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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

GFG

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.

 

Belmond Cap Juluca

BELMOND CAP JULUCA

Maundays Bay, Anguilla

Waterfront escape

Beach

Get around the resort in turquoise VW vans!

Being able to “swim to breakfast”

Beach lovers, rejoice: The Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla recently re-opened after extensive renovations—and the result is what vacations are made of. That is: A white sand beach, stunning water views, villas with private pools and seafood served sea-side, with the chance to unplug and relax against a truly gorgeous background.

Location:

Just 20 minutes from the airport, Belmond Cap Juluca occupies an enviable location right on Maundays Bay, a stretch of turquoise beach on the western side of the island. The resort is Belmond’s second property in the Caribbean, with the first on the island of nearby Saint Martin.

Vibe:

The property’s description of its “barefoot luxury” couldn’t be more accurate—and can be felt throughout the resort, from the green-tiled pool to the limestone floors to the 108 rooms and suites, which all overlook the ocean. The rooms, suites and villas are outfitted in whites and grey and other neutrals, with pops of blue and green, which all feature a private terrace (equipped with lounge chairs that are just begging to be napped on), while others allow you to walk straight out to the beach.

Why we love it:

Let’s start with the colors: From the white Greco-Moorish buildings to the blue of the water to the botanical designs and greenery throughout the resort, the surroundings alone can quickly transport you to a place of pure chill. Then, add everything else: While relaxing can easily get top billing, lots other cool offerings abound. There are pedal bikes and turquoise VW vans to take you around the resort; to relax and re-set, there’s a spa, The Arawak Spa (with its own pool!), and 24-hour fitness center; and a resident yoga instructor to lead classes throughout the day. Plus, there’s a whole slew of activities to tug at the heartstrings of water lovers, like kayaking and snorkeling, and sports fanatics, like golf and basketball. When it comes to drinking and dining, there are four options: the signature Pimms, which offers a chance to try local eats, the Cap Shack with its vintage food truck, where you can sip on a cocktail while you dig your feet into the sand, as well as Maundays Club, serving Peruvian tapas and Cip’s by Cipriani.

 

Why you should Go F1RST:

When you’re ready to jet off to the beach, booking through F1S will earn you a welcome treat, breakfast for two, $100 food and beverage credit, and complimentary upgrade at check-in, if available.

Botswana, Call of the Kalahari

Botswana, Call of the Kalahari

With luxe Botswana lodges, Belmond Safaris take you into the heart of Africa.

When your small plane glides low and slow enough over the green savanna to observe migrating herds, when the rhythm of singing voices and clapping hands brings joy to your daily rituals, when constellations take on new depth and noises take on new dimensions in the lightless night, you realize, no matter where you’re from, that this place is where you’re of. No wonder Harry and Meghan keep coming back.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

Botswana has the world’s largest population of elephants. Why? Because Botswana alone among its neighbors avoided armed conflict in its half-century of independence. The wars in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique had nothing to do with elephants (though they gave poachers cover). But simply bearing witness was enough. As Rudyard Kipling wrote: “The elephant’s a gentleman.”

Sitting around the Boma, you’ll learn of the myriad ways our lives interweave with theirs. Much more than a campfire, the Boma is where elder tribesmen have received one another with feasts and folk tales, dance and song since long before colonial times. Elephants, music and history will be your constant companions at Belmond’s Botswana lodges. A oneness that begins with the melodious voices of the staff who greet your jeep bouncing up the red-earth track.

Some enchanted eden

Belmond’s Savute Elephant Lodge sits in Chobe National Park, Botswana’s first. The Chobe River flows into the Zambezi and thunders over Victoria Falls into a deep crack on an otherwise uninterrupted expanse of African mesa—an ocean of land teaming with wildlife. At the lodge, herds of elephants and buffalo gather at the stream beneath your terrace pool. On game drives at dawn and dusk, see zebra and giraffe graze on the grasslands, hippo and crocodile wallow in the watering holes, and follow leopard and lion stalking their prey through the brush. Every outing is different, and none predictable.

Victorian-era travelers believed that consuming copious amounts of gin and tonic protected them from malaria (hmm—likely story). Enjoy yours with fellow guests presuming to be Dr. Livingstone lounging beneath lazy fans before dinner, contemplating the sunset over a horizon of low treetops. The lodge’s chef prepares gourmet interpretations of barbecued meats and other regional specialties, paired with fine wines and champagne. For more intimacy, a butler can serve dinner suite-side.

Recently renovated, Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge lends a modern style to skills that define the architecture, furniture, and cosmopolitan and traditional objets d’art. The twelve large, bright, thatched and tented rooms can be as open or sheltering as you wish: French doors, netted canopy beds, air conditioning, and airy bathrooms go well beyond glamping.

Islands in the stream

For a change of scenery, climb aboard a 12-seat Cessna and follow the sun westward to Eagle Island Lodge, another of the Belmond Safaris experiences. Enjoy the isolation of a private island in the unique setting of an inland river delta where the Okavango evaporates into the sky above the Kalahari rather than meet the sea.

By canoe and powerboat explore channels that cover 5,800 unpopulated square miles—roughly the size of Connecticut—classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, along with Mount Kilimanjaro, the Nile and Sahara. In addition to the by-now ever-present lions, elephant and zebra, you’ll see flocks of wading heron and flamingo, and ostriches strutting through hip-deep grass.

With accommodation similar to Belmond’s Savute Elephant Lodge, Eagle Island adds a twist of sensual style—somber mineral tones, private plunge pools outside each room, and sculptural, monolithic, black bathtubs—that melds into the sage-scented morning mists.

“There’s no better way to understand how connected we are with all this,” says F1RST’s Erika Reategui, an Africa veteran. Her experience in luxury conservation excursions includes work with the Jane Goodall Institute. “Something like 77% of wildlife has disappeared since mankind came to be—10% of that just since 1990. There’s no better way to understand how precious this is than to feel it for yourself.”

Four Seasons Montreal

FOUR SEASONS MONTREAL

Montreal, Canada

Stylish and sophisticated

City

Trainer Harley Pasternak runs a 24-hour gym

Having a drink on the “all-season” terrace

Stylish city life comes calling at this new Four Seasons property in Montreal, located at the heart of the famed Golden Square Mile neighborhood. And it caters to some of the best aspects of an urban escape: a great location, top-notch dining, and of course, amazing city views throughout

Location:

This 18-floor building is the new centerpiece of the “Golden Square Mile” neighborhood in Montreal, which is also where you’ll find The Montreal Museum of Art, McGill University and lots of shopping and dining options. It’ll take about 30 minutes or so to reach the hotel from Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport—and the hotel can set up transportation (think limo or rental car) for you.

Vibe:

You’ll get major sophisticated city vibes at this property, which is decked out in a modern sensual design, with touches of gold, marble, and dark wood throughout the 169 rooms and suites. All the rooms are on the upper levels (so floors six through 12), which means you’ll get amazing views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The largest of the suites, the Presidential Suite, has two bedrooms, an 8-person dining table and a whirlpool bathtub.

Why we love it:

With so much to do when visiting a city—especially one like Montreal—it’s easy to see your hotel as just a place to sleep. But that’s not the case with this Four Seasons property. And one of its standout features is one of our very favorites: The “Social Square,” located on the third floor lobby and totally open-concept. What will you find? Let’s start with the food. Chef Marcus Samuelsson—of Harlem’s Red Rooster fame—has expanded his offerings with the signature MARCUS Restaurant + Terrace, as well as MARCUS Lounge + Bar. At the gorgeously-designed restaurant (there’s lots of white marble and greenery), which offers all three meals plus weekend brunch, expect lots of seafood and locally-sourced options. But the real highlight is the terrace, which is open all year, giving you a chance to see and experience the outdoors even deep into the Canadian winter. Shopping is also part of the Social Square, including an entrance to Holt Renfrew Ogilvy department store. And since walking around the city can get tiring, when it’s time to relax you can also retreat to the hotel. The 8-room spa offers everything from treatments like the Rose Gold Hydrating Facial to other features, like Kneipp Water Therapy. Also on the wellness front, there’s a 24-hour fitness center, with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak at the helm, and an indoor pool. Hosting an event? The ballroom can hold up to 450 people.

Why Go F1RST:

When you book with First in Service, you’ll get breakfast for two, a $100 food and beverage credit—perfect for trying the restaurant—an upgrade, if available, as well as a welcome note at check-in.