Tag Archives: travel

Casa Palopo

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Carved into the side of a mountain, high atop Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, sits the tranquil yet stylish Casa Palopo. The boutique luxury resort consists of only 7 rooms with the crown jewel being the villa on the highest perch, a perfect home to share with girlfriends or a small traveling group. The picturesque pool, the outdoor fireplaces, and the one-of-a-kind decor, with many items imported from Africa, make this a total fantasy of living. From veranda to veranda it’s impossible to feel stress here when all your eyes gaze upon is a view of nature’s spectacular show.

I wish I could have spent a thousand nights here, tucked away into the side of the hill, spending my days painting the ever changing colors of the sky and feeling the beauty of life discovered in Guatemala.

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Kelly wears a dress by Jonathan Cohen, belt purchased from a local Guatemalan market

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Enjoying the view in a dress by Jonathan Cohen.

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Morning coffee on the veranda in Anna Sammarone wrap day gown. 

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Sister secrets in Tanya Taylor  

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Afternoon light in the blue room in KAELEN

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More Resorts to Love:

British Virgin Islands || Cancun || Dominican Republic || Bali || Tulum

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Mercado Global

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When Mercado Global emailed to see if I would be interested in visiting the communities of their local artisans in Guatemala, I knew it would allow me to gain a greater knowledge as to what goes into their products. Opening yourself up to experiences like these means the world around you changes. Your association with products is affected by sentimental value but goes beyond sales and trends when you understand the craftsmanship that goes into a product: like when I watched how they painstakingly make CHANEL couture or viewed the tiny delicate details of Chopard’s high jewelry making. Once you peek at the process behind the curtain, you understand how important craftsmanship and expertise is.

These women are experts in the traditional Mayan weaving process, an age-old tradition passed down through generations. What Mercado Global helps them achieve is not only preservation of an ancient artistry, but a partnership that empowers women to break the cycle of poverty by helping them run their own independent business. This opportunity creates sustainable livelihoods for their families and can help turn around entire communities.

One woman I spoke with said her husband was in an accident and was unable to work. Being the only source of income, she had to find a way to support her family. Though the business model set up by Mercado Global, she was able to buy a loom and begin producing fabrics such as the ones you see here which are then purchased by Mercado Global. The artisans do not work exclusively with Mercado Global; once they own the loom they can sell their designs to a newly available international market they once had no access to. On her single income, this woman we spoke to was able to pay for all seven of her children to go to school. On average, these Mayan artisans make three times the national average wage of Guatemalans. These women are changing the culture by being business owners and major contributors to their local community, which gives them the power and tools to fight against major issues like female violence, malnutrition, and illiteracy. Mercado Global not only sets these women up for a viable future but also goes into the communities with programs to educate them on financial management, heath and wellness, and nutrition.

There is now a network of over 400 women artisans in over 40 cooperatives throughout the rural highlands of Guatemala. Below are images from the small town of Comolapa we visited, watching as the artisans worked in a weaving cooperative on floor looms, making fabric by hand that would ultimately become the perfect market tote or evening clutch… but this time, with a story of change. I love carrying mine around the city, feeling the fabric under my fingers and the spirit of these women inspiring me to take control of life while being an expert in my artistry.

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Snapshots from Guatemala

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I love that moment on a plane when  you begin your final descent into a new country and you catch that first glance down onto foreign soil. What are the colors? How is the light? What does the landscape look like? I’ll never forget watching the sunrise over the flat dusty plains as I touched down in Africa, or seeing the Patagonian glaciers of Chile streaked in time. Looking at Guatemala from that little frame, I was enchanted with the layers of volcanoes dancing along the horizon line of a setting sun.

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It was just a weekend getaway, a short stop through Antigua, one of the most beautiful and romantic places I’ve ever seen. We didn’t have time to wander around, but I swore I would come back someday to photograph it and stay at the heartbreakingly beautiful Meson Panza Verde. We had a late dinner there on our last night in Guatemala where I discovered its enchantment. From there, we ventured around the lakeside town of Panajachel where the fashion accessory brand Mercado Global‘s design offices are located. The purpose of this trip was to discover the craftsmanship behind these artisanal bags. We spent a little time in Santiago Atitlan and in the hillside town of Santa Catarina Palapo where we slept in a dream villa.

I have many takeaways from Guatemala. The fruit is incredible. The people, so petite, have beautiful traditions they keep despite the reach of globalization. I loved comparing their dress to how the Peruvian women dress, each in their specific way. The colors in their clothing are mimicked in the textiles of the market and in the lush landscape, bursting with flowers in hues of sherbet orange and hot fuchsia. As we wandered through the old colonial built towns, there was the distinctive sound of women’s hands patting out corn tortillas. I’ll never forget the way they tasted hot off the griddle. I loved how drivers would honk as a courtesy, a way to say thank you. Perhaps my favorite feature of this beautiful country though are her volcanoes. It had not been since Bali that I found myself gazing upon such a scene. Every day brought a new view: sometimes we spotted smoke billowing from the top of a volcano, sometimes we admired their silhouettes against a setting sun. I found them a constant reminder that the earth is alive beneath our feet, and as I stood in Guatemala, I was reminded of how alive I am, too.

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Algodon Wine Estate

Algodon_Wine_Estate_02 When you live in one of the biggest cities in the world, sometimes the only true escape from that life is heading to the country. As much as I loved the culture of Buenos Aires, I was happy to find myself in Argentina’s wine region at a new and beautiful estate called Algodon. Having just visited the fields of Dom Pérignon during harvest, it was a lovely contrast to see a vineyard in spring, the first buds of the season reaching out of the bark in perfect rows. I spent the first afternoon quietly swinging on my porch hammock, watching the light dance in the trees and feeling the cool spring breeze on my face. The quiet was an escape I had been longing for, and being surrounded by spring made me feel ready for a creative rebirth.

Algodon in Spanish means cotton. The estate was named after the Cotton Club in New York City for its sophistication, elegance, and distinction—and the club lifestyle certainly made its way here. You can play golf, ride bikes, play tennis, go horseback riding, have a massage, or enjoy wine tastings throughout the day. Though the main farm house was built in the 1920s, the property did not become a winery until 2002, with the first bottles of wine ready in 2005.

The original La Casona, or villa, has three petite rooms with original wood floors, fireplaces, and French doors opening to a wraparound porch. So charming and romantic! I loved the simplicity of the room, which quieted my mind and complimented the natural beauty waiting just outside. More recently, a second villa was built in a similar style with larger suites, stove-pipe fireplaces and a stunning main room wrapped in window light.

One of the highlights from Algodon was of course the winemaker’s Mauro Nosenzo’s tour through the vineyard and winery. They produce everything from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and my favorite, “Pima”, which is the star wine of the property, aged 24 months in French oak barrels. This special blend is named after the finest cotton in the world, produced in Peru and known world-wide as the smoothest variety. I loved it so much I bought a case and I look forward to the warm memories of the winemaker filling my glass straight from the barrel on this peaceful spring day.

After our tours, a tasting, and a beautiful lunch at the property’s restaurant in front of a roaring fire, we set out for the rest of the afternoon to explore the Argentinean countryside on horseback. I love horseback riding in South America, it compliments my romantic sensibilities and gives you a greater connection to the land, to the power of nature that defines it. For a few hours I galloped through the rows of vineyards, around the apricot orchard and through the olive trees, over the streams until I was out in the wild countryside gazing upon an endless horizon of wildflowers dancing below a purple mountain sky. It was heaven on earth….

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