Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hotel Mazarin: An Indulgent Oasis

New Orleans is a city of beauty, history and indulgence. You feast on the beauty of your surroundings as well as the culinary bounty. This tiny slice of France in the USA lures jazz lovers, foodies, party goers and more into its daily bacchanal. So finding an oasis of calm within the historic French Quarter is a blessing indeed.

The Hotel Mazarin is such a place. Named after the great 17th Century French statesman, the property exudes Parisian finesse. The large inner courtyard features a stunning fountain whose soothing sounds serenade the guests. I could hear the gentle gurgling of the fountain from my room which was directly off the courtyard. 

Pictured below is the facade, typically New Orleans, of the Hotel.

Complimentary Breakfast is served in the courtyard pictured below.

And wrought iron detailing like this is featured throughout the courtyard.

The rooms are tastefully decorated and renovated. Those of you who know me know that bedding and bathrooms are the first things I look for in a hotel room. These crisp white immaculate sheets were a perfect retreat from the bustling scene in the French Quarter where the party rages on till all hours of the morning, New Orleans style. 

The colors and the tropical vegetation in New Orleans is one of the things I treasure most about the place...if you block out the cars, and the modern dress, New Orleans is the sort of place that takes you back in time. Take one of the many carriages rides on offer in the historic district and you can almost hear the swish of ladies gowns against the cobblestone pavements... 

The Lobby pictured below is a paragon of French gilt and marquetry.

But my favorite time in New Orleans is, as the French call it, "l'heure Bleu" that moment at dusk when the sky changes, blue, purple...the old buildings take on a life of their own as they harmonize with the light show above, everything seems magical. I spent some time in the courtyard of the Hotel Mazarin to enjoy those fleeting dusky moments, I looked up and watched the masterpiece in the sky, knowing I only had about half an hour before night settled in, just enjoying. The fountain was singing, the chatter of guests could be heard through the French doors, the faint glow of the 18th century lanterns lit the pages of my book which by now was more of an accessory than anything else, the electric vibe of excitement as guests were busy readying themselves for that night's revelry...all coincided to create a memory of the place which I shan't soon forget. Indeed, the Hotel Mazarin will live on in my mind long after the words of its namesake, the Cardinal Mazarin, are but a distant memory.

If you're planning a trip to New Orleans, the Hotel Mazarin has it all: perfect accommodations, location and charm.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Live Like a Gatsby...

Ah...Jay Gatsby...handsome, rich, elegant...a perfect wisp of F.Scott Fitzgerald's imagination. The Great Gatsby is definitely a Summer novel, the smell of the ocean is nestled within its pages, and with the advent of warmer weather upon us, I turn to its debonair hero for inspiration. So, where would Mr. Gatsby go to get away from it all for a perfect weekend? Definitely, somewhere on the Northeast, definitely something by the sea and definitely the sort of place both casual and elegant but trying to be neither...

The Tides Beah Club, along the coast in Kennebunkport, Maine would have been Gatsby's perfect also happens to be mine! Bright whites and plush furniture with nautical accents set the sleek, modern vibe of this luxury seaside resort located on Goose Rocks Beach. The rooms are crisp and clean, the linens heavenly, the decor is very 'JFK on vacation chic' and the rugged beauty of the beach is unparalleled. Turn off your cell phone, leave the computer at home, all you'll want to do here is lie on the sand with a good book, go for leisurely bike rides and forget the hustle and bustle you left behind in the real world.

I recommend an ocean view room, it may cost a little extra but it's worth the added expense. And if you really want to treat yourself, then the Jonathan Adler Suite will make your getaway extra special. The private deck directly overlooking the ocean and replete with bright yellow lounge chairs is the perfect place to sip a cup of coffee while you watch the sun rise. Fall asleep as you hear the waves crash against the shore...

For all you foodies out there, pay a visit to the Tides Beach Club sister property "Hidden Pond" and check out their restaurant "Earth". It's a mecca for foodies and I'd heard so many rave reviews I decided to experience it for myself. Food and its connection to the earth, a vital relationship we too often overlook, is sacrosanct at this restaurant. This farm to table experience allows the freshness of the ingredients to speak for themselves, even the decor is inspired by the beauty of the natural surroundings. Ingredients are sourced from organic gardens on the property and James Beard Award-Winner Ken Oringer has gone out of his way to make sure you experience the authentic flavor of fresh produce. Interesting items on the menu include snacks such as "Relish board, cauliflour, fiddle heads, Vidalia's and Kimchi asparagus" or local "Fried Nonesuch River Oysters with padron pepper relish and sage". I had a chance to speak with fellow diners at Earth and they all seemed to concur that for a foodie, Earth was something of a religious experience. After dinner, head out to the bonfire surrounded by Adirondack chairs where guests sip wine and roast marshmellows around the open's the perfect nightcap.

If you love the ocean as I do, then the Tides Beach Club in Kennebunkport, Maine is for you. Nothing beats hearing the waves crash upon the sand from your window, watching the sunset on the horizon, or even going for late night walks on the quiet beach... And if you squint and use your imagination, you might even catch a fleeting glimpse of Jay Gatsby himself getting away from city life, throwing on his chicest pair of Khakis and dreaming of Daisy as he stares into the ocean and the distance beyond...

I highly recommend the Tides Beach Club