A few months ago I was having lunch with a friend in the travel business whose specialty happens to be customized high-end experiences. I asked her why in, say, Europe, Asia, even Africa, it was possible to employ a worldly, sophisticated expert to take one anyplace—from gorilla trekking in Rowanda to hiking in Bhutan to apprenticing with fresco-restorers in Tuscany—but in America the best we could offer was a park ranger to point directions to one’s room. “But that’s not true,” countered Melissa Biggs Bradley, who, on the basis of that response, became our newest contributing editor and author of this month’s THE AGENDA, which jump-starts the BlackBook section with 12 perfectly curated trips for connoisseurs of the ideal American vacation. I’ve known Melissa, who grew up in New York, lived in Europe and is the founding editor of Town & Country Travel, for nearly ten years. These days she is the CEO and founder of Indagare, the five-year-old high-end travel company specializing in trips for the finicky been-there-done-that jet-setter. Melissa deliberates over travel and chooses her—and now our—itineraries with the meticulous care of a sartorialist putting together that “just-so” ensemble for the perfect country weekend or black-tie evening. This month, THE AGENDA, as we are calling her regular column, covers everything from a family vacation in the American Southwest on a Harley-Davidson with guide Kevin Jackson to a visit to the new spa at Glenmere, the grand country estate turned grand country hotel just an hour and a half outside of New York. And where will Melissa herself be going this summer? Last year she rented a house in Santa Barbara, “which has the best of the French Riviera’s climate, food and sophisticated ways, but with a great laid-back surfer mentality.” This summer it’s Mount Desert Island, on Maine’s northern coast.
Ask the Expert
Another “expert” I checked in with was Maryann Browning, the personal trainer who helped me lose some 50 pounds and get into shape in a healthy, sensible way. If you’re in the New York area this summer and need a trainer, she’s your ticket—albeit tough as a drill sergeant at boot camp.
Q: Where will you be teaching this summer?
A: In New York City, we have trainers at the Regency Hotel and at 980 Madison. I also have a complete fitness center in Southampton. Most days I get up at 5 a.m., drive to the Hamptons to work from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and drive back to the city to work there from 3 to 7 p.m.
Q: What’s the best exercise to burn calories?
A: Running intervals. Even if your run is a slow jog, it gets your heart rate up.
Q: If you had 30 minutes every day this summer to get in shape, how would you use it?
A: Run intervals, with back, tricep, shoulder and chest exercises in between.
Q: What do you hate to do most?
A: Run fast and hard, but it works. You cannot be lazy.
Q: I like my summer cocktail. What’s best if I want to stay fit and be ready for a 6:30 a.m. session?
A: The Brownings Lean, which is only 75 calories. It’s silver 100 percent agave tequila with soda water and fresh-squeezed lime juice from two limes, over ice, in a tall glass.
Q: Should I run on the beach for 30 minutes or do 15 minutes of abs on my deck?
A: Ha-ha, you’re joking, right? Run, of course! You cannot spot-reduce abdominals.
To train with Browning, call 866-500-1909 or go to browningsfitness.com