Wellness: Nip Tuck Tourism

Dallas Beauty Spa and Wellness Marketing

The Dos and Don’ts of Nip Tuck Tourism

Tips from board certified plastic surgeon Dr. John Zannis: zannisplasticsurgery.com

Thinking of going off the grid to get a little work done? You’re tapping into a growing trend. These days more and more people are seeking great doctors in locations beyond New York and Beverly Hills. While jetting off to South America for some plastic surgery may be too distant, there are plenty of calmer more serene cities for those who don’t want the crowds and fast pace of a big city. Board certified plastic surgeon and best selling author Dr. John Zannis, based in coastal North Carolina caters to patients from all over the world. Here are his dos and don’ts when it comes to Nip Tuck Tourism to ensure you get the best doctors, support staff, post-op recovery and overall experience.

Do: Consider a smaller city. When it comes time for recovery, resting and avoiding stress is key. Smaller cities have a cozy, home away from home feel. Imagine going outside for a walk or sitting peacefully outside with sounds of nature instead of traffic. Being in a serene environment helps you heal.

Don’t: Skimp on the pre-arrival consultation and follow up communication. Verifying that you are a candidate for the procedure you want is extremely important before flying anywhere. Be ready for a few Skype consults with your surgeon, sharing pictures and keeping in touch over phone and e-mail leading up to your scheduled procedure.

Do: Consider your physician’s lodging recommendations. Many doctors already have relationships with local hotels and bed and breakfasts and can make solid recommendations. Your doctor will also know the type of accommodations you’ll need: will a simple suite do or do you need a full home-style living space for longer recovery procedures?

Do: Fly in a couple of days before your surgery is scheduled. This allows you to meet with the doctor and staff before the big day and become comfortable with your surroundings.

Do: Take the appropriate amount of time off. Dr. Zannis explains, “depending on the procedure, you’ll be able to return home in just 24 hours, while others may require a follow up visit in 7 days.  You want to allow adequate healing time for any swelling and pain to subside before traveling back home.”

Don’t: Forget your insurance cards. Although most cosmetic procedures aren’t covered by insurance, you’ll still need your insurance information to get your prescriptions filled.

Do: Plan ahead and pack wisely. “It’s important to pack loose fitting zip front shirts and wide comfortable bottoms, a pillow to place between yourself and the car/plane seatbelt, a spill proof large water bottle, and throat relievers for post-op soreness,” suggests Dr. Zannis.

And finally Do: Plan some nice activities and meals! Remember this is your time to relax, recover and enjoy. Think low-key and relaxing. When you get your appetite back you’ll want a great meal. As days pass and more and more healing takes place you’ll want to go for nice walks, explore nature, or just read and unwind by a fireplace or lake. These little things contribute to making you feel better and heal after a procedure. You’ll return with a new look, while feeling completely refreshed.

For more about Dr. John Zannis, his New Bern, North Carolina practice and their Makeover Getaway Program, visit zannisplasticsurgery.com

Beauty: Signs of Dehydration


1. Your mouth and lips are dry.

When you’re dehydrated, saliva production decreases, leaving your mouth and lips feeling dry. Dry mouth can also make your breath stinky, because bacteria has the chance to linger longer when it’s not being washed away on the reg.

2. Your pee is dark.

The color of your pee can tell you a lot about your health. Healthy, hydrated pee should be light yellow or clear, a sign that it’s properly diluted. If yours is medium yellow, dark yellow, or orange, it’s likely because your body isn’t getting enough water so your urine is more concentrated, Robert Korn, M.D., medical director of GoHealth Urgent Care in the New York area, tells SELF. Less water intake also means you’ll have to go less often, too.

3. Your energy levels are low.

“The defense mechanism of the body in the face of dehydration is to shut down blood supply to ‘non-vital’ organs,” Korn explains. This means the rest of your body, and your muscles specifically, may start to operate at a slower pace, making you feel sluggish and sleepy.

4. You have a headache.

The exact way dehydration causes a headache isn’t known. But experts believe that when hydration levels drop, so does blood volume, which leads to lower blood flow to the brain. This reduces the brain’s oxygen supply and causes the blood vessels to dilate, leading to headaches and even lightheadedness. 

5. You don’t have enough tears.

Similarly to saliva, the amount of tears you have can actually decrease if your body is using every last drop of water to support its basic functions. If your eyes are dry, or just not producing much liquid when you’re crying, it could mean you’re dehydrated.

6. Your skin is dry.

Water is essential for plump, hydrated skin. When your body’s tank is low, and using all the water available for basic functions, your skin gets the short end of the stick. Over time, it can lead to dryness. 

7. You get muscle spasms or “Charley horses.”

You know those super painful muscle spasms that wake you up in the middle of the night after your whole calf seizes up? They typically occur when a muscle is overused, and exercising when your fluid levels are low can spark one. 

8. Your body is cramping.

There are lots of things that can cause cramping, and muscle fatigue is the most likely culprit. But another type of cramping has been connected to dehydration and a sodium deficit in the body. “Exertional heat cramping, or full body cramping, may be related to sodium depletion and fluid loss especially in individuals who are ‘salty sweaters,'” Pritchett says. In this case, sipping on an electrolyte sports drink can be helpful to restore the natural mineral balance in the body.

9. You feel hungry even after you just ate.

Thirst and hunger cues come from the same part of the brain, so it’s easy to confuse the two. If you feel hungry even when you know you’ve eaten enough, there’s a good chance your body’s actually telling you it needs water, not food.

Important note: The following symptoms could be a sign of severe dehydration: rapid heartbeat or breathing, sunken eyes, fever, confusion, or delirium. If you experience any of these, go to the hospital.

Travel: Unbound by Hyatt

Image Credit -  Courtesy The Driskill

Image Credit - Courtesy The Driskill

Hyatt’s newest brand is seeking Instagram-pretty and Snapchat-worthy hotels.

Instagramming, Snapchatting, and Facebooking a hotel stay is practically a must-do for today’s social media–savvy travelers, whether it's because of a killer view or just the unspoken desire to brag about being on #vacation. So it was only a matter of time before a major hotel brand began to think about construction with social media at front of mind. The Unbound Collection from Hyatt Hotels, which launched this week, is a carefully curated group of independent hotels—each with its own identity, history, and design, all of which can easily be shown off on social media...or so Hyatt hopes.

"Your travel is a shareable nugget," Maryam Banikarim, chief marketing officer of Hyatt Hotels, told Condé Nast Traveler. "And we want our properties to have something you want to share, not just pictures of the room, but the experiences you have there too.”

Currently, Unbound has four hotels in its collection—The Driskill in Austin; the Hotel du Louvre in Paris; the Carmelo Resort & Spa in Montevideo, Uruguay; and the Coco Palms Resort in Kauai, Hawaii (which is undergoing a renovation and will reopen in 2018). All Unbound hotels will be upper-upscale and luxury properties, meaning four- to five-star hotels with full service (like late-night room service). The hotel will also be a mix of historic gems, cool contemporary spots, and new builds.

While Unbound is indeed looking for hotels with "rich social currency," Banikarim reports that Hyatt won’t be obsessively tracking a hotel’s number of followers or likes during the inclusion process, especially since Unbound’s future pipeline includes hotels that haven’t been built yet. "What we’re really looking for are hotels that are story-worthy," she said, and that goes beyond the amenities in the guest room. A shareable story about The Driskill, Banikarim said, could involve the ghost that's been known to roam the property turning on and off the lights. At the Hotel Du Louvre, its story will be centered around its history as one of the oldest hotels in Paris, while the Carmelo Resort is in the middle of an eucalyptus forest, putting guests up close to nature.

Because the Unbound Collection is what’s referred to in the hotel industry as a "soft" brand, the hotels will keep their own names and identities, and Hyatt branding is kept to a minimum. Guests may only learn an Unbound property is a Hyatt at check-in, when they see that their stay can earn full points for the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program. There is some concern that Hyatt’s presence in an highly individualistic hotel like The Driskill may forever change the appeal of the hotel, but Banikarim insists that hotels will have the freedom to do things the way they’ve always done them, with Hyatt helping out behind the scenes.

Unlike other hotel collections out there—Tribute Portfolio from Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the Curio Collection from Hilton Worldwide, and the Autograph Collection from Marriott International—Unbound plans to include travel experiences outside of hotels, possibly river cruises and other types of adventures. "More and more people value experiences, rather than possessions," Banikarim said. "And people want different kinds of experiences." So get ready to share your experiences on social media.

Wellness: Affordable Spring-Break Retreats


Blue Lagoon — Grindavik, Iceland

Although Iceland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of spring break, the country's abundance of all natural geothermal spas does make it a top candidate for anyone in need of a little rest and relaxation. Lauded as one of National Geographic's "25 Wonders of the World," the Blue Lagoon's mineral-rich geothermal seawater has developed an international reputation for its healing effects on the skin, and for good reason — the combination of naturally occurring minerals, silica, and algae are known to stimulate collagen synthesis, the process that gives skin its smooth, youthful appearance. The standard rate of €40 ($44) is a rather small price to pay for four hours in a 100-degree, nine million-liter fountain of youth.

Pura Vida Retreat & Spa — Alajuela, Costa Rica

Spanning more than seven acres 4,900 feet above sea level, Pura Vida Retreat and Spa is where you go to find peace in the clouds. The resort's customized three, five, and seven-night mind-body-spirit packages include everything from room accommodations and meals to yoga sessions, massages, eco-adventures, and guided coffee plantation hikes. They even throw in round trip airport transfers to boot. Package rates start as low as $655 per person and nightly rates start at $115.

Tassajara — Carmel Valley, California

Situated in a mountain valley just inland from the iconic Big Sur coast, Tassajara is one of the three practice communities that comprise the San Francisco Zen Center. If you're looking for a later break, beginning in April, Tassajara offers Engaging Earth Retreats with a special focus on nature, wildflowers, and the culinary arts. Whether you sign up for "Cooking and Gardening in the Heart of Tassajara" or the "Zen of Baking," you will have the opportunity to practice bringing the art of Zen more fully into your daily life as you grow more intimate with Tassajara's gardens and kitchen. Retreat rates start at $225.

Travel: Privé Jets

Prive Jets - Amin & Co. - Luxury Brand Marketing

The holidays are a time for family to come together, but when a loved one falls ill air travel is a precarious decision to make. Commercial airlines do not have the facilities or personal to take care of a patient that needs special attention.

Privé Jets sets the standard for private jet service with their On-Demand Jet Charter services. Their dedicated team of highly trained, multilingual travel consultants and affiliates around the world are available 24/7 to ensure a personalized, enhanced experience for patients who have to travel. With access to over 6,000 private jets worldwide, Privé Jets are the leading provider of global private aviation and jet charter travel for leisure, medical and corporate itineraries.

If a flight requires special care, Privé Jets can arrange an air ambulance that will have the medical equipment necessary to ensure a safe flight. Over the years, Privé Jets has helped patients that have been unable to travel commercially due to an emergency or delicate health condition. Privé Jets air ambulance has transported Cancer patients, facilitated Hospital transfers and Repatriations. If a patient’s health condition is delicate, but does not require an air ambulance, Privé Jets can also arrange a private jet charter with a nurse or doctor on board.

As an award-winning private jet charter company, and proud INC 5000 company, Privé Jets strives to provide the highest level of personal service while offering meaningful experiences for all of their private jet charter customers worldwide. Don’t make the mistake of settling for sub-par service to book your next vacation. Fly superior with Privé Jets. Visit www.privejets.com to learn more about the company.

Beauty: Wander Beauty

Wander Beauty Parisian Collection

Wander Beauty Parisian Collection


Wander Beauty is the first travel-inspired, luxury color cosmetics experience.

Their deluxe products are made of high performance (and cruelty free!) formulas that deliver internationally inspired innovation. Bringing you internationally-inspired multitasking makeup essentials. Co-founded by Lindsay Ellingson and Divya Gugnani.

For more information and to purchase your own Wander Beauty products click HERE.

Travel: Sub-Saharan Africa

Amin & Co. - Wellness Tourism Marketing

Economic growth has helped make Sub-Saharan Africa the world’s fastest-growing market for wellness tourism, and North Africa the second fastest, according to a Stanford Research Institute report for Miami-based Global Wellness Institute.

The Stanford study covered Mauritius, South Africa, Seychelles, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, among others.

Wellness travel is travel for the purpose of promoting well being through physical, psychological, or spiritual activities, according to Travelmarketreport.com.

In 2013, sub-Sahara saw 4.2 million wellness trips with visitors spending $3.2 billion on wellness. This was a $575-million increase over 2012.

This increase is partly due to economic growth of countries such as South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria, which all increased presence and demand of wellness players, TourismReview reports.

North Africa was the second fastest-growing area for wellness tourism, along with the Middle East. Though wealthier than sub-Saharan Africa, it had a slower rate of growth despite 7 million wellness trips and $7.3 billion in revenue in 2013.

A 2015 Trend Report by Spafinder identified some travel trends and made some predictions about how the market will evolve and what customers will want and expect for 2015 and coming years, TourismReview reports.

Here area few of the findings:

  • Spas are combining the concept of wellness with an old-but-new-again product: cannabis. After its liberalization in some North American states, high-end tours with luxury experiences are emerging.
  • In Africa and the Middle East, spas are increasingly enhancing wellness treatments with Islamic cures that go beyond hammams. They’re rediscovering the benefits of dust-baths, mud-baths,  and the factors, ingredients and experiences tied to local wellness culture, according to TourismReview.
  • Social fitness is becoming more about a sense of belonging to a community. Groups attend big fitness events but also visit venues such as traditional spas that offer special packages. This trend is seeing exponential growth by specialized tour operators, according to TourismReview.
  • The luxury trend in wellness at the most exclusive venues is not about celebrities but about experiences, TourismReview reports. New luxury means exotic and local — plenty of space and solitude. Less is more.
  • In 2015 expect a new ritual in travel: spas in airports. Air carriers offer arriving passengers wellness services in their lounges as a courtesy service for jet-lag recovery.

Europe and North America are leading the wellness tourism market, according to the Stanford Research Institute report. Asia ranks third, TourismReview reports.


Travel: Six Senses NEW Resort

Amin & Co. - Bespoke digital marketing and consulting for travel, beauty and wellness brands

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has announced that it will develop a resort in the southwest of Bali at Uluwatu, a 35-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport. The resort is set atop a rugged cliff, sharing the spectacular ocean views with the island’s famed Uluwatu Temple.

Drawing upon the renowned Six Senses commitment of providing top-tier facilities wedded to environmental responsibility, the resort and spa has been brilliantly designed and when combined with the innovative spirit of the owners, PT Cahaya Warna Prima, it will result in a rare development.

True to Six Senses inimitable style, Six Senses Bali will include 28 sky villas, 62 one-­bedroom villas and seven two-bedroom villas that draw upon the local culture, embrace nature and offer every creature comfort.  The ultimate in Six Senses accommodations, the expansive and beautifully-appointed Retreat Villa, sits on a prominent knoll with sweeping views of the ocean and overall resort.  Two restaurants, a pool bar and a specialty restaurant with chef’s table, cooking school and extensive organic garden are planned.  

Situated on a 30-acre site, the project will be completed in two stages. The first phase includes the resort which rests on 16 acres, while phase two includes 60 residential villas available for purchase including luxurious three-bedroom family retreats.

“Six Senses is delighted to work with PT Cahaya Warna Prima on the Uluwatu development. The location is incredible and the design approach perfect for our brand. Innovative and fresh, this project will offer a new dimension in wellness for active and health-minded travelers,” said President Bernhard Bohnenberger of Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.

In a famed island environment so deeply rooted with wellness and personal care, Six Senses Spa will be right in its element. The spa will feature locally-inspired specialty treatments together with an extensive menu of signature therapies. There will be something for everyone, from multi-day wellness programs to rejuvenation therapies and detox, as well as a selection of activities and complimentary morning yoga.

In addition to the Six Senses Spa, on-site activities will include a vast central pool and a gym. An event lawn will enhance the facilities of a beautiful ballroom, two meeting rooms and a wedding pavilion. The resort’s own Balinese temple will create a tranquil setting and present the true essence of the island’s deep cultural beliefs.

Six Senses Bali will include an Experiences Center that can arrange visits to everything that this legendary island has to offer, from sightseeing excursions, to cultural events plus over and underwater activities. This coastline is also one of the top places on the island see spectacular sunsets with sweeping panoramas out to the Indian Ocean.

Uluwatu is perhaps best known for Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars, renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 250 feet (70 meters) above the sea. Ulu means top or tip and watu means stone or rock in Bahasa Indonesia. Several archaeological remains found here prove the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating back to around the 10th century.

Six Senses Bali is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.


Spa: 5 MUST-Visit Global Spas

South Africa: Karkloof Safari Spa
Set within the heart of a scenic game reserve, Africa’s largest spa and 5 star resort is the ultimate upmarket retreat. Enhance your well-being with a choice of wellness programmes, from detox to weight management, whilst enjoying nutritious organic cuisine and exploring an exotic list of natural spa treatments, with up to eleven treatments each day. Experience an unforgettable adventure through the African wilderness with your own private guide and vehicle, or work up a sweat with guided hikes and mountain biking trips.

Thailand: Soneva Kiri 
Escape to the secluded Thai island of Koh Kood where luxury wellness retreat Soneva Kiri takes indulgence to a whole new level. Taking inspiration from local Asian practices, the Six Senses Spa offers a range of holistic treatments which complement a choice of tailor-made yoga, detox, de-stress and fitness programmes. Reach new heights with Treepod dining; a culinary experience of the utmost luxury. Suspended in the forest canopy, take in breath-taking coastline views, whilst your waiter delivers gourmet delights via zip line. 


Bali: Como Shambhala
Set in 9 acres of lush tropical surroundings, this multi-award winning retreat offers a holistic approach to luxury wellness. Choose from a number of tailor-made wellness programmes, from detox to fitness, whilst giving a boost to your well-being with healthy cuisine, a dedicated Ayurvedic doctor, yoga and daily morning walks. Pay a visit to healing spring waters of The Source or unwind by the infinity pool of your own private villa, whilst having your every need taken care of by your own personal assistant

Oman: Zighy Bay
Unwind in the lap of luxury at Zighy Bay in Oman, where ancient holistic treatments at the Six Senses Spa and expert wellness consultants will set you on the right path towards a healthier and happier lifestyle. From cleansing detox diets, to yogic practice, personal fitness and adrenaline fuelled adventure activities, this luxury wellness retreat caters to your every desire. Raise your heart rate with paragliding or scuba diving and make the most of Zighy Bay’s secluded private bay on a traditional dhow cruise at sunset.

Turks & Caicos: Parrot Cay
It doesn’t get more exclusive than a luxury wellness retreat situated on its own private island. Guests seeking the ultimate luxury escape can rent their own private ocean villa, complete with a dedicated butler to meet your every need. Heal with holistic therapies at the award-winning spa, explore the coastline with catamaran sailing and stand-up paddle boarding, and complete your well-being venture with daily beach yoga and Pilates classes. Dine in style with private beach picnics, tiki hut dinners or pool side meals at your private villa. 

Travel: Cuba Questions Answered

Since President Barack Obama loosened restrictions on Cuba travel Jan. 16, travelers have been eager to explore the island nation.

“We are seeing an even bigger surge in interest,” says Lindsay White, sales manager for National Geographic Expeditions. “To meet the demand for travel to Cuba, we’ve recently added new dates, with more than 40 trips departing through June 2016.”

“With the President’s announcement we are engaged with our land and hotel partners in Cuba to obtain space for additional departures through 2016 so that we can meet the high demand for the destination,” notes Terri Burke, director, national accounts for Globus.

How can Americans go to Cuba legally?

Americans wanting to visit Cuba no longer need a special government license. But it’s not as easy as hopping on a plane. General Cuba travel is still not allowed.

U.S. visitors need to fit into one of 12 categories:

  1. Family visits
  2. Government and intergovernmental business
  3. Journalistic activities
  4. Professional research and meetings
  5. Educational activities
  6. Religious activities
  7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  8. Support for the Cuban people
  9. Humanitarian projects
  10. Activities of foundations, research, or educational institutions
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information
  12. Certain export transactions


Licensed tours of Cuba emphasize interaction with local people

Americans on an approved trip can use U.S. credit and debit cards in Cuba, once banks in both countries develop systems to work together. They can also bring back up to $400 in souvenirs (including $100 worth of alcohol or tobacco, including Cuban cigars).

U.S. air carriers have not started direct flights to Cuba. Katharine Bonner, vice president, River & Small Ship Cruising at Tauck, points out that scheduled flights won’t be available for some time. Slots are limited, Cuban airports are small, and US carries will have to be granted rights for the routes. U.S.-flagged cruise lines are still prohibited from stopping in Cuba; only Congress can change that. 

Which companies are licensed for Cuba travel?

Nine Virtuoso partners are licensed to operate trips to Cuba:

Working through a Virtuoso travel advisor who specializes in Cuba can ensure you’re getting the vacation you want.

Hearing Cuban musicians perform and interacting with them is a highlight on many tours.

Who’s traveling to Cuba?

Tour operators emphasize that Cuba is not your typical sun-and-sand Caribbean destination.

“We see a surge in interest among baby boomers – those folks who were school children during the Cuban missile crisis and are very curious to meet Cubans and see the country,” explains Tauck’s Bonner.

“Our Globus programs are for people who are interested in active learning and meeting and interacting with people from a different culture,” Burke comments. “The interactions we facilitate have allowed Americans and Cubans to speak freely to each other and learn about each other’s lives, education, careers, families and hopes for the future. The participants in our Cuba programs have engaged with Cuban people in a way that is very meaningful and not always possible when traveling on your own to a foreign land.” 

What activities do Cuba travel experiences emphasize?

Licensed operators need to provide a “people-to-people” itinerary, where Americans are able to get acquainted with Cubans, their history, their artistic traditions and their culture.

“Participants in a people-to-people program should be prepared that they are not traditional tourists to Cuba,” advises Burke. “These activities are thoroughly engaging and the types of experiences that have made many of our travelers say that their Globus trip to Cuba was one of the best of their life!”

Cuba travel tineraries could include:

  • Going to a club to enjoy authentic music
  • Enjoying a ride in 1950s cars
  • Meals at locally owned small private restaurants
  • Playing baseball and discuss the love of the game with Cuban players
  • Meeting members of the Camaguey Ballet Company and talking to them about upcoming productions
  • A visit to a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site to learn about the 19th century sugar industry
  • Walking through Old Havana with an architect
  • Sampling coffee after learning about the drink’s rich history in Cuba
  • Interacting with artists and artisans such as traditional potters
  • Meeting cigar factory workers
  • Birding excursions with local naturalists
  • Visiting an organic farm and talking with the farmers

People-to-people tours of Cuba explore the country’s rich history

What should visitors expect in Cuba?

In this year’s Virtuoso Luxe Report, Cuba was one of the top three emerging destinations named by advisors. Its ability to handle travelers on a large scale is also emerging. “There is still limited infrastructure in Cuba – and that won’t change in the foreseeable future. Hotels are limited – especially in the 3* plus category,” states Bonner.

“Cuba is not yet equipped to handle large numbers of American visitors due to limited hotel space, limited transportation options, and limited guides. There is still a long way to go (possibly several years) until the infrastructure is in place,” Burke observes.

“Cuba’s largely undiscovered tourism market is what makes this destination truly magical,” comments White of National Geographic Expeditions. “It can also mean slower service and standards, which are not conducive to travelers’ expectations while abroad. Maintaining a sense of humor and adventurous spirit will help travelers enjoy their experience in Cuba to its fullest.”

Why should you go to Cuba now?

Cuba travel has consistently been a top seller for licensed suppliers. With the U.S. policy shift, that popularity is expected to grow.

“I would encourage consumers to plan travel now – while ‘Authentica Cuba’ still exists,” says Tauck’s Bonner.

“Its long isolation from the modern world is what makes this destination truly magical,” observes White of National Geographic. “Curious travelers want to experience this country that appears frozen in time before it changes forever.”


Interview: Insider Look at CURIO

curio collection - amin and co - the luxe passport

Hyatt has Andaz, Marriott has EDITION, Starwood has the W, and Hilton now has Curio.

The circle seems complete. 

I was able to chat with Dianna Vaughan, Global Head at Curio – A Collection by Hilton, and she was kind enough to give me an insider look into what's on the horizon for this exciting new brand that has us curious.

Competing at the top end of upper upscale, Curio – A Collection by Hilton is a hand-picked global collection of unique hotels embodying the distinct culture and spirit of their local communities, while giving independent minded travelers the peace of mind that comes from the Hilton name and award-winning HHonors program.

Read below for the exclusive Q&A...

IMAGE CREDIT -   SLS LAS VEGAS  ,   Curio   – A Collection by Hilton 

IMAGE CREDIT - SLS LAS VEGASCurio – A Collection by Hilton 

What are some trends and shifts you’re excited about for 2015? Any changes you're seeing in guest requirements?

In 2015, couples, families and friends are looking for the most authentic, local experiences they can find.  They’re looking for far-away destinations to check off their bucket lists, and curiously seeking those domestic locales they haven’t yet had the chance to discover. In a sense, the behavior of these travelers has a direct effect on us -- they are shaping our individual Curio hotels, and these hotels are defining the Curio collection.

How is your brand catering to millennial travelers?

The Millennial traveler’s greatest desire right now is to feel like a local[1]. Each Curio hotel is hand-picked for its distinct character and personality, appealing to passionate travelers seeking local discovery.  These hotels have a special character that can’t be duplicated. They’re part of the fabric of their cities: true locals, each embodying the spirit of their home. From a historic hotel with complimentary bicycles and a restaurant run by a two-time James Beard award-winning chef, to a casino hotel with a multi-level dance club and opulent penthouses created by design visionaries, it’s the diversity of the Curio hotels that makes the brand so unique, and also appealing to the Millennial generation.

IMAGE CREDIT -  SLS LAS VEGAS ,  Curio   – A Collection by Hilton 

IMAGE CREDIT - SLS LAS VEGASCurio – A Collection by Hilton 

In your opinion, what does it take to have to a powerful LUXE brand?

Our Curio hotels are individuals but they are unified in their ability to deliver an upper upscale, authentic and seamless experience for each of our guests. They have the fascinating ability to make travelers feel, by the time they leave, that a Curio hotel is their second home. To me, a powerful brand gives guests the ability to have an experience that stays with you – wherever you go.

How involved is the Curio brand in terms of social media engagement, any exciting campaigns for 2015?

While we are still a young brand, our focus points within social media are to grow our audiences across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, share our excitement around new hotel openings and activities, and to continue sharing the unique aspects of our existing hotels, their locations and our guests’ stories from their stays and experiences. We plan to showcase the individuality of each property with contests and in-depth storytelling throughout the year.

IMAGE CREDIT:  The Highland Dallas , A Curio Collection by Hilton

IMAGE CREDIT: The Highland Dallas, A Curio Collection by Hilton

For example, we recently held a spotlight on The Highland Dallas,  A Curio Collection by Hilton, and hosted a contest to win New Year’s Eve dinner at the property’s top-rated Knife restaurant. Additionally, we are considering a Valentine's Day contest which encompasses all the unique features of a specific Curio hotel (spa, dining, etc.).

IMAGE CREDIT:  Knife Dallas

IMAGE CREDIT: Knife Dallas

We believe that unique moments are fundamental to Curio hotels and we want to encourage conversation around those moments from past and future guests.

Are the hotel employees or "experience stylists", as I like to call them, involved heavily in creating the Curio brand experience?

Hotel team members at Curio properties embody the stories and personalities of the hotels themselves. Many of them are true locals who know the hotel inside and out and have worked at a property for many years.  At Diplomat Resort & Spa Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton, the hotel has more than 200 team members in what they call the “founders club.” These team members are ambassadors that helped open the hotel in 2002 and are the heart and soul of the resort. At The Franklin Hotel Chapel Hill, Curio Collection by Hilton, the hotel employees know the great area restaurants that should not be missed, and are in touch with the art and culture of downtown Chapel Hill.

If you could name one public figure who embodies the Curio brand style, who would it be, and why?

The great Frank Sinatra because of his unique style, commitment to exceptional performance and his ties to Curio hotels such as Rat Pack appearances at SLS Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton and Diplomat Resort & Spa Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton.

frank sinatra - curio collection

Can you share some hotel essentials and elements that are not to miss when staying at Curio?

The best part about a Curio hotel is that guests will experience something different at each one.

A renowned boutique hotel in Dallas, The Highland Dallas, Curio Collection by Hilton offers relaxed style surrounded by some of the best of the city’s shops, restaurants and nightlife. In addition to a great outdoor heated pool and a tempting spa, The Highland offers the curious traveler its own inside-track suggestions on getting the very best out of Dallas.

Valentine's Day Offer:

The first option includes a lavish dinner for two in Chef John Tesar’s award-winning restaurant Knife, complete with personally selected wine for the occasion by our sommelier.  Following dinner, settle into a luxury king room for the evening where an extraordinary pink and black package from Agent Provocateur will be waiting for you. To make the night complete, draw a bath for a final surprise from Lafco. In the morning, enjoy late check out before calling down to valet to end the perfect evening. 

The second package offers guests the ability to settle into a luxury king room with the extraordinary pink and black package from Agent Provocateur will be waiting. From there, indulge in a lavish dinner in the privacy of your room from Chef John Tesar’s award-winning restaurant Knife, complete with personally selected wine for the occasion by our sommelier. To make the night complete, draw a bath for a final surprise from Lafco. In the morning, enjoy late check out before calling down to valet to end the perfect evening.

IMAGE CREDIT:  Chef John Tesar  of  Knife Dallas

SLS Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton is the new incarnation of the Sahara Hotel & Casino, the Vegas landmark that played host to everyone from Judy Garland and Tony Bennett to the Rat Pack. Today, SLS Las Vegas still offers a uniquely glamorous experience. We love the immense variety of cuisine and nightlife offerings in every corner of the property. Food and beverage partners include: Bazaar Meat by José Andrés; Katsuya by Starck; Cleo; Ku Noodle; Umami Burger, Beer Garden & Sports Book; 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria; The Northside Café ; The SLS Buffet and The Perq. Nightlife, bars and lounges include: LiFE, a multi-level dance club with high ceilings for aerialists and performers to integrate throughout the space; Beach LiFE, an open air rooftop pool by day and a trendy club by night; The Sayers Club; Foxtail; the Foxtail Pool Club; Monkey Bar and Center Bar.  The hotel is perfect for our curious-minded travelers.

What's on the horizon for Curio?

We are excited for the growth of the brand and expect the addition of several more hand-picked individual hotels around the globe.  We’re working on launching hotels in cities such as Houston, Texas, Portland, Ore., Sarasota, Fla., and Doha, Qatar.

We look forward to sharing the opening announcements of these properties in the near future, plus more exciting additions to Curio – A Collection by Hilton throughout the year ahead.

Every day, Curio team members have the opportunity to live out Conrad Hilton’s vision “to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality,” to enrich the lives of others.
— Dianna Vaughan, Global Head at Curio – A Collection by Hilton

Hotel: Hotel Cacao

The LUXE Passport - Kobra Working on Mura.jpg

Hotel Cacao’s guests are being immersed in a kicked-back, relaxed “Hippie Chic” lifestyle of sophisticated accommodations and cutting-edge dining and mixology experiences. Located on Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenue, the 60-room property is located in the heart of the destination’s chic scene of restaurants, clubs and boutiques.

The LUXE Passport - Hotel Cacao -Infinity Pool.jpg

The team that created the internationally heralded ‘Matilda lifestyle’ guest experience at Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende founded Cornerstone in 2013. The hotel management and development company is building a ‘Hotel Matilda Lifestyle Collection’ of boutique properties in strategic locations throughout Mexico. The second hotel will open in 2015 in the San Angel district of Mexico City.

The LUXE Passport - Hotel Cacao

The spacious, modern rooms and suites offer every contemporary amenity, including bathroom amenities by Italian fashion designer Missoni. 

Architect Rodrigo de la Peña has imbued the property with dramatic architectural elements such as huge canvas accents in geometric shapes and a central court with a hyacinth lily pond. The interior design is clean and contemporary with bold color accents. The roof-top bar features innovative “coctelería” (mixology) experiences blended with spectacular views of the Caribbean and Cozumel Island.

Hotel Cacao’s restaurant, Nibs, is a serene, mouthwatering escape from the bustling dining scene on 5th Avenue. Nibs has a strong connection with Hotel Matilda:  At the helm is Chef Alejandro Cuatepotzo, a protégé of Enrique Olvera who was chef de cuisine at Hotel Matilda’s Moxi restaurant. Olvera, who is Mexico’s most famous chef, operates Moxi.

Nibs’ exciting and innovative menu taps the fresh, indigenous ingredients of the region and reinvents favorite Mexican seafood and meat dishes, such as ceviches with coconut and lime, scallops with lime pearls, lobster with green mango, shrimp burritos, tuna and beef tartare, salt-baked red snapper, conch fritters, and prime flat-iron carne asada. The area’s tropical ambience is re-imagined indoors with guests dining amid an original jungle mural by international street artist Eduardo Kobra, a flowing water wall, and banana and passion fruit plants. In stark contrast to the colorful tropical atmosphere, Namuh-designed walnut tables and chairs with Italian carrera marbletops are accented by simple white linens and china. The restaurant’s name reinforces the chocolate theme of Hotel Cacao: Nibs are unsweetened chocolate chips, created when cacao beans are crushed in the chocolate-making process.

The LUXE Passport - Hotel Cacao

Quirky, fun art in strategic interior locations, including brightly painted VW Bugs, are by Tommy Hilfiger. An after-hours-style bar downstairs has a sexy bordello look. The shops and restaurants on the street level of the building include Maíz de Mar, a marisquería (seafood restaurant) by Chef Olvera.

Rates range from $208 to $500, including Continental breakfast. Taxes are additional.

Wellness: Staying Fit on the Road


1. Use the Coffee Maker

The coffee maker is for more than just making coffee in the hotel room. Pack your own healthy, easy, non-perishable snacks, like instant oatmeal packages or trail mix. The hot water you can make with Mr. Coffee can be used to prep healthy breakfast foods like oatmeal. Avoid the continental breakfast with gooey pastries and cheese-filled belly busters, and see if you can snag some Greek yogurt or fresh fruit to add to your healthy meal.

2. Pack a Workout

A jump rope, a resistance band, and a Polar heart rate monitor. They take up less room than a hair dryer and are the most time efficient travel workout tools. Using the heart rate monitor to work in your maximum fat-burning zone saves you time – a 10 minute workout in your maximum zone can do as much good as an hour on the treadmill. I love Polar’s F7 because it also tracks calories burned and is simple to use.

3. Open the Mini-Bar

Hit the grocery store before the hotel, shove the tiny vodkas and $10 M&M’s to the side and stock your fridge with baby carrots, pre-cooked, yogurt and fresh fruit. Having your own food can cut down on those excess calories you don’t want or need. Prep yourself and have something healthy on hand to minimize the damage of vacation snacking. With a little planning, there are no food excuses!

4. Pack Sneakers

Are you going to work out in flip-flops? Not likely! If you can’t cram your regular workout shoes into your suitcase, invest in a pair of lightweight sneakers specifically for travel. They just need to be good enough for a walk, run or a tight cardio session, and they’ll be enough to keep you protected and ready to move.

5. Walk the Town

What better way to experience the city you’re in than on foot? Ask the hotel staff for some sights within walking distance – shops, parks or neat neighborhoods. See if you can walk instead of taking shuttle buses or driving. Make it a rule that if the route is under a mile, you have to walk!

6. Every Hotel has a Fitness Center – Use It

Plan ahead – pick a hotel that has a fitness center where you can actually workout. If you don’t, or don’t have time to use it, your room can be your fitness center. Fit in a quick 5 minute workout with your jump rope, resistant bands and heart rate monitor.

7. Wake Up Early

I can hear the groans already, but it’s true. Typically at the end of your day you’re not in the mood to exercise. Rise & shine 30 minutes before you normally would and get it over with. It may seem like a chore, but studies have proven that working out gives you more energy and makes you much more conscientious about your food choices throughout the day – why not start the day out right?

8. Drink the Water

Flying dehydrates you because of lack of humidity in the cabin air, so stay away from drinking anything caffeinated or alcoholic when you travel. It will dehydrate you and put you off your plan for the rest of your vacation. Try to drink a glass of water every hour on the plane. If you’re sick of water, try club soda with a twist of lemon. Your body will thank you for it.

9. Calm Down

Relax. No one expects you to stick to your normal fitness plan 100%. If you can get 10 minutes in every day and stick to normal foods for 2/3 of your meals, you should come out of your trip in the same condition you left. You can be good to your body and still enjoy yourself – it’s the summer!


Travel: 2015 Trends

Want to know what's on the horizon in travel for 2015? Below are some of my personal favorite picks. 

Your Rental Will Look More Like a Hotel

If you're interested in staying at the new Drift San Jose, a stylish eight-room property in Los Cabos, Mexico, that appeals to independent millennials, you won’t be able to book through its website, or any hotel website, for that matter. Rooms are available only through Airbnb. That’s a sign of things to come: since the apartment-rental behemoth enlisted boutique-hotel guru Chip Conley in 2013 to advise hosts on how to improve the guest experience (scented candles, fresh fruit, ambient music), the line between hotels and rentals has become blurred. Airbnb has introduced a range of initiatives to this effect, including a Super Host program that highlights some of the site’s most professional-style listings and a three-day conference that offers tips for aspiring hosts. Other rental services, such as the high-end One Fine Stayand the affordable-minded BeMate, are also stepping into this nebulous middle ground, offering guests cleaning and concierge services. BeMate will even store luggage for you and, in lieu of room service, deliver food from nearby partner hotels.

You'll Sleep Better on the Road

Las Vegas may be the best place to rest up right now, thanks to an array of sleep-centric tech enhancements—in lighting and furniture design—in 171 rooms (and counting) at theMGM Grand. And that hotel isn’t alone in prioritizing your REM sleep. Fifteen years after introducing the Heavenly Bed, Westin is piloting wearable monitors with a companion sleep-coach app, which it hopes to roll out to hotels in the near future. Crowne Plaza, meanwhile, has unveiled anew headboard that helps cut ambient noise by 30 percent. Here’s a closer look at how hotels are rethinking your bedtime routine.

Stay Well Dawn Simulator: The bedside fixture at the MGM Grand gradually wakes you up with cortisolproducing shades of blue light.

Noise-Reducing Headboards: The next-generation Crowne Plaza room features angled, padded headboards placed slightly away from the wall to minimize ambient sounds.

Healthy Mattress: MGM’s organic-cotton mattress builds in extra posture support to eliminate tossing and turning.

Sleep Monitors: Lark Technologies’ wrist sensors at Westin hotels will track your movements at night and analyze the causes of any restlessness.

All About Spa & Wellness

Spa and Wellness Tourism predicted to grow at nearly twice the rate of general tourism. 

Your Phone Will Become Your Wallet

Championed by Google and cemented by Apple Pay, mobile transactions are about to become the new normal. Sync your credit and debit cards with Google Wallet (for Android) or Apple’s Passbook (iOS), and you’ll be able to buy things simply by placing your phone in front of a sensor at checkout. Taking a page from Uber, an increasing number of travel apps, such as Airbnb and OpenTable, now offer digital transactions that link to your card.

You'll Take Your Networking to New Heights

Applicants to Delta’s Innovation Class can earn an airplane seat beside business leaders, such as Gilt cofounder Alexandra Wilson and chef Sean Brock, as they fly to industry events. KLM passengers can use the airline’s Meet & Seat program to choose their seatmates based on social-network profiles.

You'll Discover That Million-Dollar Idea

First there were the C-suite summits of Bohemian Grove and Davos. Then came the intelligentsiafests of TED and South by Southwest. Now these sorts of niche gatherings— which once drew mostly industry insiders with cultlike devotion—are gaining mainstream appeal. Just count the number of times someone drops “South by” into a conversation, and witness the proliferation of big-name, big-ticket conferences and meetings like Tina Brown’s Women in the World. Hotels are also getting in on the action. Properties like the Quin, in New York City, and Andaz hotels offer cultural programming and on-site salons. At the new Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa, in Colorado, owner John Hendricks is leveraging his connections as the Discovery Channel founder to produce Curiosity Retreats, which feature time with physicists, technologists, and foreign-policy experts. And if you can’t get to TED, the TEDx franchise has given rise to mini events in resorts from Santa Barbara to Tulum, Mexico. Look for them at ted.com.

BIG Brands - Boutique Hotels

Global hotel brands are continuing to establish “boutique” / “lifestyle” brands aimed at discerning affluent travelers. Example: Marriot Edition Hotels, / Hilton Curio / Radisson Red and Millennials e.g. Marriot’s Moxy brand.

curio hotel

Travel: Virgin Hotels

Virgin Hotels won't launch its first property until January, in Chicago. But that isn't stopping the Richard Branson company from getting its membership program up and running, giving us a sneak peek at how the highly-anticipated property aims to run things differently.

"The Know," announced this week, is clearly a Virgin-branded approach to customer service. The sign-up process for the "preference program" — with its questions about minibar preferences, favorite music and cocktails — is less about the hotel room and more about providing an experience.

"We called it 'The Know' for two reasons," Doug Carrillo, vice president of sales and marketing at Virgin Hotels, told Mashable. "Because we want to know who you are as a traveler. And because we want members to be 'in the know' of what's going on with other Virgin companies."

The questions Virgin Hotels focus on personal preference and tastes more than room upgrades. Carrillo emphasized that the company really wants to offer "surprise and delight" to guests.

Considering the rise in boutique hotels and the astronomical growth of the "sharing economy", hotel chains have their work cut out for them in proving their value matches their price.

Room rates at the Chicago property start at $245 a night.

Virgin Hotels cannot offer perks similar to those at large chains like Marriott and Hilton. There will be just the one hotel, for at least the first year. But by anticipating what snacks you want in the minibar, or what activities you like to partake in, Virgin is hoping to create an experience and a reputation that differentiates itself.

"Virgin Hotels wants to be 'your place' in the city, whatever city you're in," he added.

Though differentiation is what the company is after, the pursuit of providing a personalized experience is happening across the industry.

You may not see your favorite cocktail as “Big Data,” but the hospitality industry sees tracking personal preferences as the ultimate marketing opportunity.

To get an edge, Virgin Hotels will also be turning to its network of travel companies — Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Galactic — to reward loyal customers.

Richard Branson announced Virgin Cruises this month, and that too could eventually integrate with hotels' program, according to Carrillo.

"We're talking to a lot of other Virgin companies in the U.S. and abroad about some of the different things we may be able to offer to our 'Know' members (ahead of the public)," said Carrillo.

Carrillo said that hotel rewards will follow as more properties open.

While many hotels partner with other companies to coordinate guest perks, Virgin Group is setting up offerings that cross nearly every sector of the travel industry.

The Chicago hotel will open Jan. 15 in the Loop district. The next Virgin Hotels are planned for Nashville and New York by 2016, and eventually in London.

"Our point of view was we’re going to have 50 hotels one day, so let’s do it right," Allie Hope, the company’s head of development and acquisitions, said in February of this year. "Let’s make sure the product is really taken care of and not skimp on that just for the sake of getting hotels."


Travel: Luxury Airport Lounge Roundup

With spas, saunas and even cigar rooms, the new breed of airport lounge is adding an extra element of luxury for VIP travellers.

While the rest of us browse Duty Free, wealthy passengers spend their time at the airport in the pampered comfort of private airline lounges.

As lounges up the ante to attract even more big-spending travellers, website Private Jet Charter has nominated its five top lounges for the discerning passenger - and not one of them is in the UK.

Top of the list is the unusual Turkish Airlines design at Istanbul airport. Not many lounges can boast a grand piano, pool tables, a library, super size TV screens and private sleeping rooms.

But the CIP Lounge has it all, with private relaxation rooms and showers (along with special toiletry kits) and even a 'billiards hall'. Families are also welcome, with a dedicated playroom and private infant room so they don't disturb other fliers.

And of course, in keeping with the Turkish airline, hot and cold mezzes are available, along with an olive bar, Turkish Pizza station and separate grilled meats and fruit stations.

Virgin Atlantic is also a strong contender for its lounge in New York's JFK Airport, which is praised for giving the feeling of an upmarket bar in the Big Apple. The lounge has gold ceiling decorations, a giant sofa made entirely of red balls, a pool table and an extensive cocktail menu.

But those wanting privacy can escape to the person-sized cavities in the walls, which are wool-lined and given 'intimate' lighting so that passengers can escape to their own private space - there are even complimentary pyjamas for those who are so inclined.

If passengers want to be pampered, the in-house spa offers treatments using specialist Dr Hauschka products, while the New York hairstylist Bumble & Bumble can make sure they are suitably coiffed.

On the opposite end of the scale, Private Jet Charter nominated the minimalist Finnair Lounge in Helsinki, for its Nordic-inspired furniture from Finnish design company Marimekko.

The sleek white and chrome interior is typically Scandinavian and the wine cellar is particularly extensive. The shower suites also mean passengers can freshen up with complementary Finnish sea-buckthorn berry cosmetics - but perhaps the most Finnish addition in the lounge are the saunas, where travellers can go and relax in the warm.

As Etihad aims to cater for the big-spending customer - having launched three-room suites on its planes - the Diamond First Class Lounge at Abu Dhabi airport has all the modcons.

Its Six Senses spa offers 15-minute mini treatments and there is a dedicated Champagne bar, serving the best bubbly from France - not to mention a cigar lounge, where the best tobacco products are flown in from around the world.

There's even a personal nanny service so that tired parents don't need to be around their children and a playroom set up for families. And the restaurant has a special chef's table in the centre for VIP diners. While you eat, your spare clothes can be sent off and ironed and your shoes shined in time for the next stage of your journey.

As Asia overtakes Europe for its luxury offerings, its lounges aren't far behind. The fifth most luxurious airport lounge in the world, according to Private Jet Charter, is the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge from Singapore Airlines. Set in Singapore's Changi Airport, the space looks out over water features and leafy vegetation and has dedicated television lounges for those who want to zone out in front of their favourite programme.

Hugh Courtney, CEO of privatejetcharter.com, said: 'The VIP traveller only wants the best of the best, and that's why these airlines are constantly making such vast changes. With their spectacular spacious private lounges, Nordic private spas, luxury dining and executive work facilities, we clearly see the quality of exclusive VIP lounges will only increase over the coming years.


Travel: ULTIMATE Dessert Hotel



Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne, Australia just had its 21st birthday.

Now it’s time for some cake.

The 34-room property, which was converted into a boutique in 1993, has a new look—as the world’s first full-scale dessert-themed hotel.

Located on Flinders Lane, Adelphi Hotel is celebrating its big year in style. Right when you walk in, you will see stools that resemble licorice. In fact, the colors and texture throughout the entire hotel are inspired by desserts and candies, from chocolate-toned furniture to carpets patterned like cakes.

There’s even a dessert restaurant appropriately titled Om Nom, courtesy of French-trained patisserie chef Christy Tania.

Don't expect to see gaudy bright colors, though. While designer Fady Hachem incorporates some candy-like colors, he also attempts to blend the old with the new, an ode to the building’s beginnings as a warehouse in 1938.

“The colors and textures of the hotel are all based on desserts,” Hachem said on the hotel’s website. “But it's not weird. It's not too out there. It's very comfortable and done subtly.”

While some hotels have honored certain types of sweets, none have honored a wide collection of sweets like Adelphi Hotel does across the entire property.

In addition to it being a novel idea, it also appears to be a fairly marketable concept. I mean, who doesn't like dessert? Plus, given all the colors and textures that represent different types of sweets, it’s a good way to get guests hungry quickly. And, what’s that? Oh yeah, there’s a dessert restaurant on the property. Not a bad idea.

Beyond the new dessert theme, the all-inclusive Adelphi Hotel also features stocked mini-bars, free Wi-Fi and a heated, glass-bottom rooftop pool that extends two meters from the building’s façade.

The boutique hotel has five types of rooms and suites, including the 1,076-square-foot Palatial Suite, and starts at $192 per night.