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Maison Montespan Paris

Maison Montespan Paris

Area: Paris, France 

Vibe: Sophisticated comfort 

Style: City

Fun Fact: Geared for families, there’s lots for kids to enjoy

Don’t Miss: Relaxing on the well-appointed rooftop

This residence in the 16th arrondissement in Paris offers the best of both worlds: A private home with all the comforts of a hotel—and we are here for it. With five bedrooms, great amenities (heated pool, gorgeous rooftop) and the opportunity to experience all the city has to offer, the family-friendly maison gives a whole new meaning to the idea of a “home away from home.” 

Location: The home is situated in a residential neighborhood in the sophisticated 16th arrondissement. It’ll take you less than 40 minutes to get to the area from the airport, but unless you’re planning to rent a car, let the maison take care of it: They can arrange for a private car and driver to meet you at the airport and take you directly to the home. Once there, you’re close to a variety of landmarks: it’s a 10-minute drive to the Eiffel Tower and 20 minutes to the Louvre, and in the 16th arrondissement itself, you’ll find cool spots like Fondation Louis Vuitton, the Jardin d’Acclimatation and the food options along the Rue de la Pompe.

Vibe: If you walk in and it feels like home, that’s the point. With an open floor plan and contemporary décor, the home is stylish and lux, but still comfortable and welcoming. There are 5 rooms and suites, each with their own bathroom—and the whole space sleeps 10 total. There are three bedrooms, all which are sophisticated, with fun pops of color and gold accents throughout. On the top floor, you’ll find two suites. Offering similar décor to the rooms below, the suites also include their own wrap-around balconies.

Why we love it: We love that this home brings the lux—from the service to your surroundings—without feeling stuffy. Throughout your stay, you’ll have a butler on hand, housekeeping services, daily breakfast and afternoon tea service, with fresh pastries made by a French chef. Along with the bedrooms, the open-concept home has a kitchen, living room with a Steinway piano, dining room and elevator, as well as a heated indoor swimming pool and fitness center, complete with stationary bike, boxing bag, and treadmill. And with all that space, the home is very family-friendly. In fact, they say, “Ideally conceived to accommodate your family, Maison Montespan is designed for all ages. The safety, comfort and entertainment of your children are at the heart of our concerns.” And they really mean in: For the youngest family members, there are cribs, high chairs and other necessities available, and for older kids, there are all sorts of activities that can be arranged—from yoga classes to magic shows. Plus, if you prefer, they can switch the pool to a playroom or screening room. (And did we mention they can also arrange babysitting? Win-win.) The activities aren’t limited to kids, either. There are a whole slew of “experiences” that can arranged, whether you’re interested in food and wine, music, or taking tours of the city. Also of note: The great outdoor space. There’s a rooftop with a summer kitchen, as well as a dining area, lounge chairs and sofas and a bioclimatic pergola—perfect for enjoying the space any time of day. Looking for something different? The house can be used as an event space as well.

Why Go F1rst: If you book with First in Service, you’ll receive early check-in and late check-out, depending upon availability.

F1S Tips: Art lovers will be impressed by all the pieces throughout the home, all created by French artists such as Laureline Galliot, Léo Caillard and Aude Herlédan. Bonus: If you fall in love with a particular piece, you can purchase it and bring it back to your own home.

Cultural Heights in Botero’s Colombia

Cultural Heights in Botero’s Colombia

A Feast for the Eyes and Lips

If you’re traveling to Colombia on business or looking for a unique side trip adventure from Miami, you might opt for Bogota,  a place of dichotomy, where  passionate culture  meets passionate food.  In the central city streets, you’ll find women dressed like supermodels on a runway and men in tailored jackets but also easy trekkers in the greener areas and locals attending church services on Sunday.  Because Bogota is filled with colonial style buildings and  hidden spots, and the geography  is vast (with areas varying in safety)  start your planning through your hotel.

Our top choice for accommodation is the Four Seasons.  Choose the Four Seasons Bogota for impeccable service or the Four Seasons Casa Medina with its romantic gardens, patios, and hanging flora. Perhaps take a night in each location, to experience difference sides of the city.

CHARTING THE COURSE

Once you’ve landed, you can chart your course. You can have the concierge book a taxi straight away to the old center to the Botero Museum — located on a full art block that includes the  Centro Cultural Gabriel Garcia Marquez — and will feed you  a feast for the eyes that will pepper your senses.

An absolute ‘Must See,’ the Museo Botero  features over a hundred works of the artist — considered perhaps the most important Latin American artist of all time and “the most Colombian” — as well as some paintings from Dali, Chagall and French impressionists (208 pieces in all.)  Botero — known for  figurative “oversized” personas in paintings and sculpture, he has often been considered a political artist, showing the state of the common man in his surroundings. However, in press interviews he has countered this,  stating he works intuitively, without preconceived symbolism.  To see such quantity of Botero’s paintings in one space connects the viewer to him on a personal level, for a larger than life experience, seeing Colombia through the eyes of Botero’s personages. Presented with narrators of the place you’re standing in, the art comes to life from the walls.

The magic will stay with you  as you descend back onto the streets at dusk, where you can opt for some local ceviche at Central Cevicheria (camarones y calamares) if you’ve got energy to burn or head back for  more classic fare  — a steak or pasta — at  the Four Seasons Restaurant.

Immersing in the richness of the city

Wake up early the next morning, to take the funicular tram  (10,341 feet)  up Mount Monserrate, the hill — or rather mini mountain — by 9 am or so. It’s a ten minute mount.  You might catch the mass at a church there or walk with the locals through the gardens.  The view of the city below is breathtaking.   (Pro Tip: Stay hydrated, since water evaporates at such high altitudes.)

You’ll be hungry when you get back down the hill to La Candelaria again,  to join  the line at a deceptive but delicious famed hole in the wall called La Puerta Falsa, where you  can indulge in hot rolls, chicken tamales, and hot chocolate before shopping treasures in the numerous side shops.

Local vendors here sell beautiful jewelry and other crafts.  There are “ruanas” — thick often striped ponchos — often created by communities of families over generations and “sombreros veultaios” official Colombian style hats with geometric patterns. They are created by the Zenu tribes in the North but are worn throughout the country.  You might also snag yourself a colorful  “mochila wayuu” or sack like handbag made of wild cotton, maguey, alpis and other natural fibers twisted into “S” and “Z” patterns, in bright tangerine, lemon, cherry and turquoise. Each one takes roughly three weeks to create. There are leak proof “werregue” bowls made from palm trees (and exclusively by women) as well as “guacumayas” baskets, assembled from colorful woven rolls.  Purchases aid residents who rely on such traditional crafts to survive. So you can dress yourself into a rainbow and help people at the same time.

Eating like a Bogotano

Now that you look like a native,  it’s time  to eat like one, starting  with  appetizers —a wonderful creamy burrata at Delucca Restaurante — and crisp white wine.  Or perhaps drinks inside what looks like the inside of a slot machine at Andres Carne de Rez (Chia)  with some tacos at  Cantina y  Punto,  a  laid back Mexican joint.  Or  follow  up with a meal at Club Columbia, where you can taste an array of delectable ceviches, rice  dishes,  chorizo, steaks, and salads. You might want to try  the organic fare of childhood friends Tomas Rueda and Juan Pablo Tomás Rueda (from lamb chops, sausages, asparagus, to artichokes and cheese sauces)  at  Donostia, with its chic black and white decor.  Bistro El Bandido features French fare (grilled prawns, croque monsieur, and coq au vin) as well as live music.  At Salvaje, you’ll feel  as though you’ve gotten lost in a jungle — with wall hanging flora — as you feast on plates of salmon and mushroom fried rice, avocado and cheese  enhanced dishes, and roasted meats.  At the end of your trip, you’ll end up boarding the plane stuffed but happy, just like one of Botero’s muses.

 

NoMad Las Vegas

NoMad Las Vegas

Area: Las Vegas, Nevada

Vibe: Chic and sexy

Style: City

Fun Fact: There are 25,000 books in the NoMad Restaurant

Don’t Miss: The JEMAA pool party

If you’re ready for something new on your next trip to Vegas, here’s a great option: NoMad Las Vegas. Located inside Park MGM—it calls the top floors home—the hotel has all the makings to truly elevate your Sin City experience: gorgeous rooms, great dining led by a world-renowned chef, a weekend pool party and, of course, a casino.

Location: A quick 10-minute drive from McCarran International Airport, the hotel is located right on the famed Strip, close to all the action. But in terms of location, this one is unique: The NoMad sits on the upper four floors of the Park MGM hotel, though it has its own private entrance, as well as its own pool, restaurant, bars and casino. Its central location means it’s easy to check out what the rest of the city has to offer, while never having to stray too far from your home base.

Vibe: Chic and sexy, the hotel has that cool, old-world Las Vegas feel—think lots of wood, antique finishes and velvet textures in jewel-toned colors—while still feeling totally modern. There are close to 300 rooms and suites, from rooms with queen- or king-sized beds to larger suites, like the 1,200-square foot NoMad Suite and the 1,600-square-foot Suite Royale, which sleeps up to four and has its own pool table and dining room. When you’re ready to bring your stay to the next level, check out the Suite Royale Premiere, a two-bedroom, 2,000-square foot suite with a pool table, its own bar, six-person dining room and views of The Strip.

Why We Love It: Along with the great vintage Vegas vibe and the energy of the city itself, there’s so much to love about this hotel—not least of which is the dining experience, which has Chef Daniel Humm and Restaurateur Will Guidara at the helm. The duo are also behind NoMad’s culinary offerings in New York and L.A., plus the World’s Best restaurant winner, Eleven Madison Park in NYC. In Las Vegas, the hotel is home to both NoMad Bar and NoMad Restaurant. The \restaurant is dark and sexy, with lots of club seating and velvet accents, all surrounded by some 25,000 (!) books. “The robust menu celebrates grand, clubby mid-century dining with a dash of theater—Grande Plateaus of Fruits de Mer, seasonal pastas, our signature black truffle-laced Roast Chicken, and Baked Alaska flambéed tableside,” they say. Also not to miss: The NoMad Casino, which offers “high limit” gaming like blackjack and roulette, as well as its own bar. The NoMad Pool is primed for relaxation on the weekdays—and for partying from Friday to Sunday. That’s when you’ll find the JEMAA pool party, complete with DJs, music, bottle service, and more. Along with these features, there are amenities like a spa and 24-hour fitness center, both of which are accessed through Park MGM, as well as lots of space for meetings and events.

Why Go F1rst: If you book your stay through First in Service, you’ll receive a slew of extra amenities, including a $100 food and beverage credit, early-check and late check-out and a room upgrade, if available.

F1S Tips: Want to relax with a spa service? You can head to the spa at the Park MGM—or have the service done right in your room. Also fun: Jazz fans should reserve Sundays for the Jazz Brunch at the NoMad Bar.

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos

Area: Los Cabos, Mexico

Vibe: Beach

Style: Sleek and laid-back

Fun Fact: With chef Nobu as a founder, expect amazing food

Don’t Miss: Lounging by one of the resort’s four pools

When you’re ready for a beachfront escape, here’s a new choice to top your list: Nobu Hotel Los Cabos. The first hotel in Mexico for the Nobu Hospitality team— whose founders are chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert Deniro and actor/producer Meir Teper—the resort offers everything from amazing dining (of course) to multiple pools to lots of wellness options, all against a stunning ocean backdrop.

Location: Situated on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, this resort in Cabo San Lucas is on El Suspiro beach—and has the amazing views that you’d expect from its waterfront location. It’s located inside the Diamante complex, which includes a world-renowned golf course and lots more—and it will take you about 45 minutes to drive to the hotel from Los Cabos International Airport. Once there, you’re about half an hour from most of the off-site activities and attractions, including the famous El Arco and the marina.

Vibe: Sleek and sophisticated, this design-forward hotel offers lots in the way of, as they describe it, laid-back luxury. Expect lots of wood, stone and wood tones, all against a neutral color palette. There are 200 guest rooms and suites, with some overlooking the water and others with views of the nearby golf course. The “deluxe room swim-up,” which opens right up to the pool as well as the Zen Suite and Sake Suite, both of which have ocean views. The two-bedroom Nobu Suite, which is over 2,600 square feet, boasts a chef’s kitchen, pool table and wrap-around terrace that looks onto the water. Pro-tip: When deciding where to stay, head to the hotel’s website where you can take a 360-degree tour of the room or suite and really get a feel for each.

Why We Love It: You’ll find everything you need to relax at this hotel—from great pools to amazing dining options. Let’s start with the dining. With renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa as one of the founders of Nobu Hospitality, you can expect that the food will be top notch. At Nobu Restaurant you’ll find the Japanese fusion cuisine that Nobu is famous for, as well as two bars, all with the ocean in the background. Malibu Farm is a farm-to-table restaurant offering organic choices for all three meals, and at Pacific Restaurant you’ll find “fine dining Mexican concept with a-la-carte service and traditional taco & mezcal pairings.” Rounding things out are Cortez Swim-Up Bar and Playabar, offering drinks and food poolside. Speaking of pools, there are four at the resort, including an infinity pool. Other amenities to check out: On the wellness end, the spa includes a salon and a fitness center with yoga and spinning classes. Plus, there are lots of other activities, like beach volleyball, a Kids Club that offers yoga, origami and face painting for the younger members of your group, as well as golf, including access to the nearby Diamante: The Dunes course.

Why Go F1rst: If you book with First in Service, you’ll receive a complimentary breakfast for two throughout your stay as well as one complimentary lunch for two. Plus: early check-in and late check-out and an upgrade, if available.

F1S Tips: You won’t have to leave your four-legged family members at home: the hotel is pet-friendly and offers amenities like pads and bowls.

Conrad Washington, DC

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Conrad Washington, DC

Area: Downtown Washington, DC

Vibe: City-cool

Style: City

Fun Fact: The restaurant’s chefs competed on Top Chef

Don’t Miss: The Sakura Club

There’s a new spot in DC to make your home base while visiting the city: Conrad Washington, DC. The flagship property for this high-end Hilton line of hotels, the Conrad is part of CityCenter DC, a development in the center of the nation’s capital, featuring high-end shopping and food options. The Conrad also offers its own signature restaurant and lounge with amazing city views, as well as its one-of-a-kind Sakura Club, which offers exclusive access to unique amenities.

Location: Here’s what makes the location of this hotel distinct: It’s part of CityCenter DC, a hub for high-end shopping and dining, including designer stores like Gucci and Hermès alongside must-try restaurants like Centrolina and Momofuku. And, with its central location smack in the center of Downtown DC, the Conrad is steps away from many DC landmarks: The White House, Smithsonian museums, and National Mall are all around a 15-minute walk and the National Portrait Gallery is a five minute walk. Plus, the hotel is about a 40-minute ride from Dulles International Airport, and just 10 minutes from Washington National Airport.

Vibe: Stylish and modern, The Conrad has all the trappings of a great city hotel: Incredible views from floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek, spacious rooms and an unexpected contemporary atmosphere enhanced by elevated terraces and a curated art collection. The 360 rooms feature a sleek, natural décor, while at the same time showcase the intuitive technology that is a staple of the Conrad brand, with smart lighting and streaming options for the HDTVs. Guests can opt for either a deluxe room or suite, the largest of which is the Presidential Suite. Clocking in at 2,405 square feet, it boasts its own kitchen and dining room, gas fireplace, office area and reading nook, and a custom baby grand piano made by DC native, Warren Shadd. Should you opt for one of the Park View or specialty suites, you’ll also receive access to the Sakura Club, a private club on the 10th floor that offers meals made by a private chef, whiskey tastings, a concierge service to help with restaurant reservations, and more.

Why We Love It: As the Americas flagship for the Conrad brand, the Conrad Washington, DC features a wealth of incredible assets that truly make it stand out. Not only is the central location fantastic for travelers looking to explore DC, but the offerings within the hotel are fabulous in their own right. Here, you’ll find the hotel’s signature restaurant, Estuary. Led by Top Chef and James Beard Award finalists, brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Estuary features a menu with dishes that reimagine the traditional flavors of the Chesapeake Bay. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch are served at the restaurant, and there are two distinct private dining rooms and a prominent bar and lounge, as well. Another must-try: Summit, aptly named for its spot on the rooftop of the Conrad. Along with creative cocktails, Summit offers inventive small plates (avocado fries, anyone?), all with sprawling views of the nation’s capital. If you’re hosting an event or a party, consider renting the terrace event space, also on the rooftop of the Conrad. If hosting outdoors isn’t the right vibe for your event, the Conrad also features 32,000 square feet of meeting space, including three conference rooms, two ballrooms and two executive boardrooms, all elevated above ground level and all featuring natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Why Go F1RST: If you book through First in Service, you’ll receive continental breakfast for two every day of your stay, a $100 hotel credit, a welcome amenity and early-check in/late-check out as well as an upgrade, if available.

F1S Tips: Choosing a room with Sakura Club access really does have its perks: Afternoon tea? Cuisines from around the world? 24-hour access? All included—plus lots more.

The Lodge at Blue Sky

The Lodge at Blue Sky

Area: Wanship, Utah

Vibe: Rustic luxury

Style: Ranch

Fun Fact: The Creek Houses are for adults only

Don’t Miss: Heli-skiing, heli-snowboarding—even heli-yoga 

Nature lovers, take note: If you want both the great outdoors and lux accommodations, then The Lodge at Blue Sky is the place for you. Set in the mountains of Utah, the 3,500-acre ranch offers everything from great dining to rejuvenating spa treatments to tons of fantastic activities—all set against a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop.

Location: This rural resort is set in the middle of the Uinta Mountain Range and Wasatch Mountain Range in Wanship, Utah. It’ll take you about 45 minutes to reach the lodge from Salt Lake City International Airport and it’s easily accessible by car. If you’re interested in seeing any nearby cities, Park City is about half an hour from the resort, while Salt Lake City is about 40 minutes away.

Vibe: Peaceful and bucolic, the lodge offers three distinct types of accommodations: Sky Lodge, Earth Suites, and Creek Houses. At Sky Lodge, there are 19 suites, all of which have private terraces, high ceilings and contemporary décor, with lots of wood tones and neutral colors. The two-bedroom signature suites clock in at 2,240-square-feet, and are each spread out over two floors, offering separate dining and living rooms, as well as a large terrace. For a different feel, there are the Earth Suites. They are “designed as a natural extension of the land by utilizing locally-sourced limestone and living grass roofs”—and all have a private terrace and outdoor fireplace. Lastly—and only for the adults—are the one-bedroom Creek Houses, which are located right along Alexander Creek and feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a terrace, and more.

Why we love it: There’s so much to experience at this resort, particularly when it comes to the wide variety of activities. And we really do mean a wide variety: There’s fly fishing, biking, horseback riding, an 18-stand sporting clay course, and of course, miles and miles of hiking—not to mention painting, photography, and so much more. There are a number of ski resorts in the area, including at the nearby Park City Mountain Resort, which offers a private lounge exclusively for Lodge guests. But if you’re really looking to take things to the next level, ask about the heli-program. Whether you choose heli-skiing, heli-mountain biking or even heli-yoga, you’ll be able to take a helicopter ride to experience nature in a totally new way. On the dining front, there are eight different options, including a few private dining options, as well as The Bar + Lounge, The Refectory, and Yuta. At Yuta, much of the food is locally and sustainably sourced, with ingredients like eggs and honey coming straight from the resort’s farm, Gracie’s Farm. Then, to truly unwind, head to the Edge Spa at Blue Sky, which overlooks Alexander Creek and offers treatments like “Back in the Saddle Massage” and “High Whisky Journey,” which starts with a whiskey, salt and sage foot soak. Plus, there’s a heated pool, meditation classes, and more.

Why Go F1rst: If you book through First in Service, you’ll receive a $50 breakfast credit for two every day of your stay and a $100 resort credit, as well as early check-in/late check-out and a room upgrade, if available.

F1S Tips: Yogis in particular will appreciated the special yoga experiences the lodge offers, including “yoga in silks” ”snowshoe and yoga” and “heli-yoga and meditation”—plus free yoga classes four days a week.

Culture and Connection in Cuba

Culture and Connection in Havana, Cuba

First in Service co-founder and CEO, Fernando Gonzalez, spends a long weekend soaking up the history, architecture and food scene in the Caribbean Havana.

From the moment I landed in Havana, I knew there was something special about the city. Open to U.S. travelers just a few short years ago, Cuba is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit—and Havana was the ideal starting point. As a Cuban-American myself, the country is a gateway to my own family’s story—and an experience I couldn’t wait to share with my wife, Awilda, and our daughter, Sofia.

OLD HAVANA

Appreciating the architecture

I’m an architecture and design aficionado, and the sheer beauty of the buildings throughout the city was unparalleled—I was blown away. From the colors to the architectural elements, the detail and creativity that went into crafting each one was evident. Walking through the streets of Havana is a great way to take it all in—and booking a tour guide to provide historical context and background information makes it even better.

Taking in the culture

At 13, my daughter Sofia is an avid traveler—she’s been to some 30 countries—but this trip allowed us to take in a culture that was at once familiar and totally new, and see the country from a totally different perspective. From our home base at the Hotel Saratoga in Old Havana, we were able to see and experience much of what makes the city tick. That included going on a tour with a music historian to learn more about the history of Cuban music, visiting amazing art galleries, and shopping at places like Clandestina, a shop where almost all the wares are exclusively designed in the country.

Savoring the cuisine

If you’re a food lover, this is the place to be: the burgeoning culinary scene in Havana is tremendous. In the course of our five-day visit, we ate at about ten different restaurants and they were all excellent. Some to consider on your trip: Al Carbon in Old Havana, El Cocinero, and Otramanera in Havana’s Playa neighborhood. Since we were there over New Year’s, we also enjoyed an amazing gala and dinner at the Plaza de la Catedral.

Overall, if the goal of traveling is not only to enjoy the food and music of a new place, but also to experience the culture and open your eyes to what it has to offer, than going to Cuba—and Havana, in particular—allowed us to do just that. I know my family and I are already planning to visit again soon.