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Anywhere, Anytime

Global

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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: STAY

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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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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CLASKA TOKYO

Geren Lockhart

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Claska is a lifestyle concept as much as it is a hotel property. The large Mad Men era building sits in the Meguro neighborhood of Tokyo which is a bit off the more traveled paths of the city. Meguro is a very robust area with good public transport access, I wasn't bothered in any way by the location. However I was surprised by the lack of design hotel properties in Tokyo. It feels as if every other detail of every other thing is being considered from design and concept perspective, despite that you will be challenged to find a place to lay your head that isn't either a luxury property from a global player (I'm not complaining about that in any way, but I wanted a design experience) or a Japanese business hotel - think pods. The building and it's rooms are big by Tokyo standard, with 20 rooms across 4 floors there are distinctly different types of rooms to choose from. Rooms fall into 4 categories: Traditional Tatami, Japanese Modern, Contemporary and Weekly Residences. I stayed in one of the contemporary rooms on the 7th floor full to the gills with conceptual stuffed animal art pieces that I thought were going to freak me out, but ended up being a nice juxtaposition to the urban landscape. All of the rooms and common spaces deliver. For my next stay I will go for the Japanese Modern or the Weekly Residences, every room is worth its rate. Rates which are surprisingly reasonable compared to what you hear about in Tokyo.

The concept shop sells mostly Japanese wares a well edited offering from designers and craftspeople throughout the country. The shop at Claska is one my top three favorites from the stay. I found it especially good because of the smaller artistically considered selection on offer. Compared to The Loft or Tokyo Hands it was easier to navigate. It is simple to understand the artistic take when you realize that there are two separate galleries in the building that regularly have shows up. Upon arrival you are greeted on a lovely welcome floor with reception and open plan restaurant that is great for a traditional Japanese breakfast or tea in the afternoon. My favorite parts of the building were the common spaces and the architectural details that they had left in place when they re-purposed the property to turn it into a hotel (see amazing tile below). Thoughtfully placing seating and working areas are spread throughout the common spaces on each floor. There is a shocking amount of open space and it's all cinematic, it is a very photo friendly property. The toiletries are from Marks & Web which became a favorite for gifts when I was in town. You will be conserving in the interest of bringing them home with you. The linens were crisp and luxurious with two different robes on offer. 

The best part of the whole building is the rooftop terrace, stunning views of the city skyline from an underexploited vantage and an excellent place to sip coffee with my new crush....Mt. Fuji that is. I woke up each morning in my animal filled room looking out the window a the magical mountain. I fell hard. I was lucky that I had three clear days in a row where he was on full display and it was just after winter so he was in tip top camera-ready shape. The last morning I was there a fashion shoot for a Japanese magazine was in full force with fittings in the gallery space on the 8th floor and a small crew setting up on the roof. It was nice to see all the space being used in a creative way. I really felt like I was living in Tokyo for a moment. 

The service at Claska is wonderful. They're not chasing after you like butlers, but they are smart, thoughtful and have a genuine concern that you enjoy yourself and are comfortable while you're with them. I will be back to Tokyo and Claska as soon as my life allows. 

Claska Tokyo


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ST. BARTHS RESIDENTS HOLIDAY HERE

Geren Lockhart

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Marie-Galante is a small island in an out of the way corner of the world. Hidden a day trip away from Guadeloupe which is a days travel from most places, it delivers on what you imagine the Caribbean was like before it is now. There are no large hospitality companies playing on the island, only local hotels and restaurants with expanses of postcard ready beaches that you'll have mostly to yourself. The tourists I encountered the day I was there were mostly people escaping from other islands, with the highest concentration being made up of those that live and work on St. Barths, but can't afford to relax there. They come to Marie-Galante for holiday. The island is part of the French overseas department of Guadeloupe and it's about as calm and chill as you can get this close to the USA. 

I was lucky enough to have a local to guide me around. Eric Luc Bade was a perfect host. He's lived abroad but also knows everyone on the island, and half of them are his cousins. We explored all day, stopping at various sites and meeting many makers. Yes there are still makers of things on this island. Sugar and rhum are the primary focus. Pere Labat was my favorite distillery, we toured the in's and out's of the buildings and the distilling and packaging processes. Then we topped it off with a shot of gorgeous aged rhum and a Panache at 10am. Onward into the rest of the day where we popped in and out of sugar syrup makers, beekeepers and a wood carver who all impressed upon me the idea of using what is near. They have no choice due to geography and they're doing an amazing job of making top quality products that are personal. One great example of this is that by the time we left the sugar syrup stand there was a line of locals outside the make-shift storefront waiting for it to open so they could clean out the days stock in less than an hour just like they do everyday. 

I pushed Eric to giving me the local tour in addition to the tourist tour and it paid off. We stopped at one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen and then turned the opposite direction away from the beach which lead to us climbing up a small hill and down into the mouth of a cave. BATS..lots and lots and lots of them. It was really exciting and something I wouldn't have seen otherwise. We drove down unpaved roads to see vistas and sites, sped thru the mountains, along the way spotting historical slave homes from long ago, we sat at the mouth of the massive river that flows from the mountains and watched as kayakers took off for th e day and then made our way further afield to Capesterre the second "city" of Marie-Galante where we relaxed sipped beer and hung out with a few French ex-pat's that mind a great beach bar called La Galette.  As we departed for the ferry back to Guadeloupe I promised I'd find a week of my time on this planet to make it back to this patch of peaceful paradise. 

DETAILS

  • Catch a ferry from L'Express des iles or book a private charter from Charter World Guadeloupe or Dominica and land in Grande-Bourge.
  • Hire a great guide. Contact the Board of Tourism for advise. I usually don't want a tour but in this case it's the key to seeing the magic of the island. 
  • Speaking French is a big plus, I spoke and heard very little english in my time in Guadeloupe and the surrounding islands. It was refreshing! 

 


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