Goodbye 2009: Ondine's Favorite Travel Discoveries
Before looking ahead to the most anticipated destinations and openings of 2010, it is time to say goodbye to 2009 and ten of my favorite discoveries of the year:
* The rocky island of Giglio off the Tuscan coast. The clarity and the beauty of the sea here makes up for the parts of Italy's mainland, which have been marred by excessive development.
* Minetta Tavern. There were a number of excellent New York restaurants that opened in 2009, but my favorite had to be this restoration of a West Village classic by Keith McNally. The man has a golden touch and this reinvention has to be his most successful venture yet. I still dream of the potato sides.
* The Remede spa at Mexico's St Regis Punta Mita. Especially on cold snowy days, I can still picture the exquisite outdoor hot tub at sunset following a hot stone massage.
* The Miami Mondrian's Sky Lounge. The cocktails were good, but what set it apart were the views of Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami--not to mention the too-fast-to-last crowd. The scene captured a city still parties hard during (and maybe because of) a recession.
* La Reserve Ramatuelle in the South of France. This beautiful minimal new property was a breath of fresh air compared to the fusty grand dame properties of old. And the views of the Cote d' Azur made me realize why this is still one of the most beautiful spots in Europe.* London's Pizza East. In case you haven't noticed, artisanal pizza spots are all the rage in New York and London (even Ferran Adria is rumored to be opening a pizza joint in Barcelona in 2010). The latest offering from the Shoreditch House group has a buzzy, crowd-pleasing vibe and I liked the pies, especially the potato, garlic, rosemary, fontina and parmesan option. Oh and of course, Naples's Da Michele also took me to pizza nirvana.
* Los Angeles's Palate Food + Wine in Glendale, the latest from Octavio Becerra who was the former chef at Patina. The combination of a great wine list and wonderful small dishes (including to die for cheeses) made me realize yet again that Los Angeles has become a real foodie mecca.* New York's Crosby Street Hotel, the best new property in town thanks to owners Kit and Tim Kemp who have brought their English magic stateside. I love the huge windows in the rooms overlooking SoHo, the sweet and helpful staff, and the private drawing room that's the perfect spot for afternoon tea or a business meeting.