Our editors share what’s captured their attention this month.
Fodor’s Faves is a new monthly column where our editors, writers, and staff share their current obsessions. From hotels and restaurants to books and products, these are the places and things we can’t stop thinking about.
A Design-y Desert Retreat
I love New York City, but lately, I find myself yearning for desert. Maybe it’s pre-Spring angst or just my current lack of heat and starry skies, but I’m craving—very specifically—a terracotta-and-beehive-fireplace-filled desert retreat and the company of spiny succulents who pose their alien, organic shapes against endless starry skies and low-hung moons. Meanwhile, I am acting like a middle-finger-shaped cactus, needling New Yorkers who dare bump against me on the subway.
Yes, I need some desert in my life and I’m swooning over Posada, the Tucson, Arizona rental from the design duo behind The Joshua Treehouse. I follow The Joshua Treehouse on Instagram and obsessively pin their bohemian, desert-chic Airbnb interiors to both my “Weekend House Inspiration” and “You Deserve This” collection boards (yes, I practice both manifestation and affirmation while Insta-scrolling.) Sara and Rich Combs became Insta-famous with their rustic-but-luxe Joshua Treehouse properties in the Mojave Desert but I’m really feeling their most recent oasis in the Sonoran Desert. Nestled into a canyon next to Saguaro National Park, Posada is a five-suite inn set on 38 acres of Saguaro cacti, native plants, and an abundance of wildlife. The vibes are warm and inviting, with carefully designed spaces decorated in neutral tones and natural textures to meld with the incredible surrounding landscape. This incredible retreat is designed to cater to larger groups, but I am daydreaming of escaping my overcrowded subway car to enjoy the canyon pool, large fire pit, and panoramic rooftop views of the desert all by myself.
A Next Level Cocktail Bar
Accomplice Bar, located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mar Vista, makes cocktails that are so delicious and so unlike anything else, you’ll forever struggle to justify ponying up $16 for a signature drink that’s basically a regular old fashioned with, like, a sprig of rosemary tossed on top. Order up a Honduran Hurricane (a fruity tiki-type drink with “the tropical notes in coffee”) or a Creme de Rand (made with Japanese whiskey, mango, creme de banane, and cardamom) while sharing some squid ink xiao long bao and braised pork belly from the Taiwanese comfort food restaurant, Little Fatty, which shares the space with Accomplice.
These Koalas in Australia That Can Use Your Help
From September of last year until just last month, Australia suffered through a series of devastating bushfires, all amounting to one of the worst wildfire seasons in their history. By the time the fires were finally extinguished, more than 44 million acres burned (a landmass more than twice the size of Austria), 34 lost their lives, and an estimated 1 billion animals perished. And, Australia needs our help to recover.
One of the easiest ways to help is to get on a plane and take a vacation to Australia—they really can use your tourism dollars. But you can help even without leaving your home, which brings us to my fave of the month: the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital koala adoption program. From the comfort of your couch, you can adopt one of the 18 koalas currently housed at the hospital—it only costs $40 AUD (about $26) and you’ll get an e-certificate that you can print out and frame (I’ve got mine on my desk).
I adopted a little fella named Paul (you can also e-adopt him if you like). Paul was found at the Lake Innes Nature Reserve, where a volunteer found him “curled up on the burnt ground.” He had burns on his hands and feet and 90% of his body was singed. But, there’s good news! He’s currently doing very well in the rehab yard. He’s expected to be able to climb again within the month and, if all goes well, he’ll be released into the wild in the winter.
In addition to the Koala Hospital, there are a number of other places you can donate to help the koalas, including the Koala Clancy Foundation and the Taronga Conservation Society of Australia. Zoos South Australia and Zoos Victoria have also both set up bushfire recovery donations efforts. And the Australian Koala Foundation and the World Wildlife Foundation both have adopt-a-koala programs.
A Different Kind of All-Inclusive Resort
I just returned from a trip to Palmaia in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the capital of cheesy all-inclusives. But Palamia is different: It’s a brand-new resort with a truly unique concept that’s a mashup between a luxury all-inclusive hotel and a boutique wellness resort. There’s yoga, meditation, an in-house astrologer, sunset ceremonies on the beach, and a shaman that leads groups through a cleansing ritual in the temazcal. At night there’s cocktails and dancing to DJ sets so you can retox before the next day’s detox. It’s kind of like a giant bacchanalian festival at a chic rehab in the jungle. I can’t wait to go back.
The Perfect All-Natural Moisturizer for Dry Skin
For years I have been looking for the perfect moisturizer for my dry skin–I tried thick expensive balms and many hyaluronic acids. While all of these worked fine, the results were not impressive enough to dignify the price tag, nor did they tend to hold up as well when dry winter-weather came around. After spending hours reading article after article and tons of reviews, the one name that kept coming up was Weleda. The company’s Skin Food was being celebrated by makeup artists, skin-care fanatics, and was even on Victoria Beckham’s top-shelf.
The reviews held up, and my skin went from dull and patchy to soft and glowing (you can toss your highlighters because you won’t need them anymore). The price is unbeatable (less than $15), and a little bit goes a long way. Where I had been slathering my skin in other products and running through the tubs quicker than I could afford, this cheap little tube lasts me about four months. It is perfect for morning or night, for tired travel skin (I keep this in my carry on and right at landing rinse my face to add a fresh new layer), and seasonably dry skin. Bonus: The company is working to reduce its carbon footprint by partnering with TerraCycle to make recycling the bottles even easier.
Dinner at the Versace Mansion
My latest Netflix binge, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, recently inspired a memorable dinner on South Beach. The iconic Villa Casa Casuarina (aka Gianni Versace’s home from 1992 until his death on its steps in 1997) was star of the show—so I was excited to learn you can actually eat and sleep there. While normally I wouldn’t touch most of Ocean Drive with a ten-foot pole, I had to go for the experience of it all—to see the historic 1930s mansion, to walk where Versace walked, and to snap a photo at the show-stopping tiled pool. And it didn’t disappoint: The multi-color light display is mesmerizing. The setting is opulent. The Italian-Mediterranean food is good (not the best in Miami, but worth the price, considering Miami Beach basically invented overpriced food). And it’s not at all the tourist-shuffling nightmare it could be, probably because many people don’t know you can dine here without booking a room. You have to book in advance, but it’s simple to snag a lunch or dinner reservation on OpenTable. If you want to spend less than $100, split the charcuterie board with friends then order truffle gnocchi and a glass of wine, or if you want to splurge like you’re a fashion designer, order the caviar and Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Go early and look the part to snag the table front and center next to the pool. Wherever you’re seated, this is a great introduction to the ostentation of Miami.
A Rave in a Cave
When most people think of Wales, they tend to think of it as an extension of England: quaint villages, rolling hills, charming seaside towns with fish-and-chip shops. But Welsh culture is actually quite distinctive in a million different ways and recently the country has been making an effort to stand out for its adventure tourism, an initiative that I am now declaring a raging success.
The key has been reimaging some of the region’s many former industrial sites, turning them into adventure parks, glamping sites, and even self-contained surf spots. Ziplining, in particular, is having a moment, with Zip World now offering the world’s fastest and highest (and Europe’s longest) zipline along with several zipline paths within slate caverns and quarries. For many years, Wales was one of the world’s biggest slate producers and as the industry declined, the country was left with an abundance of hollowed-out caves that fell into disuse. The perfect solution? Add a trampoline and some ’80s and ’90s dance music, and you get Bounce Below, another Zip World invention, where guests can enjoy a few hours on a trampoline adventure course within a former slate cavern, accompanied by the perfect soundtrack. It’s where I want to spend every birthday party for the rest of my life.
A Movie-Going Experience You Won't Soon Forget
The Alamo Drafthouse, which arrived in Los Angeles just last year, is, frankly, awesome. From a movie-lover’s perspective (mine), it’s an oasis/es—there are 41 theaters across the country—complete with leather recliners, gourmet-style meals, and, at select locations, onsite DVD rental stores with thousands of titles. The theater(s) also regularly serves up retrospectives presented by respected filmmakers and special showings, like the consistently-sold out “Cats Rowdy Screening.” And, good news for you, the company just announced that it will be offering a subscription service called “Season Pass,” which allows customers access to one movie per day for the low price of up to $29 per month, depending upon the location. I say “low” because a standard ticket price is around $18.
This Uber-Hydrating Face Serum
The act of travel, in general, can be extremely dehydrating (planes!) and being in a new climate can make your skin freak out a little bit. This is why I will not travel–or live, generally–without the Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate by Kiehl’s. It’s described as “an efficacious hydrating serum that helps moisturize, plump and smooth skin,” and let me tell you what, that is exactly what it is, in addition to being Generally The Best Thing I’ve Ever Bought. The serum hydrates with intensity, and makes the skin on my face go from “looking like wood” to “looking like regular human skin again.” If you are feeling seriously dehydrated like I am 100% of the time while traveling, first of all, drink some water, and second of all, put this serum on your dry little face and enjoy your vacation time. Is it pricey? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. And frankly, NOTHING–not one thing–is worth $60 to me, regularly, so you legally have to believe me.
This Summer Camp-Themed Music Festival
I’m semi-obsessed with a music collective based in Brooklyn called The Wild Honey Pie. Once a month they host very dreamy three-course dinner parties in cozy restaurants throughout New York, LA, Nashville, New Orleans, and Austin, each with live music ($50 covers dinner and unlimited drinks). And not just any live music: some of the best and coolest indie musicians in the scene. This Memorial Day Weekend they are bringing their music festival/adult summer camp Welcome Campers back to Camp Lenox in Otis, Massachusetts, in the quintessentially quaint and scenic Berkshires (where I happen to be from). It lasts for two days and three nights, accommodating around 400 attendees. Guests stay in shared bunks (just like real summer camp!), listen to live music in the woods, do yoga, dine, and play games. Tickets start at $300 and cover food, drinks, and lodging, and the chance to revisit your youth if only for a weekend. Performing this year will be Vagabon, Sasami, Haley Heynderickx, Salt Cathedral, Jennah Bell, and many more. Check out one of last year’s performances at Welcome Campers here to get a sense of what you can expect. Transportation will be available by bus to and from McCarren Park in Brooklyn for $75 round trip.