just published: an evolutionary journey

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Is it me or are we a culture obsessed with our own personal evolution? My local bookstore is bursting with floor-to-ceiling shelves devoted to inner growth and spiritual fulfillment; a whole cadre of television shows barrages me daily with the tantalizing promise of ‘breaking through’ and attaining the next, stronger, higher level of my potential. And don’t even get me started on the Internet and the flurry of suspect emails that continually flood my inbox.

I blame Charles Darwin.

READ MORE (pdf download).

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just published: mayan journey

AsiaSpa - Mayan JoureyIf last December’s prevailing wisdom had held true you wouldn’t be reading this. The storied Mayan calendar was famously closing in on the winter solstice and the end of its 144,000-day cycle. Interpreters of the calendar – and a host of New Age conspiracy theorists – predicted the date would coincide with a global cataclysm. Good thing nobody held their breath, because the Maya believed in the cyclical nature of things. The end of the calendar didn’t presage the end of the world; it marked a new beginning.  Call it a transition or period of renewal, but the Maya believed in the necessity of an epochal timeout before moving forward.  Spanish conquistadors might have brought about that break sooner than expected – subjugating the people by the end of the 17th century – yet descendants of the Maya continue to form sizable populations throughout Mexico’s Yucutan peninsula. Plus, many of their cities and ceremonial sites still remain. The wisdom of these ancient Americans hasn’t been lost. It’s laying patiently in wait for a Mayan journey of rediscovery. READ MORE.

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friday flashsback: unwinding in san diego

Screen-shot-2012-07-16-at-10.14.39-PMWith year-round perfect climate and unparalleled natural beauty, Southern California provides the ideal backdrop for rekindling the spirit and pampering the body.  The recent worldwide spa explosion is exemplified in San Diego,which boasts a bevy of spas with top-of-the-line treatments, first-class services and indulgent amenities.  These luxurious escapes can be found throughout the region nestled against the dramatic Pacific coastline, perched high above the glittering downtown skyline, tucked into the Cuyamaca Mountains and set amidst the serenity of  lush inland canyons. Get ready to soothe your senses, inspire your soul, invigorate your step and energize your spirit. They don’t call this the Sunshine State for nothing. READ MORE (pdf download)

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just published: the truth about poop

File under strange but true: a Korean publisher contacted me earlier in the year through this website asking permission to use a few of my images for a book being published out of Seoul. It was to be part of a series, she explained, used to teach children basic English skills. I agreed, asking only for a copy of the book once it was published. The humorous results arrived in the mail this week: The Truth About Poop. Little did I expect last summer in Kenya that my snapshots of a hyena and its scat would one day find themselves a global – if underage – audience.

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just published: the walk of game

In a city known for its ribs, Anthony Petrina is something of an anomaly: a bird man. As duckmaster at Memphis’ stately Peabody Hotel, Petrina is responsible for the Peabody ducks, the quintet of waterfowl that parade daily, with great fanfare, from a well-appointed coop to the marble lobby fountain, just as their predecessors have done for the past 80 years. Read the full story HERE.

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just published: unwinding in san diego

With year-round perfect climate and unparalleled natural beauty, Southern California provides the ideal backdrop for rekindling the spirit and pampering the body.  The recent worldwide spa explosion is exemplified in San Diego,which boasts a bevy of spas with top-of-the-line treatments, first-class services and indulgent amenities.  These luxurious escapes can be found throughout the region nestled against the dramatic Pacific coastline, perched high above the glittering downtown skyline, tucked into the Cuyamaca Mountains and set amidst the serenity of  lush inland canyons. Get ready to soothe your senses, inspire your soul, invigorate your step and energize your spirit. They don’t call this the Sunshine State for nothing. READ MORE (pdf download)

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just published: spa couture

You love designer duds, covet a closet full of fashionable shoes and handbags – why would you even think of staying anywhere other than a designer hotel?  That’s exactly the thinking among a handful of the world’s top fashion houses, including Armani, Versace, Bulgari, Missoni, and Moschino, who are boldly taking the idea of lifestyle chic where no hotel and spa has gone before. Haute holidays have arrived. Here’s our peek at the new chic: vacationcouture.

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just published: double dutch

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just published: the apple of your eye

Spas in the Big Apple have become as ubiquitous as tourists: one on every corner, standing side-by-side, and often found in groups. Every run of the mill nail salon now has spa somewhere in its name. Storefronts cater to time-crunched pedestrians by offering facials, shiatsu and shoulder massage – nirvana promised in less than 15 minutes. Even department stores have gotten into the act, comforting weary shoppers with hot rock calf massages before sending them back to the racks. To wit: every major hotel has either opened a spacious stand-alone spa or has one in the works. It’s only a matter of time before full-service healing is as close as a call down to room service.

Yet some of the best places to find serenity in the city that never sleeps are often hidden in the most unlikely nooks and crannies, too: unmarked buildings with no signage, on the second and third floors of buildings without elevators, uptown, downtown, and even underground. For the uninitiated, the path to inner peace is about more than just knowing where to look – it’s about knowing who to know.

Luckily, you know us. So whether you seek the newest treatments, the hottest trends, or the most traditional therapies, New York, New York will melt away those little town blues and have you at the top of the heap.

Click HERE to download the full story as a PDF

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in fireworks lie secret codes

Whether you cringe at the thought of anything overtly patriotic or your cell phone rings that you’re “Proud to Be an American (‘cause at least I know I’m free)”, there is one thing that everyone can agree on come July 4th and that’s fireworks. Big, bright and blazing across the sky. Here are a handful of ways to indulge your inner child and take in the rocket’s red glare across the US of A this Independence Day.

For the Patriot

From Tea Parties to Massacres, Boston’s tumultuous history played a major role in the birth of our nation. Stay at The Liberty Hotel – the historic building was previously the Charles Street Jail – and you’re just steps from the Esplanade and a VIP view of the city’s famous Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular celebration.

For the Modern Cowboy

It doesn’t get much more American than the Wild West.  And Jackson Hole, Wyoming has one of the most down-home Independence Day celebrations in the country:  after a morning at the “Music in the Hole” festival head out to Spring Creek Ranch for a traditional BBQ and outstanding views of fireworks against the backdrop of the Teton Mountains

For the Jersey Girl

With the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel is the ideal spot for watching the Macy’s fireworks while staying close to home.  In the heart of Weehawken’s business district – and overlooking the Hudson River – there are prime river views to be had at the hotel’s Harbor Bar Restaurant.  Plus it’s located directly across from one of the fireworks barges.

For the Indecisive

For revelers whose American spirit is matched only by their fear of commitment, the Allegria Hotel & Spa in Long Beach, NY has a number of viewing options. Spend the night and you’ll have front-row seats to several Fourth of July fireworks shows – including the most talked about show at Jones Beach. From the boardwalk, the roof, an oceanfront room, or the beach, you can see the breathtaking show from any and every corner of the hotel.

For the Gambling Man

Prefer red and black to red, white, and blue?  Find the perfect mix at Atlantic City’s The Borgata Hotel Casino.  The hotel will light up the skies July 4th weekend with a special fireworks show in the nearby marina. Igniting at 9:20PM on land near the hotel, patrons of The Borgata and neighboring Water Club will have a front row seat to AC’s only patriotic pyrotechnic extravaganza.

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just published: swiss bliss

If discretion is the better part of valour, surely the Swiss deserve a medal. Not for nothing do all those secret bank accounts remain so hush-hush – well, mostly: the Swiss have not only perfected the art of keeping secrets, they’ve elevated it to an art form.

With the exception of a few undisclosed vaults in Zurich, nowhere is such a distant delicacy practiced with greater fervour than along the shores of Lake Geneva. A hit list of bold-faced names that have sought sanctuary here confirms its reputation as a hideaway in plain sight: Byron, Shelley, Chaplin, Nabokov, Wagner, Hemingway, and Freddie Mercury, whose life-size statue adorns the Montreux waterfront. This is the Swiss Riviera after all.

It’s only natural that you’d find a selection of sublime spas and wellness clinics blending seamlessly into the Alpine landscape here – if you know where to look. Between Lausanne and Montreaux, no fancy signs point the way. Bells and whistles are nowhere to be seen and the international clientele that comes in search of rejuvenation would like to keep it that way – and remain nameless, thank you very much. However, once inside these retreats you’ll find the peace of mind that comes from cutting edge therapies and a promise that everything will run as reliably as the trains and as smoothly as the chocolate.

CLICK HERE to read more Swiss Bliss (pdf download)

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5 hot winter weekends: quick getaways for a short break

Tempting as it seems, there’s no need to blow a week’s worth of vacation days just to scratch that getaway itch. Relief is just a long weekend away — escapes that won’t cost much in time or money.

The best part: There’s a hot winter-weekend deal for every traveler’s taste, whether it’s rekindling a romance, bonding with the boys, enjoying family-friendly fun or starting the new decade with an adrenaline rush.

Not to mention saving those valuable days off for when you’ll really need them.

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steal away for new year’s eve

6427-000127In-the-know New Yorkers know better than to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square braving the cold, fighting the crowds and holding it in for hours just to see the same old ball drop.

Or, for that matter, putting up with the requisite price-gouging at just about every bar, club and restaurant in the city.

Celebrate the dawn of 2010 instead with these 10 last-minute, close-to-home bargain getaways that’ll ring in the new year without wringing out your wallet.

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