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Anywhere, Anytime

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Were travel, art, architecture, fashion, food and adventure meet. Founder and global adventurer Geren Lockhart was "Born Packed" when she started traveling at a young age and never stopped. This site follows along on her journey. 

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Filtering by Category: HOTEL

THE ALILA HOTEL IN UBUD, BALI

Geren Lockhart

AN OASIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BALI JUNGLE. THIS HOTEL IS A GREAT SPOT TO RELAX AND EASE INTO THE CULTURE OF UBUD.

The Alila Hotel in Ubud, Bali is a unique and calming world where design meets jungle. From Denpasar airport, the property is an exciting and sometimes shockingly beautiful ninety min drive up into the mountains. We spent our first night in Bali here and would recommend it to anyone visiting for a longer stay as a great entry point. Waking up to the sunrise and the jungle monkeys roaming around was a lovely entry to a new world.  The food throughout our stay was a highlight, somewhat expected since it’s a program that was framed out by Elke and Ray from Locavore in downtown Ubud. Locavore is one of our favorite spots to experience food on the planet. Elke and Ray are visionaries and magicians who practice their art through the idea of integrating European technique with only local ingredients. These ideals are still in place at the Alila, putting their best foot forward when the restaurant is serving it’s decadent must have breakfast every day. This is NOT a lukewarm hotel buffet set-up. There was a multitude of beverage options and tons of small plates to try. The menu changes daily and you are encouraged to order 3 or 4 things, and if you’re sharing you can go even crazier, the portions are manageable and are meant to give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the food of Bali, to immerse yourself in the place. 

The grounds are lush, and the all of the spaces are well designed and still Balinese enough that you don’t feel like an urban alien dropped into the middle of an ancient civilization. Rooms are comfortable and chic if not ultra luxurious. The personal products through the property, room and spa are all from the locally produced namesake brand, and they’re great! Enough so that we not only squirreled away the ones from our room but went a bit crazy in the spa store stocking up since we didn't have an idea of when we might return. 

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The highlight of our stay was the pool. An "infinity-ish" moment set near the edge of a cliff and perfectly laid out so you can enjoy laying in the pool as much as relaxing beside it. Save a day for this. A full mid morning to sunset to immerse fully in the experience. Lunch in the lower-level grand scale lounge area, dip in and out of the pool, the sun, and the very comfortable beds as you wish. 

Relaxation is pretty much guaranteed here and as with most properties in Bali the rates are a great value for the level of the stay. 

 Alila Ubud


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ONE ELEVEN SEMINYAK, BALI

Geren Lockhart


One Eleven Resorts, Bali is an all-villa, all adult oasis just off a major artery in Seminyak the most populated part of the island. Describing One Eleven's location as central would be an understatement. A long narrow strip of land dotted with nine almost identical villa compounds that are hidden in plain sight. The property as a whole is a spacious and peaceful respite from the wonderfully chaotic streets just a few meters away.  The architecture is organic, spare and contemporary which put me immediately at ease. Individual service is central to the One Eleven experience. The ratio of staff to guests has to be at least one to one, and it shows. After the chaotic 90 min journey from Ubud, the thought of further motoring to my next appointment with Giuseppe Verdacchi at his chocolate factory Primo Bali seemed daunting. What happened next was my first experience with the service component of One Eleven. I asked for some general directions and help navigating around the extremely oppressive traffic jams in central Seminyak and the front desk staff immediately suggested that I just park my car and have the hotel car, and driver take me. YES! is all I had to say, and bam I was completely immersed in One Eleven. At that moment I realized the crew here were going to guide me as well as provide a shield from the chaos that is possible when in Seminyak. Normally I do a lot of research, have local contacts that allow me to immerse myself beyond the tourist norm and don't even think of asking the concierge for advice. Not this time. They're doing the challenging, and frustrating work that you don't want to do, it's blissful. 

Inside the walls of your villa compound, you're presented with a private pool, spa pagoda, open air living room and kitchen as well as an enclosed bedroom and expansive bathroom suite. Keep an eye on the time of year for maximum relaxation. If it's too hot or too humid you might find yourself squirreled away in the bedroom more than you want to be because that is where the full on enclosed air conditioning rules. I spent most of my awake time in the relaxing and perfectly sized pool. I didn't partake of any of the spa treatment but the idea of having a private spa pagoda in the villa is great. I did make use of space by making it into a serene spot for morning meditation and yoga. Dinner at the on-site but open to the public Shiro is a lovely moment of Tokyo level sushi and other dishes in a gorgeous room with a very good sake list and is a must do during your stay. I am already plotting my return. I did have a glitch come up with the electronic key to my villa; it was a situation that could have been frustrating but ended up being funny and entertaining. Below is a photo of the human spiderman that instantly scaled a palm tree and the wall of the villa to get to the other side so that he could open the door. There was no extended back and forth, no question about the possible steps, just an instant solution to a minimal problem. Leading to the assumption that there would be a plan for a permanent fix, and there was. Easy no stress results to challenges have become shining highlights for me when I travel especially to far-flung spots on the planet.

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The bathroom game at One Eleven is epic. The room is properly massive with a giant tub, separate shower, and toilet rooms, a wall of windows and best of all a stash of AMAZING products. There are two sets of products, his and hers which warrant the suitcase space needed for anything you don't gobble up while you're in residence. Robes are something I think sets hotel properties apart when they're done right. Here you have two great choices. I opted to have a short term love affair with the cotton Kimono version. Worth purchasing. I still have pangs of regret that I didn't beg to find out if that was even possible. I did however keep encouraging the very charming, very English general manager David to put those divine products into the market, they're all locally made and compete with the best of the beauty world. I would have stocked up on the sunscreen by the gallon if I could have. 

After an early morning swim in my private pool, I took a long early morning walk down to the beach which was necessary since I was coming back to a giant made for me breakfast in the villa. Each morning you'll be offered a variety of options for breakfast and with so many choices and so much food, the exercise gave me an excuse to indulge. The best part is that after you choose your pleasure the charming staff will kick into gear and whip up your wishes in the villa kitchen while you lounge and enjoy a coffee in the sun. My stay was short, and I only partook of this experience once opting for a local specialty, nasi goreng. This typical local favorite is a perfect rice bowl of sorts; the direct translation is fried rice but nasi goreng is so much more than that. Done right its a savory, spicy addicting mixture of rice, proteins, and vegetables incorporated with a creative mixture of spices that builds from garlic, chili, and ginger. One Eleven does nasi goreng perfectly. Your breakfast spread will include an expansive offering of fruits, jams, cereals, juices like the dragon fruit below, and more. Far to much food but worth the extravagance and you can swim it off straight from the table if you're feeling especially guilty. 

One Eleven Resorts


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THE WATERHOUSE SHANGHAI

Geren Lockhart

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The Waterhouse at South Bund is a diamond of a design hotel tucked quietly away in a 1930's ex-Japanese Army headquarters in the neighborhood of South Bund in Shanghai. It is a raw and organic take on the melding of the old with the new, designed and re-built by the local celebrity architect and design firm Neri & Hu design and research office. They created a space that feels unique in the middle of the "older" part of town which is being torn down and replaced by peach high-rises holding thousands of apartments. The Waterhouse is a welcome respite from Shanghai which can be really, really, really full on pretty much all of the time. Standouts for the property are the art collection, the Tracy Emin neon behind reception makes sure you know that art is crucial when you've just walked thru the door. The owner of the property is a collector, but of chairs, he's obsessed. There are all kinds of chairs throughout the property, the most bizarre is the vintage barber chair that sits outside my door set in an open space as a piece of sculpture. 

The rooms are spacious and well appointed if a bit Jetson's in their user experience. Frosted glass walls divide the bathroom from the main bedroom and portal windows slice and dice your views of the city and skyline which really did engage me in looking at the city differently. Beds are placed in the middle of the room, they function as storage, work table, and bed all in one. Comfortable...very comfortable. Robes, slippers, stationary, and amenities remind me of East London (where they also own the Town Hall Hotel) or Williamsburg and to be honest these memories were a welcome normalcy which I often yearn for when tromping through Asia. The best way to sum up the rooms is chic new loft. They're peaceful despite their lack of adornment. 

The food......ahhhhhhhh, THE FOOD. Jason Atherton of Maze fame in London steps out on his own for the first time with Table No. 1 at The Waterhouse at South Bund, and he wins. Big big winner. I have told many people since my stay that the food was stellar for anywhere in the world. Not just stellar because it was western cuisine in the Eastern part of the world. From the coffee at breakfast, to the snacks waiting in my room when I would plop down after a long day at the factory and most likely in a car for hours it heightens the experience at the hotel by many notches. The clientele at dinner is the Shanghai version of a cosmopolitan crowd you almost solely encounter in London making for a great mix of locals and visitors. The menu is smaller bites and plates of heightened but not fussy concepts. Wonderful ingredients, some of which are grown on the property, are combined together in familiar but not expected ways. I will confess that once I had the food, I didn't eat anywhere else for the rest of my stay. It wasn't my first trip to Shanghai and I had a compulsion that this may be the only time I get to partake of Jason's genius at Table No. 1. The staff is well trained and knows the experience that the chef is trying to create. The kitchen which you can look into from the courtyard is a well oiled machine, reminding me of the kitchens of Spain or the UK the chefs all looked to be on their way to greatness of their own. It was a family environment of ex-pats really focused on the reason they are there. 

The Waterhouse at South Bund is a hotel standout from a design and culinary perspective, they have some kinks to work out with the flow of the rest of the service but I don't speak Mandarin and you can't complain that you can't communicate if you don't speak the native language....

I would stay again, and anytime I am in Shanghai you can bet you'll see me at Table No. 1, probably more than once! I had a mid-day flight and the team packed me a take away meal from the restaurant so that I didn't have to have plane food. A very good tip if you're departing home from the hotel. It made the long trip home a bit better.

The Waterhouse at South Bund

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UPPER HOUSE, HONG KONG

Geren Lockhart

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If you are looking for one of the world's best luxury hotel experiences....The Upper House, Hong Kong is it. A sea of tranquility in the middle of an ocean of chaos. I was in Asia on a business trip and had the pleasure of landing in this slice of perfection for a few days. The business of fashion, while it seem glamorous, is actually really intense and can sometimes take you down. My trips to Asia with their 24hr work schedules and intense jet-lag prove to be some of the times I was most often taken down. I was actually sick by the time I made it to The Upper House, in hindsight there wasn't a better place to be. The entire experience from start to finish was thoughtful luxury at it's best. I was fortunate enough to be in town when there was an art world event going on and the hotel was strewn with engaging installations and a very cosmopolitan crowd. The property is very centrally located at the top of a building in the Admiralty neighborhood of Hong Kong which means everything you want and need is within walking distance or a quick taxi ride. The concierge can sort out anything you want to do or see, they own the town and can engage an entire network of restaurants, art, shopping and secret adventures.

The in-room experience is hard to top. Gorgeous views of one of the world's great metropolises from every window. Day and night it was like watching a movie play out in real time. The mini-bar is stocked with a well curated offering which means you have everything you want, there is a proper espresso machine, gorgeous dishes and flatware. Suites like the one I was in feel like a space age abode you dream of stealing away to with James Bond. You sleep like a baby waking to the city skyline and stumbling into the bathroom, wearing your fluffy robe, to find a set of rooms bigger than most New York apartments. The amenities are primarily REN (one of my favorites) with all options you might need taken care of. Looking out from the REN Moroccan Rose Otto Oil filled bath is an experience I will remember forever, and count on having again. The design throughout the rooms and common spaces come from the mind of Andre Fu a very young, very talented Chinese architect now quite sought after, with The Upper House being his first hotel project. The accolades are very well deserved.

The dining experience at the property is one of the great highlights. Cafe Grey Deluxe is the restaurant, it's posh and foodie, but it is also your kitchen for the time you are in residence. They've been rewarded with a Michelin start to prove the level of the food at the hotel. I recommend breakfast there each day, it is an inspiring way to start the day in a chaotic part of the world. The views will take your breath away as will the cuisine. Dinner should be enjoyed at least once while you stay, it's so sexy, chic and delicious. There is an insane wine list and well crafted cocktails. Even more delicious is walking across the bridge from the restaurant to the elevators and taking a smooth brief ride down to your perfect Hong Kong apartment. Every moment I was there was like being in a film. Cinematic and memorable. 

The Upper House, Hong Kong

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FORMENTERA IS PARADISE

Geren Lockhart

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The sexy, chic, and relaxing island of Formentera was high on my list of places to visit while I was based out of London last year. It is a small island that is part of the Islas Baleareas sitting off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. The beauty of Formentera is an underexploited secret sitting just south of Ibiza. There is no airport. You fly into Ibiza, taxi to the port, and then ferry to the island. That is an adventure in itself. I recommend renting a car for your time on Formentera. They are reasonably priced and prove necessary to freely see what you want to while you're in residence. The island is small but not walkable if you want to partake of the many beaches, experiences, and sites to be seen.

IN-RESIDENCE / Dotted throughout the island and almost all out of sight from the main roads are small luxury resorts, bo-ho chic party spots, and bungalows on the beach. There aren't any large properties on the island. Below are my three picks for places to stay on the island. Two a bit more lux, posh, and chill and one a bit more affordable, with an authentic beach party vibe. All good, and all worth going back to again. 

Es Mares Hotel & Spa • A 20 room luxury boutique property situated in the main city of San Francesc. This enclave of breezy chill is very centrally located and makes for easily jetting to any part of the island. The property is pared back with a beach decor that feels very mediterranean. The restaurant and spa are excellent so even if you're not laying your head here I recommend dropping in for an afternoon or evening. Book here ∞ hotelesmares.com

Es Ram • With just 8 double rooms and 4 villas this is definitely an exclusive luxury eco-resort. A gorgeous property that is completely secluded a mile down a sand road a thirty minute drive from the ferry.  This is the kind of property you can stay put at for an entire stay. You will feel like you live here from the moment you arrive. This is small footprint luxury at it's best. The staff is welcoming and the common areas, rooms and villas are stunning and stylish. The grounds make you want to meander for hours. With pools and lots of lounging bungalows, the days will slip away. Book here ∞ esramresort.com

Las Banderas • Located directly on Mitjorn beach a 20 minute drive from the ferry in one of the most historic buildings on the island this bo-ho chic 8 room property is an enjoyable place to stay. The rooms are basic but well maintained and have the kind of character you want. Each room has an outdoor area with ocean views and you're just steps from the sand. The food and drink are good but not stellar and the outdoor bar area is a great place to watch the sunset. I stayed here and left having had a great time and feeling like it was a great value. Book here ∞ hotelresidenceformentera.com

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FOOD / I didn't have a bad snack or meal while I was on the island and there are ton's of small spots that sit right on the water.  As an island just off the coast of one of the most foodie nations on earth with mostly Italian visitors. The expectations for food and beverage are lofty. 

People • The chiringuito (aka beach bar) sits directly on Platja de es Pujols is where you will end up often. No matter where else on the island you are if you're like me you will find a way to be there for lunch or cocktail hour on more than one occasion. The libations are divine - think huge delicious refreshing adult beverages made with fresh ingredients served over crushed ice - and the snacks are above par for beach food. 

Juan y Andrea • A posh beachfront restaurant that has evolved from a small bar founded in 1972 into a see and be seen hot spot today. The food is good, the drinks are classic and it's an experience worth having for the people watching alone. Situated on a secluded beach almost at the end of Playa Illetes the journey is almost as good as the place itself. juanyandrea.com

Can Dani • A true foodie level experience in the middle of the island. Eating al fresco in the courtyard makes this a great dinner choice and you will certainly have a memorable meal. The chef works primarily with local ingredients, and with those simple beginnings she makes magic happen. I recommend the tasting menu, a luxurious valuecandaniformentera.com

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BEACHES / The beaches are the number one reason to visit Formentera, While they are all gorgeous my favorites were: 

  • Cala Saona
  • Platja Migjorn
  • Platja des Canyers
  • Platja Tramuntana
  • Platja de Ses Illetes 

LIGHTHOUSES / There are three on the island, two that I visited primarily because they offered vistas that I wouldn't be privy to. They were breathtaking cliffs on both occasions with interesting surrounding areas. 

La Mola • the highest lighthouse on the island it sits atop a 1200 ft cliff. The best part about visiting this spot was the scale it gave to the island. I ventured out my first late afternoon and ended up dropping into the "Hippie Market" which is really more of and artisanal market. Situated on the main road in El Pilar de la Mola and open Wednesday and Sunday afternoons this is a must do if you're in the area on those days. Please while you are there pick up some leather bracelets from the charming leather worker. I bought two and have much to my dismay lost them in my travels. I loved them so much I sometimes daydream about heading back just to procure some more.

Es Cap de Barbaría • this lighthouse is a bit more off the beaten path, but it's worth the drive. The views are stunning and you get a chance to hike a bit further and see a watchtower that was used to protect the island in century's past. The watchtower is stunning up close. (there is a photo at the top of this story with people providing scale)

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Formentera is a magical place not far from civilization geographically but very far in reality. It is a part of the world that still moves slowly most of the time. The air is fresh, the water is sparkling, and you breath. Really breath when you are there. The cultures of Catalan, Spain, and Italy collide to protect what it means to be living completely in the moment. The residents are welcoming and the tourists I encountered were all relaxed, mostly Italian and there for the same reasons I was. While it's not an easy location to get to from Los Angeles or New York where I spend most of my time. I know I will be back to this tiny piece of the world again in this lifetime. I'm counting down the days.


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