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Karen Tina Harrison

Karen Tina's Luxury Travel Blog


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Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque: Hip Boutique Hotel for a Hipster Town

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Hotel Andaluz Lobby

Some luxury travelers crave the hustle and bustle of an august, storied grand hotel.(Good examples: The Langham, London; Alvear Palace in Buenos Aires; The Pierre Hotel New York.)

But others of us have come to prefer a more intimate boutique hotel.

A boutique hotel is pretty strictly defined. For one thing, it is small: under 100 rooms. And it's unique, with its very own style and legacy.

Hotel Andaluz Room

Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the epitome of a boutique hotel.

• It has a pedigree: was opened in 1939 by native New Mexican Conrad Hilton, as his fourth Hilton hotel
• It was the state's first air-conditioned hotel, and its first with an elevator
• It became a go-to for glamourpusses like Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor (Hilton was the second of her nine husbands)
• Its atmospheric Spanish palace design has been fashionably restored by new owners
• It's now Breaking Bad Albuquerque's hottest hotel, with seductive nightspots (paging Zsa Zsa!)
• Check in virtually to Hotel Andaluz

How much do you know about boutique hotels?

• The opposite of corporate: the hallmarks of a boutique hotel
• And its big-deal counterpart, the grand or grande dame hotel
• What guests should expect from any species of luxury hotel
• Hospitality guru Eric Weiss on what luxury hotels must do for guests
• Corner-cutting moves that hotel guests hate
• Staying at Hotel Andaluz? Take a one-hour drive from Albuquerque to
Santa Fe

Images (including stained-glass lobby wall below): ©Hotel Andaluz

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Hotel Andaluz Stained Glass

Secrets The Vine Cancun: So Easy

Friday May 16, 2014

Secrets The Vine Cancun Pool

I love Cancun!

Once again, the vacation magnet on the fishtail tip of Mexico came up as Americans' top foreign travel destination. Numero Uno.

My latest hotel to recommend to you: Secrets The Vine Cancun.

Secrets The Vine Cancun Beach

Secrets is a trusted luxury hotel brand: all-inclusive, adults only. Elegant and easy.

And this resort's lobby (seen below) is one of the most social I've ever experienced. From the entrance down to the beach, it's one sophisticated party.

Images (including below): ©Secrets The Vine Cancun

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Secrets The Vine Cancun Junior Suite

Kimberly Hotel NYC: All You Need

Sunday May 11, 2014

The Kimberly NYC Roof Lounge

When I stay in a hotel,  I have a few basic needs. In my room: quiet; a good bed, purified or bottled water and ice; an iPod dock; a safe. And throughout the hotel, I want wifi on the house.

The Kimberly Hotel NYC lobby

If the hotel offers a pretty and serene place to type on my laptop, such as a room terrace or comfy lobby, I'll make that my office.

In midtown Manhattan NYC, The Kimberly Hotel has a lovely rooftop lounge, with ample wifi, cushy seating, and a classic Manhattan view. The Kimberly is a nice hotel, but Upstairs makes it very special. (I live in NYC, but I'm tempted to take my laptop over to The Kimberly for a change of scene.)

The Kimberly Hotel NYC bed

Photos: ©Kimberly Hotel NYC bed, lobby, bathroom and two views of Upstairs, the roof lounge; New York's Fifth Avenue in the mist, the Unisphere, and (below) the view of Manhattan from the LaGuardia approach path ©Karen Tina Harrison

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View of Manhattan from the air at night

Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, St. Maarten: Easy & Fun Carib Getaway

Wednesday May 7, 2014

Sonesta Great Bay Beach

Sure, the Maldives, the Seychelles, and Tahiti are lovely and exotic. But our busy lives often call for an easy island getaway, not a Magellan-like circumnavigation.

Sonest Great Bay Pool

Convenience is the calling card of the Caribbean, North Americans' backyard beach playground. Is anything easier than a Caribbean vacation?

Um, yes. An all-inclusive Caribbean vacation on an island a nonstop flight away.

Luxury Travel Guest Author Tom Allon recently flew direct from NYC to Sint Maarten to check out the all-inclusive, adults-only Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa.

Tom truly liked Sonesta Great Bay and recommends it. The pizza at the resort's beach cafe may not have been up to Tom's Manhattan standards, but everything else was. (Especially, in his words, the Bay View Bar's "excellent Mud Slide, involving vodka, chocolate, Bailey's and possibly more vodka.")

Sonesta Great Bay Resort

Photos (including below): ©Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa

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Sonesta Great Bay Resort St. Maarten Beach

Q. Can an Art Museum Change Your Life? A. Visit Philly's Barnes & See

Thursday April 24, 2014

Vincent Van Gogh Postman

If you love art, Philly's Barnes Foundation is going to make you swoon.

Remember how you felt the first time you encountered the Grand Canyon, Norway's fjords, or the Alps?

The Barnes delivers that majesty and awe.

Philadelphia doctor Albert C. Barnes amassed a staggering collection of masterpieces: 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, hundreds more.

They're not at the Louvre. They're in Philly's Center City. You don't have to leave the continent, or even the Eastern Corridor, to see the world anew. Just come to the Barnes.

Barnes exterior

Photos: Vincent van Gogh, Dutch, 1853-1890. The Postman (Joseph-Étienne Roulin), 1889. Oil on canvas, 25 7/8 x 21 3/4 in. (65.7 x 55.2 cm). BF37. Photo: ©2012 The Barnes Foundation. Exterior: ©2012 The Barnes Foundation.

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Santa Fe's Most Exciting Eats & Drinks, from Haute to Humble

Friday April 18, 2014

Chef Martin Rios

Regular readers of Luxury Travel know that I'm besotted by Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's an inspired luxury travel destination, and the food is fantastic.

This town of 65,000 boasts more fine restaurants than many cities 50 times its size.

Margarita Santa Fe

  • New Mexico's chow isn't Mexican, or Tex-Mex, or Arizona Southwestern
  • Santa Fe chefs have masterminded unique New Mexican cuisine
  • Geronimo restaurant Santa Fe

  • It showcases the Roadrunner State's Spanish and Pueblo heritage and its agricultural bounty
  • And if you can handle them, New Mexico's incendiary chiles

It's basically impossible to get a bad meal here.

Chris Milligan Bartender Secreto Santa Fe

I've corralled Santa Fe's divine dining in two articles that tip you off to the can't-miss places and the most delicious dishes and drinks.

Horseman's Haven Santa Fe Carne Adovada

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Photos from top: Chef Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin; Fresh raspberry margarita at Fuego;

Santa Fe bouquet at Geronimo; Mixologist Chris Milligan of Secreto Lounge; Chef Eric DiStefano Santa Fe
Chef Andrew Cooper's short ribs at Terra Restaurant; Carne adovada at Horseman's Haven; Chef Eric DiStefano of Geronimo and Coyote Café; (below) the marquee item at Kakawa Chocolate House. All ©Karen Tina Harrison

Kakawa Chocolate Santa Fe

Montreal Jazz Festival, Fun & Fabulous, Coming June 26th

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Montreal Jazz Fest

A music festival is a great way to experience a destination. It settles the question of "what should we do tonight?" And music-fest T-shirts are the best.

Speaking of superlatives, the Montreal International Jazz Festival is the world's biggest and best jazz fest.

Montreal Jazz Fest Karen Tina Harrison

Its performers and concerts are sensational. And its timing, during French Canada's brief but delicious summer, is inspired.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival erupts for the 35th year from June 26 through July 6. It's got lots to love: 1,000 concerts and events; 3,000 musicians from 30 countries.

This season's artists include legends like Michael Bublé, Keith Jarrett, Diana Ross, Bobby McFerrin, Brad Mehldau, Randy Brecker, Dianne Reeves, Ginger Baker, Roy Hargrove, and many other icons and stars-to-be.

Montreal Jazz Festival concert

Photos: top ©Jean-François Leblanc/Montreal International Jazz Festival; fast festival friends (that's me at right, Karen Tina Harrison); above & below, Frédérique Ménard-Aubin/Montreal International Jazz Festival.

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Montreal Jazz Fest concert

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe: Cowboy Deluxe

Monday April 14, 2014
Four Seasons Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of America's most distinctive destinations. Credit its vivid high-desert panorama and its exotic hybrid culture (Old Spanish, Pueblo, Wild West).

Santa Fe magic hour

Many Santa Fe visitors, especially first-timers, like to stay downtown near the historic Plaza. But it would be a shame not to come face-to-face with the glorious landscape.

I think that the ideal Santa Fe visit would entail a few nights in town and a few more amidst the landscape.

Diablo Canyon Santa Fe

For nature immersion, I recommend Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe a mere 10 minutes from the Plaza. Among its lures:

Pics including below: ©Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. Exceptions: Santa Fe landscapes: magic hour, Diablo Canyon, aspens ©Karen Tina Harrison

Rancho Encantado fire pit

How to Sleep Better Everywhere: on the Plane, at the Hotel, & Back Home

Friday April 11, 2014
Plane window

When you fly business or first class, or in a private jet, you know you're going to fly comfortable.

Flying coach, you're the master of your own fate. You must do everything in your power to improve your flight experience.

Plane window sunrise

That means getting a better seat and carrying on what you need for enhanced comfort.

I'm a carryon ninja, hand-carrying my two small bags, including my inflight kit, onto the plane. In the kit:

Bora Bora view Cabeau sleep mask

Pics from top: Three views from the plane, the last of Bora Bora in French Polynesia ©Karen Tina Harrison; Midnight Magic Sleep Mask and Evolution Flight Pillow ©Cabeau; Cosmopolitan-of-Las-Vegas-Hotel-Terrace-Suite-Bedroom.jpg Suite bedroom at ©Four Seasons Resort Nevis; Terrace Suite at ©The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; (below) Anya, the Sleep Concierge at ©The Benjamin Hotel NYC. Benjamin Hotel NYC Sleep Concierge

Lexington Hotel NYC: Celeb Pedigree

Tuesday April 8, 2014
Lexington Hotel NYC

Celebrity-favored hotels are not a new phenom.

Marilyn and DiMaggio

The Kim and Kanye of their day, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, kicked off their honeymoon at The Lexington Hotel New York City.

The hotel has lasted considerably longer than that marriage: 85 years versus nine months.

Lexington Hotel NYC stairs

And like a true superstar, it keeps reinventing itself. The Lexington is now an arts hotel, with great things to look at.

Leixngton Hotel library

Photos: ©The Lexington Hotel New York City. Exception: Marilyn and Joe the month they were married, January 1954. ©Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

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