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The medieval village of Châteauneuf du Pape in western Provence, France, reigns above the most productive wine appellation in the southern Rhone Valley. The wine by the same name, created by the Avignon Popes in the 14th century, has been prized by generations of wine lovers and is recognized as one of the leading legendary wine regions in the world.
“Châteauneuf du Pape,” roughly translated as "The Pope's new castle," refers to the building (now a ruin) on top of the hill overlooking the village that the Popes built and used as a summer palace during period of the Avignon Papacy (1309 to 1376) and the “Great Schism,” when there were two competing Popes (1376 – 1417).
Forced to flee the political turmoil of Rome, Pope Clement V, a Frenchman, and his French successor, John XXII, created this legendary wine by planting vines around their château and producing some of the medieval world's most famous wines.
The spirit of this historic past continues within the walls of La Mère Germaine, as it celebrates “all things wine.” It is a legendary restaurant where the tales, folklore and history of an incredible wine live on. Although it is called just a restaurant-hotel, it is a lot more than that. It is the soul of this place.
The Popes drank these wines hundreds of years ago -- and the passion for them is even stronger today. So it is fitting that this is the place where today's local aristocracy -- the winemakers of Châteauneuf du Pape and other renowned Rhone appellations -- can meet on any afternoon or evening to eat, drink, talk, argue and wheel and deal.
It is the place where families come to socialize, where wine critics and wine journalists from all over the world, as well as local Rhone Valley characters and globetrotting tourists, come to celebrate the wines of Châteauneuf du Pape.
And they just don't come to La Mère Germaine for the excellent gastronomic fare. They come for a warm atmosphere and a Châteauneuf du Pape/Rhone Valley wine education through tasting some of over 100 different great wines from the region on the wine list.
La Mère Germaine is a wine lover’s dream. Yet, sadly, it almost didn't survive.
First opened in 1922 by Madame Germaine Vion, the chef at the Élysée Palace (the French presidential palace) at the beginning of the 20th century, it was the center of village life from then on.
But in 2010 the place closed down. The owner had financial difficulties, the quality of the food and service was low, and staff morale was glum. André Mazy, its general manager for many years, had quit. It was a “ship without a rudder.”
Born November 5th, 1964, in Toulouse, Mazy (Dédé to his friends) has survived various hardships and has struggled throughout his life. But it never stopped him from living it. He never knew his birth parents, and lost a best friend at a young age. These traumas, devastating as they would be to anybody, perhaps also set him on his life path.
Things got better: he was able to attend the Sorbonne in Paris and finish his studies at the University in Aix-en-Provence. Then there were adventures traveling throughout the world – in the United States, Australia, Thailand and beyond. He had some lucky breaks along the way; meeting the right people at the right time... it was clear that André was going to be successful.
Owning a restaurant, however, was not at the top of his list or even on his mind. He originally wanted to be a police commissioner or a priest, as he felt that his mission in life was to bring justice to the world. Yet he always found work in restaurants, whether as a waiter at a three-star restaurant in Paris, managing a restaurant in the Pyrenees, or food and beverage manager at a top hotel in Bangkok.
In late 2005 André found a position as manager of La Mère Germaine. It soon became clear this was his calling. He became passionate about the village, the wines and the restaurant.
But the place shut down after the owner suffered financial difficulties. In early 2011, the former owner had completely gutted the restaurant and kitchen and it remained shuttered for over a year. André, however, did not want La Mère to sink. He knew he had to save this most important home-away-from-home to so many in Châteauneuf... and beyond.
After intensive legal wrangling, he finally realized his dream -- and bought the place. The story of its resurrection went something like this.
After months of planning renovation and hiring, La Mère Germaine began to come back to life. By May 2011 the doors were reopened, to the relief of the Châteauneuf wine industry.
Today La Mère Germaine once again shines as the “soul of Châteauneuf du Pape.”
When you arrive there, the first person you meet is André. With a big smile, easy laugh and insightful, André (in French, English, Spanish or Italian) will bring an aperitif. Perhaps it will be a small new wine discovery or a local liqueur.
After you settle in to the beautiful dining room or, in warmer weather, the sumptuous terrace overlooking the vineyards of Châteauneuf du Pape, you will be filled in on the latest wine gossip and, of course, tell you about the menu and “André’s Special Wine Selections of the Month,” a special list of excellent but lesser known wine from the region at moderate prices. From there on you will have an afternoon or evening of culinary bliss.
Should you happen to be thinking about going to France for your next vacation, schedule a trip to Châteauneuf du Pape. But you most definitely need to make a reservation for lunch or dinner at La Mère Germaine.
And if you love it so much, you will want to book a room overnight or for a few days. Whatever you decide, André will be there waiting for you.
For more info go to: http://www.lameregermaine.fr/vinswines.html
Starting April 10th 2012, Dance Exchange Artistic Director Cassie Meador will embark on a 500-mile walk, launching a new initiative in art and environmentalism. This particular quest will allow Meador to explore various energy sources channeling through her home in Takoma neighborhood of Washington, DC to the east coast of West Virginia and Maryland.
With the help of the creative team in Dance Exchange, it will take approximately two months to finish the journey; it will not only be ecology-based but a physically monitored trip. Joining Meador will be Matt Mahaney, a long-distance hiker, videographer and adjunct artist of the Dance Exchange.
Together, along with the crew, various artists, naturalists, environmentalists, documentarians and partners, will delve into the true assets of the environment such as energy plants, including wind, coal, and waste resource recovery facilities.
The purpose of this project is to promote a community engagement tour in unison with the development of a dance production, How To Lose A Mountain premiering in Spring 2013. It will illustrate how one can unite with nature and save the earth by coming to understand the very essence of such natural resources that one uses and possibly take granted for in his/her daily life. This voyage, being a physical one, may help one comprehend the necessary means of fusing art and science creating a whole, new different approach to the world, humanity and to one’s everyday surroundings.
The 500-mile walk will be carefully documented on the website: http://www.500miles500stories.com/ allowing viewers to experience for themselves and share with others about their travel stories.
On April 10, the day the walk begins, Dance Exchange will perform and host an interactive story collection workshop at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Dance Exchange-led programming will occur at additional university campuses and community centers along the walk route.
This programming includes: a story collection workshop, called 500 Miles/500 Stories, that will encourage participants to reflect on the distances in their lives; and a series of Moving Field Guides, outdoor movement workshops where participants will learn the value of their local ecosystems through walking and dance.
Major support for the Moving Field Guides comes from the U.S. Forest Service. Additional support and partnerships for the walk include the National Endowment for the Arts, the MetLife Foundation, Maryland State Arts Council, and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Girl Scouts of America, Glen Echo Park, the McGuffey Arts Center, James Madison University, Virginia Tech, Workspace for Choreographers, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the FLOC Outdoors Education Center and the Claytor Nature Study Center.
The stage work, How To Lose a Mountain is a National Performance Network Creation Fund grantee and a co-commission of Dance Place in DC and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan Wisconsin. In partnership with USA Projects, Dance Exchange has launched a fundraising campaign to reach $10,000 by June 22.
For more on this campaign, visit http://www.usaprojects.org/project/500_miles_500_stories.
About Cassie Meador
Cassie Meador is a choreographer, performer, educator and Artistic Director of the Dance Exchange. In recent years, Cassie’s choreographic investigations have tackled numerous social and environmentalissues through the synthesis of movement, sound, and striking visual images. Drift, her 2008 work commissioned by the Kennedy Center and recognized with a Metro DC Dance Award, explores the human relationship to land over time. Her current choreographic project, How To Lose a Mountain, will incorporate a 500-mile walk from Washington, D.C. to West Virginia to trace the sources of the energy that fuel her home.
Her Moving Field Guides, an interactive experience led by artists, naturalists and regional experts in ecology, is being implemented in partnership with the USDA Forest Service. Born in Charleston, SC, and raised in Augusta, GA, Cassie received her B.F.A. indance from The Ohio State University. She joined Dance Exchange in 2002 andassumed the role of Artistic Director in 2011.
About Dance Exchange
Dance Exchange breaks boundaries between stage and audience, theater and community, movement and language, tradition and the unexplored. Founded in 1976 by Liz Lerman and now under the artistic direction of Cassie Meador, Dance Exchange stretches the expressive range of contemporary dance through explosive dancing, personal stories, humor, and a company of performers whose ages span six decades. The work consists of formal concerts, interactive performances, specialized community residencies, and professional training in the art of community-based dance.
An artist-driven organization, Dance Exchange employs a collaborative approach to dance making, administration, and implementation. Representing the multiple artistic voices of Dance Exchange, recent and current choreographic projects include explorations of coal mining, genetic research, radical prayer, human rights, particle physics, geology, and rest in a hyper-driven society.
For more information please visit: http://www.danceexchange.org/ or http://www.500miles500stories.com/
Maybe it’s escapism or a coping method, but despite the pummeling from the recession, many Americans are still flocking to spas for therapeutic pummeling.
The International SPA Association (ISPA) commissions PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct their annual ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study –- focusing on five key statistics:
Since the first commissioned study in 2000, the spa industry has continued to flourish despite the economic downturn.
From only 5,700 spa locations in 1999, that number has increased to 20,600 in 2009. Spa visits have increased from 90.7 million vs 143 million for the same period, while revenue has increased from $5 billion in 1999 to $12.3 billion. Employment within this industry has also increased in conjunction from 151,000 total employees in 1999 to 332,000 in May 2010.
The state of Arizona has been a huge contributor to these statistics. Arizona is a spa lover’s paradise, with a wide range of services and treatments at their day and overnight resort spas. The greater Phoenix area is home to many of these famous spas and it’s not hard to see why.
With an average of 310 sunny days per year, an annual rainfall of 7.66 inches, an average annual temperature of 72.6 degrees and an annual high temperature of 85 degrees, this is year-round paradise.
Several award-winning Arizona hotels with top-flight spa experiences include:
Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North Just 45 minutes from the city center, the resort is set high in the Sonoran Desert, in the cooling foothills of Pinnacle Peak. Situated among cacti, rocks and small mountains, it’s back to nature – Four Seasons style. The 25 Southwestern-style adobe casitas encompasses 210 guest rooms, including 22 suites.
The Arizona BiltmoreThe award-winning Biltmore, part of the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain, is one of Phoenix’s first resorts and is known for its signature design. Built in 1929, the Biltmore was constructed in grand form by brothers Albert, Charles and Warren McArthur with Frank Lloyd Wright serving as the consulting architect. It was Wright’s first hotel project and remains the only existing hotel in the world with a Wright design.This landmark “Jewel of the Desert” has been the place to stay for U.S. presidents and the playground for the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
A full-service 22,000-square-foot resort spa, salon and fitness center. The spa includes an extensive menu of treatments and therapies from countries and cultures worldwide, using only natural elements and ingredients with 17 indoor treatment rooms. The adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club boasts two 18-hole PGA golf courses -- The Links and The Adobe. It has 740 guest accommodations, 78 one-and two-bedroom villas, eight swimming pools, seven tennis courts and five dining options.
Montelucia Resort & Spa
The Montelucia Resort & Spa is a top-rated luxury hotel, inspired by the rich history, culture and architecture of Spain’s Andalusia region. Nestled at the foot of picturesque Camelback Mountain, this extraordinary getaway offers an array of facilities, including the critically-acclaimed Prado restaurant and spa treatments at the award-winning Joya Spa.
The property features 293 guest rooms as well as 34 multi-million dollar privately-owned villas on 35 acres of lush desert landscape. In May 2011, The Montelucia Resort was added to the KSL Resorts portfolio which includes La Costa Resort & Spa, Hotel del Coronado, Beach Village at the Del, Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa, and The Homestead.
Sheraton Phoenix Downtown HotelThis newly designed and contemporary hotel offers tasteful design and panoramic views. The 1.1 million square foot, 31-floor Sheraton Phoenix Downtown is Arizona’s largest hotel, as well as the tallest hotel tower in Phoenix. Its facilities include 1,000 smoke-free guest rooms and suites; 80,000 square feet of flexible, state-of-the-art meeting space (with a 29,000-square-foot grand ballroom and 17 meeting rooms); a 6,500-square-foot state-of-the-art Sheraton Fitness Center; and a 2,000-square-foot outdoor pool and sundeck.
The exterior color palette of browns, oranges and yellows were chosen to represent the desert sky at sunset. The curved roofline mimics the slope of nearby Camelback Mountain. Set in the heart of the city, it is minutes away from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and adjacent to the convention center.
The Wigwam ResortThis Arizona landmark and Historic Hotel of America couples historic charm with a truly modern sense of adventure. Originally built in 1918, The Wigwam ushers in a whole new era of relaxation. In addition to the 331 casitas and suites, (including 70 luxurious suites and two presidential suites), the Wigwam Resort offers many amenities including a 9,300-square-foot outdoor plaza featuring new dining options, indoor/outdoor bar, lounge areas and entertainment venues.
For the golf-enthusiasts, this is the spot to go to and practice your swing. On-site are world class golf school facilities and 54 holes of championship golf, including two of the state's four courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. led by The Golf Course, one of Arizona's majestic courses. The only resort with guest access to five golf courses, including the Arizona Biltmore Country Club, it has a championship tennis facility, and fitness cnnter. With over 43,000 square feet of sophisticated indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces, it includes multiple indoor and outdoor wedding ceremony and reception sites. The resort's signature venue, Sunset Point, offers the ultimate Cowboy Town experience with a stunning backdrop of the Arizona desert. And it has the Red Door Spa by Elizabeth Arden.
The Enchantment ResortLauded by a number of resort and spa publications, The Enchantment Resort lives up to more than just its name. On 70 secluded acres, nestled into 1,500 vertical feet of red rock in the Boynton Canyon, the setting is breathtaking. One of the most spectacular spots of scenic landscapes in the world, it’s hard not to see why so many people flock here. The pueblo-style architecture blends with the landscape. The 216 individual casitas can be booked as two-bedroom suites, one-bedroom suites, or single rooms, but it's worth reserving a suite just so you can enjoy the casita living rooms, which feature high-beamed ceilings and beehive fireplaces.
The adjacent, Mii Amo Spa, rated #1 destination spa by Travel & Leisure magazine, offers all-inclusive packages with 16 separate rooms and suites in the spa complex, as well as a myriad of treatments and innovative spa cuisine. In addition to personal stays, the Enchantment also offers three ballrooms as meeting facilities. For the outdoors person, several hiking trails are accessible from The Enchantment.
Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North10600 East Crescent Moon DriveScottsdale, Arizona 85262-8342 Tel: 1-480-515-5700 www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale/spa
2400 East Missouri Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Hotel Ph: 602-955-6600
Montelucia Resort & Spa
4949 E. Lincoln Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel340 North 3rd StreetPhoenix, Arizona 85004
The Wigwam Resort300 East Wigwam Blvd.
Litchfield Park, Arizona 85340
The Enchantment Resort525 Boynton Canyon RoadSedona, AZ 86336Ph: 928-282-2900www.enchantmentresort.com
The top 10 places to travel this year consists of destinations that have been booked for upcoming months and exotic places they would like to discover. In the past,The Artisans of Leisure has set up not only private tours, chose lavish hotels, but has thoroughly researched places that spark frequent travelers with great interest. ould
It is time to explore the striking views of each unique country.
Below is the top ten travel list for 2012:
Cultural Travel Hot List 2012 1. Myanmar (Burma) 2. Portugal 3. England 4. Peru 5. China 6. India 7. South Africa 8. Germany 9. Israel 10. Morocco
1. Myanmar (Burma): Myanmar's nascent democratization is great news for the Burmese and inspiration for travelers wanting to visit this beautiful but little-known country, where Artisans of Leisure has operated tours for years. Artisans of Leisure notes that Myanmar has also become a popular destination for honeymooners seeking culture, value and an exotic once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Meeting and observing master artisans (lacquer, gold leaf, textiles, ceramics and wood) Visiting a monastery to learn about Buddhism and the lifestyle of monks Hot-air balloon rides over the temples and pagodas of Bagan
2. Portugal: Why has Portugal become one of Artisans of Leisure's most frequently booked destinations in Europe for the coming months? In addition to two key reasons--great value and an increasing number of luxury hotel options--are Portugal's impressive culture, incredibly rich history, excellent food and wine, high-quality traditional crafts, and great modern design.
Exclusive private boat rides on the Douro River Private, behind-the-scenes tours of Portugal's leading decorative tile factory Access to remote locations with spectacular fossilized dinosaur tracks
3. England: London is more festive and exciting than ever, with preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. The city is buzzing with new luxury hotels, incredible new restaurants, acclaimed new museum exhibitions and other new cultural attractions. London is also the gateway to England's many other popular destinations, such as the Cotswolds, Oxford and Bath, all of which are featured on Artisans of Leisure tours.
Insider shopping and foodie tours in London Private cricket lessons at Lord's Cricket Ground Access to private gardens and heritage-listed homes
4. Peru: New luxury hotels in the beautiful Sacred Valley and in fascinating Cusco--where the much anticipated Palacio Nazarenas hotel is scheduled to open in summer 2012--are adding even more appeal to this outstanding destination. Artisans of Leisure Peru tours are esp
ecially popular with families, who enjoy traveling on the legendary Hiram Bingham train, expert-led tours of iconic Machu Picchu, and luxury Amazon cruises.
Private tours of little-visited Inca and pre-Inca sitesPrivately guided hiking excursions to traditional villages Private tours of Machu Picchu with an archaeologist
5. China: China is a perennial favorite for cultural travelers, many of whom return regularly with Artisans of Leisure to explore different regions or see what's new in the rapidly developing Middle Kingdom. Contributing to China's popularity are expanding luxury hotel, dining and shopping options in places such as Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou, as well as new luxury hotels in more remote destinations such as Xian and Lhasa, Tibet.
China experiences: Private kung fu lessons
Tours of private sections of the Forbidden City Private art and architecture tours in Shanghai
6. India: India is in high demand for 2012 as many sophisticated travelers are either visiting the country for the first time or returning to explore new regions. India's palace-style luxury hotels, spectacular cultural sites, and great regional diversity make it irresistible. And ongoing improvement
s in infrastructure are making travel in the country ever more accessible and comfortable. Artisans of Leisure India tours feature not only iconic destinations such as Delhi, Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and Varanasi, but also incredible but less-visited places such as Kerala, game reserves, and Ajanta and Ellora.
Private Bollywood dance classes Private yoga lessons in spectacular settings A private cooking class with a royal chef
7. South Africa: Retired baby boomers and families account for the uptick in the popularity of Artisans of Leisure South Africa tours, where a safari in one (or more) of the top game reserves is a dream trip for even the most worldly travelers. The company's tours appeal to both demographics with sophisticated touring in Cape Town and the Winelands, customized activities for all ages, and safaris at Singita and other luxury lodges in Sabi Sand Reserve, Kruger National Park and malaria-free regions.
South Africa experiences:
Private game drives while on safariVisits to local schools and community projects Personalized wine touring with a local expert
8. Germany: Good value, an increasing interest in 20th-century history, and Germany's abundance of outstanding art museums, modern architecture and picturesque villages are among the many reasons Artisans of Leisure Germany tours are gaining in popularity for 2012. Many of the company's travelers like to combine Germany with destinations in neighboring countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Researching family heritage (visits to hometowns, meeting with local genealogical specialists) Private, behind-the-scenes tours at legendary concert halls and museums Tours of car factories (e.g. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Porsche)
9. Israel:Israel remains enormously popular for 2012 because it's one of the easiest and most rewarding travel destinations in the Middle East. Sophisticated travelers love Israel for its great food, mild climate, incredible ancient ruins, design districts and spa resorts. Travelers on Artisans of Leisure Israel tours enjoy activities such as private cultural touring in Jerusalem, floating in the Dead Sea, and visiting a Druze village.
Private safaris by jeep or camel in the Negev Desert A day working on an archaeological dig Private architecture and design tours in Tel Aviv
10. Morroco: The opening of a number of new luxury hotels and resorts in Marrakesh over recent months has focused even more attention on Morocco, which has long been popular among Artisans of Leisure travelers for an exotic adventure that includes luxury spa resorts, private day hikes, private cooking classes and desert safaris. Morocco's ongoing popularity is also due in part to its mild climate, which helps make it a great year-round destination.
Private air charters to remote Sahara Desert locations for overnight Bedouin safaris Private shopping tours in the souks Exclusive private dinners with Moroccan music, belly dancers and tray dancers
List and notes provided by Artisans of Leisure.
For more detailed information on travels and booking please visit: www.artisansofleisure.com
Artisans of Leisure18 East 16th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Union Square West)
Suite 301 New York, NY 10003 USA
(212) 243-3239 or (800) 214-8144
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