Author: lillian-africano

Executive Hotel Le Soleil: Manhattan’s New Luxury Boutique Hotel

New to midtown Manhattan, The Executive Hotel Le Soleil is just 650 feet from Empire State Building, 1,000 feet from Macy’s and 2,300 feet from Madison Square Garden. My accommodations: a two-room Queen suite that had a separate bedroom, bathroom, a combination living room/dining area/ kitchen that included two coffee-makers, a Keurig and a Nespresso. For my three-day stay in the city, this classic contemporary luxury boutique hotel was perfection. The service was “Old World” attentive, as were such architectural elements as 9-foot ceilings, marble stone floors and polished gold hand-painted Venetian plaster walls. The guest rooms and suites...

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Aspire–For “Barely There” Eyewear

Jewelry for your face When I started wearing eyeglasses at the age of 8, very much against my will, I hated the ugly utilitarian frames and took them off whenever I could manage to see, albeit myopically, without the correction. When comfortable contact lenses became available, I jumped on that solution and used the contacts for years. And then a couple of strange things happened. I got older (again very much against my will). Presbyopia set in, which meant that if I wanted to see things (like restaurant menus) close up, I had to put on a pair of...

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Discovering Nevis, Loving The Four Seasons Resort–and Finding Alexander Hamilton

The flight from New York was long but the arrival at the St. Kitts airport was painless. No crowds, no fuss. As soon as I disembarked from the plane, I was transferred to the luxurious and private YU lounge, where I received a cold drink from an open bar and a warm welcome. I sank into a comfy couch while I awaited my luggage and while immigration and all the arrival protocols could be done. (The cost for this experience is $300 round-trip.) My bags were carried to a waiting ferry, where I was again treated to cold drinks...

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The TCS New York City Marathon: A Gorgeous Mosaic

The iconic race is like a 26.2-mile block party through the world’s most diverse city Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins once called the city “a gorgeous mosaic.” On the first Sunday in November, November 6, this year, the mosaic comes to life as millions of locals and tourists of all ages and accents line the city’s sidewalks to cheer the beautiful diversity that is the TCS New York City Marathon. It’s that enormous cheering crowd that makes the New York race different from other marathons; it’s bigger, louder and more dedicated. New Yorkers seem to identify with...

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Discovering KOA: Iron Chef Food in a Manhattan setting

One of the many things I love about New York City is the sense of discovery I feel whenever I “find” a street I haven’t traveled, a pocket park or a new hotel. While those places may have been seen and enjoyed by countless others before me, I always have a “Eureka” moment when I discover a really special restaurant. And that was how I felt when I had dinner with my daughter at KOA in the Flatiron district. I had been invited by the restaurant’s public relations representative to review KOA’s modern Chinese/Japanese fusion dishes and their healthier...

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Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa: A World Apart from the Las Vegas Strip

The Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa is just 10 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, but it might as well be a world away. Yes, there is casino gambling at the resort, but it’s not in your face (or up your nostrils). Check-in at Red Rock is the same as it would be at any upscale resort; you don’t have to battle your way through slot machines and blackjack tables to get your room key. And that, for me, is the best way to visit a gambling destination. Even better, the resort is located on 70 acres...

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TBar Steak and Lounge: A Steakhouse for Romantics

Most of my favorite steakhouses look like…steakhouses. And while there’s nothing wrong with that look, there are times when one might wish to enjoy a perfectly cooked steak in an atmosphere that is…well, romantic. Softly lit at night, with dark wood furnishings and a well-dressed upscale clientele that matches the sophisticated space and the upscale East Side location, TBar Steak and Lounge is such a place. Executive Chef Ben Zwicker, previously of the Four  Seasons,  Aureole and Petrossian, has created a menu that features both classic steakhouse fare and his unique takes on other classics. For example, Angel Chicken...

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Two Great Gifts for the Traveler

Travel-size Luxury Toiletries When you’re staying at a top hotel or spa and find shampoos and other toiletries you love, do you take them and wish you could easily find the same luxurious products for purchase? Now you can. Gilchrist & Soames, the leading provider of cosmetic-grade toiletry collections for the luxury hotel market, has introduced four new collections–Gilchrist & Soames Royal, Shade, GUILD + PEPPER and Stem–that are also available for sale. These new collections, like the company’s other products, embrace cruelty-free development and manufacturing practices, ensuring that all products are never tested on animals, nor contain animal-derived...

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Viking Star and Her Sisters: A Superstar Fleet in the Making

Not content with dominating the world’s rivers with his ships, Viking founder Torstein Hagen has firmly established his brand on the planet’s oceans with the Viking Star and the five siblings due to arrive by the end of 2020. (The Viking Sea will be christened in May 2016, the Viking Sea in 2017.) In her debut season (Spring 2015), the Star lived up to her name as she was awarded the cruise industry’s highest accolades. She was named Best New Ocean Ship and received a 5-star rating by the editors of Cruise Critic; received the highest rating in the...

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Live Like a Sugar Baron at Houmas House

There are plantations — and then there is Louisiana’s Houmas House, a historic sugar plantation where history is served up with a dash of eccentricity and plenty of charm. It’s a place where Gone with the Wind is easily imagined, and where Scarlett O’Hara and her fiddle-dee-dee-ing would be right at home. Although Houmas House, outside of Darrow, La., is open to the public, it’s also the home of businessman Kevin Kelly, who bought the place in 2003, fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning an important Louisiana plantation. In residence with Kevin are assorted herons, swans, frogs (real and...

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Jorge Cruise Offers a Retraction

For years, celebrity trainer Jorge Cruise treated sugar calories as if they were all the same, regardless of the source. Fruit was not a part of his diet – nor did he recommend it as part of his diet plans. “I told people for years to count only sugar calories. This was based on science of the hormone insulin, mostly done by Gary Taubes…my mentor for years. Gary’s work made me scared of fruit. (I) would never touch a banana for years. I no longer believe that. I was wrong,” Cruise admits. “The mistake I made was to say...

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Regent Seven Seas Explorer: The World’s Most Luxurious Cruise Ship

Though Regent Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer will not debut until Summer 2016, the ship’s top category Regent suite had already been booked for 14 of the ship’s first 15 sailings back in August. The $10,000-a-night price tag apparently did not deter fans of Regent’s brand of all-inclusive luxury as they purchased a cruise experience that was bound to be unique and memorable. At 54,000 gross-registered tons and at a cost of $450 million, the all-suite Seven Seas Explorer will be the most expensive luxury ship ever built. Carrying only 750 guests, the ship will have the highest space ratios...

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