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Author: leah-walker

Alpine Winter Perfection is Found in Austria’s Arlberg

Close your eyes and imagine a place where the skies are a bit bluer and the clouds a little fluffier. Magnificent mountains are awash with a thick coating of the most pristine snow ever to fall. The air is crisp and the sun strong. In the early morning, the only discernible sounds come from church bells and the crunch of snow beneath heavy, cumbersome ski boots. Evenings bring stars, snow and sometimes both. Now, imagine quaint villages, where people in woolen layers surround roaring fires, while sipping on strong spirits. This place not only exists in your mind, but...

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Luxury and Value are Possible in Paris

There are an unbelievable amount of hotels in Paris, but what would you expect from the #1 tourist destination in the world? Couple leisure travelers with those who go to the city for business, and there’s rarely a low season.   Paris is one of the most luxurious places in the world. From high-end designers and jewelers to Michelin-starred restaurants and palace hotels, there are plenty of places to spend your euros. The cost of presidential suites in the most prestigious Paris hotels come with a five-digit price tag per night, but what if you’re not a sultan and still...

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Four Seasons Preserves The Past For Modern-Day Guests

In travel, I’ve discovered a few things that I can always count on: New Orleans’ Café du Monde will forever be covered in powdered sugar; enchiladas shouldn’t be ordered outside of Mexico or Texas; and Four Seasons is a safe bet when looking for the best hotel in a city. And in a world where flight departures, car reservations and train schedules aren’t guaranteed, it’s nice to be able to rely on something in the travelsphere. I’ve been a Four Seasons guest on four continents at seventeen different properties. And despite the company’s 93 hotels and resorts in 38...

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Five Picks For Fall And Winter Travel

For those located in the Northern Hemisphere, fall is upon us and winter will be here before we know it. Whether you embrace turning of the leaves and eagerly anticipate fresh powder or yearn to shed woolen layers and feel the warmth of the sun, Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande, owner of Passepartout Homes, has ideas for your fall and winter travel plans. With luxury properties on four continents, Paola’s options are seemingly limitless, but somehow she managed to choose her top five picks for fall and winter travel. Cambodia Tucked in between Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, Cambodia is...

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Private Shopping In Buenos Aires

When thinking of Buenos Aires, Argentina, thoughts of the tango, Parisian-style architecture, polo and prime beef come to mind. But if you visit the capital of Argentina without an empty suitcase and an abundance of US dollars, I can promise you’ll leave with a pang of regret. Not only is Buenos Aires an outstanding shopping city, but thanks to a favorable exchange rate, especially with the blue dollar rate, visitors can leave with incredible deals on fine, handcrafted Argentine products. From custom leather items to jewelry to home goods, Buenos Aires is a treasure trove for even the most...

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VIP Vienna

The Habsburg Dynasty may no longer rule, but one of Europe’s most important families left an indelible mark on Vienna, most notably in the architecture and treasures the city holds. Austria’s capital is one of my favorite cities, and with each visit, I discover more to love. Much of the Habsburg legacy is seen within the Ringstraße, a 5.3-kilometer road that encircles the cultural heart of Vienna. Lined with palaces built at the urging of Emperor Franz Joseph I, the Ringstraße celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015. Once the location of the city’s walls, the grand boulevard is now...

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Private Guided Europe With Kensington Tours

Sitting in the back of a glistening Mercedes, I watched as Vienna’s regal Ringstraße morphed into green, grape-filled fields. I closely listened as Ulli, my private guide, recounted the history of Austrian wine. It was summer, and I’d asked Kensington Tours to design an itinerary focused on heurigen and the rest of the Viennese wine culture. As the car snaked higher into the hills, the roads narrowed. I felt like I’d found quintessential Austria and half expected to see people in lederhosen and dirndls walking the landscaped, cobblestone paths. Technically in the 21st District of Vienna, the small village of...

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Paris Like An Heiress: Luxury Hotels In The City Of Light

If loving Paris is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. A mere mention of the French capital and I am Walter Mitty soaking up the scene on Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Shoulder-to-shoulder, I sit at a sidewalk café drinking Bordeaux, while second-hand smoke pervades my lungs. I stroll along Haussmann’s grand boulevards with my head on a swivel, not wanting to miss a single bakery, buttress, boutique or flower box. I may be from Texas, but an oil heiress I certainly am not. However, during my recent trips to the City of Light, I gladly stepped into that role. Paris...

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A Racing Dream Realized at the Indianapolis 500

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been captivated by cars. Seemingly born with my hands at ten and two, I started driving on dirt roads when I was seven-years old. My first car came at the age of thirteen–a classic, mint condition ’66 Mustang. That’s also the age I discovered my lead foot. A simple turn of the key and the rumble of the 289 V-8 engine left me feeling euphoric. During the late ‘80s there was no Danica Patrick for inspiration, thus my dream of becoming a professional race car driver faded, while more practical occupations took...

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Jia Li Designs for the Woman Going Places

  Women’s clothing designer, Jia Li, has taken the utilitarian look out of multifunctional clothing and made it ultra chic. Jia Collection features an array of tops, dresses, jackets and coats, all of which can be worn at least two different ways. Classic shapes combined with innovative design are trademarks of Jia Collection I first discovered Jia last spring and have since worn her pieces from the beaches of Maui to the mountains of Switzerland. Amazed by the craftsmanship, design and versatility of Jia Collection, I sat down with the designer for a look inside of her line for...

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Talking Luxury Home Rentals with Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande of Passepartout Homes

Think five-star hotels and resorts are the only accommodation options for luxury holidays? The ever-increasing trend of renting privately owned villas, apartments, châteaux and homes has led to a growing number of luxury choices for travelers accustomed to the very best. For some insight into high-end holiday rentals, I chatted via Skype with Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande, owner of Passepartout Homes. Currently living in London with her husband and two daughters, Paola is originally from Italy where she graduated from the Catholic University of Milan with degrees in Russian and German literature and social psychology. After working in...

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Haute Hong Kong Hotels

There’s no shortage of luxury anything in Hong Kong. It’s a place where Bentleys and Rolls Royces sit in traffic next to Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Multiple outlets of Cartier, Prada, Gucci and every other major luxury brands dot the city. Hong Kong has plenty of fine dining options, boasting 62 Michelin-starred restaurants, second only to Paris. Thus, it should come as no surprise that over 20 five-star hotels also exist in the city. With so many luxury choices, how does one choose? Mandarin Oriental Located in the Central district overlooking Victoria Harbour, the Hong Kong-Mandarin Oriental celebrated its 50th...

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