While a mention of Napa Valley may just manifest a longing for a world-class glass of wine, the small town of Yountville in Northern California is also a perfect location for a relaxing spa-centric getaway. At the airy North Block Hotel on Washington Street (the main boulevard), the intimate Francis & Alexander Spa at North Block Hotel is located below street level, and offers a number of signature treatments that include Un-Corked. The 50-minute therapy is an indulgent foot and back exfoliation with freshly ground grape seeds, and a massage that combines the use of fingertips and corks. The hotel boasts Mediterranean architecture with elegant, beautifully appointed rooms opening to a central, fountained courtyard with a fireplace. Each of the 20 guestrooms (some with private fireplaces) features either a private balcony (upper level) or terrace (lower level), oversized bathrooms with heated floors, deep soaking tubs and separate rain showers, mini-fridges and espresso machines. A gated pool and hot tub open to the Napa Valley sky offers incentive for a swim and stargazing. On-site dining includes Redd Wood by acclaimed chef Richard Reddington. The menu offers handcrafted pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, plenty of wine choices and a selection of artisan cocktails.
The lineup of tasting rooms in Yountville includes Stewart Cellars, conveniently located directly across the street from North Block. The family-owned and -operated small-batch winery features a central property of imposing stone buildings with a new Tasting Hall with soaring ceilings and sweeping, horseshoe-shaped tasting bar; plus a beamed Nomad Heritage Library with a terrace, gigantic wood-burning fireplace and an interior ambience that conjures an Old World explorer’s club. Relax and enjoy a private tasting from the collection of library vintages with Stewart Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and NOMAD Beckstoffer Las Piedras Cabernet Sauvignon, served up with cheeses and tasty small bites. Stewart Cellars also offers a Wine Club so you can get curated deliveries wherever you happen to be located. Reservations for tastings are required, but feel free to stop by the café counter at your leisure. Chef Sarah Heller serves up light to-go meals, fresh juices, delectable salads and fresh, yummy Belgium waffles.
Early on, pickleball had something to do with pickles. Pickles the dog, that is. In one story, the game was named for a family dog that ran off with the ball between sets.
Embracing a life well lived often means embracing a life well-traveled. Every journey becomes a canvas for experiences that shape our lives and at the heart of every adventure lies the indispensable companion: quality luggage.
Not a word was spoken as I settled into a cozy spot on the outdoor terrace just outside the main lodge at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge in Uganda. The air was so still the ice in my single malt seemed to echo off the forest in the distance as it clanked against the glass. I sat among a handful of fellow adventurers, each sitting silently beneath the night sky for one collective goal. Moments earlier, we learned a troop of mountain gorillas had made their way down the mountain near our lodge, and we left our meals to instead sit in eager anticipation of hearing the guttural grunts of the primates below. The chills on my arms never left me that night, even as I made my way up a stone pathway to my personal banda (guestroom). Thankfully, sleep came quickly for me that night as I drifted into dreams of what my next day would bring.
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You know what you’re going to get at an Aman hotel, and also you don’t. Expect peerless service, obsessive attention to detail, architectural elegance worthy of a fashion magazine, a holistic approach to wellness and astounding levels of comfort. But each property is also intimately connected to its setting, and that’s where the surprises lie. For instance, finding yourself on your knees on a sidewalk in Luang Prabang handing out sticky rice to Buddhist monks at 5:30 a.m. isn’t something we expected.
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In time for peak travel season to Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast, the region will welcome its own airport as early as this July. Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport is not only undergoing renovations but it also plans to open as a commercial airport.