Love is in the Air

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Photo Credit: Justin Richie
Photo Credit: Justin Richie

Evolution of Love: The Now

The time is now. The last wedding decor proposal signed, bridal party gifts have been bought and first song has been picked. The time is now. I am intermittently relieved, excited and exhausted as I have been up every single night too excited to sleep and too anxious to relax. How do you put all your dreams of love and hope into one week, one weekend and one day? What if I forget something? Have I invited everyone I wanted to? I have waited for years to have my best friends and family all together in one place and have waited a lifetime to meet and marry my soulmate, best friend and better half. This has been a dream that will finally become a reality.

Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions
Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions

Today we had our last meeting with our vendors and wedding planner at Atlantis. First up we discussed every minute by minute detail with the officiant, Reverend Sweeting. He has a way with words and stands in the space of calm possibility. From the first second we met him, we knew that he would translate our day in the way we wanted it to be portrayed. He understood how we felt about each other, our families and how incredibly important this ceremony would be for us both. He understood the physical challenges with Zak’s mom using a wheelchair with limited mobility and appreciated our emphasis on symbolism. He even accepted our request for pronouncing each others last names as we were both joining a new family. Kirk (aka DJ FURZE )was our wedding DJ and Master of Ceremonies and he led us through how we would go about doing our first dance. We discussed the age demographic of our guests in order to play appropriate music and even created a song remix for us for our first dance! Ronnie from Bahamas Wedding Productions spearheaded our photography and videography for the wedding. He heard our requests and we discussed the style of photography:  simple, personal and artistic. Natalie from Wildflowers was a beacon of decor inspiration and has a knack for finer details. She came to the rescue with last minute table numbers and confirmed that the arbor would have a ‘tie the knot” theme. To pay homage to my South African roots, I wanted to incorporate the Protea flowers into my bouquet. Natalie came to the rescue and imported the flowers from the US. When it came to discussing the order of the evening, the vendors and our wedding planner quickly sorted out that we would start the night off with our first dance before dinner and speeches. This would set the tone and allow our guests to dance and move before the formality of words. Lastly, we sat with Alphanique our phenomenal wedding planner and finalized the banquet forms and menus. We discussed the dreaded weather backup and walked the conference space just in case. I was left with a feeling of relief and peace as it was evident that regardless of the weather we would have a beautiful event space (inside or outside), stunning decor and memorable evening. One can never determine the weather, but it was clear that the Atlantis wedding planners were committed and determined to execute our special day. We were in the most capable hands. Alphanique shared stories of wedding events that were veered off projected course by the weather, but had none the less turned out perfectly with the wedding couple satisfied and happy. What more can one ask for!

I still have last minute tasks but I know in my heart that it will be a fantastic wedding week. Our focus has been on providing our friends and family with the best wedding experience and I truly believe it will be a magical day for all! Now is the time to breathe, relax and believe it will turn out “imperfectly perfect!”

Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions
Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions

 

Evolution of Love: The How

One of the things I’ve learned through this exciting, stressful and emotional time is that wedding planning is a process. Vernon Ash once said and I paraphrase; “God gives you a glimpse of your future glories so you can deal with the pain of the process.” Truer words have never been spoken about the trials and tribulations of tying the knot.

Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions
Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions

Once the initial engagement excitement has subsided the real work begins. Having executed several million dollar events in the past, I couldn’t fathom that throwing a wedding party could be too complicated. Wow, was I in for a surprise!

Luckily, I had a great wedding planner that mades sure I was on task, focused and committed to the painstaking task. The very best decision we made was to commit to an arrangement visit. This is fancy bridal terminology for deciding to visit the property to meet with our vendors and see our location in person. While Skype calls and emails can be effective, nothing compares to meeting your wedding magicians face to face. Our wedding planner planned out our whole itinerary. Highlights included seeing our venue first hand, meeting with the Bahamas Visual Services videographer and discussing decor details with Wildflowers Event company. We viewed the save the date & invitation line as well as looked at gift options for our guests. Love Atlantis created a planning experience that was seamless, simple and systematic.

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If you have been married you will understand and if you haven’t then one day you will. It is a rite of passage. The planning process will inspire, frustrate, annoy and overwhelm and perhaps even challenge the very reason you decided to get married in the first place. Stay strong, stay true and stay the course. For when the rehearsal is done, the ceremony is over and the last song has been played, the only thing that remains is the person standing by your side.

Remember that you have chosen each other through every trial, every tear and every triumph.

Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions
Photo Credit: Bahamas Wedding Productions

Evolution of Love: The Who?

We are two nomadic souls who are always wandering the globe, catching up with friends, family and loved ones in each city. We have very unconventional relationships with our loved ones, where we don’t always speak, see, hug on a regular basis but to us our interactions are as meaningful and special as if we saw them every Sunday. We exist in a bizarre world where the intensity and meaning of a relationship isn’t defined by how many times we speak or by how often we have catch up dinners.  Therefore during the wedding planning process our biggest challenge has been the guest list. Who do you invite to your wedding?  Why do you invite them to your wedding? What are the rules? Are there any rules?

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Having been engaged for a solid year and a half before sending out invites our dear ones have been teased with floating dates and locations. We are travelers, explorers and live for the next adventure, passionate about the journey. It was important to plan a celebration that reflected our excitement for the journey, our love for the place but was still within everyone’s grasp. After weighing several destinations such as Cape Town and Miami, the Bahamas ultimately took the cake. Nothing could beat the joy, energy and pure bliss of tying the knot on the same island where we fell in love. As a good friend of mine stated, “a wedding is not about the bride & groom but rather a celebration of their past as individuals, their friends, and their families.”  My advice to future couples, pick people that add value & have meaning in your life. Close your eyes and picture your loved ones faces. Only invite the people that you see smiling, celebrating in this magical milestone. The loved ones, who have pure intentions, have gratitude & respect for the unity of marriage and an everlasting hope that this newly minted family will dance in the sun and weather every storm.

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Our primary goal was to create a wedding that in every sense was a celebration for all the people we love. Zak & I will have the rest of our lives to celebrate each other. We wanted this moment to be for our loved ones to enjoy, celebrate, feast and indulge their every dream at our fairy tale wedding.  It would be a gesture that pays homage to the individuals who have brought us this far. Our mates that have set us on a course so our ships could meet and our boat lines could intertwine. Atlantis Resort made perfect sense because we could allow everyone to enjoy a well-deserved vacation. Of course our wedding was the catalyst for the trip but we wanted our guests to enjoy and celebrate our families, their families, their friends and glorious sunshine days. Filled with water adventures, exploring the beautiful island, immersing in the culture and utilizing the fact that simply put, it is always better in the Bahamas!

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Prologue: Evolution of Love ~ The story of us

This is a tale. At moments it might be tall, memories slightly blurry, minutes emphasized, reconstructed in language but the sentiment, message and meaning will remain the same. Written in the sand, waiting to be enveloped by the sea, this is our story, our tale, and our chapters.

We met on a normal workday downstairs at Starbucks in Coral Towers lobby. I was heading downstairs to grab my caffeine fix; Zak was walking around property with our mutual friend and colleague Donna. I walked past them and smiled, and they nodded in return. Zak turned to Donna and asked her about who I was, she responded that I was already in a committed relationship and that he should look elsewhere to enjoy the perks of being “fresh meat on the island.” In a manner that only one, who has lived on a tiny island with a microscopic gene pool, would fully comprehend. A few days later I needed a group of models for an upcoming event and Donna recommended that I reach out to Zak for this work. We caught up in Coral Towers lobby and ended up chatting for what seemed like days. I asked Zak where he lived and he explained his nomadic existence.  Having been raised the child of a diplomat that frequently moved, this lifestyle and ideology immediately resonated within my soul.

The following year we reconnected on social media, as he was interested in securing an apartment and knew I had lived in different types of accommodations. I sent Zak some recommendations and we reconnected over dinner on the island. We became friends, really good friends. Zak would join me on walks with my dog Athena, would bring a tennis ball and libations. We would spend hours watching the sunset, frolicking in the oceans, talking about the universe, future dreams and memories from our past. He took on the role of TRX trainer for morning workouts on the beach and stepped up as an advisor on how to start my own business. After a few months of spending time together, my apartment became his apartment, we spent hours talking, working out on the beach, cooking dinner. Our time together was simple, honest and meaningful.

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On September 10, 2012 we spent a lovely sunset together. Zak was departing the island and we decided to celebrate our time together with a bottle of bubbly, two plastic tumblers and a vast beautiful beach at The Reef, Atlantis. We honored our relationship by writing our names and year in the sand, not knowing what the future apart would hold. Our focus was on the present and being grateful for the moments that we shared. That day will be one I will never forget. We were in love with life, each other and excited for whatever the future may hold. The sentiment was so strong we wrote the words “ Live your life” in the sand at sunset. The one defining moment in our relationship when we both knew that the most important thing was to LIVE YOUR LIFE!

In a serendipitous chain of events, 3 years later we would be standing on that very spot, choosing the “Love your Life” wedding package.  Little did we know, we would use this scene as the backdrop for Atlantis venue called Ocean’s Edge. It will become the spring board for future couples to embark on their life journey together.

 

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The realization is that when you write magical moments down, your dreams can become true in ways much larger and more powerful than you have ever imagined.

I will be the happiest girl in the world when I marry my sidekick, teammate, best friend, mentor and partner in the greatest adventure called LIFE!


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Certified Jet Set: Venice Beach

The wildest west meets the Pacific Coast in the wondrous town of Venice Beach. Long touted as the land of outcasts, artists and tattooed free spirits, this legendary town is undergoing a renaissance. Tech tycoons, surfers, celebrities and tourists meet on its streets, everyone looking for the next culinary experience, holistic juice haven, real estate steal and barrel wave. A perfect day in Venice seems easy to find. Rise early as the locals do, jump on your bike and peddle to the beach for sun salutations, join a free Tai Chi class or hit up the Bikram studio for a sweat session.

EAT:

Juice shops are a plenty in Venice Beach and my two favorites are Kreation on Abbey Kinney and Moon juice on Rose Ave. Décor inspired by a herb shed with sprouted greens and faux grass, Kreation offers a healthy dining experience and juices & elixirs that promise to cure an array of ailments. Moon juice is a Venice staple and has a cult following that dream about their offerings such as the spirit elixir, turmeric cayenne shots & almond milk with strawberry and colloidal silver. Arguably one of Venice’s culinary giants is Gjelina’s on Abbey Kinney, which is an advocate for fresh ingredients & jolly green vegetables. The menu changes daily but always features fantastic greens, vegetables, light pizzas and an array of worthy dishes. A dinner reservation can be tricky so instead opt for lunch in the courtyard. Indulge with a glass of Sancerre, grilled fava bean & mint salad, & finish off with a butterscotch pot for a decent dessert. Feed is another spot worth mentioning for a late night bite.  Enjoy Gjusta bakery for a casual coffee and a smoked fish sandwich with glorious greens. Superba Snack Bar dishes up the best brunch with the Short Rib Eggs Benedict with Avocado Hollandaise.   Off the beaten path is Another Kind of Sunrise.  This hideaway serves the best Paleo Granola Acai Bowls along with Bulletproof Brew made from ghee & coconut oil. Guess the golden rules of the Venice culinary scene are; Never create a meal in Venice that isn’t a conversation starter and all things green are cherished.

PLAY:

Venice embraces its electric culture with t-shirts that read, keep Venice weird. An afternoon stroll in Venice can entice one to buy street art and photograph the famous graffiti walls that color the city.  You can always find a vintage shop to stop in as well to see yesteryears relics. Venice Vintage Paradise is a well-curated collection of interesting odds & ends at reasonable prices. An impressive collection of globes, leather goods, colorful Mayan inspired prints and retro furniture will keep you browsing for hours. DNA boutique has been voted the best retail outlet by Los Angeles Magazine and it’s easy to see why. It houses an ecletic mix of cheerful clothes and accessories and is the spot to pick up a statement piece at a great price. Pop into Mystic Journey Bookstore to meet a spiritual healer for a numerology reading or pen your mantra with a henna tattoo. Stroll down to the beach to watch the drum circle, A venice tradition. Old, young and people of all sorts unite and sway to the rhymth of the drum with no judgement. Something you have to experience to believe! Anything goes in this city of free spirited souls.

 

STAY:

While Venice lacks hotels it makes up for it with a collection of interesting & unique Airbnb options. Generally a friendly and accepting city, home sharing options fit into the inviting spirit of Venice. An invitation to try your hand at surfing or join a backyard bbq, the airbnb model is a good fit for this vibrant & colorful coastal town. If you desire your own space, vacation rentals are available at VRBO and more traditional hotels such as the Huntley hotel in Santa Monica is a nearby option.

 

A few days in Venice can lift the spirit, awaken your inner weirdness & expand your context of what a visit to Los Angeles could mean. From the weird and the wacky to the totally abstract, turn your face to the sun, nod your head in greeting & sway to the magical melody of Venice Beach.

 

Happy Travels! For more hospitality & travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

 


Jetaholic Jangle: Restaurants removing tipping policy?

Fox News Shepard Smith

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Could restaurants be moving away from tipping & towards a more standardized approach?

I had a chat (very briefly) with Shep Smith on Fox Business about the trend that some establishments are moving away from encouraging customers to tip but instead place a 20 % service fee on the bill. Now I can imagine that you are all screaming, hell no why should I pay a 20% service fee, but here are a few different ways of looking at it:

Tipping has become a socially accepted habit:

The tipping ideology goes as follows; customers tip when they receive good service & they refuse to tip when they have an unpleasant experience. It is believed that the word TIP is an old acronym for (To Insure Promptness). The reality is that in the US, tipping has become the norm and it is a habitual activity. There have been studies by Michael Lynn, Professor at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration that imply a person will tip the same amount most of the time when they dine out. i.e. you are probably a 15 % or 18% or 20% or 25% tipper. Just as you are a specific type of car person, you get my drift…. So you will probably tip the same percentage every single time you dine out except when you receive horrible service.

Therefore in theory, a server will make more money when they turn tables faster and not because you tip a higher percentage.

How pay out works:

There are several different ways to address pay out and ultimately we won’t go into all those ways. It is important to note that in several incidences the server will be taxed on declared tips on the night, but will be then required to give some of their tips away to the back of the house staff. i.e. the server might be taxed (taxable income) on money that they never see because they have given it away to other staff members. The reason this is done is because the front of the house staff (servers, hosts etc) and back of house staff (line cooks, dishwashers etc) generally do not make the same wages.

Minimum wage:

The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour where employers are required to bring the wage up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The current federal minimum wage has been in place since July 2009. How is this a livable wage? With rising inflation costs several states have raised their minimum wage above the federal minimum. The silver lining in this gloom outlook is that passion individuals are standing in the space of possibility as Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price proved when he raised the minimum annual salary to $70,000 for all his 120 person staff. He did so by slashing his $1 million dollar annual salary to $70,000. Now, that’s one heck of a way to effect change! We have a right to a safe work environment where we can thrive and make a good livable salary. I commend employers that take a stand for their employees and demand a better existence with a more enjoyable work environment and higher pay scale.

Customer’s Perspective:

Perhaps the customer would get better service if there is less competition in the restaurant, the food is better (as the line staff is better incentivized) and there is a general sense of well-being, as the servers can stop focusing on how much money they made and instead start focusing on providing a fantastic dining environment for patrons.

Ultimately, the restaurant patron has the opportunity to decide where they choose to dine & spend their hard-earned money. This philosophy might just remove the weight of providing the most excellent service from the server’s shoulders and rather place it squarely on the restaurant manager and entire restaurant staff. Having a phenomenal dining experience is a multi dimensional collaboration and this might remove the angst & desire to micro manage from the customers plate and place it on the establishment to ensure a seamless experience.

The reality is that we all work hard for our money and have a right to have a great dining experience. Therefore if you are unhappy speak up in a nice, polite manner.

If it were an establishment worth their chops they would appreciate the honesty & straightforward approach.

 

Happy Travels! For more hospitality & travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

 

 

 

 

 

Cappadocia: Eat, Play, Stay

Cappadocia is one of the most interesting, untouched and exotic regions in Turkey. Located in the middle of the country, in a area commonly referred to as Central Anatolia. Cappadocia is one of the oldest regions know to man. Famous for the lunar like landscape, and   cone – like formations that serve as housing for the residents, this region is one of the hippest new destinations.

As one drives down the dirt road to reach Goreme, one of the main town, it’s the twinkling lights and pre-historic limestone based rock formation that steals the show. With a landscape that looks like a scene from Star Wars, it’s easy to see why this destination is at the top of every exotic travelers must do list.

For an out of this world adventure to match the dramatic topography; here are a few of my favorite experiences to be had in this rocky region:

EAT:

With a history that dates back thousand of years its no wonder that some of the cooking methods are still stuck in Byzantines times. Swing by Dibek restaurant where one can step back in time and enjoy a home cooked meal in an handmade clay pot.  The clay is collected from the nearby river just as it has been for centuries.The best part is finding the perfect crease to crack the pot open to release the delicious aromas. Whoever knew that smashing pots would be so appetizing!

Hot Air Balloon rides over Cappadocia

PLAY:

There’s no better way to explore the lunar landscape than through a birds eye view in a hot air balloon. Butterfly Balloons is the premier operator of hot air balloons in this region and they provide an experience like no other. With knowledgable staff and a pilot that seems to know every inch of the skies, you can feel secure in the fact that you’re in good hands as you drift through the clouds.The trip starts at dawn and one sees the landscapes in all the glory of the first morning light. An unforgettable ride later, the crew is ready upon your decent with a glass of crisp bubbly. Trust me, it’s a perfect way to kick off  your day!

STAY:

Rated as one of the best hotels in Cappadocia, Kelebek is a small boutique hotel with a mere 14 rooms, all of which are situated in the historic caves. What it might miss in size, it makes up in warmth. It’s a hotel in which one immediately feels comfortable, from the home spun blankets that cover the sofas to the friendly staff that serve fresh apple tea at all hours, one can’t help but feel at home. There’s something remarkable about sleeping in an ancient cave that has all of the conveniences of a modern day luxurious hotel room. Let’s face it, Cave men never had it so good!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Cave Hotel room
Photo credit: Kelebek Cave Hotel

About

CecePortraitwLogo2Cecile Raubenheimer is an experienced television host, travel consultant and humanitarian.

The daughter of a South African diplomat, her deep rooted sense of compassion, enthusiasm for travel and discovering new cultures has been nurtured since birth. Her career as a host & consultant have led her to over fifty countries and different types of experiences, but one changed her perspective.  While working at Atlantis, Cecile was part of making a terminally ill eight year old’s dream of swimming with dolphins come true.  That experience opened her eyes to the true power of transformative travel.

She discovered her purpose as a storyteller and committed to using her voice to raise awareness for causes that matter in an inspiring, entertaining and uplifting manner.   She is passionate about empowering others to break through their limitations and evolve in the process.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Instagram and Facebook

Certified Jetset: Mosaic Santuary, South Africa

* Luxury Boutique Property * Self Catering Available *Couples & Family Friendly *Wedding Venue

Nestled in the Overberg Mountain range just outside of the beach town of Hermanus, a scenic two-hour drive from Cape Town city centre, is the sanctuary of Mosaic. This expansive property houses two different accommodation types; the Lagoon Lodge consists of 5 luxury safari style suites perched on the edge of the Lagoon, each with its own deck providing the most incredible views. The Mosaic property is a mere 3 kilometers up the road and consists of 4 self catering style cottages that sleep between 2 – 10 people.

The Spookhuis Café (which translates to Ghost House) was originally constructed in 1896 and has recently been restored to reflect its former glory. Open for lunch to the general public with a lovely selection of fresh salads, sandwiches and impressive selection of cured meats & cheeses it is a marvelous place to take in the history, hospitality and views that have placed Mosaic Sanctuary on the map.

The Lagoon Lodge is a small well designed luxury boutique property with 5 safari style suites, each with it own expansive deck and rock and reed outdoor shower. A centrally located reception and dining room is exquisitely designed to reflect a Grace Kelly meets Out of Africa chic reflected in rugged surfaces and natural fabrics. Co-owner Kathryn Johnson’s keen eye for interior design is reflected in each detail.

While owned by an American couple, the property exudes true African culture and customs. From the exceptional service by the butlers to the culinary delights that had us swooning over dinner, our chef (appropriately named Gift) had a knack for preparing interesting and thoughtful dishes. Perfectly cooked Quail stuffed with fresh herbs from the farm garden to Malva pudding with Rooibos tea infused custard. The only foreign component is the crispy Bacon served at breakfast.

A host of fun activities are included in your stay and range from the robust Quad biking exploration, relaxing boat excursions on the Lagoon or early morning kayak adventures amongst the resident Flamingos. My personal favorites included a daily massage in the Mosaic Rain Spa and sundowners on the spectacular Walker Bay beach dunes.   A truly memorable vacation where you can kick off your shoes, indulge in world-class cuisine and move to the rhythm of South Africa’s own drum. Acres of pristine wildlife, indigenous fauna and flora sit perched on the edge of the Hermanus Lagoon with the Overberg Mountains serving as water-coloured backdrop. Majestic qualities exist in this sacred space: from weather that changes in an instant to the ever-changing shades of the Limestone Mountains.

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The Stanford area has experienced a recent boom from sleepy small town slumber to culinary epicenter with an array of fantastic restaurants that feature fresh produce from neighbouring farms and the surrounding wine country. Visitors flock from the more populated Hermanus and further reaching Cape Town to spend a few quiet moments wandering through antique shops and delighting in the town’s culinary offerings. Being on the whale watching route and a mere 30 minutes from Gansbaai, a town that specializes in Shark Cage Diving, has also made this a hotspot on the tourist route.

From early morning walks in the bush, exploring the nearby areas to sipping sherry late night around the fire, the Mosaic property has a vibrancy & frequency that is marching to its own beat. Close your eyes, open your heart and you too will be swept away by its rhythm.

Check out Mosaic website or show them some social love at Facebook & Twitter.

Interested in staying? Shoot us a note at info@certifiedjetaholic.com for the ultimate experience!

Happy Travels! For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

 

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Certified Jetset: Nashville, TN

The Music City is making a comeback in a big way. With recent features in The New York Times Travel section, Travel & Leisure &   mentioned at every respectable dinner party, Nashville, is one of the hottest travel destinations and it just might be cool enough to add to your fall getaway list. I had the luck to explore this exploding cuisine scene last week with Nashville foodie insider Instagram NashvilleFoodFan. In ode to this weekend’s Music City Food & Wine Festival created by Kings of Leon (yes, NashVegas is THAT cool!) here are a few of my culinary hotspots!


Barista Palor:

A revamped auto repair garage where motorcycle grease, science experiments and superior coffee grounds meet. Hipsters, artists, tourists and soccer moms all congregate within it sterile space. Reclaimed wood interiors, practical Glass decanters and baristas in butchers’ aprons bring these glorious coffee beans to life. Perfect spot to edit your Instagram feed over a Sausage & buttermilk biscuit topped with peach marmalade.

Barista Palor

Pinewood Social:

This is where Soho House meets the South. The ultimate spot to dine, wine & play all day long! Brothers Ben & Max Goldberg are the dining darlings of Nashville with 5 restaurants in their collective with a combined revenue of $10 million. While The Catbird Seat is an award winning chef tasting room, the kitschy honky tonk Paradise Park pays homage to cheap & cheerful Trailer Park inspired grab & go, Pinewood Social is in a league of its own. Grab a coffee in the living room, crafted bourbon cocktail at the bar or invite your nearest & dearest to throw down pins over a pitcher at the bowling alley. One destination where you can strut inside for Roasted Peaches & Burrata for breakfast and stumble into an Uber at 2am. Don’t mind the tipsy bachelorette parties, it comes with the territory.

Pinewood Social

Santa’s Pub:

No James Beard chef in sight at this double wide trailer dive bar. The beer is cold, the atmosphere warm & the karaoke is phenomenal! Throw your name in the hat to sing alongside some of Nashville’s musically gifted and challenged. Named one of the best dive bars in America, this hole in the wall will not disappoint. You might even get to meet the real Santa Clause! Trucker hats optional.

 

Feeling Social?

Follow NashvilleFoodFan on Instagram for the latest food pics on the NashVegas culinary scene! Trust me, so many mouth watering moments!

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Happy Travels! For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

 

 

Summer Local: Bodrum, Turkey

There are few things as fabulous as a stunning Mediterranean beach town in the height of summer. Bodrum, Turkey ticks off all the boxes as one of the most laid back but marvelous summer destinations that the Aegean seas have to offer. Move over Mykonos, there is a new neighbor in town!

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Beach view of Kempinski Barbados Bay

Originally a sailing hub, Bodrum has evolved to cater to the traveling elite. With fabulous luxury chains such as Kempinski Barbados Bay to smaller boutique establishments like Macakizi there are a range of opulent accommodations to call your home away from home.

When in the mood for an alfresco dining experience Mimoza Restaurant is the spot to be. Located in the quaint fishing village of Gumusluk this beach front property is chic without being too pretentious. The fresh catch is generally the way to go, or better yet strike up a conversation with the owner and have him send over his favorite dishes. Trust me, it’s the prime spot to live and eat like a local!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

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Al fresco dining at Mimoza Restaurant

Eat, Play, Stay: Block Island, RI

Block Island is an adorable fall getaway for the nautical and nature inclined. Nestles 13 miles off the the south of Rhode Island coast, this tiny island is accessible by ferry from Montauk, NY or Point Judith, RI. Featuring 17 miles of pristine beaches this small community offers more than it’s historical buildings. Armed with a bicycle, sweater and over night bag I tackled its rocky coasts to see where to eat, stay and play. EAT: There are several cute cafes that offer sensational ocean fare with a view to match. If you’re in the mood for a fresh seafood on the beach head over to Ballard’s where steamed lobsters are served with delectable sides. Rebecca’s is a local take out spot where the Clam cakes and lobster roll are all the rage. In the mood for a more sophisticated meal, The National is noteworthy alternative to eating standing up. Tuck into a Spinach & Steak salad or Fresh Fish tacos with cucumber sour cream. In the mood for a classic bar food, the spring rolls stuffed with crab and shrimp will be sure to hit the spot. picstitch-23 copy PLAY: There are few better ways to explore the nautical town of Block Island, Rhode Island than on a bicycle. Most on island vendors offer a range of bikes from beach cruisers to petal pushers with baskets. An over night rental will set you back a mere $40. Armed with a bottle of water, sunnies, bikini and sunscreen Block island will be your oyster. The steep incline of  Spring street will be well worth the workout as one is gliding along the serene coast line. A quick stop at SecondEast Lighthouse to admire the landmark that was built in 1873 before trekking down the stairs to stroll the rocky beach at Mohegan Point. Not in the mood to practice for the tour de france? Several adorable stores line the main street. Cool to be Kind is a beachy boutique with a moral conscious. Besides the usual summer frocks they carry cool jewelry lines and cosmetic cases made from recycled materials. picstitch-22 copy STAY: The historical island boats quite a few inns and bed & breakfast options. Spring House Hotel  is perched on top of a hill that overlooks the expansive bay. A mere 5 minute bike ride into the center of town this hotel stays true to its colonial roots but with nicer decor. What the inn lacks in amenities it makes up for in home spun kindness. A few days here breathing in the salty fresh air & watching the mesmerizing sunsets will rejuvenate even the weariest soul. For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Locals Only: Kennebunkport, Maine

New England summer trips are the quintessential reason we dream of balmy nights dancing on the beach. The past weekend a great group of girls ventured up the East Coast to the small sleepy town of Kennebunkport, Maine to celebrate my best friends Annie’s birthday. A quaint beachfront cottage in Wells Beach housed the bunch and day trips to Kennebunkport & Ogunquit were in order. While there was an array of fantastic experiences, here are my top picks:

Hidden Pond:

A luxury retreat that is nestled in the forest, these bungalow cottages serve up the perfect balance of privacy, serenity and accessibility. It reminds me of grownup summer camp with a specialization in Indian herbalogy.  The restaurant Earth, is a farm to table concept with a focus on well-balanced dishes and utilizing herbs & plants found on the property. After dinner cocktails around the blazing bonfire is one surefire way to reach your inner wild child.

Earth outside patio

The Clam Shack:

When it comes to the perfect Lobster roll there are a few different schools of thought. The Clam Shack has a holistic approach to this summer staple. Simply put, one pound of freshly steamed lobster placed between a perfectly toasted roll. Drawn butter & mayonnaise is served on the side with some coleslaw. You design the perfect balance yourself and the result is pure magic. Drenched in butter with a slather of mayonnaise was the perfect way to kick off my stroll around downtown Kennebunkport.

Ultimate Lobster Roll

Daytime Society:

One of the cutest beach lifestyle stores I have seen in a while. An array of nautical inspired home wares, apparel, jewelry & books makes this every jet setting travelers dream trading post. Check out the online store as well!

Perkins Cove Cruises

The rustic marina holds a few seafood restaurants and serves as the departure points for the cruise charters. Scenic Breakfast cruises, Cocktail sunset cruises or try your hand at catching a lobster or two on the Lobstering Trip. There’s nothing like freshly caught seafood for dinner!

Don’t mind the fanny pack crowd, as your first seal sighting will make the ughh, tourist trap completely worthwhile.

The Tides

Situated a stone’s throw away from the sand this beach club features 21 Jonathan Adler inspired guest rooms and a boutique restaurant. Perched on the patio sipping Rose in a rocking chair is the epitome of a great getaway!

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For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

 

 

 

Certified Jet Set: Executive Bus coach gets classy with Fox Business

The Old School commuter bus services have undergone a facelift and let’s just say this face is looking pretty sweet. Long lines, expensive airfares, increased TSA security fees and the reclining seat drama (read about Knee Defender United Spat) has primed this transportation mode for a glorious come back. I had a lovely chat with Fox Business Gerri Wilson to see what makes the Executive Bus Coach the sweetest ride on the road. Here’s the details:

PRICEY AIRFARE HAS TRAVELLERS TAKING A DIFFERENT ROUTE:

The new TSA Security fee has increased by up to 60% from $5 roundtrip to $11.20 roundtrip so consumers are looking for alternative ways to travel. The old fashion commuter Bus is making a come back with newly designed layout & features that cater to a savvy & busy business traveler.

BUSINESS SAVVY AMENITIES:

Some Amenities include free wifi, ample leg room & space, workspace tables, televisions, satellite radio, power outlets, cup holders, reclining seats, and even seat food & beverage & snacks service.  One bus line even has a conference room!

DO THEY HIT ALL THE MAJOR CITIES?:

These types of bus services are not offered in all cities due to distances, but in several major commuter cities such as NYC to Boston, Dallas to Austin, LA to Vegas, and NYC to DC

Interior of Royal Sprinter
Interior of Royal Sprinter

 

WHICH COMPANIES ARE THE EXECUTIVE BUS ALL-STARS?:

VonLane

This service runs between Dallas to Austin and is priced around $100 one way. It is hailed as one of the pioneers of the new standard in Executive Bus services and comes equipped with complimentary wifi, work desks and even features a 6-seat conference room!

RoyalSprinter

Is the brain child of restaurateur Andy Seligman, where he redesigned an 8 passenger Mercedes-Benz Vans. It features staggered seating so that each commuter has their own mini workspace with reclining chair & cup holder.  At $90 for a one way the route from NYC to DC is competitively priced with Amtrak’s off-peak one way fare of $84 and much less than the cheapest airline coach one way of $160 (airfare & cab to JFK) and $375 for first class Acela express seat.

LimoLiner

LimoLiner promises to remove the strain and stress from commuter travel by providing wifi that works, outlets at each seat, clean restrooms, reclining leather seats, satellite tv, blankets and pillows and even complimentary wine on the evening commute. Commute from NYC to Boston starts from $69 one way.  I would have loved this on a recent bus ride to Boston which left me tired, bored, hot, and without cell service or wifi for 4 hours.

I am looking forward to testing these alternatives on my next trip between big cities…  What are your thoughts?

 

Happy Travels! For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Knee Defender No More?

Forget Road Rage, Air Rage is new transportation Rage!

A United flight from Newark, New Jersey to Denver, Colorado was diverted due to unruly passengers having a spat that involved a small but feisty device called the Knee Defender. Here’s the lowdown on the gadget that is making waves in the airline industry.

HOW DO THEY WORK?

A small plastic device that one attaches to the arms of your meal tray. It prohibits the seat in front of you to recline. It’s a very cheeky device. These bad boys retail for around $22 and can be purchased at kneedefender.com & through Amazon.

ARE THEY TECHNICALLY ALLOWED ON PLANES?

The FAA states that the Knee Defenders do not violate any specific rules and it does not prohibit the use.

However, airlines spoke out against the device when it hit the market in 2003 and most airlines do not allow consumers to use ANY device that prevents seats from declining. After the recent incident, a spokesperson for United “we do not allow customers to use devices that prevent seats from reclining,”

But the male passenger refused to remove the device when asked to do so by the flight attendant.

As you can imagine the airlines are not very fond of the device as it prohibits seats from reclining when they are intended to and can create a combative flight environment as seen during the recent United airlines spat.

 

Do you think this type of gadget should be allowed on aircrafts?  Do you recline your seat if possible?  Do you ask first to be courteous?

Share your comments or point of view Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+. Happy Travels!

Certified Jet set: Hotel Surcharges Tricks & Tips with Fox Business

Hotels are following suit behind the airline industry and creating additional revenue through surcharges and fees. With projected revenue of $2.25 billion, a 6% increase over 2013 this revenue is rapidly growing and the burden of financial responsibility will fall squarely on consumers shoulders. I sat down with Fox Business to discuss hotel tricks & consumer tips in this booming industry.

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Check out the Fox Segment here -> Hotel Nickel and Dime Guests with Surcharges

Let’s take a quick look at the types of surcharges & fees that hotels are charging and what travelers can do to combat the charges:

BREAKDOWN OF SURCHARGES AND FEES:

Resort Fees:

This category is specifies amenities that the hotel provides for its guests.  While these amenities used to be included in the room rate most hotels are now charging for these services & amenities separately. A configuration of these amenities can include the following:

  • Internet
  • Gym
  • Newspapers
  • Beach or Pool Chairs

Energy Surcharges:

  • A nightly percentage of the room rate that is charged to help off set the increased in utility bills.

In Room Safe Charges

  • Some hotels will charge you a fee $1 – $ 4 per night for us of safe, regardless of whether you use it or not.

Mini Bar Charges:

  • Inflated prices on mini food & beverage products
  • Sensors that notice when item is picked up and held for 60 seconds. It will then automatically charge your folio.
  • Some hotels charge administrative fees charged for restocking the minibar

Stored Luggage Fees:

  • Checking out at noon but only flying out later? Several hotels are now charging a per piece luggage costs of $1- $5 dollars.

Guarantee Fee:

  • A fee that I’ve dubbed the ‘Guarantee Fee” Several hotels are charging fees for guaranteed 2 Queen Beds, late Check out, early check in etc.

Mandatory Tips:

  • Several resorts in the Caribbean especially, charge mandatory per room tips to the hotel folio.

Destination Fee:

  • A new nonsensical fee that has been seen in Hotels especially in Las Vegas. The fee doesn’t really have an explanation but can tack on an additional $5 – $10 dollars.

WHY THESE ADDITIONAL FEES?:

  • Mandatory State Tax varies from each state.
  • Largely unregulated market, i.e. hotels can charge what they like for amenities & services.
  • Free market mentality & several hotels exercise bait & switch tactics.

 

WHAT TO DO TO BE A SAVVY TRAVELER: 

ASK:

Be proactive: Ask about mandatory fees & taxes BEFORE you book

PLAN:

Use additional resources (nearby coffee shops such as Starbucks with free wifi, monthly subscription wifi apps such as Boingo, bring your own snacks instead of attacking the mini bar) Skip the in room massage and opt for booking a nearby Spa with beauty on demand app, Beautified.

LOOK:

Be extra attentive & keep on the lookout for additional charges. Check folio carefully before you sign. It’s easier to remove charges at check out then trying to remove them afterwards. Use the power of social media to complain about condition of room or compliment a great experience.

LOYALTY:

Research & join a hotel loyalty program that can provide complimentary upgrades & amenities

SMILE:

It always helps to be nice, especially in hotels. If you have a great interaction with front desk agent they might upgrade your room, offer a complimentary resort fee etc.

 

Happy Travels! For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

Eat, Play, Stay: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Lake Atitlan or (Lago de Atitlan as it’s referred to in Spanish) is known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Situated 80 miles outside of Guatemala City, it is located in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. Surrounded by several volcanoes this expansive body of water is 50 square miles in size, 1,000 feet deep and home to several villages, resorts, hotels and vacation homes that thrive on the water’s edge.  There is also range of activities that solidifies Lake Atitlan as an adventure destination. Here’s a taste of what to experience and where to stay in Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan at this spectacular destination.

Villasumaya

EAT:

While there are a crop of nouveaux cuisine restaurants popping up on Lake Atitlan, it is Cafe Sumaya situated at the well-known Villa Sumaya yoga retreat that is definitely worth a mention.  An all vegetarian cafe that specializes in creative cuisine utilizing natural and organic ingredients grown locally. Herbs are picked from the retreats own garden and the new Juice bar prepares juices and fresh smoothies injected with nutrients that promise to cure most ailments. I fell in love with the homemade raw flax-seed crackers and raw cacao balls. A very reasonable price point ensures that being healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. They offer a digital cookbook so you can indulge in these delectable dishes in your own kitchen!

LosElementos

PLAY:

With so many different villages on the banks of the lake that all speak their own languages and have their own customs a village tour is not to be missed. I spent a day with my friend and guide Lee Beal owner of Los Elementos Adventure Center exploring the local villages by private boat. Having spent the past 7 years in Lake Atitlan, Colorado born Lee is one of the lucky few that seem to have been promoted from “expat” to “local”.  Geared with a wealth of knowledge and a knack for excitement Lee has become a Jack of adventure trades. Whether the activity was kayaking on a sunny day or exploring the local villages, Lee is the man!  We watched a demonstration of how villagers grow, pick, process and dye the cotton that are then hand spun into the most beautiful clothing, accessories and blankets. I picked up an antique hand-woven tapestry for a mere $40! For those that are complete thrill seekers, Lee offers rock climbing tours and there are zip lining options in Panajachel.

Laguna Lodge

STAY:

Lake Atitlan is a perfect destination as there are a range of accommodation options that fit any price point. My favorite resort is the secluded Laguna Lodge Eco Resort. A boutique hotel with a mere 7 rooms, each situated with awe-inspiring lakeside views. Built into the mountain this multi-level structure houses a  sun deck, lounge, spa, hot tub, restaurant, nature interpretation room which provides information about local flora and fauna and several living areas designed for optimal relaxation. Most rooms feature an outside living area with a couch and area primed for al fresco dining. A king sized bed with strategic Volcano views and intricate Mayan decor and textiles sourced from the nearby villages. An open plan shower and glass partition allows for privacy while still maintaining the sought after views.While the rooms are luxurious, the amenities abundant and the cuisine cleansing; it is the sustainable philosophy of the Eco resort that catapults Laguna Lodge into a league of its own. Laguna Lodge has recognized their social responsibility, not just to the land, but also to its natural inhabitants. Several initiatives have been put in place to assist with Eye Care, Dental Care and Medical needs for the town. The resort hosts yearly projects where qualified health dentists and doctors visit the area to provide medical aid for those in need. Though the nightly room rate is high for this region, it is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that your stay has a positive impact. In a world of mega resorts and large hotel chains it is refreshing to see small socially conscious boutique resorts make a profound impact on our environment.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Belize: Epic Inland Adventures

Belize is located in Central America. Bordered by Guatemala and the southern edge of Mexico, it has a long coastline to the Caribbean Sea. Home to approximately 330,000 people, the official language is English though Creole, Spanish, Maya & Garifuna are also spoken languages. Belize is known for the Great Blue Hole, having the second largest barrier reef in the world, and for the several spectacular Mayan ruins that occupy its jungles. Belize is at the top of every adventure addicts Bucket List as there are different experiences in each region. We will be featuring several articles in a series that tap into the array of types of experiences one can have in this stunning destination. Here are the top 3 travel adventures in Inland Belize!

Best view of the Mayan ruins in by UltraLight!

Ultralight it! One of the most spectacular & accessible Mayan ruins in Belize is Xunantunich. This architectural wonder is set on a leveled hilltop and is reached by crossing the Mopan River on a hand-cranked ferry. The ruins are impressive when viewed from the ground but the sheer size and magnificence is not fully comprehended until seen from the sky. A bird’s eye view from a gliding ultralight is the best way to fully experience the wonder of the ancient Mayan Civilizations. There’s nothing like reaching a height of 3,000 feet when the pilot turns off the engine, and one gently glides over the ruins in absolute silence. With just the feeling on the wind hitting your face it’s an epic way to cruise the sights, Certified Jetaholic style! For your bravery & fantastic photos you’ll be entitled to some serious bragging rights! Top Pick:  Pilot Robert Combs from Ultralight Adventures Belize Near San Ignacio.

Beautiful jungle views – on a horseback or during a hike

Cave Tumbling A thrilling way to explore the spectacular caves that Belize are known for, Cave Tubing is an adventure that entails a tube, lots of gushing water and a group of your favorite friends. As you’re perched on the tube, it floats down stream into an underground network of different caves. There will be encounters with strange fish, carved Mayan murals and possibly a few-w ancient artifacts. Be sure to wear a swimsuit, as you are sure to be tumbled into some cold water. It’s a terrific way to learn about the culture & history in a way that will be sure to get your heart racing. It’s one wet & wild ride! Top Pick:  Cave – Tubing. A little gimmicky but they have the experience as they do lots of tours. Riding a Stallion in the Jungle It’s not as saucy as it sounds but riding a horse through the jungle is still a heart pounding adventure.  A local guide will lead the tour through the dense jungle as he points our local trees & plants indigenous to that specific area. Many Belizeans still make use of the healing plants found in the jungle for traditional healing practices.  The guide will point out which trees are vital to survival such as the Water Vine. It’s a fantastic way to explore the jungle while still a safe distance away from the tarantulas and snakes. You might even hear a Holler Monkey! Top Pick: Horseback riding at Chaa Creek. The pioneer resort for Eco- Tourism in Belize. They know how to take care of their animals & their guests. Stay tuned for the follow-up article that dives into Belizean sun, sand and all there’s to see under the sea! For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Lush Jungle

Jetaholic Jangle: NY Apple

In honor of of the glorious Big Apple,  here are a collection of my favorite jetaholic New York habits at the moment.

Ahh, New York must you always be so marvelous!

 

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Happy Hour always make me even happier:

The summer days are approaching time to tuck into few oysters, bubbly and beautiful sunsets are in order.

 Grand Banks is one fabulous spot that will have you yelling, “I’m on a boat!” Note to self, high heels are optional and the early birdie might still get a seat. A cold white wine spritzer and fresh air will also do.

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Beautify Yourself:

Seeing supermodels strut down the runway and fashion blogger pose in their latest ensembles is definitely inspiration to keep up our fabulous and hard-earned summer figures. Beautified (the fabulous on demand beauty app) has just launched their 2.0 version that includes last-minute fitness classes from svelte & slamming bodies in Manhattan. The app also works in other cities such as San Francisco & Los Angeles. Of course, there is also the whole Special K cereal “gain when you lose” diet or my favorite, the all you can eat chocolate chip cookie diet. The calories leak out when you break the cookie, I swear!

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Get from A to B in a way that is E-Z:

I travel a lot, like a lot, a lot. I say mostly for work but secretly I like to move and will find any excuse to see a new place. My latest obsession is carry on only travel when I’m hopping from city to city. I find a secret pang of excitement when I’m packing my nifty ECBC carry on bag for with all its fancy pockets and compartments & external power pack. Especially when I skip the security line because I signed up for TSA pre- check and I’m using a mobile boarding pass. Wohooo!  Too much excitement! Let’s just say you’ll see me strutting through the airport with enough time for a quick wine spritzer (hello, happy hour is any hour!)

CERTIFIED JETAHOLICS SAVINGS:  

ENTER coupon code: JETAHOLIC for a 20% savings on all EC-BC Luggage including both Elite and Modern Collections

 

JET-SET STYLE: Love the look?

SKIRT: Versace Skirt shop a similar style here & perfect black fall version here.

SWEATER: Gap (from last season)  shop a similar Tibi style here (and it’s on sale!)

SHOES: Zara here an updated fall Alexander Wang version

 

 FEELING SOCIAL? For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

Certified Jetset: Steps to securing a great airfare Fox News

If I received a penny every time someone asked me how to secure the best airfare, I would be a proud owner of my own private island ;-) I sat down with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News to chat about specific tips on securing that great fare.

Click here for the clip……

In case you missed the segment here are my top tips: How to specifically get the best deal on an airline ticket:

1.)  Know your route.

  • Be informed regarding the departure airports & hubs closest to your departing & arrival airport. This allows one to search for a range of airports that might be close to your final destination. Ex: Flying into NY there are 3 airports in vicinity, it broadens the search for lowest fares.
  • Also helps to have market research and know what a deal looks like for your route…

2.)  Book Early

  • It is important to book your flight early. There isn’t an exact science but general rule is last-minute fares are more expensive.
  • CheapOAir did a recent study where it analyzed 1.3 billion airfares and concluded that 54 days in advance was the best time, on average, to buy domestic tickets.
  • This is not a hard-and-fast rule, however. It varies depending on route, destination & season. For example when book a flight to Hawaii in the winter one would need more lead time to secure a good deal.
  • When you see a fantastic deal, book it. Most airlines allow for cancellations within 24 hours on booking a flight, but make sure to check their cancellation policies before booking. Look at airline prices the next day and see if they had dropped. You can then cancel & re book at a lower fare.
  • Websites like Options Away & Level Skies will hold a fare for a fee for a specific number of days.

3.)  Be flexible on your travel dates.

  • Searching for travel dates within a +/- 3 day window generally helps to find a more affordable option and at the very least might save a few dollars.
  • If you’re really flexible several airline sites such as Kayak offer a neat graph with additional possible travel days.

4) Monitor the market

  • Create alerts to be informed when your route fare is reduced or a great deal appears

Sites like Hopper analyzes & has reports on which months are the cheapest months to travel and tells you what fares other passengers are booking for that specific route.

 

Happy Travels! For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

Culinary Curated: Street Food Istanbul Style

Every Travel Tuesday I daydream about my next destination, next adventure, next experience. But sometimes it’s important to just kick back and remember the journey. Istanbul is still one of my favorite destinations in the galaxy for street food. Fried mussels, stuffed mussels, I’d even have Turkish ice cream and mussels – I love them all!

Thanks to 21st century technology I can relieve my culinary experiences every time I watch a web clip. My mouth is already watering and my head’s already aching from the Raki… Where’s the closest Meyhane?

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Jetaholic Jangle: Airport Amenities with Fox Business

Finally, an airport conversation that doesn’t focus on the terrible aspects of travel but rather the great amenities that airports are offering in order to ease the stress of travel. I sat down with Melissa Francis for Fox Business to discuss the upside of airport travel.

Pet Therapy:

There are several pet therapy programs that have recently sprung up in airports. One such a program called PUP, which stands for Pets Un stressing Passengers is on a mission to bring joy & laughter back to airports and help ease passengers fear of flying. Let’s face it, we all love a cute furry friend!

Air Fit:

A mad dash to the airport can cut into your daily workout. Airports such as Philadelphia,  Dallas/ Fort Worth & San Francisco are providing complimentary fitness options to travelers. Jump on one of the elliptical machines or stretch your tired muscles in the 24 hour yoga studio which comes equipped with complimentary yoga mats and DVD instruction.

Gourmet Cuisine:

Long gone are the days of vending machine candy & granola bars. A new crop of gourmet restaurants are popping up to provide airport travelers with a culinary experience while in the midst of a traveling frenzy.  Food Network Kitchen provides gourmet grab & go options while celebrated tv chefs such as Iron Chef Alum Cat Cora & Top Chef finalist Michael Voltaggio offer contemporary culinary delights in a more formal setting.

 

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Instagram and Google+

 

Jetaholic Jangle: Your World with Neil Cavuto

This has been a devastating week in the world of airline travel. The crash of Air Algerie is the latest aviation incident to rock the world this week. I sat down with Fox News Neil Cavuto to discuss the sad occurrences this week and possible future repercussions.

Feel free to leave your comments or thoughts. Do you believe that Americans are now more fearful of flying?

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

Jetaholic Jangle: Airbus Bicycle Seat Patent

In a world of already tiny airplane seats, Airbus is filing a new seat patent to create even smaller saddle seats. Armed with artist renderings that resemble crash dummies, I popped into the studio with Shepard Smith from Fox News to discuss the uncomfortable & humorous direction of airline travel.

Click here to watch the witty segment.

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Move over Tour de France, we’re discussing the Tour de Arse-craft! :-)

 

Firstly the fact that we are calling it a seat is probably a stretch. It resembles a mass tandem bike contraption. With no cup holders, tray table, headphone jack and no hope of reclining even the most basic conveniences seem to have been stripped down to the bare minimum. Luckily, Airbus is only requesting to file a patent and has stated that they do not necessarily intend to commercialize the seat and the patent is merely a way to protect intellectual property. The question it begs to answer is what direction is air travel flying towards?

As the gap between budget, bare minimum airplane travel & luxury private aviation widens, a new market is emerging that is catering to the cultured class of individuals that demand decent service at an affordable price. Jetsuite.com is one of the star players in the field that offer last-minute private aircrafts at a fraction of the cost. Perfect for when you have a group of friends all flying together to the same destination and who can split the cost of the aircraft. Airpooler is a startup that claims to take the Lyft ride-sharing business model to the skies. The basic premise is to pair pilots and passengers that are heading to the same destination. The passengers will pick up the fuel cost and help contribute to the cost of the trip. The FAA has a few hurdles that Airpooler needs to overcome as far as safety & security regulations, but the ground work has been laid. When faced with cattle in economy class tandem contraptions, the effortless ease of affordable private travel might just take off.

Feel free to share your thoughts, comments or suggestions. How do you feel about the new proposed patent?

 

JETSET STYLE: Love my look?

Obsessed with my dress from Aritzia and I absolutely love my Givenchy Gladiator Sandals. Those are hard to find but these Jimmy Choo ones are very similar. Did I mention that they are on sale? :-)

 

Fox News: TSA Security Fee Increase

Summer travel is about to get more pricey and this time it isn’t the airlines doing. On July 21st the new TSA Security Fee increase will go in effect. The current Security Fee of $2.50 for a one way and $5 for a connecting flight will increase to $5.60 for a one way and an additional $5.60 for each leg if the layover time in between flights exceed 4 hours.

I sat down with Fox News to discuss how TSA Security Fee increases will effect travelers this summer. Here’s a rundown on what smart, savvy travelers need to know to save on summer travel.

 

How much are TSA Security fees being raised in July?

  • Transportation Security Administration fees, which are added to ticket prices, are set to rise. The agreement raised the fees from $2.50 to a flat rate of $5.60 added to each leg of a trip for a nonstop flight, or $5 for a trip with a layover.
  • The TSA is looking to charge an extra $5.60 fee for each leg of the flight where there is a connection of more than four hours.

 

Why are fees being raised?

  • In December’s budget negotiations, Congress agreed to raise the fees, which are estimated to raise $12.6 billion in the next 10 years. The revenue is to be used to offset TSA costs for providing civil aviation security services, after stipulated amounts are applied to reduction of the Federal deficit.

 

How will higher TSA fees affect airline travelers?

  • Currently the TSA per passenger security fee is $2.50 for nonstop flight & $5 for a flight with connections. The per passenger fee will increase in July from $2.50 to $5.60.
  • The fee will also be charged for each leg of the journey if the layover between flights logs more than 4 hours. In other words: A TSA security fee that is now $2.50 for a one way & $5 for a flight with connections will be broken down to $5.60 for a one way and $11.20 for a journey with 1 layover.
  • There are times that travelers cannot avoid layovers and will now have to pay the additional $5.60 if the layover is over 4 hours.
  • Layovers are already a hassle and with the additional fees will become even more costly, timely & undesirable.
  • The fees will hurt consumers in smaller cities that have to take more connecting flights to reach their destination.

 

What can consumers do?

  • Do your best to understand the new proposed Passenger Civil Aviation Security Service Fee Adjustment by going to Regulations.gov
  • As of right now these fees are set to increase, however Congress may still overturn this increase at the eleventh hour, so feel free to express your displeasure about the new fees.  
  •  Voice your opinion & let your state rep know. Here’s a list of social media accounts for Congressional Representatives.
  • Book flights before July 21st to avoid charges for the higher Security Fees.

 

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Certified Chic: Beautified in a Bag

The word is out in jet set circles that Beautified is the seasons most sought after beauty app that allows one to get your beauty on in a fix. Long gone are the days of setting up beauty appointments with a two week window. Beautified app allows fashionistas to book last minute beauty treatments in a flash.  Now the beautified partners Annie Evans, Hannah Brofman & Peter Hananel have joined forces with Net-a-porter to create Natural Nomad Essentials Kit their first product where all your summer essentials are packaged in one TSA approved stylish bag. The contents of this swag bag includes a Beautified VIP card (i.e., $25 off your next service booked through the app); Ilia Multistick in Sway (a bronzy hue); Rahua Volume Spray; Tata Harper Body Lotion and Body Oil; Joya Composition No. 1 roll-on perfume; LAFCO hand lotion; and RGB nail polish (in an exclusive mauve shade called Beautified), cuticle oil, and remover pad. Everything you would need to look fabulous in a New York minute. The beauty bag will go on sale July 2, just in time to get your Independence Day sparkle on!  Click here to get your swag on!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

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Fox News: Last Minute Summer Rentals

It is the time of year where everyone is vying for a vacation. If you are one of those that like to plan your vacation at the last minute (like me!) vret no more as there are still ways to score a summer getaway!

I sat down with Gerri Willis of The Willis Report on Fox Business to chat about tips on how to find a jetholic bargain!

Here’s the lowdown on the best bets on where to score a bargain:

Firstly, decide where you want to go and how you would like to get there. The way to book a summer beach cottage might not necessarily be the same method used to book a five star luxury hotel. The transportation method will be determined by the destination and your budget. Below are my picks for the best websites to try your luck in finding the ultimate summer bargain!

 

Top Summer Rental Websites:

FlipKey.com

Great site that is under the parent company TripAdvisor. one of the reasons it id such a great site to search for summer rentals is because the site showcases photos & reviews from real people! No photoshopped photos here!

VRBO.com

This site stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner and is affiliated with the HomeAway.com community. A very helpful place to start searching for rentals in smaller coastal town or off the beaten path places in the US. The mother company, HomeAway has recently acquired mobile app “Glad To Have You” which helps property owners communicate with their renters.

Airbnb.com

The media darling at the moment, this site has listings from over 34,000 cities worldwide. A variety of different price points  and accommodation types makes for an adventure search. If you’re looking for a tree house or retro airstream this is the spot to find it!  If you want to use it, here is a $25 credit to get you started… :)

 

Best Flight Site:

Kayak.com

With hundreds of sites that all promise the lowest airfare rates it can be a very confusing and frustrating process to search for the lowest fare. Kayak.com pulls data from over 400 airlines and streamlines it to provide the best fare for the travel dates.  My favorite feature is the search window that displays fares from one to three days before your departure & return date. A very helpful way to find the cheapest fare when your dates are flexible.

 

Best All Round Vacation site:

Expedia.com

My pick for best all round site as it has several options to search for last minute vacation under the categories Tonight, This Weekend and Next Weekend. All you’ll need is a credit card, adventurous spirit & your suitcase!

 

Keep in mind that timing is most important factor when travel bargain hunting. The “Magic Window” to find the cheapest travel deals are between 18 – 26 days before departure! Happy hunting & safe travels!

 

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certified Chic: Montauk Summer Style

As the last few weeks of summer approach the time is ripe to showcase the latest beachy chic summer pieces before the days become shorter and waves become colder. As a minimalist myself I’ve opted for a few signature accessories that are sure to represent lazy summer days waiting to catch the perfect wave at Ditch Plains or strolling in the sand.

Versace summer sandals are perfect for a beach bbq or edgy enough to pair with a gorgeous Indah sun dress for a night dancing under the stars.  Tortoise shell Carrera sunglasses keep the glare out of your eyes and allow for surfer boy watching from a respectable distance.  Ditch the heavy summer tote and grab a Samudra &  Ladyslider  collaboration beach clutch to hold your summer essentials. It doubles as a make up case to remind you of sultry summer flings even after the leaves turn.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Culinary Curated: Dune, Ocean Club

When the heat wave hits New York and the Hampton’s are overcrowded,  clever globe trotters head to the One & Only Ocean Club, Bahamas for a few days on sun, sand, sea and solitude. Though situated mere miles from the hustle of Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, The One & Only Ocean Club is an oasis of serenity and bliss. Situated on a stunning stretch of sand called Cabbage Beach this boutique hotel offers some of the finest cuisine on this Caribbean island.

Celebrity chef Jean- George Vongerichten celebrated DUNE Restaurant is an ocean side hot spot that offers al fresco dining at its best. Classic French cuisine is fused with Asian flavors to produce innovative cuisine that is sure to please even the most discerning palate. Though the price tag can be hefty, the crystal clear ocean waters, celebrity sighting and spectacular sunsets make this dining experience one worth remembering!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Summer Local: Sipping on Sky Juice

Summer nights are meant for swaying under the stars sipping on a refreshing libation. After a night of over indulgence, a fool-proof hangover cure is coconut water.  There is no better way to cure that headache and kick off the weekend island style with a delicious coconut cocktail from Arawak Cay, Nassau Bahamas.

Here is the recipe for one of the easiest and most traditional Bahamian cocktails:

SKY JUICE

1 oz Gin

1/2 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk

Top with Coconut Water

Pour the gin, condensed milk over ice. Top with fresh coconut water.

Sky Juice is a cocktail that pays homage to the simplicity of island life. While the juice of a fresh green coconut is preferred there are great coconut water brands such as Waiola or Zico that can be used instead.

Trust me, I’m sipping on Gin and Sky Juice!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Fox Business: Social Media Driven Hotels

CLICK LINK TO WATCH MY SEGMENT- > A Twitter-themed hotel?

I had the pleasure of chatting with Connell McShane on Fox Business this morning about the new trend of social media driven hotels. On the heels of the world’s first Twitter hotel, Sol Wave House in Majorca, Spain, a new hotel is getting some news worthy buzz. 1888 Hotel, a boutique venture that has recently launched in Sydney, proclaims to be the worlds first Instagram hotel. This 90 room establishment has all the bells and whistles that comes with a hotel focused on a digitally conscious consumer. There is a dedicated “selfie” space where guests can take photos and upload to their Instagram accounts, tagging the hotel’s #1888hotel hashtag. Guests photos will then be displayed on screens near the check in desk. When one tires of capturing hotel photos, An insta-walk has been curated in collaboration with a Sydney fashion blogger. Guests can enjoy a 45 minute stroll around Sydney Harbor while taking Insta-worthy photos. For guests that have a large Instagram following of over 10,000 fans can share their snaps with followers in exchange for a complimentary additional night stay. Whether this social media driven hotel trend will continue remains to be seen, but at least your Instagram feed will be looking snazzy!

For those of us that aren’t that social media savvy, check out Groupon Getaways, Gilt Jetsetter  & Hotel Tonight travel app for last-minute vacation deals to suit your travel needs.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

 

Certified Chic: Haven Montauk

With most Manhattanites ventures east to Montauk this summer, hotel accommodations have become a rare commodity.  While the draw of sun, surf and sea is inspiration enough to trek 3 1/2 hours out of the big apple, finding lodging for that sea-side getaway can be quite disheartening.  Thankful the newest of Montauk’s cool boutique hotels, Haven can pursue even the most discouraged New Yorker to getaway for a weekend by the sea. Recently renovated this 27 room boutique hotel is getting all the latest buzz for its chic, simplistic decor and reasonable price point.  In celebration of its introductory summer, Haven is offering a fabulous getaway at a fraction of the price.  Now you can even spring for a new bathing suit from Surf Bazaar, a surf lesson at Air and Speed Surf Shop and tuck into a sugary treat from Momofuku Milk Bar.  That’s what I call a sweet deal!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

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Airline Passenger Rights – Feds proposes new rules to end deception

The Department of Transportation has proposed new regulations that will uncover airline added fees and promote transparency & good business practices within the airline industry. Let’s just say, I’m for one, excited & hope these new regulations go into effect.

I had a chat with Neil Cavuto for Fox News to discuss these new regulations.

–> CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

Here’s a rundown of the new proposed regulations & how they will benefit the consumer:

 

Airlines have to disclose additional fees for basic items:

Goodbye to last minute  frantic repacking of suitcases at the airport check in line as airline passengers will be aware of additional costs such as 1st checked baggage or carry on charges. If you’d like to bring your entire wardrobe you will be painfully aware of how much that extra 5 pairs of shoes might cost you and maybe reconsider your packing habits.

Airlines have to share information with travel agents & online ticketing services.

With online ticketing services accounting for roughly 60% of ticket sales this transparency & communication will extend beyond the airlines websites and also include other ticketing services. So you can book at Expedia & still have the correct information.

Expand the definition of “ticket agency”:

Long gone are the days of walking into a travel agency & booking your flight in person. This broader definition will include online flight search tools such as Kayka Or Google Flight. Great for those of us that use Google for everything. Did I just see their stock price go up? :-)

Expand the pool of airlines required to report performance measures:

Currently only airlines that have 1% or larger market share have to disclose their performance report card as it relates to late flights, lost bags & passengers that are bumped due to overbooking. As the pool is expanded to include smaller airlines there will be a larger focus on accountability.

Large Travel Agencies have to adhere to customer service standards:

This measure will hopeful bring the humanity back to customer service as agencies will be required to respond to complaints  & hold reservations at the quoted fare for 24 hours. This will apply to fares made more than a week ahead of scheduled flight departure. Who knows with the extra time to might have time to find an even less expensive fare!

Airlines & ticket agents to disclose if ticket sold if operating under a different carrier:

It seems like common sense, if you book under one airline you plan on flying on that airline. If the airline decides to use a different carrier you should at least be told correct? This new regulations would force airlines to disclose this pertinent information. It just seems like good business practices and it has been shocking to realize that this is not legally required. If I bought McDonalds fries because that was what I was craving and instead received a bag with Burger King Fries I would be quite shocked & angry. Now that isn’t the best analogy but the logic still stands. We should know & receive what we are purchasing.

Prohibit unfair & deceptive practices by airfare search tools:

The regulation will prevent airfare search tools to rank some flights ahead of others without disclosing their biases. So basically if the search tools have an agreement with a specific airline to favorably rank their flights ahead of other flights the consumers will have to be notified. This will even the playing field and allow consumers to see all the flight options instead of just the ones that have a prior arrangement with a particular airline.

While there are those that are not in favor of these regulations, it’s my opinion that the consumer has a right to know what fees they will be charged before purchasing a ticket. Currently it’s tricky to find out or decipher the true cost of a ticket. With more information consumers can make better decisions when it comes to choose an airline carrier.

I’m still first in line for the airline carrier that provides comfy sofas, complimentary jello shots and a mid flight dance party.

A girl can dream.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

 

Jetaholic Jangle: Overcoming a Long Haul Jet

Let’s face it, even the best traveller can be overwhelmed by a long haul flight to the other side of the Galaxy. Here are some tips to make that 12 plus hours more bare able.

Check in Early:

The early bird gets the worm or in this case the eager traveler gets the best seat.

There are several fantastic seats that are available on long haul flights but you have to check in early and ask for these seats specifically. I prefer the window seat next to the exit doors as I enjoy having ample leg room and rest better with my head again the window. Some people prefer the middle seats as in the event that they are vacant one can sleep spread across 4 chairs. In the event that you have a horrible seat on the plane, ask the flight attendants if there are other seat options available. When you wake up in a foreign city with the flu after your sickly neighbor coughed on you all night you would have wished that you asked.

Jet in Stylish Comfort

Generally most international airports are vast and moving from one terminal to another can include some serious walking. It’s important to wear comfortable, layered clothing and shoes but also look presentable. A suit isn’t a requirement but nice slacks and comfortable shoes are a must. I’m always cold on long flights so I invested in the most incredible cashmere travel set from Ralph Lauren. It isn’t cheap but staying snuggly & warm for 12 hours is pretty priceless. On long haul flights some airlines do provide a dental kit but these are dying out due to cost cutting measures. I always travel with a toothbrush, comb, small bottle of perfume & deodorant to ensure I look and smell my best. One of my favorite travel kits are from Philosophy. It includes fabulous shampoo, conditioner, cleanser etc. Just throw in your toothbrush & paste, lip balm & gum  and you’re ready to roll!

Philosophy Travel Set, Power Monkey Travel Battery & Ralph Lauren Travel Comfort Kit
Philosophy Travel Set, Power Monkey Travel Battery & Ralph Lauren Travel Comfort Kit

Drink the happy juice:

With some many different people in one tight space there are bound to be germs floating about. Although one quite can’t sanitize the entire plane there are a few things to do to ensure your arrive healthy & happy at your destination. Spray hand sanitizer once you are seated in your designated seat and turn off the air con vent above the seat. Drink a multi vitamin, vitamin c tablet and knock back a natural sleep aid such as Melatonin. You’ll awake feeling refreshed without the sluggish feeling once can get from a sleeping pill.

Power it up:

Any clever traveler knows to power up all necessary electronic devices that are needed during the trip. However we all run out eventually. There are several newer aircrafts that have power outlets built into the individual seat units on the plane. In the event that you are  flying on a plane from circa 1980, invest in a battery back up system like the Power Monkey. Slim, lightweight and it comes with all the different gadgets you need for an Iphone, Mac, Blackberry and Samsung. So you can enjoy another entire season of Modern Family while giggling into your glass of Merlot!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Are you on Google+ ?

Better yet, do you use it yet? Everyone with a Gmail account seems to be involved in Google+ more and more, even without knowing it – New Email/Gmail feature

Since 2012 I have been reading articles about how Google+ is going to be the next big social community.  It has yet to break into my social circles, but with over 500 million users and growing… it seems to not be going away.  After some recent conversations and research, our team has decided to spend more time on it in 2014.

Join me on Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Cecileraubenheimer_CJ

We can all learn this new social network together…  :)

 

Fox News: Airlines squeeze in more seats

WATCH VIDEO HERE – > Fox News: Happening Now – Airlines squeeze in more seats

In an effort to increase the number of seats on flights, airlines are finding crafty ways to minimize the space between seats.  I sat down to discuss this new direction with Jenna Lee anchor of Fox News show Happening Now.

The space between seat rows has declined from 34 inches 20 years ago to present day of 28 -30 inches. The airlines are now looking at other ways to save space by using lighter materials & less padding on seats. While consumers are feeling the space pinch there are ways to ensure you fly a little more comfortably. Most airlines have seat upgrades that provide addition space. These upgrades that can be purchased for an additional fee. Useful travel apps such as SeatGuru help to determine what your seating configuration will look like, so you know before you fly. Therefor one can decide if you’d like to purchase an upgrade before arriving at your designated seat. Even though it doesn’t seem that seats will become larger in the future, we can stretch our knowledge in order to make the right decisions.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Monday

The Oscars was a really fabulous event this year. With so many fantastic films & performances on the big & small screen. My favorite moment of the night was Lupita Nyong’o acceptance speech. The minute that her name was announced I was already in tears and her moving speech created major flood works. She touched upon the idea that we all have dreams & ambitions. The philosophy that to dream big dreams is a part of what makes us human. We are all entitled & should be able to follow our dreams regardless of our age or nationality.

Thank you to the newest award winner for being an inspiration to so many and for reminding us all that we are capable & able to create a life that we want. This week’s Mantra Monday quote is dedicated to this fearless female.

May you have a glorious week. Safe travels!

 

Fox News: Cell Phones During Flight?

WATCH FOX NEWS SEGMENT HERE – > Fox News: Cell Phones During Flight?

How loudly should we spread our holiday cheer? Had a great conversation with Eric Bolling from Fox News regarding the new FCC band that has been lifted on airline cell phone use. In the midst of the controversy, several airlines such as Delta, Jetblue & Southwest has taken a stance again passengers using their cell phones for voice calls. Citing the fact that calls can be very disruptive to other passengers these airlines have stood their ground and will not be allowing voice calls. They are however, looking into measures to allow passengers to use their smart devices to text, email and surf the web mid-flight.

Personally I’m all about spreading holiday cheer (or gossip) as long as it’s done quietly.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

Mykonos: Eat, Play, Stay

Mykonos is a member of the Cyclades, a group of small Greek islands located in the Aegean Sea. According to Greek Mythology, this island was the battleground between Zeus and the Titans and was named in honor of Apollo’s grandson, Mykons. Besides a rich  and ancient history this island is also known for the spectacular climate, wind-swept beaches and delectable Mediterranean cuisine.  Mykonos is one destination on every luxury travelers bucket list.

Sometimes with these destinations the hardest thing is deciding where to start; here are the 3 top experiences that must be had in this glamorous destination.

Kousaros Hotel
Kousaros Hotel

EAT

Greek cuisine is known as some of the freshest & finest in the world. One establishment that’s getting a lot of buzz is Koursaros Restaurant. The decor is simplistic, natural with several wood paneling elements designed to resemble an elegant pirate ship. The cuisine is upscale & elegant with a strong focus of fresh Mediterranean seafood. While the atmosphere is sophisticated, and the cuisine is excellent, it’s the warmth of the staff that makes it a memorable dining experience.

PLAY

Mykonos has a reputation for being a bit of a party town for the hip & fabulous jetaholics. Nammas Restaurant is located on Psarou Beach and  is one of the hottest spots to see and be seen. Tucked away in a little alcove, the sheltered water is prime parking for luxury yachts and other water toys.A restaurant with an impressive raw bar, serves fresh seafood, appetizers and salads.  There is also a small boutique showcasing tiny  bikinis, chic kaftan and designer shades. The main action however is right on the beach, where stunning beach goers parade in their barely there swimwear while sipping on exotic cocktails. Its the perfect spot to grab a few close friends, a couple of bottles of bubbly & indulge in debauchery! Whether you arrive my foot or by boat, this is one hot spot that will continue to sizzle.

View of Psarou beach from Nammos restaurant

STAY

There are several fabulous hotels to choose in this picturesque town. One of my favorites, the Kivotos Hotel is a cool boutique establishment with beautiful views. The arrival experience starts with a glass of crisp champagne and check in happens while lounging on comfortable couches overlooking the Mediterranean sea. One of the quirkiest features is that every room in the hotel is completely different. Decorated in an eclectic fashion, there’s a blend between modern minimalistic furniture and baroque old world elements. The owner travels the world to hand select art that fits into the layout & quirky design of each room.

As each vacation is a different adventure so should be the places you choose to stay.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Privacy at it’s best! Private pool attached to a villa – Kivotos Hotel

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  • 12 Month Calendar with inspiring travel quotes
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  • Copyright images taken by Cecile Raubenheimer
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Udaipur: Eat, Play, Stay

Nestled in the middle of the Rajasthan’ dry desert, this City of Lakes has famously been called the Venice of the East. Situated a mere 150 miles away from Jaipur in the North of India. It is a city that boasts five major lakes, opulent palaces, and a rich culture just waiting to be discovered. Known as the romantic playground of Indian royalty, it’s a must do on any luxury traveler’s bucket list.

EAT:

There are several dining options in this romantic city although most of the fine cuisine will be found in the upscale hotels. The most indulgent meal I had is definitely at the most extravagant hotel; Lake Palace Hotel.. A collection of a few different restaurants that will satisfy any craving, the cuisine is pricey but with a view to die for, it is definitely worth the money. Note any hotel guests are permitted to dine, so save your pennies and indulge in a stay of a lifetime!

CeceCar. copy

PLAY:

A perfect destination for a romantic getaway there are several activities to entertain both partners. The Palace Udaipur’s Vintage & Classic Car Collection’s the pinnacle of every car lovers dream. With a collection of  22 vintage cars that were part of the Royal family’s own private fleet, this is definitely a sight to see! Many of the cars were built-in the 1930’s and are still in mint condition with the highlight being the beautiful 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom used in the movie Octopussy! Cap off the day with a sunset cruise on a Gangaur boat, which is illuminated by candlelight and steered manually by oarsmen. These vessels were part of the antique royal barge of the house of Mewar. Now that’s what I call cruising in the lap of luxury!

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STAY:

Known as one of the best honeymoon destinations, there are several fantastic hotels that will cater to your every whim. Ancient Palaces have been converted into 5 star hotels with all the modern amenities one could ever hope for. I had the privilege of chatting with Prince Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Prince of Udaipur at Shiv Niwas Palace, currently his part-time residence. Historically Shiv Niwas Palace was used to be a royal guesthouse, but it’s now converted into a historic hotel. With several notable dignitaries such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth.  Fateh Garh is another tranquil oasis perched on the hilltop overlooking Lake Pichola. This eco-conscious resort was built-in keeping with principles of Vastu, which is the Indian version of Feng Shui and is the ultimate experience in traditional and spiritual Indian living. The most luxurious of accommodations that Udaipur has to offer is the Lake Palace Hotel. Part of the Taj Hotel group, this iconic structure floats in the middle of Lake Pichola. Surrounded by water an all sides, this hotel is the epitome of relaxation and luxury. Each room offers spectacular views over the lake, personalized butler service is available and a stroll through the heritage gardens is a must.

This is truly one hotel fit for royalty!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Lake Palace Hotel
Lake Palace Hotel

Fox News: New FAA Pilot Regulations amidst Polar Vortex

CLICK LINK TO WATCH FOX BUSINESS SEGMENT -> JETBLUE Winter Nightmare

This has definitely been a trying week for airline travel throughout the US. A domino effect that started with post New Years travel delays due to the frigid “Polar Vortex” and concluding with the new FAA pilot regulations that went into effect January 4th. I chatted with Melissa Francis from Money with Melissa on Fox Business regarding how the new FAA regulations & winter storms are affecting passengers. In case you missed the clip, here’s what you need to know about the new FAA commercial pilot regulations and how they might affect your airline travel:

  • Pilots are now required to receive 30 uninterrupted, off – duty hours per week
  • Pilots are required to have 10 hour rest periods, including 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep
  • This limits pilot hours in the cockpit from 8 – 9 hours per flight

Jetblue has stated that the new FAA regulations played a role in why hundreds of their flights have been cancelled this week. Let’s us keep in mind that the winter storms and Arctic temperatures have been the main reason for cancellations and delays throughout the North East and have affected the majority of airlines. While Jetblue has mentioned the new regulations as a contributing factor it is not by any means, the main reason for cancellations and delays.

So what does this mean for airline passengers this week? There are long delays, thousands of flight cancellations and expensive layovers. While there aren’t any quick fixes, there are a few things to keep in mind while traveling through bad winter storms. Be sure to double check that your flight is confirmed & on time before departing for the airport. In the event that you can change your travel plans, several airlines offer no fee changes. Check with your airline for their policies.

Most important thing to keep in mind is while the delays are frustrating it is always more important to be safe. The new FAA regulations are intended to keep passengers, pilots & cabin crew safe. We can’t control Mother Nature, but we must respect her power and plan accordingly.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Photo Credit:  WCL_SHAWN via Twitter
Photo Credit:
@WCL_SHAWN via Twitter

 

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Travel Consultant / Hospitality and F&B Consultant::

Dreaming of distant lands, but not quite sure how to reach the shores?

South Africa:  Cecile is very well connected and knowledgeable in that region and frequently visits.

Bahamas: Cecile alos has great relationships, spending 4 years running the special events for F& B at Atlantis Resort.

Miami: Cecile is currently based in Miami and has great access to exclusive events (Basel, Ultra,Sobe Food & Wine, Summit at Sea etc) sought after restaurant reservations, creative partnerships etc.

Drop us a line and we can make your jetaholic journey a reality… step by step.

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Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

 

A legacy that lasts. That is the hope I have for Nelson Mandela’s that whether in his life or death his commitment to democracy, freedom and equality will prevail. The world has lost a great man and South Africa has lost its son. As a proud South African I have always felt connected to this man even though we had never met. He has inspired me to follow my dreams and to play big so that I, in turn, hope to one inspire others. He has now been laid to rest to meet his maker but his impact will last for generations to come.

 

Fox News Holiday Travel Tips

CLICK HERE for FOX NEWS SEGMENT

Great live segment this morning with Heather Childers & Gregg Jarrett, the news anchors of America’s Newsroom on Fox News. Had the pleasure to discuss helpful travel apps and tips to expedite the security lines at airports and to ensure that you arrive at your destination on time & in good spirits. Thanks so much to Fox News for having me as a guest!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

For some reason Monday’s always get a bad reputation. Maybe it is the fact that the lovely relaxing weekend is over and majority of people have to get up and drag themselves to the office in order to earn their paycheck. I use to be one of those people that dreaded Monday mornings. Now that I freelance and decide when and how I want to work, I have a renewed appreciate for this day of the week. I view Mondays as a fresh start. Regardless of what you did last week, the failures and successes, Monday mornings are a clean slate. A shiny new week in which you can refocus and start again. I have never been a morning person, but I’ve recently realized that if I wake up early Monday morning and spend a few minutes exercising my day just starts off on a better foot. This mornings 7am Bikram class allowed me the time to focus on getting rid of negative thoughts, sweating through disappointments and allowing my brain to be energized and refocused.

We ultimate are who we think we are and can accomplish only what we decide to.
Where you allow your thoughts to live is where you will live. Today is a perfect day to re-choose the life you want to leave and align your thoughts to focus on your goals.

May you have a lovely week living in the present and dreaming for an even brighter future!

Meet Cecile

TV Personality, Travel host, Hospitality Insider. Loves a laugh, glass of wine and great adventures. Favorite foods are the ones that I can’t pronounce! Have a secret obsession with karaoke, and anything that sparkles.
For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT ME

Culinary Curated: New York Comfort Kings

The big apple is aptly titled for its fascination with the art of culinary creations. A recent 2-week spin left me dewy in love with the city of fabulous food and sadly 5 pounds heavier.

My New York is not merely made of thousands of beautiful & interesting establishments, but rather I dream of the land of dishes. With winter storms upon us, I just couldn’t resist sharing my comfy & rustic favorites.

On a snowy & dreary winter night in NY there are few things that will hit the spot like a good ‘ole fashion Hot Artichoke Dip. Freeman’s is hands down the king of this delicious dish. Half the fun is finding the spot hidden down Freeman’s Alley!

New York staple Blue Ribbon on Sullivan street is the perfect spot to indulge in a decent Burgundy and decadent Beef Marrow & Oxtail Marmalade Appetizer.

In the mood for a staple NY dish that won’t disappoint head uptown to Serefina’s next to the Dream Hotel. The wild mushroom ravioli topped with a drizzle of truffle oil & Parmesan will hit the right spot.

After a night on the town there’s no better way to beat that hangover by chowing down of the Mac & Cheese trio at Cafeteria. Thrown into the spotlight by several episodes of Sex and the City this classic NY spot is cheap & cheerful.  Smoked Gouda & Bacon, Cheddar & Fontina and the newest creation Buffalo Chicken & Blue cheese are perfectly paired in 3 ramekins to ensure a proper Mac Attack. Wash it down with a glass of bubbly & splash of Elderflower liquor! So good, it might make you skip in glee or at least roll down the street.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Certified Chic: Alexander McQueen Collaborations

My first passion has always been travel and though I don’t consider myself a  slave to fashion there are a few statement pieces every season that catch my eye.  Alexander McQueen  is a label that has stolen the scene and has fashionistas everywhere scouring for their newest tempting pieces. Last night I attended an event where the much-anticipated  collaboration between famed English artist Damian Hirst & legendary label teamed up to create a new line of 30 one-off signature scarves that are literally wearable art.  Quoted on Hirst’s websites the line is “Originally inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the series forms the basis of the exclusive designs in which butterflies, spiders and other insects form kaleidoscopic geometric shapes, laid out to create the signature McQueen skull motif.” While these scarves come at a hefty price tag the idea of owning such an iconic accessory might soften the blow just a  bit.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Fox & Friends: Tips to Weather proof your next trip

CLICK HERE –> TO WATCH VIDEO SEGMENT FOX & FRIENDS: TIPS TO WEATHER PROOF YOUR TRIP

This winter the season should be renamed as travel insurance season as 40,000 flights where canceled in January 2014. Almost 4 times as many cancellations as January 2013 & 2012 according to FlightAware.com. Now while we all know that there’s an option to add travel insurance when purchasing flights, it rarely seems like a necessity and most opt out. I sat down with Fox & Friends to discuss ways to salvage your trip when winter causes havoc.

Here are some tips:

What do you do if you didn’t purchase travel insurance and something goes wrong with the flight?

  • Firstly information & time is of the essence to effectively deal with the situation.
  • Check the airlines website to see what their cancelation policies are. Most airlines will waive change fees during a specified time period during the impending storm and some airlines offer credit if the flights are cancelled.
  • Keep in mind there 2 types of delays & cancellations; Controllable & Uncontrollable Irregularity. Make sure you know which type of delay your are experiencing as you might be eligible for compensation.
  • The airline policies change frequently & can be confusing so be sure to check your airlines policy.

Which airlines are flexible?

  • Jetblue has a great Customer Bill of Rights guide that outlines what customers are entitled to, which assist with managing everyones expectations. They also have cool policy in which if Jetblue cancels a flight, they will waive the change fee to move the return flight  so that passengers can make up for lost time without incurring change fees.
  • SouthWest also has a good policy that even though not all their flights are refundable, they are all reusable. If you cancel a flight then the fare goes into a travel bank and can be reused to book travel at a later date.

How have the airlines adjusted their policies for dealing with the weather recently?

  • Airlines are becoming more accommodating with their cancellation & refund policies.
  • The winter weather has hit the airline industry hard. January 2014 has seen nearly 40,000 flights cancelled, which is almost four times as much as the past 2 Januarys according to FlightAware.com . The airline industry is hiting a rough patch of ice, and trying to retain customer loyalty.
  • Airlines don’t want to cancel their flights but they need safe flying conditions.
  • Know your rights. USA.gov is a great site that clarifies legislation regarding passenger rights.

How do airlines make the delayed/cancelled call – what you can do to try to anticipate it yourself

  • There are a variety of factors such as current weather conditions, impending weather, scheduling that determine whether flights are delayed or cancelled. There are even weather conditions that are not visible such as wind shear or lightning activity.
  • Best way to anticipate delays or cancellations is to stay informed.
  • Most airlines will cancel flights about 4 hours before scheduled departure time.
  • FlightAware.com helps with tracking flight status & National Weather Service provides up to date weather conditions.

Any tips for people with children if they are stuck in airports?

  • Check with the airline to see if they offer meal vouchers. They are not legally required to but many do as a good will gesture.
  • Always have snacks as everyone becomes  less patient when they are hungry
  • Children get bored so make the waiting process a game. I.e play games, eye spy.
  • Download a movie & have everyone watch it together on a laptop
  • Charge all electronic devices so they can play online games.

Stay safe & warm out there! Happy Travels!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Monday

A beautiful morning in Miami! Awoken to the sunshine rays peeking through the window and prancing on the duvet. It’s a stunning, happy and sunny Monday morning but the best part is that it is Veterans Day! A public holiday in which the whole country gets a  bonus “get- out-of-work -for-free” card. While we are all very thankful to have another morning to sleep in, this is a special holiday. A day to celebrate all men & women that fight for our safety and serve their country. People that are selfless with their lives because they believe in a greater good.

May we all be inspired this week to be less selfish and give more of ourselves to others. Imagine all the great things we could accomplish if we stood together….

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Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

Woke up this morning after a whirlwind week in the Magic city of Miami! What a phenomenal place with so many different cultures, languages, cuisine, culture and some fabulous weather. En route to the sunny state I made a pit stop in Nashville, Tennessee to catch up with an old friend and see the honky-tonk culture in all its glory, but more of that later.

After 11 months of traveling to so many destinations, different zip codes, and countries it feels good to be able to slow down and rest my feet in soft sand. Maybe now I’ll have a bit of time to be able to brush up on my Spanish?

I have a feeling that the future is bright and beautiful with possibility! Que tengan un futuro brillante! Let’s face it, possibility and hope sounds good in any language ;-)

Cheers to an epic week!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Athens: Eat, Play, Stay

No trip to Greece is complete without a visit to the picturesque capital of Athens. The city was founded around 1400 BC and was named after the Greek Goddess, Athena. It’s a place that sometimes seems as old as time, but still has all of the amenities of a cosmopolitan city. The ancient Acropolis rising in the center of the metropolis serves as a reminder of this modern’s city long history.

While the Acropolis and Temple of Olympian Zeus are must see tourist sites, there are a few other experiences that every well-versed traveler must indulge in. Here are a few of my favorite spots:

EAT:

The city boasts several fusion-focused restaurants and several Michelin star restaurants however there’s spot that takes the cake. The Galaxy Bar & Restaurant is situated on the rooftop of the Hilton Hotel. The menus consist of light appetizers, traditional mezze,  a few tantalizing sushi rolls and delectable salads. What the menu might lack in depth & complexity, it makes up for in jaw dropping views of the Acropolis. Let’s face it, as important as food can be, when one hungers to celebrate the perfect view with a crisp glass of bubbly, this spot knows how to serve it up!

Stunning day at the beach – Balux Cafe House Project
Photo Credit: Balux Cafe House Project

PLAY:

After a few days trekking around town to catch the sights, a few rays of sun… A pretty beach might just be what the doctor orders to rest those swollen feet.  Balux Cafe House Project is a destination in itself. Located in one of the most affluent suburbs in Athens, it caters to discerning guests & members with an innovative playground for adults & kids alike. Designed to exude the comfort and conveniences of a beautiful beachfront house, this “house project” has rooms that each serve its own purpose. There’s the kitchen that serves an array of different cuisine, an outdoor playground, a quiet library, TV room and even a bedroom that consists of stunning daybeds with views out over the beach.  The perfect place to indulge in chic cocktails and play all day and all night.

STAY:

With hundreds of hotels in Athens there’s something to fit every style and budget. While I enjoy traveling and living like a local, sometimes it’s refreshing to be pampered and spoilt like a guest.  Most cosmopolitan cities have their historical hotels that are ingrained into the history of the city.  NY has the Waldorf Astoria, London has The Goring Hotel and Athens has The Grande Bretagne.  A luxury hotel that boast 320 rooms & suites all decorated with original artwork & restored antiques to provide the old world charm, while maintaining the 5 star amenities one expects from a world-class hotel. The rooftop bar & restaurant serves some of the finest cuisine around and the Cigar Lounge provides the perfect nightcap. The world-renowned spa provides several indulgent treatments; some even utilize local ingredients such as the Ouzo Oil Massage. Another perk is that it’s located right on Constitution Square in the heart of the best high end-shopping district. If you are as obsessed with shiny things as I am, be sure to swing by Zolotas Jewelry Store to pick up the perfect gold gift.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

View from the Acropolis

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

Having spent a whirlwind month in New York, this week’s Mantra Mondays pays homage to the big apple. A city where ones dreams can be made true if you are willing to work hard and never give up on your dreams. New York was the city where I first fell in love with acting, found my first tv gig and created deep and meaningful friendships that will last a lifetime. The city where I learned to fend for myself, where I first fell in love and where my first heartache occurred.

A city so powerful, scary, inspiring and still sometimes disappointing. My latest trip to NY is where I found this beautiful nugget of inspiration. A beautiful afternoon stroll down Bleeker street led me to a quaint store where I found this treasure. I’ve been searching long and far to find a mascot to join me on this jetaholic journey and alas the city of dreams is where my little metallic memento was discovered.

My wish for you is that you have a week filled with inspiration and wonder. A week where you are filled with awe when looking at your beautiful surroundings and a week where you allow your dreams to soar! The sky is the limit!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

 

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

A whirlwind week with tons of meetings in New York had me spinning my wheels in a thousand different directions. I’m working on a few different projects and have moments where I’m very unfocused and unmotivated. Spending a solid day in the office at WeWork (my newest mobile work space obsession!) has allowed for a renewed sense of focus. This gem of a quote came to me courtesy of the lovely WeWork marketing team. In the midst of scheduling pitch meetings and finalizing new tv show concepts, I’m reminded that it takes focus and determination to follow your dreams but it there is an element of patience that is sometimes overlooked. While I have goals and want everything to fall into place it is only by doing that we create. We need to have the patience to be able to determine when an idea has grown through the infancy stage and it ready to become a real, tangible thing. At the same time we need to move forward and connect the different dots. Create synergy between different ideas, live in a state of enthusiasm and be flexible enough to allow the universe to come up with a better idea.

May your week be rich in new innovative ideas and may you have the courage to continue placing one foot in front of the ours at you run towards your dreams!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

One of the reason’s that I absolutely love traveling is that it allows one to see new moments, live new experiences and be reminded that no matter where in the world you are we are all fundamentally the same. I’ve spent the past week rediscovering the sights and sounds of New York City in the fall.  Awaken each morning by the bright air seeping through the sky light, followed by the aroma of coffee from Jack’s Coffee Shop and the nearby construction sounds. I’ve spent hours discovering quaint stores, fantastic new eats  and have attended several food festivals.  I’ve been amazed, inspired and in awe of how so many people co-exist on this tiny island. So many unique individuals, striving to make their dreams come true  and creating a life that they want to live. New York is a city that encourages one to be creative but demands that you are courageous. it is not an easy place to live but then again things that are easy are sometimes under valued. In the meantime I’m just dipping my toes in the water, soaking my senses in this glorious city.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Travel Tip: Colorful Cases

I must confess the longest I’ve spent in one city this year was 2 months in Cape Town, South Africa. Then there was a jaunt to New York followed by a few trips to the Bahamas, a couple of  weeks in Nicaragua, followed by a scenic tour of Guatemala. I then jetted off to Russia to take in the sights of Moscow and St. Petersburg before a whirlwind 3 weeks in Montauk. Though I absolutely love traveling, taking in the new sights, sounds and eating phenomenal cuisine I still yearn for a closet. Yes, some people swoon over a sample sale, sought after dinner reservation or obsessed over the Vogue September issue. Though all of those still make me tremble in delight it is the thought of my very own closet filled with my favorite accessories and hand selected wardrobe pieces that truly make me smile. My dream closet is a succulent carrot dangled in my sight. I daydream of compartments for each of my clutches picked up in exotic locations. I imagine how each piece of jewelry collected from  all corners of the globe will catch my eye, begging to be worn. Whilst my cupboard fantasies are just beyond my current vagabond lifestyle, I have satiated my need for organization with a collection of pouches and travel cases.  Each colorful case serves a purpose and reminds me of each person or place along my journey. I have an adorable Leopard print poach picked up in South Africa that holds my essential external hard drive. Functional black mesh sleeves bought at JFK during one of my infamous airport shopping sprees or my coral and gold cosmetic case that holds my daily beauty essentials. Each case has a personality of its own and holds specific items.  So whether I’m hopping a flight to Istanbul or trekking through  Nicaragua I have a sense of structure even as each day unfolds differently.

So go ahead plan your next adventure and put your packing skills to the test!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

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Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

Another bright and beautiful week has arrived! Gone are the lazy weekend days and we’re back to envisioning our future, following our dreams and creating a life worth living!! I must confess I suffer from a great deal of FOMO. Yes, the slight fear of missing out on fun and fabulous events can affect my psyche much like a threatening disease. Throughout the years I’ve learned to resist this feeling of disappointment and jealousy when I realize that I can not possibly be in two places at the same time and I will inevitably miss out of one fun opportunity. Alas this past week I’ve spent the most glorious time indulging in last-minute summer rituals and activities, but have yet to attend a single Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show. Although I have now arranged my time to watch a few of the closing shows this week I thought it would be great to celebrate all things stylish! Here is a great photo that taken at a shoot for fall fashion at the of the beach cliffs in Montauk.  Paired with the  clever words of Coco Chanel you too can live on the edge!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Travel Tip: Hand Washing DIY

While most of my time is happily spent curating glamorous getaways or exploring new cities sometimes it’s necessary to deal with the woes of a traveling lifestyle. Being a type F (Fun!) personality as oppose to a type A (organized – I wish!) individual has left me high and dry on numerous occasions as a last-minute trip interfered with my dry cleaning schedule.  Although it’s true that jeans, shirts, cute bag and fabulous shoes work in most destinations, I’ve always been someone who wants to be well dressed and somewhat presentable at all times.  Insert my rather extensive collection of silk dresses. Simple, chic and versatile these dresses can be dressed up with shoes for a night out in the big city or paired with flip-flops for a sight-seeing mission. Worn with boots and a jacket in fall or barefoot at a beach party, these jetaholic staples are carefree and light weight.  A quick wash in the sink with Oxiclean, solid rinse and hang dry in the sun.  A few hours later your designer silky duds are ready to embark on the next adventure.

Trust me, hand washing has never looked so chic!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

 

Another week begins! As summer ends a new season unfolds. Instead of mourning the end of long sun filled days we can look to a new chapter in the seasonal story. Where will the next few months take us? What new adventures lie just beyond the glimmer  of the sea?

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Summer Local: Surf Lodge Summer Series

Going on its sixth season, Surf Lodge is a staple pit stop for anyone jetting out East this summer. With a celebrated chef, an array of amenities and a chic laid back summer vibe this legendary Montauk hotspot has stood the test of time and survived several seasons in the notorious wild west surfer’s paradise.  The Surf Lodge’s successful summer series will ignite off this Labor day weekend with a performance by the legendary Patti Smith. Known for such classics as “Because the Night” co written by Bruce Springsteen, this singer/ song writer will grace the stage with her presence at a spectacular sunset concert. Tickets are limited and sold through the Montauk Playhouse Theater.  So kick off your shoes, sip on an Endless Summer Cocktail and sway the last summer nights away.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Monday

Enjoying the last few sunny East coast summer days before the leaves turn and fall kicks in.  Yesterday I spent a few minutes soaking up the sunset on the beach in Montauk, NY  watching young surfers brave the windy day to catch the perfect wave.  There’s something so special about watching these kids taking a risk, chasing the wave, fighting the current in order to finally lift themselves up and ride above the rest. They have courage, passion and determination. Can you say the same for yourself?

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

I was so utterly inspired by this quote this week. In theory we only get to live this life once and no one knows what happens after we breathe out our last breath. If this is the only life that we have to lead we should make it the best one ever! We should be inspired to live a life filled with passion, promise and possibility. We should be able to let go of the drama and live a life that is shiny, fabulous and most importantly OURS.  Create our own opportunities and walk our own path. Where will this week take you?

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Time Travel: Riding to Camel-ot

A trip down memory lane! Throwback Thursday to my early teens while living in Israel we frequently visited other destinations in the Middle East. This photo is from a trip to the top of Mount Sinai, Egypt. AlI I can say is that riding a camel is definitely NOT like riding a horse. Once you get off you’ll never get back on again…

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Monday

There are moments when we are so overwhelmed with possibility that it becomes harder to distinguish between a good choice and a great choice. The past week has been a whirlwind of different activity, new directions and interesting options. The key is to remember that everything one wants and desires can be achieved. Sometimes the hardest part is just choosing the right path. I struggle with making the best choices but try to remind myself that with faith in yourself and a passion for you work, one can achieve marvelous things! May you have a week filled with new possibilities and interesting adventures!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Culinary Curated: Lobster Roll Love

There are few things that scream summer as a fresh lobster! In celebration of all things summer, we have tried and tasted a few of the best lobster rolls to bring you the ultimate hidden Montauk gem.  After hitting up a few of the best seafood roll joints, waterfront Duryea’s definitely serves up a mean roll without any of the fuss.  Fresh seafood is served without any of the frills in an atmosphere that epitomizes old school, laid back Montauk.  With views of the serene water and an uncomplicated menu this hot spot is the perfect place to dig into a decadent summer feast. Just be sure to bring along that bottle of Rose to ensure a spectacular day!

lobsterroll. copy

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Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Monday

This has been a summer filled with jet setting adventures and new challenges. I’ve been fortunate to spent the past 3 weeks in the Bahamas working on several exciting projects. Launched a new  mobile gaming app for the magnificent Atlantis Resort, worked on a big budget feature film produced by Fox Searchlight  and obtained my first client for Certified Jetaholic Consultants. Such an exciting few weeks! Every day is a new opportunity to create the life you want! Make it a good one :-) ox

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Monday

This week marks the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela a humanitarian, anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician that was jailed for 27 years as he fought against Apartheid. Nelson Mandela later became President of South Africa and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.  Mandela Day is recognized on July 18th as a day to celebrate the birth of a great world leader and to continue his legacy. It is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact. My dear friend Werner Gruner who is the founder of the Starlight Global Foundation has been a huge advocate of  The Mandela Day campaign message which states;

“Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.””We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation,” according to a statement issued on Mandela’s behalf.

Check out the Starlight Global Foundation to see 67 ways to make a difference in your community!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Celebrating 40 years!

Today is the day that the Bahamas celebrates 40 years of Independence. A laid back island community of 350,000 people who inhabit 30 of the 700 islands that make up the beautiful Bahamas. In celebration of this beautiful destination and my 10 year-long love affair with the country I found it only fitting to spend the holiday soaking up the sun, sand, sea and celebrations. Kicking off a quick day trip to the Bimini Islands via a 30 minute flight from Nassau. Excited to see what this sleepy island has to offer! Stay tuned!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

The end of a celebratory work week at the beautiful Cove Hotel, Atlantis  and the start of a new chapter. Super thrilled for my lifestyle photo shoot in the Bahamas with the super talented Scharad Lightbourne.  This is the week to focus on bright and positive forward movements, finish my detox strong, get to the gym and work on creating a healthy heart, mind and body.

May you have a glorious week, filled with sunshine and sweet dreams. Oxo

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Red, White and Blue: We celebrate you!

Happy 4th of July! A wonderful time to reconnect with friends and family and to enjoy all the blessings that summer has to offer.  A time to remember how lucky we are to live in a liberty.  We have the ability to choose where we live, were we want to work and who we want to be. There are so many that don’t have the same opportunities so remember to be thankful for all our gifts and blessings. May you spend this holiday weekend soaking up the sun, envisioning a future that is even brighter with love, laughter and freedom.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Certified Chic: Beautified in a FIX!

Every New York girl knows that when it comes to last minute beauty treatments we’re always doomed. Picture this… scrambling down 5th avenue in heels, Barney bags in tow, while trying to dial countless salon phone numbers in hopes of booking a quick manicure or blow out before a big event?  Sounds like every Manhattan gals worst nightmare!! Insert the newest and most clever app solution to getting your glam on in a jiffy; Beautified. Launched a few weeks ago, this beauty app is getting all the buzz. From mentions in the fashion Bible, Vogue to shout outs on Tech Crunch, this beauty app lets users book last minute appointments from their smart phones with a push of a button.

On a recent quick 24 hour layover in New York enroute to the launch of Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas, I decided to try Beautified and see if this nifty app could hold up to the hype. I secured a mani & pedi at FIX Beauty Bar located in Midtown. Besides the chic decor and lovely interior, the real perk of FIX is that they specialize in simultaneous blowouts and nail services so you can get your hair and nails done at the same time! Now for any gal on a time crush this is truly a game changer!

Before my strands turned green with envy I headed over to John Barrett Salon to get my tresses looking bright and beautiful au natural. Let’s face it, we’re all natural blonds, some just need more help than others! While the decor and penthouse address is impressive, it’s definitely the Barrett Braid & Ponytail Bar  concept that tickles my fancy. Brain child of hair master John Barrett himself, the Ponytail Bar is the newest offering in addition to the uber successful Barrett Braid Bar that debuted last summer. Whether one wants a classic blow out, messy braid or chic ponytail there is a hair menu to fit everyones taste.

Cheers to Beautified, an app that makes looking certifiably chic so simple!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+Jbarrettwm

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

Hello Summer!

This week’s post is inspired by the quaint little historical town of Block island, Rhode Island USA where I had the pleasure of spending two glorious days last week. Between munching on fresh lobster rolls in several quaint seaside restaurants and strolling through its streets eating gelato, I have never been so excited for summer!Maybe it was a sugar high or perhaps it was the fact that I live in a world filled with so much possibility. Every day is an adventure, every day a new experience and every day I am committed to embracing change. So get out there, grab those lines, trim your sails and sail close hauled into the wind. This life is one crazy ride, we might as well enjoy it!

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Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

The quote of the week was inspired by Russian born Ivan Panin. Having just spend 3 glorious and eventful weeks in the vibrant country of Russia, I thought it was only fitting to share this special quote. There is power in a positive disposition as one chooses to see the brighter side of life. A magnitude of wonderful adventures and experiences await for all of us this week. May we have the insight to recognize and act upon these possibilities. Go forth and create the life you want. May you have a blessed week!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

The past weeks stroll throughout the historical gardens of Peterhof  Palace outside of Saint Petersburg inspired this quote from Russian novelist Ayn Rand. Peterhof is a grand estate founded by Emperor Peter the Great in 1705 and served as his traveling chambers outside of his newly found capital of Saint Petersburg. A sprawling estate that houses the Grand Palace, several expansive gardens and the legendary Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain. Fondly referred to as Russian Versailles this property is a wonder of natural beauty and human ingenuity. From the larger than life fountains that were part of Peter’s the Great original plans for Peterhof to the serene water views overlooking the Gulf of Finland a more expansive, well planned and majestic estate, one would be hard pressed to find. It is this creativity and foresight that made Peter the Great a formidable and admired leader. May we all strive to leave such a legacy behind!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Lost and Found in Russia

The reason most people travel is because they have a desire and thirst for new sights and experiences. Every seasoned travel will be able a few travel tales of moments of confusion, desperation, inspiration or a combination of all of the above. I’ve been traveling for a long time and have seen my share of incredible sights but have never had an experience quite like the one this past week. I was enjoying a lovely al frescha dinner in St. Petersburg at a quaint outdoor restaurant. My travel friend and I had just ordered our entrees and had settled into conversation when two gentlemen came into the restaurant  and looked around. The first guy turned around and walked out, while the second guy took a seat at the table opposite us. I thought it a bit odd as he was a now alone and seated at a table that had a stack of menus placed on it and served as a make shift hostess station. The first gentleman exited the restaurant and walked away. A few minutes later he walked past the restaurant and dropped his bag on the sidewalk. Naturally we both turned to see what the commotion was and when I turned back around my purse was missing.I completely panicked once I realized that my wallet, phone, camera and passport was in this purse.

Now let me explain, it wasn’t just any purse but a handmade leather cross body bag that I had recently bought in Nicaragua. Definitely not something that can be purchased in a near by department store. In a moment of shocked and panic I jumped up from my seat and raced down the street in my flip flops chasing after the thief. I had no idea where he went but I reacted and was determined to attack and retrieve  my bag at all cost. During my wild rampage through the cross-section I recognized the gentleman # 2 that dropped his bag and accosted him for details. He shook his head speechless, mumbled something in Russian and walked away. At this point my adrenaline had worn off and anger and frustration set in. I returned to the restaurant and called the police.

A few minutes later as I was gulping down some wine in an effort to calm my racing heart, a kind-hearted gentleman (different from guy 1 & 2) pulled up in a black car, walked up to me at the restaurant and returned my purse. I jumped up and followed him into the street to thank him and checked to find that ALL my belongings were still safely protected in the leather satchel. Nothing was missing, not even my cash.

At this point the entire restaurant that had seen this drama unfold gave me a round of applause and we all celebrated the return of my belongings. The reality is that I don’t understand how the whole story unfolded, I don’t know why my purse was returned by a stranger 5 minutes after it was stolen or why it was taken from me at arm’s length to begin with.

What I do know is that there was a kind soul, lucky star or Almighty God that watched out for me. So besides the romantic European feel, intricate architecture and rich history it is the kind heartedness of the people of St. Petersburg that I will remember the most. Let’s face it, being robbed and unrobbed all within 5 minutes is not an experience you would ever forget!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

What a week this has been! I have been spending time with my family in Moscow. It is such an interesting city with a rich and vibrant history. I have been so impressed with the sheer size of the city and the warmth of its people. I’ve been so very blessed with a remarkable family that are kind and generous to each other. Even though they are scattered across the globe they still find time to visit with one another. My time here has reminded me of the wonderful memories I’ve had with my “other” family in the Bahamas. My friends and dear ones that have loved, encouraged and supported me just like my real family. Regardless of what your biological family setup is, it is nice to remember that your friends are the family that you choose! Take a moment to thank those that encourage you to dream big and follow your heart. They are the ones that make this journey worthwhile!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

This past week has allowed me the opportunity to connect with old friends and visit some of my old stomping grounds. I spend a glorious week in New York reminiscing at my favorite restaurants and discovering new spots, spending precious moments with old friends and meeting new ones. I made the trip out east to Montauk, Long Island where I visited the sleepy fishing town just in time for the big summer rush. I took a stroll down memory lane visiting my favorite old spots and spotted a few new establishments. Years ago, I spent a few summers in Montauk learning how to surf, how to work on very little sleep and how to enjoy a few precious moments of real summer beach living. There is something so special about rediscovering familiar places with a new set of eyes. Names, places and people who used to be so familiar, are now a new connection and are experienced differently. Some of us travel for a living, others travel as a lifestyle and other just for the sheer love of adventure. No matter which category you fall into it is important to remember that there are new experiences, new moments and new beginnings right in front of us at all times! Embrace the day and create a life that is worth living!

Certified Tripper: Laguna Lodge and Eco Resort

Lake Atitlan or (Lago de Atitlan as it’s referred to in Spanish) is known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Located in the Central Highlands of Guatemala, it is situated 80 miles outside of Guatemala City.  Surrounded by several volcanoes this expansive body of water is 50 Square miles in size, 1,000 feet deep and home to several villages, resorts, hotels and vacation homes that thrive on the water’s edge.  There is also range of activities that solidifies Lake Atitlan as an adventure destination.

Laguna Lodge is an eco resort that is situated on a 100 acre Nature Reserve outside of Santa Cruz village.  Accessed by a 15-minute boat ride from Panajachel, the main gateway town, it is the remoteness and isolation that adds to the impressive charm of the resort. A boutique hotel with a mere 7 rooms, each situated with awe-inspiring lakeside views. Built into the mountain this multi level structure houses a  sun deck, lounge, spa, hot tub, restaurant, nature interpretation room which provides information about local flora and fauna and several living areas designed for optimal relaxation. Most rooms feature an outside living area with a couch and area primed for al fresco dining. A king sized bed with strategic Volcano views and intricate Mayan decor and textiles sourced from the nearby villages. An open plan shower and glass partition allows for privacy while still maintaining the sought after views.

Laguna Lodge

The restaurant serves a revolving menu of fresh vegetarian cuisine grown from the gardens on site in a creative fashion.  Fresh salads spiced with seeds, exotic cheeses, and traditional Mayan dishes are reinvented to stay consistent with the philosophy of eating as close to nature as possible.

While the rooms are luxurious, the amenities abundant and the cuisine cleansing; it is the sustainable philosophy of the Eco resort that catapults Laguna Lodge into a league of its own. Located 200 feet below the Santa Cruz village, home to 4,000 Kaqchikel local Mayan inhabitants. There are no paved roads that lead to this town and most of the locals still live simply on the land. Physical isolation and several social economic conditions such as illiteracy, poverty and poor medical care that have kept the village in a regressive state. Laguna Lodge has recognized their social responsibility, not just to the land, but also to its natural inhabitants. Several initiatives have been put in place to assist with Eye Care, Dental Care and Medical needs for the town. The resort hosts yearly projects where qualified health dentists and doctors visit the area to provide medical aid for those in need. Micro Loans are offered for various individuals that are affected by unforeseen events or are in need of urgent funding due to natural disasters. The lake’s water line has risen 15 feet over the past 3 years, affecting housing & local businesses. Laguna Lodge is committed to evolving their assistance as the environment evolves.

Though the nightly room rate is high for this region, it is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that your stay has a positive impact.  In a world of mega resorts and large hotel chains it is refreshing to see small socially conscious boutique resorts make a profound impact on our environment. The owners’ love and passion for this magical lake transcends to their guests.

As Certified Jetaholics that live to tread around the world, Laguna Lodge allows us a way to leave our leave our reflection in the water, not in the environment.

Footprints

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Jetaholic Jangle: Mantra Mondays

Sweet Summer! After spending the past week in New York I’m reminded that summer is right around the corner in the northern hemisphere. A new season that promises warm, sunny days. A time of the year where everything seems lighter, more relaxed and people take the time to embrace a new challenge or adventure. It’s the perfect time to get outdoors, focus on healthy eating habits and spend more time with family & friends. Discover a new activity or thrilling sport. Who knows maybe you’ll even pick up sailing! Grab those boat shoes, a pair of sunnies and set sail in the direction of your future!

This was a picture taken in Nassau, Bahamas where I was taking courses and learning to sail :)

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

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Certified Chic: Packing Wish List

One would think that as much as I have traveled, the thousands of airline miles I’ve clocked and time zones I’ve crossed that I would have a breeze packing. The reality is that it just isn’t always that easy. I once heard that when it comes to being organized we always have time for the things that we love doing. I have a fine appreciation for organization and structure but it seems I was born without that gene. In lieu of having the actual natural inclination to arrange my life according to numbers, letters and colors, I’ve developed a few habits that keep me mostly sane.

That is why my current dilemma is so frustrating. I am traveling for the next 3 months out of the same 2 suitcases with very little clothing options. My journey will take me up to the Volcanoes in Nicaragua, into the hustle of Guatemala City, across Lake Atitlan in Guatemala back to Miami, quick turnaround in Cleveland. I’ll then jet off to NY for a week before pattering across the globe to Moscow and South East Asia. What on earth do you pack for those varied climates, cultures and fashion sensibilities? Throw in a camera crew for good measure and everything I carry & wear must serve a function. I love bright colors and bold prints but they don’t work when you’re wearing the same clothes every week. A crisp white linen shirt is one of my favorite things but they wrinkle and NEVER stay clean. Definitely not something I can rock on a dusty working farm in Nicaragua. Every item needs to have function, purpose and still make you feel cool. Let’s face it; men can get away with the same 3 shirts, 2 shorts and 2 pairs of shoes. It’s always been a little harder for females.

Here’s my shortlist for practical items that you NEED in your suitcase regardless of climate, culture or conventional wisdom

Lightweight shirt:

A light cotton button down shirt that doesn’t wrinkle, is very breathable and still looks presentable is hard to find. When you eventually find your trusty perfect fit, buy 3 of them! My favorite blue shirt is from Cotton On and is so light that I can hand wash it and it dries in 2 hours. Throw it over a long dress to keep you warm on a breezy night or over your bathing suit as a cover up. The possibilities are endless!!

Trusty Cotton Shirt and Kick Ass Belt!
Trusty Cotton Shirt and Kick Ass Belt!
Boots that are made for walking!
Boots that are made for walking!

Comfortable Boots:

It’s a fact that flat-soled boots are comfortable, practical and looks as good hiking up a volcano, riding a donkey in Santorini or strolling through Richmond Park in London. These custom-made Italian riding boots have been my closet staple for years! One never knows when you need them whether it is because the weather turns cold or there’s an influx of poisonous snakes. Take those trusty boots along for the ride!

Kick Ass Belt:

One of the reasons we travel is so that we can feel as adventurous as Christopher Columbus but still want to kick ass like Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones. I picked up the coolest, practical and kick ass belt on a trip to a little boutique called Calle Artwear in Managua, Nicaragua. It took me a while to convince myself that the price tag was acceptable, but considering that it was handmade and of course “practical”. This is one fashion decision that I could actually defend!

So whether you are jet setting through the Aegean Coast or backpacking through Asia these are a few items to always keep handy. Trust me, it will leave more time for trying new cocktails in your Certified Chic couture. Happy Travels! ox

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

40,000 Strong

This past weekend we reached a huge milestone.  We hit 40,000 Facebook Fans strong and counting. That is 40,000 individuals that are passionate about travel, committed to exploring new lands and are addicted to adventure. To celebrate this milestone we had the opportunity to spend the day in the sun at one of the Bahamas most beautiful homes. Superstar Beyonce used this location as the backdrop for her H&M photo shoot that was released last week. Let’s face it; if it’s good enough for Her, it’s good enough for us! Here are some photos of the house, stunning grounds & private beach. See, you are always in our thoughts. Imagine… all the places we will travel together…

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

30,000 Strong

Wow! It has been quite a journey so far! Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to read the posts, have viewed the photos and uploaded their own. This is the beginning of an online community that believes that through travel we become richer. Through sharing our journeys, we unite. We are 30,000 Facebook likes strong and growing!

Let us unify the world through adventure! Travel to make a difference!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Culinary Curated: Hong Kong Gastronomy Scene

Soup Laddle Surprise
Creative Soup Laddle Creations
Photo Credit: Bo Innovation

Hong Kong is the international playground of the East. A bustling city of approximately 7 million it is the epicenter of commerce, fashion, art and innovative cuisine. With a cacophony of different cuisines, influences and flavors this city has become a dining destination in it’s own right. Bo Innovation is a restaurant that is at the top of the foodie chain. Alvin Leung is the creator &  Executive chef of this 2 Michelin starred rated restaurant that also ranked #52 on the 2012 World’s Best Restaurant List. He recently opened his second establish Bo London in Mayfair, London to high acclaim. Originally an engineer by trade, he’s a self-taught chef with a fascination with the science behind food and places an emphasis on the construction and then deconstruction of traditional dishes. The 14-course Chef’s Table Menu is an innovative marvel that blends age-old ingredients with modern techniques to create nouveaux extreme Chinese cuisine. Just as a magician waves a wand, Chef Alvin whips his culinary tools to create a spell bounding meal that is not for the faint hearted. Sweet & Sour Pork is reimagined as a pink colored terrier topped with gold leaf and dehydrated charred Pineapple.  A lonely looking Egg yolk perched on a soup ladle, bursts into a familiar chicken soup dumpling. A meal where ones sense of familiarity must be boxes and allow yourself to be enchanted with the strangeness of textures and tastes. Culinary creations that under go a telekinesis of sort; what the mind can imagine, the hand can create. Make sure to bring a pot of gold or your own magic wand as these tricks and treats can cost a penny.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Certified Tripper: Big 5 in South Africa

It can hit your hard at first glance or it can slowly evolve as the seasons change but the African bush has a way of creeping into your heart and sticking around.

It may not seem as impressive as other natural wonders; it’s not as deep as the Grand Canyon or as bright and expansive as the Great Barrier Reef.  Rather its beauty lies in the sheer mystery & simplicity of traditional Mother Nature.

Entering the electrical gates of Black Rhino Game Lodge, I’m reminded of the ruggedness of the Thorn bush, the tales imprinted in the red clay soil and the relentless heat of the African sun. There’s a roughness that triggers the reality that this is Africa. After unpacking & enjoying a light lunch we were off to discover the wonders of the wild on the back of a Safari Land Rover truck. Off to find the Big Five and all the other animals, we were armed with a tour guide with knowledge beyond his years we set off to await the African giant within.

We had our first real adventure when we got stuck in the mud and had to channel our inner Indiana Jones to assist with pushing out the truck. We were rewarded with beautiful

sundowners over the African bush, and managed to catch a pride of lions crossing the road. It was a truly frightening but fascinating introduction into the wilderness of Mother Nature! The evening nightcap around the fire was interrupted by the splashing sounds of an Elephant bathing in the nearby watering hole. At  4 meters high & 15,000 pounds; lets just say I was quite pleased that there was an electric fence between us! What a way to end a perfect day! An early morning 6am game drive offered a different experience. Catching the first rays of the day as they appear over the mountains and hearing the animals stir as they start their daily quest for food.   A fresh kill was wilddogsfeastWMdiscovered as we reached a pack of 16 wild dogs feasting on a Kudu. The earthy scent hits your nose first, then you hear the gnawing on flesh and bone before spotting the unfortunate looking predators. Along the ride we spotted zebras, elephants, a family of warthogs, plenty of Wildebeest and my favorite, Rhinos. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is home to two subspecies of Rhinoceros; the White & the Black Rhino. At first glance they seem similar is physical characteristics and behavior but they are very different. While the White Rhino has a wide, square lip and grazes on grass the Black Rhino hooked & pointed lip is specially adapted for browsing & nibbling on tree leaves. These prehistoric looking creatures are definitely a sight to see! Within the complexities that exist in the circle of life that is so evidently displayed in the wild bush, there is also a sense of simplicity. From the perspective of every animal in the kingdom there is life and there is death. There are brotherhoods, companions and solitary existences. The creatures do not typically hoard food, tend to live peacefully and only attack when it’s a matter a sheer survival.

As humans we can learn a great deal from watching & embracing their existence.  The objective of traveling is to journey towards a new discovery. Sometimes it’s a place, a moment or a feeling. My adventure through the bush has lead me to a renewed understanding of the importance of peace. A few days in the wild reminds one that we are only in a perceived rat race. We need to be more generous with our goods, wiser with our words, kinder to other creatures.  Take a chance, hop on a flight and immerge yourself in the silence of the African stars.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Certified Tripper: Shark Cage Diving

South Africa has been referred to as “A world in One Country” and it’s easy to see why. Consisting of a landmass that’s approximately 472,000 square miles (making it almost twice the size of Texas) 8 different climatic zones and a population of 50 million it’s a melting pot of different cultures & experiences. The Cape Region with its mountainous terrain, tumultuous seas and long sunny days is the ultimate playground for adventure junkies.

One of the most epic adventures to be had in this region is a day trip exploring the seas and seeing the legendary Great White Sharks in their natural habitat.

The trip starts with a briefing from White Shark Diving Company, one of the most experienced operators. The skipper mentions what to expect, policies & procedures and how to behave once inside the cage.  A 3 nautical mile boat ride takes visitor into the heart of Gansbaai’s shark territory. The cage is closed on the bottom and the back of the cage is tied to the boat. Despite the freezing cold water (it was 9 C  / 48 F during our dive) we luckily spotted a shark once we reached the drifting cage. A total of 4 Great whites were seen during the 2-½ hour excursion of which the largest was about 4 meters / 13 feet. I was mesmerized by the sheer size and grace of these magnificent ocean creatures. Known as the ocean’s biggest predators they glide effortlessly through the water and approach the bait out of curiosity, not aggression.

If one can stand the cold (or better stay on the boat), it’s a wonder to watch these mammals move gracefully in their natural habitat.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

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Get to know Cecile Raubenheimer: Interview with Mike Dunphy from Huffington Post

Mike Dunphy of the Huffington post recently wrote an article about some of TV’s Sexy Travel Hosts.  Our very own Certified Jetaholic, Cecile Raubenheimer was mentioned in the article.  Below is Mike’s detailed interview with Cecile, from their limo ride around Atlantis, Bahamas.

Mike: “Stepping into a Limo (the first of my life) at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, where she also served as Sr. Director of Food and Beverage Marketing, I was lucky to find myself sitting next to her.  As I struggled to find a new type of passenger balance on the overly roomy seats, we discussed her road to the travel industry, her views, and her beauty.”

Mike:  What gave you the travel bug? Was it a singular event or something more
gradual?

Cecile:  I grew up traveling my entire life. My father was a diplomat so we moved from one
country to the next during my childhood and I just fell in love with all the crazy
experiences that come along with moving your existence from one foreign country
to the next. I’ve always felt like a bit of a world citizen, my motto is: “Have passport,
can travel”

Cruising at the age 5, British Virgin Islands
Cruising at the age of 5, British Virgin Islands

Mike:  How did you land the job at Wealth TV? Do you feel that your looks had anything
to do with it?

Cecile:  I used to host a lifestyle show for NBC called “1st Look NY”. One of my old producers,
Joe Ochoa went on to shoot the Lux Lifestyles pilot and asked if I would host the
show for them and naturally I jumped at the opportunity.
A travel show is about selling a dream and it might be an easier sell if the person
presenting it is somewhat attractive, but I don’t think it’s a necessity. What’s
more important is a genuine love for new adventures and being able to forge an
instantaneous bond with the people you interview. A big dash of enthusiasm also helps!

Mike:  What are the duties of your job there? Can you describe the show?

Cecile:  I’m the host of the show and one of the producers. One of the things that make
it such a unique show is that we really focus on bringing an authenticity to the
traveling experience. We travel to some of the most exotic destinations such as
Udaipur, India or Cappadocia, Turkey and give the viewer the inside scoop of the
best hotels, culinary experiences and cultural attractions. The show has a luxury
focus, but in the broadest definition of the word. There’s luxury in having choices,
luxury in making the most of every experiences and it’s luxurious to feel accepted in
a foreign country.

Mike:  How important do you feel appearance is travel hosting jobs like yours?  Is it just a coincidence that so many are attractive or is it a trend?

Cecile:  TV personalities tend to be attractive, but I don’t feel like they get to where they
are at based solely on their looks. There’s a certain amount of charm, charisma and
likability that is needed to make a watchable show. Also, the shows I enjoy the most
are based on a sense of legitimacy.
The presenter needs to have a reputation and knowledge on the subject and
showcase it in a way that is fresh & interesting for the viewer. I have a background
in restaurants & nightlife & worked in the hotel industry for years so I understand
how it works. It’s my job to present a show that’s entertaining and honest, but I’m
committed to making viewers feel like they are along for the ride, that they are
part of a brand new experience.

Mike:  Do you feel there is some sexism involved (i.e. male hosts don’t need to worry
about appearance so much)?

Cecile:  As a female host, appearances do matter to some degree and there’s a lot more
work that goes into becoming camera ready. We have to do our hair, makeup and
preferably are relatively fit, where as our male counterparts generally slap on
some powder and are ready to go. The reality is that no matter what you look like
if you don’t have knowledge of the topic and can’t present it in an eloquent and
entertaining fashion, you probably won’t be as successful regardless of your
gender.

Mike:  Who are the travel hosts you most admire? What do you admire about them?

Cecile:  I’ve always been a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain. He has the culinary background
and presents destinations in a manner that is honest and easy for the viewer to
relate to. I love his no-nonsense approach and he seems to genuinely enjoy his
work. I grew up watching “Wild On” on E Network and have always had a girl crush
on Cindy Taylor. I had the opportunity to spend some time with her a few years
back and she’s just one of the sweetest girls around.

Mike:  What qualities, beyond beauty, do you think are required to be good at your job?

Cecile:  A natural sense of adventure, an easy going nature and effervescent enthusiasm is a must.  It’s also important to take the work seriously and realize regardless of the fabulous destinations and crazy experiences, you still have a responsibility to showcase the destination in the best possible light. I think of it as creating a marriage between the perfect destination and the perfect visitor. People want different types of vacations and you have to highlight the destination in an honest fashion so viewers can decide if it’s the right spot for them.

Mike:  Do you ever feel at a disadvantage because of your looks?  i.e the classic blonde
image, for example.

Cecile:  I have been blonde my entire life. I’ve heard every blonde joke & my witty
family told me most of them. I don’t let my hair color or my looks define me
as an individual. I’ve learned a long time ago that we are much more than our
exteriors. There are so many different cultures, languages and traditions, but we are
fundamentally the same. If we can focus on our similarities instead of our differences,
we’d be living in a pretty remarkable world. One of my favorite travel quotes is by
Henry Miller “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
I always remind myself that I’m a South African that have happened to be fortunate
enough to experience great adventures. It’s a blessing to be able to share the story
and the journey with others.

Mike: What is one of your favourite Destinations?

 Cecile: One of my favorite destinations is Capadocia, Turkey. A spectacular spot with topography that looks like a scene from Star Wars. I took a ride in a hot air balloon at dawn and seeing the sunrise against the lunar like landscape reminds you of how small and insignificant humans can be. Mother Nature performs her own magic and we’re just along for the ride. Drinking a glass of bubbly overlooking the scenery is a heck of a way to kick off the day!

 

Hot air balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey
Hot air balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey
Mike: What’s one of the best parts of the job?
Cecile: I’ve always been a foodie and believe you should try everything once; be it gnawing on crickets in Hong Kong, pig feet soup in the Bahamas, Bone marrow on a South African farm or Foie Gras & Marshmallow Fluff in New York.   One of my most epic meals was one in which I ate a very simple meal of chicken, pork chop, rice & beans in Havana, Cuba. It wasn’t that the food was marvelous, but rather the fact that it was created by a newfound friend that had met me a mere hours before, but had invited us into his home to meet his wife & children and sit down for a meal. They had very humble means, but went out of their way to prepare expensive items for us to feast on. They wanted to make us foreigners feel welcome in their country and opened their hearts and homes to us. The bathroom didn’t have running water and we ate off plastic plates, and laughed through the language barrier, but it was one of the most special & memorable meals of my life.

Mike: You must have some terrific travel memories. What are a few of your favorite moments from the show?

Cecile:  ‘Do as the locals do’ has always been a motto of mine and I had one of the most epic nights at the Wahoo’s Lounge in San Pedro, Belize. The bar specializes in a game called “The Chicken Drop” in which guests bet on bingo like squares in a big pen and then a live chicken is used to determine which number wins. Basically, whichever number the Chicken leaves his drop on is the winning number. I was chosen to be the gatekeeper & had the privilege of blowing on the chicken’s butt before placing the animal in the pen.  It was a little embarrassing but quite funny and we all had a good laugh. The real victory lies in the fact that they made me feel welcome and like one of their own.  Nothing like a few beers and chicken poop to get to know the locals!

For more info on Mike Dunphy:

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Certified Soiree: Ring in the New Year!

As the year draws to an end there’s a renewed focus on appreciating the moments and memories that have been weaved together to form a year. New Years Eve is a night to put all cares aside, and celebrate the past and hope for an even brighter future. People from all walks of life, different cultures and nationalities stand together to celebrate a new beginning. Though there are different new years traditions and cocktails the philosophy is the same regardless of language.

Here are a few quick & easy recipes to ensure that you get your ‘jetaholic fix’ with cocktails from around the globe.

Bubble Juice

This is a festive & simple cocktail that will impress!  Lycees are a fruit that originated in South East Asia, but are now cultivated in several countries worldwide. Its easy to find in it’s canned form anywhere and it adds an exotic twist to a standard Champagne cocktail. Also makes a wonderful non-alcoholic drink just omit the vodka &  Champagne.

  • 1  & 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • 3 ounces Champagne qor Sparkling Wine
  • One tin of lychees in juice
  • Splash of Ginger Ale
  • 3 raspberries for garnish
  • Spring of Rosemary to garnish
  • Place a Lychee at the bottom of a chilled Champagne flute. Pour vodka into flute. Top with Champagne.
  • Add a splash of ginger ale & a splash of Lychee. Garnish with muddles raspberries and spring of mint.

Springbokkie Shot

A Springbokkie is a shot that’s very South African and perfect for the holidays. The rich Amarula liquor can be substituted for Bailey or other creamy liquor and peppermint liquor is readily available. This is sure to be a crowd favorite!

Springbokkie Shot
Springbokkie Shot
  • 1 ½ ounces Amarula Liquor
  • 1 ½ Green Peppermint liquor.
  • Pour the green peppermint liquor into a shot glass. Use a table spoon to pour the Amarula on top of the peppermint liquor. Enjoy!

Regardless of with what drinks or where in the world you ring in the new year as long as your surrounded with good friends & family it will be sure to be a memorable and joyful moment.

Feel free to share more of your favorite drinks from your favorite places in the comments section.

Have a festive & wonderful New Year!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Certified Chic: New Delhi Couture Scene

The Indian textiles industry has taken the world by storm. Beautifully woven fabrics, bright designs and intricate embroidery have planted India squarely on the map as a leading manufacturer & exporter of fine fabrics.New Delhi, India is a bustling city of nearly 14 million people. Arguably the trendiest city in India, it’s a cosmopolitan Mecca that rivals other international cities such as New York, London & Hong Kong. A destination that known for innovative gastronomy, popping nightlife and an artistic lifestyle, it’s easy to see why several top Indian designers have their flagship stores in this city

Satya Paul is one of the leading fashion designers in Delhi and is known for being the first company to brand traditional Saris under a designer logo. With 41 stores in India and over 250 retailers worldwide, Satya Paul has brought the centuries old clothing piece to 21st century international acclaim. The flagship store in the DLF Emporio carries an array of different styles. From heavily adorned bridal Saris to modern pieces that integrate different textures, it’s the spot to pick up this luxurious woven masterpiece.

When looking for couture pieces that will generate some serious buzz, head to Shantanu  & Nikhil. Two brothers that are ruling the fashion scene with their bold gowns & chic menswear lines.  Having dressed the most successful Bollywood & International stars such as Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai and Serena Williams, they are primed for international icon status such as Oscar de la Renta & Vera Wang.

BeautifulSaris

Paired with sparkly handcrafted earrings from Amrapali and every woman will feel like a true star!

For those looking for the above brands at a better price tag, check out Exclusively.In.  Started by a small group of Indian Americans with a goal “to share the intricate beauty of today’s India with the world”, this online store sells several Indian brands that are otherwise harder to find. Tunics, dresses, Saris & suits & accessories are available for sale and ships quickly and securely to the US and UK

It’s nice to know that while we might daydream about quitting our jobs and jetting to the other side of the world, we can attempt to subdue our yearning through online shopping!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Certified Shiny: Jewels of Jaipur

Women have always been obsessed with jewels. Sparkly baubles have been the cause of love affairs, have been the root of envy for centuries. Jaipur, India is famous for its jewelry trade in precious and semi-precious stones. There are several well-known jewelry houses in the terracotta colored city, but few have the reputation of Amrapali. Immortalized on the red carpet, it’s been worn on the likes of A list celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry & Rihanna. I had the pleasure of meeting with owner ,Rajiv Arora and designer Tarano Arora. Once inside the door, away from the bustling city, it’s apparent there’s a passion for fine jewelry in this family owned business.

Amrapali in the middle of bustling Jaipur

Specializing in a range of jewelry from simple settings of silver beans and stones to diamond and precious stones, this flagship store caters to a spectrum of clients but it’s the spectacularly lavish pieces that catch my eye. The heavily adorned bridal jewelry are created in traditional fashion that span over 5,000 years but are redesigned to enhance the wearability.  A mixture of ornately designed statement pieces and a  passion for the art of  jewelry design, makes this store one that will be sure to leave you in awe and your wallet a little lighter.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Beautiful semi precious stones & beads

Agra: Eat, Play, Stay

Most adventure travelers are always looking for the next thrill, the next tale and the next revolutionary experience that leaves a transformative mark on your mind, body and spirit. India is definitely one of those destinations that will leave you moved. With a population that exceeds a billion, every single movement and action is in itself an experience. I had the fortune of spending a month travel through this exotic and perplexing country seeking to find the luxury elements in the ordinary.

At the Taj Mahal

It’s safe to say that nothing in India is ordinary from the first pungent scent, to the cacophony of sounds, to the whirlwind of commotion this is one place that surely beats to a unique drum.

Agra is situated in 120 miles south of New Delhi on the banks of the Yamuna river. With a population of nearly 2 million it’s a relatively small city in comparison to other Indian hubs.  A place that has important historical significance since it’s induction around 1504 it’s still known as the home of one of the world most marvelous wonders, the Taj Mahal. Built by Mughal king Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal it was completed in 1653. Commonly mistaken as a palace,  the perfectly symmetrical marble structure took thousands of craftsman and 22 years to complete. Now that’s what I call a labor of love!

A trip to India would not be complete without seeing this ‘floating’ wonder, there are a few other highlights to add to the to – do list. Here are my favorite picks:

Peshawari Restaurant
Photo credit: ITC Mughal

EAT:

As one travels through India, you realize that not all Indian cuisine are created alike. There are several different regional cuisines that are influenced through religion, historical invasions and cultural interactions. Peshawari, located at the ITC Mughal hotel specializes in cuisine from the Northern region which is vastly influenced through Mughal cooking techniques. The use of a tandoor oven is very prominent in this regions cooking and Raita, a popular yogurt based condiment is said to have originated here.  The decor allows one to feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The sister restaurant to Bukhara the more famous Delhi based sibling, it still retains a similar homey vibe. Rustic elements, woven fabrics and sturdy wooden furniture add to the authentic appeal. Guests are treated to traditional delights from this region that have been cooked with old world techniques and from the hands of artisan chefs & bakers. Breads are hand rolled and cooked in the special clay oven, meats are marinated in secret blends of spices and the famous Bukhara Dal is simmered over night to reach the perfect texture. A favorites among celebrities, Heads of State & notable personalities it’s still a place that makes the every day man feel & eat like a prince!

Intricate Inlay designs at the Taj Mahal

PLAY:

Besides the epic wonder there are a few other culture experiences to be had in the city of love. Kalakriti Center  is a cultural destination that brings the story, history, art and  design elements featured in the Taj Mahal to life. The Taj Mahal is a symmetrical masterpiece  but upon closer inspection one notices the intricate inlay work that serves as a decorative design throughout the structure.  A generation of family craftsmen display their handiwork as they hand sculpt semi- precious stones using one of the oldest method’s ; a wheel & water. The inlay work is then delicately place in functional marble pieces such as jewelry boxes, artwork and even marble tables! While the technical design but interest some, there’s also a store that sells ornately weave rugs, artwork and souvenirs. The Shah Jahan love story comes to life nightly throughout the dance and music of the Mohabbat – The Taj Cultural show. If you’ve suffered from a cultural overload or are just in need of some R & R the Kaya Kalp Spa at ITC Mughal is just the spot. At 99,000 square feet it’s the largest spa in India. In line with the historical location, the Mughal inspired architecture houses 8 treatment suites, outdoor rain showers, butterfly park, sun deck and yoga gardens. The perfect destination to slip away for the day and be pampered like a princess!

STAY:

As a destination thats main attraction is the  Taj Mahal it is only fitting that the most opulent hotel will have the most spectacular views of the iconic structure. Ranked the 5th best resort in Asia by Travel & Leisure, The Oberoi Amarvilas is the epitome of a luxury hotel. Several restaurants cater to every culinary & dietary need and a 24 hour concierge and butler service will satisfy your every need. The spacious rooms are decorated with Mogul inspired touches, luxurious silks, handcrafted furniture and of course have mesmerizing views.It’s not everyday that you wake up a view of one of the seven wonders! The grandest suite of them all,  the Kohinoor Suite  is spread out over 2,000 square feet and feature a dining room, living room and wrap around balcony. The  marble bathroom features a soaking tub with a perfect view of the Taj Mahal. The butler can arrange a bubble bath, scented candles and a bottle of chilled Champagne. Now that’s relaxing Mogul style!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

View of the pool at the Oberoi Amarvilas

Istanbul: Eat, Play & Stay

Istanbul is situated on a land mass between the continent of Europe and Asia and is a melting pot of different cultures, languages and traditions. The Bosporus Straits divides the two worlds and serves as a popular water way for this bustling city. Its one of the few countries in Europe that isn’t part of the European Union, it’s a destination that’s affordable on the wallet and yet rich in history.

There is so much to see and do in this cosmopolitan city, sometimes its intimidating figuring out where to start. Here are a few of my favorite experiences in this top destination.

Chic restaurant with stunning view of the Bosphorus
Photo Credit: Angelique

EAT:

Arguably one of the trendiest restaurant in town, Angelique is the ultimate nightlife destination. In ode to the diverse location, the restaurant  serves up Mediterranean and Asian specialties such grilled squid and roasted Aubergine salad & Thai miso tuna with salmon roe.  Cuisine that pairs perfectly with the finest imported wines or an exotic cocktails. Dinner is served Al fresco under the stars and as the clock ticks guests move into the  lounge & bar area that overlooks the twinkling lights of the famous Bosphorus straits. Istanbul is infamous for heavy traffic and with a stunning spot like Anqelique, one is content to dine & wine the night away under the stars.

PLAY:

While there are several historical sites to see and  extravagant shopping to be done, there’s one destination that marries the two perfectly. The Spice Market is the epitome of stepping back in time. Built in 1664 it’s the second largest market besides the Grand Bazaar. The market is an overload for the senses with the most vibrant colors, fragrant scents and tantalizing tastes of specialty sweets, herbal teas and exotic spices  There’s something so memorable of buying rose tea or dried saffron inside the store from a by-gone era. It definitely beats taking home an “I love Istanbul” t-shirt.

Exotic spices & teas at the Spice Market

STAY:

A city rich in royal grandeur the Ciragan Palace Kempinski is the ultimate destination for a traveler that wants to indulge for a day. The hotel is located in an Ottoman Palace with suites that overlook the epic Bosporus straits. If the mesmerizing views don’t impress you, then the food definitely will. There are several restaurants that serve a variety of international cuisines with views of the water. If you can’t afford to sleep like a King, you can enjoy a breakfast spread like a Prince at the signature Sunday brunch at Laledan restaurant. With more than 50 delectable dishes, this is the spot to make your culinary dreams come true!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

Ottoman Palace at the Ciragan Palace, Kempinski

A Nautical Settlement

If one imagined that Fire Island, New York was repositioned in crystal clear Caribbean seas, time stood still and the bridge and tunnel crowd never appeared then one would practically be in this quaint Bahamian town. With a population of a mere 500 one of the perks of this Bahamian Out island town is that there is no motorized traffic.  Golf carts and mules are seen only on the outskirts of town while walking & biking is the mode of transport through the cobblestone main streets. It’s home to the most notable landmark in these group of islands a stunning Candy Cane striped light house that was built-in 1863 and is one of only a few hand cranked Kerosene lighthouse still in operation.

Even though the island is quite small there are still some fantastic food choices available. A perfect destination to relax on the beach, take a dip in the ocean  & if you’re lucky splash around with a wild dolphin that calls the shallow water his stomping ground.

Whether you venture on a quest to climb the 101 steps to the top of the light house or just enjoy the sunset with a sailor drink of choice; Anejo & Coke. This is one nautical destination to add to your Bahamian bucket List.

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World Wide Whiskey

When traveling through exotic locales one of the best parts of the adventure is exploring the local drinks & cuisine. At the Rubicon Whisky Lounge at Leela Kempinski outside of New Delhi, India a love affair has started between world renowned whiskeys and local Indian cuisine.  The modern-day affluent Indians have found a new appreciation for this distilled alcohol and have ventured into whiskey & food pairings much to the delight of the traveling tourist.

The 18-year-aged Macallan paired beautifully with a rich Cheese Paneer (a local dish that consists of barbecue firm cheese). Bites of smoky fish balanced the caramel density of Kentucky Bourbon, and we even indulged in the distinct flavor of Yamazaki whiskey from Japan. Which admittedly was slightly to bitter for my taste. Guests can even indulge in a snifter of extremely rare 50-year-old Glenfiddich, one of only 9 bottles in the world! The last bottle sold at an US Auction sold for reportedly $38,000! There’s something wonderful about having your trusty favorite spirit presented in a new way, in a different destination with an exotic dish.

Neat, on the rocks or up in a classic cocktail it’s nice to know that whisky is so worldly!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Crispy Shrimp, Cheese & Bourbon….Why not?

Santorini: Culinary Curated

Santorini is located one hundred and twenty miles Southeast of Greece’s mainland. It’s a member of the Cyclades, a network of islands in the Aegean, but it’s also the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history. The island is known as a lover’s paradise; from the romantic black sand beaches, quaintly painted blue dome houses and spectacular sunsets. It’s one destination that frequently hailed as a honeymoon hot spot. Gastronomy lovers will be pleasantly surprised by the tantalizing tastes; from classic Greek staples to innovative fusion cuisine this destination has something for everyone.

Fava Bean Mousse, Koukoumavlos

Fresh seafood is plentiful on this island with specialty dishes created from giant squid, fresh fish and an abundance of other sea critters. Due to the fact that Santorini is covered with age-old volcanic ash, there are no natural trees and few plants & scrubs. One of the products that grow in Santorini are Fava beans and it seems it’s been growing in the special soil for around 3,500 years! The European Union has recognized that the Santorini fava beans are unique to this island and has granted it Protected Designation of Origin status. Pretty nifty for a bean!

Enjoying a meal with owner & chef – Nikos Pouliasis

These local ingredients are superbly utilized for the creative dishes created by owner & chef Nikos Pouliasis of Koukoumavlos restaurant. The cozy restaurant is housed in an 18thcentury Sea captain’s house and the interior atmosphere matches the innovative food. I had the pleasure of joining Niko for a meal, and can attest that the Fava Bean & Beet Risotto was delicious. The Fava Bean Mousse is another signature dish that has great texture and is a perfect way to sample the versatile Santorini bean. One thing is for sure; the food is as exuberant as the owner!

When venturing to enjoy a day on the black sand beaches, a stop at SeaSide by Notos is a must! This adorable restaurant is situated on the historic sand and serves fun & easy Greek food with a twist.Best known for the stunning beachy chic décor, it’s truly the hands on approach that makes this spot stand out. An old sailboat serves as a daybed, reclaimed wood functions as a coffee table, personalized & thoughtful touches are apparent everywhere. Continuing the DIY approach, the kitchen even creates homemade breads, cheeses & marinated olives.

A beautiful place to enjoy the sun, sand & sea while nibbling on warm rustic bread & fresh feta cheese with a cocktail in hand!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

To get the full scoop on all that Santorini has to offer, be sure to check out the full episode on Lux Lifestyles on Wealth TV!

A Jetaholic’s Purr-fect Destination

Thank you to everyone who supported and voted on The Jetaholic’s Dilemma poll. After much consideration, a very helpful travel agent at Majestic Tours and a great airfare-included deal for foreigners & Bahamian residents from the Ministry of Tourism’s site there was one destination that took the cake; Cat Island, Bahamas.

A boot shaped island that is the original birthplace of  Bahamian folk music, Rake ‘n Scrape. We explore the origins of this innovative music genre and take a stab at being part of the band.

We go hiking to the highest point in the Bahamas, in style! The Medieval-style Chapel & Cloisters at the Hermitage is another of Cat Island’s must-see sights.  Be sure to put this on your bucket list!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

 

A Jetaholic’s Dilemma


When planning a weekend getaway sometimes the hardest thing is deciding where to go?

Is it a getaway where one escapes from reality socializing in a quaint town with a cold beer & couple of sailors? Is it one where there are adventures, fabulous sunsets and new feathery friends? Or do you explore the historical sites and then spend the rest of the day rocking lazily in a hammock?

With over 700 islands in the Bahamas it can be hard to determine where to start the relaxation. I’m blissfully tormented between three fantastic and very different destination:

Harbour Island, Eleuthera

Briland as the locals fondly refer to this quaint little island. Situated 2 miles off the coast of the mainland Eleuthera, it’s reached by flying into North Eleuthera Airport & jumping on a water taxi or by the daily arrival of the Bo Hengy Ferry from Nassau.

This island is known for the spectacularly pink colored sands that are sprinkled on its beaches, and has become  the playground of the rich & fabulous. Fantastic restaurants, quaint little houses, shabby chic boutiques and beautiful beaches make up this small beach town. One of the largest racing events in the Bahamas happens annually in October at the North Eleuthera & Harbour Island Sailing Regatta. It will be a festive four days with cultural shows, traditional foods, famed Bahamian Musicians and tons of Sailing enthusiast.

Matthew Town,  Great Inagua

One of the most Southern islands in the Bahamas, Great Inagua is the third largest island in the Bahamas. A large part of the appeal of this island is that tourism isn’t a driving force in its economy. Rather most of the islands 1200 inhabitants are employed by Morton’s Salt Works whose salt pans produce a million pounds of salt a year.

The island’s biggest attraction is the  287 sq mile conservation area that forms Inagua National Park that’s filled with upwards of 50,000 West Indian Flamingos. The largest colony of Flamingo’s in the world cohabit alongside the Endangered Bahamian Parrot  & giant Sea Turtles.

Arthur’s Town, Cat Island

A slender 48 mile long island that is rich in historical value and an important part of Bahamian history. Home to Mount Alvernia, the highest peak in the Bahamas that stands tall at 206 feet above sea level. The boot shaped island is famous for  The Hermitage, a stone monastery built by Father Jerome. It served as a spiritual & religious retreat and is the most famous structure on the island.

So here’s my dilemma:

Do I spend a few days strolling past quaint homes and  pink sand, listening to tales of shipwrecks & high seas?

or

Spend it in quiet serenity, hanging out with pink feathery friends & exploring the local salt museum?

or

Do I spend it relaxing in a hammock after exploring the stunning churches in Cat Island?

Decisions….. which one would you choose?  I’d like your help!


Rum Running Away

To celebrate the fact that Columbus discovered the new world, it was only fitting to kick off the holiday weekend with a truly worldly cocktail made from a truly historic liquor.

Today we celebrate NATIONAL RUM DAY!

Any day that celebrates any alcohol is generally a good day in my books, but the fact that it’s a celebration of all things rum, makes it so much more perfect! I’ll just overlook the fact that it isn’t technically rum day….

Today we salute all things Rummy!

Here’s a super easy recipe for the simple and delectable – Rum Runner!

1 oz Spiced Rum
0.25 oz Blackberry Liqueur
0.25 oz Creme de Banana (or throw in a fresh banana instead)
1 oz of  Orange Juice
Splash of Pineapple Juice
Cup of crushed Ice

Add Spiced Rum, blackberry liqueur, crème de banana liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice and crushed ice in a blender. Blend, pour into glass and top with a fresh slice of pineapple!

 You could throw in some Grenadian (which I don’t like) or Passionfruit Cordial (my favorite).
Please drink responsibly and make sure you drink with a friend. the only thing worst than drinking alone is laying on a sunny, sandy beach, rum runner in hand and when the glass is empty you notice you are all alone……
No one likes getting up for a refill. Just bring along the entire pitcher!
For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

The 3 Trusted Travel Stooges

Traveling can be a very hard mission or an absolute breeze. It all depends on your attitude, how well prepared you are and how many glasses of wine you had before you started the mission…….

Here are my 3 top favorite items that I take along everywhere I travel.

Snuggle Set:

My latest obsession is a stunning cashmere blanket travel set from Ralph Lauren. A snuggly cable knit blanket and eye mask that comes in a zippered pouch. The pouch can moonlight as a pillow as well. I’m perpetually cold so this blanket is heavenly.

Sanctity of Silence:

There’s nothing worse than attempting to battle through an 11 hour flight next to a snoring giant or being asked the “why? question” by an incessantly curious 5-year-old. The greatest invention might be Earplanes. These clever little contraptions reduce outside noise and help with maintaining inner ear pressure. Silence has never sounded so good!

Carry All:

I just bought the most fabulous Carry-on from the Italian luggage company;  Bric’s that actually fits the US domestic carry on requirements. Not a small feat! The bag has a sleek exterior with black canvas and tan leather details. The wheels have a spinning feature so it’s very easy to move. I always try to leave extra room in the bag for last minute airport purchases. I can never say no to a glossy travel mag!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Chicken Poop – Belizean Style

Traveling is ultimately about the epic experiences that one has among the way. Driving through the chaotic, smoky  streets of Delhi, strolling on the black sand beaches in Santorini or hiking through the jungle in Borneo. Every destination has a sights, experiences and moments that make the trip worth while. In the  quaint town  San Pedro, Ambergris Cay, Belize  we had several fun experiences but hands down our favorite was…….wait for it….the Chicken Drop.

San Pedro is an island that was made famous with Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”  lyrics  (not the heavenly one, the gyrating one) It’s easy to fall in love….

“I fell in love with San Pedro
Warm wind carried on the sea, he called to me
Me dijo. ‘te amo’
I prayed that the days would last
They went so fast”

with the beautiful balmy beach days, soft sand and fresh seafood. However an entire other culture exists. A dark, treacherous and mystery phenomenon that borders on an obsession with the bodily functions of a certain feathery domesticated animal.

The chicken is worshiped in a funny, laughable and extremely ridiculous activity called the “Chicken Drop”. The Chicken Drop was first started in the bar a few years back and has since become a tradition of sorts. No trip to San Pedro would be complete without a little stop to the Wahoo’s Lounge to participate in this feathery game.

The bar owners are as sweet as pie and allowed our crew to completely take over the joint. Several beers later it was time for the glorious moment. I had the esteemed privilege of picking up the creature appropriately names “Pollo” and preceding to blowing on the chicken’s bottom…….. Fast forward two minutes and one chicken drop later and we have a winner!  The lucky fellow won a $100 and I won the title of “Poo Princess”. It was the first and (hopefully) only time that I become so intimately acquainted with a chicken’s private part. Definitely something I’ll never forget and my crew will never let me forget. As they say, do as the locals do. Or in this case, blow as the locals blow.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Watch the full episode on Lux Lifestyles: Belize on Wealth TV or click here for the segment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V95GJsatxV8&feature=plcp

All you need is Wine

As a South African we have a tendency to drink wine as most people drink water. We satisfy our vino cravings and I for one, have always been an avid fan. That’s why it’s no surprise that I completely indulged at a tasting for Jackson Family Estates, with a collection of several superb wines. The estate is known for it’s Kendal-Jackson wines, but have added several other fantastic wines to their collection.  La Crema,  Paco & Lola, Byron, Edmeades…the list continues. Most of the vineyards are based in Sonoma, California which is often referred to as the Valley of the Moon.   It is considered  by some to be the birth place of the California wine industry.When in the mood for a crisp white with a nice body,  I pick up the Freemark Abbey Chardonnay, when I’m craving a full Pinot Noir with a hint of ripe berries I go right for the Highlands Estate or the La Crema. The  rules on wine & food pairings have evolved and today it’s boils down to  personal preference. Aged Gouda, Pepper-jelly and Cornichons (little tart pickles) are my classic staples but the skies are the limit! Here are some pointers for those that prefer a more traditional structure.

Jess Jackson, the founder of Kendal Jackson once said; “I learned a long time ago that it takes a thick skin to make world-class wines.”  I’m grateful to those determined souls as I have thoroughly enjoy the results!

A trip to Sonoma is ALWAYS a good idea but when it isn’t possible grab a few bottles, close your eyes and let your taste buds take you on an adventure.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

The world before 7am

There are few things worse that starting a brand new day in a rush. The possibility of what lies  ahead is burdened by the little problems that we face. Why do we have to wake up?  Why is the dog barking?  Did we remember to set the coffee timer? etc…..Small trivial things that dampen the day.

I recently read a great article by Fast Company that focused on the habits that successful people implement to kick off their mornings.

Inspired I woke early (before the 6:30 alarm) and embraced the idea that I can determine the course of my morning.

I followed the first principle to heart; DO NOT CHECK YOUR EMAILS

Instead I walked my dog to the beach.

I happen to live near a beach, but a park, a quiet street, any peaceful place works! The idea here is to spend a few quiet minutes watching the day unfold without fussing over commitments, deadlines, requirements. Allowing yourself a few moments to just be you without having to be something for someone else as well.

I’ve always been a fan of the second idea; GAIN AWARENESS & BE GRATEFUL

During the stroll I focused on the sound of the waves rolling onto the sand. I even took the time to notice and listen to the sand bubbles that occur as the waves roll in and out. The bubbles make little popping noises, just like Rice Krispies!  The sunrise was absolutely magical and was a beautiful place to be thankful for all the blessings.

As a child my dad taught us to focus and discuss two positive moments that occurred during the day.  There are wonderful things occurring every moment of your life, you just have to choose and train yourself to see them.

The last principle isn’t mentioned in the article, but I believe it makes a huge difference is: GET THAT BODY MOVING

I have never been a big fan of exercise and become self-conscious at the gym . I don’t particularly enjoy sweating and grunting in front of everyone, so I have learned to find ways to do exercise in an inspiring and relaxing  environment.  I use the TRX resistance system tied to a tree at the beach or I run stairs in the park.  This morning I swam laps in the ocean while looking at some fish.  I even spotted a crab, a few fish and sea urchin!  Make exercise work for you!  It doesn’t have to be a chore, it can be a moment where you embrace your flaws and focus on how the human body operates.  Think of it as being present to the awesomeness of muscle and breathing instead of  feeling sticky, sweaty and out of breath.

Lastly I try to remind myself that I know very little. This little journey called life, is all about learning, experiencing and embracing the ride.  Make it a good one!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Culinary Safari – Bukhara, New Delhi

Indian food has been one of my favorite cuisines since I was a child. Living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I had the opportunity to eat at some of the finest Indian restaurants at a very early age. Therefore I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to make a classic tandoori dish from celebrity chef JP Singh of Bukhara fame.

The Murgh Malai Kebabs are one of their signature dishes that consists of boneless chicken breast kebabs that are cooked in a special tandoori oven. Firstly, the chicken is marinated in salt, fresh ginger, fresh garlic and a touch of vinegar and left for a few minutes. In a separate bowl cheese, corn flour, cream, eggs, chillies and coriander are combined to coat the chicken. The meat is then skewered and cooked in a tandoori oven.

Bukhara uses their tandoori oven for most of their signature dishes as the cylindrical clay oven stoked with wood and charcoal give a distinct smokey flavor. The delectable dish is served with an oversized portion of garlic naan and its apparent why this restaurant is a well-loved favorite of celebrities and Heads of State. The cuisine has become so popular that ITC hotels have launched the Kitchens of India culinary product line that sells pre-made chutney, sauces and ready to dine dishes. While it’s hard to beat the culinary creations of master chef Singh it’s a good option to stock up for when that Dal craving hits!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+

With chef JP Singh from Bukhara

Got Tags?

Few things more annoying that searching the conveyor belt for your luggage and then realizing that all black bags seem to look the same. I’ve fallen in love with the concept of fabulous luggage tags. The handmade leather ones are from OfTheFountain.  There’s some cool ones from a few other sites as well such as Dormify or Lewis N. Clarke  products on Overstock.com.

Your bag will feel special, will be easy to see and ultimate you’ll walk out the airport a little quicker.

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Let all the cool luggage please stand up, as no one put’s my bags in the corner!

 

Converting into a Cruiser

Cruising, cruise liner, cruisers are just not part of my vocabulary. When it comes to boats I prefer the small and zippy or a leisure sail on a luxury yacht. I’ve never actually considered myself as someone who’s vacation would consist of living on a big boat with thousands of other people, eating bad food, while being trapped between two spit talkers with fanny packs. This is why I’ve never been on a cruise ship.

Last night my virgin journey on a cruise ship commenced and I was utterly amazing by how cool these things really are…

I had the opportunity to take in a show, fab dinner and quick tour of the Disney Dream cruise . The offer popped up and I just couldn’t resist exploring this little cruising world and hanging with my main man –  Mickey.

We ate a fabulous dinner at Palo that started with the most amazing anti pasta spread topped with 80-year-old aged Balsamic glaze, a beautiful assortment of appetizers that included my favorite; Grilled Portobello Mushroom & Polenta topped with a roasted Shallot & Parmesan crisp, tucked into an Oregano crusted Rack of lamb and finished it with a delectable Chocolate Souffle with Vanilla bean sauce

Walked out with a food pregnancy…

After dinner we roamed the boat in search of my prince and cocktail, in no particular order. We stumbled upon a hot tub with a glass bottom through which you can see the ocean below, popped into the Pink Champagne lounge and swayed into Skyline lounge. The only lounge where the cosmopolitan views are magically transformed regardless of how much (or little) you’ve consumed.

I bumped into my prince as I stumbled out of the lounge and was so surprised by his size and sheer strength. Mickey is a strong, silent type and the ultimate good listener and knows how to make any woman feel like a princess!

The experience has left me determined to try another voyage, but you still won’t catch me dead in a fanny pack!

Adventure time – Island style

Had an epic experience venturing to the southern  islands of the Bahamas in search of the prehistoric looking creatures appropriately called Rock Iguanas. The day started jumping on Power Boat Adventures speed boat and zipping over to Allan’s Cay  where these creatures like roaming free in a protected island. As the boat pulled up they were already crawling from under the bushes in search of their photo ops.

These fierce-looking creatures are slightly timid and can be bribed with a grape or two….

Next we jumped back on the boat to head to Ship Channel Cay where the boat docked and we spend the rest of the afternoon eating a fabulous lunch, went snorkeling among Sting Rays, Barracuda, Nurse Sharks and Reef Sharks and even got to hand feed a sting ray!

An epic island adventure that even the faint-hearted can handle!

For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow me on Twitter @CecileRaubs or on Facebook

Adventure Time – Feeding Stingrays & Iguanas
Powerboat Adventure, Bahamas

Gallery

About

CecePortraitwLogo2

Cecile Raubenheimer is an experienced television host, travel consultant and humanitarian.

The daughter of a South African diplomat, her deep rooted sense of compassion, enthusiasm for travel and discovering new cultures has been nurtured since birth. Her career as a host & consultant have led her to over fifty countries and different types of experiences, but one changed her perspective.  While working at Atlantis, Cecile was part of making a terminally ill eight year old’s dream of swimming with dolphins come true.  That experience opened her eyes to the true power of transformative travel.

She discovered her purpose as a storyteller and committed to using her voice to raise awareness for causes that matter in an inspiring, entertaining and uplifting manner.   She is passionate about empowering others to break through their limitations and evolve in the process. For more travel tales & tips be sure to follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileRaubs and Facebook and Google+