, 2014 (Courtesy of the Artist and Derek Eller Gallery)

The Brooklyn Artists Ball, held this year on April 16 at the Brooklyn Museum, aims to champion both its home borough and the talent that lives and works there.

Honorees include artist/activist Ai Weiwei, conceptual artist Jenny Holzer and portraitist Kehinde Wiley (as well as David and Jane Walentas, instrumental figures in the development of the Brooklyn neighborhood Dumbo). But 16 featured artists—all based in the borough—will take center stage, each producing an installation on a 40-foot table: Oliver Clegg’s rotating circular seating setup, a crocheted creation by Olek inspired by still-life paintings, Jeremy Couillard’s 16 dioramas. An after party will follow cocktails and dinner; proceeds from the event will help support the museum’s educational programs and special exhibits.

Needless to say, creativity runs high. And select works by the artists (like the sculpture pictured here by Alyson Shotz) make up an online auction, which will be at the gala, hosted by the digital art platform Artsy. Bidders can bid through April 16.

“Our guests leave the ball knowing that [we are] deeply committed to Brooklyn-based artists, who are a driving force in keeping the museum on the leading edge of contemporary art,” says museum director Arnold Lehman. “As more artists make their way to Brooklyn…the arts community continues to converge here at the Brooklyn Museum.” Tickets start at $1,000; 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn; 718-501-6436; artsy.net.

Fitness Find: A Wellness Program in Puglia

Fitness Find: A Wellness Program in Puglia
Courtesy of Borgo Egnazia

Whether your goal is to start a healthier routine or continue one, there are few more motivating places to do it than the coast of Puglia, Italy—home of the recently debuted wellness program FU’RE at Borgo Egnazia hotel and resort.

FU’RE, which means “outside” in the local Apulian dialect, stays true to its name, taking full advantage of Borgo Egnazia’s grounds and focusing the six-day retreats (available in either high or low intensity) on local traditions, ingredients and ways of being. Classes consist of no more than seven guests and cover traditional fitness territory (yoga, resistance training, cardio) and more unorthodox choices (music therapy, juggling, table tennis, dance, saltwater flotation sessions in the VAIR Spa’s Roman baths). Certified personal trainers and professionals in areas like bodywork and naturotherapy are in charge; analyses of body composition and daily calorie intake can also be woven in.

Of course no Italian venture is complete without delicious food. Resident dietician Agostino Grassi meets with participants and develops menus featuring local vegetables and traditional pasta dishes. With that to look forward to after, say, boot-camp training overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the allure is clear.

“Borgo Egnazia is the perfect setting for a fitness-and-spa program: wild, various scenarios, mild weather, generous and a relaxing environment that stimulates your body and mind,” says owner Aldo Melpignano, who, while admitting that weight loss isn’t the main focus of FU’RE, shed six pounds the last time he participated. “[It] is a great kick-start if you want to rebalance your life or simply take some time for yourself.” Six-day program starts at $1,800 (excluding accommodations); rooms start at $290; Savelletri di Fasano; 39-080/225-5000; borgoegnazia.com.

A Greenwich Village Tale

A Greenwich Village Tale
Photo by Robert Otter, 1965

If neighborhoods could talk, New York’s Greenwich Village would have plenty to say. And thanks to the new book Greenwich Village Stories: A Collection of Memories (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation in collaboration with Rizzoli International Publications; $30), readers get to hear its tales (almost) straight from the source—namely 66 notable residents, who themselves figure into their home turf’s mystique as much as the jazz clubs, restaurants and residences do.

The likes of Calvin Trillin, Brooke Shields, Mimi Sheraton, Lou Reed, Wynton Marsalis, Graydon Carter, Donna Karan and Patricia Clarkson weigh in with short stories and poems. Read excerpts from the pieces written by Simon Doonan, Barneys New York creative ambassador, and Nat Hentoff, columnist and music critic, here.

In celebration of the book, several of the contributors will hold readings in the coming weeks. John Leguizamo kicks things off at Strand Bookstore on April 10 (7 P.M.; 828 Broadway; strandbooks.com), and Doonan joins performance artist Penny Arcade, Isaac Mizrahi, Parker Posey and others at Symphony Space on April 23 (7:30 P.M.; 2537 Broadway; symphonyspace.org). Greenwich Village Stories: A Collection of Memories is available March 25 at bookstores everywhere; gvshp.org.

A Fitness-Focused Stay at Meadowood Napa Valley

A Fitness-Focused Stay at Meadowood Napa Valley
Meadowood Napa Valley

Vineyards are the unquestionable stars of Napa Valley, but a new program at Meadowood gives a way to enjoy maximum wellness along with the wine. Healthiest Year Yet, a two-night stay allowing you to train—and recover—while savoring all the area has to offer, fosters healthy habits while acknowledging the ever-growing desire for sophisticated wellness options at hotels and resorts.

“Wellness and fitness are such great complements for travelers who are trying to create a more well-balanced visit to the Napa Valley,” says Kerry Brackett, Meadowood's health spa manager. “We strive to present inspiring and energizing experiences that send our guests home with a renewed sense of vigor.”

Things start off with a 90-minute fitness assessment and personal-training options. There is unlimited access to classes (yoga, cardio, Zumba, TRX suspension training), sports (golf, swimming, tennis, croquet) and instructors. And a custom Eco-Fitness session takes full advantage of the resort’s 250 acres, guiding you through workouts that could include uphill sprints, a jog on the four and a half miles of hiking trails, push-ups and planks on the golf course and strength training by the pool.

Of course, all facets of the resort are available. The spa offers a variety of treatments that can also be done privately in-room; the dining options, including the Grill and the elegant Michelin three-star Restaurant at Meadowood, are not to be missed. The package is clearly balanced, aiming to leave you feeling strong, relaxed and satisfied.

“Our goal,” says Brackett, “is to be a place of rejuvenation for both the mind and body.” Rates start at $1,800 a couple; 900 Meadowood Ln.; 855-625-7546; meadowood.com.

Le Sirenuse Brings a Taste of the Amalfi Coast to California

Le Sirenuse Brings a Taste of the Amalfi Coast to California
Courtesy of Shutters on the Beach

Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica takes on an Italian air as it pairs up with Le Sirenuse (sirenuse.it), the idyllic hotel located in Positano, Italy, for a week of food and style. The culinary collaboration, involving Le Sirenuse Michelin-starred chef Matteo Temperini and Shutters executive chef Sven Mede, features dishes—served at the hotel’s One Pico restaurant (pictured above)—that not only impress but illustrate how the two escapes complement each other effortlessly.

“What is so wonderful is to see the importance given to the ingredients in both cuisines,” says Le Sirenuse owner Antonio Sersale. “Both the Californian cuisine and the Neapolitan are healthy, genuine, simple and always very tasteful.”

Dishes by chef Temperini, such as lombata di vitello (roasted veal cutlet with capers, baby onions and anchovy juice) and tortelli con Genovese di manzo agerolino alle spezie (tortellini topped with black truffles and Parmesan fondue), mix with contributions from Mede like grilled Georges Bank swordfish with crispy polenta, cipollini onions, black olives and blood oranges. Fittingly, the Amalfi Coast inspires the wines.

The experience doesn’t end with dinner. A pop-up shop in Shutters, organized by Carla Sersale, co-owner of Le Sirenuse and creator of its popular boutique, Emporio Le Sirenuse, offers a well-edited selection of items including totes, scarves, swim trunks, glassware and the hotel’s Eau d’Italie bath collection.

“[This] is an opportunity to experience a bit of the paradise that is Le Sirenuse,” says Shutters on the Beach general manager Gregory Day, “including its food, wines and the other pleasures of life on the Amalfi Coast.” Through February 26; 1 Pico Blvd.; 310-458-0300; shuttersonthebeach.com.

Trunk Show Debut: Bespoke Suits from Down Under

Trunk Show Debut: Bespoke Suits from Down Under
Courtesy of P Johnson Tailors

One of the top tailors Down Under is bringing his expertise stateside for the first time. Patrick Johnson of Australia-based P.Johnson Tailors (29 Thomas St., Melbourne; 61-4/8820-7240; 46 Liverpool St., Sydney; 61-2/9966-7548) will host trunk shows in New York February 17 to February 19 at The Towers at the New York Palace Hotel (455 Madison Ave.).

Known for impeccable fit and sharp details, Johnson’s suits (from $1,100) pair artisanal techniques (sewing and pressing by hand) with modern technical upgrades (proprietary pattern-making software) that result in garments with both character and precision. (P.Johnson will return for follow-up fittings every seven weeks.) It is an approach that the tailor is eager to share.

“It’ll be great to see our existing clients, but we’re also keen to show U.S. men who we are and what we do,” says Johnson (pictured above), who champions a “reduction and refinement of the wardrobe.” “We want them to see that a simple, clean and fresh approach to dressing makes it easier to have an effective look.”

P.Johnson will move on from New York to a three-day stint in Chicago, February 20 to February 22. To schedule an appointment, e-mail bonnie@pjohnson.com.au; pjohnson.com.au.

Philip Glass, Patti Smith and More Play for Tibet House

Philip Glass, Patti Smith and More Play for Tibet House
Steve Pyke

The annual Tibet House benefit concert at Carnegie Hall is a music-filled affair looked forward to by both fans and the artists who take the stage alike. This year’s installment (March 11), which, as always, supports the work of the nonprofit, is no exception.

“Every year we are very fortunate to have the finest performers, from legendary artists to the most exciting emerging musicians,” says event artistic director Philip Glass (pictured above), an original Tibet House founder. “Collaborations are always part of the concert, and every year I'm amazed at the chemistry the evening produces.”

This year’s lineup, which promises more than a few sparks, includes Iggy Pop; Patti Smith & Her Band; Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner of The National; American composer Nico Muhly; and Tibetan folk singer Techung. And performance poet Mike Garry will pair up with British composer Joe Duddell on a musical version of Saint Anthony, a poem by Garry about Anthony H. Wilson, the late owner of the now defunct British indie record label Factory Records. The new rendition is inspired by the song "Your Silent Face" by New Order, which was one of the bands Wilson signed; New Order's Bernard Sumner will help perform the work.

An organization with a sole mission to preserve Tibetan culture, Tibet House began in 1987 as a direct request from the Dalai Lama. Headquartered in New York, it continues to garner support, celebrity (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Chuck Close are this year’s honorary chairs) and otherwise—proving a good cause never goes out of style.

“The Tibetan culture is a priceless treasure,” says Glass, “and one worth saving.” Tickets for the show and the dinner reception start at $500; 881 Seventh Ave.; 212-807-0563; boomset.com.

The Ultimate Workout: Learning to Breathe Better

The Ultimate Workout: Learning to Breathe Better
Courtesy of WILLSPACE

Taking a breath might seem like the simplest thing in the world to do, but according to Dr. Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and breathing expert, 98 percent of us do it wrong—a statistic she is determined to change with her comprehensive Breathe classes at the private West Village gym Willspace.

“Breathing is the single most important thing you do,” says Vranich, who has finessed the inhalations and exhalations of everyone from convicts to corporate types. “Oxygen is cell fuel. People are running on fumes, then wondering why they are so fatigued.”

The drills are intense and specific, concentrating on two-part belly breaths that work the body’s midsection. (Shallow breathers tend to inhale from their upper body, forgetting about the underused diaphragm and surrounding core muscles.) While active meditation is included—and the studio is dim and comfortable—the work is serious. During our session, Vranich (pictured above, left) didn't allow us to lose focus during the surprisingly fatiguing drills, prompting us to power through as we would any challenging exercise routine.

The influx of oxygen might leave you a bit tingly (some people cry in response, others laugh), but by the end of the class we were more cognizant of what our lungs were doing and breathing effortlessly—freer, looser. Vranich has seen enhanced breathing improve anxiety, sleep, GI issues, energy levels and athletic performance. And while a certain amount of discipline is needed to change old habits, much of the transformation has to do with simply knowing your body—and that is as basic as it gets.

“It’s not about finding another doctor, another medication or just living with discomfort,” she says. “I want people to feel empowered and delighted that they can heal.” Call for class schedules; 254 W. Tenth St.; 212-929-1800; willspace.com.

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