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Heaven on Earth – South Africa's Babylon


Staring out over a magnificent, organic vegetable garden and the Franschhoek Mountains from my floor to ceiling glass-encased kitchenette in the luxury guest suite at Babylonstoren, I realize I've finally arrived. This is soul food personified.

Each beautifully designed and appointed luxury guest suite is reminiscent of a New York boutique loft, but nestled in the heart of the Cape Winelands in the Franschhoek Valley. Cozy fireplaces with a small library of books, luxurious bathrooms adorned with Victorian style baths, a stainless steel kitchenette with all the mod cons you could dream of, and the crisp white 700 thread count bed linen – every detail has been carefully considered and executed.

Pioneering in the art of organic luxury and presented in such a way that you don't even realize that you are being kind to the planet, the energies behind Babylonstoren (Ex-editor of Elle Deco, Karen Roos and her husband, media mogul, Koos Bekker) have found the perfect recipe for living a healthy, conscious life without losing the luxury. As I watch the gardeners, it dawns on me that in just a few moments they will be bringing the freshly picked produce directly out of the ground and onto my plate at the amazing Babel restaurant. Here, you get to choose your dish by color: Yellow, Red or Green. Spanning eight acres, the Babylonstoren garden is formal in structure. Every one of over 300 varieties of plants in the garden is edible and grown as biologically as possible.

Babylonstoren is one of the best preserved werfs (farm yards) in the Cape Dutch tradition and the manor house from 1777 and pioneer structures all the way back to the founding of the farm in 1690 are a testament to this.

The days are intentionally unscripted at Babylonstoren, leaving guests free to do as they please. Stroll out onto the farm of 200 hectares and, depending on the season, see fruit being picked in the orchards or vines being pruned. Enjoy a walk in the remarkable fruit and vegetable garden (guided if you feel like learning, or unguided for relaxation). Perhaps a swim in the farm dam or a bout in the gym, before sundowners or a sample of some of the finest wines grown on the slopes all around the Simonsberg. -- Nicole Sherwin.

Indulge Star Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)

 

-- Nicole Sherwin

 



RALPH LAUREN Automobile Masterpieces

 

Ralph Lauren is enjoying a European renaissance with a chic new Paris flagship store and restaurant in Saint-Germain and now a retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. At this Paris exhibit, however, you won’t find a single piece of clothing on display. As an avid collector of classic sports cars, Ralph Lauren’s vast collection spans an entire decade representing the finest in European craftsmanship. Curated by Rodolphe Rapetti and visually directed by renowned architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the 17- car collection highlights the architectural beauty and simplicity of the sports car form as it has evolved throughout the mid 20th century.

From the boxy and structured 1929 Bentley Blower to seductive lines and glossy lipstick-red 1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa, one can see how Ralph Lauren’s aesthetic as a designer merges seamlessly to his love of fine automobiles. Other notable cars on display include the 1938 Bugatti 57 SC Atlantic Coupé (one of only 4 made and valued between $30-40 million), a 1955 Jaguar XKD (one of the fastest cars of its time), as well as the 1931 Alfa Romeo Monza 8C 2300, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupé, a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, and a 1996 McLaren LM rounding out the remaining elite European automakers.

For those unable to be lured by the exhibit and the temptation of Paris in the spring, the museum will publish a collectible book commemorating the occasion.

The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces of the Ralph Lauren Collection April 28 – August 28, 2011 Musée des Arts Décoratifs 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001, Paris, France + 33 01 44 55 57 50

 

-- Shayan Rayani




HEARTFELT WITH SHEILA KAR

 

On Monday, February 14th, Dr. Sheila Kar, Clinical Chief of Cardiology for the Healthy Heart Institute at Cedars Sinai and founder of the Sheila Kar Health Foundation celebrated the 7th Annual Valentine's Day Evening honoring renowned director Brett Ratner and Dr. Dean Ornish at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

Dr.Sheila Kar hosted the evening with Saturday Night Live veteran and comedian Joe Piscopo, who even performed a duet with his son, actor and director, Joey Piscopo, and presented the 2011 Sheila Kar Health Foundation Humanitarian Award along with friend and producer Martha De Laurentiis to Ratner via skype from New York City, while he was working on the production of his newest film "Tower Heist".

The "Heartfelt" night continued with a fashion show with designs by Eva Varro and a special collaboration with Paige Adams-Gellar, founder of Paige Premium Denim Jeans. Guests including producer Lawrence Bender, actress Maja Mandzuka, singer India Arie, and Peter Guber (CEO of Mandalay Entertainment), danced the night away to music performed by Don Felder (The Eagles) and his band.



 

Ask the Savvy Traveler
Dolly Shukla

www.SavvyTravelerIntl.com

After 20 years of International airline and top-of-the-line hotel management experience , Dolly Shukla concluded there was no one in the travel industry working exclusively for the passenger. "I've handled A-list celebs, corporate executives, and even heads of state" she says, "but the fact is, in today's over-stressed, agency-driven travel market, everybody is going to face problems at some point that only an advocate with insider knowledge can fix."

The Savvy Traveler is Dolly Shukla's brainchild, a travel management and crisis consulting service, where nothing is too difficult to solve. Dolly Shukla offers INDULGE readers two key tips to remember this travel season:

1. If you get re-booked on another carrier because of a cancellation, don't forgo your frequent flier miles. "you're entitled to them on the original carrier" she explains.

2. For overseas travel, it's preferred to contact the local consulate for your destination, to ensure you have the appropriate visa documentation. "I hate to say it, but too many people rely on travel agents for this, and it can be a costly mistake". The airline will get fined for erroneously boarding a passenger without the appropriate visa, and the passenger will get deported, refusing entry into the country of destination.

For more information on finessing seamless travels, please contact The Savvy Traveler at: TheSavvyTraveler@hotmail.com


"THE TWO KRISHNAS"
now available for pre-order on Amazon.com

"Complex and heart-wrenching." Chitra Divakaruni (The Palace of Illusions)

"Gripping...touching and masterfully written." Bapsi Sidhwa (Cracking India)

"A classic tale of tragic, forbidden love." Christopher Rice (A Density of Souls)


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