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The Bird’s Nest at Tiamo Resort South Andros, Bahamas

The screened in porch off the master bedroom of the Bird’s Nest

During my recent stay at Tiamo Resort, I got to tour the Bird’s Nest with General Manager Wilfried Vincent.

Relaxed island luxury in the living room of the Bird’s Nest at Tiamo

While all the villas at Tiamo offer quite a bit of privacy, The three bedroom Bird’s Nest definitely steps up the luxury a notch or three.

The Bird’s Nest features a full kitchen

Set back a bit from the the other villas, The Bird’s Nest offers even more privacy. Plus there is 1400 square feet of private terrace over two levels. The layout features a master bedroom upstairs (with a large and lovely screened in porch just off it) that feels like you’re floating among the palm trees (hence the name Bird’s Nest).

Left: Kitchen details Right: dining table in the Bird’s Nest

The decor is island elegant and sophisticated, and totally unfussy. There are two bedrooms are on the ground floor, making the layout ideal for a couple traveling with children, teens, or staff. The Bird’s Nest is the only accommodation at Tiamo that accepts children under the age of 12.

The 3 bedroom private villa features a pool

I’m not surprised one of Hollywood’s sexiest celebrity couples chooses to come back to Tiamo and stay at the Bird’s Nest every year. It offers secluded privacy and luxury and is only steps away from all Tiamo’s other facilities.

One of the two bedrooms on the ground floor of the Bird’s Nest

Two beds in one of the downstairs bedrooms

I loved the master bedroom’s hand painted Bahamian curtains

Palm trees sway outside the bedroom off the master bedroom

The master bathroom features a tub and separate shower

Glass tiled details in one of the downstairs bathrooms

Another gorgeous day on Tiamo’s private beach on South Andros Island

 

Tiamo Resort & Spa

Driggs Hill – South Andros Island, The Bahamas

Phone: (1) 786 374-2442 (from USA) / (1) 242 225-6871 (from Bahamas)

Fax: (1) 242 369-2335

reservations@tiamoresorts.com

Tiamo Resort is a part of Small Luxury Hotels Of the World.

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March in Montana at Ranch at Rock Creek

Rustic chic bathroom and western decor the Historic Barn Loft

March has been a crazy month, taking me from the Caribbean to cowboy country– Philipsburg, Montana where I’m currently checking out The Ranch at Rock Creek .

When I got invited to spend a few days here at the ranch, I couldn’t say no. This is the first spring I’ve visited Montana and the weather has been far more pleasant than I imagined with highs in the 50s two days ago, and a touch of snow yesterday.

Stay tuned to the blog for future in-depth coverage on the Ranch at Rock Creek. I’ve also been live blogging for the Glamping.com blog. You can check out my first post here. You can read my second post here. You can read my third post here.

The dining room at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana

Left: A Missoula Mule Right: The organic cheeseburger made with beef purchased from local 4H members

For lunch: the Pintler Range steak salad with yummy kale

Left: Snacks left on the bar after lunch right: who wants fresh baked chocolate chip cookies

The house drink– a Missoula Mule is served in these killer copper mugs

The bowling alley at the Silver Dollar Saloon

Claw foot bath tub and Chandelier

I love this vintage Remington typewriter but it would be impossible to run a blog without the interweb

March in Big Sky Country

*Much thanks to  the Ranch at Rock Creek and VKPR team for hosting my stay here at the Ranch

Update: you can read my post about the 3rd day at the Ranch at Rock Creek here.

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A Stay at the American Trade Hotel in Panama City, Panama

Tropical prints in the library at the American Trade Hotel in Panama City

During my recent trip to Panama City, I stayed at the newly opened American Trade Hotel, which is part of the Ace Hotel collection and it’s first Central American outpost. As soon as I entered the lobby, I felt like I had been transported to Havana during it’s heydey– but that probably had something to do with photo shoot that was happening, complete with a handsome male model rocking a Castro-esque beard.

Lounge chairs at the American Trade Hotel

Located in the historic Casco Viejo district, the American Trade Hotel feels like an Ex-Pat hangout of yore, yet only opened last year. Props to the team at Commune Design for pulling it off. 

The pool at the American Trade Hotel is small, but pretty

Since Ace properties aren’t known for having spacious rooms, I was divided my stay between two room categories: the smaller Cuarto, and then a Suite. I was surprised to find the Cuarto was spacious enough and would have been fine for my entire stay. The suite had a separate living room and very impressive bathroom, but was more space than I needed traveling solo.

I loved the vibrant mix of colors and layers of texture

The communal spaces are high on both comfort and visual impact, with an outdoor terrace, a small pool and lounge chair area, a gorgeous library, and a cool lobby. There is free wifi throughout the property.

The Living room of a suite at the American Trade Hotel

Both rooms had exceptionally high ceilings with fans, as well as all the usual creature comforts. And Ace properties always have standout bathrobes. The mini bar featured regional snacks like plantain chips and chips called Chicharrón that took me a minute to figure out were pork rinds.

Gorgeous tiled bathroom in a suite at the American Trade Hotel

The staff was friendly and helpful and the cafe con leche sublime. They were open to hearing comments (I suggested they add a way to vary the fan speed, the chain to change it was so high up I couldn’t reach it).

Left: Dual rain showers in a suite at the American Trade Hotel Right: Aesop bath amenities

My one complaint– It was noisy. Not so much the fault of the hotel or hotel design, but Panamanians like loud (and sometimes bad) music and there was a party hosted on a nearby rooftop which made sleeping a bit tricky. Both rooms had balcony access overlooking the park.

Gorgeous claw foot bath tub and tile combo

The restaurant was lovely and served excellent pulled pork, and service at breakfast and lunch was great. I thought the bar staff could have been a bit more on proactive, but overall I had a great stay at the American Trade Hotel and wouldn’t have any problem recommending it to anyone interested in checking out this charming barrio in Panama City.

Comfy King-sized bed in the bed room of the American Trade Hotel

The view from the lobby to the restaurant

Excellent pulled pork and a local beer for lunch

Left: Tropical upholstery in the hotel’s restaurant Right: I loved the colorful tile in the restaurant

Empanadas for lunch

The sleek bar felt like a modern riff on a Colonial ex-pat hangout

Panama hats ironically hail from Ecuador, but look cool poolside

American Trade Hotel

Address: Plaza Herrera, Casco Viejo, Panama
Phone:+507 211-2000
enquire@americantradehotel.com
Rates start at $249

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Scenes From Panama City’s Casco Viejo Barrio

Casco Viejo has an Old Havana type vibe

When my plans for a trip to Havana recently fell through, I took the opportunity to instead visit Panama, making the Central nation  my 77th country visited. I’ve spent the past few days using the American Trade Hotel (an Ace Hotel Property) as my home base. It’s been 90 degrees with humidity to match, but I’m made an effort to get out with my cameras and shoot some photos.

The colorful Casco Viejo barrio in Panama City

The American Trade Hotel is located in the historic Casco Viejo neighborhood, which is in the middle of being gentrified, the vibe has some definite similarities to the crumbling beauty of Old Havana. There are restaurants and hotels popping up in the barrio which feels a world away from the “Dubai of Latin America” vibe you get other skyscrapers in other parts of the city.

Left: An abandoned building near Casco Antiguo Right: A nun walking the street

Unlike Havana, there are no cool old classic pre-embargo cars on the streets, and the traffic is some of the worst I’ve seen. But the Latin American love of life is clear here, and the coffee is some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Panama hats poolside at the American Trade Hotel

My American Ex-Pat friend who lives here swears by Gesha. If you’re not heading to Central America any time soon, worry not. You can buy Gesha for $69 for a 1lb bag of whole beans from Stumptown.Drinks and taxis and food are very reasonably priced. $20 will buy you a killer Panama hat (a misnomer, by the way, so-called Panama hats originated in Ecuador).

Cool street murals in Casco Viejo (mobile photography)

Panama’s mix of cultures has caught me a bit off guard, but the cultural mashup and diverse ethnic makes sense when you think of Panama’s strategic location as the bridge between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and sitting between North and South America.

Texting on the job

It’s been fun exploring the barrio. After being here a few days I’ve observed that Panamanians seem to like their colors bright and their music loud. They party into the wee hours.

Scene from a Hot Saturday Night in Casco Viejo, Panama City

To be honest, I couldn’t figure out if the people I saw on the street at 7 am thought it was late at night or early morning. I’m not sure it even matters because everyone seemed to be having a good time. I know I did.


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Where to Eat in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone: The Lark

The cozy outdoor patio at the Lark is kept toasty with heaters

During my recent trip to Santa Barbara, I wanted to have dinner at The Lark, which had come highly recommended to me by a friend. The Lark is located in a building which used to be a fish market in the middle of the Santa Barbara Funk Zone. I’ve always been a fan of re-purposed spaces and was very excited to check it out for myself.

The Lark’s funky space is a renovated former fish market

Since I had my dog, Scarlet, with me on this trip, I decided to keep her in the car rather than leave her unattended at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp. Santa Barbara is a very dog friendly town and the valet made sure my car was parked in the restaurant’s lot so he could keep an eye on Scarlet. Did I mention the valet parking was free? I love that about Santa Barbara. The valet got a big tip for watching Scarlet.

The Lark’s casual chic vibe is so perfect for Southern California

The Lark is very on trend. Their menu focuses on locally sourced tapas and small shareable plates, and they have a wine menu that features a lot of Santa Barbara area wine producers. There is also an impressive cocktail menu (I give a thumbs up to the $12 Maduro Margarita made with green chartreuse, agave, and egg white) and a lot of mircobrews on their menu.

Staying on point, The Lark has an “of the moment” 24 seat communal dining table. I invited my photographer friend who lives in Goleta to join me for dinner. He was impressed that The Lark was doing so well since it opened last year because “there are A LOT of restaurants in this town.”

The Skuna Bay Salmon $14 was a bit tricky to share

Our server was very helpful in suggesting the right amount of food to order and offering suggestions. Instead of bread, flavored popcorn was offered on arrival. Flavored popcorn is like a thing in Santa Barbara.

For our first course, we had the Roast Beet salad ($12)  and it was winner. It was earthy and easy to share with dandelion greens, blood oranges, and feta.

Next we tried the Citrus Cured Skuna Bay Salmon ($14). It was served with black‍ pepper creme fraiche, yuzu, dill, pickled shallot, and brioche. This was my least favorite item of the evening, because it was a bit tricky/messy to share (and salmon isn’t my favorite fish).

We followed that with a trio of sliders which were a special that evening. They were yum but I can’t remember the price. Next we had the Hanger Steak ($15) served  marinated and grilled, with charred broccoli crispy shallots, chile and mint. For me, the Hanger Steak was the standout dish of the evening and the portion perfect to share.

The Lark’s dinner menu

Our meal was so good we decided to try the Passionfruit Pavlova (price forgotten) made with braised pineapple, white chocolate ganache and kiwi. I was underwhelmed by the ganache, but the braised pineapple was unique and tasty and paired nicely with my herbal tea (suggested by our waitress).

The entire experience at The Lark– from valet to dessert– was fantastic, and it’s no shocker the restaurant has been embraced by locals and visitors alike.

TIP: The Lark is hot, I’d advise making reservations well in advance (I made mine via OpenTable). The Lark also is social media savvy. Check out  some of their killer food porn on their Instagram and Twitter accounts.

The Lark

Address: 131 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Phone:1 805-284-0370

Tuesday through Sunday

Dinner:  5pm – 10pm

Bar Only:  10pm – 12am

Much thanks to Linda Clark at Glamping.com for giving me this fantastic recommendation. I’m passing it on.

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