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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 Tag: Beach

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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KZU WARUNG

Geren Lockhart

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Kzu is hands down the best warung in Bali. A warung is a local easy "cafe" offering up a rotating daily selection of mostly Indonesian dishes. My introduction to this hidden gem came through ex-pat Danish fashion designer Birgitte Rabens. Lucky her she spends part of each year in Bali designing and producing her Rabens Saloner collection, and she was kind enough to show me around. Birgitte has the most impeccable taste. Japanese chef Kazuya Takami has created a complete experience. Beginning with the contemporary industrial open-plan space that is designed yet welcoming. The highlight of Kzu waits for you behind the giant perforated metal door guarding the entrance. On offer, you will find a rotating daily selection of about fifty healthy, delicious and largely vegan dishes. Chef Takami counts Japanese, Indonesian, Italian, and Indian cuisines among his influences. Combining these influences with his intense focus on local produce he masterfully balances ingredients, spices and preparations. If I were lucky enough to be a local, I would find a reason to be here at least once a day. The food isn't foodie gourmet; it's just really good and good for you. Opening hours from 11 am to 7 pm mean you really can fit in a meal and a snack in if you are industrious. Full disclosure I ate here every day I was in Seminyak. Grab a Bintang and a full plate of nourishment for what amounts to less than seven US dollars at the current exchange.

Kzu Warung

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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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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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