August 15, 2014
By Alia Akkam | Spa

Total Wellness in Bali: The Mulia
Photo courtesy of Mulia Spa

Dotted with ornate temples and surrounded by calming waters, Bali signified spiritual awakening long before Eat, Pray, Love made it a haven for sarong-clad women seeking enlightenment. But the Mulia Spa—a respite for guests of the suite-only The Mulia, Mulia Resort and Villas, in beach-strewn Nusa Dua—takes rejuvenation to new heights with the recent debut of its Lifestyle Wellness program.

The airy spa, which resembles a majestic shrine from the outside, greets guests with uplifting artwork and a red-ginger elixir—a soothing preface to the program’s delightfully intense four or six hours of body treatments, which embrace natural and organic ingredients like turmeric, chile and tree bark.

Those who choose the Spa Buffet, the most extravagant of the customized options, might first be rubbed down with an almond scrub and painted with a sea-salt-and-marine-mud wrap. Penetrating oil is blissfully poured onto the scalp for an Ayurvedic shirodhara session, and an upper-back massage summons sleep. You’ll want to resist a nap, though.

A well-balanced lunch (300 calories or less), such as a bright Asian chicken salad followed by a scoop of heavenly house-made mango sorbet, is part of the ritual (as are breakfast and dinner). Sated, it’s back to the treatment room, this time for a deep, ultra-relaxing Balinese oil massage. The finale? An extraction-free white-crystal lymphatic facial.

It might appear that things couldn’t get headier, but the day is rounded out with two fitness classes, say sunrise yoga overlooking the garden (the early rise is worth the cooler temperatures) and aqua aerobics. Sustain the invigoration with ample time in the wellness suite, tricked out with an aroma steam room offering a selection of soothing and calming smells, a eucalyptus-scented sauna and a “Chromatherapy Chakra” ice room, where LED lights offer a warm contrast to the bracingly restorative 30-degree chill. Half-day (four-hour) packages start at $465; full-day (six-hour) packages start at $625; 62-361/302-7777;

August 11, 2014
By Sasha Levine | sports, Hotels

A Polo Event in Wine Country
Photo courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency

Get your opera glasses ready: On September 20, the St. Regis San Francisco (125 Third St.; 415-284-4000; will host its first-ever Polo Cup in Sonoma Valley’s Wild Oak Saddle Club (550 White Oak Dr.; 707-539-8629;, adding yet another destination to the property’s sporting tradition around the world.

Like previous events held abroad—the brand has hosted championships in Brazil, the UK, China, Thailand and other locales—the event will kick off with an afternoon match, starring acclaimed Argentine polo player (and St. Regis–brand ambassador) “Nacho” Figueras. While watching, guests can dig into a catered gourmet picnic of Argentine asado (barbecue) from the hotel’s executive chef, Oliver Belliard, and—for a little local flair—sip California wines from Hamel Family Wines. A silent auction will also take place, with travel packages from St. Regis Hotels & Resorts from across the globe. Proceeds will go to Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, the only year-round premier accredited therapeutic riding program in the Northern Bay Area.

Die-hard fans should reserve the St. Regis Polo Cup Aficionado Package now, which includes two nights at the hotel’s San Francisco location, spa treatments at Remede Spa and Bentley transportation to the match (starts at $6,750). General admission tickets start at $350 per person; purchase at


August 11, 2014
By Shivani Vora | Hotels

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

The Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris may be one of the most luxurious—and priciest—in the world, but at least those who shell out the minimum $1,240 for a night’s stay are treated to a few exclusive perks, including flower-arranging classes, a market tour with a cooking lesson and a cultural jog.

“We want our guests to have a visit to Paris that’s not your standard ‘see the big sights and leave,’?” says Caroline Mennetrier, the head of public relations. “And these amenities especially highlight what makes us unique as a hotel.”

That includes the legendary arrangements adorning the lobby and other public spaces, which employ 9,000 flowers a week. In new hour-long workshops held throughout the year, head decorator Jeff Leatham shares his secrets on how to replicate his understated, chic designs at home.

Another freebie is a three-hour market tour and cooking lesson with Eric Briffard, the chef of the property’s Michelin two-star boîte Le Cinq. The session begins with a morning walk to the nearby market, where Briffard introduces students to his favorite food purveyors. Once back in the kitchen, the small group helps prepare an entrée and dessert, like grilled salmon with verbena-infused olive oil and strawberry layer cake. The grand finale, naturally, is getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Fitness-focused guests, meanwhile, can enjoy the Tuesday-morning hour-long runs, which are far from standard. Two coaches lead exercisers through a journey around the city—from the Eiffel Tower, along the Seine River, through the scenic Tuileries Gardens and past the Louvre before ending with a sprint up the Champs-Élysées. Rooms start at $1,240; 31 Av. George V; 33-1/49-52-70-00;

August 11, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Wine

A Weekend-Long Wine University: Belmond Charleston Place
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

As with many of the finer things in life, wine is an area of expertise that never ceases to expand: The more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know.

To feed that thirst for knowledge—and then some—Belmond Charleston Place, in Charleston, South Carolina, has launched a three-day Wine U program that covers the essentials with help from Rick Rubel, the hotel’s advanced sommelier and wine director, and a number of guest speakers.

From August 22 to 24, dedicated students can learn about wine varieties, deductive wine tasting, the chemistry between food and wine and personal stocking strategies for at-home cellars. And to show how serious the program really is, the weekend wraps with a blind-tasting exam for all 20 of its pupils.

Attendees can expect to try rare, exceptional wines from the likes of Adelsheim, Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Krug and Shafer, and unwind after a hard day of study with a gourmet lunch and an eight-course dinner at the hotel’s Charleston Grill. Rates start at $3,000; 205 Meeting St.; 800-383-2335;

August 08, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Books, Food

Photo courtesy of Kevin Koh / Lighted Pixels

In today’s world of gluten hostility, it almost feels rebellious to handle a cookbook exalting flour in all its glutinous forms. But chefs Janice Wong (2am:dessertbar in Singapore) and Ma Jian Jun have delivered exactly that in their collaborative (and now English-translated) effort, Dim Sum (Gatehouse). The subtitle itself, “A Flour-forward Approach to Traditional Favorites and Contemporary Creations,” might as well be a warning label.

Here, however, flour is key as the cause behind the consistency, appearance and flavor of each mouthwatering dumpling, bun and pastry featured. (There’s even a flowchart that explains the connection between them: high gluten = elastic skin = shao mai.) Consider the number of flour casings (“skins”) that are listed—crystal, elastic, chewy, matte, stretchable, transparent and sticky—not to mention the cloud-like buns and flaky pancakes that appear across these pages.

Equally important, however, is the latter half of the book’s subtitle, which declares the chefs’ quest to rethink traditional dim sum dishes for a modern palate and sensibility. While classic flavors are ever-present—shrimp, pork, crab and custard appear throughout—their inventive combinations of dill and turbot, foie gras and cognac, anchovy and scallop, tripe and yuzu have likely never appeared on the menu at your local Chinatown tea parlor.

The result is an elevated approach to an unctuous dining experience and a collection of 90 edibles as beautiful to look at as they are tasty to imagine. Though each dish’s recipe fits on a single page—the design and layout of the book are as modern as its culinary mindset—do not be fooled by the brevity. These dishes call for techniques, proper equipment and patience—and maybe a new appreciation for gluten—that will likely take time to master.

August 08, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Food

Subscription to Have: Try the World
Photo courtesy of Cory Pavitt

Subscription boxes may be a dime a dozen these days, but every so often something special arrives at our door. While we already call on Monthly Express for all our beauty needs, it’s Try the World we’ll turn to for gourmet goods, sourced from around the globe.

Every two months, members receive a new mint-green box filled with treats from a different city—Paris, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Istanbul and New Delhi, in that order. While the sequence stays the same, the products from each locale will differ each time a new box is shipped. (Don’t like a particular city? Feel free to skip it at any time. Or order each à la carte.)

Curated with the help of in-the-know local experts—chef Christophe Schmitt of Le Diane; French DJs Marvin and Oscar; and filmmaker Nicolas Slomka all contributed to the recent Paris selection—each box is an authentic collection of premium goodies not easily found anywhere else. (The latest Tokyo box, for example, came with Morinaga, an iconic caramel candy with over 100 years of history.)

Complete with a playlist, movie recommendations and local tips, Try the World does more than give a small taste of the world’s unique cuisines; it invites its travel-savvy members along for the ride from the comfort of their own kitchens.

August 05, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

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;, 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?

August 05, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Wine

Dom Perignon's Second Plenitude
Photo courtesy of Dom Pérignon

Good things come to those who wait, and this month that applies as much to those who patiently anticipate the first release of Dom Pérignon’s Second Plénitude (P2) edition as it does to the process of making the buzzed-about Champagne itself.

The story begins with the brand’s winemaker, Richard Geoffroy, who discovered not long ago that Dom Pérignon’s Champagnes actually mature in a series of plateaus, or “plenitudes,” after their second in-bottle fermentation rather than the more gradual arc of improvement most wines undertake as they age.

In other words, Geoffroy and his team discovered that letting the bottle rest on the lees—which means keeping the yeast sediment in the bottle—greatly influences the quality of the wine in three distinctive phases, each spaced roughly ten years apart, rather than incrementally over time. (The first plenitude is about seven to nine years, the second is a minimum of 12 years and the third is at least 20 years.) The result, of course, is the ability to capture and present the same vintage at each of its most exemplary stages.

As the first vintage to come out under the new name (wines of this maturity were previously known as Oenothèque), P2-1998 ($375) is a welcome addition to the brand’s repertoire. Rather than the weighty, fatty feel you might expect from a Champagne this age, the 1998 vintage has a delightful minerality, with citrus, floral and spice notes and the slight buttery quality that Dom Pérignon is known for. Skip the flute and sip P2 in a large white-wine glass to take full advantage of the complexity.

The release is limited and will be available in stores beginning this month. And while you can expect more P2’s in your future—most vintages will reach a second and third plenitude—there’s no reason not to call the first one your own.

August 05, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Photography

Master Classes in Mexico with National Geographic Photojournalists
Photo courtesy of James Batt

Next month, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, an luxury eco-resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, will host a series of Wildlife Photo Master Class weekends (from $2,500) in collaboration with National Geographic contributing photographers Brian Skerry (September 4–7), Steve Winter (October 30–November 2) and Tim Laman (December 11–14).

With access to the carefully conserved Caribbean shores of the five-star property—replete with dunes, mangroves, forests and coral reefs—guests have the chance to photograph 200 species of birds and native wildlife, explore protected sanctuaries and take on-foot excursions through nearby reserves and heritage sites—including Mayan ruins—under the guidance of the world’s foremost experts.

During the three-night program, neophyte and advanced photography students alike will receive one-on-one instruction on composition, lighting, metering, equipment and photo editing while staying in a privte villa at Banyan Tree Mayakoba.

“Any time you do what you love, it is an incredible experience to share it with others with similar interests,” says Winter. “I like to help folks individually and solve any questions or problems that might be holding them back from being the photographer they want to be. I am an open book during these workshops.” Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juárez Km. 298; 52-984/877-3688;

August 04, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Automobiles, Cars

The World's Classiest Cars: Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
Courtesy of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

What NASCAR is to brawn, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (August 17) is to beauty—and this year’s selection of iconic cars and motorcycles marks another exceptional occasion to fawn over some of the world’s finest luxuries.

Set on the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, in Monterey, California, Concours will display roughly 200 prized collector cars and motorcycles competing against one another for points on their historical accuracy, technical merit, rarity and, last but not least, elegance.

Some of the featured marques and special classes for this year’s roundup include Maserati Centennials, Ruxtons, Ferrari 250s, Testa Rossas, early steam cars, postwar Rolls-Royce Phantoms, Tatras and Eastern European motorcycles.

The event has been so popular over its 60-plus-year reign that it has spawned ancillary events, including the Tour d’Elegance (August 14) and the Pebble Beach RetroAuto marketplace (August 13­–16), as well as the brand new Pebble Beach Classic Car Forum, which hosts a selection of panels and interviews featuring automotive VIPs (August 14­–16), and the Pebble Beach Classic Car Expo, a place for visitors to purchase authentic and unusual vehicles from classic-car dealers (August 14-16).

But as the crown jewel of the weeklong festival, and one of the most competitive collector-car contests in the world, Concours is a must-see event for any automobile aficionado—the racers, the lookers and otherwise. Tickets start at $275; 1700 17 Mile Dr.; 831-622-1700;

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