mexico travel

2013 in Review + Looking Ahead to 2014 (in my opinion): The Haute List

It’s that time of year again, when we look back at the year past, and forward to what the year ahead may hold. Personally, I prefer to look ahead, but the best laid plans often require a review of past practices to get them right, so off we go.

Haute Travel – Adventure in 2013 followed by peace in 2014.

2013 was a big year for travel, and some of the most coveted vacations seemed to add elements of adventure and wellness into the mix.  For me, this included hiking in Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes World Heritage Site, and doing yoga in the Riveira Maya.  But we saw an insurgence of mountain climbers in 2013, including many excursions to Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro – perhaps some of the more accessible heights.  Stateside, Charleston was probably the “new haute” city of the year, with many a stag party heading south, along with foodies and history-buffs too.  I had an amazing few meals in Charleston (Husk and Xaio-bao biscuit), and felt the “haute spot” credit was rightly so.

Yoga in Playa del Carmen (Riviera Maya, MX)

Yoga in Playa del Carmen (Riviera Maya, MX)

2014 is looking a bit more off the beaten path, with many folks venturing to Antarctica, the hautest (or coldest), destination of the year.  You can cruise to the tip of Argentina and head down to the barren continent, and even spend the night, if you dare (gadventures.com will get you there for a cool $6K).

Also haute for 2014, finding peace and meaning in your excursion, like a volunteer trip to Africa (try gviusa.com for example), or a meditation retreat (I want to check our Esalen in Big Sur).  As people’s work lives get busier, what better way to unwind and rewind.  Not to mention, there is always room for rest and relaxation poolside or even a good stay-cation this year…where will you go or stay in 2014?

Haute Eats – What made us full in 2013 and what makes us hungry in 2014?

From farm to table to tables at the farm, 2013 saw us venturing back to the earth for our food inspirations.  I don’t know about you, but farm-to-table is synonymous with yum for me, and not only did this come to fruition in the food we ate but the trends we so admired.

I made it to the amazing Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Hudson River Valley this year for a multi-course meal which highlighted the best of the farm.  All around the country, farm dining is becoming a haute and hip thing to do, brining our minds back to the basics with our food.

Dining a la log @BlueHill at Stone Barns

Dining a la log @BlueHill at Stone Barns

2013 also put cake in the spotlight, or actually shaped cake as as a spotlight, as cake balls made the haute list this year.  Perhaps we like the bite size nature of the balls, or they remind us of lovely petite fours of the past.

In 2014, local foods, continuing the back to basics mindset, should make the haute list.  Not only do you have more fresh, sustainable food, but you also support local economies which makes life where you live a bit sweeter.  And hopefully, we continue to have fun with dessert – such as my new favorite treat, chocolate covered honeycomb (I like chuaochocolatier.com for this and other fabulous unconventional chocolates).

Haute wines of the year included Malbec (again), Zinfandel (especially some great Sonoma finds), and bubbly (all kinds though we all should know more about what makes these unique and special).

Haute Fashion – From Swinging with the 20s in 2013, to Discoing in the 70s in 2014

Fashion is a fun point for me, and I love playing with decades as much as possible.  Though this year, I heard an interesting theory which tied fashion trends to the economy; namely regarding prints and color.  The theory is that as the economy grows, so do the print sizes and the range of colors we use, and as the economy shrinks, we see large houndstooth give way to tiny checks and drab colors.  Interesting theory so I will run with it.

2013 helped us get past a few economic humps, with jobs back, shopping was back too.  Mid year, we all loved Gatsby, and the 20s came back to the scene.  From jeweled headbands, to drop waist skirts, we saw a bit of vintage wherever we turned.

Gatsby Mania in Chicago

Gatsby Mania in Chicago

Add to this, 2013 may have been the year of Mint.  Mint was everywhere – from winter jeggings to summer dresses, and a what a great color it was.

Going with the growing economy theory, it seems we could catapult to the 70s and usher in bright colors (I heard Radiant Orchid is the Pantone color of the year), bold prints, and more color to match our growing wallets.  This could be an exciting year for color, and for those trying to shed their black-obsessions (ah-hem me), it may be just the ticket.

Other Haute Stuff – the stuff we loved and look forward to loving

Haute Reads – Scrambling to finish the Hunger Games, well that is last years news (fantasy).  Big this year was a lot of Historical Fiction (like the Lowlands, by Jhumpa Lahiri) and a soft bang from Khalid Hosseini (And the Mountains Echoed).  Steve Jobs was a big NF read I gathered as well.

Haute Happenings – No political agenda implied, but this was the year to talk about Obamacare and Twerking.  Yep, I grouped them. The media and news outlets took on OC, and all my friends on social media took on Miley.  Both have merits and flaws, but both make us look inside and wonder if we can do better for ourselves…good way to start a new year.

Ok, that’s my account of the year past and predictions for the year ahead.  For me, I wish for new adventures and peace, and for you I wish for the spirit to keep wishing and moving forward.

Have a happy and haute new year!

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A true Mexican escape at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba: Haute Travel

Playa del Carmen, Mexico has the best of many worlds, with amazing beaches, plenty of great restaurants and shops, and the nightlife many crave in the proximity of Cancun.  I was recently in the area and stayed at two great and very different hotels, and had a chance to explore the area (a second time).

Situated off the path are several big box resorts, like the Banyon Tree Mayakoba, my first spot.  This was a serene escape, in a lush jungle-like section of the area.  It is located in a mangrove inlet with 2 other properties, and is definitely off-the-beaten-path.  The expansive area is connected by boat or golf cart, or you can venture out and enjoy nature on your own two feet.  We stayed in a 3 bedroom villa which was fitted with a private pool, and lovely furnishings.

My time at the Banyon Tree was utterly relaxing and healthful, with morning gym time at the fitness center or a short nature walk, followed by the best breakfast buffet I have seen.  We would then head to one of the various pools, or the beach club called Sands, where we soaked in some sun and enjoyed some libations.  We ended the evenings with dinners at the resorts two restaurants, Saffron (authentic Thai) and Tamarind (international cuisine).  The meals were delicious and fresh (and sharable), and the drinks like the spa cocktail (cucumber martini) and margaritas were favorites of the group.

This was a truly fabulous vacation destination, with only a few things we were left wanting:  wishing the private pool was heated, and missing that amazing Cancun beach view.

All in all though, the service and staff along with the overall experience were excellent and made you feel special and utterly private.

 

loved the baby Banyon Tree

loved the baby Banyon Tree

Serenity at our private pool

Serenity at our private pool

Exquisite details surrounded us

Exquisite details surrounded us

Lovely pool at the Banyon Tree

Lovely pool at the Banyon Tree

Amazing Breakfast Spread
Amazing Breakfast Spread

Authentic Mexican food at Breakfast

Authentic Mexican food at Breakfast

our digs

our digs