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Modern Architecture Green Cabins in the heart of a National Park in UK

natural retreats in yorshire dales national park, uk

This is not the typical accommodation that you think you will get when you stay at a National Park. It is about time that we get other choices than the predictable log cabins.

Sustainable Modern Architecture Design

Each residence offers three en suite bedrooms for sleeping 6 guests. The open floor plan brings the indoors out so you can take full advantage of nature. The succession of the kitchen, the dining room and the living room favors being together. I would be delighted to stay at one of these modern luxury residences located in Yorkshire Dales, UK.

One of the reasons why it is more ecological to build minimal foundations in nature is to Minimal foundations maintain a living habitat beneath each residence. Natural Retreats’ Yorkshire Dales has attained Zero Carbon status. Sustainable design is reflected with rainforest harvesting, a living plant based roof, low energy consumption combined with solar energy, recycled materials used for insulation and more. See the Web site for the list of green initiatives.

With 5 Luxury Resorts in Ireland

castlemartyr a natural retreats luxury resort in ireland

In Ireland, Natural Retreats operates the 5-star Castlemartyr Resort, located in the South East of Ireland in Cork. The modern building was build on the estate of a castle first built in 1210 by knights under the leadership of Richard Earl de Clare. But the magnificent Manor House that we see from the glass wall of the indoor swimming pool was built in the 17th century.

Besides these two properties, Natural Retreats operated 4 more resorts in Ireland.

+ Natural Retreats


Clever Interior Design Ideas at Fairmont Battery Wharf

standard room at fairmont battery wharf, boston

We stayed to the newly opened Fairmont hotel when we went to Boston at the beginning of August. We stayed there for almost a week. I now prefer the Fairmont Battery Wharf to the historic Copley Plaza hotel. The Battery Wharf won for its location and its modern design.

Little Italy

If you have ever been to Boston, you know that at night, it becomes a quiet city. I am always amazed to see how early everything close, even on week-ends. During our previous visit to Boston, we were going to Cambridge at night.

The Battery Wharf is located along the Waterfront, and is next to North End, which is Boston’s Little Italy neighborhood. North End is lively and you have accessed to many delightful restaurants at walking distance. What else can you ask for as a tourist?

desk and reading areas in a room at fairmont battery wharf

Modern Design

We stayed in a standard King size bed room. The marble bathroom is spacious. I had no problem putting my makeup while I share the bathroom with my husband. I cannot stay that of many hotel bathroom.

The most clever design idea is definitely the closet. It has doors that open from both sides: from the bathroom and from the bedroom. This is an idea that you must remember if you are renovating your master bedroom with its ensuite bathroom.

Another detail that is worth mentioning is that the designer thought that we need to recharge our cell phones, digital cameras and much more. On the side of each night table, they placed electric outlets. Finally, the flexible arm lamp on the bed frame adds to our comfort of we wish to read in bed. These are small details that enhance your stay.

+ Fairmont Battery Wharf in Boston


Missoni Hotel Teaches Us How to Use Bold Colors

hotel missoni sophisticated use of bold patterns

Using bold colors and patterns requires more than an eye for design. One luxury company who is known for their bold use of colors is Missoni. The Italian brand opened their first hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland last June. Four more hotels is scheduled to open over the next few years.

As you would expect, the room decor is inspired by Missoni’s line of fabric. Although I do not like all their room decor, I find that some of are well-done. I wish to share my favorite ones with you. The secret is often to use solid colors taken from the bold pattern palette. You do not wish to add new colors. Then, you can oppose textures and finishes (ex: mat vs shiny).

hotel missoni room with metallic finishes

The richness of the more subtle scheme rooms comes from a major element done in a metallic finish. If you like it, check out the Golden Age Silver collection by Missoni.

hotel missoni room

Although the entrance is a bright yellow, the main walls of the room have an almost plain beige wallpaper. This is what you need to not compete with a bedding.


Heather and Ivan Morison: I am so sorry. Goodbye Tea House

Heather and Ivan Morison I am so sorry. Goodbye double-domed pavilion at Barbican Art Gallery

This is a beautiful organic shape art installation. With their I am so sorry. Goodbye double-domed pavilion, Heather and Ivan Morison explored the relationship between the built environment and nature. The interior has a few chairs and tables and a service bar where you can have a tea.

Heather and Ivan Morison\'s Balsa Wood Dome Tea House on Display at Barbican Waterside in London

If you are passing by London, UK until October 18th, 2009, pass by the Barbican Waterside to see this amazing Balsa wood structure. Looking inside the doom is supposed to bring a futuristic feeling. Another reason to go in, they are serving hibiscus tea inside. The admission is free.

Heather and Ivan Morison: I am so sorry. Goodbye at Barbican Art Gallery
+ Via Trendir


Electric Bike Patrol by CAA Quebec for my Eco-Friendly Watch

CAA patroller on bike

I spotted a two-wheeled CAA patroller on my way home. This is the first year that CAA Quebec ran this program. It is only available during the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which is ending tonight. The bike patroller that I spoke to enjoys it very much.

Next experience will be in Quebec City

The two-wheeled patrollers will be active during the peak hours of the Quebec City’s Summer Festival. They will cover the area around the National Assembly and Battlefields Park July 16 to 19, 2009. This way the patrollers do not lose time in heavy traffic. The idea is born by noting that 60% of last year Emergency Road Service assistance calls during the 400th Anniversary of Quebec City could have been handled without a tow truck.

The bike patrol is equipped to repair flat tires, deliver fuel, provide battery boosts and unlock vehicles. I think it should be a service available all summer long.


Montreal is the first city with a National Geographic Society Geotourism MapGuide

montreal geotourism mapguide

More and more tourists opt to visit an urban area for their vacation. When I visit a city, I like to eat, to shop and go at the places where the residents hang out. The MapGuide will make it easy for you the next time you come to Montreal.

Montreal appeals to Canadians and Americans because we carry an European feel within North America. It is a place where you eat well at any price range. During summer time, you can enjoy many festivals with tons of free activities on the streets. Our architecture mixes the charm of old with new.

The best local shops for fashion, gifts and home are not written on the map but you will find them in the cool neighbors highlighted on the MapGuide. Also plan a picnic on the top of Mont-Royal or on the Old-Port. The bike paths around the Canal Lachine are fun, especially during the less crowded period like weekdays.

What is about the Geotourism Concept?

In 2007, Montreal became the first urban center to sign the Geotourism Charter of National Geographic Society. This 13-principle Charter supports tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place. The Geotourism principles cover the conservation of a city’s environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, plus the well-being of its residents and the satisfaction of the tourists.

A one-year consultation period determined the sites and places that will appear on the city map. Tourism Montreal asked Montrealers to share their favorite places in Montreal. Projects were developed with two primary schools in Montreal to ask the children what they like the best about Montreal. Three kid artworks illustrating a place on the map won the privilege to be printed on the MapGuide.

Montreal is not only the first city, so far we are still the only city in the world to have signed the Geotourism Charter of National Geographic Society.

The MapGuide is available online in English and in French. The two-sided poster version that you can carry with you will be available by the end of the week. Tourists can find them at the two Infotourism centres. Residents can will find copies at their Maison de la culture.

In Downtown : Infotouriste Centre
1255 Peel Street  – at Peel subway (metro) station
1 877 Bonjour (266-5687)

In Old Montréal : Tourist Welcome Office in Old Montréal
174 Notre-Dame Street East – at Champ-de-Mars subway (metro) station

+ Montreal as a geo-friendly city
+ Download the MapGuide as a pdf


Fairmont Hotels’ Bee Hives for my Eco-friendly Tuesday

beehives at the royal york and the waterfront vancouver

Did you know that an hotel chain is fighting against the shortage of bees? In June 2008, the Royal York in Toronto installed three hives as a natural extension of their decade old rooftop herb garden. The rooftop apiary was established in partnership with the Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative and FoodShare. Both initiatives deliver fresh local product in a sustainable way to hotel guests.

Since then, three more Fairmont hotels established their apiary. The first US hotel to join that initiative is The Fairmont Washington, D.C.. They expect their 105,000 Italian honey bees will produce 300 pounds of honey within the first year. Other sites are at The Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrews, New Brunswick and The Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Honey harvested from the Fairmont’s Bee Hives are used in soups, salad dressings, pastries, ice cream and other culinary delights in the hotel restaurants. They are also used to make cocktails at the bars.

I applauded this initiative. Bees are important to the ecosystem as they play a determinant role in pollination. The next time I will go to any of these hotels, I would like to have a tour of the installation.

+ Fairmont Hotels


The Latest Trend in Bar: Speakeasy Can Inspire Your Next Party

pdt - please don\'t tell bar in East Village, New York

The latest trends in bar seems is inspired by the era of Prohibition. It is not surprising since it was a period where cocktails flourished. The bartenders of the time have to be resourceful and use all their talent to concoct something delicious with the spirit quality of the time.

With mixologists returning to the basics and experimenting again with fresh ingredients, it seems like a natural fit that some bars play on the nostalgia of the Prohibition era. Several bars have emerged across the United States. And you have to look where they are because they do not exhibit big neon signs to attract you inside.

Several concepts are used to make these bars feel underground. Each bar developed its own trick. When you make a reservation at Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco, you will be given a password to whisper at the door. I am going to SF at the end of the month, I will plan a visit to see what Bourbon & Branch is all about. Let’s hope my experience will be worthy of a post.

At PDT (Please don’t Tell) in East Village, you have to pass through a secret door at the back of Crif Dogs. You must enter a phone booth to identify yourself so they can buzz you inside the bar. It is the cocktail-lounge annex to Crif Dogs, a hip hot dog restaurant in New York.

I thought these are easy think to reproduce at a party. It would add something special.

Spreading the word locally

The Lab, here in Montreal, plays a low key version. The touch is visible through the bartender outfits and the theme of their special event. The Lab is owned by friends of mine; they are excellent at what they do.

+ Review on New York Magazine
+ Via New York Times


citizenM Amsterdam City is opened

toys for kids and adults at citizenM amsterdam city

I told you last year about citizenM hotel at Schiphol Airport, now you can stay at the hotel in the city. The rooms are small but the rest of the hotel offers plenty of attractive features for lovers of modern design. You could lounge in brand new Vitra furniture including the legendary Marshmallow sofa by George Nelson.

lobby and restaurant at citizenm amsterdam city

citizenM Schiphol is 10th the Conde Nast Traveller 2009 hot list of best new hotels in the World. With free wifi and public Mac computer stations, I would enjoy staying there a few days. Special rates are in effect for the launch at the Amsterdam city hotel. Special opening rates are 99 euro (normally 129 euro) during the week and 79 euro (normally 99 euro) on weekends.

Self-served Check In

self-served check in counters at citizenm

This is an innovative approach in the hotel business. You check yourself in at any of the citizenM hotel. An innovative touch screen terminals give you access to your online booking where you can enter your personal preferences, such as lighting, music, temperature and wake-up call. Your room will be automatically adjusted to your liking. Do not worry, citizenM Ambassadors are there to give you a hand.

After your stay, your room key doubles as a luggage tag. It becomes your proof of membership in the citizenM community at citizenM hotels worldwide. This is a cool concept!



The Exceptional Smushies at Café Royal in Copenhagen for my Gastronomic Wednesday

rud christiansen owner of cafe royal

A 300-year old tradition got a makeover at the Café Royal in Copenhagen. The Danish smørrebrød was invented in Denmark when poor people could not afford two pieces of bread. Later, as people get more money the smørrebrød became more complex. It is a popular lunch dish. Do not be surprised of you do not see the bread anymore on the traditional smørrebrød.

Basically, the smørrebrød is an open-faced sandwich. It is often made with dark rye bread and the condiments are nicely assembled in layers. Although there are a wide variety of smørrebrød, tradition in Denmark dictates was goes with what and in which order. They took their smørrebrød seriously. There is a 3 years and a half school program to master the art of making smørrebrøds.

smushies open-faced sandwiches at cafe royal

But Rud Christiansen, the owner and founder of the Royal Café in Copenhagen, wanted to broke the rules and played with the dish. He decided to reduce the size of the smørrebrød and to explore new ingredient pairing. He called his finger-sized open-faced sandwiches Smushi; in reference to sushi.

The presentation at the smushi at Café Royal is sublime. I would love to smushies at my next tea party. Plus the interior design of the Café Royal is a treat by itself. I marked Café Royal as a must-see place.

+ Listing of traditional smørrebrød restaurants
+ Told & Snaps
+ Café Royal in Copenhagen


Seeing Andy Warhol Live and Yves Saint-Laurent on Valentine’s Day

walhol live and yves saint-laurent exhibitions

I received yesterday on my inbox a promotion from Joie de Vivre for their ‘Warhol Live’ Package. With a one-night stay at selected Joie de Vivre’s hotels, you receive with two VIP tickets to the de Young Museum for the ‘Warhol Live’ exhibit.

This is a hip activity you can do on Valentine’s Day since Walhol Live starts February 14, 2009 and it runs until May 17, 2009.

A little bit of Montreal in San Francisco

I was curious to know what was Warhol Live since the name brings back memories. I was right since the exhibition at the de Young Museum is produced by The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

The exhibition explores the relationship between music and Walhol’s art pieces. Yu will be able to have a closer look at Elvis Presley, the Velvet Underground, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, Liza Minnelli, Grace Jones, Deborah Harry of Blondie, Michael Jackson and more.

While you are over there, visit another exhibition organized by The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in collaboration with the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. I am talking about the Yves Saint-Laurent retrospective that I saw last year. The Yves Saint-Laurent exhibits continues until April 5th, 2009.

About the Promotion

To take advantage of the Walhol Live package at any of the Joie de Vivre hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area Hotels, book in advance with promo code ‘WARH’. I had a blissful stay at one of their San Francisco hotels last year. I am talking about the Hotel Vitale.

+ Exhibitions at the de Young Museumget directions
p 415.750. 3600 | Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, United States, 94101

+ Joie de Vivre’s Walhol Live Package
+ get directions to Hotel Vitale
p 415.278.3700 | 8 Mission St, San Francisco, California, United States, 94105
+ more ideas of what to do for Valentine’s Day in Montreal and elsewhere