Thursday, February 28, 2013


Birders Inn – Bird Sanctuary Road; 011-91-056-4422-7346;; clean but Spartan; pretty garden.
Laxmi Vilas Palace – Sagar Road (Kakaji Ki Kothi); 011-91-056-4422-3523;; 19th Century Palace.
Sights & Sites
Keoladeo National Park –; World Heritage site; famous avifauna sanctuary that sees Ks rare birds (such as Siberian Crane); 230-400 species.

Royal Tents Pushkar – 011-91-029-1257-2321;

JAIPUR (includes Alwar, Amer, Tehsil Amer & Tehsil Ballupura)
Bars & Nightclubs
Bar Palladio – Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road (at Narain Niwas Palace Hotel); 011-91-014-1256-5556;; chic & frequented by expats.
Polo Bar – Bhawani Singh Road (in Rambagh Palace); 011-91-014-1221-1919;; home of perfect gin & tonic.
Amanbagh – Ajabgarh (Alwar); 011-91-014-6522-3333 or 800-477-9180;; beautiful, romantic hideaway in Aravali Hills; walled oasis; beautiful gardens.
Devi Ratn – Jamdoli, Agra Road (Tehsil Ballupura); 011-91-014-1305-0211;; 60-suite, 3-villa hotel outside Jaipur; newly-constructed buildings inspired by area’s historic sites; suites in jeweled colors set off by black-&-white zigzag terrazzo floors.
Diggi Palace – Sawai Ram Singh Road (Shivaji Marg); 011-91-014-1237-3091;; best budget option in Jaipur; overnight in this rambling, 200-year-old haveli for fraction of rates charged elsewhere; drawbacks of this budget-value haven are that it can be busy and is long walk from Old City; surrounded by big, open lawn; within walking distance of Ram Niwas Gardens and Central Museum; brand-new pool; rooms vary in size, but all feature clean, cool, white tiles and whitewashed walls; some have antique furniture; book air-conditioned room set around cool, open courtyard; substantially larger and still great value; #108 is gorgeous 1st-floor room with large, 4-poster metal frame bed and big bathroom; alternatively, book cool, quiet cottage rooms, which have marble floors and bright block-print fabrics (all have tubs and showers), away from potentially noisy main building and overlook garden; for access to semiprivate veranda, ask for #209, spacious suite with large bathroom and shared balcony overlooking courtyard; must book ahead.
Nana Ki Haveli – Fateh Tiba, Moti Dongri Road; 011-91-014-1261-5502;; cozy B&B with 15 stylish rooms and delicious home-cooked food.
Narain Niwas Hotel – Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road; 011-91-014-1256-1291; 1 of best heritage hotels in India; built in 1928 in Anglo-Indian style.
Oberoi Rajvilas – Goner Road; 800-562-3764;; nestled amid beautifully maintained gardens and pools, sunken baths; teak-floored tents; spa; library bar.
Ram Jharokha Guest House – Peelwa Gardens; 011-91-014-1260-3745; spacious double rooms, friendly owner, and decent home-cooked meals.
Rambagh Palace – Bhawani Singh Road; 011-91-014-1221-1919;; Taj flagship; 1st palace in India to become hotel; paramount service; Rajmata Gayatri Devi still in residence; 47-acre estate; occasional elephant polo games; 46 rooms (all opulent); 33 suites, many with original chandaliers and fountains are most interesting; Suryavanshi and Prince Suites have terraces; Pothikhana Suite was once Maharaja’s study.
Rasa Resort – Kunda, NH-8 (Tehsil Amer); 011-91-012-4488-8011;; 40 square tents with glass wall facades and canvas sides, blending modern design with nature-based tourism; futuristic compound adjoins 16th Century fortress; affordable.
Samode Haveli – Gangapole; 011-91-014-1263-2407;; 200 year-old residence converted into 30-room hotel, tucked in hillside in old, walled city; many original frescoes and mosaics remain; series of courtyards provide town views at different levels; large pool with daybeds; rooms appointed with antiques; request room with courtyard or terrace; Sheesh Mahal (Mirrors Palace) Suite #114 (make sure you do not get #115) is most romantic, with original, carved archways.
Kitchen – 51 Sardar Patel Marg; 011-91-014-1411-3000;; shockingly good Italian food.
Royal Treat – New Ramgarh Mod, Amer Road; 011-91-014-1263-0795; upscale restaurant; furnished in dark woods; good food.
Anantaya – B-6/A-1 Prithviraj Road; 011-91-014-1236-4863; modern furniture and lighting store.
Anokhi – KK Square, C-11 Prithviraj Road; 011-91-014-1400-7244;; home furnishings; 300 craftsmen create well-priced cotton bedspreads, cushion covers, and napkins at on-site workshop; dyes are often vegetable-based.
Best Jaipurnagra Shoe Stores – 56 Johari Bazaar (Pink City); 011-91-09-8284-5688; leather shoes and slip-ons.
Gem Palace – Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1237-4175;; jewelry; 17th Century Moghul reproductions, as well as Victorian pieces; every kind of loose stone.
Hot Pink – Narain Niwa Palace, Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road; 011-91-014-1510-8932;; in Narain Niwas Hotel; run by Gem Palace’s Munnu Kasliwal and jeweler Marie-Helene de Taillac; home furnishings.
Hot Pink Amer – Amber Fort (near Maan Singh Mahal, Amer); 011-91-014-1253-0178;; in Narain Niwas Hotel; run by Gem Palace’s Munnu Kasliwal and jeweler Marie-Helene de Taillac; home furnishings.
Jaipur Modern – 51 Sardar Patel Marg; 011-91-014-1411-2000;; concept store; modern homewares & clothing.
Kripal Kumbh – B18 A Shiv Marg, Bani Park; 011-91-014-1220-1127; blue pottery; beautifully executed; on display throughout eccentric family home.
Nayika – Tholia Building, Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1236-2664;; quilted, featherweight jackets in every color.
Rajasthan Fabrics & Arts – Laxman Dwara, City Palace; 011-91-014-1260-1432; museum quality textiles, saris, miniature paintings, and lithographs; vintage fabrics (available for viewing by appointment only).
Rana’s – 1 Ganpati Plaza, Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1510-4100;; for well-heeled brides; also, embellished jackets and skirts, and cotton and silk block prints.
Royal Gems & Arts – Saras Sadan, Gangore Bazaar; 011-91-014-1232-1334;; sterling silver designs accented with emerald, topaz, and turquoise; located in 18th Century haveli.
Salim’s Handmade Paper – Gramodyog Road, Sanganer; 011-91-014-1730-222;; place to buy cards, delicate sheet wrapping paper, diaries, and tote bags, trimmed with appliqués, dried flowers, and ribbons.
Sankhala Handicrafts – Pink City (opposite Hawa Mahal); 011-91-014-1261-0597; embroidered saris and silks.
Satayam – 174 Laxman Dwara (outside City Palace); 011-91-014-1260-0555; pashmina and silk quilts and shawls, all embroidered and woven by hand; also, short tunics.
Saurashtra Oriental Arts – 3-4 Jowarsingh Gate, Amber Palace Road; 011-91-014-1263-5647;; ethnic textiles from as far as Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, as well as all over India.
Soma – 5 Jacob Road, Civil Lines (near Jai Mahal Palace); 011-91-014-1222-2778;; block-print quilts and bedding.
Taluka Tent Overseas – Sardar Patel Marg; 011-91-098-2901-7995;; over-the-top tents and umbrellas; scalloped borders, oversize finge, and vibrant lining; gorgeous showpieces.
Tholia’s Kuber – Tholia Building, Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1237-7416; inexpensive semi-precious stone strands (amethyst to spinels to topaz).
Sights & Sites
Amber (Amer) Fort – Delhi-Jaipur Highway (Amer, 20 minutes north of Jaipur); 011-91-014-1253-0293;; above small Maota Sagar Lake; Mughal and Rajput style mix, surrounded by cool gardens (Dilaram Bagh).
Bapu Bazaar – 1 of many colorful markets in old city, just west of Sanganeri Gate; textiles and leather shoes.
Central Museum (Albert Hall) – Adarsh Nagar (south of Old City); 011-91-014-1257-0099; or; housed in recently renovated Albert Hall; costumes, decorative arts, drawings, musical instruments, and tribal-ware.
City Palace – Pink City; 011-91-014-1260-8055; Jaipur’s main attraction; Diwan-i-Khas hall houses 2 urns, largest silver items ever manufactured; also, see 18th Century Chavi Niwas (“Hall of Images”); make sure to see Blue Room.
Gem Palace – M.I. Road (near Mahavir Marg); 011-91-014-1237-4175;; when Rajasthan maharajahs deprived of “privy purses” in 1972, many sell family jewels; Gem Palace, whose owners had served their needs for 4 generations, discreet place to do so; these items now displayed, along with Mughal period antiques; can also view craftspeople creating new pieces.
Hawa Mahal – Hawa Mahal Road (Badi Choupad, J.D.A. Market, Pink City); 011-91-014-1261-8862;; Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark; extraordinary pink-painted, delicately honeycombed hive that rises 5 stories; constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable royal household ladies to watch city’s life & processions; top offers stunning views over Jantar Mantar & City Palace, as well as over Sireh Deori Bazaar; small museum (Saturday-Thursday), with miniature paintings & some rich relics, such as ceremonial armor; claustrophobes should be aware that narrow corridors can sometimes get extremely cramped & crowded; entrance is from back of complex; valid Amber Fort composite ticket will also gain you entry.
Kanak Vrindavan Valley – Amber-Jaipur Road (adjoining Amber Fort);; at Nahargarh hills’ bottom, adjoining ex-Amber Fort; Govind Deoji Temple, with its beautiful and delicate carvings, spreads holy aura of spirituality all over with its chhatris, lattice, and mirror work; covered with Dhok and Kadama trees, water cascades, blossoms, brook, and ponds; divided into 8 sections, garden comprises fountain series.
Neemrana Fort-Palace – 122nd milestone Delhi-Jaipur Highway (Alwar, near Neemrana); 011-91-011-4666-1666 or 011-91-094-1405-0044;; 2-hour drive from Delhi; 15th Century fort is among oldest and most accessible heritage hotels in Rajasthan; ruins make up 11 floors; audio tour available.
Pink City – city’s old, walled quarter; endless market stall rows.
Ram Niwas Gardens – Ajmeri Gate (near Albert Hall);; historical garden and zoo; 33 acres; built by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh in 1868; within garden is Central (Albert) Hall Museum; also has bird park, the Zoo, Ravindra Rang Manch Theatre, art gallery, exhibition ground, gymnasium, and several cafes and picnic spots; run-down.
Shri Pratap Singh Museum – Lal Mandi, Hazuri Bagh; 011-91-019-4231-3440;; old maharajah palace with textile and papier-mache collection; barely preserved.

Serai – Bherwa (Chandan); 011-91-029-9720-0014;; luxurious desert camp & spa, close to medieval city of Jaisalmer; on 100-acre private estate (indigenous desert scrub).
Suryagarh – Kahala Phata, Sam Road; 011-91-029-9226-9269;; dramatic and elegant; highly-reviewed.
Sights & Sites
Jaisalmer Fort – Trikuta Hill;; among world’s largest forts; built in 1156 in Thar Desert; sandstone walls are lion color during day, fading to honey-gold as sun sets, thereby camouflaging fort in yellow desert.

Jawai Leopard Camp – Jawai Dam (Pali District); 011-91-011-4617-2700;; on 20 acres in isolated, rural area; 12 white-canvas tents, raised wooden deck, infinity pool; not in national park so no pesky rules; also, leopards very friendly (not afraid of people) and frequently seen.

JODHPUR (includes Osian)
Bars & Nightclubs
J Bar – Ajit Bhawan Palace, Circuit House Road (at Ajit Bhawan hotel); 011-91-029-1251-3333;; cozy.
Reggie’s Camel Camp – behind Tagore School (High Court Colony, India Safari Club, 1 hour outside Jodhpur); 011-91-029-1243-7023;; few places recall maharajah era better; dark woods, mounted trophies, royal hunting party pictures.
Trophy Bar – near Circuit House Road (at Umaid Bhawan Palace); 011-91-029-1251-0101;; bar servicing sandstone palace with 15 gardens and private museum; evokes colonial hunting lodge; try signature cocktail, Mathania (martini infused with chilies).
Ajit Bhawan – Ajit Bhawan Palace, Circuit House Road; 011-91-029-1251-3333;; inviting and warm; bar is especially cozy; gravel paths and tiny lanes connecting rooms give spacious outdoor vibe; big rooms; mud walls give earthy smell, though.
Bal Samand Garden Retreat – Mandore Road; 011-91-029-1257-2321;
Heritage Kuchaman Haveli – inside Merti Gate; 011-91-029-1254-7787;; tucked on residential side street; converted 18th Century mansion.
Raas – old city; 011-91-029-1263-6455; bold mix of new and old (3 uncompromisingly modern buildings attached to large, internal courtyard of 18th Century haveli (townhouse); 32 rooms and 7 suites; restaurant and spa; pink sandstone pool.
Reggie’s Camel Camp Oslan – behind Tagore School (High Court Colony, India Safari Club, 1 hour outside Jodhpur); 011-91-029-1243-7023;; few places recall maharajah era better; dark woods, mounted trophies, royal hunting party pictures; if you stay anywhere in India, stay here.
Royal Tents Mehrangarh Fort – 011-91-029-1257-2321;
Sardar Samand Lake Palace – Sardar Samand Lake (Jodhpur); 011-91-029-1257-2321;
Umaid Bhawan Palace – (near Circuit House Road); 011-91-029-1251-0101;; sandstone palace with 15 gardens and private museum; some rooms have fireplaces and/or verandas; Art Deco furnishings; royal family still in residence.
Vivanta by Taj Hari Mahal – 5 Residency Road; 011-91-029-1243-9700;; good for businessmen.
Pillars – (near Circuit House Road, at Umaid Bhawan Palace); 011-91-029-1251-0101;; restaurant servicing sandstone palace with 15 gardens and private museum.
Sights & Sites
Jaswant Thada Cenotaph – built in 1889 for king, Jaswant Singh II, as memorial temple; marble cut so thin can see through it.
Mehrangarh Fort – Fort; 011-91-029-1254-8790;; perhaps best-preserved of Rajasthan’s 100s of forts; excellent audio guide in English; make sure to visit Chokelao Bagh, fragrant garden with exotic flora (sweet white kamini and chandni flowers).
Ranakpur – among most spectacular, Jain-faith temples; hillside resort.

Connaught House – Rajendra Marg (Mount Abu); 011-91-029-7423-8560;

Ranvas – Ahhichatragarh Fort; 011-91-011-4603-5500;; means “Hooded Cobra Fort”; renovated from 12th Century ancient mud fort.
Royal Camp – Ahhichatragarh Fort; 011-91-022-6150-6363;; tents; open only from October to March.
Sights & Sites
Ahhichatragarh Naguar Fort –; "Hooded Cobra" fort; massive, 12th Century restored ruins; unique water-recycling system; at ruins’ heart, richly painted Rajput–Mughal palace complex.
Camel Fair – January-February.

Rawla Narlai – Jodhpur National Highway (near Desuri, Pali District); 011-91-029-3426-0425;; located halfway between Jodhpur and Udaipur; former hunting lodge for Jodhpur royal family since 17th Century; now tranquil retreat, fusing somewhat rustic local village aesthetic with majestic splendor; 20 rooms and 5 tents scattered over 3-acre property; room #9 is oldest and most atmospheric, with original frescoes; visit nearby stepwell, Amba Bagh.

Chhatra Sagar Nimaj – Pali-Marwar District; 011-91-029-3923-0118;; luxury birdwatching base.

Rohet Garh – Pali District; 011-91-029-3626-8231;; hour’s drive from Jodhpur, near Thar Desert edge; 36-room heritage property; well-appointed rooms have gentle luster; 1 of India’s finest stables of Marwari horses; provides customized excursions.

Samode Palace – Gangapole; 011-91-014-2324-0014;; less than hour north of Jaipur, in Aravalli Hills; 400 year-old, 43 room palace with village views; destination in and of itself: private dinners, village strolls, spa; 2 pools, 1 mosaic-tiled and 1 infinity; 4 “royal suites” have fireplaces, courtyards, and outdoor whirlpools; rooms #s 104, 106 & 110 are large enough to qualify as suites, with balconies that overlook hotel’s entrance.

Aman-I-Khas – Sherpur Kiljipur; 011-91-074-6225-2052;; at Ranthambhore National Park (Tiger Preserve) entrance; 3-hours southeast of Jaipur; paya homage to customary Moghul traveling tents; elegant; traditional stepwell and spa; tremendous bird-watching at hotel and twice daily safaris into tiger preserve; good, organic food.
Khem Villas – Sherpur Khiljipur; 011-91-074-1403-0262;; at entrance to Ranthambhore National Park (Tiger Preserve); 3-hours southeast of Jaipur; all-inclusive, 15-unit camp on 10 acres; safari experience; evening cocktails by private lake or organic, vegetarian meals taken family style in game lodge fashion (ask for Indian menu, western dishes are hit-or-miss); main lodge furnished in Rajasthani style with Anokhi hand-blocked printed quilts and colorful cushions; rooms within lodge, as well as tents, and 6 thatch roof cottages come with massive stone tub in private courtyard, illuminated by candles in rose petal-strewn bowls; evening game drives bring close alligators, sloth bears, and wild boar, as well as leopards and tigers; April-June best time for game viewing; either of 2 cottages with open views of farmland, ponds, and Ranthambhore’s rocky escarpment are best units.
Oberoi Vanyavilas – Ranthambhore Road; 011-91-074-6222-3999 or 800-562-3764;; at Ranthambhore National Park (Tiger Preserve) entrance; 3-hours southeast of Jaipur; nightly hot water bottles in bed to warm up feet; main building recreates hunting palace with elephant and peacock murals; air-conditioned tents among lemon and mango trees have embroidered, interior canopies; excellent food.
Sher Bagh – Sherpur-Khiljipur (in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve); 011-91-074-6225-2120;; luxury tented camp.

SION (includes Chunabhatti, Kelwara & Ranakpur)
Maharani Bagh Orchard Retreat – A-205 Godrej Coliseum (Chunabhatti, behind Everard Nagar, off Eastern Express Highway); 011-091-022-6150-6363;; situated between Jodhpur, Mount Abu, and Udaipur; set among orchards, surrounded by Aravalli hills; laid out in late 19th Century by Jodhpur Maharani; only 4 km from Ranakpur Temples and 50 Km from imposing Kumbalgarh Fort.
Sights & Sites
Kumbalgarh Fort – Kelwara (56 miles from Udaipur, 2-hr. drive one-way; 1 hr. from Ranakpur Temples); 011-91-014-1511-0598; or; Mewar fortress in Rajsamand District built in 15th Century.
Ranakpur Temples – Ranakpur (40 miles from Udaipur, 2.5-hr. drive one-way); 011-91-029-3428-5019;; Jain Temple, in particular, among faith’s most spectacular temples; built in 1439 around measurements based on number 72, age at which Jainism founder achieved enlightenment; hand-carved marble pillar maze.

UDAIPUR – considered India’s Venice
Devi Garh – Delwara; 011-91-029-5328-9211;; 18th Century palace, nestled in Aravali Hills; 39 suites; spa.
Oberoi Udaivilas – Haridasji Ki Magri; 011-91-029-4243-3300 or 800-562-3764;; top-scoring property in Asia, Australia, and Pacific Nations; surprisingly low-tech, of 36 rooms, all have private courtyards; 4 luxury suites are best, with private pools; location is former hunting grounds by Lake Pichola; perfect food, setting, and views; spa.
Taj Lake Palace – Lake Pichola; 011-91-029-4252-8800;; 18th Century palace (white marble) in Lake Pichola with courtyards, corridors, and pavilions inlaid with stone and gilt molding and mirrors; 83 rooms; Khush Mahal Suite has particularly warm ambiance; Sajjan Niwas Suite has terrace; spa; small pool.
Café Edelweiss – 73 Gangaur Ghat; 011-91-094-1423-3571; German bakery and coffee shop.
Darikhana Restaurant – in middle Lake Pichola (at Jagmandir Island Palace); 011-29-4242-4186;; stunning, with exotic birds wheeling overhead and elephants guarding nearby garden.
Sights & Sites
City Palace – City Palace Complex; 011-91-029-4252-8016; sprawling maharana’s palace (largest in Rajasthan); on ridge overlooking lake; rises 5 stories, with balconies, cupolas, and towers connected by narrow passageway maze; rooms inside City Palace Museum contain decorative art: antique furniture, enamels, glasswork, and paintings.
Jagmandir Island Palace – in middle Lake Pichola; 011-029-4242-4186;; stunning complex built by Maharana Karan Singh for his son to use as pleasure palace.
Lake Pichola – made in 1300s.


(includes Carriacou Island)


Grand Anse – between Quarantine & Ross Points (West); 2 white sand miles, along sheltered bay; calm and serene conditions because leeward location shelters from high waves, strong currents, and winds.
Morne Rouge – Morne Rouge Bay (West, just south of Quarantine Point); shallow and warm waters; secluded and family-oriented.
Sauteurs – St. Patrick’s (North, at Sauteurs Bay’s east side); perfect white sand beach; among lesser known Grenada beaches so often empty.

M/V Bianca C – off Point Salines (South);; 600' former luxury cruise liner; will need Advanced Open Water diving credit.
Boss Reef – off St. George’s (West);; extends up to 5 miles from St. George’s harbor, to island’s southernmost aspect; lobster, green and spotted moray eels, trunkfish, green or hawksbill turtles; distinctive hole arising at around 14 ms and dropping down to 18 ms is popular barracuda hangout.
Hema 1 – 4 miles out; home to barracuda, eagle rays & sharks.
Kahonee Reef – off Point Salines (South);; shallow coral reef plateau; extensive array of chromis, wrasse, and squirrel fish; occasional feeding hawksbill concealed within barrel sponges and gorgonian sea fans.
King Mitch – 4 miles out; former U.S. Navy minesweeper; home to eagle rays.
Purple Rain – near Grand Anse Bay (West);; 20-80'; highly popular; named for large schools purple wrasse.
San Juan – 2 miles out; sunken, inter-island fishing vessel; huge number of nurse sharks.
Sculpture Park – Molinere Bay;; 65 statues.
Shakem – off Quarantine Point (West, St. George’s);; 180' former inter-island freighter.
Shark Reef – off Glover Island (Southeast, off Point Salines);; nurse sharks; though shallow in depth, because located on Atlantic Ocean side, subject to strong currents and considerable surface swell; rugged; sizeable brain and pillar coral formations; lobster, nurse sharks, sting rays, queen trigger fish, and turtles.
Sharky’s Hideaway – off Mabouya Island (North, just west of Carriacou Island); or; number of sites clumped together; this one known for nurse sharks.
Sister Rocks – Isle de Rhonde (Carriacou Island, off Jack Iron Point, about 15 minutes from beach launch in Tyrrel Bay);; 2 guano-covered pinnacles; barracuda, lobster, stingray, and turtles.
Underwater Sculpture Garden – Molinere Bay (West, just north of St. George’s);; 10-30' deep; part reef and part underwater art exhibit; coral colonies attach to artworks; includes statues of Christ of Deep (gift from Costa Steamship line, replica of statue sunk in Naples Bay) and Siena, character created by local author.
Veronica L – off Grand Anse Beach;; 120' former carbo barge sunk in 25-65'.

Bel Air Plantation – St. David’s Harbour (Southwest, St. David); 011-473-444-6305 or 866-504-3359; secluded, 11-cottage hideaway on 17 acres; lush, sloping, beautifully integrated into almost junglelike terraced waterfront landscape; vibrantly colored gingerbread cottages built up and down hillside overlooking harbor; surrounded by tropical gardens, each offers privacy and old-world charm, but also modern amenities; restaurant, bar, gift shop, and combination delicatessen and cafe; among best-furnished accommodations on island; try for 2-bedroom villas with spacious master bedrooms and living rooms furnished in wicker and Indonesian teak.
Calabash Hotel – L’Anse Aux Epines Beach (St. George’s); 011-473-444-4334;; long-established, old school, Caribbean classic; horse-shoe of low-rise buildings overlooking neat, palm-dotted lawns, lovely beach & pretty, sheltered bay.
Laluna – Morne Rouge (Southwest, Quarantine Point); 011-473-439-0001 or 866-452-5862;; exclusive; on isolated, beautiful beach; designed along architectural lines you might expect in Indonesia; 16 thatch-covered, wood-&-stone-sided cottages, each with small pool, artwork, and fabric-swathed 4-poster beds imported from Bali; all within 2-minute walk of beach; bathrooms are light, airy, tropical affairs, often open to breezes; architectural centerpiece, clubhouse, consists of big verandas.
Spice Island Beach Resort – Grand Anse Beach (St. George’s); 011-473-444-6305;; most desirable resort on island, yardstick by which every other hotel on island compared; along 1.2K' Grand Anse Beach expanse; main house is rambling open-air arcade and veranda series; Sea Grape beach suites have best location, but intimate pool suites have better layout and are only few steps back from beach; least expensive are 2nd-floor suites, each of which has terrace overlooking garden and ocean; 17 units have private plunge pools and 4 offer private saunas.

Bash by Mark B. – L’Anse Aux Epines Beach (St. George’s, at Calabash Hotel); 011-473-444-4334;
Beach House – Airport Road (St. George’s, at Point Saline); 011-473-444-4455 or 011-473-444-5855;; casual but elegant; beautiful, beachside setting; seafood.
Belmont Restaurant – Belmont (St. Patrick, at Belmont Estate); 011-473-442-9524 or 011-473-442-9526;; top-floor, open-air restaurant; heavenly nutmeg ice cream.
Le Chateau Restaurant & Bar – Mont Toute (St. George’s); 011-473-444-2552;; away from beaches, near St. George’s Shopping Center; relaxed.
Dodgy Dock Restaurant & Lounge – Old Mill Road (St. George’s, at True Blue Bay Resort); 011-473-443-8783;
Rick’s Cafe – Grand Anse Shopping Centre, Grand Anse Street (St. George’s); 011-473-444-4597;; good ice cream.

Belmont Estate – Belmont (St. Patrick); 011-473-442-9524 or 011-473-442-9526;; boutique.
Grenada Chocolate Company – Hermitage (St. Patrick’s); 011-473-442-0050;

Belmont Estate – Belmont (St. Patrick); 011-473-442-9524 or 011-473-442-9526;; 300-year plantation that harvests spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace & nutmeg; offers tours (Bean-to-Bar Tour well-worth it).
Dougaldston Spice Estate – Gouyave (St. George’s);; historic plantation, now primarily museum, still grows and processes spices old-fashioned way; see cloves, cocoa, mace, nutmeg & other spices laid out in boucan (drying shed) on giant racks; worker will explain process (small donation appreciated); can buy spices for about $5 bag; re getting there: about 2/3s way up west coast from St. George’s, just before Gouyave, there is right turn immediately before bridge (road has seen better decades so be careful, drive to little bridge, which is where boucan is.
Fort George National Historic Site – Church Street (St. George’s);; situated on volcanic spine 175' above harbour; built between 1705-10; seen by John Paul Jones in 1770; figured largely in 7 Years War, American Revolution, French Revolution, Grenadian Revolution & US-Caribbean Intervention (1983); original 18th Century structure is among world’s finest remaining Vauban-style masonry fortress examples.
Grand Etang National Park – St. Andrews (2.5 miles northeast of Constantine, after road winds steeply up to 1900'); 011-473-440-6160;; half mile past road sign, visitor center overlooks Grand Etang Lake (crater lake that forms park centerpiece); hiking trails in park: (1) Concord Falls (serious hikers branch off shortly before Mt. Qua Qua Trail end to pick up this 5-hour trek to Concord Falls, where can walk another 1.5 miles to Concord and take bus back to St George’s); (2) Fedon’s Camp (arduous, long hike that leads into forested interior, where rebel plantation owner Julien Fedon hid out after 1795 rebellion); (3) Grand Etang Shoreline (1½-hour loop walk around Grand Etang Lake is gentle, but can be muddy and doesn’t offer same views as higher trails); (4) Morne La Baye (easy walk starts behind visitors center and takes in few viewpoints, passing native vegetation along way); (5) Mt. Qua Qua (moderately difficult 3-hour round-trip hike that leads to ridge top, offering some of interior forest’s best views); (6) Honeymoon Falls; and (7) 7 Sisters Falls (considered best hike in Grenada, starting from tin shed used by banana association, 1.25 miles north of visitors center on Grand Etang Road’s right side, taking only about 2 hours round-trip).
Helvellyn House – east of Sauteurs; 011-473-442-9252;; spice plantation; tour gardens and on Sundays stay for brunch.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


(includes Orocovis)

La Puerta – 64 Caleta de San Juan (Old San Juan); 787-667-4926;; called “Door” because city’s old main entrance located ½ block away; 2 levels, 2nd level is mezzanine accessed by solid wood staircase; on this level bedroom, with queen size bed, closet, and bathroom decorated with cream color travertine; 1st level has fully equipped kitchen, living room (47" LCD TV & sleeper sofa for 2 guests), and dining table for 4; 2 door/windows offer cobblestone street views and “centennial tree”; luxury structure dates back to 1800s; 17' h ceilings and 24" thick brick walls.

Cafeteria Mallorca – 300 San Francisco (Old San Juan); 787-724-4607; specialty at this old-fashioned, 1950s-style diner is mallorca (sweet pastry that’s buttered, grilled, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar); wash down with café con leche; for something more substantial, try breakfast mallorca, which has ham and cheese; also, egg dishes, comida criolla, pancakes and sandwiches; waitstaff all dress in crisp, black uniforms, they are efficient and friendly.
Caficultura – 401 Calle San Francisco (Old San Juan, on Plaza Colon); 787-723-7731; for breakfast and coffee; stonewashed walls and tiled floors, wooden doors and furnishings; ornate lanterns, high ceilings, and expertly hewn prints; temple to Puerto Rican coffee and comida criolla; opens early; ask for cortadito (espresso topped with steamed milk) and/or guayaba cake, smoked ham and eggs, coconut French toast, and fruit salad.

AireNumo – 102 Calle Luna (Old San Juan, corner of Calle Tanca); 787-723-0984;; popular gay-friendly establishment known for its mojitos.
Barrachina – 104 Fortaleza Street (Old San Juan); 787-725-7912;; supposed birthplace of original piña colada.
El Coco de Luis – 18 Calle Capitol (Santurce, La Placita or Plaza Mercado (#19), at Calle Dos Hermanos); 787-721-7595;; hole-in-wall joint; try whiskey and fresh coconut water.
Mist – 2 Tartak Street (Carolina, Isla Verde, at Water Beach Club Hotel); 787-728-3666;; South Beach in style; rooftop bar by skyline view pool.
Nuyorican Café – 312 Calle San Francisco (Old San Juan); 787-977-1276;; live jazz and salsa; this is must visit experience (last time Rolling Stones were in town, this is where they came after performance).
Piropos – 1361 Calle Iturriaga (Miramar); 787-723-5577;; go-to spot for dining and drinking, especially on Friday nights; modest tapas menu.
PuraVida Bistro & Lounge – 1853 Avenida McLeary (Condado, at Oceana Hostal Playero); 787-728-8119;; for drinks on patio that nearly sits on beach.
Rumba Nightclub – 152 Calle San Sebastian (Old San Juan); 787-725-4407;; live music.
Taberna los Vasquez – 1348 Calle Orbeta (Santurce); 787-723-1903;; open corner bar for rum and coke and live salsa music; also try alcapurrias (meat enclosed in grated yautia, taro-like root vegetable) or sorulitos (deep-fried cornmeal fingers).

Chateau Cervantes – 329 Calle Recinto Sur (Old San Juan); 787-724-7722;; local fashion icon Nono Maldonado’s brainchild; luxury lodging that’s completely au courant; rooftop terrace has bar, hot tub, and massage area; colonial-era building is on side street, so no water view.
Condado Vanderbilt – 1055 Avenida Doctor Ashford (Condado); 787-721-5500;; magnificent Spanish Revival architecture, stunningly opulent interiors, and dramatic ocean views; since 1919; recently restored to original grandeur.
Hotel El Convento – 100 Calle del Cristo (Old San Juan); 787-723-9020 or 800-468-2779;; Carmelite nuns once inhabited this 350-year-old convent; now, broadband connections or plasma TVs; all guest rooms have hand-hewn wood furniture, shuttered windows, and mahogany-beamed ceilings; Room 508 has 2 bay views, while rooms 216, 217, and 218 have private walled patios; pretty rooftop pool.
Da House – 312 Calle San Francisco (Old San Juan); 787-977-1276;; cheap rooms above live jazz and salsa bar, Nuyorican Cafe.
Gallery Inn – 204-206 Calle Norzagaray (Old San Juan); 787-722-1808 or 866-572-2783;; sprawling complex of old houses and sculptures by idiosyncratic owner; Obama stayed here in 2008.
Villa Herencia Hotel – 23 Calle Caleta Las Monjas (Old San Juan); 787-722-0989 or 877-784-6835;; former convent; 8 rooms, all well-appointed.
Water Beach Club Hotel – 2 Tartak Street (Carolina, Isla Verde); 787-728-3666 or 888-265-6699;; South Beach in style.

Aguaviva – 364 Calle Fortaleza (Old San Juan); 787-722-0665;; seafood.
AireNumo – 102 Calle Luna (Old San Juan, corner of Calle Tanca); 787-723-0984;; popular gay-friendly establishment.
Bebos Cafe Comida Criolla Puerto Rico – 1600 Calle Loiza (Condado); 787-726-1008;; classic, Puerto Rican cuisine.
Café Berlin – 407 Calle San Francisco (Old San Juan); 787-722-5205; all-you-can-eat brunch buffet; vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Café del Angel – 1106 Avenida Doctor Ashford (Condado); 787-643-7594; unattractive in appearance, serves remarkably good food at affordable prices; in operation about 2 decades; try mofongo relleno (sautéed, mashed plantain casserole, stuffed with beefsteak, chicken, lobster & shrimp); fresh garlic bread.
Cafeteria Mallorca – 300 San Francisco (Old San Juan); 787-724-4607; specialty at this old-fashioned, 1950s-style diner is mallorca (sweet pastry that’s buttered, grilled, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar); wash down with café con leche; for something more substantial, try breakfast mallorca, which has ham and cheese; also, egg dishes, comida criolla, pancakes and sandwiches; waitstaff all dress in crisp, black uniforms, they are efficient and friendly.
Caficultura – 401 Calle San Francisco (Old San Juan, on Plaza Colon); 787-723-7731; for breakfast and coffee; stonewashed walls and tiled floors, wooden doors and furnishings; ornate lanterns, high ceilings, and expertly hewn prints; temple to Puerto Rican coffee and comida criolla; can be counted on for lunch and, most evenings, for tapas and nightly specials; gourmet sandwiches (roasted beef loin with caramelized onion and baked tomato or turkey breast with bacon, manchego, and spring salad; nightly specials may include churrasco with pasta and sautéed vegetables, shrimp ceviche with cassava fritters, or Spanish sausage in wine sauce.
Casa Lola – 1006 Avenida Doctor Ashford (Condado); 787-998-2918;; Puerto Rican specialities by Chef Roberto Treviño (Iron Chef contestant).
Jose Enrique – 176 Calle Duffaut (Santurce); 787-725-3518;; represents national cuisine resurgence.
La Mallorca – 300 Calle San Francisco (Old San Juan); 787-724-4607; “pressed sandwiches.”
Marmalade Restaurant & Wine Bar – 317 Calle Fortaleza (Old San Juan); 787-724-3969;; Technicolor fantasy behind old world façade.
Panza – 329 Calle Recinto Sur (Old San Juan, at Chateau Cervantes Hotel); 787-724-7722;; among Old San Juan’s chicest eateries; in high-ceilinged, soft-lit dining room.
Parrot Club – 363 Calle Fortaleza (Old San Juan); 787-725-7370;; bistro and bar, owned by husband-and-wife team Emilio Figueroa and Gigi Zafero; Nuevo Latino cuisine blends traditional Puerto Rican cookery with African, Spanish, and Taíno influences; in stately, 1902 building (originally hair-tonic factory); verdantly landscaped courtyard, where tables for at least 200 diners are scattered amid potted ferns, palms, and orchids; live music (either Brazilian, Latino jazz, or salsa) offered nightly; reserve table on back patio.
La Perla – 1077 Avenida Doctor Ashford (Condado, at La Concha Hotel); 787-977-3285;; looks like inside of pearl.
Pikayo – 999 Avenida Doctor Ashford (Condado, at Conrad Condado Plaza); 787-721-6194; or; chef considered among Puerto Rico’s most important chefs.
Pinoli – 414 Avenida de Diego (Puerto Nuevo); 787-273-1611;; local, organic, Italian.
Piropo – 1361 Calle Iturriaga (Miramar); 787-723-5577;; go-to spot for dining and drinking, especially on Friday nights; modest tapas menu.
PuraVida Bistro & Lounge – 1853 Avenida McLeary (Condado, at Oceana Hostal Playero); 787-728-8119;; criolla and vegetarian food.
Santaella – 219 Calle Canals (Santurce, Plaza del Mercado); 787-725-1611;; chef studied under Ferran Adria, Gary Danko, and Eric Ripert.
Tantra – 356 Calle Fortaleza (Old San Juan); 787-977-8141;; Indian-Puerto Rican food; open until late.
Tasca el Pescador – 178 Calle Dos Hermanos (Santurce, near Plaza del Mercado); 787-721-0995;; green polka-dot tablecloths and lighting may be garish but fish menu is excellent and fresh; try grilled white sea bass with mofongo (mashed plantains) or tostones (fried plantains).
Trois Cent Onze – 311 Calle Fortaleza (Old San Juan); 787-725-7959;; elegant French dining room; open late.

Julian Transportation Service – 787-887-5957, 787-385-7604 or 787-245-6145; or; driver-owner Julian Marquez.

C787 Studios – 734 Calle Cerra (Santurce);; experimental design center.
Espacio 1414 – 1414 Avenida Fernández Juncos (Santurce); 787-725-3899;; housed in former Royal Tire warehouse; art gallery.
Jeannette Fossas – 1085 Avenida Wilson, #1 (Miramar); 787-722-4154;; creations in platinum and yellow gold.
Olé – 105 Calle Fortaleza (Old San Juan); 787-724-2445; for Panama hat aficionados.
Galeria Petrus – 726 Calle Hoare (Santurce); 787-289-0505;; contemporary Puerto Rican art.
Roberto Paradise – 610 Calle Hipódromo (Santurce); 787-429-4887;; art gallery.

Fortín San Juan de la Cruz (El Cañuelo) – Carretera 870 (Isla de Cabras, from San Juan area, take Route 22 west to exit 7a, head onto Route 165 north, follow to Route 870 east, through little town, to end); 787-729-6777 (Castillo San Cristobal);; while looking west from El Morro, can see this little fort across bay channel; also is beach and picnic area; built of wood in late 1500s, burned to ground in 1625; Spain replaced with stone fort 1630-60; not must see place but worth short visit; on island’s north side, some WWII gun bunkers; on very north tip (just walk around gate), leper colony (late 1800s to early 1900s) ruins; restaurants, snack bar, and clean restrooms.
Castillo San Cristobal – 501 Calle Norzagaray (Old San Juan); 787-729-6777;; largest fortification ever built by Spanish in New World; World Heritage site; building covers 27 acres.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) – 1 Calle Del Morro (Old San Juan); 787-729-6960;; stands on rocky promontory dominating San Juan Bay entrance; constructed in 1540; original fort was round tower, which can still be seen deep inside castle’s lower levels; by 1787, more cannon-firing positions and walls added so that fortification attained complex design seen today; World Heritage Site; intriguing barracks, dungeons, lookouts, ramps & vaults; museum; grounds are great spot fly kites, which can buy at stands right in front or at Puerto Rico Drug or Walgreens on Plaza Colón.
Espacio 1414 – 1414 Avenida Fernandez Juncos (Santurce); 787-725-3899;; Cuban Berezdivins’ private collection.
Galeria Botello – 208 Calle del Cristo (Old San Juan); 787-723-9987;; named after Spanish-born, French-educated Angel Botello, who lived and worked here from 1950s to 1980s.
Isla Verde – east of Santurce (Piñones’ south western front) next to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, above Teodoro Moscoso Bridge); resort with some of island’s most beautiful white-sand beaches.
MAC – 18 Parada (Santurce, Edificio Histórico Rafael M. de Labra, on Avenida Juan Ponce de León, at corner of Avenida Roberto H. Todd); 787-977-4030;; extensive modern art collection.
Mercado Santurce – Calle Canals (Santurce);; open-air produce market.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico – 299 Avenida Jose de Diego (Santurce); 787-977-6277;; among biggest Caribbean museums; 130K sq ft building (known as San Juan Municipal Hospital from 1920s); collection dates from 17th Century to present; new east wing dominated by 5-story-tall stained-glass window (by local artist Eric Tabales).
Ocean Park – between Puerto Rico Highway 37 & ocean (bordered by Condado to east & Isla Verde to west); residential area with golden sand beaches; also worth checking out is tiny sub-neighborhood, Punta Las Marias, charming collection of guesthouses and inns, great beach, and fun, casual places to eat and hang out; popular gay traveler destination.
La Santa Catedral San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico – 151 Calle Del Cristo (Old San Juan); 787-725-5550;
Toro Verde Adventure Park – Carretera 155, Km. 32.9 (Bo Gato); 787-867-7020;; zip-lines and hiking trails.
El Yunque National Forest – Route 191, km 4.3 (Rio Grande); 787-888-1880 or 787-888-1810;; more than 28K acres rare foliage and wildlife; only rain forest within US National Forest system; 240 tree species and oversize impatiens and ferns; home to cotorra, Puerto Rico’s endangered green parrot, as well as 67 other bird type; forest’s 13 hiking trails well maintained and many easy to walk and less than mile long.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Sights & Sites
Hortobágy National Park (Hortobágyi Nemzeti Park) – 9 Petőfi tér; 011-36-5-2589-0000 or 011-36-5-236-9119;; 800 km² national park, known as Puszta in eastern Hungary; Alföld (Great Plain) portion; World Heritage site since 1999; Hungary’s largest protected area and Europe’s largest natural grassland; cattle, horses, oxen, and sheep tended by herdsmen; 342 documented bird species, including Common Crane, Dotterel, Great Bustard & Stone Curlew); among most iconic sites is 9-holed Bridge; formerly, place where Hungarian Stalinists sent political opponents to work in forced labor.