The view from a 37th floor suite. Note the yacht docked in the foreground. Yes, that's a helicopter on its aft deck.

The view from a 37th floor suite. Note the yacht docked in the foreground. Yes, that’s a helicopter on its aft deck.

There’s a little something I love to do, and that is luxuriate. It’s a way to approach life. It’s a state of mind. It’s lounging in comfortable environs, savoring every morsel of a gourmet meal, reveling in a beautifully written sentence, relishing the touch of a fine silk or cashmere (even George Costanza said he’d drape himself in velvet if it was socially acceptable). It’s akin to the art of doing nothing. I’ve always said that I’m not much of a napper, but I can lounge like the Queen of Sheeba. And while you can luxuriate anywhere (I’ve tried to create a home built for it), it’s best done, of course, in a luxurious setting, like say, in a fluffy robe on a king size bed with lots of pillows and a fresh down comforter sipping a glass of chilled Champagne as you gaze through floor to ceiling windows looking out at sailboats and yachts cutting through the Miami River and Biscayne Bay from a 37th floor suite at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami. See what I mean? It’s a picture perfect place to luxuriate.

The Room

Yes, I can get quite comfortable here.

Yes, I can get quite comfortable here.

I checked in last Saturday afternoon, and my room had a definite wow factor as soon as I stepped through the threshold. The color palette is rich in chocolates, caramels, honey and gold. Plush carpeting in a sunburst pattern radiates from underneath the bed. For the business traveler, there’s a large desk with all the accessories, and for the lounger, a pair of chairs and  an ottoman in dark chocolate await.

Galena stopped by for dinner and a bathroom selfie.

Galena stopped by for a luxe bathroom selfie and dinner

I love a luxurious bathroom and this one was large with honey-gold marble his and her sinks with a glass shower and separate tub. The television inlaid into the bathroom mirror along with a cushioned stool to sit on makes doing your hair and makeup far less of a chore. I appreciated the special touches, like a bathroom stocked with quality bath products, bergamot bath salts by the tub and a small vile of essential oil aromatherapy at turn down with instructions to use in the shower to invigorate you in the morning.

The Spa

Shortly after check-in, I headed down to the enliven Spa on the 20th floor for a deep tissue massage. While amenities are minimal (a dry sauna and shower in the ladies locker room), those floor to ceiling views (and high ceilings, at that) were something to marvel at in robe and slippers while munching on a green apple and sipping water in a cushy chaise lounge awaiting my treatment.

Between years of working on boats and hours spent in front of a computer screen combined with an old yoga injury, my muscles manage to kink up into pretty extravagant knots. My masseuse Rosie didn’t mess around. It’s fabulous when a masseuse has a real knowledge of the body’s muscle tissue and is observant of individualized needs. She tackled some tender tissue that I wasn’t even aware of and figured out my yoga injury without my telling her. My only mistake was not upgrading from 50 to 80 minutes. You can’t rush luxuriating, after all.

While the spa itself may not be flush with amenities, the rest of the hotel certainly is. A spacious clean gym (floor to ceiling views, again) with state of the art equipment shares the 20th floor with the spa, and one floor down is an outdoor pool, full court basketball gymnasium, bowling lane and media room. The athlete and the sunbather has plenty of ground to cover in luxuriant pursuits.

The Restaurant

JW Marriott Marquis Miami is also home to celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s db Bistro Moderne, a modern interpretation on the classic French bistro. The dining room is gorgeous (high ceilings here, too) with cushy cloth upholstered banquettes in slate grey, white table cloths and playful models of the Eiffel Tower as decor.

The Original db Burger

The Original db Burger

But enough about the dining room, let’s dig into the menu. The restaurant is particularly famous for its $34 Original db Burger made with sirloin stuffed with braised beef short rib stuffed with black truffle foie gras served on a parmesan bun with pomme frites. That falls under the category of decadence to the extreme. As a lover of burgers, I knew I had to try it and it did not disappoint.

Db is also noted for its Burgundy escargots prepared in garlic, almond and parsley with potato croquettes, and they were positively sumptuous. We were also delighted with our salad course (my dinner guest Galena loved the red mustard greens in her Swank Farm tomato salad and I loved the garlic sausage in my Beaujolais salad). And as if all of that were not enough, my bourbon chocolate fondant dessert with caramel sauce upstaged the entire affair. A swoon-worthy meal, to say the least.

And where better to retire to after luxuriating over a three hour long dinner paired with martinis and rosé Champagne? Back to my 37th floor suite and right in the middle of that king size bed. Sweet dreaming.

Shayne, Dad & Kristy on their balcony at Loews Miami Beach

Shayne, Dad & Kristy on their balcony at Loews Miami Beach Hotel

Last month, my dad paid my sister and me a visit in South Beach after a business trip in Naples. We selected Loews Miami Beach Hotel as our “staycation” destination. A spacious oceanfront resort (790 rooms, including 52 luxury suites) on Collins Avenue and a mere block south of Lincoln Road, Loews is positioned smack dab in the heart of South Beach. While not overly trendy like some of its neighbors, Loews offers plenty of luxury and spot on hospitality for a fantastic vacation experience. They’ve also upped the ante with a brand new restaurant Lure Fishbar straight from New York City’s Soho neighborhood, and exhale Spa just opened its doors on April 1st.

The Room

A guest room at Loews

A guest room at Loews. Photo: Loews Miami Beach Hotel

For a hotel built in 1999, the rooms feel contemporary and updated with plush carpeting in shades of turquoise offsetting white furniture (a comfy king size bed, desk, chairs and couch) with white-washed wooden accents. The marble bathroom is modern and spacious, and plush robes hang from the large closet. Perhaps best of all, our spacious balcony had magnificent south-facing views of the sparkling Atlantic Ocean for gazing at sailboats and cruise ships criss-crossing the horizon.

The Hospitality

We were welcomed with a cheese plate and complimentary bottles of Fiji water, making nice refreshments for an in-room catch up session (my sister and I brought the wine and Champagne) before setting off to Lincoln Road for dinner. From the bell staff to the valet to the beach attendants, service was on point and sincerely friendly. A particularly nice touch? Complimentary water bottles offered at the valet upon retrieval of our car.

This Miami Vice is no vice at all.

This Miami Vice is no vice at all.

The beach attendant (managed by Boucher Brothers) also went the extra mile by finding us prime spots on the sand for three chairs later in the day. We wanted to see the ocean from our lounge chairs, not rows of other lounge chairs (the Benowitzes are serious about their sunworshipping rituals). Our attendant Edward was on it. It was 1 p.m. and he explained that the best spots are usually scooped up by 10 a.m. Same goes for the pool. We lucked out, though, and were happy for Edward’s help as we enjoyed our spot in the sand until about 5 p.m.—fruity frozen drinks and all.

The Amenities

While staying at a large resort may require some maneuvering for a prime beach chair, it also provides its own world within a world for the ultimate in convenience—and to me, convenience means luxury. Preston’s is the resorts main restaurant serving tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the main lobby, there’s also a bar, sushi bar, Starbucks and ice cream shop, as well as a fancy hotel shop with designer clothing and tasteful gifts. In the late night hours, the bar hosts live musicians beckoning guests to enjoy a nightcap (or pre-party drink, depending on your point of view).

We also tried the new Lure Fishbar. I loved the nautical décor and the impressive cocktails created by Robert Ferrara, all with clever maritime names (Catch & Release, Full Mast, Kissing the Gunners Daughter). While seating was somewhat cramped and we were plagued by a perpetually wobbly table, our waitress was wonderful and the food superb. Some menu standouts include kumomoto oysters dressed with fresh wasabi leaf and lemon, a melt-in-your-mouth yellowtail carpaccio, spicy tuna tartare on crispy rice cakes, deviled eggs with caviar and butter-poached crab bucatini pasta with uni crema.

The hotel gym is an important feature for my dad who rarely misses a workout. He said this one was “just okay,” but it served its purpose (his favorites are at Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas and Fontainebleau Miami Beach). There’s good news for yoga and Core Fusion devotees, though, as exhale Spa just opened inside the resort’s historic St. Moritz Tower. A powerhouse brand that began in New York City, exhale now has 23 locations across the country (including downtown Miami at the Epic Hotel) and they’re beloved for their fitness classes, as well as their exceptional spa treatments.

Loews has also struck a partnership with Fiat this year offering complimentary chauffeured car service in the stylish Italian cars to anywhere in Miami for up to three hours at a time.

What To Do Nearby

We walked Lincoln Road both nights with stops at Books & Books and All Saints. When Dad’s in town, we like Shake Shack for dinner and a movie at the Regal. While Lure is fantastic for fine dining, a few casual spots nearby are amongst my dad’s favorites: Jerry’s Deli for classics like heaping corned beef sandwiches and matzoh ball soup and Pizza Bar for, well, pizza (great for takeout on a night in).

Other Miami Spots

It’s tempting not to venture too far from Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road on a brief South Beach stay over. However, we headed to Yardbird Southern Kitchen & Table for breakfast (it was already packed on a Sunday at 10:30 a.m.). We managed to snag a table near the bar and feasted on flaky buttermilk biscuits, thick cut bacon, and outrageously delicious shrimp ‘n grits.

We love the beach, but we’ve also got a penchant for art and culture. What better time to visit the newly opened Perez Art Museum Miami than with the man who took me to my first museum as a little girl? We enjoyed the stunning views of picturesque Biscayne Bay, Ai Wei Wei’s exhibit and spotting works by  masters of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and emerging contemporary artists.

Why Stay Here

With its heart-of-South-Beach location, spacious, comfortable environs and amenities galore, this is an ideal resort for families of all ages who are after a luxurious beach vacation. You’re perfectly positioned to walk everywhere you want to go by night, and the beach and lavish poolscape are impossible to resist by day.

shayne benowitz

Guess who just called me one of the nicest people she’s ever met in South Florida? Fellow travel blogger Ashley Vaccarino of Arrive Chic. I was thrilled to have the chance to take part in her Travel Style interview series on her site and dish on all the ways I like to travel.

She’s got a great travel blog, as well as an e-commerce store for all of your travel essentials. I took a look and picked my top three items from her store:

  1. Every travel writer needs a travel journal. The Jonathan Adler Fish Scales one is cute.
  2. The Euro Traveler looks pretty sleek. I can always use a nice travel bag.
  3. I’m all about a nice sleep mask and this Paper Flowers one looks pretty.

I really enjoyed participating in this fun Q & A where I shared my favorite travel shoes of all time, the hotel I’d stay at if I had an endless budget and what restaurant I’d fly to just for dinner. To see my answers to these questions and more, check out her feature Arrive Chic with Shayne Benowitz.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A gust of wind whips around the first tower jutting heavenward 764 feet. In an attempt to stay balanced on two wheels, we dismount from our bicycles and gaze up at the hypnotic steel beams slicing through the thick fog. They’re painted an arresting “international orange.” The surface of the San Francisco Bay is 200 feet below and the current churns swiftly against a red channel marker. Sail boats appear miniature from this vantage as they tack upwind. We snap a few pictures. There’s still more than a mile to cover before we’re in Marin County and on the other side, so we get back on our bikes and keep pedaling across the majestic Golden Gate Bridge.

In San Francisco, it doesn’t take long to understand why bicycling is such a popular pastime amongst locals. Trails abound from the San Francisco waterfront, across the Golden Gate Bridge and throughout Marin County’s coastline offering resplendent views of the picturesque Bay Area.

Rent your bikes from Blazing Saddles at Pier 41 in Fisherman’s Wharf. They offer 24-hour rentals starting at $32 and a free ferry ride back to San Francisco is included in the price, so you can check the harbor tour off your To Do List.

Bike-Map-PublishYou have three options for your bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can simply bike across it and turn right back around to where you started, or venture onto Sausalito and even farther to Tiburon. Take your time and walk around these bayfront towns and then catch the ferry back to San Francisco from either location.

Option 1: The Golden Gate Bridge, 9 Miles Roundtrip

Start out on the meandering beachside trail of Presidio National Park where you’ll spy some of San Francisco’s most coveted Victorian era homes, many of which are owned by celebrities. Stop for the occasional scenic photo opp as you make your approach to the bridge. Upon arrival, get the gears clicking and pedal up the mild incline towards the spindly orange steel of the 1.7 mile-long suspension bridge.

The Bay Area’s microclimate leaves San Francisco chilly and blanketed by fog even in the summer months. You’ll experience this in full force, along with a gusty wind as you pedal across the bridge. At a midway point, stop and gaze behind you at San Francisco’s rolling pastel topography. Ahead, the golden, craggy cliffs of Marin County’s rocky shoreline awaits.

Krista on the Golden Gate Bridge

Krista on the Golden Gate Bridge

Once you’ve accomplished the feat of bicycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, you could turn right around and make your way back to Blazing Saddles–but then you’d miss out on all that North County has to offer.

Option 2: Sausalito, 8 Miles One-Way

Miraculously, the bone chilling fog of San Francisco has burned off and the climate in Marin County is more akin to warm and sunny Southern California. It was this side of the Bay where Otis Redding penned the lyrics, “Sitting in the morning sun, I’ll be sitting when the evening comes…” In the warmer clime of Marin County, you can imagine doing just that.

Continue downhill on a path along the freeway towards the idyllic harbor town of Sausalito. Here, lock up your bikes and take a stroll along the water by houseboat row. You can window shop at boutiques and art galleries or dine outside at a cafe.

This is the first point along the way where ferries shuttle back and forth to San Francisco, but I urge you to forge on. Turn those eight miles into sixteen and continue your ride to Tiburon.

Option 3: Tiburon, 16 Miles One-Way

Tiburon

Tiburon

This stretch of the trail follows a horseshoe-like path as Richardson Bay cuts into the land. The scenery feels like a nature preserve with mallards and their ducklings following the leader  while elegant egrets and herons sun their long necks in the shallow marshlands.

Tiburon lies at the tip of the peninsula with spectacular views of Angel Island State Park, Alcatraz and downtown San Francisco’s skyline. And this is where the payoff awaits. While away the afternoon at Sam’s Anchor Café. A mainstay in Tiburon since 1920, the place is almost always packed. Tables on the spacious outdoor waterfront deck are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and they’re absolutely worth the wait. The cioppino is to die for with Dungeness crab, clams, prawns, mussels and fresh local fish all simmering in a spicy tomato broth and the ahi tuna burger with wasabi aioli hits the spot. Order their famous and refreshing pink lemonade vodka cocktail and enjoy the views, the sunshine and the buzzy scene.

Harbor Tour Back to San Francisco

After a cross-county bike ride and a languorous lunch, go ahead and loll in the green belt next to Sam’s awaiting the next ferry to chug along transporting the masses back to San Francisco. There’s a nearby ice-cream shop to sweeten the deal after lunch.

Once you board the ferry, a deckhand will help you stow your bicycles down below, so you can enjoy the harbor tour on the upper deck unencumbered. Take in the sweeping views from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Tiburon Peninsula and relish in the journey you’ve just completed. As the ferry rolls towards San Francisco, you might even find yourself blissfully whistling along to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”

margarita

If you think Cancun is all about margaritas, Coronas and frozen drinks–well, you’re right. While, of course, you can imbibe all of the above in abundance, Cancun’s spirits also have a sophisticated side. Locals will be the first to tell you that tequila shots with salt and lime were created for the tourists. If you want to know how the locals enjoy a good drink distilled in their native Mexico, you have to dig deeper than the swim up bars and all night discos.

The Real Deal on Tasting Tequila

Herradura Silver, Reposado & Anejo

Herradura Silver, Reposado & Anejo

Begin your journey with a proper tequila tasting—and leave it to Cancun to have a museum dedicated to the spirit. You can visit the Tequila Herradura Sensorial Museum or have a rep set up a tasting in your hotel’s lobby. Produced in Jalisco, tequila has the same regional distinction as French Champagne. If it’s not made in Jalisco, it’s not tequila. And if it’s not made of 100% blue agave, it’s not the good stuff.

You’ll learn about the history of the spirit, how it’s made and then taste blanco, silver, reposado and anejo varietes. You’ll also learn about the other agave-based spirit, smoky mezcal. Once you’ve been guided through the complex flavor notes—citrus, vanilla, anise—of the different aged tequilas, you’ll think twice before you toss back your next shot. In fact, Mexicans enjoy sipping their tequila the way you would a fine Scotch.

Sipping Sangrita at Casa Magna

Sipping Sangrita at Casa Magna

One of the best ways to do this is with sangrita, a sweet and zesty tomato juice served in a separate glass. Bar manager Omar Lopez at the JW Marriott Cancun makes a mean one with lime juice, orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, grenadine, salt, pepper and Tabasco. You’re meant to take a sip of tequila (served neat) and then a sip of sangrita, and swirl the mixture in your mouth before drinking it. If all this tequila talk has made you thirsty for a traditional margarita, the hotel’s lobby bar also makes a delicious frozen margarita with fresh raspberry and other upscale twists on the classic.

The Next Napa?

When you think of wine country, Mexico might not be the first place that comes to mind. However, Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley and neighboring regions are producing high quality wines in a terrain similar to California’s Napa Valley. When dining in Cancun at fine establishments, like Gustino’s or La Capilla, flip to the Mexico section of the wine list and try something you’ve never had before. Cában’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, made in Mexico’s San Vicente Valley is an excellent place to start.

Coffee, Mayan Style

Mayan coffee preparation at La Habichuela Sunset

Mayan coffee preparation at La Habichuela Sunset

At the end of a delicious meal, coffee and dessert are usually in short order. At La Habichuela Sunset, order off the menu and ask for Mayan coffee. The recipe dates back to the ancient civilization and the dramatic presentation is almost as satisfying as the drink itself. Made by flambéing brandy and local D’Aristi Xtabentun honey liqueur (produced in the Yucatan Peninsula), the concoction is mixed with coffee and poured over vanilla ice cream in a sugar-rimmed glass. It’s the perfect digestif to cap off a day in Cancun—and the setting on the outdoor patio designed to mimic Mayan ruins overlooking the lagoon is pretty spectacular, too.

An original version of this story originally published on Travel + Escape

Photos by Luisana Suegart

Surf's up!

Surfers search the world over for “the perfect wave,” and Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is a destination on everyone’s list. With legendary breaks, like Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point, and laidback surf towns, like Tamarindo, Jaco, and Dominical, lining the coast, there’s always a gnarly wave to catch. The endless black sand beaches and warm waters of the Pacific Ocean also make Costa Rica an ideal destination to learn to surf.

Brett Schroeder of Brett’s Board Rentals is an American ex-pat from Houston, Texas who’s made Esterillos home for the last decade. He spends his days surfing and teaching others how to surf.

The Lesson

Stay in Esterillos Este at Alma del Pacifico, a boutique resort with 20 private oceanfront bungalows, and Schroeder will bring the boards and the instructors to you. The student to teacher ratio is about two to one, so that means lots of hands-on help.

Your two-hour beginner lesson starts on land where Schroeder will get you oriented with the art of popping up. That’s the transition from on your stomach, to on your feet. You’ll determine whether your stance is regular (left foot forward) or goofy (right foot forward), and learn some basic steering maneuvers, like front side and back side turns. After a few practice pop ups, it’s time to strap your leash to your rear foot and hit the surf with your long board.

In the water, Schroeder and his team will show you how to position your body on the board with your toes reaching down towards the board’s tail. In the beginning, they’ll help you with timing and push you into the wave, telling you just when to “paddle, paddle, paddle!” Once you’ve caught the wave, it’s time to pop up with a wide stance on the board, knees bent, and arms out for balance. Wiping out is part of the sport, and there’s no need to worry because with beginner waves, you’re not going to get too beat up.

Once you catch that first wave and ride it into shore, you’ll soon realize the rush that surfers get hooked on. You’ll be eager to paddle back out and catch another one. As the lesson goes on, Schroeder and his instructors will challenge you to time out the waves and paddle into them on your own. He says that by the end of a beginner lesson, you should be able to stand up and ride a wave into shore. If you opt for a second intermediate lesson the next day, you’re well on your way to becoming a proficient surfer.

Surfing Season in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s seasons are divided into rainy season (May to November) and dry season (December to April). While surfing is a year round sport, conditions in the dry season are ideal. This is also the peak tourist season, which can mean higher rates and beaches with larger crowds. Rainy season calls for bigger and sometimes “messier” surf, as well as afternoon rain showers, but there’s always a beginner break to be found.

Pre-Surf Lesson Tips

Surfing is an athletic sport, and Schroeder says “you’ll use muscles you never knew you had,” such as the neck, back, and shoulders for paddling. If you want to get into peak physical condition before your surfing vacation, he recommends swimming and building cardio endurance.

Post-Surf Lesson Tips

You’ve surfed in Costa Rica and now you’re hooked. How do you keep it up once the vacation’s over? Yes, it definitely helps to live in a coastal area with waves. If that’s the case, contact a local surf school to find out where they’re surfing for the day, and then head to that spot. Make sure you’ve got a big enough board, which for beginners is at least nine feet. For safety reasons, always surf with a partner.

If you don’t happen to live at the beach, you might just have to join the rest of the nomadic surfers of the world in search of the perfect break. What’s next? Southern California’s Huntington Beach, Oahu’s North Shore, Australia’s Bondi Beach? Surf’s up!

A version of this story originally appeared on Travel + Escape

Oasis Culture Blog

A notorious blogger and girl-about-town–me? Who knew?

Well, that’s the way the Oasis Culture Blog introduced me in a fun Q & A feature all about my favorites in Miami and travel. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to dish on my top restaurants and cocktail bars, what it’s like to live in Miami and some travel what ifs. I also shared my all time favorite Miami memory, and you’ll just have to read the article to find out what that is.

Oasis Collections is an incredible hospitality company that manages high-end, high-design properties for short term vacation rentals in South America and Miami. If you’re planning a getaway to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia or Uruguay, they’re a fantastic alternative to a traditional hotel, and their properties give you the opportunity to live like a local–a very chic local with great taste, that is.

They’ve got about 20 properties in Miami, as well, and I plan to shack up in one in April for a little staycation fun, so stay tuned here and on Miami.com for my experience.

In the meantime, check out their stunning properties and my “Miami low-down” on their Oasis Culture Blog.

Image: Pharrell's Twitter

Image: Pharrell’s Twitter Profile Pic

Ever since I had the opportunity to interview Pharrell this summer, I like to think of him as both my friend and neighbor here in Miami. Today, I was enjoying a (much needed) lazy Saturday scrolling through my Twitter feed when this tweet came up:

Pharrell tweetFirst of all, thanks for the International Women’s Day love, Pharrell. I totally RTed you. The next thing I noticed was that he had a new Twitter profile picture (above). I clicked to look at the larger version of it and saw that he was wearing the same green and gold Chanel prayer beads that he wore the afternoon I interviewed him. They caught my eye that afternoon and a little research proved that he’s worn them for years. And he’s had them on in almost every photograph I’ve seen of him since then. I love that. He could easily rock a different piece of bling with every public appearance, but he doesn’t. He chooses to wear that same necklace and there’s probably a great sentimental story for why he loves it so much.

The next thing I noticed in the new profile pic was his grey v-neck t-shirt. The day that I interviewed him he was dressed simply and immaculately in a white v-neck, amazing jean shorts, shades and a version of his signature fedora. I love that those pieces come together for an effortlessly cool look. Since then, I’ve definitely seen him rock those jean shorts again and he’s wearing them in his “Happy” video. I don’t care if he has 10 pairs of the same shorts or he just wears the same pair over and over again, I love the idea of a fashion uniform.

Interviewing Pharrell before his BleauLive performance at the Fontainebleau

Interviewing Pharrell before his BleauLive performance at the Fontainebleau. Photo: Kristy Benowitz

And finally there’s that ridiculously amazing oversized Vivienne Westwood hat that got so much attention at the Grammy’s. I think it’s super cool that he rocked it first at his New Year’s Eve performance at the Fontainebleau and my sister and I were there to see it before the rest of the country. And, yes, he had his Chanel beaded necklace on that night, too.

Performing at the Fontainebleau on New Year's. Photo: Kristy Benowitz

Performing at the Fontainebleau on New Year’s. Photo: Kristy Benowitz

Doing some research prior to my interview with him, I was shocked to learn that he’s 40 years old. You’ve gotta love someone who stays forever young. He won me over by being incredibly nice and thoughtful when I interviewed him, and I remain mesmerized by his streamlined cool fashion sense.

I leave you with his “Happy” video because who doesn’t love it? I’m pretty sure he’s rocking my favorite shorts in his first look with the bow tie!

Pharrell Williams, ‘Happy’ from Somesuch & Co. on Vimeo.

Robert Fontaine Gallery

The walls of Wynwood are dripping with street-art murals, and on Saturday, March 8, the walls inside Robert Fontaine Gallery will showcase the works of some of the world’s most iconic street artists. While one might not envision the works of Banksy, Shepard Fairey or Paul Insect inside a gallery, that’s exactly what Fontaine is exhibiting with his Insiders group show.

“There’s an understanding through collectors that street art hasn’t transformed itself into the gallery setting,” says Fontaine. “These artists need more than the streets, and collectors want a piece of the action. You can’t take walls home with you, but you can take paintings home. Street artists have the best of both worlds. They started outside the gallery with the free range of creativity. Now, they’re tearing down the walls of the gallery.”

The impetus for the show was the opportunity to work with Space Invader through Fontaine’s collaboration with co-curator Robert de los Rios. “Having his work in the show allows us to show the proper spectrum of seasoned artists, emerging artists and newcomers,” Fontaine says. “It’s a coherent platform.”

For a “virtual portfolio” and more on the Insiders show, read the rest of the story on Societe Perrier.

The view from a bungalow at Alma de Pacifico

The view from a bungalow at Alma del Pacifico

In Costa Rica, there’s a phrase you’ll hear over and over again, as a greeting, a farewell, or an answer to the question, “How are you?”

Pura vida!

Translated from the Spanish, it literally means “pure life,” and by the time you’ve spent a few days amidst Costa Rica’s lush green rainforests, witnessed a majestic purple sunset reflected on an empty black sand beach, and spent time with its friendly, happy-go-lucky locals, you’ll understand all the nuances of the phrase, and start using it yourself. Pura vida!

For the nature lover and outdoor enthusiast, Costa Rica is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book full of possibilities. Here are five adventures you must try along the central Pacific coast, near the quiet town of Esterillos Este.

Get Up Close and Personal with Crocodiles

Tarcoles-Bridge

Crocs sunbathing by the Tarcoles Bridge

Once you arrive at the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, it’s roughly a two-hour transfer to the surf towns along the Pacific central coast. Break up the ride with a stop at the famous Tárcoles Bridge and get up close and personal with one of Costa Rica’s most abundant native creatures, the crocodile. A few shacks selling tourist trinkets will signal that you’ve arrived. Pull your car off to the side of the road, and prepare to embark on foot over the bridge to view the muddy banks of the Tárcoles River. Don’t be surprised to spy upwards of 20 crocodiles at one time, some of them quite large, sunning in the mud and swimming near the shore. From the height of the bridge, it’s a safe and exciting glimpse into a prehistoric time.

Go Horseback Riding Through the Rain Forest

Horseback riding

Start your horseback ride through the rainforest and end on the beach

For a true pura vida experience, stay in the remote town of Esterillos Este, conveniently located between Manuel Antonio National Park and the more heavily trafficked Jaco. Alma del Pacifico is a boutique resort with 20 private bungalows whose sliding glass doors can be opened up at nearly 360 degrees, so that almost nothing separates you from the ocean at your doorstep. From here, arrange to go horseback riding with the onsite equestrian center. You’ll traverse the picturesque rainforest and hills of Esterillos and have the opportunity to break into a full gallop on the beach.

Learn To Surf

Post-surf stoked selfie!

Post-surf stoked selfie!

It’s no secret that surfers the world over make pilgrimages to Costa for its world class breaks, but if you’re a beginner, it’s also a great place to learn to surf. Brett Schroeder of Brett’s Board Rentals will bring the lesson and the boards to you at Alma del Pacifico or any other beginner’s break in the area. After a two-hour lesson, you can expect to be able to stand up on the board and ride a wave into shore. If you opt for a second lesson, chances are you’ll walk away a pretty decent intermediate surfer.

Go Zip Lining

Experience Costa Rica’s unique rainforest ecosystem at Rainforest Costa Rica Pacific Adventures in Jaco. Here, amidst 222 acres of lush, tropical flora, embark on a half hour aerial tram ride straight up the mountain with a naturalist guiding the way. Keep your eyes peeled for spider monkeys, toucans, macaws, and sloths. Once you’ve reached the top, the only way down is through a series of 15 zip line cables and platforms. You’re in good hands and harnessed in securely, and the feeling of gliding over a canopy of treetops is extremely freeing.

Eat a Whole Fish

If you’re an adventurous eater, the best way to experience the abundance of fresh seafood “Tico-style,” is by trying a whole fried fish. A popular choice is red snapper, pan-seared to a perfect crisp, and served with fried green plantains, rice and beans. Don’t be intimidated by the little guy’s eyes, teeth, and tail, and navigate your fork carefully through his tiny bones. You’ll be rewarded with delicious bites of sweet, flaky and perfectly marinated flesh. The open air Pavilion restaurant at Alma del Pacifico serves a great one, as does local’s favorite in neighboring Esterillos Oeste, Los Almendros, a restaurant owned by a Canadian ex-pat.

A version of this story originally appeared on Travel + Escape.