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Travel: Mind-Expanding Destinations

Find aesthetic inspiration and cerebral invigoration at these two stimulating hotels.

June 29, 2011

A suite terrace at the Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

This summer consider swapping long, languorous days at the beach for two exciting, mind-stimulating getaways that cater to the aesthete. The Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, offers all the comforts of a high-design boutique hotel—a nearly 5,000-square-foot spa, luxuriously appointed rooms with sensational views of the historic colonial town, a sexy bar and celebrity chef Bernie McDonough—with an added bonus: cutting-edge, boundary-pushing contemporary and classical Mexican art.

Exhibited throughout the property’s four recently constructed buildings, the art includes works by photographer Spencer Tunick that have been reproduced on wallpaper, and each guest bedroom features original art by the likes of Bosco Sodi, Daniela Edburg and Aldo Chaparro. Hotel Matilda owner Spook Stream, from Nashville, Tennessee, claims family ties to an art legend: Diego Rivera painted his mother Matilda when she was 15 years old. A reproduction of his portrait of Matilda hangs in the library of the hotel, which is her namesake.

“My family had collected art for several generations,” says Stream, “particularly Latin pieces stemming in part from the friendship of my great aunt, Matilda Gray, with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, as well as from my mother posing as a model with Diego as a teenager.” In selecting the location for his hotel, Stream found in San Miguel de Allende a hub for generations of ex-pat artists who have formed a tight community—and who show their works in the town’s 62 galleries. Both local and international artists are represented in Hotel Matilda’s ongoing curatorial explorations. “As I added to our Latin collection,” says Spook, “I began to see the importance of the contemporary influence on Mexican art, leading me to begin collecting contemporary art from around the globe. This experience led me to the discovery of the young Mexican artists who are represented in the Hotel Matilda.”

Thinking Big in London
From appreciating fine art to developing the fine art of conversation, an aesthete-cation will fortify your worldliness while you unwind. If you’re planning a trip to scout the location of the 2012 Olympics in London, why not book a room at a five-star hotel that offers both the ultimate in West End high style and a dose of cerebral play? The Sanderson has all the features of the very best in modern London luxury accommodations—interior design by Philippe Starck, an Alain Ducasse restaurant, a dreamy Agua Bathhouse spa and its famed Purple Bar (this opulent oasis of cut-glass mirrored tiles, violet fabric and raw stone offers a dual-edged martini menu with both classic martinis and modern variations).

The Purple Bar at the Sanderson  















Recently introduced into this perfectly hip milieu is the Minibar for the Mind from The School of Life, an organization which bills itself as “a ground-breaking enterprise which offers good ideas for everyday living.” One choice offering is Conversation Starters, a box of 250 cards ($56) that supplies guests with questions, quotations and provocations that draw upon philosophy, psychology, literature, the visual arts and sciences for the purpose of enhancing repartee. The Sanderson (and other properties in the Morgans Hotel Group, including the Hudson in New York and the Ames in Boston) treats guests to a Daily Aphorism card with turn-down service (like this offering from Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”)

A Conversation Menu provided with meals offers a selection of prompts to keep talk on par with the ambiance of Morgans Hotel properties: sparkling, chic and captivating. “The topics can be controversial, like parenthood and politics, or more lighthearted, like what you would do if you won the lottery. A variety of guests use them,” says a concierge at the Sanderson, who adds that her favorite quote in the Minibar for the Mind is by Mark Twain: “‘Be yourself’ is one of the worst things you can say to people.” Now there’s a topic for discussion.

—sue hostetler


A Victory Drink

Sra. Martinez shares a winning cocktail recipe that takes its cues from the garden.

June 29, 2011

Representing Miami in Esquire’s annual “Best Bars in America” list is the much-loved second floor bar Sra. Martinez. Fans of the spot have come to love its “garden-to-glass” menu philosophy and in honor of Sra.’s win we suggest a swig of the aptly named Victory drink. Created by the bar’s mixologist, Walid Hamid, this winning libation possesses a seductive citrus and spice combination that lingers on the palate and leaves you wanting more. No wonder this Spanish siren of a bar went over well with the boys at Esquire.


1 1/2 ounces Russian Standard Vodka
1/2 ounce Solerno Blood orange liqueur
1/2 ounce homemade Fresno chili lemongrass syrup
3/4 ounce fresh orange juice
4 cilantro sprigs
3 slices red bell pepper

For the syrup: Fill a one-quart container with equal parts sugar and hot water. Add three sliced Fresno chili peppers and two pieces of lemongrass to the mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved. Allow syrup to infuse for two hours before straining.

To prepare: Muddle bell pepper and cilantro in a shaker. Add remaining ingredients and ice to the shaker and shake vigorously. Double strain into a martini glass rimmed with a mix of sugar and cayenne pepper.

4000 N.E. 2nd Ave., Miami


New Restaurant: Kane Steakhouse

South Beach gets a new steak outpost with the arrival of Kane Steakhouse.

June 28, 2011

Washington Avenue is now home to SoFi’s newest restaurant collaboration, Kane Steakhouse. The location is the result of a partnership between restaurateur Matthew Glazier of Strip House and the leaders behind Mansion, Louis Bar-Lounge and SET. The black silk walls, eel-skin booths and dark wooden beams set a glamorous scene. Driven by chef Daniel Ganem of BLT Steak, the menu boasts a delectable mix of traditional entrées with a refined twist. To start guests can indulge in mouthwatering appetizers like the foie gras torchon served with toasted baguette or the duck fat potato chips coupled with Gorgonzola fondue. For the main course a selection of filet mignon, New York strip steak, yellowtail snapper and organic whole chicken and the like is available. 431 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-704-2900

—jonathan Borge


We Love Miami

Trussardi 1911 accessories at The Webster give a loving nod to Miami.

June 28, 2011


In celebrating its 100th anniversary, Trussardi 1911 has created a capsule collection expressing its love for Miami. Sold exclusively at The Webster, the limited edition line designed by Milan Vukmirovic includes various bags and travel accessories. But the iPad case stands out. Crafted in white ultra-light Nappa leather, it embodies Miami’s light, fresh vibe. The Webster, 1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-7899


Grown-Up Popsicles

What’s better than an ice-cold martini? An ice-cold vodka pop.

June 24, 2011

FROM LEFT: La Poire Frozen Frenchy, Le Citron Frozen Berry Lemonade, L'Orange Frozen Summer

Guests at Ocean Drive’s Summer Soirée at Arkadia this past week raved about the refreshing Grey Goose ice pops that were served. If you’re craving more of them (or couldn’t make the party), we’ve got you covered. These grown-up frozen treats are perfect for summer celebrations and easy to make.

Grey Goose La Poire Frozen Frenchy

1 ounce Grey Goose La Poire Flavored Vodka
3.75 ounces fresh pineapple juice or puree
.25 ounce Monin pure cane syrup

Mix all ingredients together. Pour liquid into a Popsicle mold and freeze overnight.

Grey Goose Le Citron Frozen Fresh Berry Lemonade

1 ounce Grey Goose Le Citron Flavored Vodka
5 raspberries
3.75 ounces fresh lemonade

Muddle the raspberries. Mix all ingredients together. Pour liquid into a Popsicle mold through a tea strainer (to strain out raspberry seeds and pulp) and freeze overnight.

Grey Goose L’Orange Frozen Summer

.75 ounce Grey Goose L’Orange Flavored Vodka
.25 ounce Licor 43
4 ounces fresh orange juice

Mix all ingredients together. Pour liquid into a Popsicle mold and freeze overnight.


New Restaurant: Mister Collins

Mister Collins sells home-style American cuisine by the seashore.

June 24, 2011

Salty ocean breezes and breathtaking views should come to mind when you think of waterfront dining, and One Bal Harbour’s new restaurant Mister Collins delivers. Its philosophy is simple: home-style American comfort food made from fresh, local, high-quality produce and ingredients. Start off with freshly baked soft pretzels served with house-made mustard dipping sauce and paired with a cold craft beer from a menu featuring Florida brews like the Native Lager and the Eleven Brown Ale. Try the crab cake salad with jumbo lump cake and mustard seed vinaigrette, or the #1 Ahi burger with nori mayo and hand-cut French fries. For a dish that will surely hit the spot, try the Pop’s pork chops served with smashed potatoes and the pleasantly oozing crab mac and cheese. Get the ultimate dining experience and eat on the outdoor patio called View Bar, where you can take in a stunning view of the Atlantic. 10295 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour, 305-455-5460

—vanessa martin


Nail It

The 411 on nail lounge Nails 111.

June 23, 2011

Nails 111

Nails 111 will keep you looking and feeling beautiful this summer—­both inside and out. Already offering services ranging from mani-pedis to spray tans, the recent addition of a Moroccanoil-based blow-dry bar—making Nails 11 the only nail lounge in Miami Beach with a blow-dry bar—seems too good to be true. And the shop’s partnership with wellness outfit Green Monkey is even better. Buy four blowouts for $99 and get a free yoga class at Green Monkey. Or try the Highway to Heaven ($59), which includes a mani-pedi, a blowout and a yoga class. Wellness junkies looking to get in touch with their inner yogi need not worry: Buy a package of five yoga classes from Green Monkey and receive a free manicure. Buy a package of 10, and get a complimentary manicure and blowout. We’re sold. 111 Alton Road, Miami Beach, 305-538-0000


Notebook Novelty

These notebooks prove that the pen really is mightier than the sword.

June 23, 2011

Office supplies don't normally catch our eye, but these notebooks did thanks to their interesting (and dark) design. Armed Notebooks ($25) by Megawing sandwich paper inbetween a cover exblazoned with gun, a knife or a grenade. They're sure to instigate instant conversation wherever you go. Bold, indeed. Base, 939 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-531-4982

—Jonathan Borge


Swimwear Sample Sale

The annual Red Carter swimwear sample sale is red hot.

June 22, 2011

Miami Swim Week arrives in a few weeks, but you can score some fabulous suits beforehand at the annual Red Carter swimwear sample sale at the brand’s warehouse. Starting tomorrow (the sale continues through Sunday), stock up on suits, cover-ups and bags ($5–$40). Bring cash—the minimum credit card purchase is $200. (10 AM–5 PM) 1819 West Ave., Bay #6


A Summertime Treat

Visit Area 31 for a bite, a sip and a dip.

June 22, 2011

The rock shrimp ceviche at Area 31

Summer began officially yesterday, and so did Area 31’s “Raw, Rosé, Refresh” promotion. All weekend long guests can enjoy a glass of Juvé y Camps rosé or a serving of chef E. Michael Reidt’s rock shrimp ceviche for $5. Add another five spot for a day pass to the Epic Hotel Miami pool adjacent to Area 31 on the 16th floor overlooking Downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay. Area 31, 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, 305-424-5234

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