I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve breathed in that fragrant mix of flowers, fruit and tropicalÂ Caribbean wood andÂ wished I could somehow capture it and take it home. Just a little something to get me through the dog days of winter. So imagine my excitement at discovering how theÂ Spa at Four Seasons Resorts Nevis Â – intoxicating in its own sublime way – has partnered with noted organicÂ alchemist, Ajne,Â to take those smells a flacon further and create 100% natural, one-of-a-kind perfumes. Typically a customized formula takes weeks or even months to complete – and often costs a smallÂ fortune, too. Yet Ajne’s ingenious blending process takes a cool 90-minutes while lounging by the Spa pool or taking in the Nevis sunset, cocktail in hand.Â To create my bespoke formula a Melangeur, or mixer, administers a quirky computerizedÂ fragranceÂ analysis based on Sanskrit chakras,Â whichÂ divide the body into energy centers. Test questions determine fragrance preferences and helpÂ findÂ areas of the body and psyche in need of balancing.Â The Melangeur works like a private scent sherpa, guiding me over the fragrant terrain andÂ assisting me in discovering ingredientsÂ ideal to my body chemistry. Working one-on-one she mixes combinations of rare and precious plant oils – some worth their weight in gold. Not only do I walk away with aÂ greaterÂ understanding of myself, but the real results are delivered to my room an hour later: a hand-blended smell that is individual and entirely me. And totally Nevis, too.
One of Hong Kong’s most colorful street markets, the imaginatively named Flower Market (on Flower Market Road, natch) is a jungle of exotic blooms, lucky houseplants and sweet scents just beyond the Yuen Po bird garden. Unfortunately it’s bookended by a giant “Made in China” crap emporium – though given the fact that I am in China I should probably not use that term quite so derisively.
Kiku is the krazy art of forcing multiple blooms from a single stem. Not a culture known to do things by half measures, the traditional JapaneseÂ practice is taken to ceremonial extremes in the display currently showing at theÂ New York Botanical Garden,Â whereÂ hundredsÂ and hundreds of chrysanthemums areÂ simultaneouslyÂ bloomingÂ in handmade wooden containers. At first glance you think, how nice, a carpet of pretty mums. But look a little closer and you’ll discover those 412 blossoms are sprouting off a lone stalk that’s been nipped, tucked, trimmed and tied to a complex framework. It’s a bit like the botanist’s answer to foie gras: aesthetically stunning and eerily fetishistic.
It’s a lovely spring morning here in NYC – made better by the discovery of my favorite patch of flora in wild, fragrant bloom. To celebrate, I’m having my first ever giveaway:Â a memorable meal (ok, a free lunch avec moi) to the first person who can guess the obscure musical theater reference in today’s headline.