After spending 4 nights in a typical convention-type hotel, The Hilton in Durban, a stone’s throw from the site of Indaba, a trade show about Africa, I craved a Virtuoso-style property. You know the kind I mean, right? A place in which you feel comfortable, pampered, and where you can, in one deep exhale, blot out the memories of any irritations—welcome to our suite at the Olive, a boutique hotel in Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek.
Our accommodations could easily be featured in Dwell or Architectural Digest—contemporary, clean lines, natural materials and fibers, shallow pools by the front door and a lounge area and plunge pool in the rear. I’m sitting on a taupe leather sofa, the pieces sewn with purposely unfinished edges and my feet are propped up on a gnarled tree root table. Enough, though, of my words—you have photos to tell the story. TTFN—I’m off to luxuriate for the evening!
…and, no, I don’t have a potty mouth!
2 years ago I fell in love with a toilet—not any toilet, a toilet that seemed almost human! Designed and built by Toto, this feat of engineering and technology sensed when I was near, lit the pathway to it, saluted by raising and lowering its lid, flushed automatically (of course), heated itself, and had several wash and dry options. I loved it so much I blogged about it (http://www.greatgetaways.travel/hi-chai-and-hai-from-shanghai/), photographed it, and have forever since compared every other commode to the amazing one at the Waldorf Astoria on the Bund in Shanghai, China.
Unfortunately, since my Shanghai love affair, my relationship with toilets has been less glorious. I’m not complaining about the hole in the ground variety found in the countryside of China—I was aware of them before I ventured there—or the ultra-sensitive types that are so automatic they flush even when you are just adjusting your position.
My complaint isn’t even with the toilet—it’s with the users. So let me address them directly:
Dear Ladies who use public restrooms,
Too often I walk into a stall in a public restroom only to find evidence of a previous visitor (and I’m not talking about the graffiti autographs on the walls). Granted, many times the handle doesn’t work preventing you from flushing. However (you knew that a “however” was coming, right?), what is your excuse when the toilet is an automatic flush style? What’s that? You’re telling me that when you stood up, the toilet just sat there—expressionless, er, I mean flushless? Yes, sometimes that happens. That’s when you need a more “hands-on” approach. Waving your hand in front of the sensor won’t do it, so don’t waste your time. Instead, might I suggest the magic “button”? Yes, without too much exploration, you’ll most likely find a button—on the side, top, front or back of the toilet. I recommend you press the button and “Voila,” the evidence of your visit is quickly flushed away…at which time, please feel free to leave a graffiti autograph. Just please get rid of the waste!
And, I have one more gripe about public restrooms:
I love giraffes — rothschild giraffes, masai giraffes, reticulated giraffes! Actually, there are 9 sub-species of giraffes, according to “wiki answers”. We have a beautiful hand-carved wooden 8 ft tall giraffe in our living room, I have giraffe patterned scarves and giraffe patterned socks. I have countless photos of giraffes we’ve seen on safari. So, you get the picture, right? I love giraffes!
With that intro, please enjoy this delightful 5-minute movie about high-diving giraffes. I hope you dive into your weekend with the same joy these giraffes have diving in the pool!
Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s space travel company, had a momentous day on April 29, 2013! The test pilots completed the first rocket-propelled test flight—ever! Consumer space travel is becoming a reality. In case you missed the event, here’s a video of the flight and a video of Branson’s thoughts on the successful event. And, if this ignites a flame within you to experience a flight into Space, contact me, email@example.com, today and we’ll reserve a seat for you aboard Virgin Galactic!
…or “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
The Traveling Kings pride themselves on experiencing destinations, hotels, and cruise ships so we can speak with authority to you, our friends and clients, about the places we recommend (and, on some occasions, pan). The past few days are no exception to the rule.
I, Barbara, valiantly set forth on a journey to Torres del Paine in Patagonia—an area known for its natural beauty, hikes, treks, fishing and rock climbing—without my intrepid mountaineering spouse, Michael. What? Yes, Queen King donned her tiara, packed my North Face jacket, hiking boots, and long underwear (or as we say, cushy first layer) and headed out to explore the wilds of Patagonia. Keep in mind that I define adventure as staying in a Holiday Inn that has a black and white TV and no pool, so my idea of adventure has a big SOFT in front of it (Seeking Outdoor Fun Temporarily)
So what happens when Tiara meets Tierra? LOVE! Tierra Patagonia has my name and my lifestyle all over it! Gracefully tucked into the natural beauty and landscape of Patagonia, Tierra Patagonia achieves the perfect blend of adventure meets creature comforts: breathtaking views everywhere (yes, everywhere!); to-die-for comfortable beds; seasoned guides for the myriad of outdoor options available (thank you, Sergio and Carlos!); food fit for a King (that would be me, of course!); a Spa that out-spas many classy spas I’ve visited; and a staff that almost anticipates my needs.
Day 1 I opted for a half-day introduction to Torres del Paine and a visit to the Blue Lake, a perfect way to convince a timid city girl she can get into the adventure mode without ruining her nail polish, yet a great way for the intrepid to incorporate local lore, an overview of flora and fauna, and a sampler of treks to be had. Fiona, from Tierra Hotels main office in Santiago, immediately sensed my desire to hold onto a sturdy arm, and magically appeared every time I wondered how I’d maneuver an incline or descent. I also learned that Fiona has a wickedly dry sense of humor so I immediately bonded with her!
Day 2 featured an all-day excursion that I was told would include about 20 minutes of walking. Well, let’s make that a couple of hours, but, hey, had I known this in advance, I probably would have chickened out. Instead, I was treated to one of the most enjoyable experiences I could imagine! We saw the Towers (Torres) from a variety of locations and enjoyed lakes, rivers, mountains, glaciers, ice fields, lots of guanacos (similar to llama), condors, and a mama puma with two cubs–one of which was missing a tail (I want to know who did that and why? Mean, jealous male puma—shame on you!).
Today, while my friends went for a horseback ride, I stayed indoors—sitting here blogging, sipping cappocino, and preparing for a massage! Chris, the manager at Tierra Patagonia, has mastered the art of attending to a guest’s needs without being obsequious and he has succeeded in making each of us feel like the most important person in the world.
After communicating with Michael via email, we’ve scheduled a return visit here in 2014 and we will add the Tierra property in the Atacama Desert and the Explora Lodge on Easter Island. Who knew that Tierra would add some class to the Tiara?