A Room with a View!

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PORTRAIT FIRENZE 

Slipping into Portrait Firenze – the latest luxury hotel offering from the Lungarno Collection was an easy task, I’d heard all about its legendary sister property Portrait Roma so was excited to experience the unveiling of their brand new Firenze outpost. As it happened, the first stop on my three-week Italian sojourn turned out to be a beauty.

Not exactly a fashion hotel, though it is steeped in fashion pedigree (it’s part of the luxe Italian hotel empire owned by the very chic Ferragamo family) and it’s attracting the world’s luxury travel flash-pack who are arriving in droves. Distinctive, and I think masculine interiors shine here at Portrait Firenze… this is refined luxury on the banks of the Arno. Being only a short hop to the Ponte Vechhio, the hotel is also located in a perfectly central position.

My spacious suite overlooked the Arno (80% of rooms do) and I felt as if I was floating over this famous river with the breathtaking views from my bedroom and sumptuous sitting room, it even came equipped with a hidden (but welcomed) wet bar and kitchenette, though I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with the later….

I dined at Hotel Lungarno’s restaurant ‘Borgo San Jacabo’ my first night with the gorgeous Caroline Corteau from Lungarno Collection (she looks after all of my bookings) and the interiors here are as pretty as the food (loving the grey felt furnishings) *I suggest you book a table on the terrace for maximum romantic effect.

Lunch of “Fiocchetti di Pera in Salsa di Taleggio e Asparagi” at Trattoria 4 Leonie was as good as I remembered and my final dinner was at Fusion Bar and Restaurant at Gallery Art Hotel where I dined on the freshest sushi (seriously so delicious, I ordered it twice) and mingled with Firenze’s beau monde. It was a Lungarno weekend!

Combined with a whirl around Florence’s stylish shops and world-famous attractions (can you ever tire of gazing at The Duomo?)  and a visit to the Pontormo e Rosso Fiorentino exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi, my stay in Florence at Portrait Firenze was a perfect one.

Make sure you book your next Florence stay at Portrait Firenze directly with me for the following exclusive Where’s Brent Been amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests.
  • A bottle of Italian sparkling wine in room upon arrival.
  • One-way transfer to airport or rail station.
  • 50 EUR Food & Beverage credit.
  • Early check-in/late check-out. (subject to availability)

For more insta-inspiration follow me here: http://instagram.com/wheresbrentbeen

Merida to Mexico City!

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Flowers Tekik de RegilHere are a some final scenes from my latest Mexico Riche adventure. We whirled around the Yucatan staying in beautiful 17th century haciendas, witnessed breath-taking cathedrals and even did a cooking class with Christian Bravo at historic Hacienda Tekik de Regil. Exclusive pop-up lunches at private cenotes are also part of the Mexico Riche allure.

This is authentic Mexico .. our way. It’s small-group luxury touring with a contemporary twist. Join us August 17 where we kick off again on the Riviera Maya!

Head over to the website for more! http://www.mexicoriche.com

Puebla Cathedral

Sam Hacienda Temozon

 

LE Miami Party!

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Narell and Suzy at W Pool PartyIt’s not all hard work you know! Doing biz with the best of the best in the luxury travel industry tends to always turn into a party.

It’s been a fun week here in Miami at the ultra fabulous LE Miami travel show and the highlights were the Edition drinks party hosted by Ian Schrager at the chic Bass Art Gallery, the opening LE Miami party at W South Beach and of course the Firmdale Hotels dinner at Juvia hosted by the very fabulous Narell Devine.

Dani and Jason at The Edition drinks party Anton from Edition Hotels

Bryan at The Edition Hotels eventFinally, after a week of intense luxury travel match-making, we all let out hair down at The Mondrian South Beach, but the real party continued poolside at The Delano where we swayed to sultry tunes under the palm trees until the very early hours.

Till next year gorgeous!

LE Miami!

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Tiffany and meDay one of LE Miami has been fun, first up, drinks with JoAnn Kurtz-Ahlers where I learnt all about the hottest new destination Fogo Island and had the great pleasure to meet up with my luxury travel gal-pal Tiffany Dowd (@luxetiffany) and Jorge Collazo from Gansevoort Turks & Caicos.Jorge & TiffanyThen it was into an Uber and onto Juvia for dinner hosted by Mr & Mrs Dolder (from the luxe spa retreat The Dolder Grand in Zurich) and Conservatorium Hotel (the chicest hotel in Amsterdam). On the guest list?? Assorted luxury travel celebrities!
Dinner at Juvia Juvia Dinner Ana

From Tulum to Chichen Itza!

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We will met you in CancunMEXICO RICHE

As you would have read, my fascination and love for Mexico has reached epic proportions with the creation of my very own exclusively tailored, luxury adventures - Mexico Riche. Teaming up with Annette Zubani (Nettie Z) we launched our inaugural tour May 25 with a group of intrepid luxury travellers ready to experience Mexico our way. It was a huge success!

Take a look at our website for more information and join me for our August 17 departure. Netttie and I will meet you in Cancun then whirl you around the amazing Yucatan Peninsula and take you places you never thought possible… a private viewing of Chichen Itza when the crowds have gone? You got it when you travel with Mexico Riche!

Here is a selection of photos from the trip Tulum to Chichen Itza, can’t you just see yourself in them?

Also head over to our facebook page for further updates and a diary of our first trip. Contact me for all the details

 

Tulum & Papaya Playa Project!

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Papaya Playa Project Lunch at Papaya Playa Project was on the agenda Saturday. This eco chic resort has led the way in Tulum for sustainable tourism and is a feature of the ultra fabulous Design Hotels group. It’s a bit like Mykonos meets Mexico.

While we grazed on shrimp and mushroom quesadillas , Peruvian fish crevice and chicken fajitas (marinated in achiote mixed with bell peppers and red onion), Rose was being swilled beachfront by gorgeous super models topping up the de rigueur tan. Get it?

This restaurant / beach club at Papaya Playa Project is windswept, eco-chic glamour in Tulum. A place where mirror balls hang from the palm trees and a DJ mixes exotic beats to a perfectly sunny background.

Why not check in to one of the beachfront cabañas or the private residence with a few friends – it comes complete with its own private infinity pool. Contact me directly to book, I have all the insider details and will have the charming (and handsome) GM César look after you personally.

Lunch at Papaya Playa Project Lunch Papaya Playa Project

A Weekend in Cancun!

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Brent Beachside Nizuc Good morning from Mexico! Our first Mexico Riche tour starts Sunday and we decided to head down early for a sneaky weekend at Nizuc Resort & Spa to see what all the fuss is about (it’s on ALL the Hot Lists!).

Nizuc is a stunning resort for sure, with sexy, sleek architecture and interiors to match. Think dark Michoacán stone floors and sustainable tropical timber detail, it has an Aman like quality to it, mixed with some GHM asian appeal… Amanyara meets The Legian?

Favourite place to luxuriate is the adults only infinity pool La Punta , this bleached beachside beauty with its breezy restaurant wins my vote. It’s all rustic timber shutters and traditional thatched palapa roof … the perfect beach club restaurant and the black detail on the sun lounges and umbrellas lends a sophisticated feel.

Cancun has never looked so chic!

La Punta Nizuc

 

Infinity Pool Nizuc

Le Sirenuse!

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While I pack for Mexico, I can’t help but be excited for my next travel adventure. A visit to Positano and a check-in at the very chic Le Sirenuse.

See you in June.

Thank you Poppy, this is beautiful.

Hola Mexico Riche!

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Swimming Pool - Rosas & Xocolate

Swimming Pool – Rosas & Xocolate

HOLA MEXICO RICHE!

I am so proud to finally launch the first (of many) curated Where’s Brent Been? branded global adventures next Sunday.

For my first foray, I have collaborated with my great friend Annette Zubani and together we take you on a culinary and design adventure through the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Twelve uber-fabulous guests will meet us in Cancun next Sunday for twelve days of exotic fun as we wine and dine our way through the Yucatan, starting at the very chic Esencia Private Estate. We will visit important archaeological sites too, such as Chichen Itza and (our favourite) Uxmal. The odd impromptu beachfront cocktail reception should prove entertaining and just wait till we do over Mexico City in fab Grupo Habita style and check into Condesdf.

Stay tuned, I will be blogging the fun, live from Mexico next week. Also follow us on Instagram

And if you would like to experience Mexico up front and personal with Mexico Riche, join me on my next adventure in August. It’s authentic luxury made my way. Jump over to the website for all the details.

 

A Kamalaya Relax & Recharge!

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Kamalaya Koh SamuiKAMALAYA KOH SAMUI

I made it… one week in paradise detoxing my little body off, at the so-chic right now Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa Resort in Koh Samui. It’s on everyone’s lips… as Kamalaya has just topped Luxury Travel Magazines latest Gold List as Best Overseas Health and Wellness Property, toppling the legendary Chiva Som from it’s firmly held perch – yes it’s ruffling some feathers!

After trying Gaia in Byron Bay last year which I loved, I was keen to explore more wellness spa experiences on the international stage… and this one is an absolute winner!

Kamalaya Koh Samui

THE ARRIVAL

On arrival you are met and whisked to your room or villa, (I had a spectacular villa overlooking the entire resort) it is then onto the Wellness Sanctuary, and time for weigh in! Yes that’s right, there is no hiding, it’s just you, the nurse and the Bio-impedance Analysis machine - this captures the exact state your body is in and gives a clear indication just of how healthy you are – or aren’t. Interesting stuff… this little machine knew what is was talking about, basically I am very healthy, I put on muscle easily, have good genetics (I always said that!) and suggested that I could lose a couple of kilos… there I said it and there was only one thing to do… detox detox detox!

THE MENU

While I stuck to the detox menu mostly (you can add proteins to the detox dishes if you aren’t completely detoxing) you can choose to eat off the a la Carte menu which contains such extravagances as lobster, steak etc or choose a bit from both menus – the choice is yours. I decided it better to stick to traditional Thai soups and salads and spoil myself with the Mango Sticky Rice – I mean there was fruit in it! The selection of menus at lunch and dinner were more than enough and much more than I expected being at a wellness retreat. It’s great that you can work the menu the way you want knowing that all the food is healthy and perfectly cooked without any nasties.

THE PLAN

Days started in the gym, then onto breakfast where I would review my days activities – your treatment plan is designed on your first day where they run through your treatments, goals etc. Mine was to relax, become a little healthier and (*cough) lose a couple of kilos so I chose Wellness a la carte and therefore my week was peppered with holistic spa treatments and fitness activities.

Favourite treatments? Traditional Asian Foot massage – so good and let’s just say wasn’t only restricted to the feet - this is a full body massage treat – don’t miss it. Other standouts were the Oriental Head Massage, Indian Head Massage and the Royal Ayurvedic Traditional Massage but the stand out must have been the Lymphatic Drainage Massage – hate the name but I can tell you I left that sanctuary feeling on top of the world after this treatment. I felt rejuvenated and tension free and this being day four, I was well and truly in the Kamalaya mode … and I didn’t want it to end. By the fourth day your irritability has diminished, your eyes and skin start to glow and I mean GLOW, you feel lighter (you are) and you realise you have swapped all those nasty addictions for a better one – the hunger to look and feel better and you actually do feel fabulous!

Oh and you feel SO great, you can walk on water… almost!

Walking on water at Kamalaya

 ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation is luxe – choose between cosy hillside rooms, suites with stunning views (these are the most popular room types) or take a Villa with more space where large private balconies where daybeds come standard. Some have their own pools too. I loved this private beach-front estate located on the quiet southern coastline of Koh Samui - the beach belongs to Kamalaya and with no resorts nearby, the beach is your own, no pesky beach sellers to annoy you and while the beach is rocky and not perfect for swimming it is very pretty and I spent quite a few hours staring out across that peaceful sea in between treatments sipping young fresh coconut water – addicted!

THE VERDICT

I recommend at least five nights – go for ten if you can, I promise you will look and feel fabulous after five days and ultra-fabulous after ten days (heck I met guests who were on their second and third stays and in residence for fifteen days – yes they looked amazing!). It’s an addictive luxury journey and one I urge you to take, at least once… you won’t look back and Kamalaya is the perfect spot for it. It’s not the top of the Gold List  for nothing!

Book with me and I can guide you through the experience and suggest the perfect accommodation choice for you, and while I may not be able to supply my usual amenities like champagne on arrival and chocolate covered turn downs (these could be frowned upon!), I can prep you for the perfect stay and recommend the best therapists.

HOT TIPS

  • The gift shop is fab … pick up some of those Karuna face masks to take home and help keep up that spa lifestyle you have become addicted to. Along with some stylish jewelery and a perfect Panama hat collection, they also carry a well curated selection of local Thai handicrafts.
  • Phone down to Housekeeping immediately on check-in and have them add a feather mattress topper to your bed, all the beds are typically Thai and super hard. You’ll thank me later!
  • Order the Beef Rendang on one night at least … it’s the best!

 

 

 

 

 

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