Rediscovering the Hidden Gems of Jamaica’s Rich History

Rediscovering the Hidden Gems of Jamaica’s Rich History

Hidden Gems of Jamaica

Photo Credit: Bahia Principe

There aren’t a lot of places on Earth like Jamaica. The island country is celebrated globally for its easy-going lifestyle, rich history and exceptional rum—their national spirit of choice. As one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations for luxury travelers, resort living can be glorious when you can anchor your vacay at properties such as the all-inclusive Luxury Bahia Principe Runaway Bay. Located right outside of Ocho Rios and about 90 minutes from Montego Bay, the resort offers an adults-only atmosphere, loads of restaurants and bars, plus attentive butler service within their Don Pablo Collection. Their luxury services also include 24-hour room service, an evening turndown service, a lavender aroma oil that aids in relaxation and pillow menus to comfort even the most fastidious of sleepers. The property offers multiple tours and excursions to various landmarks, that you’ll definitely want to take advantage of during your stay.

Hidden Gems of Jamaica

 

Located near the Southern part of Jamaica in Santa Cruz, you’ll want to tour the island’s most popular rum distillery, the eco-friendly Appleton Estate. This rum has a unique taste due to the limestone filtered water located on the property. Appleton’s manufacturing process is emission-free, thus preserving the beautiful countryside that Jamaica is known for. During the tour, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to meet Joy Spence, a former chemist and the rum industry’s first female Master Blender. The touring portion of the distillery is currently undergoing a well-needed renovation and will reopen in November 2017—a perfect time to visit Jamaica.

Hidden Gems of Jamaica

 

Jamaica is one of the brightest jewels in the Caribbean, with some of the most pristine beaches you’ll ever place your toes on. But what many don’t take the time to discover about Jamaica is their mythical mountains. The Blue Mountains are the longest range in the country and they dominate the Eastern portion of the island. Spread over four parishes, this portion of the country produces what many consider the world’s best coffee. Blue Mountain Coffee is cultivated as high as 5,000 feet and is one of the highest priced coffees on the market. Jamaican government officials are attempting to legislate to have this region named as specific to their coffee as the Champagne and Cognac regions in France. Besides coffee tasting, the activities in the Blue Mountain region range from climbing to ziplining to bird watching, making it an ideal destination for naturalists, yogis and adventure seekers.

If you’re continuing to look for off-beat tours, never forget that one of the richest and most storied pirate histories belongs to Jamaica. Their lost city of Port Royal served as the buccaneer headquarters of the Caribbean and both specially guided dive tours and walking tours are available. Located near the current capital of Kingston, Port Royal was famously known for its wealth, high crime and prostitution. This combination led to Port Royal being dubbed the “most wicked and sinful city in the world.” In addition to pirates, the infamous settlement was also home to many privateers including Captain Henry Morgan, the namesake of the popular rum brand. But it all changed in 1692 when much of the city, which was located on Kingston Harbour, was devastated by an earthquake. The “Sodom of the New World” also suffered a series of hurricanes and a great fire.

Today, much of the pirate-popular port remains remarkably intact under the sea. To explore it you’ll need a special license that must be applied for and approved before your arrival. Not far from the ruins, you’ll find the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. While not a “hidden gem,” per se, it’s difficult to be so close to the birthplace of a musical legend and not lay your eyes on this special landmark.

Including a few simple tours into your luxury Jamaican getaway can not only enhance the experience, it’ll ensure you return home with a sense of the pride and love that all Jamaicans have for their beloved homeland.

How A “Regular Brooklyn Kid” Became One Of NYC’s Hottest Menswear Designers

How A “Regular Brooklyn Kid” Became One Of NYC’s Hottest Menswear Designers

A man in the right suit is a powerful thing. Such is the knowledge of designer, fashion influencer and overall dapper dresser Davidson Petit-Frère. At the tender age of 27, the native Brooklynite already has two successful brands under his belt, Musika Frère and Lavati. Both brands outfit some of the biggest names in the game, be it on the court or the silver screen. Davidson counts A-listers like Steph Curry, Kevin Hart, Chris Evans, and Jay-Z among his clients, but the list is ever growing. JustLuxe recently sat down with the designer to pick his brain about where men’s fashion is headed and how he intends to dominate it.

Classic grey suit paired with a classic pair of all white lows. #Gentleman #MusikaFrere #Lavati

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After a brief stint in college, an 18-year old Davidson left academia behind to pursue a career in real estate. Despite achieving success in his field at an incredibly young age, he quickly found that his passion lay somewhere other than in buying and selling property. Working in the high-powered New York City real estate world often meant dressing the part—something that Davidson enjoyed more as his career wore on. At 21, after growing an avid fanbase through his Instagram and an impressive lsit of personal contacts, he chose to leave his first profession to pursue fashion full-time. When asked about the gravity of that transition, he simply states that, “it’s not about the money at the end of the day. It’s about loving what you do.” A year later, his first collection was born.

davidson frere

Musika Frère, Davidson’s first fashion label, is the brainchild he shares with business partner and former Tom Ford Miami ambassador Aleks Musika. The two collaborated heavily, scouring the globe for the best manufacturers and designers that could create a product that would garner respect and, ultimately, admiration for their clientele. In his own words, “we had to crawl before we could walk…we focused heavily on the craftsmanship and DNA of our brand before anything else.” Musika Frère began bespoke, creating custom-tailored suits that gave their audience an outlet to create exactly what they wanted to see in fashion. While the brand has moved some of their wares to their online boutique, having one-on-one, custom contact with their clients is still at the heart of their business. The label has also moved on to staging fashion shows, showcasing at their first Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in September 2014.

When it comes to dressing clients, there are few fashion boundaries that the design duo isn’t willing to push; bold hues, custom fits and luxurious fabrics are all par for the course. The inspiration for this ethos comes from a variety of sources, including Davidson’s own father, a Haitian-born engineer with a passion for colorful, well-tailored workwear. Davidson claims his aesthetic is also informed by a desire to, “remix the past and make it more modern,” citing style icons such as Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren and Michael Jackson among his most influential muses. If there was anyone he’d want to dress for the future? “Idris Elba, Tom Brady, Migos and definitely Ryan Gosling—these are men that are all impactful in their fields and portray that look through their clothes,” he remarks.

lavati

Davidson’s sartorial talents aren’t relegated solely to clothes—he’s now making a name for himself in luxury footwear. His latest endeavor with co-founder Yossi Benshetrit is called Lavati, which roughly translates to “clean” from Italian. Clean is the right adjective for the line’s style, featuring classic shapes such as the Chelsea boot, as well as more contemporary sneakers that can be dressed up or down. Each shoe is crafted in Italy by hand, using the highest quality leathers and manufacturers available. To select each component for his collections, Davidson personally flies to Italy to ensure that every piece of product is the best of the best. “I’m not a do-things-by-phone kind of guy… It’s important that I see every step of that process firsthand.” He goes on that, “the same client that loves a Jordan 1 or a Yeezy would ideally purchase a Lavati shoe. The consumer will buy what they love because they know quality.”

The wait is over. All pairs have been restocked ✈️ #LAVATI #HandMade

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Though design is an important facet of his business, Davidson makes it clear, “I’ve always said that I’m an entrepreneur first and a designer second.” He credits much of his success to the accessibility and marketing available on social media. He claims that it “all started on Instagram. The hashtag allows someone to be seen in seconds, which gives you amazing press and your audience an outlet for their own content.” Ultimately though, the business always comes back to the clients. What drives Davidson Petit-Frère is not necessarily fame or money—it’s the opportunity to create a quality product that makes his customers feel good. “All fashion really is a boost for your self-esteem. Having the ability to give someone a temporary boost of confidence is why we do this. We put our heart and soul into our products so that our customers feel that and will want to come back for life.”

Despite his already myriad successes so early in life, Davidson isn’t ready to stop there. He plans to scale up Musika Frère in the coming years to include a wider range of accessories and designs, eventually making the brand even more accessible to consumers worldwide. When it comes to fashion, there are few limits to what this designer is ready to do.

Victorinox’s I.N.O.X. V Proves that Strong is the New Pretty

Victorinox’s I.N.O.X. V Proves that Strong is the New Pretty

Victorinox’s I.N.O.X.

Photo Credit: Victorinox

Why should men have all the fun? Victorinox’s rugged-but-sexy I.N.O.X. men’s watch collection stylishly handles everyday adventures, and is virtually indestructible having withstood more than 130 stringent durability tests including being run over by a steamroller. It’s shock-, temperature- and water-resistant, keeping time in extreme environments, and paired with a Naimakka military-grade paracord strap, it’s a potentially life-saving combination.

With the introduction of the tough-but-beautiful I.N.O.X. V, it’s now in touch with its feminine side, and is just the sort of thing Wonder Woman wishes she had instead of that clunky pocket watch she inherited. Made for self-empowered, multi-tasking wonder women everywhere, the sculptural ladies’ timepiece has a 37mm stainless steel case with a scratch-resistant, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova hands and indexes and a Ronda 715 Swiss-made quartz movement. Four models make up the I.N.O.X. V range, including a crisp white dial with rose-gold details, and a black dial/black rubber strap version that acts as the Little Black Dress of the collection. Two sporty pieces – in dark blue and soft grey — have a paracord strap that can spring into action… sort of like Wonder Woman’s rope of truth. It even passes the “handbag challenge,” surviving clashes with metal keys, loose change, oily hand lotion, and corrosive insect repellent. And like the wondrous Princess of Themyscira, I.N.O.X. V watches can also be cleverly accessorized with a matching shield, supplied with each watch.

5 Luxurious Boats You Can Take for a Spin this Summer

boat rentals

Photos Credit: SAILO

Picture this: you’re spending a summer afternoon in the sun, a salty breeze blowing through your hair as you sip on another glass of Dom Perignon. Is there anything better? We didn’t think so. The only problem with boats is that they require a lot of maintenance—swabbing the poop deck is about as unglamorous as it sounds. Lucky for wannabe sea-farers around the world, SAILO has solved some of the problems associated with boat ownership. The self-proclaimed “Airbnb of boats,” the brand opens the arena for boat owners to rent their vessels to those looking for a short-term voyage. Boats range from everything to your standard catamaran to some of the world’s most luxurious mega-yachts, so what are you waiting for? Here are a few ultra-luxe options you can take for a spin on the high seas this summer:

New York City, New York

The city that never sleeps knows how to do things big, bright and bold. This 95-foot yacht has been previously rented out by royalty, presidents and celebrities. Built in 1987, the boat has been completely re-outfitted to include an elegant salon and full-service bar. In addition to the amenities on board, a full crew of three or four is available to cater meals and provide dinner and cocktail services. You and your eleven closest friends can sail the high seas around Brooklyn, the Hamptons, and the Hudson River for a cool $16,200 for a full day.

sailo

Miami, Florida

Some like it hot, especially when they’re in Miami. The interiors of this luxurious vessel are inspired by the French fashion house Hermés. Each of the ship’s cabins resembles a high-end hotel room, with glossy veneers and state-of-the-art amenities. For those interested in water sports, the ship comes equipped with a water ski, wakeboard tower, kayaks and snorkeling equipment. While on your voyage, enjoy a glass of champagne on the flybridge before lounging on one of the many lush sofas strewn across the decks. This watercraft can be yours for the summer for $18,500 per day.

sailo

Treasure Cay, Bahamas

If you want to be a Bahama mama, taking a trip down south is imperative. For $5,975 a week, you can live out all of your snorkeling and diving dreams on a weeklong trip in one of the most picturesque locations in the world. If an extended fishing trip is more your speed, the vessel comes equipped with a set of fishing rods perfect for any skill level. The ship is run by a husband-and-wife team that cater to guests every need, be it picking out the perfect wine for an evening by the fireplace, or accommodating dining restrictions.

sailo

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun has been known as a spring break hotspot for years, but it’s now gaining traction among the well-heeled. Travel along the Yucatàn Peninsula in this 50-foot sea-faring vehicle enjoying drinks from the open bar before jumping in the sea for a swim. Cancun is known as one of the best places to snorkel in the world, so be sure to grab a pair of the boat’s gear before exploring the depths. The vessel can accommodate up to 40 people on board at one time, making the $4,000 per day price tag a steal.

sailo

Sag Harbor, NY

Turning heads in the Hamptons is no easy feat. This 86-foot Azimut vessel, complete with dashing red panels, will attract attention wherever you go. In addition to four staterooms that can sleep up to eight guests, there are both front and back sundecks for ultimate outdoor relaxation. Drop anchor in the marina along the Hamptons main drag, where you can enjoy the best high-end shops and restaurants that Long Island has to offer. This ship is available for rent for $9,500 per day, no biggie.

Private Jet Card Comparisons: A New Consumer-Centric Website For Buying A Private Jet Card

Private Jet Card Comparisons: A New Consumer-Centric Website For Buying A Private Jet Card

Private Jet

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Private jet cards are often compared to debit cards, in that a person pays money into an account, then as they fly, money is deducted out of the account.  It is the same way as when a customer goes to the grocery store and picks up food. But the comparison ends here, because there is much more to choosing a private jet than choosing fruit or a loaf of sourdough bread.  With private jets, big money at stake. The cost of jet cards is typically between $100,000 and $500,000, a little more expensive than a bag of groceries.

The information necessary in determining such a private jet choice is exhibited on a new consumer-friendly website, comparing over 100 jet card programs across 65 variables.

Private Jet

Photo Credit: Concord Private Jets

 

Private Jet Card Comparisons is a new website, launched in late April. It is the idea of Doug Gollan, a media executive and journalist, who created the site after he couldn’t find any independent and comprehensive sources that enabled easy comparisons for those who wish to use private jets as their preferred model of travel.

The site makes it easier for consumers to find the program and the brand that best fits their needs, saving users hours in research and tens of thousands of dollars, if they make the wrong choice, which, Mr. Gollan says, is easy to do.

Before the launch of Private Jet Card Comparisons, a person would receive a recommendation from a friend, but the friend’s flying needs might be different from the person asking for the recommendation.  And, finally making a decision takes time.

Private Jet

Photo Credit: FlexJet

 

Mr. Gollan, in a recent interview said. “You could pay $3,000 to $5,000 to a consultant or you could have your assistant do some Google research. The assistant or consultant would probably find five or six companies, request information, wait for it to be sent, then use the material provided by each company to create some type of comparison charts. With Private Jet Card Comparisons, you go to our site, register and in minutes, you can compare over 100 different programs using the spreadsheets we’ve put together for you.”

It is understood that while price is important, there are major variances in the programs. Here are a few:

  • Reservation time ranges from four hours to seven days
  • How far in advance you need to cancel,
  • Number of peak days, where surcharges range as high as 40 percent, to whether or not you have to pay for de-icing. In addition, the number of peak days in each program differs, with some having less than 10 designated peak days and others ranging to over 50 per year.

“If you are going to be flying in Winter weather,” says Mr. Gollan, “or if you fly during holiday periods, or if you like to make plans and change them at the last minute, each of these elements will impact which program is best for you.”

Private Jet

Photo Credit: Delta Private Jets

 

Also, and of equal relevance, are the variable standards for sourcing aircraft and pilots. Private Jet Card Comparisons explains the number of flight hours each provider requires for the Captain and First Officer, including the number of hours they must have flown in the type of aircraft the Jet Card buyer wishes to use. Other comparison variables include the minimum age for sending unaccompanied minors, extra fees for one-way flights, discounts for roundtrips, extra charges for taxi time, daily minimum charges, what type of catering available, accessibility of WiFi, how much extra to bring pets, and if the provider will guarantee availability of aircraft when the potential customer calls. Some do not.

Private Jet Card Comparisons also tracks other dimensions of interest, all important to those who have the private jet card option: from what the service areas of each program and whether you have choice of FBOs, to if the toilets are enclosed. The website also explains if there are fuel surcharges, and other simple though relevant questions: what happens to money once it is sent to a provider? Is the deposit refundable? Can the customer rollover any unused money or hours? Who owns the Jet company? Do they have their own aircraft or do they charter from other operators?

Private Jet

Photo Credit: Doug Gollan/PJCC

 

The site has had over 20,000 visitors since it launched a few months ago.  Mr. Gollan says about half are private aviation users and more than a third are actively looking for a jet card. He says users vary from the high net and ultra high net worths to their assistants, CFOs and financial analysts who have been asked to provide a comprehensive overview of relevant options, as well as those who are just kicking the tires.

In terms of growth potential, he is optimistic. “Consumers buying jet cards and prepaid private charter programs are spending $50,000 to more than $500,000 making it a significant investment, especially when one considers a 25-hour jet card only covers about two roundtrip flights between New York and Los Angeles. Private Jet Card Comparisons fills a huge gap in the market between winging it and hiring a consultant.”

Anthem House: Baltimore’s Newest $100 Million Apartment Complex Opens in Locust Point

Anthem House: Baltimore’s Newest $100 Million Apartment Complex Opens in Locust Point

anthem house

Photo Credit: Anthem House

Forget what you’ve heard about Baltimore. One of the things this mid-Atlantic industrial town is best known for is its charm—miles of rowhouses, cobblestone streets and the infamous ‘hon’ you’ll hear at any eatery in town can speak to that. It’s not called “Charm City” for nothing. Anthem House, a new $100 million luxury development, is now adding itself among the reasons Baltimore has a growing reputation for cozy, yet quirky experiences.

anthem

Photo Credit: Ray Cavicchio

 

The complex is unlike any in the city thus far, offering top-of-the-line amenities and shared co-working spaces to help foster a feeling of community. There are also well a a litany of perks; a community kitchen that serves handcrafted cocktails, a heated pool with views of the harbor and an around-the-clock concierge. In the lobby, sleek, open spaces flow into the on-site restaurant and bar Amber, which offers healthy grab-and-go fare for those on the run. In addition to an acre of green space on the fourth floor (complete with a grilling station!), the building also provides residents with a 3,800 square-foot gym and wellness area. Pet lovers are also welcome; the facility offers its own dog wash station, as well as a dog run to make sure your furry friend has all their fitness needs met.

anthem

Photo Credit: Ray Cavicchio

 

Part of the inspiration for the complex came from the city of Baltimore itself. Both old and new, historic and propelling itself into the future, the city is never afraid to march to the beat of its own drum. Locust Point, the neighborhood Anthem House is located in, was a significant battleground during the Revolutionary War. In more modern times, it’s a hub for Baltimore’s up-and-comers. The area is also one of the most convenient places to live—it’s easy to get to any of the waterfront neighborhoods in the city via the nearby water taxi or the Charm City Circulator.

anthem

Photo Credit: Ray Cavicchio

 

The complex offers 292 studio, one and two-bedroom upscale apartments with modern finishes and harbor or courtyard views. Residents at Anthem House will be hard-pressed to find a need that goes unfulfilled. In addition to each apartment having its own washer and dryer, select units also provide spacious balconies where you can watch the sunset over the Harbor with friends. When you’re in Charm City, there’s more to see and do than meets the eye. Whether you’re going for a rousing volleyball game at the Sandlot or grabbing a few drinks at Brewer’s Art, Anthem House is becoming a new Baltimore staple and it’s here to stay.

The Most Luxurious Speakeasy in the World: Shangri-La Hotel Paris’s Pop-Up Krug Bar

The Most Luxurious Speakeasy in the World: Shangri-La Hotel Paris’s Pop-Up Krug Bar

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Photos by Eric Rosen

The word speakeasy historically referred to back-alley bars serving up bootlegged booze to less-than-reputable characters. While the term has lately been appropriated by hipsters and high-class establishments alike, it still retains a patina, albeit a rather wry one, of the unsavory. However, one limited-time pop-up bar is bringing the speakeasy style to another level in Paris.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

The Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, has launched “Le Bar à Ciel Ouvert by Krug” for the summer. This so-called bar in the sky is a short-lived partnership between two venerable luxury brands to create a one-of-a-kind experience for hotel guests and parvenus alike.

Le Bar à Ciel has been installed in one of the hotel’s large guestrooms with postcard-perfect views of the Eiffel Tower from its 30-square-meter outdoor terrace, and is open now through August 26, 2017. Its regular hours are from 6:00–11:00 p.m. (remember, it’s in a guestroom, so noise is a consideration). Try for around 8:00 p.m. so you can settle in for the sunset views. There is room for 16 guests out on the terrace and 14 guests inside, so be sure to state a preference (terrace!) when making your reservation.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Guests must make a reservation in advance and will be given a password to share with the front desk. Don’t worry if you forget it, though, they will also have your name down. Simply arrive at the hotel at the appointed time, stop by reception and you will be escorted up to the room in which the bar is located.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Then you’ll be shown to your table or to the bar. The tables on the terrace are rough-cut wooden rounds surrounded by lounge-style outdoor chairs with Krug cushions. Inside, meanwhile, is a small bar top with a few stools, some side seating areas, and standing room.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

The menu of selections includes a plethora of Krug options including everything from a glass (55 euros) to a bottle of Krug Clos D’Ambonnay 2000 (€4,500). There are also specialty cocktails including a Bleu Carré with Johnnie Walker Blue Lable, Zacapa XO, Buckwheat Liqueur, Old Pedro Ximénes and tonka bitters (€55).

Those feeling puckish can opt for small plates and bites including center-cut smoked salmon served with blinis and condiments, a selection of hand-sliced Iberian charcuterie, and Caviar Gold selected by Maison Kaviari served with all the fixings.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Though Parisians and Paris habitués both tend to roll their eyes at the Eiffel Tower, this singular vantage point and the rarefied tasting experience it includes will have you seeing the City of Light with a whole new perspective.

To make a reservation, call +33 (0)1 53 67 19 98.

See How Hennessy Produces the World’s Finest Cognac, One Bottle at a Time

See How Hennessy Produces the World’s Finest Cognac, One Bottle at a Time

Hennessy

Photos Credit: Hennessy

No other name in the spirits world has the elegance and resonance or commands the amount of respect bordering on reverence as that of Hennessy. For over 250 years the brand has stood for excellence, integrity and quality; it’s not only emblematic of the finer things in life but for many thousands of connoisseurs and casual imbibers both, it’s an essential part of it.

Hennessy

Since 1987, the brand has been a cornerstone of the LVMH luxury goods empire, and over its two-and-a-half centuries has been the favored tipple of everyone from emperors and kings to rap moguls and Wall Street tycoons. While Hennessy has of course produced some brilliant marketing campaigns over the years, these would have no real effect if the product itself were not truly exceptional and iconic, nothing less than the world’s finest luxury spirit.

Hennessy

Since its creation Hennessy’s mission has been “unique savoir faire, a constant quest for innovation, and an unwavering commitment to creation, excellence, legacy and sustainable development.” The world’s best-selling Cognac, the brand sells about 50 million bottles a year (more than 40 percent of the world’s supply of Cognac), making it the largest producer and a true international icon.

Hennessy

But even more amazing is that the Maison has managed to retain its air of exclusivity and still continues to operate in the manner of a boutique luxury brand, sacrificing nothing in spite of its astounding success. Hennessy is still produced using time-honored methods; computers do not control its creation, rather that is chiefly the job of the Maison’s Master Blender and its prestigious Tasting Committee, who bring many decades of skill and experience and taste over 10,000 eaux-de-vie each year.

Hennessy

Hennessy Master Blender Yann Fillioux, who has held the post for the past 50 years, is the seventh generation of the Fillioux family to be involved in creating Hennessy Cognacs, and will soon pass the reins to his nephew, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, who will take up the legacy as the eighth generation. For over 200 years the Fillioux family has been associated with Maison Hennessy, as producers or as blenders of eaux-de-vie. At the early age of 19, Yann Fillioux trained at Hennessy under the tutelage of his uncle Maurice. He mastered both selecting and blending the eaux-de-vie that make up Hennessy. “Combining these Cognacs that inspire such emotions, blending them to make the ultimate Cognac that surpasses everything we know about elegance, that is great satisfaction,” Fillioux says.

Hennessy

There has never been a better time to make an excursion to Cognac itself, a pleasant train ride from Paris, to see how the legendary spirit is made. The Maison recently unveiled Les Visites Hennessy, its new visitor circuit in Cognac. This innovative new concept, the first of its kind in Cognac, features a contemporary setting within centuries old buildings, and a multi-sensory “360° vision” of the Maison’s universe including its history, know-how (savoir faire), presence, an initiation to Cognac tasting, and a stunning gift shop which is the only place in the world where every expression of the world-famous spirit can be purchased. In creating the new visitors’ center, particular attention was paid to using materials key to Cognac making, including glass, wood, and copper, tying everything in to the Maison’s impressive legacy of craftsmanship.

Hennessy

Each Hennessy visit features an itinerary made up of several stops, starting with a boat ride on the beautiful Charente River, which affords an overview of the city of Cognac which gives its name to the spirit, and its rich history. There are four categories of tours, offering increasingly immersive experiences, with prices ranging from €16 per person to €220 per person, starting with a basic visit and tasting of Hennessy V.S and V.S.O.P.

Hennessy

Then there is the Hennessy X.O Symbole, a 360-degree visit to the heart of Maison Hennessy to discover its history, know-how and particularly one of its iconic Cognacs, created in 1870, Hennessy X.O., positioned at the top of Hennessy’s core portfolio. In addition to the visitors’ center, the Hennessy Exception tour includes a visit to the Chai du Paradis or “cellar of paradise” where rare eaux-de-vie and Cognacs reside, ending with a tasting of Hennessy X.O. and Hennessy Paradis accompanied by appetizers made by David Fransoret, the Michelin-rated Chef at Hennessy’s historic Château de Bagnolet.

Hennessy

Built in 1801, and acquired by the Hennessy family 40 years later, Château de Bagnolet is like something out of a fairy tale, and no visitor will ever forget the thrill of being at the heart of the Hennessy brand. And for a truly exceptional experience there is Hennessy à la Carte, a made-to-measure program covering the Maison’s most exceptional locations and the behind-the-scenes world of Cognac-making at the iconic brand.

Hennessy

The experience includes a private tour of the vineyards where the grapes that become eaux-de-vie are grown, the magnificent Le Peu distillery built in 1962, the (well guarded) cellar where some of Hennessy’s oldest and unique eaux-de-vie, dating back to 1800 are stored, and the barrel-making workshop or cooperage which provides the casks essential for maturing the finest Cognacs, as well as a comprehensive tasting session specially designed for understanding the processes of aging and assembling eaux-de-vie.

What Makes Chardonnay a Chablis?

What Makes Chardonnay a Chablis?

Wine

Photo Credit: Wines of Chablis

The word Chablis is said to derive from two Celtic words: cab (house) and leya (near the wood). The village and surrounding wine region of Chablis is situated near Champagne, France in Bourgogne’s northern extremity between Paris and Beaune. Over 13,300 acres packed with vineyards comprises four appellations that flourish in gray marl and bands of limestone, rich in Exogyra virgula fossils (a small comma-shaped oyster) dating back 150 million years. The soil combined with a semi-continental climate far from maritime influences challenges vines with harsh winters, unpredictable springs, and hot summers yielding highly complimentary balances of sugar and acidity in the grapes.

Wine

Photo Credit: Wines of Chablis

 

It’s easy to keep the varietal of Chablis wines straight since they’re all made from the Chardonnay grape. The common adage that ‘Chablis is Chardonnay, but not every Chardonnay is Chablis’ springs from the purity and wide range of distinct aromatic variations in Chablis that can’t be derived from Chardonnay grapes grown anywhere else.

Wine

Photo Credit: Burgundy Tourism

 

The actual Village of Chablis dates back to the Roman era. Later during the 9th century, Charles the Bald commissioned a small church built at the mouth of Vaucharmes valley dedicating it to Saint Marie in commemoration of his victory in the battle of Fontenoy. Charles later came to the rescue in A.C. 867 providing refuge for Benedictine monks fleeing Vikings advancing up the Loire. They soon established vineyards supporting their mission but ultimately, the Cistercian monks built Chablis into the wine making region you see today.

Wine

Wines of Chablis

 

Fast forward to the 1500s when royal tables in Paris regularly showcased Chablis thanks to the River Yonne trade route long before railways were established. Over the ensuing centuries, setbacks like phylloxera and World War I decimating the vineyard workforce challenged Chablis’ longstanding wine making heritage. But vineyards rose to the occasion reinvigorating blighted vines by grafting phylloxera resistant root stock while the loss of workers in this case thankfully coincided with mechanization. Winemakers also learned to mitigate the hazard of spring frosts killing newly formed buds with chaufferettes (heaters) and aspersion, a technique of spraying water on vines which freezes on contact creating a protective ice cocoon.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Drouhin Vaudon

 

Many vineyards today are multi-generational keeping traditional wine making approaches alive while building on the knowledge and technological advancements acquired by formal training and exposure abroad.

Domaine Drouhin Vaudon – Chablis 2015

Situated in a historic 18th-century watermill straddling the Serein River, Drouhin Domaine headquarters overlooks their 95 acre estate where Chardonnay vines have been planted for centuries. Current owner Joseph Drouhin’s father Robert was considered a pioneer in the 1960s for revitalizing Chablis vineyards when they neared complete abandonment. He implemented Double Guyot ‘Vallée de la Marne’ pruning to resist frost and decrease yield. Grapes are pressed very slowly, capturing the widest range of fruit characteristics while aging takes place in vats for seven or eight months, resulting in an easy-to-drink dry wine full of nuances.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Drouhin Vaudon

 

Fresh aromas reminiscent of lemon and grapefruit buttressed by dry fruity mineral notes give it a long and pleasant finish. A sparkling chalkiness successfully cuts through grilled meats while a biting thirst quenching kick to the back of the throat is made possible by an astringency that reveals juxtaposing characteristics like tart citrus and hints of candied fruit.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Denis Race

 

Domaine Denis Race – 2015 Petit Chablis

This fourth generation estate nestled in the heart of Chablis is planted with vineyard parcels ranging in age from two to 65 years totaling 44 acres. After formal training in 2005, the owners’ second daughter Claire has been working here and plans to take over the estate when the time is right. Pneumatically pressed grapes distinctly exhibit well structured honeyed citrus on the nose with astringent lemon drop limestone on the palate. A slight effervescence pervades the mouth feel with a lively heightened minerality strong enough to pair elegantly with sharp cheeses. Even Holds its own after coffee and chocolate.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Vocoret Et Fils

 

Domaine Vocoret Et Fils – 2013 Chablis Premier Cru

On one of the largest domaines with over 100 acres of vines in Chablis, Vocorets have made wines for three generations still matured in large oak foudres. Michel is now responsible for managing the vineyards while brother Claude is in charge of the wine making.

Controlled alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel yields well-balanced structure and clean filtered chalkiness on the mouthfeel stabilizing on the palate with sharp lemon zest and stone fruit notes. Piercing thirst quenching attributes of tart green apple and fresh greens reluctantly yield to fruitier complexities with hints of ripe peach, cherry, and pear along with a crisp melange of spices defined by whatever dish it’s paired with.

Wine

Photo Credit: Vignoble Dampt Freres

 

Vignoble Dampt Freres Les Fourneaux – 2014 Chablis Premier Cru

Vignoble Dampt Freres represents a collaborative approach to wine making with the domaine encompassing 150 parcels in the three valleys of Yonne, Serein, and Armancon.

Vintners here have a long heritage of taking a holistic approach to grape growing embracing environmentally-friendly viticulture in a big way. Cultivating a healthy relationship between vine, soil, climate, and environment means plants become naturally resistant to pests and diseases while grapes ripen at a more even pace. Instead of weed killers, pesticides, or anti-botrytis, natural treatments like nettle and valerian root are used as natural pest deterrents.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Laroche

 

This genuine approach in the vineyardssets the stage for an exceptional tasting experience. You get a crystalline hue in the glass with a hefty mouth feel uncharacteristic for a white. Yeast pokes through solid lemon with hints of pear and floral notes. Clean and crisp high minerality is tempered with luscious fruit sugars providing a yin and yang duality of sharp freshness with rich fruit nectars enriched by aging.Cuts through and complements fatty grilled lamb and other meats with aplomb.

Chef Shane Robilliard on Lobster Decadence at a Billionaire’s Resort

Chef Shane Robilliard on Lobster Decadence at a Billionaire’s Resort

Fox Harb’r

Photos Credit: Fox Harb’r Resort

Fox Harb’r resort offers sanctuary in many forms. The resort is a culinarian’s delight; situated on the eastern tip of Nova Scotia and about 90 minutes from Halifax, the area is hugged by the Northumberland Strait and Fox Harbour. Whether you decide to fly right into the property via private charter/jet plane or opt for private car service, owner Ron Joyce (co-founder of Tim Horton’s) envisioned a luxury resort that highlighted the natural beauty of Nova Scotia, his home province. From a sprawling, award-winning golf course to indulgent spa retreats and horseback riding to seaside hikes, perhaps the most alluring aspect is the world-class cuisinefound on the property.

Fox Harb’r

There are three options when at the resort: The Willard, Cape Cliff, and In-room dining. The first is in casual, laid-back digs, akin to a seafarer’s bar that includes an outdoor terrace. It’s the ideal place for a happy-hour drinks or post-golfing relaxation especially after tackling the back nine. As well, The Willard is famed for its “Flaming Hole in One Burger” that features seafood chowder, fresh oysters on an open faced beef and roast tomato sandwich topped with aged white cheddar. In-room dining offers a wealth of meal options from Nova Scotia blueberry pancakes with maple sausage, line-caught halibut, to chilled seafood platters.

But for an upscale experience, opt for Cape Cliff, which overlooks Fox Harb’r’s 18th green, and proudly boasts as Atlantic Canada’s first sustainable seafood restaurant. It is here you can indulge in lobster dishes for every meal of the day.

Fox Harb’r

The visionary behind the gourmet dining experience is Chef Shane Robilliard and his culinary brigade. He’s been with Fox Harb’r for three years so far and has built a robust culinary program from the ground up, with a focus on offering sustainable seafood, as well as a self-sustaining organic greenhouse. In fact, his menus are a reflection of the fresh fishery options in Nova Scotia—but the difference here is that all meals are sustainable so that visitors can return and enjoy the same dishes for years to come.

In an interview with Chef, he talks to JustLuxe about his gastronomic passions, working with legend Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and his future culinary projects.

JustLuxe: Was there a culinary program in place prior to you arriving at Fox Harb’r resort?

Shane Robilliard: No, but it was a fantastic opportunity to initiate these ideas and have them take-off. The primary focus was golf before, but today we’re quickly becoming one of the top food destinations in Eastern Canada.

Fox Harb’r

JL: What programming have you initiated?

SR: Here’s an overview: All our food is sourced within a 30 mile radius. We’re one of the only Ocean Wise certified partners, which is a non-profit organization out of Vancouver, Canada; it endeavors to educate people about sustainable food practices for both businesses and consumers. We have our own organic greenhouse and currently, we grow about 40% of all the produce consumed on property. Lastly, we’ve just created a vineyard and will be producing our own brand of wines early next year.

JL: You mentioned earlier that sustainability is a passion of yours. Can you elaborate on this?

SR: Alice waters is one of my food icons (I actually staged with her at Chez Panisse years ago), as well as Dan Barber. In a way, you can say I was inspired by both to initiate farming and sustainability projects on Fox Harb’r. But, we’ve got a way to go. And I’m up to the challenge. Educating people and exercising sustainable food practices overall on the East Coast hasn’t quite caught on yet — especially compared with the pace of the West Coast where practically all restaurants are Ocean Wise certified. Even though cod stocks collapsed two decades ago, all Atlantic provinces are still trying to recover. In the meantime, I’m trying to advocate for sustainable aquaculture and fishing practices. We only use Ocean Wise certified products. For instance, we use in-pond salmon and striped bass; all our halibut is line-caught, and we produce/raise our own trout on the property.

Fox Harb’r

JL: Does farm-raised salmon and other types of fish taste different than those caught in the wild? What about the pens themselves? Do they affect the natural environment in any way?

SR: Ocean Wise was started by the Vancouver Aquarium and so they put a lot of R&D into cultivating and promoting sustainable practices—this includes the “tanks” which are surrounded by rock quarries and always filter in fresh water. It is therefore self-contained and will not negatively impact the natural environment. As well, since the fish are not just lazing about in these pens, the force-flow of water (along with organic and nutrient-dense feed) creates the same conditions of that of the wild—so as a result you get a product, that is in my opinion, far more flavorful than wild- caught salmon, for instance.

JL: Where else do you source ingredients?

SR: As locally as possible. Our jumbo scallops and oysters are from nearby Malagash, our maple syrup comes from Earltown, and chickens from Holdanca Farms in Wallace. I’ll also make a weekly visit to Truro Farmers’ Market to buy fresh produce we’re not growing (yet) in our organic greenhouse.

Fox Harb’r

JL: You’re working with an on-site horticulturist for your greenhouse initiatives?

SR: Yes, it’s incredibly satisfying to use ingredients literally from our own backyard. I work with Michael Stewart who has grown me (in this year alone) 6 tons of head lettuce, three tons of tomatoes, and 1.5 tons of peppers. We’re always expanding the types of produce he grows for the property and it includes cucumbers, herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, dill, coriander), zucchini, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, and green beans. So far, about 40 percent of all the vegetation eaten is supplied by our greenhouse.

JL: That is exciting. Also, it has been said that you’re raising the profile of the property with a culinary series?

SR: Yes, we’re bolstering the overall culinary “foodie” experience by hosting and collaborating with numerous celebrity chefs. Since we began three years ago, we’ve hosted Chefs Lynn Crawford and Massimo Capra. Next year, we’ll be hosting another Canadian top chef, Vikram Vij. As well, we’ve been involved with the Devour Food Film Festival and its culinary program. And of course, we’re known for our famous lobster boils and feasts… it’s something that guests never want to miss out on.

Fox Harb’r

JL: With Canada offering a wealth of multicultural tastes, how would you describe your cooking style?

SR: I like to cook Italian a lot; I enjoy fresh, clean flavors, but most importantly, to not mess around too much with quality ingredients—my aim is to enhance already delicious produce from our sea. I love to work with seafood, as you can tell. It’s so versatile and it’s probably why I ensure that you can order it any time of day! This is probably the ultimate in experiencing Nova Scotia luxury: tucking into a gigantic lobster drizzled with sweet drawn butter.

JL: What does the future hold for you and Fox Harb’r?

SR: We’re hoping to open an intimate inn: about a 50-seater for more experimental and avant-garde cuisine. Also our Operations Manager, Peter Phillips, is overseeing our vineyard growth and production. Once we produce our own wines, we are hoping to have a food and drink pairing series. Currently, we spotlight great wines from our province, including from the nearby Jost Vineyards.

Once our vineyard is fully operational, we’re probably going to open a food shack right on the shoreline and build a gazebo so people can host events and weddings; it’s all to help spread the word about our hidden gem.