Hotel and Spa Gardens

I have a confession — I think I am getting on my husband’s nerves….but I can’t stop.

monastero santa rosa amalfi coastIt’s January, cold and I’m up for a get-out-of -town sort of adventure.   So all weekend I found myself suggesting we could go there…we were talking about my daughter trying out for the play footloose (which takes place in the Midwest) — I say, “Hey we could go to Chicago”….then my daughter is reading Guinness Book of World Records – out loud -…(the largest coral reef is in Belize) – “Hey, we could go there, or maybe just Central America in general” I say.  Then while researching for my book project, I discover a small apartment (perfect for 4) in Istanbul with a pretty garden will only run us $410/ per week….”We could sooo go there….”

I’ve got wanderlust on the mind, hardcore….then (again with the book research) came Monastero Santa Rosa on the Amalfi Coast….and it’s cliff side gardens.  Yep, we could go there (but I am not saying it ….).

You gotta check it out…(click through and then onto garden gallery) — to virtually whisk yourself away.

image via Fancy

hotel viseu

Nini Andrade Silva is an award-winning designer for hotel interiors.  But she is so much more than just a designer.

As she says: “I don’t have one job. I have a career. And it revolves around creation and creativity.”  Which is why, when she works in an area (she is based in Portugal but works worldwide) she gets more involved that just with the project at hand.

hotel Aquapura Doudo Valley

Nini’s style has been given its very own label in the industry: Ninimalist. It is minimalist, but with soul (she says).  “Design is not what you see, but what you feel. Before I start on a project, I would walk around the town. I want to feel the pulse of the place, talk to the people, feel the energy. Then I will incorporate all that into the design,” she says.  Her trademark is to marry her designs and the landscape, or aesthetics and feelings.

Which ties in nicely with the other part of Nini that I admire.  Nini also started a charity called ‘Girl of the Pebble’.

Girl of the Pebble foundation was initially set up to help children in need in Funchal, Portugal (her hometown), but as Nini’s work took her around the world, so to have the funds from the charity gone global. In Brazil, she has helped to set up a school for kids.  She gets involved in this way in every community she works and it has me wondering what designers can bring to a place beyond just their clients designs.

girl of the pebbles Nini Andrade Silva

More about the inspiring Nini.

images from mutante magazine, jalou gallery, fickle Cattle, and eageriseager by creative commons.


the smog shoppe

I am, with great envy, eyeing the Smog Shoppe in LA.  I so wish that Boston had a similarly hip indoor-outdoor event space that married gardens and industrial architecture together in a way that makes you just want to party.

In looking at the place, I certainly imagine attending or hosting the smoothest soiree and that got me thinking about what you simply must have when creating a party garden.

vertical wall garden at the smog shoppe in LA

1) Open space  – Vertical gardening gives this relatively small space the garden feeling without taking up the room of a garden that is planted in the ground. Using vertical space keeps the floor open for mingling but gives the lush vibe.

2) Manipulable Space – Can you see in the images that there are big planters on casters?  You can move all the garden elements around to create a flow for the party, rooms, and cozy places to be.  Every party can be a little bit different.

smog shoppe la

3) Big Long Tables. – There is just something about snaking tables that brings a festive mood.  (Outstanding In The Field does this so well!)

4) Talking Points – Hey did you see those shells in the water fountain.  How about the painting of that guy over there?  Don’t miss the Ukulele in the corner…. Remember it’s details that excite and spark conversation.   Fill you garden with details that represent you, the place and the individual event.

details from the smog shoppe

details at the smog shoppe

5) Cozy spots – Sofa’s, mixed seating, quirky lounge spots encourage the party and keep the fun going late.

6) Cool lighting – Mix candles, up-lighting, and moody overhead lighting to create a vibe and transform the place once the sun goes down — and don’t forget interesting touches that are not hard to pull off — a sheet on a laundry line is easy and old movies, family films, and music videos are always great backdrops to a party.

smog shoppe movie screen

images from  Casa Sugar, dana grant, jac shoot, and the smog shoppe

Bull terrier and australian girl circa 1934

Please accept my apologies for being away yesterday.  The day was packed to the gills and getting online was ultimately not in the cards.  But, among other things, I think we have finally found a puppy — he is a couple weeks from arriving at our home, but this sweet picture gives a good idea of the future Greayer family dog.

With all the new snow in New England we are planning to take advantage of  great conditions and hit the slopes.  What are you up to this weekend?

Here are a few fun links to check out til Monday!

Have a great weekend ~ R

image: Margaret Shaffhauser with and English bull terrier at the Canine Association Show, 3 Nov 1934 / by Ted Hood from flickr

Babylonstoren garden south africa

Chief among my ‘must do’ list of travel destinations is Africa – in general -.  I have only been to Morocco and only Tangier at that (which is slightly akin to counting Mexico done after a border crossing to Tijuana).  Such an unexplored expanse of total foreigness bekons and when I allow myself some armchair travel, I always dream of a trip that starts or ends (or both) with South Africa.

Babylonstoren is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms located in South Africa and were I planning a trip — this would be a must see. It has a fruit and vegetable garden, unique accommodations, fine food and a sense of other worldliness that is just the right balance of being different and therefore exciting, but the same enough to be completely comforting.


From Babylonstoren‘s website:

“Babylonstoren is one of the best preserved werfs (farm yards) in the Cape Dutch tradition. Not only the manor house from 1777, but pioneer structures date all the way back to the founding of the farm in 1690. The Koornhuis (for storing wheat and hay) and the old cellar are exceptionally fine. An ornate fowl house, pigeon loft, leaning bell tower and historic gates embellish a traditional courtyard surrounded by a low, whitewashed wall.”

Have you been to South Africa? This area reminds me of California wine regions, but other images I have seen seem more lush or more desert….I am fascinated by the contrasts…If you have been, I would love to hear about your favorite places….

Click through the gallery to see more. images from yatzer and babylonstoren

When the holiday hulabaloo dies down I relish the thought of clearing all the clutter and starting the new year with a clean slate.  Clean Slate Mentality  drives me in so many ways.  Its why I can’t wait to do a major refrigerator and freezer scrub down.  It’s why I am especially excited about the lack of snow –  I still have time to go mow down the perennials and clear out before spring.  And it is why places like the Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ appeal (and also its warm).

hotel saguaro sign scottsdale az

Bold stark color and straight lines is the opposite of the visual excess that generally pervades in December and this is what I crave for January.  Who’s ready for a vacation?

saguaro fireplace pink

Remember when pool side Tiki bars were THE thing?  This beirgarten at the Standard Hotel in LA has me wondering if possibly a rage for a more German inspired version of the garden tiki lounge could be possible.

the rooftop beirgarten garden standard

One that relies on beer and brats?

images from the Guardian and whereLA