Winter in the Canadian Rockies

Emerald Lake Lodge photo credit: Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts Fly into: Calgary in the Alberta Provence, a 2.5 hour flight from San Francisco. To Stay: Emerald Lake Lodge. This is an old Canadian lodge, a 2.5 hour drive Northwest from Calgary airport. Their restaurant … Continue reading

The Best Places to Eat in San Francisco

San Francisco- Gramspiration

Scoma’s: This is in Fisherman’s Wharf- which normally no locals recommend- but for Cioppino is legendary

Kokkari- Amazing greek- you need a reservation- good for lunch- good for dinner

A16:  Fantastic Italian in the Mariana–fun area awesome food. See picture of the beautiful Marina below.

Marina

Elephant Sushi: Great Sushi.  Russian Hill

Aikikos: Financial district- amazing sushi

Bar Crudo: Fun atmosphere- very fun area, great seafood. This is in Nopa- go to Bi-Rite before for an ice cream– eat dessert first!

Nopalito: Amazing Mexican- you need to wait but it’s worth it- you can call in and put your number down. Get the Pisole Soup and the carnitas are absolutely fantastic.

Coquetta: Really good Spanish tapas on the Embarcadero

Park Tavern: Great for bruch- get the avocado toast

Rose’s: This is a local brunch spot for people in Pacific Heights- very much a locals place- smoked salmon breakfast pizza is an old favorite

Presidio Social Club: There is nothing really special about this, but it is fantastic location, great wrap around porch, in the Presidio.  There is a very cool old school bar there. It is rumored you can get a foie gras burger there … because it is on Federal Land- not California. Not confirmed…

Ocean Taqueria: Lower pac heights- this place looks scary- but it is outrageously good – get the carne asado burrito with onion and peppers.

Love Our Pink City

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image: Anne Solange Tardy

St. Helena, Napa Valley

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In the middle of the summer in San Francisco, when the fog blankets the city in thick cold mist and wind, it’s important to have a stable of destinations to escape to.

 

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Up in the Spring Mountain District of St. Helena is a gorgeous winery called Barnett Vineyards. We recently had the privilege of spending a weekend up there. The grounds are fantastic. And their Rattlesnake Hill Cabernet is legendary among wine people.

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The drive up to the estate is gorgeous. Winding roads with tree canopy coverage gives the impression you are somewhere very far from San Francisco despite the short 90 minute drive.


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Conservacion Patagonia

Visit to the Future Patagonia National Park 

Magestic Guanacos

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image: Loomis Luggage

We recently had the incredible fortune to be invited to stay at the Future Patagonia National Park, created by Conservacion Patagonia. Staying in a new national park before it opens to the public was one of the most incredible experiences and we wanted to share some of it here.

To get to the Park, it is best to fly from Santiago, Chile to Balmaceda, Chile. From there you will begin what is a 5-8 hour drive on winding, dirt, mountain roads. The drive itself is one of the best drives, I would argue, in the world down the famed Carretera Austral. Four-wheel drive vehicles are necessary.

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image: Loomis Luggage

Food options are limited along this route. To be precise, they are limited to this vehicle; a bus repurposed into a hamburger stand. Service can be quite slow and the translations on the menu are a bit terrifying. But it’s hot food and quite the experience.

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image: Loomis Luggage

Who doesn’t love a good “You eat friend with sausages?”

Lake near Marble Caves

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Impossibly blue lakes appear out of nowhere as you crest over hills on dirt roads. Pictured above, Lago General Carerra, one of the many views along the way, is the second largest lake in South America.

Marbe Caves- Loomis Luggage

On this lake you can visit the Marble Caves. There are signs everywhere along the lake for boats that take you on the hour + ride to the caves. It’s hard to miss. Puerto Rio Tranquillo, where the lake and caves are, is one of the only towns you pass and it’s advisable to fill your car up with gas there. The view as you pump your gas is pretty exquisite, as you can see below.

Marble Caves Lake 2

image: Loomis Luggage

As you continue along on the drive you will encounter a very curious thing– a mini Golden Gate Bridge! Coming from San Francisco this was pretty fantastic. If only the waters of the Pacific were glacier blue and you could stop in the middle of the bridge to take photos!

Golden Gate Bridge

image: Loomis Luggage

And then, right as the day was coming to a close, we entered the Park. Restored grasslands and Guanacos grazing at sunset mark your arrival into this beautiful and expansive territory.

Guanacos

image: Loomis Luggage

The view below, from our windshield, was a welcomed one. The Park’s main structure, gorgeous, greeting us as we arrived.

 

The View from our Windshield

image: Loomis Luggage

We took in this pink sky at sunset as we walked to dinner at the main lodge. The meal was prepared with care by the Park’s sensational chef from San Francisco, serving food grown on the property.

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image: Loomis Luggage

No detail was left unattended to in the Lodge. The rooms were well appointed and luxurious with a very classy yet comfortable  feel. It reminded me of a Patagonian version of the Greenbriar.

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image: Loomis Luggage

The next morning we woke up to a homemade breakfast of wonderful fresh baked breads, jams, incredible butter (and I consider myself a butter connoisseur, see Cotswolds post), eggs and cereals. We prepared to explore the park, though it was difficult to step away from the family room of the Lodge.



The Lodge

image: Loomis Luggage

Our first hike took us up steep mountain ascents, down towards lagoons you could swim in (if you like the temperature of glacial water) and provided us with sweeping views of both Chile and Argentina. We also had a view of the towering Cerro San Lorenzo, the second tallest peak in the Patagonian Andes. 

Hiking day 1

image: Loomis Luggage

We had to ask ourselves many times, “Is this Patagonia or St. Barths?” Water simply is more beautiful in Patagonia.

Tropical Patagonia

image: Loomis Luggage

The day was not complete without a stop at the Argentine border, filling up our water bottles in the stream (you can drink from streams without worry) and heading back to the lodge where fresh baked muffins and a glass of cold white wine was waiting for us.

Republica Argentina

image: Loomis Luggage

The only way we could reconcile coming in from that spectacular hike was the fact that we were able to kick up our feet at this magical spot. 

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image: Conservacion Patagonica

The sun sets over the park. 

The Sky Outside the Lodge
image: Loomis Luggage

Our crew happily fed at a Patagonian Asado.

The Group

image: Loomis Luggage


We would encourage anyone who loves the great outdoors, conservation and stunning natural landscapes to make the trip down. Volunteering at the park is possible as well as visits, with advanced coordination.

Shortly after we left, the Park experienced one of the most devastating fires in that geographical’s history.

Volunteers will be welcome and appreciated in the months and years to come!

Email: heather@loomislugage.com with questions.

Jackson Hole: Winter Guide

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Wyoming is the least populous state in the union. Jackson Hole is the 48 mile long valley that straddles the snake river

Here are some things to do in the Winter:

Eat: 

During the winter, if you are skiing, it’s easier to stay and eat in Teton Village- referred to as ‘the village’. With that in mind here are some favorites. Terra Café for breakfast at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain. Four Seasons resort- it is combo of chic and cowboy- it’s expensive but worth it.  Note: you can rent a helmet camera from the ski concierge. If you just had the run of your life and want to congratulate yourself– or take some time to re-thinking now dropping Corbet’s – head to the restaurant on the top of the mountain called the Couloir. It’s fancy, the food is great, make reservations in advance. Osteria is also amazing for some wonderful Italian after a day on the mountain. For more casual try Teton Thai.

Outside of the village, Lotus Café is a wonderful organic place to restore your energy with some green juice and probiotic salad bowls. It is very popular with the locals- and it is very good.

For Apres Skiing: 

The Mangy Moose is the place to grab a micro brew and, usually, listen and probably dance to a local band. This is one of my favorite spots- it was also the place where the shot ski from our wedding had it’s last stand. Last intact photo of the ski below (lobster not included). At the Moose try anything from Snake River Brewing Company (you should also check it out in town). Additionally,  the state’s first locally produced bourbon Wyoming Whiskey has won a good deal of awards recently.

Here is a video my friend, videographer and Jackson resident Alden Wood Faust put together. It’s all all about Apres in Jackson Hole– it’s amazing.

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Winter Activities 

  • Skiing- of course. Jackson Hole Mountain is a legend.
  • Snowshoeing or cross country skiing in grand Teton national park.
  • One other must for the winter is breakfast at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn. This should go under eating- but it really is an activity. It is not in the village, but it is in Wilson, closer than town. It is an incredible cabin with great food. It won a James Beard award in 2012. Get the huevos rancheros or the biscuits and gravy.
  • Snowmobiling in the park- we saw buffalo.
Mountain Chic
For more recommendations on Jackson: Check out Travel Guide, Jackson Hole Wyoming

Sedona, Arizona

The Red Rocks of Sedona

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We recently returned from Sedona, Arizona. We make a pilgrimage to that spot now and again to visit the gorgeous red rocks. The red rocks are iconic in their beauty. And there is something else going on in Sedona.

As The New York Times put it: “Sedona is famous for its so-called vortex sites, spots where the earth’s energy is supposedly increased, leading to self-awareness and various kinds of healing. (Think of them as spiritual hot tubs without the water.)”

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This land, inhabited from as early as 1300 A.D. by Native American tribes, is home to what I believe to be the best spa in the United States. It is called Mii Amo. The vibe of this spa is meditative, spiritual and rooted in Native American culture. Yet don’t be fooled, you will not be staying in anything that resembles the teepees which  sit on Mii Amo’s grounds.

Upon arrival you are greeted with “ghost beads” made by local Native Americans. You can acquaint or re-acquaint yourself with the spa. There is a vast indoor pool with a wood burning fire place on the other end. There is a crystal grotto with a red clay floor and running water with crystals in it for meditation and silent reflection. There is an outdoor pool and hot tub with views of the red rocks (there are stargazing classes at the spa too). And there is a library for lectures in addition to their men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam, sauna and whirlpool.

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The rooms are very nice. They are spacious and simple with fire places, outdoor space and a large well appointed bathroom. Upon waking in the morning you will find fresh squeezed orange juice and a newspaper waiting outside for you in a basket. The newspaper, by the way, will be your only connection to the outside world. Something about the red rock canyon that Mii Amo is situated in drains cell phones and all electronics within hours.

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Your days are filled with activities. A trip to the spa includes two treatments a day- many of which are traditional including all forms of massage, facials, body wraps. And then there are some which are quite unique such as reiki healing, aura photography and in water massage. In addition, activities will fill your days: yoga, pilates, yogalates, meditation, hiking the red rocks, watercolor painting, journey of the teas, cooking demonstrations, medicine walks and lectures are offered at all hours of the day.

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At night you snuggle up to wonderful silence. And you look to see what nightly present Mii Amo has left on your bed that evening- a leather bound journal, teas, crystals.

Because what makes going to bed more exciting? Going to bed with a present after a wonderful spa service wrapped in your robe!

The Cotswolds

 
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The Cotswolds are an incredible way to see some of the most picturesque Brittish scenery, just a short drive from London. We were absolutely floored by the bright green of the rolling hills punctuated by the happy yellow of the wild flowers and the impossibly quaint towns you pass along the route. You could have a wonderful time meandering through different villages, but here are some of our highlights.
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The Kingham Plough in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire: This is an incredible gastropub. Fantastic food at the best butter we have had life to date. The butter makes it— like nothing you have ever tasted.
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Daylesford Organic in Gloucestershire: This country store is absolutely amazing. Their cheese room has an incredible selection- we sampled many and bought many and ate many. Their produce is so fresh and good looking would make you believe you were in the middle of the South of France. But the freshness makes sense, given the abundance of farms in the surrounding hills.
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Their beautifully packaged honey, lemon curd and jams are perfect gifts. And here’s the kicker, they have the above mentioned butter from the Kingham Plough. Transporting butter back from the Cotswolds to San Francisco requires a level of dedication which speaks volumes (about the butter).
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Stowe is a town that deserves a stop-off . Their town square is lined with boutique shops–filled with Barbour, campaign furniture and tweed. However there was one store which we absolutely loved called As Long as it Sparkles. And it wasn’t just because of the name. Here, the store owners have meticulously combed through estate sales in London and stores in Paris to find the perfect mix of one of a kind pieces of costume jewelry, beautiful clothing and really rare finds like incredible crocodile clutches.
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Bourton on the Water is the venice of the Cotswolds. It is touristy. But along with that comes the benefit of a lot of places to eat and shop– so it’s really a matter of personal preference. Upper and Lower Slaughter are gorgeous villages. Tetbury has good antiques.
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We spent our time in the Costwolds in a place called Overbury with our friends Tamara and Caspar. Days were easy. Breakfast was at 11, champange at noon, lunch around 4 and dinner closer to 11. We filled time eating, sitting by the fire (yes even in the summer), going for long walks (or as some Brits would call it, rambles), and trying to get close enough to the sheep to pet them (unsuccessful).
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And, to my endless delight there was a trampoline on the estate where I was able to resurrect some of my trampoline skills (or rather skillz as you can see).
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High Time for High Tea

The Best Places for Tea in London 
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The Ritz:
The Ritz is probably the most famous place to do tea in London. It is wonderful- but also one of the most expensive. I have fond memories of my time living in London and attending the most opulent 21st birthday party, of our friend Trace, in the Ritz’s stunning atrium where they serve tea during the day. I was in a floor length bubble gum pink gown– I still have it. It’s so adorable. I recommend dressing equally as fabulously for tea- when in London…
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Fortnum and Mason:
This is a department store (but more like a fine home decoration store meets Henri Bendel) very close to The Ritz that specializes in home goods and tea. Brits would urge you to pass on the glitz of the Ritz and go for the more classic experience here.
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Claridges: High Tea at Claridges is probably the best combination in-between the first two options.
Claridge's Tea
 
image: Claridge’s


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