Thursday 5 January 2017

There’s no business like snow business

For those of you desperately seeking a last minute skiing break (as many of us are) look no further. It might not be Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon, or Mozart and Salzburg; but you just can’t escape Val d’Isère. A snow sure resort set in a traditional French Alpine Village, it is quite the picture. Located in the south eastern French region of Savoie in the western Alps, close to the Italian border, this lively and bustling scene is especially popular with British and Scandinavian tourists.
With blue skies, white powdered mountains, quaint hill-side restaurants to admire the view and relax with much needed refreshments, skiing has never been this good. And it's simple to get around the spectacular terrain with a variety of cable cars, gondolas and charlifts, whisking skiers up from Val's centre, as well as from the nearby villages of La Daille and Le Laisinant. All set within a picturesque landscape.
Time to hit the slopes? Choose between main season runs from early December or summer skiing on the Fornet glacier from late June. The nursery slopes at the Solaise and La Daille are good solid bases for progressing beginners.  For the more adventurous looking for a challenge there are cruisy reds and blues, and advanced skiers can speed down the black Face at their peril. For those who require a little more assistance Ecole du Ski Français is one of the numerous ski schools contending for your attention. If that doesn’t suit you there is an assortment of outdoor activities including dog sledding, snowmobiling and ice skating. Or even improve your winter driving skills at Val d’Isère ice driving circuit.
But if its après ski that really turns you on Val d’Isère is renowned for its après scene. Hang out with the Scandinavians for afternoon happy hour at Le Petit Danois or sip on cosmopolitans at Le Bananas at the foot of the slopes. Visit the Hotel Latitudes for a ‘Rasual’ treatment (think mud, steam and lots of water). And be sure to finish the night off with a turn on the dance floor at Le Graal or the infamous Dick’s Tea Bar. And if all this becomes just too much hard work you can sign up to a patisserie class.

Happy skiing!


Tuesday 3 January 2017

10 of New York’s Most Instagrammable Tea and Coffee Shops

And it’s not just the lattes that are worth documenting
Drinking coffee isn’t just a way to stay awake during the dreaded 3 p.m. slump at work. It’s a ritual, one that often happens multiple times a day. It’s no surprise that with the dawn of social media, we are eager to capture every morning iced coffee and after-dinner cappuccino, these tiny moments we can stop and savor. But why is our camera always looking down at the table? Especially in NYC where the tea and coffee shops I frequent are just as beautiful as the latte art - and I bet they’ll garner just as many likes from your friends. Here are ten must-visit (and must-Instagram) spots.

The Butcher’s Daughter
This casual-cool restaurant - there are two New York locations, in Nolita and the West Village - might be known for its fresh juices and good-for-you fare, but there’s also delicious coffee to be had. Savor a cup in one of the spot’s many sunny, greenery-draped nooks. 
Bellocq Tea Atelier
Tea can be just as satisfying as coffee, especially when you enjoy it in this elegant jewel-toned café.
Toby’s Estate
Plush sofas and shelves brimming with eye-catching knickknacks invite you to sit and stay awhile at Toby’s Estate, which has multiple outposts throughout the city. 
Little Collins
You might have to fight for a seat at this tiny Australian-inspired coffee shop in Midtown, but it’s worth it, especially if you snag a stool by the window, where people-watching is at its finest. 
At the Tribeca location of this French café, white brick walls, distressed wood floors, and artful pendant lights make for a seriously serene escape from the hustle and bustle outside. 
Happy Bones 
It’s hard not to be drawn to this SoHo locale’s futuristic bar, which was custom designed for the coffee shop by François Chambard of UM Project. 
Part studio, part espresso bar, this Brooklyn hangout lets you get creative and caffeinated in one go. Neon signage and graphic wall art complete the package. 
This shop’s farm-to-cup java tastes even better when you have a view of a soaring wall of plants and a perch on the comfiest leather sofa.
Sincerely, Tommy
Sip on a drink from the coffee counter at this sleek Brooklyn concept store while you browse the curated collection of women’s wear, jewellery, and home accessories. 
Matcha is the name of the game at this minimalist West Village café, which serves up lattes, Americanos, and more, all made with the powdered green tea. (Still craving an espresso? Don’t worry, they will fill your typical coffee orders, too.) 
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