Tag Archives: take me there

Sicily

Personally Sicily was not on my radar until a good friend, who has family roots there, proposed a trip. Upon some deeper research, I wondered why it was the first time this angelic Italian island had been in my travel consideration set.

Sitting on the map as the soccer ball of Italy’s boot, Sicily is an interesting cultural convergence. After the fall of the Roman Empire ruling often changed hands which led to a rich and diverse cultural, architectural and archeological landscape with influence from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards. As such, it’s a magical cultural mashup unlike anywhere else in the world.

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Cherry Wood B&B

Anyone who knows me knows I like horses. And wine. And glamping. Now, combine all three of those together and you’ve got an undeniable winner.

Cherry Wood B&B is set just south of Yamika in the Zillah wine region. Owner Pepper, a long time cowgirl, has built the entire operation to be a place for her family to care for the land, each other and a place for people to come and feel free to be who they really are. Well if you can’t appreciate that, I’m not sure what you can!

But down to the nitty gritty details…

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Free Spirit Spheres

Nestled in the forest about 30km north of Parksville on Vancouver Island you will find Free Spirit Spheres. The mission is simple, to create a sustainable and harmonious way for us to use and reconnect with nature. The execution, livable spheres using the tree tops as their foundation, has been thoughtfully crafted and expertly mastered over the past 22 years.

The rope, which suspends the Spheres high above the forest floor, mimics a spider web and their spherical shape is model after a nutshell. Both these attributes give the Spheres amazing strength, with the proven ability to withstand the worst of any coastal storm. But more importantly they allow their guests to live among the treetops in rooms with no walls, corners or edges. It’s bio-mimicry at its finest.

Free Spirit Spheres takes glamping to new heights, literally. Not only does it give us the comforts we yearn for but also an ecological goal to preserve old growth forests with little-to-no human footprint. As if I needed another reason to get back up to BC but an eco-tree house seems like a pretty darn good one. The only problem is, there is only three for overnight occupancy. So get out that calendar and plan ahead!

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ICEHOTEL Jukkasjärvi

2015 marks ICEHOTEL Jukkasjäarvi‘s 25th anniversary. Being the first and original ice hotel they have a lot to celebrate; 25 years of offering one of the most unique lodging experiences money can buy, a hotel completely built of ice and snow. Each and every year plans are drawn up to create a new hotel, as last winter’s masterpiece melts away come spring. For this reason the owners are adamant that no hotel shall be the same and they’ve kept that promise for a quarter of a century. The 25th anniversary model is no exception to this rule, requiring over 1000 tons of natural ice, this year’s hotel erected into sixty rooms, an ice bar, an ice church and main hall, making it the largest ICEHOTEL yet.

One of my favorite things about ICEHOTEL is the creation of the Art Suites. Each November hundreds of artists from all over the world, and design disciplines, apply to design an Art Suite. No specific design background is required, nor is a background in working with snow and ice. The chosen designers are usually a mix between a few ICEHOTEL veterans and some completely new to the job. This mix of experience allows for new and fresh ideas to flourish without guardrails and is attributed to the success of the ICEHOTELS unique offering.  It is truly incredible what can be done with snow and ice and the outcome is unlike anything else in this world.

But sleeping in an Art Suite is only one part of the ICEHOTEL experience. Situated some 200km north of the Article Circle in Jukkasjäarvi, Sweden, with only 1000 permanent residents, ICEHOTEL’S activities ring true what you’d expect from a small Northern Swedish village. Guests are invited to experience the tranquil winter setting by snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, reindeer sleigh and even horseback. Learn about the Sami people, indigenous to the area, see the Northern Lights, or book an overnight excursion to a wilderness camp by dog sled team or snowmobile should you prefer. For those of you in awe of the mechanics that go into designing the place you can even partake in your own ice sculpting class.

ICEHOTEL can be booked by single or double night and they even have a hotel with “warm rooms”, aka a regular hotel room, including all the modern amenities should you need to escape the ice or combine your stay longer on either side of your ICEHOTEL experience.

This is surely on my bucket list and I will continue to dream of being a true ice princess, waking up in my very own Art Suite until the day comes that I can experience it in the flesh.

Enjoy some pictures below of my favorite Art Suites from this year’s hotel along with some images of ways to enjoy the great Scandinavian outdoors while you’re there. Pretty idyllic if I do say so myself. One one question remains, when can we book?!

small_Frozty_Flower_by_Shingo_Saito___Natsuki_Saito_-_Photo_Christopher_Hauser ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, konstkatalog 2012/2013. Continue reading ICEHOTEL Jukkasjärvi

Treehotel

If there is ever a place that epitomizes going back to the simple imagination of childhood, it’s Sweden’s Treehotel. Located in Harads, about an hour by car from Kallax airport, the one-of-a kind eco-retreat provides views of the Lule River and the beautiful lush forest 360 degrees around. Inspired by the film “The Tree Lover” by Jonas Selberg Augustsen, Treehotel is a celebration of the significance of trees to human beings, allowing our harmony with nature to be rebalanced and restored.

Each tree room has it’s own theme, designed by leading Scandinavian architects ranging from The Mirrorcube to The UFO to The Bird’s Nest. Built with every modern environmental consideration in mind, guests are able to rest, relax and reflect in the serenity of nature high among the tree tops, some up to 20 feet above ground. But sleeping in your very own modern tree house is only one part of the Treehotel experience. There are also plenty of activities during each of the four seasons that guests can partake in, if you feel so inclined. And I certainly would, when the experience is a guided tour by snowmobile in the middle of winter to see the Northern Lights. Follow that with sleeping in The Mirrorcube and a trip to The Tree Sauna and I’m more than sold. Sign. Me. Up.

The Treehotel is undeniably unique; a thoughtfully designed experience with minimal environmental impact and maximum imagination.

Check out the each unique tree room below. I dare you to not dream of this place and count the days till you can experience it yourself. I know I am! Jump over to their site for more info and more breathtaking images of the rooms with modern interiors to go with.

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Grace Santorini

I have been dreaming of visiting this idyllic place for a very long time. The juxtaposition of the white buildings with contrasting blue roofs against the rough geographical backdrop is something I just need to see in person. Santorini embodies the visual stereotype of what Greece is, at least in my mind’s, to a tee. So in one of my rainy day research sessions you can imagine my delight when I came across this absolutely beautiful boutique hotel, Grace Santorini.

Located in the northwest of the island, set high on the Imerovigli hillside, Grace Santorini looks over the caldera in perfect position for viewing the dream making sunsets that the island is famous for. And just imagine how delightful viewing that sunset from a modernist infinity pool, with a glass of bubbly in hand would be. Grace has really hit the nail on the head, blending the traditional Mediterranean style and color pallet with a modern twist. Crisp white bedding and walls allow for in-room soaking pools and the scenic caldera views to take the center of your attention (as if anything else could pull it away from that view!) If romance is on your mind, and how couldn’t it be after looking at the pics, Grace is the place. Really hoping to cross this one off the list someday. Romance or not!

Originally a volcano and round, Santorini now has it’s very own crater known as the caldera that is mostly submerged by the Aegean Sea and has created an archipelago of three islands. Santorini being the largest.

Images via Grace Hotels.

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Zash: A Country Boutique Hotel

I’m taking a trip to Italy in a few months and couldn’t be more excited. There’s nothing I like more than traveling this amazing world, exploring the unknown, discovering new favorite places, and creating stories to tell for years to come. Scoping out the area before I go wheels up is more than part of the fun for me. So, needless to say I’ve been doing a lot of research on Sicily of late.

In my search, I found Zash. Located in the province of Catania, in countryside just south of Taormina, Zash is set between Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition between old world and new. Originally the main house operated as a late summer vacation home to wealthy families as well as a winery and the grounds, a vineyard and a citrus grove. Today guests enjoy all of these original splendors with a few modern twists. Renovated to keep its original bones the property is a perfect dichotomy between traditional and modern. Exposed cellar walls giveaway to crisp white bedding and floating glass vanities. The grounds are not short of a park with citrus trees in abundance and an infinity pool to lounge by. With only 9 rooms Zash is an intimate stay. You can book into the main house, the cellar or in one of two rooms completely immersed in the garden, walled by glass and surrounded by citrus trees.

In the press kit the name Zash is described as follows:

Zash is the deep nature of sound, its verbal repossession, the sound of the air within the leaves, the burst of a tester within its flowing movements, it’s one of the infinite sounds that can only be heard and enjoyed by living in the countryside.

I don’t know about you but book me in.

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Hotel Lautner

Originally built by famed modernist architect John Lautner in 1947 the property was meant to be a prototype for a master planned community on 600 acres in Desert Hot Springs. Unfortunately the plan never came to fruition and over the years the property fell into despair. However, in 2008 is was brought by modern design lovers Tracy Beckman and Ryan Trowbridge, interior designer and furniture designer respectively. They spent just over 3 years meticulously remodeling and renovating the property to bring it to the modern oasis it is today.

Furnished with vintage modern furniture and landscaped with dessert cacti and succulents, staying at Hotel Lautner is like living in a mid-century modern terrarium.  The hotel stays true to Lautner’s original design while catering to today’s modern traveler.

The owners have done an impeccable job restoring it and honoring the architect. No small detail has been left neglected. Each room even comes with a John Lautner DVD where you can learn more about the master behind your tranquil retreat. Within five minutes of meeting Tracy and being given a tour of the hotel you can tell that restoring it was not only a labor of love but satiated a deep passion to preserve something special. Something that we can never recreate. An ethos I personally care a great deal about.

“We are thankful that we had the opportunity to bring this very special property back to life and to share it with fellow architecture lovers from around the world.” – Tracy Beckmann & Ryan Trowbridge

Hotel Lautner is a one-of-a kind place. I had the great pleasure of staying here last February and find myself yearning to be back in its peaceful setting a year later. Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park are right around the corner which makes Hotel Lautner a great jumping off point. I urge everyone to try this place, even if just for one night. It will be a night you’ll never forget.

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