Chalupas: How to Prepare

Chalupas

Ingredients (1 serving):

Small tortillas (around 4-5 inches in diameter) 4 Pieces
Green cooked Salsa 2 Tablespoons
Chipotle Salsa 2 Tablespoons
Chopped White Onion 2 Teaspoons
Shredded Beef 5 oz.
Melted Pork Butter 2 Tablespoons

Directions:

1.Dip tortillas in the melted pork butter and drain excess.
2.Slightly “brown” the tortillas on a griddle.
3.Pour chipotle sauce and green sauce over the tortillas.
4.Add the shredded beef and chopped white onions.

Green salsa ingredients (6 cups):

Pealed Tomato 18 oz.
White Onion ¼ Pieces
Garlic ½ Teeth
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Coriander 1 Branch
Water 2 Cups
Chile Serrano 3 Pieces
Oil 1 Tablespoon
Chicken Broth ¼ Cup

Green salsa directions:

1.Place water to boil and add the tomato. When water is boiling add the garlic, onions and the chile serrano. Let rest for several minutes. Rinse and mix the ingredients inside a blender.
2.Pour a tablespoon of oil into a pan and add the salsa. Let it boil and remove the foam.
3.Blend a cup of salsa with the coriander, add salt, and return it to the pan. Add the chicken broth for flavor.

Dosing Your Dosha in Ancient India

Camels in India

In India, it is the “science of life” that is practiced through ancient healing ways. The healing touch, the gently applied oils and scents, the absorbing of delectable aromas within a meditative steam or soaking session would not be considered pampering per se, but a way of life and a way of keeping the body in harmony with nature in common rituals handed down through the centuries.

This is the discipline of Ayurveda, possibly the oldest wisdom of the body and its healing ways. To experience a spa in India is to experience 5,000 years of Ayurveda practice.

The Sanskrit tradition purports that each person is made up of space, air, fire, water and earth and balancing these forces is the job of a practitioner. Each person thus falls into one of three possible body types or doshas: Kapha (earth/water), Pitta (fire/water) and Vata (air/space) and for each dosha, a system of treatments is devised to help the person detoxify, heal and thrive.

Whether at a resort spa in the southern backwaters of Kerala, an international hotel in the resort beachlands of Goa, a business property in Mumbai(formerly Bombay) or a day spa in New Delhi, the pampering a guest will receive will be influenced by these ancient traditions with herbal oil massages and plant-based medicines that will keep the body in line. It was the ancient Hindus that discovered the energizing properties of peppermint and eucalyptus oils, and the mood soothing elements of frankincense, rose, myrrh, sandalwood and patchouli oils. They used lemon, grapefruit and cypress as well as coconut, sesame tamarind, datura, ginger, dill and salt to detoxify, cleanse and boost circulation. Today, as then, these attars are put to work in such treatments as the “shiroabhyanga,” that massages the head while oils are carefully and slowly poured on the third eye; or the “abhyangam”—an hour-long oil massage administered in sync by two therapists; or the “pizichil”: an oil bath given in tandem by two therapists as the vaida or doctor orders precise movements. Each session might last an hour or might last four. Special teas and foods will be suggested and offered according to their heat properties and special prayers or mantras may be chanted. The oils will stick and feel uncomfortable, but the cleansing that results will feel indescribable.

Because Ayurveda is as much a part of the India experience as saris, curries and bicycles, these treatments will be found at the best hotels, including Oberoi, one of India’s top-tier hotel chains, which features spas by Banyan Tree, a world-renowned luxury spa company based in Singapore.

There are several such spas in India, including Oberoi New Delhi, Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, Oberoi Rajvilas Jaipur, Oberoi Vanyavilas Ranthambore, Oberoi Udaivilas Udaipur and Wildflower Hall in the Himalayas in Shimla.

The Oberoi New Delhi is modern and centrally located, overlooking the immaculate greens of the Delhi Golf Club. In Agra, the Oberoi, Amarvilas is less than a half-mile from the Taj Mahal with unobstructed views of this wonder from nearly every room, including treatment rooms at the spa.  “Noor-E-Jahan” a signature spa therapy at Amarvilas was created as a tribute to beauty traditions from the royal palace of the Mughals.

Meanwhile, Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur sits on 32-acres of gardens, pools and fountains. Signature spa experiences include “Royal Splendour” and the “Spirit of Ayurveda,” based on strict Ayurvedic formulas.

The Oberoi Vanyavilas in Ranthambore has a jungle locale where tiger safaris are the attraction. The resort combines exhilarating jungle experiences with the luxury of specially appointed spa suites and a range of exotic treatments and therapies, such as the signature “Tree of Life” and “Secrets of the Forest.” In Udaipur, Oberoi Udaivilas, is themed in the romance and splendor of a bygone era. The spa wing at The Oberoi Udaivilas overlooks Lake Pichola and includes five double spa suites, a separate Ayurvedic treatment room and a steam room.  Specialties include daily yoga, meditation and Pranayam sessions in addition to an extensive menu of spa therapies. Finally, Oberoi Wildflower Hall in Shimla located high the Himalayas, is situated on a magnificent perch 8,350 feet into the Himalayan foothills. Two Spa Forest Pavilions on property’s 22 acres of thick cedar and pine forests. The indoor heated swimming pool and outdoor infinity pool provide majestic views of the Greater Himalayas.

Oberoi Wildflower Hall is running a four-night adventure/spa retreat package through March that  includes premium lodging, daily breakfast, a white water rafting trip with guide, transport and picnic lunch, a one-hour biking trip with a guide or three-hour forest walk with a naturalist, daily yoga and meditation sessions, complimentary use of spa and fitness center and a 60-minute spa treatment. The inclusive rate per couple is $1,520.

Ananda in the Himalayas, a Preferred Hotel, is another treat for the senses. The mountain hideaway is dedicated to restoring balance and energy through a holistic approach that uses yoga, Ayurveda and aromatherapy, along with contemporary spa technology, all seeking to balance the five elements of nature and create harmony between the mind, body and spirit. Rates per couple range from $490 for a Deluxe Palace View Room to $1,225 for a night in the Vice Regal Suite  and include scheduled aerobics, yoga, or meditation classes; scheduled hiking trips in the Himalayan foothills; use of spa areas such as the sauna, steam bath, and Jacuzzi; complimentary use of the gymnasium and swimming pool.  Additional suite inclusions are breakfast for two served in the suite or restaurant; choice of two aromatic baths; and railway station or airport transfers. Guests staying for at least three nights receive a night on the house.  All inclusive Wellness Packages packed with blissful healing treatments start at $2,090 for two people for three nights.

The resort, which opened in September 2000 and has been hot-listed by Conde Nast Traveller UK, Travel & Leisure and Gourmet magazines, is set within 100 acres of virgin forest in the Himalayas on a Maharaja’s palace estate just north of New Delhi. By air, Ananda is a 45-minute flight from New Delhi followed by a one-hour drive. By rail, it’s a four-hour journey from New Delhi to Haridwar railway station followed by a one-hour drive. The driving time between New Delhi and Narendra Nagar is approximately five and a half hours.

Tale of the Thai White Temple

White Temple in Thailand

It could be a set out of What Dreams May Come, as Robin Williams wanders the sewers of Hell. Or it could be a bullet on a page of Ten Temples You Should See Before You Die. This apparition rises from the fruit fields on the road to Chiang Rai in northern Thailand almost like a crystal cathedral off the San Diego Freeway. The only thing it lacks is an angry preacher.

 

Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple, is a spectacle in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps it is the very definition of the nirvana it is trying to capture – a blinding enlightenment coming from the patience, perseverance, and vision of one man: artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. Thirteen years in the making so far, the temple is part of a sprawling, six-acre complex of white paint and mirrored glass with a bridge that passes over a sculpted river of grotesque figures of sin and suffering to get to the ubosot, or assembly hall — one of the three main structures in this creation to date. Day or night Wat Rong Khun is a splendid display of imagination that plays upon the sunlight and moonlight with sparkling reflections, enhanced by a menagerie of creatures amid calm ponds.

 

Kositpipat, a devout Buddhist of 55 who sold paintings for 20 years to launch the project, got to work on the Wat with a small army of disciples 1998. And he is taking until eternity – or 2070, he projects – to get the job done. Completion calls for nine equally painstakingly ornate white buildings, including a crematorium, each with a grand lesson in morality to teach.

 

Most Buddhist temples pay homage to the life of Buddha in colorful images of lotus blooms and monsters that depict the faces, lessons and ascent of the master of enlightenment. The murals in this ubosot read like a painted alleyway in Hollywood. Red skull traffic cones line the road like so many Halloween candles. And once past the river of writhing hands and body parts the temple walls depict images of whores, alcohol, cigarettes and all manor of vice, plus New York cityscapes, weapons, spaceships, even Superman and Neo from Matrix – basically whatever seemed to come into Kositpipat’s brain from the headlines of the day. A sign posted boldly on the gift shop wall reads, “Wat Rong Khun is a Buddhist place of worship and unfortunately, due to many incidents of inappropriate behavior, our foreign visitors will not be permitted to enter the temple without your guide.” But a bored guard at the door to the hall hardly pays attention to the sad sign.

 

Entry is free and a gift shop sells artful T-shirts and the artist’s prints. Or there are the bottles of Mao berry juice, honey and fresh fried worms to be purchased next door.

Marriages and Manhouts in Thailand

Manhouts in Thailand

 

For travelers who want a taste of the wild while contributing to the welfare of the jungle and its inhabitants, Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle in Thailand provides a bonding memory that brings in the element of “never forgetting.”

 

The camp’s 15 inside/outside bungalows evoke the era of 19th century explorers but with amenities that range from wood-burning fireplaces, private terraces over the rainforest, rainshower outdoor showers and copper tubs for two, jungle walks through the cliffside resort expanse, jungle-shrouded side-by-side spa treatments, and a swimming pool overlooking the river.

 

But the camp offers something not found elsewhere – mahout lessons. The all-inclusive nature of this luxury camp extends to adopting an elephant and riding it, talking to it, feeding it and caring for it while visiting. Each elephant is a rescue elephant that was abandoned by loggers or farmers and left to wander to streets of Thailand’s cities with dim prospects for survival. A portion of each booking at the camp goes to an active elephant rescue foundation in Thailand.

 

“We get a lot of honeymooners here. It is a very romantic place. There is a lot of alone time as you are pretty isolated in this area at the border of Burma, Laos and Thailand with nothing but the sounds of birds and wildlife around you. But you are really not alone at all as you are out there exploring the jungle every day and forming a bond with the elephants,” says Maria Kuhn, spokesman for Four Seasons properties in Thailand.

 

A fairy tale wedding can be ordered up at the camp – but the knight in shining armor is actually a groom on an elephant. The sunset wedding ceremony takes place on the pachyderm’s back at the Camp’s summit with vantages of three countries. A white orchid campfire dinner for two culminates in the launching of traditional Thai lanterns into the night sky carrying the wishes of the newlyweds to the gods.

 

The camp can accommodate up to 30 guests total. An all-inclusive three- or four-night adventure package, which includes all meals and (house) libations plus arranged activities, mahout training and elephant excursions, one 90-minute spa treatment per guest and roundtrip air transfers from Chiang Rai International Airport runs around $1650 to $2,110 per night in a luxury tent through September and comes with a four or fifth night free.

To the Ends of the Earth…MV Orion

MV Orion

Ok, here’s remote: this continent only allows 100 people to be on it at one time – and that includes the dozen or so odd lots that live there on and off.

It’s not a hard riddle to answer but it is a steep challenge to become one of those 100.

Antarctica is closer than most people think – 4,152 miles from Chile, but only 3,394 miles from New Zealand as the crow flies. And that takes you to the shelf’s more isolated reaches of Cape Denison, the site of Sir Douglas Mawson’s untouched hut from the historic 1911-1913 expedition.

“It’s not just that this place is inaccessible,” says marine biologist Mick Fogg. “The fact is that more people have been to the top of Everest than have visited this historic hut and once you get there it’s like the explorers never left. Everything is exactly as it was a hundred years ago!”

Fogg is just one of the guiding lights aboard the MV Orion, an 106-passenger expedition yacht that plies the seas in search of the earth’s most remote places. It spends most of its time moving around the South Pacific – from Australia’s top end to Indonesia and Borneo to Papua New Guinea and south to New Zealand, Antarctica and the islands in between. It’s a zodiac-carrying vessel that drops anchor when an intriguing island is in sight and sends the rafts out to the beaches for exploration. It’s a green kind of trip that brings needed cargo to remote villages and islands along the way and allows passengers to get an intimate view of rarely seen cultures.

But it is also a luxurious vessel that passengers return to at the end of a hot and grueling day climbing through canyons in Arnhem Land in search of 15,000-year-old graffiti; or wandering still rainforests in search of endangered primates in Borneo; or seeking out the secrets of sake and vodka in Japan and the Russian Far East.

The Orion is a purpose built ship able to take on the earth and its challenges, but keeping a standard of luxury in place at all times. Only about 50 couples (and some rooms and suites can accommodate families) come aboard for the seven- to 21-night cruises. Rooms have ocean views, marble bathrooms, complimentary 24-hour room service, flat screen TVs, DVD/CD players, internet connectivity, a personal safe, hairdryer and a mini-refrigerator continuously stocked with bottled water. Even the smallest stateroom (175 square feet) has a view.

Ships sale with a cadre of specialists and natural history buffs on board, and seminars, both on and off the ship, are in constant activity. For its size, the ship still fits it all in – the gym, the spa, the library, the boutique, the salon, the bars, the restaurants, the observation lounges and the lecture hall. No, there is no Vegas-style show on this trip. Just the dry stuff of scholars and travelers. Also, not everything is included with the tariff. Many excursions are, and many are not. Similarly, spirits and fine wines can be purchased on board. Massage treatments start at around $70. Internet runs around $30 an hour.

Excursion rates tend to run on the high side, starting at around $10,000 per couple for the bottom category stateroom on a seven-night expedition through the Great Barrier Reef, for example. But inventory sells out quickly and the company is launching a sister ship next May: the all-suite Orion II, which will make its maiden voyage on a 24-day cruise from Vancouver to Japan before making a home in Southeast Asia and focusing on Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan’s Inland Sea and Indonesia.

 

Rooms with a View in Tahiti

Hilton Bora Bora Nui Presidential Suite

Even if you’re not getting married in Tahiti you can still invite the folks, the cousins, and what about the neighbors for a celebratory stay in French Polynesia’s latest resort manse: one of two Presidential Overwater Bungalows that opened recently at Hilton Bora Bora Nui. The mighty bungalows get their buzz strength from debuting as the first bi-level, overwater guest accommodations in the archipelago. And, indeed, there is room to spare in these spreads, far beyond the two bedrooms, three bathrooms, private pool, sundecks galore and personal Pacific Ocean to dive into.

The mini-mansions made their close-up in December as a counter-offer to the Royal Villas at the St. Regis and the luxury beachfront villas available at the new Four Seasons Bora Bora. They measure more than 3,000 square feet with all the conveniences of a modern Manhattan residence: mp3 players, assorted satellite TVs, Wifi, voicemail, cocktail bars, coffee service and, well, diving equipment.

Plus each villa comes with a couple of things most abodes do not: private check-in, welcome and farewell gifts, a bottle of Champagne and a fresh fruit platter waiting in the living room, complimentary in-villa massages in the “Well-Being” room (where there is a massage table, sofa, a sauna and a spacious bathroom), and twice-daily turndown service.

Hilton Hotels purchased the former Starwood property last year and the property’s 120 rooms, suites and villas underwent a general refurbishment. The resort extends along some 16 hillside acres providing views of the ocean and atolls from a variety of vantages, including the hilltop spa. It’s is an easy 15 minute “cruise” from the airport (which is a 45-minute flight from Papeete), and that said, anywhere you want to go in this remote Tahitian string of pearls requires the benefit of a motorboat rather than wheels. Getting out around Bora Bora – whether dining at Bloody Mary’s across the lagoon (a lively crowded seafood restaurant where patrons have their pick grilled, imbibe decorative alcoholic fruit drinks and walk on sand floors), feeding the mouths of friendly stingrays or tossing chum to the not so friendly sharks, can be arranged at the hotel at a moment’s notice.

But most of the time will be spent on the beach, on personal decks, dipping in the property’s stunning 1000 square meter infinity pool, or swimming with the fish in clear waters accessed right from the edge of your deck.

The two new overwater Presidential Villas run around $4,500 per night as a published rate.

La Mamounia: Still Magnificent

La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech

 

If it looks like a movie set, that is because it is. Mamounia has played background to such classics as Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much and Morocco with Marlene Dietrich. And the stars continue to haunt the mosaic-tiled halls: Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom and Salma Hayek are recent sightings.

But Mamounia’s history is much deeper than the fleeting flash of stardom. The circa-1923 hotel in the middle of Marrakech has seen its share of presidents as well: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt retreated there following a strategic summit during WWII. Today, following a three-year $180 million makeover La Mamounia is again in the spotlight, having opened its intricately carved doors last fall to reveal new interiors of Art Deco and Arabesque by famed French designer Jacques Garcia.

The property is surrounded by sprawling gardens more than two centuries old. And while the curious can admire the hotel from these vantages, they cannot glimpse the cavernous marble corridors or antique-laden lobby unless they book a reservation – for dinner or the night in one of the hotel’s 136 rooms or 71 suites.

Once in, the 27,000-square-foot spa should be sought, if only for a gaze upon the indoor pool surrounded by white couches and golden columns. The hamam lies just below where guests purify from the inside out on heated marble platforms surrounded by mesmerizing plays of ancient zellij design while doting attendants scrub the body until any memory of dirt disappears.

La Mamounia has come up with three exclusive “Unique Experiences” celebrating the mystique of Marrakech all available through the end of June.  From private art lessons with local artists, a helicopter ride through the Atlas Mountains and shopping with the Souk’s savviest shopping experts, visitors can have a seamless Moroccan sojourn with a stay in the country’s legendary digs.

* Majorelle’s Footsteps Experience:

Beginning with a complimentary airport transfer in a ruby red Jaguar guests get a jet-lag massage upon arrival and over the next three days, experience a 90-minute Hamam ritual, private art lessons with a local artist, a guided visit of the famous Majorelle Gardens and a tour of the Marrakech with a professional photographer. In addition, guests have a breakfast each morning, plus a la carte dinners at L’Italien and at Le Marocain, two of Morocco’s top restaurants.  Expect to pay around $4,500 per room per couple for three nights.

 

* Shopping Experience:

Similarly, this option begins with a complimentary airport transfer and a relaxing massage upon arrival. Over the next three days, guests take in the traditional a 90-minute Hamam ritual and then run around the faded pink city in a guided shopping tour of Marrakech that includes a $1,000 credit at selected boutiques at La Mamounia. The Shopping Experience also includes a beauty package: hair brushing and make-up for her, and haircut and shaving for him. Each morning, it’s a buffet breakfast, and for dinner, consider cocktails and a la carte dinner at Le Marocain – plus dinner reservations one night at an upscale restaurant in Marrakech. Rates run $5,700 per room, per couple for three nights.

 

* Morocco by Air Experience:

As with the other experiences, this choice starts with Jaguar or Range Rovers airport transfers and massage upon arrival. Over the next three days, guests enjoy a helicopter ride around the Atlas Mountains and a balloon ride at dawn. The thrill of the heights are complemented by the down to earth pleasures of the 90-minute Hamam ritual – and an added 90-minute Shiseido massage. It’s buffet breakfast each morning, as well as a la carte dinner at Le Marocain and another dinner at Le Francais by Jean Pierre Vigato. Prices begin at $10,500 per room per couple based for the three nights.

Rack rates run $558 per room per night.