Tod’s Point Beach

My inspirational place to decompress is Tod’s Point Beach in Greenwich.

I think everyone has a special place they go to when they need a haven.  My inspirational place to decompress is Tod’s Point Beach in Greenwich.  Also known as Greenwich Point, this beach is a popular spot for locals to swim, sunbathe, picnic, enjoy water sports, and simply be with family and friends.

Tod's Point
Tod’s Point
A truly relaxing place!
A truly relaxing place!

I grew up going to this beach with my family, so it is tied to many special emotions.  It’s my place for reflection and healing, as well as a place of salvation.  Spending time at Tod’s Point is about more than just relaxing or playing with my kids; it’s a reminder of what really matters in life and helps me to keep my priorities in focus.  When I’m at the beach, I can completely unwind.

Great for a fun gathering or a morning run.
Great for a fun gathering or a morning run.

When I was younger, we’d sometimes anchor the boat off Tod’s Point.  Other times we’d go directly to the beach to spend the day in the sun.  I became so intimately acquainted with every part of the beach that it is truly special for me to now bring my own children there.  I also like go running at Tod’s Point,which gives me extra time for reflection and to embrace everything around me.  Depending on the time of day or time of year, the beach takes on completely different aspects.   There is always something new to see and experience.  It really is my favorite place on Earth!

An egret at Tod's Point.
An egret at Tod’s Point.
Early morning low tide, with millions of snails dotting the sand.
Early morning low tide, with millions of snails dotting the sand.

If you’re in the area and would like to visit Tod’s Point, keep in mind you’ll need a beach pass from May 1 to Oct 31.  Visit the Town of Greenwich website for more information.  To learn how to help continuing efforts to restore and preserve the beach and its structures, contact Friends of Greenwich Point.

Amangiri Resort, Utah

While doing some architectural research for a client recently, I stumbled across the website for Amangiri Resort in southern Utah.

While doing some architectural research for a client recently, I stumbled across the website for Amangiri Resort in southern Utah.  Covering 600 acres in Canyon Point, near the Arizona border, the resort sits nestled in a valley with incredible views of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.

Ariel view of Amangiri Resort.
Ariel view of Amangiri Resort.

I love how the architecture here works, with clean, modern lines set in this powerfully dramatic landscape.  The architect’s thought process was clearly to preserve the beauty of the land and act as a counterbalance to the sweeping scenery.  I immediately wanted to get on a plane and head to Utah!

Utah's canyon country, accessible through plane tours.
Utah’s canyon country, accessible through plane tours.
Nearby Lake Powell can be explored by boat.
Nearby Lake Powell can be explored by boat.

At Amangiri, the pool alone is amazing enough to tempt me to Utah.  It is so serene and allows the soaring plateaus to be the star of the scenery.  The idea of going to rest in a place like this, miles from civilization, is so appealing to me.  Amangiri Resort is uncluttered, natural, and simple, while still being posh enough for guests to feel luxurious.

Spa Treatment Room
Spa Treatment Room
Mesa View Suite
Mesa View Suite
Amangiri Swimming Pool
Amangiri Swimming Pool

I love unexpectedly coming across something beautiful like the Amangiri Resort.  Have you discovered anything new lately?

Chatham Bars Inn, Cape Cod

Located on 25 acres overlooking Pleasant Bay, the Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod is an idyllic vacation spot.

It seems like everyone around me is talking about Cape Cod lately.  With warmer weather and the end of the school year in sight, it’s only natural for people to start thinking about summer vacations, and Cape Cod is definitely a New England favorite.  All this talk of of going to the Cape got me thinking about some time I spent there several years ago.  I visited Catham Bars Inn for a wedding and it is just a great place.  Even though it was a bit cold and on the quiet side while I was at the Inn, I could see how it would be an ideal place to start off the summer with family and I would love to go back!  Located on 25 acres overlooking Pleasant Bay, the Chatham Bars Inn really is an idyllic vacation spot.  The Inn first opened in 1914 and is a famous landmark that’s maintained its original grandeur.

Chatham Bars Inn
Chatham Bars Inn
So relaxing!
Guest Cottages:  so relaxing!

The Main Inn embodies a sophisticated elegance.  With a grand staircase sweeping from the reception area to recently renovated guest rooms, you know as soon as you enter the Inn that your stay will be memorable.  The Inn’s veranda has a cool, crisp feel and surrounds you with panoramic ocean views.  I love how the Inn’s historic elements are tempered by modern amenities to create this impressive, yet soothing, atmosphere.

The Veranda
The Veranda
This is so peaceful!
This is so peaceful!
The dining room.
The dining room.

Like other vacation spots that appeal to me, the ambiance at Chatham Bars Inn is quiet and simple, without distractions.  You’re surrounded by calming palettes and beautiful views so that you can’t help but relax.  The spa rooms, in particular, are so appealing to me!  This would be such a great place to unwind!

Spa Suite
Spa Suite
Ocean views.
Ocean views.

While it would be tempting to book a Spa Suite and never set foot outdoors, there are plenty of activities to entertain even the most active families.  Boat charters, fishing, kids’ programs, beach combing, shopping, bird watching, and beachfront theme dinners are only a few options available to guests.  Chatham, one of the oldest villages on Cape Cod is an easy stroll away and allows you to enjoy a vibrant Main Street, beautiful gardens, historic architecture, and the famous Chatham Lighthouse.

With the end of the school year quickly approaching and the warm days of summer ahead, the idea of a nice long weekend on Cape Cod is certainly appealing!

My Top 3 Must-Visit Hotels

It’s not easy for me to step away from my hectic work schedule and give myself some down time, but if I were to treat myself to an incredible vacation I know exactly where I want to go!

It’s not easy for me to step away from my hectic work schedule and give myself some down time, but if I were to treat myself to an incredible vacation I know exactly where I want to go!  When I’m on vacation, I want my surroundings to be the opposite of my day-to-day life:  serene, calming, and free of distractions.  There are three hotels that are definitely on my must-visit bucket list and what all of them have in common is an incredibly appealing atmosphere of tranquility.

Blue Palace Resort and Spa, Greece:  Stunning scenery, incredible blue water, and all of the luxuries you could desire on vacation.  I would love to spend a week or two being pampered and spoiled here.

Infinity pool at Blue Palace Resort
Royal Blue Villa
Private Beach
Arsenali Lounge Bar Pool
Olea Dining Room

Rosewood Little Dix Bay:  An amazingly gorgeous Caribbean destination in the British Virgin Islands.  I love being near water, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay provides more than enough beautiful ocean for even me.  With thoughtfully designed accommodations, a spa, and fine dining, this is exactly the kind of destination that I am drawn to!

So beautiful!
One of the dining areas.
Perfect beach.
Love the stone shower.
So relaxing!

Mayflower Inn and Spa:  Nearer to home in Washington, Connecticut, the Mayflower Inn is a truly tranquil place to escape to.  With beautifully landscaped grounds, luxurious fine dining, and spa you’d never want to leave, visitors here can indulge in as much (or as little) activity as they like.  I love the clean, refreshing design and traditional sophistication of the accommodations.

Mayflower Inn’s lovely grounds.
Understated sophistication.
Simple and uncluttered.
A treat from the dining room.
A more traditional, elegant room.

What hotel would you love visit?

Riviera Maya

Just south of Cancun, Mexico lies Riviera Maya, a strip of perfect, white sand beach bordered by the lush jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Just south of Cancun, Mexico lies a strip of perfect, white sand beach bordered by the lush jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula.  This gorgeous area on the Caribbean Sea is known as the Riviera Maya and is at the top of my must-visit list.

The Riviera Maya is about as close to paradise on Earth as you can get, with a heady mix of natural beauty, stunning ruins, rich local culture, luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and a huge variety of entertainment.  The area consists of ecological reserves, jungle, mangroves and lagoons, Mayan ruins, a large coral reef for diving and snorkeling, and picture-perfect turquoise seas.

Scuba diving at Riviera Maya
One of the beautiful lagoons.

Riviera Maya boasts many luxurious places to stay, from all-inclusive resorts to smaller, personalized hotels.  The Viceroy Riviera Maya was designed to blend seamlessly into its surroundings outside Playa del Carmen. The decor shows an influence of Mayan simplicity, using natural materials to achieve a sophisticated and sexy environment.

Beachfront view at Viceroy Riviera Maya.
An ocean-view villa bedroom.
A luxurious bath at Viceroy Riviera Maya.

For a true escape from the rush a daily life, retreat to a cliffside villa at the Azulik resort in Tulum.  These incredible villas perch on rocky cliffs with stairways to the beach.  With no electricity or telephones, you’re truly surrounded by only the sights and sounds of the ocean, day and night.  These villas may look and sound a bit rustic, but guests are steeped in luxury with huge windows for incredible views and in-cabin massages.

Cliffside villa at Azulik

The most impressive aspect of Riviera Maya is the natural landscape.  When not taking in the wonders of the ocean and the coral reef, visitors can enjoy a guided tour to experience both ancient and modern Mayan culture.  The ruins at Tulum offer an incredible glimpse into the distant past at the intriguing Mayan civilization.  It must be a humbling experience to make the short trip from modern, luxurious surroundings to ancient ruins built by people without sophisticated tools or machinery.  You can even tour the Tulum ruins at night for a totally different perspective.  At night, the sounds and sights of the jungle are a completely alien experience from the daytime jungle.  Animals that aren’t active during the day emerge, the ruins must seem larger, more imposing and mysterious, and the brilliance of the stars isn’t dimmed by city lights.

The Mayan ruins at Tulum.

Wouldn’t this be the perfect escape from the ridiculous amount of snow we got last week?

Top 13 Places to Travel in 2013

Reading other lists of top travel places for 2013 inspired me to create my own list!

With the start of a new year, plenty of “top ten” lists featuring everything from books to movies have been popping up on websites and news stations.  Personally, I can’t resist looking at the lists of top travel destinations for 2013.  Some places, like Amsterdam, seem be be on everyone’s list!  Looking at all of these amazing places to visit inspired me to create my own list of the Top 13 Places to Travel in 2013.  I like how not all of these destinations are beach oriented, which is what I typically gravitate toward.  Many would involve a lot of exploring and adventure.  Why not challenge yourself this year and try a new vacation place instead of the same-old trip?

1.  Amsterdam

2.  Basilicata, Italy

3.  Iceland

4.  Croatia

5.  Solomon Islands

6.  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7.  Sri Lanka

8.  Mayan Riviera, Mexico

9.  Turkey

10.  New Zealand

11.  Chan Chan, Peru

12.  Toronto, Canada

13.  Oman

Where will 2013 take you?

Amanyara Resort

Located on the coast of the Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos islands and part of the British West Indies, Amanyara Resort is an intimate, secluded destination.

Located on the coast of Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos islands and part of the British West Indies, Amanyara Resort is an intimate, secluded destination.  Situated away from the more developed areas of the island, Amanyara is surrounded by white sand beaches, ironshore rocky coves, and mahogany trees.  When not relaxing on the beach or enjoying the spa, visitors have access to fishing, golf, eco tours and adventures, whale watching, a nature center, and kiteboarding.  Amanyara itself features a beautiful restaurant and bar.

Map of Providenciales.
Amanyara restaurant.
The bar.

The setting is certainly amazing enough, but the resort itself is exactly the serene type of place I’m always drawn to.  The design is sophisticated, yet simplistic.  The quiet palette and minimalist decor give the place something of a spa feel with a decidedly tranquil atmosphere.

Amanyara Reception Pavilion
Oceanfront loungers at the Artists Villa.
Villas at Amanyara.

Whenever I go on vacation, I find myself constantly looking at the decor.  It’s something I can’t disconnect from, so when I have the chance to get away and relax, I want to go someplace where I won’t feel overly stimulated by my surroundings on my down time.  I look for peaceful places to relax and rejuvenate, and Amanyara is the epitome of intimate and serene with a design that’s been pared down to essentials.

Ocean pavilion bedroom.
Pavilion bathroom.
So peaceful!

To learn more about Amanyara, visit the resort’s website.  While there, you can explore other Aman resorts around the world, all of which are designed with the same attention to peace and tranquility.


Ski Lodge Design

When you think of ski lodge-inspired design, the kitschy, literal images that first come to mind don’t necessarily represent the best this look has to offer.

My perception of ski lodge-inspired design is the opposite of the kitschy sort of approach the term “ski lodge” brings to mind.  I don’t think of plaid, antlers, and Navajo-themed prints.  Instead, I envision the ski lodge pared down to its basic, rustic elements.  When you think of winter, you tend to think of snow, evergreens, and bare branches.  My ideal ski lodge design would follow that train of thought, allowing an appreciation of elements that come from a natural place.

Ski lodge designed by Ray Booth.
Design by Christian’s and Hennie of Norway

Without the distraction of novelties, the natural beauty of ski lodge elements create a retreat worth getting away to.  With exposed wood beams, a field stone fireplace, and vast windows framing mountainous views, the building’s architecture is better reflected.  Using modern and sleek furniture as opposed to overstuffed, cushy styles contributes to clean lines and balances out the natural elements.

Beautiful design by Atelier AM, via Architectural Digest.
Ray Booth design.

Gathering places like the living room and porch, as well as private spaces like the bedroom and bath, can evoke the ski lodge feel while keeping a thoughtful atmosphere.

Aspen bedroom design by David Easton.
Aspen living room, also by David Easton.
Unusual furniture color here is great.  Image via Elle Decor.
Perfect modern bathroom for a ski lodge. Design by Frank de Biasi.
Modern. Image via South Shore Decorating.



Like other places I feel drawn to, Greece features an incredible environment surrounded by water.

Like other places I feel drawn to, Greece features an incredible environment surrounded by water.  The contrast of those white buildings with the blue Mediterranean Sea is just very appealing.  Combined with the fact that my father’s family is from Greece, it’s easy to see why I’d love to visit this amazing country.

Scenery and family history aside, some of the most appealing aspects of Grecian beauty lie in its vast history, represented by mythology, carvings, relics, and architecture.  Looking at the Acropolis and Parthenon, you can’t help but wonder how such incredible achievements were possible without modern tools and technology.  In fact, the influence of Greece’s classical, ionic architecture has endured across centuries and can be seen all over the world.

When I do make it to Greece, you’ll find me in Santorini or Mykonos, enjoying the white sand beaches, the calming backdrop of beautiful women in linen, and the fantastic, rich texture of Greek history and scenery.

Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, is definitely on my travel wish-list!

Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, is definitely on my travel wish-list.  I think it’s such an inspiring place, with its incredible architecture.  Of course, anything near water resonates with me, and combined with that aged atmosphere, Turkey has everything I’m drawn to.  I’d love to spend time there, taking in the context of a different environment.  Istanbul’s long history and prominence on the Silk Road have led to a multitude of influences on the city, from Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman to Baroque and Renaissance Revival architectural styles.

Amazing architecture.

I love the culturally specific aspects of Istanbul.  How people dress, the richness and color of the building, the vibrant markets, all contribute to inspiration.  Imagine borrowing details from an intricate ceiling, using bits of pieces of the pattern, or developing a palette based on the area’s spice markets.

Intricate ceiling.
Ciragan Palace
True inspiration for a color palette.
Blue Mosque Ceiling

Alongside these historical and beautiful places are more modern examples of fine architecture and design.  The House Hotel has such a calming, modern vibe.  I love the juxtaposition of this against the more ancient aspects of Istanbul.

The House Hotel Lounge
The House Hotel Dining Room