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Filtering by Category: Travel

Space Hotel

fairweather enterprises

EVAN HUGHES on how it feels to be selected as Virgin Galactic’s preferred hotel for future Spaceport astronauts

The folks at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces in southern New Mexico have been busy lately. Well, wouldn’t you be if you had been named a “space hotel” where future astronauts would reside before taking to the sky and beyond?

Facelift Before Liftoff

A series of renovations and improvements— including private VIP areas, customized room-service menus and concierge services, and upgraded rooms and suites—are in progress as Hotel Encanto prepares for Spaceport America astronauts, part of Virgin Galactic’s ambitious plan to take passengers into space. To date, Virgin Galactic has more than 500 reservations by future astronauts, totaling more than $70 million in deposits. (To learn more about the exciting Virgin Galactic program, turn to “New Heights,” page 12.) Rooms and suites are being remodeled by designer Adriana Long with marble bathrooms, custom-built cabinetry, and artisanal furniture. “The new guest room design reflects the culturally rich style of the hotel along with an adventurous and contemporary attitude,” Long has noted. “The design will be timeless and luxurious.”

Renovations in anticipation of Spaceport America are not limited to the hotel’s interior. Hotel Encanto’s already-impressive exterior is experiencing upgrades as well, such as additional poolside terrace rooms and outdoor spaces thanks to Greg Trutza, an award-winning landscape artchitect. Guests will have access to more than 2,500 square feet of gardens, patios, terraces, balconis, fire pits, and fountains.

Worldwide Welcome

“Future astronauts will come from around the world to New Mexico, so it’s important that they experience the outstanding local offerings and character as part of their experience,” says Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “By partnering with Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces, we further our vision of investing in the local New Mexico community while we define the Virgin Galactic Astronaut experience.”

Heritage Hotels & Resorts is a collectionof culturally distinct hotels and the largest independent hotel chain in New Mexico. To learn more about Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces and other Heritage Hotels & Resorts, visit

New Heights

fairweather enterprises

A trip on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo may bethe ultimate adventure—and it’s a dream that is about to become a reality, reports Fairweather magazine’s publisher ERIC GOODMAN

I must tell you, just clicking on Virgin Galactic’s “Book Your Place in Space” link is a thrill. Imagine what the actual flight will be like!

Be a Pioneer

These days, real pioneering experiences are hard to come by. Whereas our ancestors braved incredible challenges to explore the planet and settle in destinations far from their comfort zones, our super-connected modern world sometimes feels a bit safe, no? Well, if you’ve got $250,000 to investin a unique experience, Virgin Galactic is probably the ultimate in guess-what-I-did- this-weekend adventures.

Join an Exclusive Club

More than 500 people have made space reservations to date, and a reservation not only gets future astronauts a spot on a Virgin Galactic space flight but also a visit to Space- port America in New Mexico to witness test flights of the space ship and carrier craft. (And the lodgings for future astronauts in southern New Mexico are top shelf—turn to page 16 to read “Space Hotel.”)

In addition, astronauts have trained on a centrifuge facility in Philadelphia and taken part in zero-gravity parabolic flights across the U.S. They have also been hosted by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson at his private Necker Island in the Caribbean, game reserve in South Africa, chalet in the Swiss Alps, estate in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, the Ice Hotel in the Arctic, and Spaceport Sweden.

Future astronauts also get their own Virgin Galactic website, Space Book, a handy way to keep track of perks and pre-flight activities.

Ride in Style

Astronauts will ride in SpaceShipTwo, a 60-foot-long carbon-composite vehicle that will carry six passengers and two pilots. Its cabin size is similar to that of a Falcon 900 executive jet, but with ample room for astronauts to float in zero gravity, and two large windows per passenger—one on the side, one overhead—to savor the ultimate view.

SpaceShipTwo will be carried by WhiteKnightTwo, another carbon-compos- ite vehicle, which has a unique design resem- bling a double airplane. Innovative design will make reentry into earth’s atmosphere smoother and safer than has ever been possible in previous spaceflights.

To learn more about passenger opportunities and research opportunities aboard Space ShipTwo, visit

A House for All Seasons

fairweather enterprises

By Evan Hughes

Topping Rose House, an unforgettable hotel and restaurant in Bridgehampton, NY, offers something for every visitor, all year long.

Summer visitorsto Bridgehampton, NY, who’ve enjoyed a luxurious stay at Topping Rose House, with delicious dishes by acclaimed restaurateur Tom Colicchio and chef de cuisine Kyle Koenig, may not realize that the hotel and restaurant are open year- round. But that’s good news for anyone looking for an off-season getaway to the Hamptons.

The 22-room Topping Rose House is named after the firstowner of the 1842 Greek revival mansion, Judge Abraham Topping Rose. It includes not only the main house and restaurant butalso four cottages, wellness facilities, a farm from which muchof the restaurant’s bounty is sourced, and a restored barn and contemporary studio available for events such as weddings, birthday parties, business conferences, and yoga and fitness retreats.

A stay at Topping Rose House off-season includes everything that a summery stay does: Seasonal snacks inspired by the ingredients available at the property’s farm, exceptional linens and electronics in the rooms, spa treatments from Naturopathica, and complimentary bicycles and car service in Lexus vehicles to and from the beach and other nearby attractions, such as vineyards and boutique shops.

One of the things we love about Topping Rose House is how it seamlessly blends 19th-century aesthetics with contemporary style. Architecture firm Roger Ferris & Partners undertook the property’s renovation, and interior design company Champalimauo was tasked with emphasizing comfort, luxury, and the original antique appointments of the property.

An amazing art collection rounds out the “wow” factor for people arriving at Topping Rose House for the first time, with works curated by Wächter Fine Art in New York City. Artists such as Clifford Ross and Peter Dayton provide a nice contemporary statement that goes nicely with the peaceful setting of the Hamptons.

The hotel’s restaurant sources ingredients from the property’s farm and from local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. It is open daily, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch. It’s no wonder t hat Topping Rose House has been named to Travel + Leisure’s annual “It List,” recognized by Hospitality Design magazine for its overall architecture and design, and received an International Hotel & Property Award in 2014 for Best Hotel Design for a hotel with 50 rooms or fewer.

Topping Rose House’s general manager, Fiona Riesch, is excited about the property’s plans for the winter. “Topping Rose House will host a tree-lighting ceremony with local carolers and offer special menus in the restaurant for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve as well as the Winter Spa Escape (from $1,299 per night) and A Taste of Winter (from $659 per night),” Riesch notes.

“The property will be fully decorated for the season with a festive Christmas tree in the main house. Additionally, guests can enjoy complimentary vin chaud with a house-made spice recipe by the fireplace after returning from a brisk fall or winter walk in the area,” Riesch adds.

To learn more, visit

Mustang Alley

fairweather enterprises

JULIE KEYES experienced unforgettable mountain views and treacherous terrain on a horseback ride through the High Sierras. But what she learned about herself was even more stunning. 

Signed up for a four-day horseback ride through the High Sierras ( with college friends Lisa and Sue. A year in advance, the trip sounded romantic—four days following wild mustangs! But as our departure date approaches, the emails start to mention 30-degree nights, 90-degree days, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. 

We arrive in Bishop, California, and cellphone service is history halfway up the mountain. The lack of phone service and the dizzy heights of the High Sierras—riding a horse past steep inclines—have me arrested with fear.

It’s a challenge for me to be around anybody for 20 minutes, let alone four days. It’s 8 a.m. A cowboy is talking about scorpions and making comments about New York City. Wild mustangs are in a field next to the parking lot, unlike any horses I’ve ever seen before. Absolutely aware of us, looking directly at us, and keeping their distance. And all I can think of is my lack of phone service. I must need this trip more than I thought. Mount Whitney is the backdrop each day, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S., capped with snow. We take of, mustangs on our right, the mountains on our left.

The rangers talk about the horses as if they were friends on a schoolyard. My horse is Gallo, a white angel. We ride for six hours, then stop for a snack among ancient petroglyphs. Peanut butter never tasted so good! Lying around for an hour, I kind of fall in love with Lisa and Sue all over again on a new level, saying nothing.

We ride on. When we dismount again, my legs vaguely buckle. We walk like dirty, dusty wooden soldiers to the solar shower. Then we drink hot coffee and eat cheese and crackers. Gene, the cook, is right out of central casting—tall, skinny, weathered hat, pipe, and drawl. He grills chicken, pork ribs, and steaks in his makeshift kitchen. Nothing feels more perfect. Nothing. He makes a huge fire in the fire pit and we sit around and stare at the fames with exhausted, empty minds until the stars come out.

Sleeping in 30-degree cold at night is not easy. But I find that if you put on every piece of clothing that you have, plus gloves and hats, zipping up the sleeping bag over your head, you’re okay. And by the third night I am sleeping alarmingly well.

We are about to go descend through... Rattlesnake Pass! It’s the last pass and the most notoriously steep. Prayers. Making deals with God. And, poof, it’s over and we’re down the hill and on the fat plains with mustangs and antelope, and cars looming ominously in the parking lot ahead. Civilization. After a four-day sojourn across this wild, vanishing world, I have rethought everything. 

Intimate Italy

fairweather enterprises

by Evan Hughes

Su Misura means “tailor made” in Italian, and the unique sensory experience delivered by the luxury travel company are truly one-of-a-kind. 

When Gabriella Contestabile, co-founder of luxury travel company Su Misura, watched her guests—travelers who had booked a “bespoke” vacation experience tailored to their tastes and interests—savor the sights, sounds, scents, and tastes of Florence at an artisans event at the Four Seasons Firenze, she knew it was an early highpoint in her fledgling company’s history. “I saw something more than cursory interest,” she recalls, describing how Su Misura’s guests mingled with the perfumers, jewelry designers, chocolatiers, and leather craftsmen. “I saw a desire to get inside the story, to connect on a human level with that artisan cutting stones using a 15th-century instrument, or a young shoemaker molding leather, or a young woman weave silk on an 18th-century loom.” She sensed a palpable and visceral energy in the room and knew that Su Misura as a concept “had legs.”

Sensory Journeys

It’s totally appropriate that Contestabile’s five senses were key in determining the success of the artisans event. After all, Su Misura was founded by two well-traveled NYC-based women with a deep background in Italian crafts, art, and food. Contestabile’s mother was a seamstress and her father an Italian consulate representative, and she regularly visited her Italian hometown each summer, where the family’s clothing was made by hand. Norma Frassa-McGrody’s parents ran an upscale Greenwich Village eatery, where she learned that food was an art. Su Misura represents its two founders’ artisanal sensibility—the notion that well-made clothing, visual art, perfume, wine, and food are all part of what they have called an “experiential mosaic.”

Idyllic Itineraries

A typical Su Misura travel experience—between five and 14 days, for groups of six to 12 women—includes lodgings at luxurious JK Place Firenze (Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 7; and visits to artisanal perfume-makers, emerging Italian designers (including consultations with stylists and tailors on finding your own personal style), the Oltrarno artisan district, Florence’s oldest silk mill (where the craft of luxury silk-weaving is still practiced and taught), the city’s oldest and most revered leather school, master mosaicists as they create radiant images with colored stones, and even a fashion-forward factory outlet store. Countryside excursions include unforgettable landscapes, castles, the distinctive Tuscan light—chiaroscuro—that has drawn artists to the region for centuries, and a private winery tour and tasting and seasonal olive oil tasting. Museum visits include the legendary Alinari Museum of Photography, the Gucci Museum’s iconic shoes and handbags, the Ufzi’s “secret” collection of Medici art via private tour, the Masac- cio, Lippi, and Masolino frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel; and Florentine must-sees such as the Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens, with your very own art historian accompanying you. Meals—at JK Place and other fine dining locations—include tutorials on entertaining Florentine style and conversation with local artisans, art historians, fashion consultants, and other sensory experts. The Su Misura Daily Passport allows you to strike out on your own and explore a variety of museums, restaurants, artisan studios, and boutiques.

Beyond History

Su Misura’s “bespoke” itineraries are determined by each traveler’s own wishes and priorities via online questions and customized service (see “Bespoke Travel Made Easy,” opposite page). But the trips are much more than a living history lesson. Contestabile is consistently delighted by Florence’s fresh, contemporary vibe. “The Florentines draw on their artisan heritage to craft brilliant and innovative solutions and cutting-edge works of modern art,” she notes, citing such examples as the new Antinary winery, the photography of Massimo Listri, the new opera house, and La Strozzina Center for Contemporary Culture. “This is not so much a surprise to me as an affirmation that art matters; it is the vital thread to our collective consciousness. Art is more than a celebration of the past; it’s a path to a more innovative future.”

Transformative Travel

If the idea of putting together one-of-a-kind travel experiences for clients who expect the very best seems challenging, you are correct. But Contestabile is inspired rather than daunted. “The biggest challenge is what makes this fun,” she enthuses. “Delving into the desires and expectations of a truly passionate and curious traveler while respecting privacy and spontaneity.” The passionate co-founder of Su Misura must remain nimble and imaginative, and on top of whatever is happening in Florence at any given time. “But that’s why we travel, isn’t it?” she notes. “I once heard the director of Palazzo Strozzi say, ‘One should never walk away from a work of art unchanged.’ It’s the same with travel: We should never come back the way we left.” 

Fairy Tale Kingdom

Mira Dayal


LEGEND HAS IT that a young King Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as the Fairy Tale King, told his governess: “I want to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others.” Arriving at his magnifcent castle more than a century after his death, we could see instantly that his dream had come true.

We were there to celebrate the 80th birthday of Franz Herzog von Bayern (the Duke of Bavaria), head of the Wittelsbach family and a descendant of Ludwig II. We reached the royal palace after driving several hours on the Autobahn, followed by a boat ride across Bavaria’s largest lake, Chiemsee , to the island of Herreninsel, where a walk on a path through the woods took us to the castle.

Construction of Herrenchiemsee (New Palace) began in 1878 but was not completed until two years after the 42-year-old king’s mysterious death in 1886. 

The so-called Bavarian Versailles, which was modeled after the French palace, boasts elegant staterooms, a huge state staircase and the Great Hall of Mirrors. Ludwig, however, preferred his small apartment designed in the French rococo style. The large garden, with its now-famous fountains, was not completed until after his death.

We passed through the north wing to the Fairy Tale King’s awe-inspiring masterpiece. In a two-story section of the castle marked by unfnished brick walls, there were exhibition spaces flled with works by Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Sigmar Polke, Arnulf Rainer and Eugen Schönebeck. Also on display were installations by Dan Flavin, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning and John Chamberlain.

The spectacular exhibition of American art in this historic setting marks the intersection of modernism and tradition, where Europe meets America. And while it may appear striking that the historic castle features art which postdates its walls, the exhibition was, in fact, building on the House of Wittelsbach’s long history of collecting works by the world’s best artists during each respective generation and making these collections available to the public.

Franz was born in Munich in 1933 to Duke Albrecht of Bavaria and his wife, the Croatian Countess Maria Draskovich. His family staunchly opposed the Nazi regime and left Germany for Budapest in 1939. They lived there in exile until 1944 when Hitler invaded Hungary and ordered the arrest of the family, including 11-year-old Franz. The royals spent the remainder of the war in various concentration camps, including Dachau, until American troops liberated them in 1945. The duke resumed his education, eventually studying economics and business in Munich and Zurich.

Meanwhile, a debate continues in England over amending the 17th-century Act of Settlement, which could technically place Franz in the direct line of succession to the British throne. The act, which created a parliamentary monarchy and prevented any Catholic from ever ascending to the throne, was established after Franz’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great- grandfather, King James II, was deposed during the Glorious Revolution.

Succession passed to James’ Protestant daughter, Mary II, who ruled jointly with King William II. They died without heirs, and the throne eventually passed from the Stuarts to the current House of Windsor. The law stands, but is amended periodically (most recently to allow frst-born royal ofspring to inherit the throne regardless of gender), and the Protestant requirement continues to be debated. 

But the duke does not spend time dwelling on royal succession, focusing instead on the Wittelsbach family tradition of promoting the arts and sciences. He is a member of the board of trustees for both the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich and the German Museum. He is also a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, chairman of the Society for the Promotion of the Alte Pinakothek, vice-chairman of the Munich Gallery Society and chairman of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

And so it was ftting that the duke decided to celebrate his birthday with a spectacular debut of artworks from Munich’s world- renowned Pinakothek der Moderne, where many masterpieces from the duke’s private collection are on permanent loan.

After viewing the exhibitions, we mingled with guests outside the castle, overlooking the magnifcent fountains. We refected on the vision of Ludwig II over 100 years ago and the continuation of that vision through Franz today. Before heading back into the castle for dinner, we could not help but believe that fairy tales do exist. One has only to dream. 

Hola, Antigua

Mira Dayal

EVA PICCOZZI on Guatemala’s walled city’s fuent blend of language and leisure:

Guatemala is not the frst place one thinks of for vacation travel or language study. Long associated with drug cartels and crime, the country still faces difculty in attracting

the average tourist. But the colonial city of Antigua, just 45 minutes from the nation’s capital, has been quietly luring Spanish language enthusiasts for decades and ofers the perfect fusion of vacation and study in a safe environment. 

Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is well preserved, easy to navigate on foot, and a great family destination.

A walled city that uses both metropolitan and tourism police for added security, Antigua charms with Spanish-style architecture, cobblestone streets, colonial churches, ancient Mayan ruins and textiles. Plus, there’s always the breathtaking view of three large volcanoes from anywhere in the city.

The many language schools within a one-mile radius combined with the city’s rarities make Antigua an ideal environment for Spanish study. Students can design custom schedules and work one-on-one with certifed, friendly instructors for about $10 an hour. Some even ofer Skype classes for when you return home. And, since few Guatemalans speak English, the city ofers a genuine (and unavoidable) immersion experience.

For a complete local experience, consider staying with a host family, which the schools will arrange for about $80 per week, including meals. Hotels are equally afordable. A stay at the luxury Hotel Casa Santo Domingo costs about $100 a night. Situated in a 17th-century convent, it boasts a spectacular view of Volcán de Fuego and free admission to the six museums on the premises.

Among the best schools are: Proyecto Linguístico Francisco Marroquín (; Ixchel Spanish (; and Mundo Spanish School (

EVA PICCOZZI teaches Spanish at Amherst Regional High School in Massachusetts and has taken fve instructional trips to Guatemala with her students. She has traveled extensively in South America and spent a college semester in Santiago, Chile. 

Praising Paradine

Mira Dayal

Palm Beach native and real estate broker MADISON COLLUM shares an insider’s view of life in one of the world’s favorite destination cities 

Fairweather: People consider Miami to be Manhattan’s playground. Would you say the same of Palm Beach as compared to the Hamptons?

Madison Collum: After spending much time in the Hamptons the
last three summers, it is my opinion that the Hamptons are more of a weekend commuter spot. Most of Palm Beach’s seasonal residents come into town and stay for most of the winter.

F: As a Palm Beach native, how has Palm Beach changed since you were a kid?
MC: When I was a kid, history or lineage to Palm Beach was everything, and was almost like a status symbol that couldn’t be bought. As new generations of Palm Beachers grow up, the historical tie isn’t as heavily weighed.

F: How did you know that you wanted to have a career in real estate?
MC: I didn’t. My background is in corporate fnance and accounting. My frst job out of college was at the corporate headquarters for a publicly traded company in Palm Beach. I was with them for 3.5 years and temporarily moved to New York City. After returning to the Palm Beach area in 2004, I was urged

to start my career in real estate. People live their lives, create memories, build businesses, raise children and entertain their friends and families, all in the places that I help them fnd. What other industry does that?

F: What misconceptions might people have about Palm Beach?
MC: That it is a stodgy, old and boring place to live. There is always something to do here.

F: Does Palm Beach offer any unique tax advantages for real estate investors?
MC: The Town of Palm Beach doesn’t; however, the State of Florida does. We
are also beginning to see a trend of people moving from California to Florida to avoid the exorbitant taxes. Having said that, I am not a tax accountant, so please contact your tax advisor for further details.

F: What are the recent real estate trends in Palm Beach?
MC: Tear downs and major renovations. Most home shoppers looking in the million-plus price point either want a brand new house or want a home that has been completely renovated.

F: What would you say Palm Beach has that cannot be found anywhere else?
MC: Other than the world-renowned shopping, there are amazing beaches, incredible restau- rants, docking capabilities for most large yachts and easy access to the airport for commuters.

F: What are your favorite cultural offerings in Palm Beach?
MC: The Henry Flagler Museum and the Society of the Four Arts are great places to learn about Palm Beach’s cultural side.

If you are considering properties in Palm Beach, please visit MADISON COLLUM at Coastal Sotheby’s International Realty: