Dance for France at The Cream Event in LA!

Put your dancing shoes on, Wanderers, cause it’s time to bust a move AKA win a free trip to France!

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We’ve teamed up with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who has spent the last decade checking into the world’s most stylish, inspiring and romantic boutique hotels, to offer a 7 night honeymoon in France at this year’s Cream Event in Los Angeles. This includes a $2,000 hotel credit in Paris (which can be used at any of the 65 properties in the Mr. and Mrs. Smith Hotel Collection in France), as well as 7 different Wanderable experiences, like a Flytographer photo shoot, Macaron making class, guided tours of Montmartre and Versailles and foodie excursions! In total, this prize is valued at over $5,000. Merci!

Whether you want a cutting edge hotel in the middle of the mountains or something overlooking the Eiffel Tower, Mr. and Mrs. Smith has got you covered. When it comes to honeymoons, they really do know a thing (or ten). Trust us, they will not disappoint.

If you’re lucky enough to score a ticket to the fabulous Cream Event, our Wanderable team will be judging the dance-off, where you can get in on this incredible prize. You better put your dancing shoes on because we are a couple of harsh judges when it comes to giving something away this epic.

Here is the grand prize break down:

45 minute Flytographer Paris Photo Shoot: No more awkward selfies. Flytographer is the perfect way to capture memories in Paris. Choose a personal photographer and photography route, and your photographer will snap your photo as you explore Paris.

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Macaron Class with Patisserie a la Carte: Become a native in no time with this Macaron class, where you will learn how to make the traditional (and delicious) macaron with a French chef. You’ll learn all the necessary techniques to make the perfect dessert and you even get to take your creations home!

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Skip the Line – Eiffel Tower Tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours: On this private, guided tour, you’ll get to skip the crazy Eiffel Tower lines and dive right into the history of this architectural feat. Your guide will regale you with stories of the tower’s history, pointing out monuments along the skyline as you bask in stunning views of the city.

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Versailles Bike Tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours: Venture into the splendor of Versailles, and escape the city for an invigorating bike ride through the elegant countryside. You’ll cruise through the Chateau’s charming trails to visit Marie Antoinette’s hamlet and both the Petit & Grand Trianons. After picnic-ing along the Grand Canal you’ll head to the Chateau itself, where you’ll walk through Marie Antoinette’s chambers and the breathtaking Hall of Mirrors.

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2 hour GPS Audio Guided Tour with Twiz Tour: This Twizy rental is a new way to see all the sights of the city! The Twizy is a 2-seat electric and automatic car with a GPS system that will explain everything you’ll need to know about the best monuments of Paris.

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Epicurean Traditions Food Walk of Paris with Paris by the Glass: Explore the St. Germain des Prés neighborhood of Paris during this tour, following your guide to visit the neighborhood’s best food shops. After enjoying samples at a charming bakery, chocolatier, old fashioned wine shop, family-run charcuterie, and award-winning cheese shop, you’ll wrap the tour up with beautiful pastries.

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Spirit of Montmartre Tour with Hidden Paris Walking Tour: On this private tour, you’ll be able to climb to the top of Montmartre. Along the way, your tour guide will regale you with stories about Montmartre’s rich past as you explore little shops along the way.

So, Wanderers, are you convinced yet? Well, just in case, we’ve gone ahead and added a few extra pics for your viewing pleasure. Good luck and dance for France at the Cream Event in LA!

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Our amazing partners:

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Interview with Wedding Extraordinaire Darren Allen Dunn

#Wanderable Tastemaker: Interview with wedding extraordinaire, Darren Allen Dunn

Staying Home is Overrated.

 

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It’s near-impossible not to envy the carefully curated life of wedding extraordinaire, Darren Allen Dunn. This event, wedding & production designer flutters between homes in Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, and Paris, leaving his Midas touch for design, and delighting his clients, wherever the universe leads him. We can’t get enough of his uplifting Instagram because his attention to detail is unlike any we’ve ever seen. In the worlds of Roald Dahl, “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you…those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Here we caught up with Darren so he could share some of his secrets for living wildly & freely.

Wanderable: What inspired you to become an wedding/event planner? Was it something you always dreamed of doing or something you just fell into?

Dunn: I’ve always been inspired by sounds, fabrics, found objects, spaces, and environments, but I sort of stumbled into the event business. While freelancing as a graphic designer, I was hired by a bridal boutique to re-brand them and lead their design. It was the beginning of the shift to digital, so there was a lot of hand-holding on my part to familiarize the owner with communicating his desired brand energy to a new and growing audience. We became friends, and meetings led to conceptualizing, designing and planning a sixty-model fashion show. From there, I became hooked. The natural progression blended all of my skills for a special, experiential purpose.

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Where did your signature hashtag #LifeYourBestLifestyle come from?

By nature I am curious, and I am a romantic and an adventurer. I always hold and see the beauty in fleeting moments, and my goal is to translate that feeling into a tangible journey for my clients. I want every experience DADL creates to be an extension of oneself, only elevated. For me that means spending time discovering who they are aesthetically, socially, psychologically, and spiritually, and illuminating their most natural traits to create a cohesive whole. While some designers and design industries are smoke and mirrors, I try to keep the purity of intention alive throughout the experience. My hope is that even after an invite date has passed, an elevated energy will carry on throughout their lives.

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Tell me a little bit about the process of planning an event (i.e. getting to know the couple, figuring out exactly what they want, budget, etc.)

One of the first questions I ask is, “How much do you want to spend?” Once that’s established, getting to the lifestyle core of clients really informs how I’ll work with them. I want to know what you feel, how you feel it and how that manifests itself. Why do you enjoy that particular shade of green? Where was your last vacation and why? Do you consider your friends family or vice versa? Why this wine over that? The questions can go on and on, and usually do, but the goal is to make sure the details are intrinsic to the client’s spirit. Love is in the details and this is why people hire event designers.

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Have you ever dealt with a bridezilla? How did you handle it?

Luckily, knock on wood, I haven’t had any clients I wouldn’t work with all over again. Know of any? I’m always up for a challenge.

What are a few things that all brides should know before they start planning their wedding?

I can’t say that I have a list of things all brides should know beforehand. I will say, however, that a wedding isn’t only the day printed on an invitation. Brides (and grooms) should remember that the festivities are simply the culmination of time spent putting into form the acknowledgement and celebration of a milestone. Lean in during every meeting, tasting, fitting, rehearsal and embrace the moments. Love is in the details, so don’t entertain negative energy or hints of stress because that really defeats the purpose of the entire happening and will only take away from a moment where you otherwise would have been fully present to learn even more about you and your partner.

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What are the biggest challenges that you face in working with clients to create their dream event?

Carte blanche is a dream come true, but that’s not always a reality. As an event designer, you’re usually chosen for your distinct point of view which is guided by a usually outrageous imagination. Bringing those ideas to fruition in a way that fulfills a client’s desires and stretches your ability all while remaining obtainable and true to vision is probably our biggest challenge.

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If you could choose one of our Wanderable Experiences (we have over 2,500!) which one would it be and why? 

I’m sort of living my Wanderable Experience at the moment in that this spring, we’ll be relocating flagship to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s an incredible time and an opportunity to be inspired by, experience and work in a part of the world where you’ll still find large areas of untouched geography blended so seamlessly with internationally influenced architecture, cuisine and entertainment.

What I find incredibly magical about Puerto Vallarta is that while it’s a major tourist and expat draw, its energy has remained largely unaffected by rapid growth and the authenticity of its people and history is still on full display. It hasn’t turned into a G10 rest stop, in part, because there’s a level of respect among many expats for the people and history that unfortunately I find lacking in some other destinations.

I would highly recommend renting a house or villa in the hills just north or south of Old Town because you’ll not only have full city and ocean views, but it’s easier to get around hotspots while simultaneously having neighbors who live and work right in the area. Also, I don’t want to give away too many secrets, but if you journey along the coast, just south of the city, there are tons of opportunities for relatively inexpensive boat rentals and snorkeling and some incredible restaurants that you otherwise wouldn’t know about if you only spend time in the city itself.

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What’s on your bucket list?

I was thinking about this a few days ago and have actually checked quite a few things off in the last year. However, of the remaining items I can actually share (laughter), I would say that my top three would be to spend about a month motor biking and camping through the Tanzanian mountains, participating in Carnival and seeing Rio de Janeiro from atop Christ the Redeemer, and discovering someone just as curious to do the first two with.

And we are confident that they will be the coolest couple ever. Stay tuned for more forays into Dunn’s exciting life on his social media and be sure to stay tuned on his website coming soon, which will feature posts and news for other aspiring adventurers. Thank you, Darren! We are never going to look at a table setting the same way again!

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#WanderingEyes featuring Andy Card

#WanderingEyes…An Artful New Series from Wanderable

We hope you wanderers have been enjoying our series #WanderableGypset, in which we glean highlights from the lives of some of our favorite professional haute-bohemian travelers. In this new series, we will shine a light on artists who travel the world documenting its beauty, and our first feature is the incomparable food & travel photographer Andy Card.

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Who is this Andy Card, you ask?

He is a well-respected food photographer turned travel blogger & photographer extraordinaire. We are obsessed with his sunny, minimalist aesthetic. He and his gorgeous girlfriend trot the globe hand in hand to exotic locales like Amalfi, Croatia, Serbia, and Paris…and Andy captures their brightest moments with rare precision. His photos imbue the world with a surreal, otherworldly dreaminess.

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Here are some of our absolute favorite snaps…and a quick exclusive one-on-one with the wunderkind himself.

Q: Why food?

A: Food is multi-faceted: It’s political, life-giving, and complex. It brings people together. It’s art. I appreciate Rembrandt, Picasso, or Monet, but I’d rather spend my time participating in works of art from gastronomic geniuses such as Adría, Achatz, or Redzepi. Besides, who doesn’t love food?

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Q: What is the best part about traveling with your GF?

A: The short answer is…everything. We like to skip the tourist attractions and find out where the best food markets are and explore, talk with the local food and wine producers in the region. She is high-energy like me, so we typically see a lot of what each city has to offer. The best part is being able to look back on all the places we have traveled and start sentences like: “Remember that sunset in Maui?” or “Remember that dinner in Florence?” I feel so lucky to share those moments with someone I treasure.

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Q: Most magical place you’ve ever been (and why)?

A: Hmm…this is a difficult question. I’ve been to a lot of magical places that are steeped in history, but if I have to choose, I would say India. I just went for my first time during Christmas, and it’s a complete culture shock. The colors and smells are plentiful. India is exotic. But what makes India so magical is the people. They are very caring and resourceful. They never stop feeding you! Oh, and don’t get me started on the food. The food there is beyond amazing.

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Q: Most delicious meal you’ve ever eaten (or the prettiest)?

A: Another difficult question, but I would say my dinner at Vendome in Germany. At the time, Vendome was ranked 10th best in the world and with three Michelin stars to its name, I knew it was going to be good. And it was better than what I expected. In total, the meal came out to around 20 courses. Everything you could imagine. The desserts were by far the prettiest I’ve seen, too. The best part always comes at the end of the dinner. Once you’ve pushed passed your limits, the waiter always comes by with something extra and you can’t turn it down. In this case, I was presented with a tray full of chocolate truffles. All different flavors and I could choose however many I desired. It was like a dream.

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Q: What do you hate about taking photos?

A: There are days when the conditions are not what you hoped for, your gear is not cooperating, or you’re just void of creativity for a particular shot. It’s not all fun. In fact, a lot of work is involved if you want a great shot, let alone a series of great shots. Food photography is especially fickle at times.

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Q: Why do you do it anyway?

A: It always comes back to that one shot that turned out surprisingly magnificent or that one compliment from someone whom you admire. That’s all it takes. The affirmation reminds me that all the hours spent preparing, photographing, and then post processing are worth it. Also, we all need to express ourselves. Photography gives me purpose when I travel, and it has fostered in me an encouragement & bravery to explore places I might not have otherwise ventured.

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Now you can see why we are so obsessed with Andy Card and his ah-mazing photography. He makes us want to wander the world and stop at every single restaurant along the way. Be sure to check out the rest of his incredible photography!

#WanderOn

Your Next Eurotrip with Chic Retreats

The top hotels in Europe are trés chic…here are our favorite picks for your next Eurotrip!

What do you look for when traveling somewhere new? Is it a comfortable atmosphere? Quality service? Spectacular views? Well, you already know all about our obsession with Chic Retreats — and we’re excited to give you a peek inside the luxurious hotels and villas that will be perfect for your next trip to Europe!

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The Grace Santorini

Grace Santorini: Expect nothing short of perfection with this stunning, award-winning boutique hotel. One of the most stylish escapes in Santorini, this luxurious hotel will “wow” you with its breathtaking views. Go ahead and try their signature drink: a blend of apple juice, pear puree, lemon juice and premium vodka and just a hint of lemon grass– while taking a dip in the hotel’s brand new infinity pool. Don’t mind if we do!

Insider tip: Go check out Flavors of Santorini while you’re at it and explore the secrets of Santorini’s agriculture.

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Locanda al Colle

Locanda al Colle: This restored farmhouse turned small, luxury hotel, is the perfect getaway while traveling through Tuscany. Between its panoramic terrace, nestled between olive trees, lavender and herbs, and its eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary art, this hotel experience is one that should not be missed. Seriously, check out that view!

Insider tip: Don’t forget to try Flytographer’s 60 Minute Photo Shoot in Tuscany so you don’t let those precious moments with your love go undocumented.

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JK Place in Rome

JK Place in Rome: Located in the heart of Rome, this sophisticated addition to the JK family is the ideal vacation spot. Just off the Via Condotti, you can walk around this busy, high-end street, and end your day with a glass of wine on the rooftop bar. Sounds ideal, right?!

Insider tip: Be sure to check out our Private Scooter Tour so you can feel like one of the locals, breezing through the narrow streets of this ancient city!

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The Levin Hotel

The Levin: This is the most private boutique hotel in all of Knightsbridge, that defines luxury on a smaller scale and is so close to Harrod’s that you might need to restrain yourselves. Oh, and did we mention that your purchases can be delivered right to your hotel room…for free?! Yeah, that’s right.

Insider tip: What would a trip to London be without taking a Beatles tour? Try The Magical Mystery Tour of London to ignite your passion for music and culture!

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Cas Gasi

Cas Gasi: Looking for a renovated farmhouse in the heart of Ibiza? Look no further Wanderers! The Cas Gasi is a small boutique hotel, set among tranquil olive groves and gardens, where guests can swim, head to the spa or even take a trip around the island in a private boat. After a day of straight relaxation, head to the city to explore Ibiza’s famous nightlife!

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The Gentleman of Verona

The Gentleman of Verona: One of the most romantic hotels throughout Verona, Italy, the Gentleman of Verona is both discreet and utterly lavish. The perfect getaway for any couple, including multiple nearby golf courses and for those who prefer a little art and culture, you can always check out Juliet’s home from Shakespeare’s famous Romeo and Juliet. Can you say romantic?!

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Sun Gardens Dubrovnik

Sun Gardens Dubrovnik: This luxurious hotel is the ultimate Croatian getaway, with the most phenomenal views along the Adriatic coastline. Check out the award-winning spa, the 3 lavish outdoor pools (including an adults only pool…perfect for your honeymoon, huh?), and the numerous restaurant/bar options. Trust us, you will NOT be disappointed.

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CasaTitta: Enjoy this charming 4-room bed and breakfast in Milan, close to the trendy district of Isola. This is the ideal home away from home and is situated in a vintage 1920’s building. There is also a beautiful rooftop terrace for those who want to soak up the sun or even do some yoga. Mmmmm, Vitamin D!

Insider tip: Don’t miss out on our incredible Scuba Diving Trip, where you and your love can explore the majestic waters of Italy!

So, Wanderers, if you are looking for a luxurious European boutique hotel that is not necessarily focused on hype but actually gets your heart racing, then Chic Retreats could be right up your alley. What are you waiting for? Give it a try! We know we want to. Also, make sure to “like” Chic Retreats on Facebook!

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How to Pamper on your Honeymoon

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Your honeymoon should be a time of pampering, for both parties. Here are some of our favorite ways to lavish love and attention on one another.

Turn up the romance all the way with special details in the hotel room. Have bouquets of flowers in the room when you arrive or leave petals on the floor and bed. A jacuzzi tub is always a nice upgrade to a hotel room and a nice way to relax. Line the the tub with candles and rose petals.

Get a limousine or private town-car service to take you around. Take cabs, rather than deal with public transportation.

Do something healthy and relaxing together. Get couples massages, facials, do partner yoga, or take a private yoga class on the beach. Add an extra twist to one of your outdoor adventures. If you’re going for a hike, pre-set a  picnic on the hiking trail.

Take your dining experiences to the next level. Have registrations set at the restaurant before you get there and surprise him or her with a serenade of “your song”. Treat yourselves to a dinner cruise with live jazz, go out for fondue and enjoy a bottle of fine wine, order room-service and eat dinner on your balcony, or have breakfast in bed.

Buy each other special souvenirs when the other is not looking. There are always those pieces that catch your eye, whether it be a piece of jewelry or art or clothing. Something that you see and love but don’t think you should spend the money on. Surprise your husband/wife and purchase it for them, when they are unaware.