Author: Michael Cervin

Of Castles and Cabernet Franc: leisure days in the Loire

There is a legend that the Abbey at Brittany was home to some of the first planted Cabernet Franc grapes in the soils of France’s Loire Valley. It believed that cuttings came from the Basque region in the 11th Century, over 1,000 miles away. We don’t know who planted what when and exactly where, but we do know the Romans had vines under cultivation in Loire even before that. Today the Loire is known for Cabernet Franc, and its stunning castles of which 42 of over 300 are part a UNESCO World Heritage site throughout the 600-mile long valley....

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A Room With a View: Carmel’s Tickle Pink Inn

Edward Tickle loved his wife, Bess. It turns out that Bess Tickle loved her husband, but she also loved pink flowers. The California State senator who served the state in the 1930s and 1940s and his wife built a home  south of Carmel; a stone cottage with the moniker of Tickle Pink. In the 1950s the senator’s home was razed and commercial lodging was built on the site. “My grandfather owned paper on the Highlands Inn next door (now a Hyatt property) and originally built the Tickle Pink Inn as an addition to the neighboring Highlands Inn,” says Tickle Pink Inn...

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Getting Back to Nature: Austria’s Natur Hotel and Spa

Austria is one of those countries that most Westerners seem to blithely skip over as they read the advertisements for traditional vacation ideas like Germany, Italy and France. They may not consider this small European nation, and if they do they are fixated on Austria’s biggest claim to fame. The Sound of Music was filmed here and that was 50 years ago. But this is exactly the point to visiting this country of just eight million people; it is definitely not crowded, it is under the radar and yet it is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe...

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Yosemite’s Bracebridge Dinner: Christmas Old-School Style

Since its inception in 1927, the Bracebridge Dinner, held each December at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, is a Yuletide pageant of food, song and spectacle; a unique and utterly incomparable holiday event. Famed photographer Ansel Adams not only helped catapult Yosemite to a national audience via his haunting black and white images of the park, but he was instrumental in getting the Bracebridge Dinner off the ground as its director and performer. “Ansel had a great, fine eye for detail,” says current director and actor, Andrea Fulton. “He would have a light changed by only an...

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Popping the Corque: Wine Country’s Best Digs

Chumash Indians walked lands around Solvang, Los Olivos and the Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County for thousands of years before Europeans settled here. Of course, it was Danes who bought and developed Solvang, creating a unique Danish village. But the circle has become complete as the Chumash tribe, with their acquisition of Hotel Corque, has returned to its roots. Though located in Solvang, Hotel Corque is really the antithesis of its Danish surroundings. Solvang started in 1911 as a Danish outpost from its native homeland and is still ripe with its Scandinavian heritage. But a new modern sensibility,...

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Post Ranch Inn: Staying Small in Big Sur

There are very few properties you stay at in life where you don’t want to leave, where time stands still, your soul is settled, and all seems right with the world. Post Ranch Inn, located on the stunning Big Sur coastline in California, is just one of those places. Post Ranch Inn is as close to heaven as you can reach, almost literally. Perched 1,200 feet above the ocean and straddling a mountain ridge providing views to the Pacific on one side and the Santa Lucia Mountains on the other, the exclusive 39 rooms are an oasis from the...

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Santa Barbara’s Four Seasons Hotel: Every Season Counts

There are few places that feel destined to be exactly where they are – the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara is one of them. Situated just yards from Montecito’s dog-friendly Butterfly Beach, with consummate views of the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands lining the horizon, the Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore, Santa Barbara (its lengthy official title) is classic Santa Barbara. Built in 1927, the original coffered ceilings and saltillo floor tile in the lobby reflect the Spanish Colonial Revival design that was all the rage in the later 1920s. Period furnishings (some from the original property, some...

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