Reader Requests


Caribbean Favorites

Which is your all-time favorite Caribbean resort? L.C.

The best beach in the Caribbean is at Cap Juluca in Anguilla. The finest all-round resort is arguably Little Dix Bay in the B.V.I. But my own favorite property is Petit St. Vincent in the Grenadines. A tiny private island with just 22 cottages, it is almost the definition of a hideaway. I have not stayed there since the tragic death of owner Haze Richardson (in a 2008 Costa Rica swimming accident), and his wife, Lynn, sold the property to business partners last November. Apparently the new owners plan to build a beach restaurant and a spa for winter 2011-12. I look forward to seeing the additions for myself. For now, blissful memories will have to suffice.

Napa Gastronomy

We are going to the Napa Valley and have been unable to secure a table at The French Laundry. Where could we try instead? S.M.

Procuring a table at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry is the culinary grail for many, but reservations are famously elusive. Fortunately, other treats await  you nearby. The Restaurant at the lovely Meadowood resort now has three Michelin stars, thanks to the conspicuous talents of chef Christopher Kostow. And if you don’t mind the hour-long drive over to Healdsburg in Sonoma, I heartily recommend Cyrus in the stylish Les Mars Hotel, where I have eaten impressively on more than one occasion.

Right Bank, Left Bank

Previously in Paris, we have stayed at the splendid Four Seasons George V. However, next time we thought we might try a more intimate hotel. Where would you suggest? S.H.

Many people stay first in the grand palace hotels on the Right Bank, and then make the trip across the Seine on subsequent visits. My favorite Left Bank property is the Hotel d’Aubusson, in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, yet just a short stroll from the Louvre across the Pont des Arts footbridge. There is another Right Bank option, however, and that is the lovely Pavillon de la Reine, a 54-room hotel in the exquisite Place des Vosges.  It has recently been refurbished and is a place of immense atmosphere and Parisian charm.

Buenos Aires

Friends tell us that Buenos Aires is the nicest city in Latin America. Do you agree? If so, what time of year should we visit? And where is the best place to stay? A.M.

Yes, I do agree. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, much of which was designed by 19th-century French architects. Consequently, it has  elegant boulevards and squares that are reminiscent of Paris. I love staying at the Alvear Palace in the heart of fashionable Recoleta, but the Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt has many devotees. (I also hear good things about the new Algodon Mansion, and intend to pay the place a visit later in the year.) In November/December—spring in the Southern Hemisphere—the sky is generally clear, the humidity is low, and the city is awash with purple jacaranda. It is also the time of the championships at Palermo, the so-called “Cathedral of Polo.” Matches are often attended by up to 25,000 people from all over the world.

New York Steak

Which is your favorite steakhouse in New York City? M.C.

Yes, I know about Peter Luger, and Sparks, and Smith & Wollensky. Fine places, all. But for me, a steakhouse that really says “New York” is Keens (72 West 36th Street. Tel. 212-947-3636). Of course, there is the superb meat. But the atmosphere is a big part of the place’s appeal. Dating to 1885, Keens has wood paneling that has acquired the dark patina of time and, overhead, an extraordinary collection of clay churchwarden pipes registered in the names of luminaries such as Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt, Stanford White and J.P. Morgan. Add the superb wine list and an admirable selection of single malts, and you have the ingredients for a great night out in New York.

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