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A Trip Report to Sicily

January 17, 2014 2:47 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel
A warm Welcome. I hope you enjoy this Edition with Photos, Information, Impressions and Tips on Sicily, Italy 2013.This is a Travel Report! (via http://www.niusvius.com)

Photos, Information, Impressions and Tips on Sicily, Italy 2013.This is a Travel Report! Dec 12 2013 by admin | 0 Comments Geography/History Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean. It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula, from which…

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Roadtrip For the Holiday – California Dreamin’

December 27, 2013 9:34 am - Posted by Jody in Travel
The Road Less Traveled (via www.goodlifereport.com)

  The Central Coast prides itself on being off the beaten path, even though this is becoming less and less the case as the area gains notoriety and vineyards continue to sprout up like wildflowers. One can easily find wines of equal caliber to their…


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Ahh we just LOVE Italy

October 18, 2013 9:31 am - Posted by Jody in Drink
Cliff vines and sea cellars: Italy wine region clings on (via AFP)

From the vineyards clinging to seaside cliffs to a unique cellar of bubbly wine stored on the seabed, the off the beaten track wine region of Liguria in northern Italy offers an array of spectacular sights. But as he plucked grapes from his terraced…


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Valentine’s Romance & Travel

February 12, 2012 3:35 pm - Posted by Kevin in Eat

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What Every Great Hotel Should Have

January 6, 2011 5:47 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

As we travel the world we get to stay in some wonderful properties and have had some truly life changing experiences in great hotels. A brilliant property is in fact a world unto itself. And so while we’ve been crisscrossing the globe producing Wine Portfolio my team and I have been keeping notes on the best attributes of the hotels we call home. And so here is our list of the Top 5 things that EVERY great hotel needs.

Number 1: Corkscrew
Ok it sounds obvious that a wine lifestyle brand would want a decent corkscrew in our hotel rooms but you would be amazed at how many 5-star properties fail to provide this basic amenity. In a world where TSA Agents are only too anxious to confiscate anything that looks dangerous, the classic corkscrew has become a checked bag luxury. We particularly liked the Luna Hotel Baglioni in Venice which had a wonderful corkscrew and two Riedel glasses always on the ready.

Number 2: Coffee Maker
It goes without saying that if you spend your days tasting great wines from around the world and still use a corkscrew and glasses in your room at night then you’re going to need a good coffee maker. And that also means great coffee and cream in the room. Kudos here to the Park Hyatt Tokyo which not only had excellent in room coffee but they also had a hot water machine and a selection of teas and noodles. This is perfect for the jet-lagged traveler.

Number 3: Health Club
I hate resort fees and extra costs to use a fitness room. Really? I don’t want to become a member I just want to workout and stay healthy for the couple of days that I’m staying with you. Some hotels get this, others don’t but the Mandarin Oriental Miami was the star here. They had a great pool, excellent workout facilities and extra long hours.

Number 4: Free Internet
I get it WIFI costs, connectivity has a fee, there’s a charge for IT, so just include it in the price of the room and make it an essential element of each stay. Honestly unless your clientele are cavemen or the extremely elderly who doesn’t need/want to check their email, Facebook and Twitter Accounts? BTW Hoteliers search Goggle for the 90 year-old woman who bought an iPad and you’ll see Internet connectivity needs to be seen as a commodity not a luxury. The winner here for us was Holland America Lines. This summer while we were cruising the Mediterranean we were in constant contact with our studios via WIFI. It wasn’t fast but hey we were on a ship and that’s just wonderful.

Number 5: Bathrobe
There’s an unwritten law in hotel operations that says you send the maid, bellman or maintenance man to guest rooms only when the guests are exiting showers. And for this reason alone all hotel rooms should come with large, comfortable and cool-looking bathrobes. Trust me the maids, bellmen and maintenance guys will appreciate it as well. The best we’ve seen so far was at the Meadwood in Napa Valley, a sumptuous Relais & Châteaux property. The bathrobes here were in a word epic.

OK I could go on, but I will save this for another blog. Suffice it to say we love great hotels and always enjoy staying with a world class property. These ideas aren’t meant as criticisms of some hotels but simply as suggestions to help to make the experience even better for the weary or worldly traveler.

So what about you? What do you think we’ve missed so far on this list of what every great hotel should have?

Little Restaurant, Big Taste

July 29, 2010 10:31 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

When I first walked into Fournos Restaurant in Sedona, Arizona I didn’t know what to expect.  It is small. Very small, only nine tables and when you enter you are right next to a little, open kitchen.  But don’t let appearances fool you. I never buy that line that size matters, well not for a restaurant at least.

The restaurant is owned and run by a married couple, Chef Ivan Flowers and Tracy Phillips. With the help of a great server, Tess Griffin they make you feel as if you are dining in their home. It’s personal, intimate and comfortable, just like all great dinning moments.

But a great meal isn’t just about the experience it is of course also about the food itself. Taste counts. Once I sat down, I was served warm bread and a parmesan, garlic, olive oil, spinach dipping sauce (I’m told guests are asking that they bottle it and I know why). I was then treated to a five-course Chef’s tasting menu paired with wines from their boutique list.  Highlights from the meal included an appetizer trio of house made gnocchi with cognac mushrooms, New Zealand green lip mussels and Roasted corn esquite paired with an Italian Prosecco.  Also, the Australian Barramundi with warm English peas, Japanese grapes and confit tomatoes was brilliant. This was paired with a Yalumbe Grenache that surprised me because it is a red wine, but it complimented the sweetness in the fish and peas.

Once the meal was finished Chef Ivan Flowers sat down with me and I was treated to stories of his youth in Brooklyn, N.Y. and how his Jewish grandmothers and father (who owned restaurants in N.Y.) instilled in him a passion for cooking. Ivan feels that every thing you cook must start in the heart. And if you don’t put your heart into it, it won’t be delicious, no matter how skilled the Chef. Period.  I have to admit I completely agree.

So what I will take with me from my visit to Fournos Restaurant is not only the memory of a spectacular meal, but also the love and passion that Ivan and Tracy put into everything they do… No wonder Fournos’ business card says, “The Little Restaurant with Big Flavor.”  See I told you size doesn’t matter.

Jody Ness