April 13, 2012
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle, Hotel, Beauty

Rose 31 at the Gramercy Park Hotel
Photo courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

We discovered Le Labo Fragrances, a New York–based perfumer that is known for its creative collection of handmade scents, at the Gramercy Park Hotel, which burns its Cade 26 candles in the lobby. The scent was so intoxicating, we bought some to burn in the office. So when bottles of Le Labo shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion—in the floral yet woodsy Rose 31, a perfect unisex scent—appeared in rooms at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, California, we had another great reason to check in.

September 28, 2011
By Marnie Hanel | Lifestyle

Courtesy of LUXE

Grant Thatcher launched his LUXE City Guides in 2001, and since then, he's expanded to 30 pocketbook-sized titles filled with "smart stuff for busy people." Now Thatcher is taking on a new challenge: Little LUXE Guides. The kid-friendly series aims to show the same discerning readers who fell for Thatcher's spot-on recommendations how to "go glam with the fam." Little LUXE Hong Kong, the debut title, is available this month. Its signature gatefold format contains hundreds of family-centered picks, such as Hong Kong Disneyland ("The house of mouse needs no intro"), Magic Mirror Kids' Hair ("Pop your little ray of sunshine on a giraffe… for the coolest haircuts in town") and The KIDchen by Kit Lin ("Mini chefs learn to cook their own dim sum"), plus babysitting recommendations and spa picks for parents in need of some R&R. Written by editors living in Hong Kong with their children, the guide is the next best thing to having a friend on the ground. The next title in the series, Little LUXE Singapore, is slated for November. $10;

Departures recommends: 12 Family Trips

September 23, 2011
By Amanda Friedman | Lifestyle, Retail

Beaded chevron Zelda throw pillow. Photo by Polo Ralph Lauren.

Ralph Lauren’s new One Fifth home collection was inspired by one of New York City’s swankiest addresses, and its Art Deco–style pieces are very Marlene Dietrich–ish, very film noir–ish. With a dramatic black-and-gold palette and rich textures such as gold leaf on shagreen and beaded chevron, the line is a departure from Lauren’s all-American, equestrian-esque designs. Likewise, Mr. Lauren’s Deco state of mind was in full force on the runway of his fall womenswear show. The collection ranges from $40 for a glass to $14,250 for a mahogany server and is available at Ralph Lauren, 888 Madison Ave.;

July 13, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle


Brooklyn-based Mast Brothers Chocolate is not only creative with its confectionary creations; it also produces custom artwork on its labels at the patron's request. After choosing from 11 dark-chocolate flavors (including fleur de sel, serrano pepper and Stumptown coffee), guests work one-on-one with sales and marketing manager Arto Barragan to create a custom graphic to be wrapped around the candy. It's a thoughtful, personal touch to an already luxe treat. 718-388-2625;

Photo E. Conor Hagen

July 06, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle


Ultimate Ears knows that like a fingerprint, the shape of every ear is different, so it's no coincidence that 75 percent of the world's top touring musicians use custom earphones to hear live concert feed and get the most out of any listening experience. It starts with a visit to an audiologist, who makes a mold of the client's ear (Ultimate Ears has a directory of physicians who do this). From there, the company handcrafts earbuds that fit the canals perfectly, thus drastically eliminating outside noise and acoustic interference. The technology inside the pieces is equally impressive: Depending on the model selected, each earbud can hold up to six tiny speakers dedicated to low, midrange and high frequencies. For its latest design, Ultimate Ears partnered with Capitol Records to create In-Ear Reference Monitors with a three-speaker design tuned to a flat response curve, and a tightly braided cable that reduces sound friction and eliminates the Y-joint connector. Most of the models are designed for industry professionals, but some, like the 4 Pro Custom monitors, are perfect for any audiophile. From $400 at

Photo Courtesy Ultimate Ears by Logitech

June 22, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle


The luxury conglomerate LVMH, which includes fashion houses Christian Dior Couture, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy Couture and Emilio Pucci and lifestyle brands such as Guerlain, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, just announced that on October 15 and 16 it will allow guests to enter 25 of its traditionally off-limits ateliers in Europe. (Most are in and around Paris, but there are also locations in Spain, Italy and the UK.) The two-day event, called "Les Journées Particulières," will grant visitors access to workshops, vineyards, private mansions, family homes and boutiques and will show glimpses of the extraordinary craftsmanship behind making a Dior gown, a Pucci scarf or a bottle of Krug. It's also an ode to architecture and history: The jewelry and watchmaker Chaumet will open its Grand Salon on Place Vendôme, whose 18th–century, Neoclassical interior was designed by François-Joseph Bélanger and where the company's archive of sketches and ornaments will be on display. Most events will be open to the public, but some require advance reservations.

Photo Courtesy LVMH

June 08, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle


There's no denying the ice-cold Coke's place in pop culture history, and to celebrate the brand's 125th anniversary, luxury publishing house Assouline has released Coca-Cola, a tome containing 170 advertisements, photographs and artworks from the company's visual archives. It's a fascinating look at the beverage's place in the American zeitgeist, from once being promoted as a refreshing sports drink for athletic ladies in the early 20th century to supermodel Naomi Campbell using the soda cans as hair rollers decades later. Andy Warhol's Pop art, "Mean" Joe Greene, JFK, Evel Knievel and many polar bears make appearances. In addition to the clothbound trade edition, there is an exclusive limited-edition version (only 1,250 will be made and sold for $650) with a hardbound cover and color plates in a linen clamshell. To accompany the book, Assouline has also launched an app with interactive animations of vintage ads, Super Bowl spots and the memorable "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" commercial. $65 at Assouline boutiques worldwide and

Photo Courtesy ASSOULINE/Coke

June 01, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle


Hotels aren't just for sleeping, as two recent openings are showing. On May 16, Thompson hotels cut the ribbon on Above 6, a terrace lounge on top of its 6 Columbus location. Thompson's third open-air hideaway in New York, the space exudes the downtown vibe of the brand's SoHo and the Lower East Side outposts while giving guests views of Central Park. Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill has created a summer cocktail menu (try the Hummingbird, a concoction of Avinyó Cava, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, club soda and Yama Momo) and curated a special selection of sakes and wines especially for the venue. In Chicago, the Park Hyatt will unveil its new seventh floor on June 3, showcasing four elements (restaurant, spa, garden and lounge) from its new lifestyle brand, NoMI (for North Michigan, the avenue on which the hotel sits). The 125-seat NoMI Kitchen will be overseen by chef Ryan LaRoche, who has partnered with local farmers and purveyors to produce the high-quality ingredient-driven dishes he's become known for. And NoMI Spa will be the exclusive Chicago spa to offer the Hydrafacial (an ultra-firming skin treatment previously performed only in doctors' offices). Above 6 at 6 Columbus Circle; 212-204-3000; Park Hyatt Chicago at 800 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-335-1234;

Photo Courtesy Thompson Hotels

May 25, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle


A good fitness routine—especially one that has a streamlined schedule and is suited to one's own health goals—is hard to come by. Luckily for New Yorkers, FITiST has just launched online. First, guests choose from ten unique wellness programs ranging from one to three months in duration and addressing a specific goal. There are marathon and triathlon training plans, as well as weight loss, yoga and pre- and post-natal programs; there's even a rookie course for those who've had an extended absence from the gym. Then FITiST tailors an exercise regimen and gives clients access to an extensive online booking system, where trainees can make reservations for spinning, yoga, Pilates, boxing and boot camp classes in some of New York's most exclusive gyms. The website also offers add-ons like personal training sessions, nutrition counseling, acupuncture, sports massage therapy and post-workout beauty appointments. Membership is by invitation only, but Departures readers can click here to access the site. Wellness plans, from $150;

Photo Courtesy FITiST

May 04, 2011
By Departures Dispatch | Lifestyle


Découpage specialist John Derian, who helms two home décor emporiums in New York's East Village, has teamed up with luxury stationery purveyor Dempsey & Carroll for a limited-edition set of hand-bordered cards and lined envelopes. The five designs (there were six, but the sea urchin pattern has already sold out) have the signature Derian antique feel, with flower, maze and font patterns from his Découpage line gracing the collection. The ready-to-write box sets include ten three-ply cards and envelopes and are available at Dempsey & Carroll's New York boutique and its online store. $60 per set at 1049 Lexington Ave.; 877-750-1878;

Photo Courtesy Dempsey & Carroll