Soulful Country Ambience!

Harvest Deli Newrybar

Harvest Deli Newrybar

Who knew there were chic boutiques and fabulous rural restaurants right down the (country) road from Gaia Retreat & Spa in charming Newrybar? Well there are and the very stylish town of Bangalow is also only a ten minute drive away.

So take a break from the serenity of Gaia and head for the hills… I promise you the adventure will be worth it!

NEWRYBAR

Harvest Deli … Ok I will admit this is where to get your caffeine fix when in residence at Gaia. You can walk a country mile or the retreat can drop you here for a bit of retail therapy and coffee. Next door is the bustling Harvest Cafe serving fresh, local, organic food (most from their very own farm) for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Wait till you see the refurbished 99 year-old bakery adjoining Harvest, it’s fab! P.S my flat white coffee was $2.00… I kid you not!

HARVEST CAFE – 18 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar NSW 2479

Also worth a look: Country House Antiques (where”Old Can Be Beautiful”!)  and Driftlab – a groovy clothing store specialising in creative fashions and accessories from artisans near and far. Both are located right near Harvest Cafe on the Old Pacific Highway Newrybar.

driftlab - Newrybar

Driftlab – Newrybar

BANGALOW

I had just enough time to whirl around the “best of the best” in picturesque Bangalow before heading back to the luxury of Gaia and that delicious cuisine.. though I have to admit, it was a hard decision to choose between eating at Gaia or one of the attractive restaurants in Bangalow.

Don’t miss Red Ginger, an asian food and home emporium so authentic and chic you would swear you were in a chinese tea house in Hong Kong. It’s all home-made dim sum here and rustic Chinese homewares you can’t put down… a feast for the eyes.

RED GINGER 2/38 Byron Street, Bangalow NSW 2479

Island Luxe

The lifestyle temple Island Luxe was a total surprise for me, I had not expected a collection of such stylish homewares and fashion to exist in these hills behind Byron Bay. A cool collection of men’s and women’s wear (they stock a nicely curated collection of the uber cool Garrett Leight sunglass frames too – yes I have a pair!). Never have I seen a better merchandised store… Island Luxe could easily hold its own on Robertson Blvd in Los Angeles… it’s that good!

ISLAND LUXE 62 Byron Street, Bangalow NSW 2479

Oh and I loved Our Corner Store too… expect a hundred year old timber shop which was once the local general store turned into the-shop-with-the-lot! A passionate collection of inspitrational design pieces and accessories all sold from the “new”corner store! Need an anchor hook? You got it!

OUR CORNER STORE Byron Street, Bangalow, NSW 2479IMG_1587

Our Corner Store

Our Corner Store

Good Morning GUCCI!

Gucci 1953 Horsebit Loafer

Gucci 1953 Horsebit Loafer

The 1953 Gucci Horsebit Loafer has been reborn, Finally GUCCI bring back their only shoe with a decent shape! Nothing like a classic huh?

These are “must haves” this season. I mean you can’t go wrong with some cream suede with antique gold horsebit hardware on your feet can you??

They go with everything from denim to a suit …. heck you can even fly with these comfy babies! From check-in to wheels up, these shoes will take you around the world in style.

Purchase online at www.gucci.com

When in Hobart!

Wild Oats XI in Hobart Harbour

Wild Oats XI in Hobart Harbour

As you know I visited Tasmania for the New Year holiday and LOVED it… I recommend you spend a couple of days in Hobart and so, here is the lowdown of what to do and where to go when you are not totally consumed with the wonder that is MONA!

Garagistes

Garagistes

EAT

Hobart has some very fine dining options, try the number one hot-spot Garagistes … its located in North Hobart where it all seems to be happening and while I didn’t get to dine here the feedback is all good. Garagistes doesn’t take bookings so get there early and I mean early…say 6:30pm and pray you get a table. If not, leave your name with them and head to their sister establishment around the corner to sit out the wait at Sidecar which is possibly the chicest bar I have seen. Here you can also eat at the bar as we did… it’s super fabulous and totally unique. Try the Wagyu Hot Dog… I loved it. The Calamari is good too and they really know their wines, you will try something completely different and most of them are Italian. You sit right at the bar and they serve all the food on fabulous table wear made in Sanford, Tasmania by Ben Richardson of Ridgeline Pottery. It is chic, fabulous and delicious.

P.S – Just near Garagistes and Sidecar is Ethos eat/drink … I stuck my head in and thought it looked fabulous. I loved the fresh vertical garden out front in the courtyard and the place was buzzing. I will check this one out on my next visit for sure.

Sidecar

Sidecar

Smolt was good option too… it was dinner here, from the team that bring you Mud Bar & Restaurant in Launceston. It has a snappy, local menu and extensive local wine list with breezy service to match from a young, enthusiastic team.

SHOPPING

Shopping in Hobart is great, I loved the Handmark Gallery which must have the best collection of Tasmanian artists and ceramicists. It’s a beautifully curated collection of the best local artists and the gallery also represents Tasmanian painter Robyn McKinnon (whose Mrs Vemeers Kitchen hangs at MONA – it’s stunning!)

Around the corner was A Common Ground, a gourmet providor with the best local produce and they sell the Ridgeline Pottery too! A joint venture from cheesemaker Nick Haddow  from Bruny Island Cheese Co, Gourmet farmer Matthew Evans and Chef, Ross O’Meara… A Common Ground may be just about the smallest providore you have seen but it’s filled with the most intoxicating local produce and the range changes with the season. Take it home with you or you can buy it online!

the maker

the maker

Across from A Common Ground is another great store called the maker (all of these stores are located in the heart of Hobart’s historic Salamanca Place). the maker is the exclusive stockist of Tasmanian clothing labels lj struthers and lj junior and is the go-to store for a range of other contemporary Tasmanian artists, jewellers and designers. Oh and you can pick up the latest Kinfolk magazine while you are there.

SLEEP

I didn’t have time to do much more… but word on the street was that I missed a lot. Go now and explore the city like I did and visit MONA, you will love it. Oh and stay at Islington or The Henry Jones Art Hotel (I can recommend the best rooms) . Contact me and I can organise the perfect Hobart escape weekend for you!

Retail Therapy!

TRUNK Clothiers

What’s Brent Wearing?

I am in London this week, seeking out the latest and greatest happenings in this fab city as well as checking in and out of some fabulous new properties (full update to come!).

In the meantime , if you are in London, don’t miss TRUNK Clothiers on Chiltern Street in Marylebone, just near where I am staying at the Dorset Square Hotel. It’s hard not to buy anything from this well curated menswear collection and YES, I bought a Kenneth Field herringbone bow tie in grey and orange (for those that want to know!)

PS – The site for Andre Balazs’ new luxury London property (think The Mercer Hotel in New York) is located right across from TRUNK. This new hotel will be one to watch when it opens in 2013.

TRUNK Clothiers

8 Chiltern Street,
London, W1U 7PU
+44 (0) 207 486 2357

Wired for Sound!

Tumi Monstor Headphones. Courtesy of TUMI

TUMI Headphones by Monster. Courtesy of TUMI

Now these are essential packing in the TUMI Vapor. The groovy Monster Headphone brand has teamed with TUMI to create this must-have, luxe travel accessory.

As each pair of headphones comes with a set of interchangeable bands, including black ballistic nylon, black nappa leather and dark brown leather you can match the luggage you’re carrying to that certain destination or more importantly … the outfit you’re wearing en route!

Now that’s chic!

Tumi Monstor Headphones. Courtesy of TUMI

TUMI Headphones by Monster. Courtesy of TUMI

Available this month at TUMI stores worldwide and online for $395.00

The Suite Life

The Knightsbridge Suite

The Knightsbridge Suite

A Suite Sneak Peek!

A fabulous hotel close to my heart (as it was the very first Firmdale Hotel I had ever checked into on the 1st July 2003, room 201!) is Firmdale’s Knightsbridge Hotel and it’s all the better now after a fresh, tasteful redesign of the Knightsbridge Suite, the Knightsbridge Hotels’ headline suite.

The Knightsbridge Suite

The Knightsbridge Suite

The Knightsbridge is conveniently located in Knightsbridge, London of course… a stones throw from Harrods, Harvey Nichols, the designer stores of Sloane Street and some VERY decent restaurants. It is a property that keeps my clients coming back (just like ALL of the fabulous properties in the Firmdale collection, you will simply become addicted!).

The Knightsbridge Suite

The Knightsbridge Suite

Take a look at what Kit Kemp, co-owner and Design Director of Firmdale Hotels is up to in the photos above and below… a fresh new accent has kept this suite the number one choice for those in the know seeking a discreet London hideaway at one of the smartest Luxury Hotels in town.

If you can’t check in just yet, pop Kit’s book “A LIVING SPACE” on your Christmas Wish List… it features not only the eclectic and unique hotel interiors of their London & New York properties but also gives you a sneak peek into her stylish life.

The Knightsbridge Suite

The Knightsbridge Suite

Next stop for me is checking into the latest Firmdale property… Dorset Square Hotel, later this month with the full report to come and remember… to book any of the Firmdale properties simply contact me right away!

The Knightsbridge Suite

The Knightsbridge Suite

The Legian

Beach view from my suite at The Legian

Beach view from my suite at The Legian

THE LEGIAN

It’s been a whirlwind as you would know, criss crossing Asia the last few months with a nice trip to the US between visiting Las Vegas and New York. So I believe I may have missed telling you about my stay at the legendary Legian Hotel in Bali (amongst two others I stayed a including The W Retreat & Spa Bali which is my new fave and the always fabulous Alila Villas Uluwatu … more on these in future posts) I slipped into The Legian for a couple of nights after my Aman Bali experience at Amanjiwo and Amandari.

Sun Lounges and Palm Trees!

Sun Lounges and Palm Trees!

I have been checking into The Legian for years, it’s the top spot on Seminyak beach and I was there to see the fresh, new reveal. They have upgraded the rooms and added a stunning beach front lap pool… now it shines better than ever!

Afternoon Tea at The Legian

Afternoon Tea at The Legian

The Legian has always been fab… luxurious suites with room to move and those sweeping beachfront views that you have always dreamed of. Add to that the rustling of palm fronds and complimentary afternoon tea with delicious Balinese treats served in your suite or poolside and you have a match made in heaven. Oh and their in-room mini bar is now complimentary so all of your soft drinks, beer and coffee freshly made in the Nespresso machine are on the house! Other top end resorts take note, a complimentary mini bar is an amenity that thrills any client … including myself!

Sunset at The legian

Sunset at The Legian

TIP – Book a regular suite on the top floor, they are the lead in rooms and perfectly fabulous. For families and those that want a bit more room, you will love the two and three bedroom suites all with ensuites, kitchenette and a powder room.

Contact me to make your reservation today.

Phuket Now!

Poolside Line Up - Andara style

Poolside Line Up – Andara style

ANDARA PHUKET

It’s been a whirl around Asia this week, three nights in Hong Kong with my fabulous team of travel stylists and then a rest in Phuket at the fabulous Andara Phuket where I am right now… and on my second Grey Goose and watermelon juice! I have been here for seven glorious, fun-filled nights and can I tell you it has been great to stay put for this long! Because of course… I needed a break. I am loving it here at the fabulous Andara Phuket on Kamala Beach, one of the most luxurious beach resorts on this gorgeous island – it’s a collection of deluxe pool villas and spacious residence suites that would impress any global jetsetter and the best part… it’s secluded ultra-luxury at its best.

Rain Drums - Poolside Andara

Rain Drums – Poolside Andara

It’s all in the details here at Andara, one of my favourites were the Rain Drums used throughout the villas and also placed perfectly by the pool as side tables to the most comfortable sun loungers I have had the pleasure to relax on… and I have seen a few! These Rain Drums are known for the unique sound they make when struck by the heavy monsoon rains of Southeast Asia, the drum shapes replicate huge bronze artifacts manufactured over thousands of years by the Dong-son civilization in Southeast Asia. They are chic and definitely one of my favourite finds!

This stay I am in a fabulous Three Bedroom Penthouse Pool Suite courtesy of Daniel Meury the amazing GM here at Andara, Daniel is one of the star GM’s in Asia (if not the world). Daniel did well to recommend us a restaurant the first night called Ka Jok See in Phuket Town and while I would love to tell you every little detail about our night out… I can’t as it would ruin the surprise! You have to make the effort and experience it when you are here next. What I can tell you is that the food was fab, the hospitality generous and from the heart and it’s a night I won’t forget … trust me!

The next night we dined with Daniel at LIM’s, a fabulous Thai restaurant near Patong, very chic and discreet… they don’t advertise. You get the drift.

Rock Fish

Rock Fish

Days have been spent gyming in the morning  (everything you need and more here – even Muang Thai boxing classes!), poolside relaxing and lunching either at Silk, the well known Thai restaurant at Andara or Rockfish… a local beachside restaurant within walking distance of the hotel… this is fresh, unpretentious Thai cuisine with a seafood slant and a drop dead view of breezy Kamala beach. Just divine.

Another great restaurant I enjoyed again was Diavolo at the stunning Paresa Resort, this is Italian cuisine with heart-stopping views.

Daniel has Andara running like a dream and I loved every minute of my stay. Contact me for any reservations here in your own slice of paradise… the suites are fabulous and the villas with their own private staff are rock star luxury … oh and they can arrange private charters of their fabulous CELEBRITY yacht to whisk you out to Phi Phi island for the day in true James Bond Style!

Andara Lobby

Andara Lobby

Next stop Bangkok and I am checking into The Siam. Stand by!

Three nights in Hong Kong!

View from Hotel ICON Hong Kong

View from Hotel ICON Hong Kong

It was my second trip to Hong Kong this year… this time an educational trip for my fabulous fairflights travel stylist team. It was a fast, fun trip to this fabulous city as a reward for all their hard work. All thirteen of us packed our TUMI’s and headed to Hong Kong for three fun-filled days and it went a little like this…

Virgin Atlantic was the airline du jour, a slick airline delivering a fresh approach at 30 thousand feet, it has a young energetic feel, and the Premium Economy product is worth a try, they are pushing the boundaries a little which I like. (Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class is also a sensational product and it’s my preferred mode of travel through to the UK… more on that another time).

Hotel ICON Rooftop pool

Hotel ICON Rooftop pool

HOTEL ICON

Hotel ICON was our place of residence for this stay… a new (one year old) fabulous alternative to the big luxury chain hotels that dominate this city. The hotel which is located in Tsim Sha Tsui East (don’t be put off by this location it’s prefect if you want to be on the Kowloon side) dubs itself as a business hotel but I feel leisure travellers like us feel very much at home as it actually has a unique “resort” feel. I mean a sexy rooftop swimming pool in Hong Kong isn’t that easy to find unless you are at The Four Seasons etc.

Hotel ICON is a unique hotel designed by celebrated architects Terence Conran, Rocco Yim and William Lim. It has breathtaking open public spaces, a striking vertical garden by Patrick Blanc (a stand out) and three vibrant dining spaces radiating contemporary style. Innovative guest rooms all with complimentary minibar- (other hoteliers take note, this is an amenity worth copying!) are a refreshing change and combine this with no fuss early check in and late check out facilities at their Timeless Lounge and you have one perfectly fabulous hotel.

Try it… you will like it. Be sure to contact me directly to make a reservation and receive your special “Where’s Brent Been” amenities upon arrival.

GREEN, Hotel ICON all day dining venue

GREEN, Hotel ICON all day dining venue

MANDARIN ORIENTAL HONG KONG

As this was to be a fun and fast trip to Hong Kong I arranged only two events for my fabulous travel stylist team… the first a was dinner with my friends Jonas and Lucy from the legendary Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. We were ushered around in grand style to see the best suites in the city (AND with the best views) then it was onto a private dinner just for us, which included Michelen starred food and fabulous conversation. It was a special, fun night and one we won’t forget… thank you so much to Jonas, Lucy, Rita & Terence for a fabulous night in true, luxurious Mandarin Oriental style!

Legendary Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong service

Legendary Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong service

RITZ CARLTON HONG KONG

The second night was a drinks reception at Ozone Bar at The Ritz Carlton. Eric, Director of Sales for Ritz Carlton Hong Kong really turned it on with a private room on the 118th floor complete with flowing Verve and the most delicious food (oh… and not to mention that view… which wowed us too!). The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong seems unique to me in many ways, it feels quintessentially Hong Kong already and would be a fine choice for any luxury jet-setting client that wants high-end luxe and beds in the clouds!  *Ritz Carlton Hong Kong check in starts on the 108th floor and it’s the highest hotel in the world … for now!

Champagne on arrival - Ritz Carlton HK

Champagne on arrival – Ritz Carlton HK

So after three nights it was time to jet of to my next destination – Phuket (from where I am blogging this piece) for a rest before I head back to Hong Kong in 10 days to help a friend celebrate his very special birthday. So a full update on Phuket coming right up!

Remember, for any information or to make an exclusive reservation at any of these properties in Hong Kong please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Mykonos!

Mykonos Ammos Beach Hotel

Mykonos Ammos Beach Hotel

Looking for a fabulous beach front resort in Mykonos that also has that elusive glamour edge? I have few favourites on this famous jewel of an island… but check this new stunner out ….. the Mykonos Ammos Hotel, it’s open for the summer season and it’s drop dead gorgeous.

I usually prefer to stay in town… at the homey Rochari, and stumble down into town to dine at little gems like The Kitchen (run by two handsome brothers… and please, please try the Lemon Chicken, you will thank me… so delicious!) but I have to say that I could easily split my time between Rochari in town and this beachfront bolt-hole which is situated on the best part of Ornos Beach.

Mykonos Ammos Beach Club

Mykonos Ammos Beach Club

The Mykonos Ammos Hotel is home to two sexy pool areas and a beach club… the famed Athens eatery Kuzina Restaurant also sets up beachfront to woo the International Jetset while the resort’s breezy white-washed rooms are mixed with minimalist design and billowing white curtains … de rigueur in Mykonos!

Other fab restaurants to enjoy this season are… the sophisticated Athens sushi hot-spot Kiku Kiku whose summer address is Cavo Tagoo (giving Matsuhisa a run for his money), and Roca Cookery… hailed by locals as THE place this season to enjoy directional, modern Greek cuisine… its perfect position perched above the old port seals the deal on this new comer!

Apriati

Apriati

After dinner in Mykonos town, swing by Apriati the Greek luxury jewellery brand, their stylish bracelets and jewellery are simple and too chic for words… these were definitely my favourite find during my last stay… love them!

All of this AND the first dedicated Louis Vuitton summer pop up store, with its well curated, beach themed collection, sets Mykonos up once again to be the place to play this summer.

Louis Vuitton Mykonos Pop Up

Louis Vuitton Mykonos Pop Up Store

Lastly… and for those that struggle to keep their eyes open until 3am to head onto Paradise Club (yeh right!)… the new M Ultra Lounge will keep you chilled with a relaxed Cafe del Mar back beat.

It’s not too late to book either, contact me for further info and I can create your glamorous getaway to this iconic isle now!