Soffer Transforms Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Turnberry Associates’ Jeffrey Soffer, frequently photographed alongside wife, Elle MacPherson, had a gut feeling about Fontainebleau Miami Beach. With its ideal oceanfront location and famed Morris Lapidus architecture, Soffer believed he could transform the aging property into one of the world’s elite destinations.

“It had all the ingredients. I knew in terms of clientele, that if I could build an oceanfront, Vegas style hotel on Miami Beach, it would outshine anything that had ever been built,” Soffer recently told Haute Magazine.

He purchased the Fontainebleau in 2005 and then launched a billion-dollar renovation that was unveiled in November 2008. The grand opening celebration featured Mariah Carey, Robin Thicke and Gwyneth Paltrow, and culminated with the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the only time it’s been held in Miami.

Today, Fontainebleau Miami Beach is a global icon, drawing visitors from across the globe.

The oceanfront property draws VIP crowds to its renowned LIV Nightclub, concertgoers to the BleauLive series and foodies to an array of on-site, world-class restaurants. The hotel’s two newest culinary additions by Michael Mina have garnered glowing reviews. Soffer’s in love with a particular dessert at Mina’s latest STRIPSTEAK outpost.


“The bread pudding at STRIPSTEAK is incredible…it’s something everyone should try,” he told Haute Living.

A First Timer’s Guide to the Canary Islands

Pre-conceptions are a funny thing. If someone told you about an archipelago of islands set adrift off the coast of Africa, an oasis that boasts superb beaches and perennial warmth, which is home to the world’s second largest Carnival, award-winning wines and Spain’s highest mountain, you’d probably want to visit.

If they revealed they were in fact talking about the Canary Isles, though, some of your thoughts might start to cloud with images of sunburned Brits, dodgy fried food and all-things tacky.

It’s time to set aside these anachronisms about the Canary Islands and explore these seven isles in the spirit of Christopher Columbus, who famously stopped over, en route to sailing off the map of the known world in search of the New World.

The largest of the Canaries is also the most popular with tourists. The parched southern strip of Tenerife might be stuffed with a swathe of tourism development, but this string of resorts is just one part of a diverse and remarkable island. Most island inhabitants live elsewhere and although the Costa Adeje has added a touch of class to proceedings in the south, Tenerife’s most interesting towns and sights lie beyond this tourist enclave.

Originally published here.


5 Ground-Breaking Travel Accessories

What can smart bags do that your usual luggage can’t? All sorts of cool stuff, according to discoveries made at this year’s Travel Goods Showcase in Las Vegas. In many cases, smart luggage links to your mobile phone via an app, which manages most of the bag’s features.

For instance, you can unlock your bags remotely with your phone or track them wherever and however far they may get away from you. In some cases, high-tech features are built right into the bag.

For example, you can use your suitcase to recharge mobile devices or to get a party started — several feature speakers that transform a suitcase into a boom box. The examples below prove innovative travel accessories can combine brains and beauty in one package.

Planet Traveler SpaceCase 1

The people who developed The Planet Traveler SpaceCase 1 say it’ll be the most technologically advanced suitcase available when it goes on the market in November.

Features include a biometric lock that opens with a fingerprint, global tracking, a Bluetooth speaker and lithium power pack. A digital scale sensor is based in the wheels, so you don’t actually have to lift the case to weigh it.

A downloadable app controls all features and is designed to serve as a PTA — personal travel assistant. When it hits the market later this year, Planet Traveler SpaceCase 1 will cost $700 for a full-size bag and $600 for the carry-on.

Andiamo iQ

Among its many smart features are a USB battery charger, removable mobile power pack, remote lock and unlock function, digital scale and an anti-theft system that alerts you via your mobile when the case moves 30 meters away from you. Available only in carry-on size, the Andiamo iQ will be priced at $599.


If the only smart feature you want is the ability to track your bag, save some money and buy a LugLoc. All you have to do is purchase the tracking gizmo, which combines GSM and Bluetooth technology, for $70 and put it in your suitcase.

Then, download a $7 app, which comes with five free traces. With a tap on the app, a map will appear showing the location of your suitcase, regardless of where in the world it is. If it’s in close range, maybe at the baggage carousel, the Bluetooth will kick in and let you know your luggage awaits.

See more cool smart luggage accessories by clicking here.


5 Quirky U.S. Spots to Visit in 2015

Celebrate like the Basques, Boise, Idaho

One of the largest Basque festivals in the world, Jaialdi 2015 celebrates Idaho’s Basque community, a distinct culture tracing its roots back 2,000 years to northern Spain’s Basque autonomous region.

The dancing and games (including jai alai) that are central to Basque life will be on display during the July 28-August 2 festival, pegged to the community’s celebration of San Ignacio of Loyola, its patron saint. If you can’t make the every-five-years festival, stop by Boise’s “Basque Block”anytime to eat, drink and learn more about Basque culture.

Salt of the earth, Malden, West Virginia

Chef Nancy Bruns’ relationship with salt runs deep. Her family’s salt business goes back seven generations to the early 1800s, when Bruns’ great, great, great, great-grandfather William Dickinson came to the Malden area. He made a life from the salt in the natural brine springs bubbling up from an ancient ocean underneath the Appalachian Mountains. The family dug wells to reach richer, heavier brine buried in the earth.

The family stopped harvesting salt in 1945, but Bruns and her brother Lewis Payne relaunched the business in 2013 with an emphasis on local, sustainable food and business practices. Tours of J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works are available by appointment. Bruns recommends visiting in spring, summer or fall, when salt production is in full swing and the surrounding farmland is blooming or being harvested.

World’s largest truck stop, Walcott, Iowa

Crack open a cold one at the Iowa 80’s Truckers Jamboree. A slice of Americana in Walcott, Iowa, the Iowa 80 — billed as the world’s largest truck stop — is hosting the 36rd annual Truckers Jamboree from July 9 to 11, with antique truck displays, a pork chop cookout, Trucker Olympics and more.

Even if you can’t make the annual celebration of truckers, you can buy big rig lights and fenders amid the aisles of chrome in the Super Truck Showroom, get your teeth fixed at the dentist and catch a movie at the truck stop theater.

An 18-wheeler named “America the Beautiful” welcomes truckers to the stop. On its side is a landscape painting featuring famous sites along I-80, America’s “Main Street.” (The actual highway stretches about 3,000 miles from New York to San Francisco.) You can also learn about big rigs of old at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.

This land is our land, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Woody Guthrie Center celebrates the life and work of the renowned folk singer.
The return of great American folk singer Woody Guthrie’s archives to Oklahoma — and the opening of a museum dedicated to his legacy — is a huge boon for his home state. The Woody Guthrie Center houses instruments, drawings and writings by the late performer and many he inspired, including Pete Seeger and Tom Morello.

The archive vault of the “This Land is Your Land” singer holds stacks of notebooks of unpublished songs and poems available for research purposes. The center is the cornerstone of Tulsa’s revitalized Brady Arts District, sharing a repurposed paper plant with a contemporary art gallery, an arts education center and a Philbrook Museum of Art satellite location.

Hot tour for hot sauce, Avery Island, Louisiana

Master barrel cooper Hamilton Polk, now retired, is shown preparing oak barrels for pepper mash.
Never mind that it’s sold in more than 180 countries and territories and is mixed into South African meatballs and Polish “mad dog” vodka drinks. Your favorite Tabasco sauce is still manufactured by the McIlhenny Company at the Tabasco factory’s original site on Avery Island, where it has been run by the same family since 1868.

You can tour the facility and sample a new addition: food tours launched in 2014 offering tastes of Cajun cuisine and culture. Come with an appetite. The new tours are three hours long, and reservations are recommended. An expanded factory tour and new visitor center is scheduled to open in late 2015.

Continue reading here


Spring 2015 Guide to Paris

There’s more than love in the air this spring in Paris, as the city’s top museums and cultural spaces unveil a scintillating roster of new events and exhibitions. Plus, the best of the new boutiques, restaurants, and an exclusive new hotel.


This charming, new under-the-radar boutique near the Luxembourg gardens offers some of Paris’s most beautiful handbags, all handcrafted in France. Structured designs recall the great classics with an edgy contemporary refinement, crafted in softest fine-grained calf with crocodile and python accents. Opened mid-February, Verbreuil is one of Paris’s best-kept secrets…but not for long.

Borgo Delle Tovaglie
Paris’s newest concept store, Borgo delle Tovaglie was born in Naples and brought to this chic, sky-lit location in Paris’s hip 11th arrondissement by husband-and-wife team Valentina Muggia and Giuliano Di Paolo, style-makers par excellence. Featuring top-quality handmade linens for bed, bath, and table in gorgeous colors, along with pillows, lighting, rugs, curtains, and stylish house wares with an Italian flair. Don’t miss the adorable café for a gourmet lunch or snack.

Read more here…


Trattoria Il Mulino Opens at Hilton Nashville Downtown

When Turnberry Associates Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Soffer announced plans to refresh the Company’s Hilton Nashville Downtown, he promised to bring additional culinary excitement to Music City. With the opening of Trattoria Il Mulino in the lobby of the hotel, Soffer has done exactly that.

The restaurant held a soft opening in early March, beginning with dinner service. Later in the month, Trattoria Il Mulino hosted its grand opening celebration.

The opening caps off a multi-year, $32 million renovation of the Hilton Nashville Downtown that updated the hotel’s 330 guest suites, grand atrium lobby and lounge, business and fitness centers, and meeting and event spaces. The Jeffrey Soffer-led enhancements also include a new executive lounge.

The 5,600-square-foot Trattoria Il Mulino features an energetic exhibition kitchen with a brick pizza oven and romantic al fresco dining on its outdoor patio. The restaurant’s interior design combines Old World architecture inspired by authentic Italian trattorias, accented by sleek, modern elements that include sculptured light fixtures, tinted mirror panels, a centerpiece bar and private dining rooms.

Nashville’s new Trattoria Il Mulino is the restaurant’s fourth outpost owned by the Il Mulino restaurant group. The others are located in New York, Atlantic City and Orlando. The restaurant offers an upscale menu of Abruzzese-inspired Italian cuisine, which pairs traditional flavors with modern and inventive dishes. Culinary highlights include Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and pork belly, Spaghettini with spicy crab and Meyer lemon, and Spicy herb Cornish Hen baked under a stone.

Trattoria Il Mulino is accessible from the Hilton Nashville Downtown’s grand atrium lobby and a street entrance on 5th Avenue.

The Cayman Islands: Planning My Perfect Family Getaway

For spring break, my family is heading to Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands, for a week-long vacation. When you have children it is important to prepare activities in advance and understand the area that you are going to. Although I personally love to bask in the sun during vacation, it is inevitable that we are either going to get worn out from the sun at one point or the rain might require a new activity.

Going shopping in Grand Cayman seemed like an excellent outing besides the beach, which I knew my whole family would enjoy.

I am drawn toward the town center of Camana Bay in Grand Cayman because of the wide variety of shops. Between window shopping, actual shopping and beauty services it seemed like my version of Disney World. Eclipze Hair Design and Day Spa had several services and treatments, which all seemed desirable to me. I’d be thrilled to get either a facial, massage or a pedicure- hey it’s a vacation.

The Bay Market sounded like something that would appeal to my whole family. The Bay Market is a specialty food store with an emphasis on organic items. The Bay Market has made- to-order items, a prepared food section, an antipasto and olive bar and loads more. When you’re on vacation it often seems like snacks are something that are lacking. The Bay Market is a perfect place for my family to stock up on treats to get us through the rest of our vacation.

Both of my children love to read, making Books & Books an essential stop on our trip to Camana Bay.

Books & Books is an independent bookstore , which has a vast selection of books, magazines and small gifts. The store also offers storytelling for children, twice a week. Hopefully our trip to Books & Books aligns with a storytelling hour!

After researching Grand Cayman and all of the activities the island has to offer, I am sure our trip would be a vacation to remember.