Why Scottsdale Is the Spa Capital of the World

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Why Scottsdale Is the Spa Capital of the World

August 20, 2018

My four-day Scottsdale spa vacation had a serious itinerary. Trying something I’d never done before—not committing to a single spa but visiting a different one every day, or even two different spas in the same day—it would be the busiest spa vacation of the dozen or so I’d been on. But
I was up for the challenge, especially since
snow was starting to fall in Jackson, Wyoming, where I live, and the Scottsdale weather forecast called for five months of low humidity and high temperatures in the 80s and 90s. (Yes, winter and spring in Scottsdale are that predictable and that perfect.)

Scottsdale and neighboring Paradise Valley are home to dozens of spa resorts that together include more than 1 million square feet of treatment rooms, saunas, steam rooms, and pools. And then there are the area’s day spas, which are so numerous not even the city’s ultra-organized tourism bureau, Experience Scottsdale, can keep count. They’re as ubiquitous as saguaros. Scottsdale has the highest density of spa resorts of anywhere in the country, and the greatest number of spas per capita. And I couldn’t pick just one.

Multiple spas had treatments that interested me. Also, each spa had its own personality. Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Princess is massive, 44,000 square feet,
and encourages wandering from treatment 
to pool (including a rooftop adults-only
 pool) to sauna to hot tub to waterfall pool 
to exercise class to patio café. Beyoncé and Jay-Z enjoyed the Asian vibe of Sanctuary Spa when they honeymooned at the attached resort more than a decade ago. More recently, the girlfriend who usually accompanies me on spa vacations raved about an hour-long foot treatment (the Sabai Foot Ritual) at Sanctuary and mentioned that the spa’s redesign was almost complete, and that it was very well done. (Since I thought the “old” Sanctuary Spa was pretty perfect, hearing that it was being updated had made me nervous.) “It’s still the most serene spa I’ve ever been to,” my friend reported.

Scottsdale Spa Article

At Four Seasons, the spa is intimate and results-driven
and situated at the base of Pinnacle Peak, which I wanted to hike one morning. North of Scottsdale proper, up in Carefree, 12-million-year-old boulders dramatically dot the landscape around Boulders Spa, and its café serves entrees made with produce grown in the organic garden behind it. Boulders offers rock climbing classes and rappelling adventures on-site. Spa Avania at Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch has a Himalayan salt room. Royal Palms’ Alvadora Spa has a citrus grove facial that sounded like exactly what my dull skin needed. Just reading about the juniper cleanse massage at Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary at the new and hip Andaz Scottsdale relaxed my muscles.

Picking just one of these resorts wouldn’t have been Sophie’s Choice, but it certainly wouldn’t have been easy. So I didn’t, and the idea of spa speed dating was born.

I planned an itinerary of body treatments, facials, and massages at eight different spas over four days. Friends accused me of going overboard. I said I was optimizing my opportunities for wellness. Because I am not a golfer—there are more than 30 courses in the Scottsdale area and most of the spas I booked treatments at are part of resorts that also have golf courses—I instead planned time for a hike every morning. There are easily more than a hundred miles of trails of varying difficulty that start right in Scottsdale.

The night of my arrival, it dawned on me that, as much as I had planned, I had not planned meals. Thankfully Bourbon Steak at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess had a table available. I spent the time I wasn’t eating a nine-ounce prime skirt steak topped with creamy blue cheese—so tender no knife was needed to cut it—studying the restaurant menus of the other resorts I’d be visiting. The brunch menu at Proof at Four Seasons included lemon ricotta masa cakes and
a sandwich with five-hour slow cooked pork, blue cheese coleslaw, and house-made pickles. Elements at Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain had a lobster carbonara dinner entrée with an Asian twist, udon noodles instead of spaghetti.
Scottsdale Spa Article 2
With the addition of meals—at the Boulders’ spa café it was an omelet with vegetables grown in the spa’s organic garden; at Proof I went for duck pastrami salad—the first two days went better than planned. (Full disclosure: I slept in the first morning rather than go for a hike.) Day one—a Desert Radiance body treatment at the Boulders and a facial at Fairmont’s Well & Being Spa—left me relaxed and my skin more hydrated then it’d been since a trip to the Amazon four years ago. As good as day one was, day two might go down in history as one of the greatest ever days of spa-ing.

That morning, I did get up at sunrise to hike six miles on Pinnacle Peak, the mountain just behind the Four Seasons with a well-maintained trail of middling difficulty that winds through the area’s full catalog of cacti. Brunch was on Proof ’s deck followed by 80 minutes of full-body exfoliation and massage using various products made with cocoa. It was the most scent-ual spa treatment I’d ever gotten. But, because I spent an hour post-cocoa walking the Four Seasons’ grounds
and admiring the blooming cacti, which was not part of my itinerary, I did arrive at Hyatt’s Spa Avania for 30 minutes of halotherapy and a 60-minute facial a few minutes late and not quite as relaxed as someone on a spa vacation should be.

But one of the purported benefits of halotherapy—in which you inhale pure, dry, micronized salt particles—is a reduction in stress (another is an improved immune system). In a private, dedicated room with walls made of thick salt tiles, I reclined on a chaise lounge and, within five minutes, fell into a deep sleep that ended only when an esthetician gently woke me up. The final activity for the day was lobster carbonara with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, or at least at the restaurant attached to the resort where they honeymooned (Sanctuary).

The following day, I popped the bubble of wellness and relaxation the prior days of spa-ing had gifted me by shattering my wrist. While hiking down Camelback Mountain shortly after sunrise and a couple of
hours before my Sabai Foot Ritual, I slipped. The
 day’s treatments were replaced by a visit to the emergency room at Scottsdale’s Osborn Hospital.

Scottsdale Spa Article 3
That evening, with no spas to immediately comfort me, I fed my sorrows and distress with a return visit to Elements for dinner (a bacon-wrapped filet) and practiced gratitude that it was a spa vacation on which I had hurt myself.

Day four dawned with my arm throbbing. I briefly wanted the sunrise to acknowledge this unplanned and painful change in my situation and be muted and moody, but, like Scottsdale’s weather all winter and spring, it was reliably, spectacularly perfect. Thankfully, the surrounding mountains were still glowing pink when, instead of seeing this gorgeous sunrise as traitorous, I transitioned: It was proof that life goes on, and also that my life at the moment, despite a club- like cast on one arm, was still pretty amazing. I had broken my arm in between spa treatments, and it would heal, and, in the meantime, Sanctuary had been able to rebook me for its Sabai Foot Treatment without encroaching on my already- scheduled afternoon facial at Joya Spa. As the pink light turned orange, I vowed to never suffer an illness or injury at any time other than when on a spa vacation. I
 also vowed to return to Scottsdale sooner than later for the treatments and relaxation I missed the day prior.

Sanctuary’s Sabai Foot Ritual lived up to my friend’s
review and to its name, which, in Thai, means to relax and be comfortable. As a therapist massaged my feet, shins, and calves with a heated poultice filled with fresh herbs, I both relaxed and got more comfortable. Of course I wasn’t as relaxed and comfortable as I would have been without a freshly broken wrist, but I was much more relaxed and comfortable than I would have been anywhere else, even in my own home. I was also sold on the ideas of 1) Future spa vacations would involve multiple resorts,
and 2) Every future vacation would 
include at least one element of self-care
or wellness, just in case I did something
 stupid again.

The Best Balcony Views in Cabo

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The Best Balcony Views in Cabo

August 20, 2018

On the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, visitors will find the gorgeous Los Cabos region hiding away. Lush jungles and outdoor activities await the most adventurous travelers, while serene beaches and waterfront resorts await the relaxation seekers. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for—this beautiful region has it. There’s a reason this area that was little-known only a few decades ago is booming in popularity today.

And while most travelers plan to explore outside of their hotel rooms and rental homes, most agree that views from their accommodations are a must. If stellar balcony views are a must for your next vacation, check out the resorts and home in the slideshow below for your best options.

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, Cabo Balcony Views

Ocean view from Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, a Forbes Five Star Award-winning boutique resort.

The Cape, Cabo Balcony Views

The balcony view from Cabo's trendiest escape, The Cape.

Costero, Cabo Balcony Views

Stunning view from Costero, a $5M oceanfront home.

Casa Las Palmas, Cabo Balcony Views

Casa Las Palmas has a stunning first-floor view of Cabo's lush landscape.

Auberge Private Residences, Cabo Balcony Views

Some of Cabo's best balcony views can be found at the Auberge Private Residences.

Casa Colina Cresta, Cabo Balcony Views

Casa Cresta is a grand Mexican-style hacienda with incredible Sea of Cortez views.

Casa Miraflores, Cabo Balcony Views

This penthouse suite, Casa Miraflores, has gorgeous balcony views.

Joya del Mar, Cabo Balcony Views

This balcony view comes from Joya del Mar, a $9.9M oceanfront villa.

Villa Dos Mares, Cabo Balcony Views

Villa Dos Mares is located in one of Cabo's most exclusive enclaves with wide open ocean views.

One and Only Palmilla, Cabo Balcony Views

Balconies at the One&Only Palmilla Resort have views of the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula.

Villa Buenaventura, Cabo Balcony Views

Villa Buenaventura is a $6M oceanfront home with stunning views.

Villa Oasis, Cabo Balcony Views

This view comes from Villa Oasis, a 3,000-square-foot home within Palmilla.

One&Only Palmilla, Cabo Balcony Views 2

One&Only Palmilla offers guests gorgeous views and modern hacienda charm on the Baja Coast.

The first featured image comes from Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a luxury oceanfront boutique resort. This elegant option is perfect for honeymooners and scuba divers alike, and it allows travelers to experience authentic Mexico in an upscale environment. The slideshow also features standalone homes like Costero, a 3,300-square-foot home with two infinity pools that can accommodate up to 10 guests at a time, and Joya del Mar, a 6,700-square-foot home that can accommodate up to 16 at a time.

One&Only Palmilla, Cabo Balcony Views

The balconies featured from the One&Only Palmilla, like the one above, have unique views of the Sea of Cortez and a high-end design. The resort is ideal for couples, families and golfers, and the interiors are described as “Contemporary Mexican with traditional touches.”

The image below comes from The Cape, a modern resort with Cabo’s only rooftop bar. Travelers will love Monuments Beach, a haven for surfers and swimmers, that also has views of El Arco. This trendy getaway has a robust nightlife as well as 161 rooms, suites, and villas to choose from. The Cape was designed by Javier Sánchez, a renowned architect, making it one of the most desirable Thompson Hotels to visit. The design marries old world tradition and modern architecture, so it’s perfect for travelers of all ages.

The Cape, Cabo Balcony Views

Anyone who’s traveled to Cabo understands the one-of-a-kind serenity that awaits. Views of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez highlight the natural beauty that surrounds its homes and hotels. Want to rent one of these balconies in Cabo? Visit Inspirato.com to learn how.

How Local Restaurants in Cabo San Lucas Do Sea to Table

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How Local Restaurants in Cabo San Lucas Do Ocean to Table

August 17, 2018

We got one!” shouts first mate Salvador Flores. “Grab it!” He puts the fishing rod in my hand and I sit in the stern- facing captain’s chair. “Now pull back,” he says. I lean back against the force of the fish tugging at the end of the line. Then, “Lean forward. Adelante! Reel, reel, reeeel!”

After a few minutes of pulling back and reeling in, I see the slender 45-inch-long (we measured it later) yellow-green fish with blue markings that Mexicans call dorado, the Spanish word for golden. We don’t have it quite yet though. With a last, desperate lunge, the singular-looking creature—in addition to its vivid colors, its head has a blunted shape like it swam, hard, into a wall—tries to toss the hook. Salvador’s ready though. He grabs the line and pierces the fish with the gaffe, landing it on the back deck of our fishing boat.

Catching that feisty dorado, also known as mahi-mahi, was just one highlight of a perfect weekend in Cabo San Lucas, at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, where a friend and I spent mornings fishing, afternoons feasting on our catch, and sunsets sipping cocktails overlooking miles of coastline. Cabo is a place where you can pack so much into a short stay, and for many American visitors it’s a nonstop flight from home.

We’d booked our fishing excursion in advance with Pisces Sportfishing, one of Cabo’s most established outfitters, operating since 1980. Just after sunrise, we start our day with mochas at The Cabo Coffee Co., then walk down to Cabo’s horseshoe-shaped marina. Pisces Dockmaster Eduardo Vasquez welcomes us and introduces us to Captain Roberto Sandez and first mate Salvador Flores.

Cabo Ocean to Table Fishing
I ask about the gleaming white boat, Valerie, and Eduardo says it’s a 35-foot-long Bertram with twin Cummins engines. Captain Roberto, a grizzled and affable 55-year-old mariner who’s been working at sea for 40 years, asks us if we’d like to chase marlin, which can weigh 100 pounds or more.

I can’t imagine keeping such a large fish and he says that if we catch one, we can release it. But I have visions of enjoying my catch dockside so I ask what else we might find. Well maybe tuna, he says, definitely dorado. “Then let’s go get some
dorado,” I say as he kicks the engine into gear. We motor up the west coast of Baja at 18 knots, passing mile after mile of deserted beaches in front of hills pocked with pines and cacti. Salvador extends the tangones, the arms that put the fishing lines out to the sides of the boats, baits the hooks with small mackerel, and tosses them into the ocean.

For a while we don’t get a bite. I go up to the bridge and chat with el capitan, asking what he likes best about his job. “Pescar,” (fishing), he says enthusiastically. “Pescar, pescar, pescar, pescar!” Suddenly there’s a tug on one of the lines. Then it starts flying out.

Salvador grabs the rod from its holder and hands it to me. I pull back and reel and soon see a flash of gold in the water. I keep pulling and the fish keeps fighting as the base of the rod digs into my lower abdomen just above my waist. When the dorado is just a few feet away, Salvador takes the line and gently pulls the hook off the shimmering fish as he cradles it in his arms. “Not so big,” he says, holding it out to me. It looks pretty big to me, at least 18 inches long.

“I think we could put this one back, but it’s up to you.” I hesitate for a moment, thinking: This is our first catch of the day; what if we don’t get another? Salvador seems to read my mind: “There are more fish out there, hay mas!”
Let her go then, I say with a nod and as soon as Salvador holds the young fish over the water it bolts away, splashing back into the sea and living to see another day. I go back up to talk with the captain and ask how much has changed during the four decades he’s been working Cabo’s seas. “Oh, mucho,” he says. “Even 10 or 20 years ago there were many more fish—dorados grandes! But now they’re harder to find.” Another line starts flying out and Salvador shouts at me to grab that pole. I get in the captain’s chair and put my feet on the foot bench for added leverage. This one is stronger: I fight it for a couple of minutes—then the line goes slack. “Salvador, I think I lost it.”
“No, no,” he says, “Keep reeling!” I pull in the slack then feel a powerful tug, the fish trying to get away, and see an amber flash about 50 feet behind the stern. A couple more sets of pulls and reels and he’s in—a gorgeous golden fish more than 3 feet long. “We’ll keep this one,” Salvador says as he grabs it with the gaffe and tosses it into a tank. Then he hoses down the deck until the blood is washed away.
Inhaling the fresh salt scent of the Pacific, we keep motoring north until we can see the pueblo of Pescadero near Todos Santos, almost 30 miles north from where we began the day. The crew has our lunches stashed in the cooler: chicken burritos and yellow cans of Pacifico beer, yet I’m not eager to eat on the rolling sea.
A pod of dolphins gracefully arcs over the water, a manta ray floats by, and then a sea turtle swims slowly, as if she has all the time in the world. Later there’s a big splash beyond the bow. Captain Roberto shouts: “Marlin! A big one, maybe 5 feet long and 100 pounds.” But I’m content to watch it swim away.
It’s been an exhilarating and full day. After eight hours of fishing, we’ve caught eight large dorados—five that we’ve kept and three tossed back—and one skipjack: in total, they equal about 15 pounds of meat. Salvador has hung flags across the boat’s starboard side showing what we’ve kept: five golden dorado banderas and one white skipjack banner. On the port side are three more dorado banners, each paired with a flag with a T on it: The T is for “Thrown back.”
Since there’s no way my friend and I will be able to eat even a fraction of our catch over this weekend, I ask if we can take some home. “Will the fish get through customs?” I ask Captain Roberto. “Si, no problemo,” he says. Pisces will cut and freeze the fish—all we have to do is buy a cooler and pick it up at their marina office on the morning of our departure.
But we don’t send all the fish home—we keep the smallest dorado, have it sliced by the Pisces crew, and carry the fillets in a plastic bag with ice to a highly recommended Japanese restaurant just a few blocks from the marina.

Daikoku has an outdoor seating area beside a manmade waterfall that feels like a Japanese garden. The restaurant is accustomed to people bringing in their catch, and the chef says he’ll be happy to prepare a meal from it for us. We entrust our well-fought-for cargo to him, take a couple of hours to get cleaned up and reflect on the day, then return to the restaurant after sunset.

The chef ’s advice is to start with sashimi to get the purest taste of the fish. Daikoku has a light touch, thin-slicing the sashimi and topping it with rice vinegar, layu (a type of chili oil), and dashes of sake, soy sauce, and orange juice. It’s heavenly and so fresh. The added flavors are subtle, enhancing the taste of the fish rather than overwhelming it.
We pair our sashimi with the house margarita, made with pure agave tequila and not too much sweetener. Next, we enjoy some nigiri sushi (slices of fish atop rice) and then a seaweed roll with our dorado, some avocado, and rice inside. Both are perfect. Over dinner we decide to change our plans for the next day: originally the idea was to lounge on the beach, but we’d both had such a good time fishing that we decide to go out again.
We haven’t reserved ahead for the second day so we get up at dawn and head back to the marina where we strike up a conversation with Captain Josue “Arturo” Moreno. He says he’ll take us out for a half day for $200, cheaper than Pisces but with fewer amenities. We’re on our own for lunch and water, and we need to get our own fishing licenses. (Pisces gets licenses for its guests.) By mid-morning we’re back on the water as frigatebirds with forked tails soar overhead, and rays of sunlight sparkle like diamonds on the rolling waves.
Just 15 minutes from the dock the ocean erupts in thrashing splashes and silver flashes. “Hay atun!” Captain Arturo says. “There’s tuna!”

Swarms of sardines are in the area, luring the tuna into a feeding frenzy. The first mate, Plutarcho, prepares the lines and just a couple of minutes later we get a bite. He puts the rod in my hands and I’m stunned by the tuna’s strength: I’m in for a fight.

Plutarcho reiterates the lesson I’d learned the day before: Pull back then lean forward and reel in. Compared to the long, lean dorado, tuna are shorter and stouter, true powerhouses, especially this one. The fight lasts about 10 minutes; finally, the tuna is close enough to pull into the boat with a gaffe. It battles ferociously even after thudding against the deck of the boat. Soon we’ll catch another tuna; then Plutarcho reels in two more, one for himself and one for Captain Arturo.

“This was the best possible day,” the captain says. We had “buena suerte—good luck—100 percent.” Motoring back to the marina, Plutarcho cleans our fish and cuts it into fillets. We disembark and head straight to Captain Tony’s, a restaurant with a sign outside reading, “YOU HOOK IT WE COOK IT.” We did our part, now we’re ready for Captain Tony to do his.

Cabo San Lucas Ocean to Table Fishing

The restaurant’s host that day, Pablo, warmly welcomes us and offers us a waterside table. He takes the fish to the kitchen, then asks how we’d like it. We start with sashimi, then have three different preparations: tuna with garlic, with a cilantro cream sauce, and, finally, lightly battered with salt and pepper. All are fantastic and the fish couldn’t have been fresher. I had a twinge of guilt when I’d pulled the tuna out of the water—it was so majestic and had such a ferocious will to live, but feasting on our own catch proves to be immensely satisfying.

Later that afternoon we hire a taxi to go to Sunset Monalisa, a bar and restaurant about 5 miles east of Cabo San Lucas. Its deck offers a sweeping view of Cabo’s beaches and postcard- worthy arch over the sea. The main attraction at this bar/restaurant is watching the sun slip into the sea. Sunset that night is at 5:39 p.m., so we arrive around 5. I sip a raspberry mojito as surfers below catch the last waves of the day.

The setting sun turns the hills golden as a behemoth cruise ship sounds its horn and chugs out to sea. At sunset, a restaurant staffer blows into a conch shell four times, turning each time to honor the four directions, paying tribute to the day as it ebbs away.

On the taxi ride back to Cabo we ask our driver to recommend an authentic local restaurant with handmade tortillas. Walking into Maria Corona, we feel like we’re being welcomed into someone’s home. We choose outdoor seating, an area festively decorated with colorful banners and illuminated with hanging lanterns and gas torches. A trio of middle-aged men wearing matching outfits— two acoustic guitarists and a standup bassist— play traditional Mexican songs on the spacious restaurant’s stage. When they take a break, two women in frilly white dresses perform a butterfly dance, before two men with tap- dancing boots join them. The diners are a mix of locals and visitors—Maria Corona is perfect for travelers but not touristy.

We start with guacamole—local avocados, garlic, serrano peppers, and cilantro—made tableside in a molcajete, the traditional Mexican mortar and pestle hewn from volcanic rock, typically basalt. The server grinds the chilis in the three-legged bowl then mashes in the avocados. Of course, there are margaritas, too.

My friend wants to watch the cooks make tortillas and is invited into the kitchen. She asks the young chef, Emma Bonilla, what her favorite dish is and Bonilla recommends the pork Chamorro, a Yucatanean specialty. It’s made with six different chilis including ancho, pasilla, and guajillo; and spices including cinnamon, clove, and allspice. We take Bonilla’s advice— she recently worked in the Yucatan for two years—and order it. The pork is succulent and flavorful, the portion beyond generous. To top off the night we watch as our server deftly makes Mexican coffee, a potent, and potently theatrical, concoction. It’s made tableside with coffee, tequila, and Kahlua, and poured into a blue- rimmed glass in a flaming cascade.

Later, at Pancho’s Tequila Bar, over a glass of Los Abuelos añejo, I recall that just a few hours ago I’d been fighting tuna, and in a few hours I’d be on the plane home. Yet for the moment I’m still in paradise, savoring the flavors of Mexico, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

California’s Newest Michelin Two-Star Restaurant

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California’s Newest Michelin Two-Star Restaurant

August 14, 2018

Every acclaimed restaurant aspires to achieve a moment that wows diners. At SingleThread, the Sonoma County restaurant that earned two Michelin stars last fall, less than a year after it opened, that moment happens before you take your first bite. On your table when you arrive is an edible work of art, an assemblage of more than a dozen delicacies—in shells, on little wooden planks, and on handmade ceramic plates— garlanded with greens and flowers from SingleThread’s farm, just five miles away. The tablescape is so beautiful that, like a waterfall or Japanese garden, it can take your breath away.

“These are beets, roasted in the hearth with shaved purple cauliflower from our farm,” says our server, explaining that every item is emblematic of the season. “This is a salad of lotus root with silken tofu made by one of our sous chefs; he’s been working on the recipe for about a year.” There are also mustard greens from the SingleThread farm, and Golden-eye snapper wrapped around braised kombu and sea palm. There is sesame-dressed young broccoli from the farm with a broccoli blossom. Moving on to the boards, there is Fort Bragg sea urchin, which was just coming into season in Northern California, served raw with some ahi tuna and a little bit of tamari dressing. And all this was just part of the first course.

Perhaps most remarkable: the tablescape and many of the dishes in the 11-course procession of Japan-meets-California cuisine were custom-made for my wife and me after conversations with chef Kyle Connaughton and his crew. Up to two months ahead of a guest’s arrival at SingleThread, a staff member gets in touch to ask about allergies and preferences, and whether you’re celebrating a special occasion. There’s no menu— until you leave when you receive an elegant paper folder listing each of your courses (mine was different than my wife’s, as I try to avoid milk products) and the wines or non-alcoholic beverages you enjoyed. (There’s a non-alcoholic pairing with creative juice mixes and infusions.)

“We create maximum flexibility for our guests,” Kyle says. “So if someone doesn’t like seafood or shellfish or they’re vegetarian or vegan or they have a nut allergy, we customize and tailor the experience individually.” Almost uniformly, reviewers have praised SingleThread, owned and run by Kyle and his wife Katina Connaughton, for opening with a fully realized vision. “Every aspect of the experience was buttoned downand polished,” wrote San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer shortly after the restaurant opened in December 2016. “I’ve never seen that before in a restaurant shooting for the stars. But then I’ve never seen a husband-and-wife team with such a focused and well-formed idea of what they wanted and how to get there.”

The restaurant occupies the site of a post office that burned down in 2009. After the fire, the Seghesio family, Sonoma County winemakers, bought the site and started building a tasting room, but during construction they sold their winery so no longer needed the space. The Connaughtons put together an investment group, acquired the property and halted construction. Then they brought in their own design team, which included San Francisco-based AvroKO, and built the restaurant of their dreams.

The structure is impressive, formidable without being foreboding. In good weather, which is most of the year, guests are invited onto the roof to enjoy a welcome drink and survey the view—if not for a ridgeline they’d be able to see SingleThread’s farm. I ask about the herbs growing in tall wooden planters, and Kyle pinches off a bit of pineapple sage. “Try one of these red flowers,” he says. The scent of pineapple hits my nose before I taste the piquant flower. In other planters are lemon verbena and kaffir lime leaf (often used in Thai cuisine), their citrusy aromas unmistakable. “It’s nice,” Kyle says, “because chefs can just run up and get some herbs.”

singlethread restuarant california

Back on the ground floor, the portal into the dining room is a 9-foot wooden door made at Sonoma Millworks in Healdsburg, a mile and a half away. And the interior of the 55-seat dining room is an earth-tone masterpiece of understatement and hidden touches, such as the fabric screens. Each screen’s pattern, a server explained, is based on the DNA sequence of a vegetable at its peak at that time. The November screen, for example, reflects the DNA pattern of kale. But there’s no pretension here: I wouldn’t have known about the screens if I hadn’t read about them and asked a server to reveal their secrets.

All these subtle notes, from the dining room door to sourcing produce from their own farm, are part of the single thread that ties the restaurant to its communities. On the kitchen shelves are donabe, clay cooking pots made in Iga, Japan, by master potters for eight generations, the Nagatani family, to whom the Connaughtons have become close. The Connaughtons buy miso from a family in Kyoto that they know well—their kombu comes from Hokkaido, where the couple once lived. Their vinegar producer is “the only one in Japan who grows its own organic rice. We go to them and they come out here, so there’s that connection,” Kyle says. “It’s personal.” The rest of this article can be read in print in Inspirato Magazine.

Three Mexican Villas in Los Cabos Perfect for Your Next Vacation

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Three Mexican Villas in Los Cabos Perfect for Your Next Vacation

May 24, 2018

The dream of a long, beach vacation is one of the things that gets you through your hardest days. Lounging near the ocean with a frozen drink in hand, the sound of your family laughing in the background accenting the rhythmic sound of waves, all indicators of pure bliss and relaxation. So when you go to book your next beach trip, one of these three Mexican Villas in Los Cabos will perfectly accommodate your wildest vacation dreams. 

First up, Joya del Mar, a modern Mexican villa. 

LosCabos-Res-JoyaDelMar-exterior sunset
Los Cabos-Res-Joya Del Mar-Patio Pool Beach Seating
Living Room, Joya del Mar, Los Cabos
Kitchen, Joya del Mar, Los Cabos
Bathroom, Joya del Mar, Los Cabos
Mini Golf Green, Joya del Mar, Los Cabos
Dining Room, Joya del Mar, Los Cabos
Terrace, Joya del Mar, Los Cabos

Welcome to Joya del Mar, a $9.9M oceanfront home within the stunning Punta Ballena community. Nestled in the rocky coastline, guests are invited to enjoy the best that Los Cabos has to offer. Whether you’re swimming in the heated, infinity-edge pool, relaxing in the hot tub overlooking the waves, or dining in the outdoor Palapa on the beach, you’ll be right at home soaking in this ocean paradise. High-end amenities, a breakfast service, and a modern interior design make Joya del Mar one of the most luxurious options in the region.

Next, there’s Costero, an oceanfront villa with a guest casita. Guests will enjoy ultimate luxury in this 3,300 square foot home that can comfortably accommodate up to 10 people. This gorgeous $5M villa sits on the ocean shore, and it even has a guest casita that’s not joined to the main house for added privacy. 

LosCabos_Res_Costero_Palapa Pool Beach View
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Kitchen, Costero, Los Cabos
Fire Pit, Costero, Los Cabos
Bathroom, Costero, Los Cabos
Pool, Costero, Los Cabos

With two infinity-edge pools and tons of outdoor space to explore, guests will never want to go inside. An outdoor palapa, fire pit, hot tub, and expansive terrace are just a few of the outdoor attractions at Costero. The home has panoramic views of the Sea of Cortez and Land’s End Arch, and it’s fully of handcrafted furnishings and original Mexican art that reflects the region.

And finally, there’s Villa Oasis. Located inside of the well-known Palmilla community, this beautiful home is truly one-of-a-kind. Large outdoor living spaces, a stunning interior, and plenty of available entertainment options guarantee that guests will have the vacation of a lifetime. And with both ocean and golf course views, you’ll get the best of both worlds every time you look outside.

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Los-Cabos_Palmilla_Villa-Oasis_Pool-Firepit-View Sunset
Master Bedroom, Villa Oasis, Los Cabos
Living Room, Villa Oasis, Los Cabos
Kitchen, Villa Oasis, Los Cabos
Living Room, Villa Oasis, Los Cabos
Master Bathroom, Villa Oasis, Los Cabos
Hot Tub, Villa Oasis, Los Cabos
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Terrace Dining, Villa Oasis, Los Cabos

Villa Oasis is only a short golf cart ride to the beach, restaurants, golf, and other resort amenities, and there are two golf carts available for guests to use upon their arrival. But if guests prefer to dine at home, there is a fully equipped kitchen available for home chefs as well as an option to dine indoors in the formal dining room or outdoors under the covered terrace. Villa Oasis is the perfect vacation option for beach lovers and sun-seekers alike. 

So the next time you’re planning a beach trip, come see all the beauty Los Cabos, Mexico has to offer. There really isn’t a better place to accommodate all of your wildest vacation dreams.

The Most Luxurious Beach Homes in Mexico You Can Rent

The Most Luxurious Beach Homes in Mexico You Can Rent

May 21, 2018

Mexico is known for its diverse landscape, rich culture, and world-class beaches. For beachgoers, there’s a variety of beaches to choose from on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. And while the beautiful beach options are plentiful, the luxury Mexican beach homes are harder to find. Explore the most luxurious options below.

Starting with Casa Mariposa in Real del Mar, Mexico. This expansive, hacienda-inspired villa is perched perfectly on a hillside offering sweeping ocean views of the Piedra Blance on the Mexican Riviera.

Casa Mariposa pool, Punta Mita, Mexico

Guests will lounge in luxury beside their infinity-edge pool at the Casa Mariposa.

Casa Mariposa master bedroom, Punta Mita, Mexico

The 1,000-square-foot master suite is on the top floor and has a private deck and hot tub.

Casa Mariposa exterior view, Punta Mita, Mexico

This expansive villa is located on a hillside with views of the Piedra Blanca on the Mexican Riviera.

Guests will enjoy a prepared breakfast in their large, gourmet kitchen every morning.

Casa Mariposa dining room, Punta Mita, Mexico

There are dining options indoors and outdoors, both with exceptional views.

Casa Mariposa living room, Real Del Mar, Mexico

Up to fourteen people can be comfortably accommodated in this 11,000 square foot villa.

Casa Mariposa overhead view exterior, Real Del Mar, Mexico

When guests want to enjoy the water, they have easy access to the beach or a private pool.

Casa Mariposa entryway, Real Del Mar, Mexico

Casa Mariposa was designed with luxury and local culture in mind.

Casa Mariposa pool dining, Real Del Mar, Mexico

Enjoying a margarita at sunset has never been more relaxing than under Casa Mariposa's palapa.

Casa Mariposa bedroom, Real Del Mar, Mexico

Because of the villa's unique, hillside location, sweeping ocean views grace every room.

Casa Mariposa boasts over 11,000 sq. ft., and it can accommodate up to 14 guests at a time with its 6 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. One of the most luxurious features of the home is the 1,000 sq. ft. master suite. Sitting on the top floor of the villa, guests staying in the master suite have access to a private deck and hot tub just for them. With a daily, prepared breakfast, guests are fueled to explore the town and beaches on their six-person golf cart. But if they prefer a day at their private pool, they can make some margaritas in their poolside palapa and enjoy the infinity pool and hot tub. 

Next is Villa Buenaventura in Los Cabos. Luxury has met its match at this stunning beach villa. This $6M home was built on a hillside right by the ocean with panoramic views of the Sea of Cortez. With shoreline access and plenty of outdoor space, guests will love lounging outdoors at this one-of-a-kind Mexican villa.

LosCabos-Residence-Buenaventura-EXT-Evening Exterior Pool

Villa Buenaventura has stunning ocean views surrounded by a unique, rocky lanscape.

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The luxurious experience begins from the moment guests walk through the front entrance.

LosCabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Dining Room

The open-air floor plan makes it easy for up to 12 guests to enjoy this villa at a time.

Los Cabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Hot Tub Sunrise

One of Villa Buenaventura's most luxurious features is the oceanfront hot tub.

Los Cabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Master Bedroom

With five bedrooms and seven-and-a-half bathrooms, there is plenty of space to relax.

Los Cabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Infinity Pool Daytime

The infinity pool views at Villa Buenaventura can't be beat.

Los Cabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Living Room

The villa's handcrafted furnishings and original Mexican artwork reflect the region.

Los Cabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Oceanfront Cabana

Guests can enjoy the beautiful views from inside or from their private outdoor terrace.

Los Cabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Kitchen

The gourmet kitchen is fully equipped for any home chef to prepare a delicious meal.

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This $6M oceanfront home is located within the Las Residencias at Punta Ballena community.

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The home's interior design allows guests to soak in the casual elegance of the Baja region.

Los Cabos-Residence-Buenaventura-Courtyard Firepit Night Sunset

Unique design elements, like the courtyard fire pit, make this luxury villa one of a kind.

Villa Buenaventura is located within the gated Las Residences at Punta Ballena community, and it has over 8,000 square feet to explore. This luxury villa is full of handcrafted furnishings and original artwork that reflects the elegance of Mexico’s Baja region, but with a private terrace and beachfront palapa, it’ll be hard to keep guests indoors. And when hunger strikes, there’s a gourmet kitchen and a grill out by the heated pool and hot tub.

And finally, Punta Vista in Punta de Mita. Just steps away from the beach, Punta Vista offers visitors the best in luxury vacations. Daily housekeeping and breakfast preparation are just a small part of what makes this vacation home so desirable. Not a detail was missed from the high-end furnishings to the luxury linens. 

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This luxury penthouse is a part of the impressive Los Veneros resort in Punta de Mita.

Punta de Mita_Los Veneros Patio Pool Day View

If guests aren't in the mood for a beach day, the terrace views are just as beautiful.

The home's open layout emphasizes natural light and gorgeous views.

Punta de Mita_Los Veneros Patio Pool Night

Any time is the perfect time to take a dip in Punta Vista's stunning infinity pool.

The daily housekeeper is also available to make breakfast each morning for guests.

Outdoor and indoor dining options both offer incredible views of Playa Destiladeras.

Punta de Mita_Los Veneros Pool Night

Expansive outdoor terraces allow guests to soak up the sun from any angle.

Punta de Mita_Los Veneros Patio View

Punta Vista's stunning beach and forest views are one of a kind.

Luxury linens and large windows help guests to feel right at home in this luxury home.

Punta de Mita_Los Veneros Pool Day View

Punta Vista is one of the most luxurious penthouse stays in Punta de Mita, Mexico.

It doesn’t matter if guests choose to soak in the ocean views from indoors, the pool, or on one of their expansive outdoor terraces, Punta Vista is located in a gated community that provides ultimate seclusion and relaxation. Guests also have the option of enjoying the local beach right outside their door or taking a short drive to visit the notorious beaches of Puerto Vallarta.

As you can see, Mexico is a much-loved luxury vacation spot for a reason. With such a wide variety of beaches, landscapes and homes, visitors are sure to get exactly what they want in a vacation.