Jellyfish Lake

[Jellyfish Lake; image via #]

There’s a place called Jellyfish Lake on the island of Eil Malk in Palau, which is located east of the Philippines and south of Japan.

The 12,000-year-old lake is very famous as the home of millions of beautiful jellyfish which, over time, gradually evolved to lose their stingers. As a result, it is possible here to swim with the jellyfish, and snorkelers and divers can enter the water safely.

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Glamping at Paws Up

[The Resort at Paws Up, Pinnacle Camp, one-bedroom tent suite]

I thought “glamping” might eventually fade, but apparently it’s here to stay. For the uninitiated, glamping is luxurious camping — glamorous + camping — complete with designer tents, electrical outlets, first-rate appliances and all the other usual amenities you’d expect from world-class accommodations. In other words: Sleeping bags not allowed.

If I ever decide to give glamping a go, The Resort at Paws Up does look like the ideal standard. Boasting unparalleled options for glamping in Montana, Paws Up’s picturesque Pinnacle Camp — aka Glamping Central — is located on a bluff overlooking the Blackfoot River and Elk Creek and features six tent suites.

[Two-bedroom tent suite]

Odds are, you’ve never seen tents like these. According to the resort, each tent suite includes spacious en-suite bathrooms with a jetted tub and shower, a dining pavilion and other deluxe amenities.

What do you think: To glamp, or not to glamp?

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Circus Berlin

[The Circus Apartments penthouse]

In 2005, when I was a junior in college, I went to Germany for the first time. My mission? To survive and complete a semester at the Technische Universität Braunschweig studying — what else? — German.

And at that point, having taken German language classes since my freshman year of high school, and having had every teacher, textbook and college professor talk about Berlin every chance they got, the city was at the very top of my list of places to see.

While there, I stayed at a very quirky and memorable hostel, appropriate called The Circus Berlin. From my understanding, it was fully renovated in 2010, so it may not look 100 percent the way I remember it, but I’m sure they’ve kept the unique atmosphere alive. In fact, there’s a bar in the basement that hosts bands, DJs and karaoke nights.

In addition to the hostel, there’s also The Circus Hotel, as well as The Circus Apartments, which are brand-new and perfect if you’re looking for something a little more private. All three options are centrally located and in close proximity of many of the city’s major sights.

[The Circus Apartments’ penthouse terrace, complete with view of the iconic Fernsehturm]

The hostel itself was pretty comfortable as far as accommodations and service go, so I can only imagine that the hotel and the apartments are just as nicely done as well. After perusing the photos for the apartments, I’m actually kind of dying to book one. Let’s just say, the next time I’m in Berlin, I’ll let you know what they’re like. (wink)

[Penthouse bedroom]

[Penthouse study]

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Langham Place Hotel Hotel, Mongkok, Hong Kong

Langham Place in Kowloon ranks as one of my all-time most memorable hotel stays. I spent a week there with my parents and my sister in March 2011, and the property left me completely awestruck.

The hotel has 42 floors, offering quite the bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong. And across the street (accessible via an over-the-street walkway) is a 15-story shopping center, which is also part of the Langham Place complex.

My sister and I shared a room, and we could see into the mall from our window. It was an unusual sight, to see people riding up floor after floor after floor of escalators. And don’t even get me started on the shopping. Let’s just say it’s dangerous for one’s pocketbook to stay in a hotel that’s attached to a 15-story shopping mall …

The hotel’s architecture and interior design are very contemporary (see above), yet also manages to weave in distinctly Asian elements, such as in the restaurants (see below).

[The patio]

[The wine cellar]

[The view from the bar]

[The rooftop pool; the views were incredible]

[Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, Hong Kong]

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The Registry Room

In October 2010, my father and I visited New York City. I had always wanted to see Ellis Island, so we reserved a day for it.

What a humbling experience. Nothing can prepare you for what it will feel like to stand in the Registry Room, the same place where millions of immigrants first entered the United States and were reunited with their loved ones.

Great Escapes Around the World Volume II

There’s a book available through the publisher Taschen called Great Escapes Around the World Vol. II, and it’s filled with introductions to some truly unique getaways and first-rate resorts. The imagery is incredible — just pick it up and flip through the pages for a mini mental vacation (or to plan your next adventure!).

From Taschen:

Highlights include a California inn where Liberace would have felt right at home, and shabby-chic bungalows on Highway 1 in Big Sur. Choose from luxurious residences nestled on the Ubud hillside overlooking the Ayung River in Bali, or oceanside bungalows on a Brazilian archipelago. Go camping in “royal style” in the Indian desert, or opt for a luxury tented camp on an island in the best game-viewing location in Botswana. Relax in a hand-woven banda on Zanzibar, a hotel-museum full of contemporary art on the Sicilian coast, or a sumptuous Provençal spa retreat in the south of France.

Some beautiful images included in the book …

Codorniu Winery

[The interior of one of the main buildings at Codorniu Winery]

In July 2010, I was in Barcelona, Spain, for one week. During those seven days I tried to see and learn as much as I could, and that meant trying to find a good balance between going on tours and giving myself downtime to explore the city on my own.

One of the tours I’m incredibly glad I made time for was the Codorniu Winery, located about 40 minutes east of Barcelona. The property is impressive — the cellars there were completed in 1915 after 20 years of construction and with the help of Josep Puig i Cadafalch, considered one of the greatest Catalan architects in history and a contemporary of the legendary Antoni Gaudi.

The Codorniu family, now named Raventos, has been making wine since 1551, and champagne according to the traditional “French” method since the 1880s. Of course, because only champagne made in France can be called champagne, the Catalonians call their sparkling wine “cava.” But no matter what you call the bubbly beverage, Codorniu is the largest maker of it in the world, producing tens of millions of bottles every year.

The products are excellent, and I think it’s safe to say the family has become exceptional at what they do, so it’s no wonder the Codorniu Winery has been visited by many famous and important guests over the decades, including royalty not just from Spain, but from all over the world. In fact, since 1897, Codorniu has been the official supplier of wine for Spain’s royal family — every year they produce a special reserve exclusively for them and their royal residences.

If you have the opportunity to visit the winery in Catalonia, I highly recommend it. Not only will you get to see the winemaking process in effect if you’re there when the grapes are being harvested, but you’ll also be taken a few miles underground into the dark labyrinth of tunnels to see where all the different bottles are kept to age properly in their respective cellars. The number of crates and bottles being stores underground there will most definitely boggle your mind.

In the states, Codorniu takes shape in the form of Artesa Winery in Napa, California. I’ve personally never been, so no word on whether they have cava on hand for you to try. But if you come across any cava made by the Codorniu Winery that’s available in the states (and you can find it), buy it and try it! Whether you’ve had cava before or not, I think you’ll be pleased.

After the tour of the winery, our guide, Cesar, gave our group a recipe for sangria made with cava, telling us that if we liked the cava we had tried on the tour that day, then we would love Catalan sangria made with it. “The sangria made with cava is not to die for … it is to kill for,” he joked.

The Whitsunday Islands

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Lately I’ve been researching the Whitsunday Islands for another writing project, and so far I can’t find a single thing I don’t like about them. Whereas I previously didn’t know what they were or where they were, they have since climbed higher on my list of must-visits.

The cluster of islands is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, and plays host to the Hamilton Island Race Week each year, during which, reportedly, some pretty fab sailing, wining, dining and socializing goes down. Not to mention, it’s a frequent — and ideal — hideaway for celebs. (Trivia: When Oprah Winfrey took her audience members on a tour of Australia, the Whitsundays made it onto her itinerary.)

Life goals I could achieve in a trip to the Whitsunday Islands:

-To visit Australia.

-To learn to sail.

-To receive my SCUBA certification.

-To see the Great Barrier Reef.

The Whitsundays. Definitely going on my list of lists.

[Heart Reef]

Emerson Farm in New Hampshire

[Emerson and Ryan Fry of Emersonmade, via #]

If you aren’t already familiar with Emersonmade, go ahead and just jog on over to their website. Emerson Fry and her husband, Ryan Fry, started the e-commerce site and clothing brand in 2009 — she takes the lead on all the creative; he oversees operational logistics and the day-to-day. And the clothes? I am ob-sessed. Think mod little black dresses, pleated skirts, retro denim, flower brooches, monogrammed table linens, fitted blouses … But I digress.

After a decade living in New York City, the couple vacated to a 19th century farmhouse in New Hampshire a few years ago. Emersonmade’s new headquarters are perfectly simple yet stylish, complete with resident ducks and chickens. The home has been featured by Boston Magazine, The Nest, Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge, Tart House, High Street Market, and and and … Let’s just say I’m not the only one who’s fallen in love with the house and the sense of place it conveys.

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This is just the kind of East Coast place where I’d love to hole myself up for two to three months each summer and type away on my novel.

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Luxe City Guides

I bought a Luxe City Guide before a trip to New York City two years ago, and I’ve been enamored with the little books ever since. They’ve developed somewhat of a cult following, and I think are probably purchased just as often for their absolutely beautiful, artistic covers as they are for the witty listings printed on their foldout pages.

The stylish little pocket guides can be purchased individually or as sets (great gift ideas) and are chock-full of the most sophisticated destinations each city has to offer. You won’t find any generic or underwhelming recommendations, just the best of the very best.

They can be a fun alternative to coffee table books, as they create a powerful visual impact grouped together and can also be fun for guests to fold out and browse. There are no photographs, just short reviews for hotels, bars, restaurants, spas, activities, shopping itineraries, etc.

Get your own guides here, and check out the LUXEtasy blog here.