A Travel Blog from the Editors of Departures

Posts by Ingrid Skjong

Fitness Find: A New Technogym Line

Fitness Find: A New Technogym Line
Photo courtesy of Technogym

Feeling in control of one’s fitness is essential these days, and at the forefront of the movement is renowned Italian brand Technogym, which recently debuted its new ARTIS line of workout equipment at the Four Seasons hotel (57 E. 57th St.; 212-758-5700; fourseasons.com), the first place to showcase it.

The 30 pieces of cardio, strength and functional equipment (from $5,000) feel less like clunky, linear machines and more like full experiences, thanks to clever interactive additions. The treadmill features delightfully realistic virtual course options and the smoothest interval-training transitions we’ve ever experienced, segueing from a walk to a modest jog to a faster run with virtually no jarring skips. Ergonomically placed screens on strength machines keep resistance training on target by displaying how fast a movement is performed and if its full range of motion is being reached.

Useful high-tech additions abound. The MyWellness cloud stores shareable personal progress and workout data; web cams allow for long-distance training sessions; a cardio interface called UNITY is compatible with fitness-tracking apps like MapMyFitness and RunKeeper; and a sustainable feature recycles a percentage of energy generated back into the system.

The bottom line is ARTIS feels as good as it looks, with details that add a layer of responsiveness not normally found in machines. And the bells and whistles actually serve a purpose, helping trainers to further tailor programs for clients and ensuring users learn to execute exercises correctly. How progressive is that? technogym.com.

Six Senses Launches Yoga Programs Worldwide

Six Senses Launches Yoga Programs Worldwide
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

While it might seem as though everyone is in a yoga class at this point, doing it and truly feeling connected to it are two very different things. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, which recently launched yogic programs at its properties worldwide, prefers the latter approach.

“We wanted to be able to deliver not only general yoga but targeted programs, as yoga has so much more depth to it,” says Anna Bjurstam, vice president of spa and wellness.

Offered at Six Senses properties including Zighy Bay in Oman and at its spas in hotels like Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic, the lineups are geared toward all levels. Mark Sands, area director for Asia and formerly with the Ayurveda resort Ananda in the Himalayas, created the program, pulling in yoga expert Dorelal Singh, Six Senses corporate yoga teacher, for further development. Instructors must have a solid background in hatha yoga and are rigorously assessed to assure high performance.

Yoga’s benefits—from improving mood to lowering stress to upping brain function—are kept top of mind. Discover Yoga is for the newbie, focusing on private sessions that illustrate basic principles and how to engage the body in a variety of poses. Hatha instruction is built around an easy flow of asanas (postures), and Yogic Detox speaks to the experienced yogi.

Going a step further, and piggybacking on the relaxation and calm that yoga can bring, Yogic Sleep (expected to launch later this year) will introduce guests to nidra, a practice that puts the body on the road to a deeply meditative state. Combined with breathing techniques and spa treatments, its goal is to improve sleep. We have a feeling the benefits won’t stop there. sixsenses.com.

Atlanta Unveils the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Atlanta Unveils the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Photo courtesy of Albert Vecerka & Rockwell Group

Sometimes there is no denying a good idea. In 2005, now late civil rights icon Evelyn Lowery told then mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin that the city needed a civil rights museum. Politician and activist Andrew Young came next with the same suggestion. Nine years later, after generous gifts from local entities (a substantial land donation from Coca-Cola) and mounting excitement, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened its doors on June 23.

Using the American civil rights movement as a framework, the 42,000-square-foot museum weaves a compelling, immersive experience aimed at bringing an integral point in history to life. “This is really created for generations that didn’t live through the civil rights movement,” says Judith Service Montier, the center’s vice president of marketing. “To help those individuals understand history in a way that inspires them and empowers them to create a more just and human future.”

Thanks to an unorthodox design team—including Tony award–winning theater director George C. Wolfe, curator of the center’s “Rolls Down Like Water: The American Civil Rights Movement” gallery; architect Philip Freelon (in partnership with architecture/interior-design firm HOK), who co-created the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C.; and exhibition designer David Rockwell—storytelling and a sense of place play key roles. In one exhibit, visitors can sit at an authentic lunch counter and hear equally genuine audio of racially fueled taunts and jeers. In another, a mock-up of a Freedom Riders bus is covered with photographs of the diverse people who went on the road throughout the South for equality. A rotating selection of pieces from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection brings a familiar face into clearer focus.

The Human Rights Gallery takes things a step further, illustrating the global struggle for parity and acceptance. And while the hope is to pull in as many as 400,000 visitors a year, the ultimate mission goes beyond tourism statistics, putting an American movement at the heart of a decidedly global goal. “You see that it created a vocabulary that is used around the world in other human-rights struggles,” says Service Montier. “You’ll see this throughout the exhibits, [like] the women in Saudi Arabia that are fighting for the right to drive calling themselves freedom drivers.” 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd.; 678-999-8990; civilandhumanrights.org.

Folk Art Takes Over Santa Fe

Folk Art Takes Over Santa Fe
© Jim Arndt

The only one of its kind in the world, the International Folk Art Market—held on storied Museum Hill in Santa Fe (July 11–13), surrounded by views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains—is a riot of color, craft and, perhaps most importantly, opportunity. This year upwards of 150 artists from 60 countries will converge on the art-centric Southwestern city, drawing in nearly 25,000 visitors to peruse carvings, ceramics, glasswork, jewelry, sculpture, textiles, basketry and more.

“I always find something new that I have never heard of,” says Keith Recker, a member of the market’s board of directors. “Last year it was cotton ikats from East Timor that knocked me flat. The year before it was the entrancing indigo fabrics of Malian designer Aboubakar Fofana.”

This year look out for the largest group (13) of Haitian artists ever to assemble to display work in the United States, sharing pieces that incorporate elements of voodoo, politics, family life, social challenges and the island’s natural beauty. But the expertly juried show goes beyond showcasing items. During the past decade (this month marks its 11th anniversary), 90 percent of its $19 million in sales has gone to its artists, who often contribute to their home communities by building structures like schools, houses, health clinics and clean-water wells.

While an appearance at the market can earn a participant a year’s living or more, and it works with entities like the Clinton Global Initiative, UNESCO and the Aspen Institute to further its mission, the core of the event centers on the stories of its artists—reminders of just how rich the genre really is.

“Every piece of folk art I’ve ever seen carries the touch of its makers,” says Recker. “There’s an intimacy in each piece, an embedded narrative of tradition and time, of talent and determination.” 505-992-7600; folkartalliance.org.

A Lanvin-Focused Tour of Collectible Design in Paris

Focused Tour of Collectible Design in Paris Artecase
Courtesy of La Musée des Arts Decoratifs

Collectible design and the inspirations of a fashion icon take center stage on September 12 in Paris with a daylong tour and an exploration of aesthetics hosted by collecting advisory Artecase.

“Each element of the day is fascinating,” says Susan Boullier of Artecase. “But when experienced together as components of our guided theme, Collectible Design in Paris Inspired by Jeanne Lanvin, participants will have an exceptional and coherent experience.”

The theme grew out of Artecase’s focus on thoughtful acquisition and coincides with Lanvin’s 125th anniversary this year. The first part of the day will focus on early-20th-century design, with a visit to the Biennale des Antiquaires (September 11–21) at the Grand Palais; the second will move into contemporary design at galleries like Kreo Galerie (a self-described “design laboratory”) in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

In a day filled with highlights, one that particularly stands out is a private tour of the Jeanne Lanvin rooms at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (pictured above), showcasing how the fashion icon’s personal style came through in her design decisions. The day will end with a VIP Champagne reception at the flagship Lanvin store on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and a viewing of the current couture collection.

While getting a dose of designer fashion is a chic way of bringing the day’s concepts around, gaining an understanding of the evolution of the collectible-design market is the ultimate goal. “Our aim in conceiving this very tailored program,” says Artecase's Elizabeth Chase, “is to give guests access to top design, people and experiences in Paris in order to inspire curiosity and interest in design objects.” To book a spot on the tour, call 33-6/47-25-09-66 or e-mail contact@arte-case.com; arte-case.com.

Learning Your Fitness Age at Canyon Ranch

Learning Your Fitness Age at Canyon Ranch
Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Age might be nothing but a number, but when it comes to where you stand fitness-wise it can be a powerful indicator of the work that needs to be done. The Determine Your Fitness Age program, developed by exercise physiologists at wellness resort Canyon Ranch, does just that—in motivating (though still humbling) fashion.

Based in part on Canyon Ranch founder Mel Zuckerman’s wake-up call with a similar test nearly 40 years ago (then 49, he received a fitness age of 75), the new assessment, which launched in June, puts participants through a five-part circuit. Each element is weighted according to its contribution to total conditioning: aerobic fitness performed on a rowing machine (30 percent), body composition determined by skin-fold measurements (20 percent), upper-body strength via a bench press (15 percent), lower-body strength via a vertical jump (15 percent) and balance (20 percent).

The results are compared with a range of averages and voilà: a physiological age is revealed, both overall and for each of the five categories. “There’s no real hard-and-fast science out there for this type of thing,” says Mike Siemens, an exercise physiologist at Canyon Ranch’s Tucson location. “But this is just our professional knowledge combined with an educated attempt to estimate how these different areas impact fitness age.”

The results are eye-opening for better or worse (we came in ten years younger than our actual age, which was a nice surprise) and allow you to retool your workouts to address neglected areas. Ideally executed over two days, with 50 minutes of testing and health history done on day one and analysis and exercise prescription discussed on day two, the offering allows for plenty of quality gym time with trainers who help recalibrate goals, whether, based on your results, you need to incorporate interval training with prescribed heart rates or more intense strength training. “It’s proving,” says Siemens, “to be a great motivator and discussion starter for how we spend our exercise time.”

Currently available at the resort’s outposts in Tucson (600 E. Rockcliff Rd.; 520-749-9000) and Lenox, Massachusetts (165 Kemble St.; 413-637-4100), the program might also prove to be utterly irresistible to those eager to turn back the clock—and perform better for it. Rates start at $370 for two 50-minute consultations; canyonranch.com.

Bottega Veneta Unveils Its Olimpia

Bottega Veneta Olimpia Handbag
Courtesy of Bottega Veneta

For Bottega Veneta, designing an accessory that both breaks new ground and holds to tradition is an attractive premise. Its new Olimpia bag, which debuted in late June, does just that, representing a never-before-done style for the iconic label.

Creative director Tomas Maier christened the bag after the venerable Teatro Olimpico, a structure by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio located in Vicenza, Italy, where Bottega’s atelier is located. The new arrival features the brand’s signature intrecciato hand weaving in an array of rich colors, including aubergine, brown and a textured dark gray. (We’re partial to the Signal Blue [$2,580] pictured here.) Snakeskin versions ($5,250) come in chartreuse and light gray.

Similar to Vicenza, the bag is sure to develop into nothing less than an international classic. Available at Bottega Veneta boutiques worldwide; 800-845-6790; bottegaveneta.com.

Music and Culture in Québec

Music and Culture in Québec
Festival d’ete de Québec

When it comes to music festivals, bigger isn’t always better. But when a sizable lineup still manages to feel well edited, as it does at the Festival d’été de Québec (July 3–13)—Canada’s largest outdoor music event—everyone wins.

“Diversity defines us and the program reflects it,” says CEO Daniel Gélinas. “Music is everywhere! Our festival is for the trend-setters, the followers, the curious—all of them.”

More than 300 shows featuring a thousand artists will take to ten indoor and outdoor stages throughout downtown Québec City for 11 days. Ambitious? Certainly. But with the historic capital as its backdrop—and a wealth of street performances and activities held throughout the city—the 47-year-old festival has a charming feel that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Lady Gaga, Blondie, Billy Joel, Queens of the Stone Age and ’90s grunge band Soundgarden headline. A tribute show pays homage to French-Canadian singer-songwriter, actor and poet Félix Leclerc, giving a nod to the happening’s hometown; Nigerian guitarist Bombino and Ivory Coast reggae singer Tiken Jah Fakoly represent a global contingent. The John Pizzarelli Quartet jazz troupe will play, as will British blues great John Mayall (both at the Impérial de Québec theater, which is pictured above).

“Staying on top is the most challenging aspect of putting together a festival like [this one],” says programming director Louis Bellavance. “We need to reinvent ourselves constantly in order to stay ahead. It’s all about balance.” We can’t wait to listen. infofestival.com.

Natori Opens a NoLIta Store

Natori Opens a NoLIta Store
Photo by Lia Chang

What Josie Natori, founder and CEO of the lingerie and lifestyle label Natori, began 37 years ago has grown into an icon known around the world for its sophistication and spark. And with the debut of its first New York boutique, which opened June 16 in NoLIta, it adds a new chapter to its storied run.

“This is not really a flagship,” says Josie. “We’re using this as an opportunity to really make more of a lab.”

Originally envisioned as a showcase for Josie by Natori (the younger arm of the full lineup, which includes Josie Natori, Natori and N Natori), the downtown shop turned into a chance to highlight items from the entire brand catalog—and to learn more about its clientele. Featuring rotating themes to keep things fresh, the store will change its assortment of products every few months. Now through mid-July will focus on a summer-lifestyle concept that includes lingerie, ready-to-wear accessories and home accents from the Josie Natori and Natori lines. One-of-a-kind couture caftans, as well as runway pieces from the ready-to-wear collection, punctuate the current offerings, and selections from Josie’s personal antiques collection of 40 years will be on display and for sale, including porcelain, ceramics, textiles and decorative objects.

But beyond the merchandise, the new outpost allows the brand to experiment a bit in an intimate, 1,100-square-foot arena that captures the Natori spirit and keeps one clear objective in mind: “Making it fun and making it a surprise so it’s not stale,” says Josie. “Downtown is just perfect for that. We’ll have fun mixing it all up.” 253 Elizabeth St.; 646-684-4934; natori.com.

A New Way to Stay at Jamaica’s GoldenEye

Golden Eye
Photo courtesy of Island Outpost

Secluded and stunning, GoldenEye, the exclusive resort in Oracabessa, Jamaica, once the home of James Bond author Ian Fleming, is like few other places on earth. On May 28 (Fleming’s 106th birthday), the destination unveiled a new way to experience its charms: For the first time, guests can book either a single room ($2,500) or all five rooms ($5,500) of the legendary Ian Fleming Villa.  

Formerly Fleming’s home and creative headquarters (where he hosted friends like Noël Coward), the villa—complete with a private beach, pool, staff and gardens and numerous remnants of its glamorous history, including the writer’s desk—is the resort’s marquee perch. And on the occasion of such a monumental anniversary, GoldenEye owner Chris Blackwell wanted to expand the opportunities to experience it.

Continuing the good news, there will be more of the resort to love next year: Currently offering 19 accommodation options (nine beach villas, two lagoon villas, six lagoon cottages, an oceanfront villa, the Fleming Villa), GoldenEye will open 25 new ocean-view cottages in winter 2015. Rooms start at $620; 876-622-9007; goldeneye.com.

Most Recent Features